Archive | October, 2012

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 4

26 Oct

In exactly ONE WEEK I will be a MRS.  I’ve made the decision to legally change my name; however, my pen-name will remain Jenny Hickman, paying homage to my family and my roots.  After all, I wouldn’t want my millions of fans to get confused and think I fell off the face of the earth after The Mirrors at Barnard Hall.

As I make my way to Nashville, TN for my wedding week, I give you Chapter 4 from my second book, Semester of Thursdays.

New to the story?  Click HERE to start from the beginning.

Happy reading, writing, and traveling!

-Jenny

_____________________________________________________________________________

CHAPTER 4

“I think you need to come out with me tonight.  It’s not too late and you haven’t missed all of the fun yet.”  Her words of foreboding had no effect on me.

I wasn’t missing anything but a bunch of drunken co-eds grinding on a drink-soaked dance floor, invading each other’s personal space.

I liked my personal space the way it was—empty.

“Come with you?  Lena, you left hours ago.”  The bars would be making last call in the next twenty minutes.

“I know but I’d love it if you joined me.  It would make my night.  No, it would make my semester,” she amended.

“The semester just started.”  And if the weeks continued like this it was going to last forever.  She knew how I felt about her extracurricular activities; I wanted no part of them.

“Why not start on the right foot?”

“Lena, I can’t.  I have a ton of stuff to do.”  Even as I turned her down I was getting things ready for the morning.  We were doing a promotion for a new hair care line, and I had to be at the salon an hour earlier than usual.  Six o’clock came soon enough without going to bed after three in the morning.

“Please, please, please come out,” she begged.

“No matter how many times you ask, I’m not going to come.”  It was best to be upfront with her.  Otherwise, she would find a chink in my armor.

“Mer, I’m graduating at the end of the semester…”  Here we go with the guilt trip. “… and who knows where I’ll end up after that.  This could be the last few months we have together.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying to focus on remaining stoic.  She was right, but that didn’t trump the fact that I had to wake up at the crack of dawn and be functional for what promised to be a busy Friday.  “Why do you want me to come so badly?”

Lena only pulled the I’m-never-going-to-see-you-after-graduation ploy when she really, really wanted me to do something.

“Because there’s this guy here.”

“There are always guys everywhere you go.”  Following along like yippy terriers, nipping at her stilettos.  Just when she was able to shake one loose, another took his place.

“This one’s different.”

No doubt.

There was no point asking what made him different; she never thought that far ahead.

“Ugh, Lenaaaa,” I drew out her name in a pathetic whine.  Even if I wanted to give in (which I didn’t), I couldn’t.  There were boxes to be filled, gift bags to be arranged, and sleep to be enjoyed.  “Is he cute?”

“Understatement.  TDH.”

The current object of her flighty affection must have been close.  My best friend only resorted to her own encrypted speech when she couldn’t talk freely.

So the guy was tall, dark, and handsome?  Typical Lena.  Of course, even if he was short, fair, and handsome he would still be her type.  The key word in both descriptions was handsome.

“Sounds boring,” I said.  TDH had been done too many times before.

“Not in the least.  He’s got the whole rock star chic thing going on.”

“Elaborate?”

“Sexy, ripped-up jeans and a t-shirt rippling with barely contained man-meat.  Lithe, toned, perfect.”

“Hair?”  A guy’s hair was my one pet peeve.  If his coif wasn’t worthy of a GQ cover shoot then it ruined the entire effect, no matter how attractive his face or body.

“Think Beatles.”

“Bowl cut?  Ugh.  Now I’m picturing Lloyd Christmas.”  And I was beginning to lose what little interest I’d had in the conversation.  There was still at least an hour of work to be finished before blessed bedtime.  This was my punishment for procrastinating.

“No, Mer, don’t be stupid.  Not bowl-cut Beatles.  More like late 60’s early 70’s.  Shaggy chic—Efronseque.”

Thankfully, the mystery gentleman had redeemed himself.   “Nice.”

“Very, very, very.”

“Three?”  Rarely did any man receive that type of commendation from my best friend.

“Without a second thought.”

Okay, so he was most likely extremely hot.  She had never needed my help with a guy before tonight.  Why did she want me there now?  What difference could I possibly make before the curtain closed on the end of her night?

“Have you talked to him yet?”

“Yeah.”

“And?”

“Not. Interested.”  Her frustration overly punctuated the sentence.

That particular response caught me off-guard.  Was she trying to say that he wasn’t interested in her?  A man like that didn’t exist.  “Since when does that stick?”

Even if men resisted at first—and very few did—Lena had the uncanny ability to lure them to her bed within the hour.

“Tell me about it.  But he has a friend who is nearly as hot.”  Her voice dropped in disappointment as she prepared to settle for second best.

The intrigue was almost enough to get me out of the house—almost.  What guy in his right mind would turn down Lena Whyte?  This had to be a first.  No wonder she was having such a rough time with it; at twenty-two she was feeling her first sting of rejection.

“Efronesque?” I asked, hoping she considered the friend a close second.

Lena was silent for a moment as she compared and contrasted.  “Closer to Ryan Reynolds.”

In my opinion, still just as good.   “Older?”

“No.  Shorter hair.”

“Is he interested?”  Two uninterested men in the course of one night would be detrimental to Lena’s self-esteem.

She snorted.  “Of course.”

“Huh,” I muttered.  My friend didn’t really need me there; she probably wanted me to entertain bore the uninterested friend until she could make him understand what he was missing.  Over the years I had become an expert at repelling the opposite sex and herding them directly into Lena’s open arms.

“So, are you coming?” she asked, less buoyant as she anticipated my negative reply.

Short and sweet; no room for negotiation.  “No.”

Like the most strategic of warlords, Lena changed her tactics.  “Will you come out next week?”

The request threw me off.  Normally she was so focused on her goal that she couldn’t see any other avenues.  Lena possessed a single-track mind unless she was really trying to annoy me.

“You are the most obnoxious person I have ever met.”

“Thanks,” she said cheerily, unfazed.

It was impossible to insult her unless she felt she deserved a set-down.  It wasn’t that she was unintelligent, naive, or deaf; Lena simply chose to take things according to her own terms.  Compliments, back- or front-handed, were equally as complimentary in her eyes.  Tonight being obnoxious served her purpose.  My comment confirmed that she was doing her job.

“So, will you come out next week?” she repeated.

“I don’t know…” I hedged, truly unsure.  Who knew what unforeseen complications would arise next week.

“You have to come out with me at least once this semester!  What if next week is the only week you can come out and you miss the opportunity to hang out with your best friend outside the confines of your cave?”

“And what if I say I can but something comes up and I have to cancel?” I challenged.

Lena paused before responding.  “You wouldn’t be allowed to cancel.”

“You see, this is why I never—”

“I would accept a rain-check though and then forgive you willingly.”  Yeah.  That was likely.   “Just say you will.  I’m begging here.”

“Alright, Lena!” I said, willing to do anything to stop her rant.  Was it just me or had the boxes in the living room doubled during the course of our conversation?

“You’ll come out with me next Thursday?” she clarified, leaving no wiggle room in the absence of an emergency.

“Yes.”

“Do you promise?”

I let out a heavy sigh.  “I promise.”

“Hmmm… do you swear?” she pushed.

“Lena…” the tone of my voice held all the warning necessary to change the subject.

“These guys may not be here next week though.  You really should come out tonight.”

“I don’t care about those guys!  I have a boyfriend, remember?”  As if on cue, Holden’s number beeped through on my phone.  My thumb pressed ignore; I was certain he would forgive the slight.

“I remember.”

“Okay.”

She was silent for a beat.  “Maybe I could talk them into coming back next week so you can meet them.”

“Do whatever you want.”  Those guys would probably do whatever she wanted, too.

“Are you sure you don’t want to come tonight and get it over with?  I’ll let you off the hook for next week,” she promised.

If I relented now she would be harassing me every Thursday for the rest of the semester.  “For the last time, NO I am NOT coming tonight!”

“You are the worst friend ever,” she pouted.  “Fine.  Let me know if you change your mind.”  She waited, hoping for a change of heart or any indication that my resolve may have been wavering.

“Love you, Lena,” I offered, smiling at her buoyancy and tenacity.

“Obviously I love you more because if our roles were reversed then I would be—”

I threw in a, “Goodbye, Lena,” above her tirade and ended the call before she could further delay my bedtime.

Winners Announced

19 Oct

And the lucky winners of The Adventures of Austin Girl and the Legend of Diablo books and/or swag are…

@SandraBunino: your choice of an eBook or signed paperback copy
@SarahBallance: book choice and mousepad
@
Ryan_Durham: book choice and cell phone cover

To collect your prizes, contact @CarrieCrain via direct message with your details 🙂

A special thanks to everyone for stopping by, playing along, and supporting fellow author Carrie Crain for the release of her new book!  Once again, you can grab your copy from B&N TODAY and on Amazon by the end of the month.

Happy Reading,

-Jenny

SIDE NOTE:  Come back tomorrow and check out the third chapter from my second novel, Semester of Thursdays!

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 3

19 Oct

Another Friday is upon us… and I am hyper-aware of the fact that it’s another Friday closer to D-day (also known as my wedding day).  Only one free Friday remains until November 2nd, the day I get to start on my own happily-ever-after.

To celebrate, I’m giving you the third installment of my second novel, Semester of Thursdays.  If you’d like to start from the beginning, click HERE.

Happy reading!

-Jenny

______________________________________________________________________________

Chapter 3

“Mer, I need you to help me!”

Even in a call at four in the morning, I was oblivious to the stress in Lena’s voice; she tended toward dramatic explanations of even the most mundane events.  Just last week she had called me crying because someone had snatched her pair of designer jeans while she had been debating whether to pay full-price or wait until they went on sale.  Naturally, that incident had been a crisis of epic proportions.

“What’s wrong now, Lena?” I croaked, my voice weary with exhaustion, dreams still clouding my vision.

“I’ve had an accident.”

A frustrated sigh escaped my lips, sounding closer to a feral growl than genuine concern.

“Calm down,” I hushed even as I rolled out of bed.  We both knew how this conversation was going to end; there was no point in delaying my inevitable response.  “How bad is it?”

“On a scale of one to ten?”

“Sure.  Ten being catastrophic.”

She hummed as she calculated a solution to the mental-math problem.  “Seven.”

The last seven had occurred at the beginning of the fall semester last year.  I had hoped to never deal with another seven as long as Lena and I occupied the same state.

“Have you been drinking?”  Silence served as my confirmation.  “How many DUI’s is this for the year, Lena?”  Although I sounded like a scolding mother, there was a hint of humor I had trouble concealing.  Lena wouldn’t hear the set down; she would focus solely on the unintentional smile in my voice.

Technically this is just the first one since the year started in January.”

“Let me rephrase the question.  How many does this make for this school year?”  I had lost count in November.

“Does it matter? I. Need. Your. Help.”  The clear punctuation informed me that she was finished with all the preliminaries of our conversation and ready for me to swoop in and save her from whatever trouble she had gotten into.  “Are you going to come or not?”

She already knew I would; I always did.  “Where are you now?”

“Bowery Street.”

“North or South?”

“Ummm….”

The question was beyond her current mental capacity; even on a good day—a sober one—Lena’s sense of direction wasn’t what I would deem accurate.

“Toward campus or Main Street?” I clarified as I searched my floor for abandoned clothes that would shield me from Frostburg’s harsh winter winds.  The wooden planks felt frosty beneath my bare feet.

“Campus.”

“You’re sure?”  The last time we’d had a similar conversation I had ended up cruising around Frostburg’s abandoned streets for an hour.  Of course I hadn’t been specific enough in my interrogation so the entire ordeal had been my fault.
“Definitely.”

“I’ll be there in five,” I promised and hung up.  I threw on yellow sweatpants and the first hooded sweatshirt I could get my hands on—a staple in all college wardrobes.  It was too dark to tell if my outfit matched or if it was clean.  It really didn’t matter either way; most normal people were at home in bed by this hour.

Why couldn’t my roommate be normal?

She would say that I wouldn’t love her as much if she were boring (her word for normal).  What she didn’t know was that I would love her twice as much if only she would stay home for one Thursday.

By the time I reached my Nissan the first stage of frostbite had taken root in my extremities.  I held my cramped hands toward the vents; the frozen airstream blasting through the car felt warm in comparison to the frigid wind swirling outside.

Flurries fell acrobatically onto my fogged windshield.  Each tiny flake floated to the earth, too careless to pound invasively like the rain.  Intelligent citizens avoided the treacherous roads, but the silence extended beyond the absence of commuters.  Fresh white drifts created a layer of soundproof foam, insulating the earth and soaking in every stray ambient noise.

My Sentra crept down Bowery Street at a toddler’s pace.  To onlookers—if there were any—I probably looked like some seedy child abductor searching for her next victim.

After five minutes of probing the frozen darkness for my annoying friend, I gave up and called her.

“Where are you, Lena?” I growled, effectively halting what was bound to be a drawn-out greeting.

“Just a sec.”

“Why are you whispering?”  My own voice matched her low volume in the silent car.

“Because if I don’t whisper then he will hear me.”

“Haven’t you left yet?”

“Yes… Oh!  I see you!”

“Well, I still can’t see you.”

She giggled.  Of course she would be laughing; I couldn’t find any humor in our situation at present.

“Look up!”

Sure enough, my best friend was climbing through a dark window and scaling the roof of a generic apartment building.  She slid agilely down the tree next to the brick structure and hit the snow-crusted ground running.  When she reached the car the lights in the room she had recently vacated flicked on.

“Go! Go! Go!” she squealed, half hanging out of the door as I stepped on the gas pedal.  The entire ordeal felt more like a prison break than a salvage mission.

“Lena!  What were you thinking?” I shouted.  This would be the first and last DUI of the semester, I vowed silently.  There had to be some way to keep my friend from dating under the influence.

She responded without taking the time to infuse any sincerity into her apology.  “Sorry.”

“I can tell,” I murmured.

I waited until we were home, safely tucked away from the dying blizzard, before saying anything else.

“I thought you had a test in the morning,” I said sternly as I flipped the light switch, igniting her bedroom.

“I do,” Lena said through the pillow over her face.  Her words were appropriately down-muffled and weary.

“Then why were you out?”

“Because it’s Thursday.  Well, technically it’s not Thursday anymore, but it was when I left the apartment tonight.  I mean last night.”

“I thought that since you had an exam in the morning that meant you wouldn’t be going out.”

She removed the pillow and glared at me.  Despite having been applied hours ago, Lena’s makeup still looked as fresh and flawless as it had at seven o’clock.

“I fail to see a correlation between the two.”

“Whatever,” I grumbled, turning to catch a couple more hours of sleep.

“Do you know what I think?”

My voice trembled with irritation.  “What?”

“Men should come with warning labels, like the listing of side effects on a prescription bottle.”

I laughed reluctantly.  “Like: may cause minor irritation.”

“Exactly.”  She chuckled.  “Or: may cause drowsiness.”

“Goodnight, Lena.”

I had barely crossed the threshold of my sanctuary when my roommate called to me.

“Hey, Mer, what time do you work tomorrow?”

I closed my eyes, telling myself that murder wasn’t worth the life sentence that accompanied the pre-meditated crime.  Instead of shouting a response, I trudged back to her doorway.

God only knew what thought was burning in Lena’s mind at this hour.

“Today.”

“What?”

“I work today.  In two and a half hours to be exact,” I pointed out, wincing at how quickly the hands on the clock were racing.  Where had the last hour gone?  Wait! That was an easy question to answer: Lena had stolen it from me.

“Why don’t you ever put someone else on the schedule to open Friday mornings?  That would be the intelligent thing to do.  You never get to sleep early.”

It would do no good to get mad at Lena; every snide comment and derogatory remark bounced off her rhinoceros-thick skin.  Besides, she was intoxicated and wouldn’t remember the conversation in the morning.  The same way she didn’t remember the exact same conversation—verbatim—from last weekend.

“I actually got to sleep at nine last night.”  But waking up at 4AM to once again collect my perpetually drunk and “accident-prone” best friend tended to cut into my much appreciated—and sorely needed—beauty sleep.

“Good for you.”  She smiled and replaced the pillow, allowing only her mouth to peek out.  “But you never answered my question.”

“Which was?”

“Why don’t you put someone else on the schedule to cover Friday mornings?”

“Because most of the people I work with go out on Thursday nights.  I don’t.  Besides, I usually don’t mind going to the shop early.”  Especially on the rare occasions when my best friend decided to temporarily abort her mission to destroy her liver, which meant I enjoyed a dreamless, uninterrupted Thursday-night sleep.

“Why do you call it ‘the shop?’”

“Would you prefer ‘the salon?’” I shot back, my patience wearing dangerously thin.

“I would prefer a possessive pronoun or two thrown in there,” she commented.

“Two would be redundant.”

“You are dancing around the point,” she insisted.

At this moment I longed for the blissfully self-absorbed Lena who took my vague answers at face value.  My best friend was extremely inconvenient.

“Well, it’s not just mine.  I consider it everyone’s shop.”  And truthfully I did.  My salon was only as successful as its stylists, of which I made up only a small part.  In the past year I had chosen to focus on the business side, slowly removing myself from direct contact with our customers.

“That’s crap.”

“Thanks,” I accepted, praying she had finished.

“Anytime.”

“So, did you have a good time tonight, minus the accident?”

She grinned mischievously.  If her eyes had been opened and not covered by pillow frills, they would have been sparkling with barely contained secrets.  “Oh, Mer.  I wish you could have seen the men at the bar!”

“Why?”

“It was like there was a physical requirement to rush.”

“Cute guys?”  Of course there were cute guys.  Lena seemed to bring them out of the woodwork in droves.

“A whole frat full of hot, hot boys.”

“Wow.  I’m sorry I missed out.”

She missed/totally ignored the sarcasm in my tone.  “You could always come out with me next time.”

And we were back to this tired argument.

“Lena, I have a boyfriend.”

“I didn’t say I wanted you to come so you could steal all of the men out from under me.”

“Like that’s even possible.”

“You could come to keep me company.”

I grunted a noncommittal response.  No matter what I said at this point, Lena would twist it to get an affirmative answer from me.  Instead of pushing the issue, she pulled the pillow to cover the rest of her face.

“Are you going to sleep now?” I asked unnecessarily.  She was probably already dreaming of her next conquest, without a care in the world.  I envied the way she could just switch off.  I would be lucky to get another half hour of sleep before my shrill alarm decided to sing me awake.

* * *

 Love it? Hate it?  Leave me a comment to let me know what you think?  AND come back next week for Chapter 4!

Book Release Party and Give-away

18 Oct

WELCOME TO THE PARTY!

Fellow author–and my SSS pal– Carrie Crain  has a new book entitled The Adventures of Austin Girl and the Legend of Diablo that is NOW available on B&N Publit and is set to be released on AMAZON at the end of the month.

Crain will be giving away some fab Austin Girl swag and prizes throughout her book release including eBooks, signed Paperbacks, iPhone covers, Mouse pads, etc.  Join her Facebook Fan Page, Book’s Fan Page, and Twitter  then leave comments saying whether you’re Team Austin Girl or Team Diablo to be entered into the grand-prize drawing for your chance to win!  (I’m Team Austin Girl!)

Here’s a brief synopsis:  Austin Girl, a dispirited teenager, discovers a magic Samurai sword, leading her on a journey to Planet Disco to save her kidnapped Grandpa from the nefarious Diablo, and return to Earth before she becomes a permanent guest.

If you’re looking for a light, humorous read, I’d highly recommend this book.  Her Six’s on Sundays never fail to draw a chuckle and this work promises to do the same.

* * *

The Adventures of Austin Girl and the Legend of Diablo
Genre: Children’s Fiction/YA/Tween/Fantasy
Paperbook Length (approx): 136 pages
Prices: $3.99 for e-books and $10.00 for paperback – available on Amazon after Nov 1 and/or request an autographed copy from author via website at www.carriecrain.com or email at carriecrainbooks@gmail.com

 
You can also follow Carrie on Twitter: @CarrieCrain for some hilarious musings on reading, writing, and daily life
Check out this excerpt from Austin Girl:

The Kidnapping

 

The sound of a backfire rattled store windows on the downtown street as Lucky Stevens parked his piece of hippy junk on the East side of Lucky’s Antiques located at 13 Concho Avenue. He drove a flower power Volkswagen bus. The bus was one of those rare 23 windowed jobs with curtains–a residence on wheels. Straightening his suspenders, he stepped out into the dusty landscape, newspaper in hand. He moseyed past a 1960 black Chevy Pie Wagon parked up ahead, admiring the car. The hot rod was decked out custom style with red and orange flames painted horizontally across the sides and hood. He tipped his beaver Stetson hat to the female driver and grinned handsomely. The pink-haired woman was preoccupied with talking to a Magic 8 Ball and didn’t notice the fifty-year-old cowboy.

Scratching his chin, he leisurely strolled up to a period oak and stained glass door. He reached in his Wrangler jeans front pocket and extracted a set of keys. He put the key in the lock and opened the door to a familiar sight. His antique store was housed in a red brick building in Checkered Past, Texas. He could sniff out valuable antiques just by employing his sixth sense. Lucky adjusted his string tie that matched his belt that matched his ostrich quill boots. He was in love with “vintage everything” including his clothes and gentleman accouterments. Ambling through the door, he removed his Panama Jack sunglasses. His gait was deliberate, like a sore racehorse. Bells jingled like rowels on a spur letting out the sounds of commerce. Lucky may have been a little deaf, but he wasn’t so deaf that he couldn’t hear money jingle in the pockets of those who entered into his world. Lucky flipped on the lights and made a silly face at the store’s security camera.

Lucky laid his morning Austin American-Statesman newspaper down on the cracked countertop beside the turn of the century cash register, and looked at the time on his 40 year-old Rolex he’d won in a bidding war at an estate sale of one of Lyndon Johnson’s cousins so many years ago. It was still early for shoppers, just a little half past seven a.m. on Friday.

A set of white pine plank stairs off to the side began to creak. They led to the attic. Lucky housed antiques there that were part of his private collection, including one secret item in particular that oddly wasn’t for sale. He ditched his attention to the paper and walked over to the bottom of the stairs, looking up into the darkness. “Skinny, you up there?” Lucky hollered sharply. His young stock boy didn’t answer. Shrugging, he turned around to walk off. A thump on his noggin sent Lucky crashing to the hardwood floor. His Stetson flew off of his gray haired head and skidded across the floor like ice on marble. Staggering to his feet, he rubbed the back of his head. “What the–?”

“Where’s the sword?” the female driver of the Pie Wagon asked. Her voice was sharp. She waved a Magic 8 Ball in his face. Lucky glimpsed the black ball in his foggy state and thought, “Did this crazy lady just hit me with a nostalgic toy?” Lucky came to enough to savvy what the woman said, and a certain but profound panic triggered internally. He staggered, his back facing the stairs.

Lucky’s speech slurred as his lips struggled to form words, “What sword? Ah — I don’t stock swords,” he answered in a semi-unconvincingly manner. Sweat poured from his brow and ran into his keen steely colored eyes. A thin stream of blood dripped from his temple and onto his shirt. He anxiously scanned the room for his hat. He always wore his hat, except in church. The only time he wasn’t going to wear his hat was when he was dead and buried, which wasn’t going to be today if he had a say in the matter.

The shapely woman swung her closed palm and clobbered Lucky upside his jaw, knocking him back into the stair railing. The fall smarted his back. He didn’t know what hurt worse: his back or jaw.

“Hey, who do you think you are? What is going on here?” he asked, risking a stare at the intruder’s black leather outfit and purple thigh-high boots. He pretended to be interested in her attire. “Going to a costume party?” he joked, rubbing his jaw. “If so, you’ll need a cat mask. Then you can go as Puss and Boots,” he said, to deliberately stall for time. He needed to reach the phone, which was across the room beside the cash register to call 9-1-1. He looked over in the direction of his Colt single-action revolver with a history dating back to the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral. If the revolver had been loaded, he would have snatched it in a heartbeat. But, for safety reasons and because it was for sale, there were no bullets. He was beginning to think he was up the Concho River without a paddle.

* * *

East Side Site

16 Oct

I’m excited to share the news that East Side Story, the bookstore in East Nashville that is currently carrying my debut novel, The Mirrors at Barnard Hall, has their website up and running!

EAST SIDE STORY TN

There is a TON of cool stuff on there, including: the history of the all-local store, events and happenings on the East side, information on the artwork and t-shirts for sale, random musings from the owner, Chuck, and even writing prompts for fellow creatives!

So open a new browser tab and support your friendly, local bookstore!

-Jenny

One Step Closer

15 Oct

As many of you know, I’m getting married in less than three weeks!

Now that the bachelorette and stag parties have come to a successful conclusion (and my fiancee has been appropriately humiliated via a blonde wig, tube top, and fishnet tights), we are down to only a few minor details on our pre-wedding checklist.  One of those minor details involved creating a wedding-week itinerary for the bridal party.

Last night I attempted to construct said itineraries.  I was pleased with the result until I started the bride & groom’s schedule.  Considering the ordeal is going to be a week-long event, this was no small feat.  We have dinners to eat, photoshoots to smile for, rehearsals to practice, counseling sessions to attend, licenses to obtain… Well, you get the picture.

In deference to my sanity, I “finished” last night and allowed the documents to rest–that is until I find more tasks to fill the few voids left in the days before we get married.

Are there any time slots available for writing?  Sadly, I’m afraid not.  My re-entry into Six Sentence Sunday must be postponed until after the fateful day in November and all the brilliant prose racing through my brain must wait until there is a second ring on my left hand before it finds a release.

But that’s okay.  I’m planning on marrying only once in my life, so I’d like to get this right 🙂

Happy reading, writing, and planning!

-Jenny

Semester of Thursdays: Chapter 2

12 Oct

Good morning, readers!  I’m excited to give you the second installment of my second novel, Semester of Thursdays.  Because this book differs so much from my first, I’d love to hear your initial reaction to the story.  If you have some spare time please leave me a comment below this post.

Have a fab weekend.

-Jenny

Did you miss last week’s chapter?  No worries!  Click HERE to play catch-up.

__________________________________________________________________

Chapter 2

“I can’t believe this,” Lena shouted, outrage emanating from her bedroom.

I rolled my eyes toward my empty bed, longing for its memory foam-filled comfort.  The tattered patchwork quilt that had warmed me since childhood called for me to wrap myself within its weathered fibers.

Frostburg State University’s spring semester was supposed to start tomorrow morning.  Most college students would be in bed with three alarms set, anxiously awaiting their first day.

Okay, maybe not most college students, but certainly the successful ones—those who willingly sat in the front of the class and who knew where the library was located.  I had been a promising student during my freshman and sophomore years at FSU.  Then I had made the life-altering decision to drop out and start my own business.

“Meredith?” she yelled.  “Did you hear me?”

“What do you want, Lena?”  I asked, moving toward the yellow light glowing in her room.  By the tone of her voice it was obvious that if I didn’t go in I would regret the decision for the rest of the night.

“I need you to take a look at this.”

“Take a look at what?”  If she was going to subject me to a fashion show of potential first-day outfits, I would cheerfully strangle her and allow exhaustion to ward off the homicide-induced guilt until morning.  Lena Whyte looked good in everything and she knew it.

“I just got a letter from someone named Susan at the registrar’s office.  I think I’ve lost the ability to read.”

“You called me all the way in here to tell me you can’t read?  I already knew that.”

My comment confused her.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know that little note I left on my chocolate chip cookies?  The one that said, ‘Lena, don’t eat these?’”

“No,” she said, casually scooting the empty Tupperware container behind her computer screen.

“See, that’s what I thought.  I knew you wouldn’t have ignored the warning on purpose.  The only logical conclusion was that you developed a sudden case of illiteracy.”

“You know there’s a second, equally feasible explanation.”

“For you stealing and eating all of my cookies?”

She continued without missing a beat, ignoring my question.  “To me not being able to read the letter.    Either I can’t read anymore or Susan wrote this thing in Japanese”

“If it’s the first you’re going to have trouble becoming a teacher.”

“And if it’s the second?”

“Will you just give it here?” I commanded.

I plucked the crumpled paper from her chokehold and skimmed the creased words for signs of a foreign language.  “This is written in simple English, Lena; there’s not even one word of Japanese anywhere.  The biggest word in this thing is Thursday.”

She tuned me out, ignoring my jibe with visible effort.  “They changed my class schedule,” she said in a flat monotone.

“That’s the gist of it.”  I read the missive twice more in an attempt uncover what could have led to the distress on her face.

“Mer, they changed my schedule!” she repeated with more animation.

“So what?”

“Now I have a class on Fridays!  I haven’t had a class on Fridays since sophomore year!  And, to make it worse—if that’s even possible, it’s at 9AM on Fridays.  That’s in the morning, Mer!”

“It is?” I scoffed.

“Very funny.” She reached for her pink ruffled pillow and chucked it at my head.  I deftly dodged the object, having anticipated the assault.

“It’s not really that big of a deal is it?”  It wasn’t like Lena went home early on the weekends like most of the other students; both of our families lived within Frostburg’s city limits.  She didn’t have a job either so her Fridays were always free; one class wasn’t exactly going to be earth-shattering.

“Not a big deal!  They must be trying to shut down all of the local businesses!  Scheduling a capstone course on a Friday morning is going to be catastrophic for Frostburg’s economy.  This is the type of issue that should be addressed by the local government.  Who is our mayor?”

So that was what this was about.  I should have known.  “You are talking about the bars, right?” I asked, awaiting her confirmation.

The metropolis of Frostburg, Maryland—population 7,719—is a quintessential college town: thriving during the semesters and abandoned on winter and summer breaks.  However, unlike other colleges, the majority of Frostburg’s students were from the surrounding area so they also went home when they didn’t have class.  This weekly exodus left the town deserted on weekends.  That factor meant Thursdays were the prime nights to hit the local establishments for liquid entertainment.

“Don’t you use that high-and-mighty tone with me; bars are businesses too.”

“Maybe you should start some kind of petition to call attention to the issue,” I suggested.

“That’s it!  I can start a protest group on Facebook.  Great idea, Mer!”

“You know it was a joke, right?” I pointed out, unsure of how serious she was.

“All I heard was what you said, not the way you said it,” she shot back.

“Do what you want, but I’m not going to join this nonsense.”

“Join?  You’re going to be the founder.”  She grinned wickedly, and my stomach dropped.

The confidence in her tone scared me.  “Did you figure out my password again?” I winced at the thought of the damage she had orchestrated in the past.

Instead of answering, she offered me a piece of advice, confirming my suspicions.  “You really should learn to be more creative in your choices or at least stop writing them down.”

“I’ve had to change the thing so many times that I forget what it is.”  This was the fifth password I had used since Christmas.

“If you can’t remember you could always ask me,” Lena offered.

“That’s invasion of privacy, you know.”

“There’s no privacy between friends.”

“I believe the saying is ‘there are no secrets between friends’ or something like that.”

She moved to hug me, but I resisted.  “I like mine better.”

“Let’s get back to the real issue here.  Why are this letter and your schedule change such a big deal?”

“Do you have any idea what a Friday-morning class means?”

“I guess it means you’ll be curbing your extra-curricular activities so you can get up early on Fridays.”  Which meant more shut-eye for me.  I couldn’t help the grin spreading across my face.  This was going to be an ideal last semester—for me.

“Be serious, Mer.  In the fifteen years since you have known me, have I ever curbed my extra-curricular activities?”

Mentally reliving our lengthy acquaintance wasn’t necessary to answer accurately.  “No.”

“Exactly.  It means I’m going to be missing a lot of class!”

And Lena missing a lot of class ultimately meant I would lose a lot of sleep.

“Do you think you’ll ever give up the night life?  Or are you training to be one of those teachers who parties with her students?”

“Be serious, Mer.”

“But you always tell me I’m too serious.”

“And you say I’m the ridiculous one,” she snorted.  “I’m going to be teaching kids in elementary school.  Something tells me their curfews are considerably earlier than when my night begins.”

“Okay.  Maybe the second question wasn’t serious but the first one was.”  Would Lena ever consider herself beyond the drunken-goodnights, hung-over hellos and Friday-morning regrets?

She pursed her lips as she considered her future.  “Yeah, I guess I will have to… eventually.”

“Eventually,” I repeated toward the ceiling, praying eventually was closer than either of us could anticipate.

“Who knows?  Maybe this final semester will serve as a sort of ‘last hoorah’ for us.”

Us?”  The word tasted ominous on my lips.

“Well, for me it will be willingly.  For you… reluctantly.”

“You mean requiring undue force?”

“To-may-toe, To-mah-toe.”