Friday, April 24, 2015

MY BEST FRIEND'S BROTHER (Book 1) - Excerpt


My guidance counselor sat with his feet on the desk, rocking in his leather office chair, looking through a Sports Illustrated while sucking on a lollipop.

I cleared my throat to make myself known. He jumped from his seat and flashed me a smile.

“Miss Morrison!” he said, gesturing to enter.

Henry Bias is a man of medium height who bears a striking resemblance to actor Cuba Gooding, Jr. Think Snow Dogs. Outbreak. Pearl Harbor. He sounds just like him, too.

He sat again as soon as I parked myself in the blue interrogation seat. He shoved the Sports Illustrated into his desk drawer. “Some boy left that here,” he totally lied. He straightened his tie. “And how are you today?”

“I could be better.”

His office makes me a bit claustrophobic. It’s almost entirely occupied by his enormous desk, some posters and his master’s degree. One poster on the wall above his head read,

“Psychology
: know everything about everyone.”

That explains a lot.

“Good, good,” he said, pulling out my file. “Now, Adonia, you’re here because you want to talk.”

“I’m here because you want to talk,” I noted.

He looked at me with his permanent grin. “Right, right…” he said between his teeth. He took a deep breath and said, “Okay! How’s the boyfriend doing?”

“We broke up a month ago,” I reminded him.

“Oh,” he said sympathetically. “Do you want to talk about that?”

“No.”

“It’s good to talk about things that bother us!” he said enthusiastically. 

“It doesn’t bother me.” Jake-the-horny-toad Andrews was the last thing I wanted to discuss with him.

“Do you want to talk about anything that does bother you?” he asked, blindly turning pages in my file.

“Nope.”

“How’s Lilly? Your best friend? That’s her name, isn’t it?” 

Figures he wasn’t sure. Half the time I talk to him he’s in another dimension, staring above my head with that grin. “She’s going on vacation.”

“That’s nice.”

I shifted in my seat. “I’m kind of jealous.”

“Oh. So you want to talk about that?”

I shrugged. “I don’t want to....”

He looked above my head and nodded, stroking his chin with his thumb and index finger. “Good, good. Go right ahead, I’m listening.”

My head fell into my hands. The next time I looked up he still smiled at the wall behind me; at a poster of two hula dancers on a Hawaiian beach.

Why couldn’t he schedule his stupid appointments during math? I’d rather be confused by Mr. Bias than be confused by math. 

“So you don’t want to talk?” he pressed once his vacation was over. “It’s confidential!” he exclaimed, grinning ear-to-ear.

I heaved a sigh. “My mom’s never home. Lilly’s mom is more of a mom to me than mine ever was. What does that tell you?” I pondered.

He held his chin and looked up thoughtfully. “That Lilly’s mom is a housewife and your mom isn’t?”

This guy’s got the most useless job on the face of the earth!

He held up a finger and searched frantically through my file. “She is a housewife, right?” He laughed nervously. “Well anyway, your mom’s career is clearly very high priority. She’s just doing the best she can. Have you considered your career path?”

“Yes... And it makes my head hurt.” 

“Good, good. That’s what I like to hear.” He scratched his head and thumped the eraser side of a pencil on his desk. “So, which university did you apply to?”

“I applied to the one in British Columbia.”

“Sick of Alaska?”

“It’s not that,” I said. “I just want to get away from home.” Far, far away.

Mr. Bias nodded. “Well, I moved up here for work,” he said, “and I can’t afford to leave!” His smile evaporated for a second as he stared, teary-eyed, into oblivion.

When he was back, his smile returned. “Any others?”

“No.” How many colleges do I need to get into, anyway? In the end, I can only attend one.

He laced his fingers and rested his hands on the desk. “How do your parents feel about that school?”

“I don’t know.” And I wanted to add, “I don’t care.”

“How do you think they feel about that school?”

My expression was blank.

“Well, let me rephrase that. How do you feel about how they might feel?” he asked with little hand gestures.

“I don’t know,” I repeated.

“Do you want to talk about it? This is a very confusing time for you, no question about that!”

I rolled my eyes. It’s funny how he thought he had to tell me that this was a ‘very confusing time’ for me. 

“Well then, I’ll see you next week! Unless you have other things you’d like to discuss today...?” He raised his eyebrows skeptically.

“No thanks,” I said, about to bolt out of there.

“Good, good. Feel free to come by any time you’d like to talk. I’m here to help!”

I left.

My parents, college, Jake, decision-making—everything I didn’t want to talk about, he brought up.

He even defended my poor excuse for a mother!


God, what’s that man
paid for?


________________________________________________


Excerpt from "My Best Friend's Brother".

Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Favreau. All rights reserved.

or

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

An Excerpt from my new YA Romantic Comedy, MY BEST FRIEND'S BROTHER


Dad was at the kitchen table, sipping his coffee and flipping through his beloved Writer’s Digest.

“Good morning,” he said, without looking at me. 

“Morning, Dad.” I fell into my seat and practically inhaled the golden brown omelet, plump with melted cheddar and overflowing with mushrooms. “I’m going to the mall today,” I announced, silently hoping he’d let me. Sometimes Dad’s just in a stay-at-home kind of mood, but today he seemed passive. I think I’ve earned it, spending all of Saturday doing homework.

He chewed his food, his eyes glued to the magazine. “Sure, sweetie,” he mumbled.

I smiled and finished my breakfast.

“Don’t you have homework, Adonia?” Sullivan mocked in Dad’s direction.

I rolled my eyes. 

Sullivan has brown hair that hangs halfway down his neck, which he parts down the middle and tucks behind his ears. His eyes are hazel and his mouth is too big for his face—no surprise! He teases me about everything, and even became friends with Jake after the break up. The little pest invited him over to play video games and kept me cornered in my room. 

I shot him a look. Luckily, Dad hadn’t even looked up.

“Jake’s coming by today,” Sullivan informed me, looking for a reaction.

“So? I’ll be at the mall all day.” I took a sip of orange juice. “You know, I can hear your music all the way over here,” I said loudly, hoping Dad would lecture him again. But Dad still didn’t look up, and Sullivan pointed at me and laughed noiselessly. 

“What do you two want for dinner?” Dad asked lamely, still reading.

Sullivan slammed his fists on the table. “Lasagna!”

Dad looked bewildered. “Lasagna? For the third time this week?”

I shook my head and rinsed off my plate.

“Be back by nine,” Dad said. I turned and looked at him. “It’s a school night!” he briefed. Then he buried his head back in his magazine.

I sighed, walked to the front door and put on my sneakers.

“And keep that cell phone on!” he insisted from the kitchen.

I stepped into the chilly Alaskan air, headed for Mom’s silver Jeep Grand Cherokee. She lets me drive it while she’s away. She’s in Australia until late November, doing research on the Aborigines.

I cranked the engine and sat waiting in my seat. The car reeked of vanilla. I adjusted the automatic leather seat and carefully backed out of the long driveway. It was overcast out, like it’s going to snow. I’m not a fan of driving in snow, but it’s better than not driving at all. I haven’t crashed a car yet, and I’ve been driving since sixteen.

For a Sunday, the mall was pretty dead. It’s not a huge mall by any means. It has a pet store, a book store, a food court, a couple clothing stores, a Halloween shop, a music store, a movie theater, and an arcade. If you have lots of interests, you can spend a good day there. I’m particularly fond of the book and pet stores, though I couldn’t buy any pets there anyway, because pets are big no-no’s with my parents, especially Dad. When I get my own place, I’m buying a puppy before I even fill the fridge.

Upon entering the bookstore, I was greeted by a tall, nerdy clerk. He knows me. I’m one of the regulars.

I usually spend a while in there, browsing the young adult novels.

Classical music played over the loudspeaker, and the place smelled incredible—there’s nothing like the smell of ink and paper! At least, not for bookworms like me there isn’t!

I seated myself at the base of a bookshelf in the back of the store and looked through some books. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I’m one of those people that do—I like to see what the guys portrayed inside look like, and read through the book briefly. I’m not into naughty books, but I’ll have to admit, I am seventeen, and I am curious.

I spent a good hour reading, ignoring all the passersby and the loud giggly girls—as I call them—who walked in and headed straight for the adult romance novels. You know, the books with the half-naked men and extremely content women on the cover? Those novels. 

The girls gathered around in a circle, whispered loudly, read and pointed and giggled, and this would—on some days—go on for about thirty minutes straight. This time, though, they went on for nearly an hour, about twenty or so feet from me, laughing wildly. It annoyed the hell out of me.

I skimmed through a book titled Love at the End of the Day, which seemed like another I’m-going-away-to-college-and-I’ll-miss-you kind of book. The kind that depressed me in more ways than one, because I too was facing the uncertainty of college. And—what’s worse—I had no one to say goodbye to, because I was single.

I closed the book and sighed uneasily. My focus turned suddenly to a guy dressed in loose black jeans and a white muscle shirt. He wore a silver chain around his neck, held a black leather jacket, and strolled through the aisles in search of something. His hair was golden blond, split down the middle like Sullivan’s, but far shorter, leveling off at the top of his ears. He stopped in an aisle in the center section of the store, between me and the giggly girls. I thought he stopped in the travel section, but I wasn’t sure. Not until he picked up an atlas of Alaska.

I watched him curiously for some time. I hoped he wouldn’t look my way, because I stared like he’s a Greek god or something.

This guy is seriously hot! Too hot to even live here!

He eagerly skimmed the atlas. After some time, he bent over, put it back on the shelf and picked up another. He stood back up and looked through it, and when he tilted his head my way I got a glimpse of his eyes. His eyes are a light crystal blue, unlike any I’ve ever seen before! They’re incredible! Too hot for words!

I jumped and practically juggled my cell phone when it rang. Looking around sheepishly, I hit the green talk button.

“Hi!” It was Lilly.

“Hi,” I breathed softly. And I nearly choked on my spit when I saw him eyeing me! His head was slightly turned my way.

“We need to get together. I’m leaving in the morning,” Lilly said, preoccupied in the background.  “Do you want to meet at the ice rink? It’s been a week and I won’t have any practice for another three.” Chatterbox Lilly has a tendency to go off on tangents. This time I couldn’t catch it all because a Greek god distracted me.

His eyes alternated between me and his book, though each time our eyes met, he looked away. “Lilly,” I hissed so he couldn’t hear me, “there’s a seriously hot guy in here.”

She stopped talking to her mother in the background. “What? I didn’t hear you.”

I turned my head toward the bookshelf so he couldn’t read my lips. “There’s this guy in here, and he’s really, really HOT.” I turned my head in time to see him stick his nose back in the atlas. “Did you hear me?” I asked in my normal voice.

“Yeah,” she uttered, “something about a hot guy. So go talk to him!”

“I don’t know...” I was always the shy type.

“No, you should. Where are you?’

“At the mall,” I replied. Then I remembered. “Hey, how’s your brother?” Please mention his name!

“Oh, he’s good,” she breathed. “He met Burke this morning, because Burke was on a business trip much of the weekend,” she said, going off on another tangent.

The giggly girls grew noisy, so I pressed the phone hard against my ear to try to make out what she was saying. I couldn’t catch most of it.

“Are you there?” is the next thing I heard.

“Yeah,” I breathed. “Can you come by the mall?”

“I’d like to, but I’m packing. Can you come by here? When I finish, maybe we can go skate?”

I was about to say yes when a smile formed on his lips. He was still looking at the atlas, but it felt like it was directed at me. I bit my lip, trying to decide—best friend or drop-dead gorgeous hot guy? Ugh, decisions! But what kind of a friend would I be if I refused to see her before she left on vacation? “I’ll be right—”

She cut me off. “Someone’s on the other line, how about I call you in a few hours, okay? I think it may be my brother, probably lost already. He’s been out all weekend in some cheesy rental! I just hope it’s not that dumb jock again!”

“Um, okay.” I was going to ask if she wanted me to drop by, but she hung up.

I put my phone away and looked at the giggly girls. They’re all pretty short—not that I’m tall or anything—two brunettes and three blondes. All between fourteen and sixteen. One of them pointed to him, the others checked him out and whispered back and forth like sixth-graders.

Annoyed, I stuck my nose back in the book. When my eyes wandered a few seconds later, he was looking at me, plain as day!

He gestured to the giggly girls with his head, made a bit of a face and smiled.

My shoulders sunk toward my feet and my mouth formed a grin. He’s looking at me! Naturally, I tried to contain myself—I’ve imagined things like this before. Yes, I’ve imagined gorgeous, literate guys checking me out, when they’re merely zit-faced losers with braces, dirty hair and the inability to formulate a sentence.

Need I remind you, the guys at school are not much to look at?

His attention shifted away from me. He put the atlas back on the shelf and pulled out another. Yup, I’d imagined it! But I found pleasure in watching him anyway, so I did.

There’s a term for that—it’s called stalking, right?

Before I could stalk much longer, he put the atlas down and very coolly strolled my way.

I pretended not to notice. I didn’t want to look dumb when he’d pass by me. That’s happened before, too, and not with a guy this hot. 

My eyes fixed to page sixteen. I waited in suspense.

No one passed by. My breath stopped when I looked up: There he was.

“Good book?” he asked with a half-smile.

“Uh-huh,” I uttered, unable to find my voice.

He cocked his head and looked at the cover. “Love at the End of the Day,” he read, straightening his head and nodding as if that answered his question. “Going to buy that?”

I glanced toward the front of the store, where the clerk sat in a rotating chair, blowing a bubble and lost in a book. My eyes met the Greek god’s. “I don’t know. Should I?”

He shrugged. The giggly girls laughed loudly, but he blocked my view of them. “You could buy it and have lunch with me. Or you can leave it and have lunch with me…” The corners of his mouth rose into a seductive smile. “Or, you can bash me over the head with it for asking.” He grinned.

________________________________________________

Excerpt from "My Best Friend's Brother".


Copyright © 2015 by Chrissy Favreau. All rights reserved.

or

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Big Cats

One of my first jobs was working for Tom, a Pennsylvanian veterinarian. I recently found a series of journal entries and damn do they bring back memories! Here are my experiences, as I remember them.

It was another busy day at the clinic. I still worked in the kennel; administering medication, cleaning dog crap and doing laundry—I know, sounds like a dream job.

The kennel was crowded as the weekend grew near. At lunch, I took a well-deserved break. One of the girls I worked with asked if I wanted to go see the large cats at the sanctuary.

We walked behind the clinic to the log house which was the rehab center. Ducks waddled in our path, headed for the nearby pond, which was surrounded by colorful deciduous trees and shrubs. The ducklings were cute as they moved around steadily, their mother’s tail.

We walked to the back of the log home. The cat enclosure appeared—fences about fifteen feet tall, completely enclosed so the animals could not jump over. Two mountain lions stared intently, vocalizing as we came within feet of them. One rubbed her teeth against the metal fence in a rather playful manner. The blackish-tan fur was extremely short and dense, the nose a color near maroon. She stopped her rubbing motion and stared at me. My companion, a thin girl in her twenties, pulled some tall, green grass from the ground. 

“They love this stuff,” she said, bringing her hand close to the fence. The cougars rushed for it, both eager to get a bite.

“O wow!” they screamed as they gently pulled the blades out of her hand. That explained what I heard every morning since I started working at the clinic! And it sounded really cool.

She laughed. “Oh, wow, Kiki!” she mocked, letting go of the grass and rubbing one of their noses with her index finger. “They say that when they see something they want,” she explained. She wiped her hands on her dirty black jeans and turned away. She told me I could stay until my break was up.

I sat on a knee-high rock by the cage, watching them hurry about, rubbing themselves against one other. Kiki got on her hind legs at one point, gripping the fence like she had human fingers. 

“O wow,” she cried loudly, echoing. She seemed anxious for more. I found it odd that a carnivorous animal could get so worked up over grass. They had no access to grass; their enclosure primarily housed them and lots of dirt.

I reached over, pulled on some long blades, and carefully brought them close. Her teeth poked through the fence as she tried to get ahold of them. I was too afraid to bring my hand to her mouth—especially with all the signs posted on the fence, which depicted huge canines and broken, falling human fingers.


That's when the tiger emerged from the building. It stunned me. She was twice the size of any mountain lion there, and obviously dominant. They moved aside for her. Her mouth hung as she paced by, at first ignoring me. Her coat was like a bright fire, her stripes jet black, with a white chest and long white fur encircling the sides of her face.

She moved past me but turned, her orange eyes meeting my blues. I stared at her in awe. She stared me down, unpleased with my gaze. Large cats don't like to be challenged. After a minute or so, her eyes grew narrow. She looked at me, rather irritated, and made a sound like a sneeze. Her tail twitched, and the white spots on the back of her ears came into view—annoyance.

She gripped the fence with her paw, pulling herself up closer to my level. She vocalized, a rather pleasant Rrrr. Then she got down, turned her butt to me, and used her back paws to kick up some of the fine dirt beneath her—we all know what she thought of me.

Luckily, she liked me when it mattered.