Short but sweet post for Tuesday Teasers. This is a short excerpt from Names Can Never Hurt Me. I recently changed the cover. I hope you like it.
You can buy either cover in paperback from Dreamspinner Press.
Also Available on AMAZON, Barnes & Noble, etc.
This is a scene after RC and Nick finally spend some quality time together and are just getting to know each other.
After a kick-ass stir-fry meal—I’ll go with meal—I asked if I could turn on some music. I knew he liked music, so I figured it was the best way to keep the enjoyable afternoon enjoyable. They say music soothes the savage beast; well maybe it staves off the beast before he becomes beastly. Sounded good to me.
He reluctantly agreed, “Um, yeah, sure. You can put on some music.”
“Why do you sound so hesitant about it?”
RC replied, “Because no one’s touched my CDs before. Don’t…. Just don’t get them out of order.”
“Or better yet, hit shuffle and then you don’t have to do anything. It’s an old stereo system. It was my dad’s.”
“Uh-huh,” I agreed.
I walked into the living room and plopped down in front of the stereo. It was indeed old—like dinosaur old—but easy to figure out how it worked. I opened the hatch-like front and the insides spun around like an old-time jukebox filled with forty-fives. I only knew what forty-fives were because my mom had some. I pulled one CD out. “500 Days of Summer, the motion picture soundtrack,” I read out loud. “Never heard of it.” I put it back and pushed play. I watched the inside turn since it was internally lit, and I heard the mechanism engage. Because all his shit was in alphabetical order, I found the CD case and read the back. The singer on this track was Zooey Deschanel.
I stood up, listening to the plucky tones of what sounded to me like a ukulele. Funny, I didn’t know people still played those. I closed my eyes and let myself go. If I was going to be me and act like that in front of RC, then he’d have to get use to the fact that I randomly danced sometimes. Only Corey knew that about me. I’d told him a long time ago I liked dancing with my little sister. It was fun spending time with Jennifer, and her friends could be really funny to watch, but I’d never told my friends because they might have thought I was less manly. Corey was the only one I trusted with the info. Now, RC was going to get an intro into Nick 202: Dancer Extraordinaire.
I recalled a song from Just Dance and tried mimicking the moves. They fit this swingy little tune quite well. I was not the best dancer in the world, if I was truly honest, but I was good at copying dance moves. That was the reason I always won that game and Jenn hated me for it. I swayed my hips and moved my arms, all the while tapping my toes. I kept my eyes shut, and I could only imagine what RC thought if he was watching. Was he watching? I hope he’s watching. More than likely, I appeared much like a happy-go-lucky eight-year-old, spinning with my arms held gently out as if catching a breeze as I twirled.
I remembered watching my sister dance in the grass one sunny afternoon when she was six. I’d always thought she was adorable when she whirled her princess dresses around and swayed to the music. She was so beautiful as she spun, not caring what anyone thought. I tried to reproduce that innocence now, in RC’s living room. He'd only seen the sex-crazed part of me. He needed to experience the goofy, carefree side as well. I could be fun. I wasn’t all about the sex and women.
I heard the lyrics saying something about Su-Su-Sugar Town. The singer, Zooey Descha-something, sang, “I never had a friend or wanted one, so I’ll just lay back and laugh at the sun….” I liked her voice. It tinkled like glass wind chimes.
I kept my eyes tightly shut, afraid RC was watching, but also afraid to find out he wasn’t because then I’d be disappointed. I thought he was there because I could smell him. His soap or something had a distinct aroma I’d picked up on the first time we’d eaten lunch together. I’d liked it but was too embarrassed to ask him what it was. Now I was more nervous than embarrassed to ask because he might think I was coming on to him. I mean, it wasn’t like I couldn’t or didn’t want to come on to him, but if I did, I was defeating the purpose of just being around him twenty-four seven like Paul suggested. If I really did like RC, I should feel something without the need to bring sexual attraction into the mix.
I thought my dancing might get a laugh out of him, but RC hadn’t made a sound. Either he didn’t want to hurt my feelings with snide comments or he liked watching me dance. “Liking me” was an awe-inspiring concept. Maybe I could do more quirky things in his company like I always wished I could do normally but never did for fear of ridicule. My friends didn’t welcome random silliness unless alcohol was involved. If RC accepted me as I was, it would give me more reason to pursue my feelings, even if they were somewhat convoluted in my brain.
I played it cool even though the uncertainty of the moment was killing me. In my mind's eye, he was leaning against the doorframe, observing my silly behavior from a short distance away. Possibly grinning. I was having so much fun floating around, I was saddened to hear the song end and the CD player shuffle. It picked a different one.
A song I knew came on, and my heart thudded suddenly. Oh my gosh, I can sing this one! I was so excited. I sang way better than I danced; my chorus teacher in high school told me so. She’d said I could sing professionally but that’s a hard career to get into.
I stilled momentarily, my back to where RC theoretically stood, and played the air piano I pictured in front of me. RC stifled a snicker. Oh good, he’s there. I didn’t allow his presence to draw me out of my trance, though. In that moment, I was Carly Simon. Just as the lyrics started, I pulled an imaginary microphone up to my mouth, spun around, opened my eyes, and started singing on cue.
A shadow crossed his face, and he shifted his stance. Still, I sang. Maybe he’d gotten the impression I was singing to him and he didn’t like it. So far I hadn’t seen any indication he liked me. That would explain the discomfort I plainly saw. He had gotten pissed in the car, after all. I couldn’t bear the idea M-L had about him not being attracted to me at all. I was adorable, wasn’t I? And if he didn’t like me singing this song, what could I do? It wasn’t my fault he had very little music I recognized. Plus, it had shuffled to this song. I hadn’t picked it.
RC joked, “And I thought you didn’t listen to music. How the heck do you know all the words to ‘Nobody Does It Better’?”
“James Bond,” I blurted between lyrics. “My dad loves James Bond.”
RC smiled, giving me the impression he liked my singing. He also must have known this was the theme song to The Spy Who Loved Me. He shook his head and strolled over to the CD player, switching it off.
I protested, “Hey, I was getting good.”
RC nodded. “Yeah. You should audition for The Voice.”
I tapped my chin. “Maybe I should.”
“You’re so vain,” RC half-joked, or at least I thought he was joking.
I pointed out, “That’s another Carly Simon song I know.” I knew it only because M-L sang it to me at one of her parties when I was doing something she found arrogant. I laughed at the time because I’d never considered my vanity a bad thing. Was it? I’d have to think on it.
He chuckled. “I bet. Is there anything you can’t do?”
“Um….” I considered. “I can’t rebuild a transmission. Not yet.”RC laughed out loud and marveled, “Oh my gosh. Well, I guess there’s one thing I have over you. …"
For the full chapter, I guess you have to buy the book.
Or come to a reading of mine. I'll be at Birdie's Cafe on March 26th form 6-8 pm.
Thanks for stopping by!