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Excerpt: ANGRY MACEY

On Tuesday I promised you a fabulous surprise this week.

As you know if you have hung around here any amount of time, I usually always release an excerpt or two of my latest book around it’s publication date. In case you didn’t know–

ANGRY MACEY RELEASES TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2017!!!

I decided to change things up this time, as this is my FIFTH book release and all.

I created a video of me READING it to you.

Remember, even though I studied radio, I am a better writer than a reader.

If you can’t wait until Tuesday, you can pre-order the eBook right now at the rock bottom price of only $.99. Click here!

Check out the video below…

***https://youtu.be/MEiLLzc0BnY***

Your past shapes you. It can’t be undone.
ANGRY MACEY
Available for $.99 Pre-Order

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EXCERPT: Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom – The Beginning

I am so thrilled to share the beginning of my new release Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom with you. Enjoy!

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Long ago, in a time before we confined our magic to fiber optic cables and microchips, there was a beautiful kingdom nestled in a valley, surrounded by mountains. The ebony mountains only brightened when the sun shone directly upon them, the peaks frosted with snow nine months out of the year. Rolling hills led up to the mountains, carpeted in thick, green grass on which white cows with black spots grazed. The fields of grain and beans created a patchwork in the countryside. In between the patchwork fields were modest wooden cabins that housed families, smoke from the fireplaces curling up towards the sky, the scent of the burned wood ingraining itself with the scent of the cows and dewy grass.

To the north stood a stone castle where the king for the whole valley lived. It wasn’t as large as the castles on the other side of the mountains, but that was fine. Everyone knows what they say about kings with big castles; they must be compensating for their small family jewels.

The people of the kingdom of Inniskellin were happy, for the most part. Sure, there was the occasional brawl at the pub or a land dispute. But everyone got up at the crack of dawn, worked hard, and slept well at night. Inniskellin was growing, little by little, every year.

King Talbot was not the brightest king that had ever existed. But he wasn’t particularly cruel either, so the villagers let his reign continue with no motion to remove him from the throne. He was young, still only twenty when his father died unexpectedly and he took over the ruling duties. That was going on five years ago.

King Talbot was single and a ladies man. He always had a beautiful woman on his arm. At royal balls, his dance card was perpetually full. Coming to power as he entered adulthood may have contributed to his hard-partying ways. He had dark hair and rather plain looks while being slightly overweight and not particularly athletic. But the lasses were all over him, because they all dreamed of one day becoming queen. And the king liked it that way.

The people who lived in the villages directly around the castle were known as living “in the shadow of the castle.” They perceived themselves to be better than the rest of the villages in Inniskellin, because they saw the king more frequently as he traveled in and out of the castle. This caused the people of those close villages to put on airs. The faraway villagers thought of them as snooty for assigning themselves an honor that really only existed in their big heads. Even those within the castle walls did not like the villages in the shadow of the castle, although the king loved the attention they showered upon him.

One day, he was at a faire in a village in the shadow of the castle. All the beautiful ladies were hanging on him, trying to get a dance as the band played a raucous tune. An older woman with a long nose and crooked, umber teeth wearing ragged clothes approached him.

“May I have a dance, sonny?” she screeched.

“Oh, definitely not” those who were witness say he replied.

“What? Well, why not? I just want some face time with my king,” she responded.

“No. What you need is a new face!” the king yelled too loudly to his hangers-on. He guffawed, his belly bouncing with the exertion. He was eating too many treats baked for him by the wannabee queens, and it was showing.

“Excuse me?” the old woman replied in disbelief.

“Wow. Not only is she ugly, she is deaf and dumb too!”

More laughter erupted.

“My ears better be deceiving me. I would hate to have to punish you for disrespecting an old woman.”

“Oh, right, like you could punish me. My royal guards would have you subdued in no time. And I wonder if you even are a woman anymore. You are probably all shrunken, like a dried fruit,” the king snickered. The crowd doting on him hooted and hollered their agreement.

“You best find some respect for your citizens fast, or they will all pay for what you have done here today.”

“No one can harm me. I am the king! Now get out of my sight, you ugly old witch.” The king even made a gesture with his hands, as if he were sweeping her away and out of his sight.

“Oh, you have no idea how right you are, sonny!” The unknown woman cackled loudly. She raised her arms to the sky and magenta smoke began to billow around her.

“I am a witch! And I don’t appreciate being talked to that way. And neither do these greedy whores around you, but they won’t tell you that. You think that your precious guards can protect you from a curse? I think not. I will spread a curse across your land. Death will surround you. As the years pass, it will only get worse, until your whole kingdom and everything in it shall perish.”

Half the people gathered chuckled, thinking this was a joke or an illusion, including the king. The other half trembled in their boots, knowing this could be the end of the pretty charmed existence they had enjoyed up until now.

“But I feel sorry for your kingdom, all those who will die innocently because of your incivility. So, I will give you the key to breaking the curse. Your first born son must kiss the girl in the land who has the truest beauty, through and through. You better hope that he is blessed with the gift of knowing true beauty that you yourself lack.”

And she cackled, disappearing into her purple cloud, and was gone.

All the villagers stared at the king, waiting to see his reaction. They looked to him to know how to respond to this horrific event.

And he laughed.

The king laughed off the curse.

A few others did too. They were suck-ups who would agree with the king on anything. If he said the sky was green, they would agree with him.

The others simply looked at one another. And when their eyes met each other’s, they all reflected the same uncertainty. And this spread like wildfire as they told what had happened between the king and the witch, over and over again, to their families, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances.

At the same instant the angry witch’s curse spread across the land, a baby girl was born. The parents were horrified. The newborn came out as the ugliest baby they had ever seen. When the baby was placed in the mother’s arms, the mother screamed. The mother was so revolted by her baby’s appearance that she opened her arms and the infant fell to the floor hard, and began to cry. Not wanting to kill it, but also not wanting to keep the child, the midwife took it to an orphanage in the next village. It was run by a lady named Miss Peters. She accepted the deformed, mutant-looking pale infant. The baby girl had a giant, bulbous nose. One eyelid drooped lower over the right eye than the left. Her eyes did not contain a bright circle of color, but rather a milky glaze that hid whatever true color may lay behind it. She would tell the girl that she had been found on the doorstep with no one around, to prevent her from ever hoping to reunite with her parents who would never accept her. Miss Peters gave her a beautiful name, hoping it would make up some for her gruesome appearance. She prayed it would improve with age. She named her Guinevere, the name of legend, and often understood to mean “white phantom.”

*****

They all felt the same worry that had not before hung over Inniskellin. Generations of villagers had experienced good fortune. There was still the divide between the rich and the poor. But the people had enough to eat, they were all happy and healthy. No war had come to them. But they could all feel the shift now. As the days passed, an anxiety permeated them as they had never experienced before. It hung on their clothes like campfire smoke. They always were just a little on edge. It was as though a gloomy cloud hung over each of their heads, even though the sun still shined.

But they began to notice subtle changes. The leaves of all the plants started to always be black on the tips. The fruit and vegetables were still grown and harvested. But it made everyone nervous. The cattle stopped getting quite as fat as they used to. Some chalked it up to the people’s paranoia. But when weighed year to year at market, the numbers proved their suspicions right.

In other noteworthy news, shortly after the witch’s curse, King Talbot abruptly married. Some said that he had to.

Seven months later, all the mysterious happenings were momentarily forgotten with the birth of the prince. The bouncing baby boy was chubby and beautiful, with eyes like molasses and curls to match.

The girl named Guinevere grew to be obedient and hard-working, helping Miss Peters with the chores whilst the other children played. Early on they would invite Ginny to play with them, only to be cruel to her. A girl with long, golden hair named Lydia was always the ring leader. She had been at the orphanage since she was a toddler, and was roughly the same age as Ginny. She would have been pretty, had her face not wore a pinched expression at all times as if she smelled something rotten.

The other orphans would play hide-and-seek with her, then forget to seek her, heading off to play another game that did not include her. Sometimes the girls would play knights and robbers and make Ginny be a robber, so that they could tie her up. Once they bound her to a tree in the woods and left her there. Miss Peters did not come looking for Ginny till morning, commenting that she herself was too afraid of the dark to enter the forest at night. Ginny would continue to have nightmares about that incident in the woods for the rest of her life.

Miss Peters told Ginny, “Do not let anyone see that you are weak. Do not let them see that they hurt you. Do not let them see you cry. They will exploit it until you are completely broken.” Ginny felt that Miss Peters should make the other girls stop their behavior. But Miss Peters’s words had told her that it was Ginny’s burden to bear. Ginny was the one who needed to change, not the other girls. She needed to grow a tougher skin against all the teasing and torture. But Ginny could not find that inner strength inside. She always broke down. And that was when the others would tear her apart.

Once a fellow orphan girl named Bridget, who was very fair but so dim she sometimes forgot her own name, happened to touch Ginny’s hair during a game of tag. It was not hard to catch Ginny, as her extra-large feet and short legs gave her a speed and agility disadvantage. It was probably the only reason they let her join in at all. She was always the first one out.

“Your hair is soft,” Bridget remarked in surprise.

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I just assumed it would be nasty and stiff like the cow’s hide.” It did not escape Ginny’s cloudy vision that Bridget always escaped milking duties. Or that Bridget was comparing her to a cow’s ass.

“I wash it with the same soap as you do yours. You assumed it would be unpleasant because I am ugly?” Ginny meant for it to come out incredulous, but instead her words were feeble.

“Of course.” Satisfied that their non-conversation was over and Ginny was safely eliminated, Bridget ran back to the game with her band of make-shift sisters.

Ginny knew that is how they all thought of each other. And even at this young age, she knew that that sorority would never include her. She always thought that they teased her all the time only because she looked different. But Bridget’s comment had upset her more than usual. Ginny now knew that they didn’t just think she was different on the outside, they thought she was on the inside as well. She had hoped she would one day grow to be more beautiful and they would accept her. But this new development made Ginny lose all but the tiniest hope of that happening. They made up a jump rope chant, in her honor, that they sang over and over again all day long as each girl took their turn:

 

I smell the roses

I jump with my feet

All that is beautiful

Can’t be beat

I see a monster

The troll gurl

Watch out!

She will eat you

faster, faster

You better watch out

She’ll eat me too.

 

After Miss Peters turned down the lanterns and ordered all the orphans to silence and sleep, she always returned to her nearby cabin with the thatch-covered roof for the duration of the night. The girls would then prattle on endlessly about one silly topic or another, sometimes for hours, until exhaustion finally overtook them. Ginny did much of the work that had to be done on the farm and in the kitchen as the others chose not to. She was always exhausted when she hit her pillow, and wished they would all be quiet and go to sleep. But she had to stay awake until the last one was unconscious. She had learned her lesson the hard way. Many nights they had gotten together, coordinated and executed tactile assaults on her while she was in slumber.

Tonight they were supposing on the existence of magic.

“I think magic is real. It has to be,” Marta declared, always the dreamer.

Ginny often had strong opinions on these topics, but she knew better than to speak up. Last time that happened they had cut all her hair off. It was only just now growing out.

“Real things are rain and mud and cow shit—all the things we are surrounded by every day in this hellhole,” Lydia sneered into the darkness.

“So Lydia, you don’t believe that if you kiss enough frogs, one will turn into a prince?” Natalie asked.

“Never.”

“But what about this curse? Without magic, there would be no curse,” Angie inquired.

Although it was dark, Angie’s face popped into Ginny’s mind at the sound of her ragged voice. She had hair that was only one shade shy of being orange, and hung long and loose, though Angie never bothered to brush it.

“There’s no curse. It is all just stories the crazy old folks tell to scare us,” Lydia replied.

“No, it’s real!” Angie protested.

“Oh really? Then how come we are still here? How come the kingdom hasn’t disappeared like cotton candy on your tongue?”

“Now that sounds like magic,” Marta whispered.

“You’ve never had cotton candy,” Angie retorted.

“Have too.” Lydia always had to have the last word. It didn’t matter if it was a lie.

There was silence for a few moments.

“So you think when I wish on a falling star, it means nothing?” Marta asked.

“Nothing. Life, death. None of it means anything,” Lydia responded.

“That is a horrible way to be,” Marta said.

“It’s real,” Lydia stated.

“The king is smart. He wouldn’t fight a curse by collecting more taxes and drafting more knights if no such thing existed.”

“The king isn’t smart at all.”

Ginny could agree with that, from fragments of what she heard the adults say.

“Maybe it is all a lie. Maybe it is just a way for the prince to be the talk of the kingdom. Some day he will pick out the best kisser to be his queen.”

“Nobody said that he would have to marry the girl whose kiss breaks the curse.”

“But why wouldn’t he?”

“Because maybe he won’t love her.”

“Maybe love is the real magic,” Marta offered.

A hush fell over all the girls then. They were all here, stuck in the care of Miss Peters. None of them had known a mother or father’s love. But the others had hope of one day marrying a dashing stranger. Ginny had no such preconceived notions. There would always be only herself, and whatever self-reliance she could muster. When all their breathing fell even in the room, she crept outside into the pitch black night to look at the sky.

Ginny could not shut her mind down. Was there really a curse? And if so, why wasn’t the kingdom destroyed yet? Most of all, why had Ginny ever been born to look this way, instead of normal? She felt normal inside, she thought. How had the outside gone so wrong?

Ginny yearned to know what it was like to be beautiful. She wished one day that she would wake up and could peel the ugly off of her face. She was so tired of how everyone looked at her. They saw her glazed eyes, her droopy eyelid, her giant nose, and assumed she was also feeble-minded. But she had millions of ideas run through her head every day. Brilliant ideas! She had feelings! If you threw rocks at her, did she not hurt? If you cut her, did she not bleed? There were just as many deep thoughts going on inside her brain as anyone else. Probably more than some of the air-brained girls she was forced to share a bedroom with.

She looked up at the stars then. They seemed so bright tonight. Then she saw it: her first ever shooting star. Hadn’t Marta, so small and impressionable with her big round eyes and short black hair, said you should wish on it? So Ginny wished her deepest, most heartfelt wish. She wished to be pretty.

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Excerpt: Winter Holiday Scene of Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

Normally I would start by sharing the first chapter of the book with ya’ll, but since I know we are all in the Christmas spirit right now, I have decided to share this chapter with you first. This is about halfway through the book. Ginny has moved into the castle with the prince, who has ascended to the throne of king by this point in time. The curse is ravaging the land. They are celebrating Winter Holiday, which is pretty much a solstice celebration.

Enjoy!

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Ginny tried to ignore what Jeremie had said about the holiday approaching. They had never done much to celebrate at the orphanage. The girls had usually given each other gifts that they had handmade from whatever had been lying around. Knitted scarves or socks were popular. Ginny never received anything, subsequently it wasn’t a big deal to her. Sure, she felt a pang of emptiness in her heart as the other girls exchanged presents and hugged each other, excluding her. But she was actually grateful; it was the one day annually that they never were outright cruel to her. If that was their gift to her, she would take it in a heartbeat. Would’ve been nice if it could last two days, or three, or a week though.

But apparently Winter Holiday was a much bigger affair at the castle. Jeremie kept assuring her that this year would be a small celebration, nothing like when he was a boy and his father had still been alive. He told her of how there had been visitors from foreign lands, including singers and dancers. They would perform at the great dances that were held in the castle’s main ballroom. Ginny had accidentally walked into the empty space once when she had gotten lost upon first arriving at the castle. The room was ginormous. It was bigger than Miss Peters’s cottage, the bed house, and the barn—combined. Jeremie assured her that it used to be filled to the brim with tables jam-packed with every delectable food you could think of (which Ginny could only think of two) and guests suited in their most elegant attire. She could not imagine it. And being an avid reader, she was usually good at utilizing her imagination.

Ginny was in awe of all the decorations that adorned the castle. Green boughs hung in the main hallways, the ones to and from the dining hall and the royal chambers. She had lost count of the number of pine trees that had been chopped down, brought inside, and decorated. The baubles and tinsel were so plentiful as to conceal any branch imperfections brought about by the plague. One ornament on any given tree looked like it was worth more than the orphanage had taken in in any single year. Ginny couldn’t help but imagine if the girls from the orphanage ever got in here. They would be picking the trees bare of all their trinkets, not really caring about them, only what value they would have for resale.

On the last night of the Winter Holiday celebration, local musicians were brought into the castle to perform. There was a modest buffet of food for the intimate collection of guests. Ginny was curious, but she knew her place, knew that she did not fit in with that crowd. But she desperately wanted to listen to the music, and maybe a little of the voices of everyone else’s merry-making. Accordingly, she hid in the library, with the door slightly ajar. She had a book in her lap, but found that her attention was not in it. She had been on the same page for over an hour, her eyes trailing over the same words but not comprehending them. Her concentration was with all the festivities nearby.

She jumped when the heavy wooden door groaned with movement.

“So this is where you are hiding yourself. You know, I almost had to send Luke out in the snow to search for you.”

“You know I get cold easily. It is unlikely I would run off out in the weather.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

“That’s true,” she bowed her head, pretending to study her book.

“Why aren’t you attending the party?”

“It would make me uncomfortable.” It was the truth, and with a nod of his head Jeremie seemed to accept her answer. “I am enjoying the music though. I have heard so little in my lifetime. This is a rare pleasure.”

“Well, we will have to see about getting more of it into your life.”

They were both quiet for a moment. Jeremie moved to take a seat in the chair next to the settee Ginny was stretched out on. He leaned his head way back and exhaled, as if entertaining guests was an effort for him. Then he sat back up and met her eyes.

“I was hoping I could catch up with you before you turned in for the night.”

“Why?”

“I have a present for you.”

“Why? No, I don’t need it. Your taking me into the castle is gift enough.”

“You make it sound like the castle is another orphanage. From the few stories you have told me, I think I am insulted by that.”

“Well, I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

“You are not free-loading. You are here because you are contributing to the Curse Task Force. And you are doing an excellent job. And—and that is why I want to give you this,” he stuttered thoughtfully.

He reached into an inner pocket of his coat and pulled out a small leather sheath. When he held it out to her, the light from the fireplace caught the silver in the handle and she had a loud intake of breath. She found herself reaching for it even as she said, “But I couldn’t…”

“My father gave this to me when I was a boy. I mostly used it to whittle wood and stab scarecrows. But I’ve had it cleaned and sharpened, therefore it should be in excellent condition for you to take with you on the road.”

“You mean I will be traveling with the company?” Ginny was dumbfounded. She had never expected this.

“Of course. I need my number one girl with me.”

Her heart fluttered, although she knew he didn’t mean it. Not in the way she wanted. Even then, even if someday he grew to like her as she did him, it was all for naught. Ginny knew she could never even allow herself to dream of one day marrying a king. The people of the kingdom would never allow it. Not that there was likely to be any kingdom left whatsoever.

“But you will need it for protection,” she argued.

“I will have my sword, and several knights protecting me. But on the occasion you may get separated, it would be wise for you to have your own weapon.”

Ginny relented and slid the knife from the sheath to examine it. She tried it out, stabbing the air in front of her. It was the perfect size for her chubby, female hands. “Alright. But when the mission is done, you must let me return it.”

“I would never think of letting you do any such thing,” he snickered.

Ginny smiled wide in spite of herself. But her head was bowed, so he couldn’t tell, she didn’t think.

She reached into a fold of her dress and pulled out a small book, handing it to Jeremie.

“What is this?” he asked, studying the plain brown leather cover.

“A gift. I uncovered it in the library.”

“If it came from the library, then it is already sort of mine, isn’t it?” he chuckled, looking at her sideways.

“But you would never think to go in there and poke around yourself. You needed me to find it for you,” she smirked, knowing she had him. “Plus, what do you get the king who already has everything?”

“OK, I give. What is this?”

“It appears to be a history of the kingdom that Merrick kept on his own. I found it in a bureau drawer, almost as if someone was trying to hide it.”

“Weird. So, it mentions my father a lot?”

“I only peeked, but it has your grandfather too.”

He shifted it from one palm to the other, as if weighing the information contained within.

“Thank you for this. And for your friendship.”

“Thank you. Blessed solstice to you.”

“The same to you.”

From the broken mind of Jennifer Friess, the joining of hearts & souls…
NOW AVAILABLE! Troll Gurl and the Cursed Kingdom

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Excerpt: Chapter 2 of Be Careful What You Wish For

It has been a while since I first gave you a taste of Be Careful What You Wish For, clear back in December. For Chapter 1, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/12/30/excerpt-chapter-1-of-be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jennifer Friess

Below you will find Chapter 2. And if you like what you read, the book is now available on Amazon.com in paperback, eBook, and free for Kindle Unlimited members. Hope you enjoy!

 

2

It was all Miley could do to crawl out of bed and drag herself and her over-stuffed luggage downstairs to meet Kiley to leave for the airport. Neither Miley nor Kiley had ever been early risers. Growing up, their mother had sometimes resorted to using a plant mister to get them out of bed on Saturdays for long-distance cheerleading competitions. She wondered how Kiley had managed to get up so early. Kiley had already been on the road for two hours, driving up to Huntington from the farm she lived on with her boyfriend in Oakley. She must have been even more excited than Miley.

After all, it was Kiley’s book being turned into a movie. Or, to make it sound more important, her debut novel was being shot for a feature film. That is how Miley phrased it to all her friends.

Miley was quite jealous of this. Miley thought she was doing good owning (OK—co-owning) a highly successful party planning business. But somehow her baby sister had shown her up. Miley hungered to be famous. How other people desired wealth enough to drive themselves to the poor house buying lottery tickets was akin to the level of her entertainment obsession. She simply hadn’t had many chances in rural Alabama to fulfill her aspirations.

Kiley’s name now showed up once in a while in the very Hollywood entertainment magazines that Miley had fantasized of being in herself someday when she was a child. Of course, usually it was a tiny blurb under the pictures of the fresh-faced unknowns starring in the movie, with a caption such as “Bobby Patterson and Christy Stevens star in the film adaption of K. Riley’s best-selling book Don’t Judge a Boy by His Shoes.”

Yes, there was no way Miley was going to miss out on this trip. She couldn’t wait to get to Tinseltown. To visit the mythical, magical Hollywoodland…

“Wake up, dork. We are at the airport. And you owe me seventy dollars for long-term parking,” Kiley grumbled.

“You are the one with the major motion picture. Why should I have to chip in?” Miley stifled a yawn. The car was now parked on some level of a massive parking garage.

“You are the successful business owner. And you know I invested most of the money I made from the sale of the rights to JT and Associates Development.”

“That is only a fancy way to say you gave several grand to your fiancé.”

“Josh is not my fiancé!” Kiley argued.

“Oh, it is only a matter of time.”

“Possibly. But that time hasn’t arrived yet. And I am fine with that.” They both got out of the car and gathered their luggage. The headlights flashed and the car’s horn echoed against the concrete walls, signaling Kiley had locked it, as they began to head for the terminal.

“Do you know how much it sucks to be twenty-five years old and have no husband and no marriage prospects? No, of course you don’t. Let me tell you, it sucks big balls.” Their suitcases rolled behind them, a steady drone of plastic wheels being worn down by the abrasive floor.

“What happened to Sandy?” Kiley asked.

“My on-again, off-again boyfriend? He is off-again. Most likely forever. He actually moved out this time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. We are heading to California! Where I am going to find me a new man. A rich man. Maybe a star…,” Miley pondered, slipping on her sunglasses, despite the fact that it was still pre-dawn, and taking the lead ahead of Kiley.

“Mile, could you be any more shallow?” Kiley asked her sister.

“Mmm,” Miley pretended to think about it. “Probably not.”

Miley was very disappointed by the appearance of the other passengers on the airplane. She had made sure to nurture the perfect tan as preparation for her vacation. Her home manicure still looked fresh, having applied it shortly before the wedding. She also had freshened up the highlights in her long dark blond hair. It now came halfway down her back. It was wavy now, because she had left the house while it was still wet. But she had made sure she brought her flat iron as well. Was straight still the go-to look in Hollywood? Man, she hated trying to cultivate glamorous style on a tight budget.

All the other passengers simply looked like the everyday Joes she would pass at the pharmacy or the mall. She couldn’t say grocery store, because she never went there unless it was a special occasion, like if she was planning a picnic or something. Miley didn’t understand how people could take their whole family, towing grandparents and a gaggle of children, and spend hours at such an establishment. She was the kind that did all her weekly shopping in fifteen minutes at the chain pharmacy on the corner. She could walk the whole store in less than one minute. They had makeup, toilet paper, the bare necessities of food, such as granola bars. What else did a person need?

Other people painted pictures or assembled model battleships as hobbies. Miley’s hobby had always been following Hollywood. No matter what she was going through or how bad her day had been, the celebrities within her movie magazines were always smiling back at her. Her favorite movie never deviated from the same course of action, no matter how unlikely the actors in the romantic pairing or their circumstance.

Miley sometimes day-dreamed that a good-looking, famous actor would find himself in Huntington and have a need for some party-planning. Or sometimes, she would fanaticize about simply running into a celebrity on the street or in the coffee shop. Then they would have a brief courtship, where he would buy her lots of expensive gifts. Then, well, he would sweep her off her feet and out to Los Angeles to live with him happily ever after. It would be like a romantic comedy, except it would leave out the usual misunderstanding that drives the two lovers apart before they are reunited again in the final act. Miley fell asleep every night with these scenarios running through her head. She could recast a new hunk when it was convenient. She wondered if that is how everyone put themselves to sleep at night.

In her mind’s eye, she had envisioned a plane full of movie stars and models. But she guessed that was unrealistic, since she was on a Huntington to Los Angeles flight. If it had been a NYC to LA flight, maybe that would have been different. Maybe a flight like that would carry a guy who would try to flirt with her. Then she could blow him off. Then he would reveal that he was a talent agent and he had just “discovered” her. People got discovered in odd places all the time. Pamela Anderson had been discovered when she appeared on the JumboTron at a football game, wearing the right shirt. Not that Miley wanted to follow Pam’s same path to fame, but she wasn’t against using anything she had to her advantage. Miley sighed.

“What are you grinning about, you goofball?”

Kiley’s comment snapped Miley out of her daydream.

“Nothing. I was just thinking of all the different ways I have envisioned this trip in my head.”

“And let me guess. It probably involves a guy.”

Miley shrugged. “I plead the fifth.”

Miley knew that her identical twin sister Kiley thought of her as selfish. Kiley had made no secret of that since they had turned fourteen and their personalities had diverged. Kiley always told it that they both changed. Miley believed only Kiley had. Kiley had begun to make fun of the things that they had always both loved. Miley still felt an undeniable connection with her twin. But she had never forgiven Kiley for this, what Miley viewed as a betrayal.

Not only did Kiley’s tastes change at that time, but her appearance as well. Kiley cut her hair and dyed it black. She began listening to alternative music and dressing goth. At college, her clothing had gone from goth to grunge, but whatever. Miley guessed people at college must have all the style sucked out of them. She wouldn’t know. She had skipped college and worked on building a business instead.

Up until recently, Kiley had still worn her hair dyed jet black, cut into a bob with severely straight bangs. In the last year or so, she had finally grown out the bangs and let it go back to its natural light brown. It now came down to almost her shoulders, so that she could actually get it into a ponytail on occasion.

Jenny Jones, who already was running the business quite well on her own, was kind enough to take Miley on as an apprentice when she had expressed an interest. Jenny worked full-time as the librarian in Oakley, the tiny town where Miley had grown up. Jenny also had a new husband and they were trying to start a family, even though she was getting on in years. All this helped to convince Jenny that she should then take Miley on as a full partner. Miley showed such a knack for marketing and networking that soon she was probably doing more work than Jenny was. But Miley wasn’t bitter about that. Much. Miley did realize it would have taken her years to start her own company and build it up to where Jenny had hers when Miley was hired. Jenny had done all the hard start-up work and reputation-building. All Miley had to do was tweak the existing processes, spread the word about their great services to anyone who would listen, and make sure their ideas didn’t get stale.

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Excerpt: Chapter 2 of When You Least Expect It

When You Least Expect It by Jennifer Friess

When You Least Expect It by Jennifer Friess

Here is Chapter 2 from Book 2 in The Riley Sisters Series, When You Least Expect It.

If you want to read Chapter 1, please click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2015/07/16/excerpt-chapter-1-of-when-you-least-expect-it-goodreads-giveaway/

If you read Book 1, The Wind Could Blow a Bug, then maybe you were always curious about what life was like inside the big old Tucker farmhouse. So was I. After all, the Tuckers are like royalty in the tiny town of Oakey. All those hot bachelors living on top of each other. Here is your inside look, courtesy of our protagonist Kiley. And don’t forget that my Goodreads giveway ends 8/15/15. Enter here: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/147094-the-wind-could-blow-a-bug

2

Kiley used to like driving, but now she was just sick of it. She wanted to get to her destination and not have to start her SUV again for at least a week. The sun was sinking lower in the darkening sky. She was only an hour out. Being on South 223, headed toward Oakley, she could already feel her body relaxing. She was headed home. Well, to her hometown anyway. The house she had grown up in with her parents and her sisters had been sold after their divorce when she was 15. Kiley and Miley, along with their mother, Helen Riley, had moved in with their Aunt Jamie in Huntington. That is where they had finished high school. Her dad had gone to take care of his ailing mother in Jackson, until her death a few years later. He must have put down roots, because he stayed. Kiley’s older sister Jane had gone off to college. Miley and Kiley’s relationship with Jane actually improved once their parents were removed from the situation. But she wasn’t going to think about all that fucked up shit just now. Jane was the reason Kiley would be in Oakley by dinnertime.

Kiley could see the large farming complex in the distance; all of the grain elevators, bins, barns, garages, and the office that made up the business of Tucker Farms. The fields stretched out on either side of the road. Freshly planted distinct rows of winter crops gave the optical illusion of bending as they reached toward the horizon with the motion of the moving vehicle. Kiley knew it was the right homestead, because there was no other farm this big anywhere nearby. She could just make out the chipped paint of the wedding proposal for Jane that her now-husband Wade had painted on one of the silos. She pulled into the driveway of the Tuckers’ large farmhouse. It is a good thing it was large, because right now there were seven people living in it, and there were about to be two more.

Kiley parked her car behind one of the pickup trucks, not knowing where would be a good place to not block someone. Kiley was used to parking for the night in a parking lot. She was going to be staying here awhile, at least a few weeks, but some things were just not as clear cut as they would be at an impersonal hotel.

She stepped out of the car and slammed the driver’s door. Somewhere from within the house she heard a dog bark. She opened the rear tailgate and slid out her big suitcase. It hit the ground with an unceremonious thud. As she stood it up and pulled up the handle, she heard plodding footsteps approaching on the gravel.

“Oh my God. It is so great to see you!” Jane yelled as she came closer to hug Kiley. Jane’s light brown hair was up in its usual ponytail. Kiley had once read somewhere that how people wore their hair in high school is how they would most likely wear it for the rest of their lives. That would be true of her older sister. Jane had always favored comfort over style. Her current physical state wasn’t going to change that anytime soon. Jane’s blue eyes beamed at the sight of Kiley.

“Wow. It is great to see ALL of you, too!” Kiley exclaimed. Jane and Kiley hugged awkwardly around Jane’s giant, round belly.

“What did you expect? I’m almost nine months pregnant!” Jane said, sarcastically.

“Well, I guess when you put it that way, you COULD be bigger,” Kiley appraised her sister’s baby bump. Kiley had not seen Jane in months. “I am so glad you didn’t have it before I got here.”

“I haven’t had any contractions or anything, so we will see. They may have to go in after the little sucker,” Jane pondered, putting her hand on her belly affectionately. “I am so glad you came to be my nanny.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Kiley’s eyes bugged out a little, “but I will help where I can.”

Wade, who had followed Jane out, came around to grab Kiley’s large suitcase. Wade and Jane had been married for two and a half years. Evan Tucker, Wade’s father, grabbed Kiley’s carry-on bag out of the car. Mr. Tucker owned the house and the farm.

“Any more bags, Kiley?” Mr. Tucker asked.

“Um, in the passenger side. And please don’t judge me by the cleanliness of my car, Mr. Tucker. I have been living in it for six months,” she yelled, as he made his way around the vehicle.

“Please, call me Evan,” he replied.

It was throwing Kiley off, having people help her carry things. All the cheap motels she stayed at she schlepped her bags around herself. This was the first indication that after being on her own for four years, it might be hard to reacclimate to a family environment.

“C’mon. Dinner’s almost ready,” Jane led them into the house. It was kind of silly, as she was slowing everyone down with her weighted pace.

“Did Donna cook it?” Kiley asked, hopefully.

“Of course. You deserve a good, old-fashioned home-cooked meal. There is no better cook in these parts than my wife,” Evan boasted. He was always happy to brag about his wife’s cooking.

A haze of smoke surged out the door as Jane opened it. Walking in the door, the smell of homemade fried chicken reached Kiley’s nostrils. The aroma of grease hung heavy in the air. Her nose told her that burnt stray buttermilk batter bits in the pan had overcooked and were the source of the kitchen smog. Kiley thought she might pass out from the overpoweringly delicious aroma. She had only had Donna’s cooking on a few occasions, one of which being Jane’s wedding rehearsal dinner, but it never disappointed.

Kiley followed Jane through the door. A large, orange dog leisurely wagged its tail as Jane approached. When it got a whiff of Kiley’s unfamiliar sent, the dog went into a crazy barking fit. Kiley liked dogs, but was a little afraid of all the teeth she saw as the dog growled at her.

“Dave, come,” a man called from the living room. The dog barked three more times at her, the hair on his back standing at attention, before turning tail and heading further into the house to obey his master.

Huge hooks filled with coats hung on the wall just inside the door. There was a striped rug over the tile on the entryway floor. It could hardly be seen under the pile of boots and shoes that eclipsed it, mostly men’s. Many were covered with a reddish-brown crust. Kiley was going to hope that it was only dirt. She figured Donna must make them all remove their footwear here. It was the only way that the carpet in the house would ever survive to see another year. There was a door to Kiley’s left that seemed to go directly into the kitchen. There was a short hallway to the right. There were at least three more doors down there. The living room lay straight ahead, filled with bodies. She found herself smiling reflexively at the smell from the food, even though she was entering a room full of people who were virtually strangers.

“Hi Kiley.”

“Welcome.”

The room collectively greeted her as she came in. She knew all the guys were Wade’s brothers. She used to know all their names, but was now fuzzy on who was who. She had met so many new people in the past year. The unknown female must be one of their wives. Jane led Kiley through the living room and in front of the pass-through window for the kitchen, where Donna spotted her.

“Oh, there you are! Give me a hug, honey.” Donna embraced Kiley in a giant hug before she ever had the chance to protest. Not that she would have. Donna was pleasantly plump with a wild nest of curly burnt sienna hair. Kiley didn’t know her well, but Donna was the most genuinely nice person she had ever encountered.

“Sorry about the smoke. Happens every time I make fried chicken,” Donna paused, taking a breath. “Are you excited to become a first-time aunt? Cuz I am SO excited to become a step-grandma-in-law, or whatever!”

“Yes, I guess so. I am interested to see how Jane does with labor,” Kiley said.

Jane held up a middle finger for her sister that no one else could see as she had already snuck into the kitchen.

“Oh, honey. I wanted to tell you what a great book you wrote. Oh, but I bet everyone tells you that. I read it cover to cover. Everyone in town is so proud of you…” Donna could talk a mile a minute, and use more exclamations than anyone could believe possible. Kiley was out of breath just listening to her.

“But one thing did bother me about the book. I never realized Jane was so mean to you growing up.”

“It’s not Jane!”

“It’s not me!”

Kiley and Jane yelled in unison.

That is one thing that Kiley never anticipated would be such a big deal about her book. The main character had an evil older adopted sister. The older sister character was in no way based on Jane, other than maybe that she was adopted. But now everyone thought Jane had been a wicked step sister. Even their mom had called Kiley and Jane to see if there was any truth in the writing to real life.

“Oh, well, that’s good. We are so glad you could come stay for the birth of the bouncing baby and for the holidays. It will be so good for Jane to have family around at this time.”

“You are all my family,” Jane said to Donna loud enough for those in the living room to hear, but Donna pretended not to notice. Maybe the statement had embarrassed her. Jane snatched a biscuit off the counter behind Donna’s back and took a bite out of it.

“Thanks for having me. I know you already have a full house. But it will be so nice for me to be off the road for a while,” Kiley sighed. ‘That is an understatement,’ she thought to herself.

“Hey, people can only check-in if they have a definite departure date,” a loud guy yelled from the couch in the living room.

“Then you are more in violation of that rule than anyone else here!” a younger-looking guy said. Everyone laughed.

Kiley wasn’t used to spending copious amounts of time with loud men. Ted definitely didn’t qualify as a loud man, and he wasn’t into horseplay or games. He was too serious for that. Kiley had grown up in a house full of girls. Her own father had been the quiet type. She would have to stay close to Wade and Jane for protection. On second thought, Wade often seemed a likely target. Kiley would have to hide behind the pregnant woman.

“C’mon everyone, gather round the table. Dinner is ready,” Donna sang. Literally, the words came out like a song.

“It’s been ready for forty-five minutes. We were just waiting for that chick to show up.”

“Shut up, Josh.”

Kiley saw the youngest brother jab his elbow into his older brother Josh’s ribs.

 

 

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a Bug ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time & GIVEAWAY going on over at Goodreads (ends August 15, 2015)
When You Least Expect It AVAILABLE NOW!

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