I have some very exciting news. On August 29th I'll be releasing my latest YA novel 'All The Pretty Girls.'
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: August 29th 2016
Cassie has always been on a certain path. The path to becoming a star, which she was put on by her pageant-loving mother, and she’s been following since she was four. She’s used to the glitz, glamor, and the constant search for perfection.
Always before, she’s willingly gone along with what her mom wanted, without considering what it is that she wants. Only now, her brothers best friend Aiden is back from college for the summer, and he’s staying with them.
Suddenly, Aiden is challenging everything, and getting her to finally see that she wants so much more than the pageant life she’s been living.
Together, they try out a collection of different things, searching for what Cassie actually likes and doesn’t like, and attempting to figure out who she is.
*If you’d like to help with the promotion of this release, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org*
Excerpt from Chapter Six
I really hate not having my car. Especially when I can’t rely on my family for rides when I need them, like today. I left a note on the counter last night, during one of my many snack breaks I had while writing my final Junior year paper. I asked someone to stick around long enough this morning to give me a ride. It’s my last day before summer break, I can’t not show up. Yet, trusting that one of my parents or my brother, would actually be down here turned out to be a mistake. I stayed upstairs longer, taking a longer shower, and spent a little extra time covering the dark circles, and so I missed the bus which admittedly I don’t like riding, but would if needed. I came downstairs, with the full belief that someone would be around, and instead, I find one flimsy excuse after another, written beneath my request for a ride.
I crumple the note up in one hand and flip on the coffee machine with the other. I arch my arm and throw the note towards the trash. Instead, it bounces off of Aiden’s chest and lands on the floor. He stoops down, picking it up and dropping it into the can himself.
‘Yeah, your brother asked me to stick around and give you a ride.’ Aiden shakes a set of keys in front of me, ‘I picked up my car from my parent’s place yesterday, so I’m good to go.’
‘Fantastic.’ I roll my eyes, ‘Why is it that you’re not staying with your parents this summer? You know, in your own house and your own room, with your family?’ I groan, yanking open the fridge. There’s half a container of Chinese food in here, leftover from the order that Aiden and Elliot placed last night, and then tortured me with the smell. I wound up having to take my steamed salmon and vegetables outside to eat. I haven’t had Chinese food since one rebellious moment when I was twelve. I was at a friend’s house, and they ordered it, and the smell was so delicious that I couldn’t bring myself to say no, and just eat the chicken salad my mom had packed for me. My mom found out about it, and she gave me a lecture about the proper diet for me, and how I couldn’t afford to gain any weight. I haven’t eaten it since, though I do sometimes sneak other things when I’m sure I won’t get found out. Though, only ever small things, like one small square of chocolate.
‘You should go into hospitality.’ He walks over and stands right behind me, leaning into the fridge and pulling out the container of leftovers. ‘You’re really good at making people feel welcome.’
‘Have you ever heard the of the concept of personal space?’ I ask.
‘I have heard of it, yeah.’ He leans back past me, picking up the orange juice this time. Arm curling right around me and reaching across.
‘Then give me some.’ I shove him back with my shoulder, giving myself the space to grab my low-fat yogurt, and step away from him.
‘To answer your question,’ he says, pulling out a chair for me, and standing behind it silently until I give in and take the seat, ‘I’m not staying with my parents because we currently have a somewhat rocky relationship. They wouldn’t have wanted me to spend the summer at home, and though they wouldn’t have stopped me if I’d said I was going to, it would have been awkward and tense.’ He takes the seat opposite me, peeling off the lid to his leftovers. The way he tells me this, isn’t in a bitter or angry way, just with a shrug of his shoulders, and a fact like acceptance of the matter at hand. It’s kind of sad to see him so comfortable, with the idea of his parents preferring him to stay somewhere else.
‘What did you do to upset them? Pried into their personal lives or invade their personal space?’ I ask, ripping off the top of my yogurt, staring down at it and trying not to think about how hungry I’ll be after it, and how much I’d rather be eating what he’s eating, instead of what I’m eating.
‘Funnily enough, no.’ He laughs, ‘No, actually they both wanted me to train up and work with them in the family business, eventually take over from them. I was never really interested in the restaurant world. I tried to me, but it was always their dream, not mine. My dad inherited the restaurant from my grandparents, who had set it up before he was born. He grew up with it the same as I did, but he grew to love it just as much as my grandparents had loved it. My mom, she loved it too. She loves to cook for people, host huge dinner parties, so the restaurant is just an extension of that. It was perfect. Me, not so much.’
‘Ah, tough situation.’
‘Yeah. I decided that I had to follow my own passions, and while my parents didn’t stop me from doing that, I know that it isn’t what they want. It’s been… less than welcoming at home than it was before I made this choice. My mom, she’s resigned herself to the fact that I won’t be taking over, she’s pinning her hopes on my siblings now, hoping one of them will want to follow in their footsteps, to keep it in the family. My dad, though, can’t get it out of his head, that his eldest child should be the one to take over. Whenever I go back there, he tries to convince me to leave Yale, come home and start working with him again. It always winds up in a row, and I figured everyone in my family would prefer it if we avoided that. So, your brother suggested that I take over your basement for the summer, and your parents agreed, and despite your less than sunny welcome, it’s much more welcoming here.’
‘So, what’s your passion then?’ I ask, tossing my empty container of yogurt into the trash can.
‘The aim is to become a doctor. I’m Pre-med at the moment at Yale, and I just completed a semester in Haiti, doing a special program of studying mixed with work experience, in a clinic.’
‘Exciting, and very different to serving up large portions of comfort food.’ I reply. ‘Ah, so you’ve been to my parent’s place before?’ He smiles slightly.
‘No, but I’ve heard that what they serve up, is best described as comfort food.’ I shrug. The truth is that I walk past it on my way to the gym three times a week, and often find myself staring inside and watching all of the happy people. Sitting with their families and friends, laughing and smiling over large portions of comfort foods. Heavy in carbs, which my mom has trained me to avoid. The whole concept seems like a different world to the one I live in, where everything I eat has to be carefully weighed and prepped. Lean proteins, steamed vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy. That’s my world. Not large steaming plates of mac and cheese, or fried chicken. For me, family meals are few and far between, and the conversation at them is thin. My mom and I will sit and eat one thing, while my dad and brother will enjoy something less regulated.
‘Right,’ he nods, ‘well it’s great there. I loved it as a kid, and actually, I still love being there. The atmosphere and the food, it’s just that I don’t want to work there. My parents keep thinking it’s because I don’t think it’s enough for me, but that’s not it.’
‘You don’t want more; you just want something different.’ I slowly nod my head. He catches my eye and smiles, nodding.
‘Yeah that, and I don’t know, I want something that’s mine. Something I picked out for myself, a life that I actually chose for myself, because I love it and not because my parents do it. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and I’ve been working hard my whole life to get the grades, get into Yale, keep up with all the work there and earn my place in the highly sought after study abroad program. Despite all of this, my dad especially can’t let himself be that proud of me because all he sees is that his son walked away from this family legacy, that he wanted to hand to me.’
‘Ouch, that’s rough.’ Instinctively, I reach my hand out and brush his arm, then quickly snatch my hand back and grab my coffee.
‘It’s hard,’ he only pauses for a beat after my hand leaves him, ‘trying to decide if you’re going to keep doing what they expect, just to keep them happy. Or, if you’re going to risk hurting them, to go after what you want and hope that they’ll understand it.’
‘Yeah.’ I reply quietly, looking down at the table.
‘How about you?’ He asks. I tense, my knuckles turning white around my coffee mug, ‘Pageants and all of that, your mom’s thing more than yours, right?’
‘Not so much at first, but… yeah, I guess so.’
‘So then, what is it that you want? What’s your dream?’
‘So let me guess, you want to go into psychiatric medicine?’ I ask, getting up from the table and turning my back on him, with the pretense of filling up my to-go cup of coffee for school.
‘Emergency medicine.’ He replies.
‘Colour me surprised.’ I say, grabbing my bag and pulling it over my shoulder. ‘I need to get to school.’ I walk off, making my way out the front door and wait by his car. If I had any other option right now, I’d be latching onto it, but I don’t. So instead, I sit beside him silently in the car, while he drives me to school. Frequently looking over at me, but thankfully not trying to start up any more conversations. Which is for the best, since I’ve admitted more to him in the past twenty-four hours than I’ve ever admitted to anyone before.