It’s Saturday and you know what that means – EXCERPT FRIDAY & SATURDAY!
I’m excited to be able to participate in the Virtual Ebook Fair, where authors are posting samples of their books at the event all day long. If you wish to join, and I highly recommend you do, please click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/381254251993089/
If you haven’t heard, my first book, “You’re Right, My Love,” is on sale for 99¢ from May 24th until June 30th. This is a great time to get it and read it before my third book comes out in July.
BUY “YOU’RE RIGHT, MY LOVE” NOW!
For today, my excerpt is from “You’re Right, My Love”. It’s the first chapter of the book and I hope you all enjoy it!
“Tennessee! Come downstairs!” Annette Miller yelled at the top of her lungs up the staircase to Virginia’s older brother. Virginia cringed, knowing her mother was angry with him for leaving the milk carton empty yet again in the refrigerator. Her hand continued to write the answers to her math problems on her homework paper while Tennessee mumbled while coming down the stairs slowly.
“Yeah?” Tennessee grunted and stopped halfway down the steps, putting his too long brown hair behind his ear. He stuffed his hands deep into the pockets of his black jeans.
“Seriously, Tennessee?” Annette crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that any way to talk to your mother?”
“Probably not,” Virginia’s brother was so smart. Too smart for his own britches, as her mother always says.
“Young man,” Annette paused and took a breath. Virginia could tell her mom was tired of dealing with Tennessee. He just turned sixteen and it shows. He started wearing black all the time and he showed his youngest sister his newest tattoo that, if his mother ever found out about, he’d be deader than a doornail. He has let his hair grow long and if he’s not texting on his cell phone, he’s locked in his room with his music loud enough to hear two blocks away. “Tennessee, did you put the empty milk carton back in the fridge?”
“Probably,” The length of his sentences has gotten incredibly shorter as well.
“Could you stop doing that? I told you just to throw it in the recycle bin and write it on the grocery list. I put it on the front of the fridge. Can you help me out some?” Tennessee’s mother was pleading with him, hoping to get through to him one more time.
“Sure. Whatever.” And with those two words, he went back upstairs to his room.
Annette sighed and looked down at the floor. Virginia saw her take a deep breath and watched as she turned to come back into the kitchen. Virginia looked at her mother, thinking, She looks like she’s aged ten years in the past two. Annette’s husband died two years ago from liver cancer and ever since then, Tennessee hasn’t been the same nor has his three sisters and his oldest brother. Dakota is a senior in high school this year and while he was smart to begin with, all he has done is study, study, and study since his dad died. Virginia is one of a set of twelve-year-old triplets; Jersey and Georgia are five and fifteen minutes older than her. Virginia has always thought to be the baby of the family and to her, her dad was a special person. Jersey and Georgia haven’t seemed to have changed much since he died. Virginia thought the three of them would have bonded even more since his death, yet in other ways, they have moved apart.
The Miller’s live in northeastern Nebraska where summers are summers and winters are winters — hot summers followed by really cold winters full of snow each year. The town and the local community weren’t too big, but the family didn’t reside out in the country either. The town consists of only one elementary, one middle school and one high school, just enough for the small community. But to do any type of major shopping required a trip to the next big city though a few fast food restaurants dotted the town.
“Virginia, where are your sisters?” Annette asked, stirring the spaghetti sauce on the stove.
“I guess upstairs. They do their homework up there now.”
“I see.” Annette sighed again.
“Mom, can I help in any way?”
Annette’s shoulders begin to shake. Virginia got up from the kitchen table and walked over to her. The tears silently poured down her mother’s face. Virginia put her arms around her mother’s waist to try and comfort her.
“Oh, sweetie,” Annette said softly, giving her youngest daughter a much needed hug. She put a soft kiss on the top of Virginia’s head. “I wish you could. I just, well,” Annette sighed. “I don’t understand Tennessee anymore. I don’t even understand Dakota or your sisters. No one is the same anymore. I try, really I do. It was just easier when your dad was around.”
“I know, Mom. It’ll be fine, I promise.”
“You were always the optimistic one in the family, just like your dad.” Annette let go of Virginia and grabbed a tissue to blow her nose. “Now, let me finish dinner. Are you finished with all your homework? Dinner is about ready.”
“Just about; one more problem to finish.” Virginia went back over to the table and quickly answered the algebra problem and put all her school things up.
“Can you get your sisters down here? I think I want everyone to have a seat at the table tonight.” Annette said, pouring the spaghetti noodles into the strainer over the kitchen sink.
“Sure,” Virginia put her backpack in the mudroom at the back of the house, which had the door leading to the garage in it. It opened just then and Dakota stepped into the house. Dakota, Virginia’s eighteen-year-old brother, stood almost six-foot tall, blond hair, blue eyes and, as the girls say, has a killer smile.
“Hey, sister,” Dakota said. He closed the door behind him and threw his backpack in his cubby along with his jacket.
“Hey there yourself. Just in time for dinner.”
“Oh good, I’ll take it upstairs and eat in my room.”
“Nix that big brother,” Virginia leaned against the doorframe. “Mom says we are eating at the table tonight.”
“Littlest sister, you are out of your mind,” Dakota sat down on the bench across from the cubbies and ran his hands through his blond hair. “Dinner? At the table?”
“Yeah, what’s wrong with that?” Virginia sat down beside her oldest brother, curious about his reaction.
“I don’t think we’ve had dinner together as a family since, well, since, I can’t even remember when. Has she told the others?”
“No, I was about to get Jersey and Georgia. Think Tennessee will come down?”
“Not on your life. He barely comes down even for school!”
“It’ll be fine. I’m gonna go ask him.”
“You won’t get very far, little sister. I’m warning you!” Dakota followed his sister out of the mudroom. She headed upstairs while he said hello to Mom. She gingerly walked up to Tennessee’s room, but decided to go get her sisters first. They share the room over the garage that they’ve divided into thirds so each triplet could create a space for their own.
Virginia walked into the room and saw Jersey laying on her bed reading one of her mystery novels and Georgia was at her desk, engrossed in doing her homework.
“Hey guys, Mom says it’s dinnertime. She’d like for us to set the table. Wanna help?”
Jersey put her book on her chest and looked at Virginia.
“Set the table?” Jersey laughed.
“What’s so funny?” She sat down on the edge of the bed. Jersey propped herself up on her elbows.
“We haven’t set the table in eons,” Jersey rolled her eyes. “What’s Mom got up her sleeve?”
“Nothing. She just wants everyone to sit down for dinner.”
“Virginia,” Georgia turned to look at her sisters who were mirror images of herself. “You know she’s trying her hardest, but we just aren’t the same family anymore. Nothing is the same and it isn’t going to matter how many years go by.”
“But we can be the same family again. We just have to try.” Virginia insisted. “Come on, just humor me and help set the table. Please?” Virginia begged her sisters.
“Come on Jersey,” Georgia closed her book and turned off her lamp. “Let’s just humor her and go downstairs.”
“Well, we have one stop first,” Virginia stood up. “We have to get Tennessee downstairs.”
Both of the sisters started laughing hysterically.
“I’m not joking. Come help me, please!” Virginia put her hands on her hips, disgusted with her sisters laughing at her.
“We’ll try,” Georgia said through her laughter. “But Tennessee doesn’t care about the rest of us anymore.”
“Let’s try,” Virginia pleaded. The triplets followed one another out of the room and down the hall to stand in front of Tennessee’s door. His entire door was covered in signs warning of impending danger, not to trespass and death will occur if someone dares knock on his door.
Virginia gathered up as much courage as she could and knocked on his door. No response. Her knock became harder.
“Yeah?” Tennessee responded. His one-word answers just brightened their day.
“It’s Virginia. Can you open the door?”
“Because I’d like to talk to you face to face.”
She pounded on his door as hard as she could.
“Please open the door!”
“Okay!” Tennessee’s door flew open, surprising the three sisters. “What?” This is the closest Virginia’s been to Tennessee in a long time. Virginia hadn’t noticed how much taller he had grown.
“Um, well, Mom would like for everyone to come down for dinner. It’s spaghetti.”
“Please? Mom would like for us to sit together. Just one night.”
“I don’t know, but you know what? You hurt Mom’s feelings earlier and I think it would make her really happy to have us all at the table tonight.”
“Nope.” Tennessee closed the door in their face.
“Told ya.” Jersey said. Georgia and Jersey headed downstairs, laughing at their sister. Virginia wasn’t finished though. She threw open Tennessee’s door, shocking him. He was already sitting on his bed, about to put his headphones back on.
“Tennessee Williams Miller!” Virginia stood with her hands on her hips. She was angry, but she was really having a hard time being angry with her older brother. Instead she walked over to his bed and sat down beside him. At one point, Tennessee and Virginia had a great relationship, but he’s hardly talked to anyone in two years. “Tennessee, why can’t you just have dinner with us?”
Tennessee just sat there on the bed, his feet propped up on his bed frame, his arms resting on his thighs. His hands were just hanging over his knees.
“You haven’t lost your voice, have you?” She smiled and could see Tennessee’s mouth move into a slight grin, not much of one, but there was one there.
“No, I haven’t,” Tennessee said. Wow, a complete sentence! She thought. Virginia touched her brother lightly on the arm.
“Come downstairs to eat, okay?”
“Why should I?” Tennessee got up and walked over to his window. He looked out into the dark night, where there was a light dusting of snow starting to fall to the ground on this early December evening. “I mean, the last time we tried to have dinner was after Dad died. Remember Thanksgiving?”
Virginia did remember the Thanksgiving immediately after their dad died. Michael Miller died the Saturday before Thanksgiving and his funeral was the Monday before. Annette insisted on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her house like always and it was downright horrible. Annette tried desperately to hide her feelings about her husband and her children’s father being gone, but every relative who came, from Granny Miller to their Aunt Josephine, Michael’s sister, to their cousins, just kept reminding Annette that Michael wasn’t there. So when it finally came to eating, everyone was at the table to eat and all the talk was about their dad this and Michael that and he would have insisted on this happening or that happening. Annette became downright angry and in all her fury and adrenaline, ended up turning the table over, spreading food over all their relatives plus the children. Needless to say, the Miller family hasn’t had dinner at their dining room table since and none of their relatives have even set foot in the house since then.
“Yeah, but let’s fix that problem. Mom wasn’t ready to have company that soon and personally some of our relatives just can’t keep their mouths shut.” Virginia crossed her arms over her chest.
“You know, Dad used to say that. Especially about Aunt Josephine.” Tennessee mimicked how Aunt Josephine would talk and talk without shutting up.
Virginia snickered, remembering her dad saying that a lot about his younger sister.
“So come on, let’s fix the problem. Let’s go have dinner at the table. Please?” Virginia begged.
“Alright. But just this one time. Okay?” Tennessee turned to look at her. “You’re very persuasive, you know?”
“Yep, I know!” Virginia jumped up and gave Tennessee a quick squeeze, which he returned. They walked out of the room and headed downstairs. Virginia thought her siblings were going to drop the plates and glasses they were holding when they saw Tennessee following her down the stairs.
“What?” Tennessee barked. He went over to his spot and plopped down, ignoring any preparations for the table. His normal character came right back out in front of everyone.
“Um, nothing little brother,” Dakota started.
“Don’t call me that!” Tennessee yelled.
“Sorry,” Dakota said with an attitude. “But it’s the truth.” Dakota went into the kitchen, shaking his head, tired of Tennessee and constantly fighting with him.
“Boys, please, let’s not fight!” Their mother said angrily as she put the huge pot of spaghetti on the table with force. Everyone quickly took their spot at the table, something that hadn’t been done in two years. “Now, this is nice, isn’t it?” Annette forced herself to smile at each of her children.
“I like it,” Virginia said cheerfully.
“You would, you’re the baby,” Georgia said.
“What’s wrong with liking everyone sitting at the table to eat?” she asked innocently.
“Nothing, just it’s weird.”
“Of course it’s weird,” Annette said. “We haven’t done it in forever, but we can definitely start again. I mean, in about nine months, Dakota will be going off to college. Then we’ll be missing someone from the mix.”
“We are already missing someone from the mix.” Tennessee spoke up, grabbing a roll from the plate on the table. He put it in his mouth and jerked off a bite.
“Yes, we are, but I was trying not to focus on that,” Annette said, sighing. “Let’s just eat.”
Annette couldn’t wait for dinner to be over. She tried to talk to everyone, but hardly anyone would add anything to the conversation. Virginia tried, too, but having always been seen as the baby of the family, made it hard to do.
Annette and Virginia were left to do the dishes, the norm in the house. Virginia always liked helping out and this was a good chance to help her mother. She put the leftovers in a new container and placed them in the fridge. Though she wanted to talk, Virginia could tell her mother didn’t want to engage in any conversation.
“Mom, I think dinner went well.”
“It was fine,” Annette sighed. “Can you finish down here? I think I’m going to bed.” Virginia never got a chance to answer; Annette just put her washrag in the sink and obliviously dripped water on the floor as she left the room. It was quite clear their family was never going to be the same again.