I’ve got a couple of things in the works right now, including a companion novel to the Moondance Trilogy (which is almost finished–clapping hands with glee). I thought I’d leave you with a little bit of another of my WIPs. This is from a future rom-com tentatively titled The Last Will and Testament of Crazy Lizzy. I entered an excerpt from this work in the Adobe Cottage Fiction Contest. I didn’t win, but the amazing Susan Donovan told me I was in the top 10. I’m pretty proud of that. So, here’s the opening…Enjoy! (Warning: I have a potty-mouth, and I’m not afraid to use it!)
I know T.S. Eliot called April “the cruelest month”—something about lilacs and dead land and memory and desire. That memory part must have skipped right over me because I don’t remember any more of the poem than that. Maybe I was having an off day when we read it in Mrs. Moffett’s senior English class, or maybe T.S. Eliot was having an off day when he wrote it. Who knows? I guess it just didn’t speak to me at seventeen all-knowing years of age.
One thing I do remember from Mrs. Moffett’s class is that context is everything, and I’m sure I’m removing Eliot’s words from some deep underlying meaning when I say that I don’t agree with his assessment of April. Around here, April is far from cruel. In fact, this morning, it’s pretty damn spectacular. Today is April second, and on this second day of mean ol’ April’s blessings, the weeping cherry trees along Main Street are a jubilant celebration of spring’s arrival. Long pink garlands hang from each of the old gnarled branches. They sway in the breeze as if waving us humans over to take a look. Every few seconds the garlands shed a tiny petal to ride the wind like confetti. It’s beautiful, but somehow sad. Looking at this scene, some deeply suppressed part of me is stirred, a restlessness in my soul, and I kind of wish I was one of those petals . . . riding the wind right out of this town—on second thought, maybe Eliot was right.
One of those wayward petals sticks to the windshield as my brother parks us along Main Street and cuts the engine. “Damn, Kitty Kat, looks like we were lucky to get a spot.”
I look around us. Both sides of the street are packed with vehicles. “I didn’t think we had this many people left in this town. What in the world . . . ?”
“I don’t know . . . must be traffic court day or something. Come on. Let’s go in.”
“Wait!” I grab his arm as he reaches for the door. “I still don’t know about this, Dave. We barely knew the woman.”
“Look sis, you’ve beat this horse to death ever since we got the notice. You know I did that work on her front porch last year, and you helped me paint it. She must have, I don’t know, decided she liked us or something . . . or maybe she just felt sorry for us.”
“Maybe, but that’s not enough to include us in her will. I mean, you were contracted to do a job . . . and I was just helping out. Nothing special about that . . . I did open the door for her that one time, but—”
“Listen, Kitty Kat, put the brakes on your over-analyzing shit. The woman had no children, right?”
“But what? Now, just hush and listen. She had no children. And even though she was bat-shit crazy, we were always nice to her, so the best I can figure, she just wanted to leave us a little something. I’d say we get a couple of hundred bucks and the rest is probably going to some artsy-fartsy foundation or some kind of shit like that . . . Hell, there’s probably not much left anyway. She never worked a day in her life. I bet she spent just about everything her daddy left her . . . No sense making a mountain of a molehill here.”
I look over at him and raise an eyebrow with my best watch-it-mister expression. Even though David and I are twins, both 24 years old, I still feel like I have to be the adult. And this is not a recent development; it’s been this way since we were thirteen. Losing both parents has a way of making a person grow up fast. It did for me anyway. For David . . . not so much.
“Don’t give me that look,” he says as he shakes his head at me. “The only way we’re going to settle it is to go on in and see why we’re here, and we’re about to be late. So come on.”
He is right, of course. I just roll my eyes and reach for the door handle of his rickety old truck. You know, since he refused to let me drive us in my car. For some reason, he’s in love with this rust bucket. It’s a wonder we made it the five miles from our house to town.
Dave jumps out, in an obvious hurry, and takes the lead. I’m content to follow behind. Maybe that way, people won’t think we came together . . . Oh hell, who am I kidding? Everybody in this dried-up town knows who we are—the poor, pitiful Riley orphans.
As we walk along, all I can see is the back of one big-ass Five Finger Death Punch concert tee—which I begged him not to wear to the courthouse. Everybody treats us like white-trash lepers as it is. We certainly didn’t need to show up looking the part. The busybodies will look down their noses, but apparently, Dave doesn’t care enough about his only sister to stop embarrassing her—so I glance over at the closed doors of the courthouse and dread our grand entrance. Well, at least no one knows we’re coming. We’ve both kept this pretty quiet.
As we reach the intersection of two sidewalks, Dave makes an abrupt stop, sending the side of my face crashing into Toronto . . . or maybe Tokyo. All I see is the “To” as I run into him. I’m just about to light into his ass when a man’s voice redirects my attention. “Please, after you,” he says.
Of course I couldn’t see anyone else approaching on the sidewalk because I was walking behind a big stubborn house dressed in a ratty old concert tee. Since Dave is six-foot and pushing two-fifty, I’m forced to lean around the big lug to see who is talking. As soon as I obtain a view, my eyes quickly travel from dress shoes to perfectly fitting slacks to a button-up shirt and jacket—also perfectly fitting—all the way up to the most insanely blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They make it impossible for me to look away. In the periphery, I notice his neatly trimmed stubble is just enough to be sexy over a chiseled jaw, and his hair is just messy enough without being too messy. All I can think is damn! At this point I know two things about the man: one, he’s a god consorting with mere mortals, and two, he’s most definitely not from around here.
In one slick move, I lose my balance and stumble to the side. With a flurry of hair and elbows, I try to right myself. I’m such an idiot. Suddenly, a strong hand on my arm steadies me. I bolt up straight and freeze like a groundhog about to get his ass run over.
“Woah there . . . easy,” he says.
I look up and come face to face with brilliant blue. I guess I’m momentarily stricken dumb because I can’t seem to respond verbally.
“You okay?” he asks.
Physically unable to push any sound from my throat, I just nod my head.
“Goddamn, Kitty Kat, don’t lose your shit.”
Dear God. He did not just say that. My brother did not just curse and call me Kitty Kat . . . and curse . . . and embarrass me in front of a complete stranger—a completely gorgeous stranger. Dave’s stupidity and obvious lack of manners does wonders for my vocal chords. “Thank you, I’m fine,” I say to the man. Then I shoot my brother a look which says I’m going to strangle the life out of you with that freaking t-shirt.
Lucky for Dave, he knows exactly what the look means and has enough sense to back off. Two big-oaf hands fly up in a gesture of defeat. Well, he should know when to quit. It’s not like this is the first time he’s incurred my wrath . . . Not by a long shot.
Apparently, our little display of sibling affection amuses the stranger. When I look back to him, he’s smirking at me. What the . . . ? Who does he think he’s laughing at? He doesn’t know us. He may be a god on whatever planet he’s from, but that doesn’t give him the right to make fun of us mortals. I don’t care how adorable that little dimple is that just magically appeared. My eyes narrow for a quick second. Then, I walk on ahead toward the building.
I don’t turn around, but I can feel both men fall in behind me. Huh, I guess Mr. Blue Eyes was headed to the courthouse, too. He probably got a speeding ticket out on the three-mile stretch of interstate which cuts through a corner of our county. I bet he drives some obscenely expensive sports car. Too bad for him—about the ticket, I mean, not the car.
In what, for me at least, is now a march of nervous excitement, we walk up the courthouse steps and open one of the giant oak doors. Generations of people from our town have passed through these doors, but at the moment, none of them are here. The hallway is completely empty. That’s weird. I really expected to see a bunch of people walking around. Somebody is driving those cars. Where are they?
I pause just long enough for Dave to reach my side. Then I ask, “It was Courtroom B, right?” I know good and well it was, but I guess I’ve always kept him in the loop in any way possible. He’s a big idiot sometimes, but I want him to feel important . . . I let him think he’s helpful.
Dave nods, and we walk the few steps together to Courtroom B. As Dave reaches to open the door for me, I catch a glimpse of Mr. Perfect headed into the men’s bathroom. I bet he’s got enough money to pay off his ticket and be done with it. I doubt I’ll ever see him again. I shrug it off as a rare encounter with some fantastical beast, a unicorn. My friends wouldn’t believe me if I told them about him anyway.
My attention flies back to the door just opened by my sweet idiot brother. I’m frozen in my tracks at the first glimpse inside the courtroom. It looks like the whole town is here. But it’s not just people from our town, there are movie cameras and lights and some guy barking orders about angles or something. Dave and I just look at each other. The letter we received didn’t say anything about this. We just assumed we would be the only ones here.
We pass, reluctantly, through the threshold and into the room. With no seats left, we are forced to stand in the back against the wall. Lucky me, I get pinned in between two mountains—Dave on one side and Randy Shumate on the other. Randy works at the hardware store, so he knows everybody.
“Oh, hey, Kat . . . Dave,” Randy says looking between us.
With the apparent revelation that we weren’t the only ones to be summoned here today, I ask, “So, you got a letter, too?”
“Yep, looks like the whole town got one.” Randy points out the obvious.
I just nod and direct my attention to movement and murmurs at the front. Over the heads of those seated, I see Mr. Treadway, a local attorney, step up to the judge’s microphone, and the room goes silent. “Hello everyone. Thank you for coming, and welcome to the reading of the last will and testament of Miss Beatrice Elizabeth…