Ya’ll, I’m so excited to release this book. I have loved every single second of writing this book, and that’s been a relief. (I have 7 more sisters to write in the series.)
Click on the pic below if you haven’t preordered it yet. It’s permanently 99 cents (The others in the series will be $2.99.) All will be on KU!
Below the pic is the first chapter as a preview.
Chapter 1 – Get Me Out of This Nuthouse
“You’ll need a raincoat and rain boots!” my mother, Dottie Calvert, yells up the stairs. I can tell by the sound of her voice that she’s holding the decrepit old suitcase that’s seen better days and once belonged to her own grandmother.
“I’m not taking boots and a raincoat,” I huff back, wrapping my hair straightener and shoving it into my bag. “And I know you’re holding that damn suitcase from 1923! I’m not taking that, either. Suitcases have wheels on them now. Or didn’t they have the wheel yet when your grandmother used that old thing?”
“Did you at least check the weather? I don’t know if it’s the rainy season.”
“Mom, I’ll be fine!” I say, poking my head around the door frame to see my mother at the bottom of the stairs. Her hair is wrapped in whatever gauzy stuff women of her generation used decades ago to wrap their hair, and her floral bathrobe reminds me of Blanche from The Golden Girls. “Besides, if something happens to me, you have eight other children. You’ll hardly know I’m gone.”
“I’d miss your smart mouth. None of my other children inherited the argument gene the way you did!”
“What a load of crap. And the only one of us you’d miss is Ryan because he’s the only boy.”
“That’s not true!”
“Oh, really?” I ask, standing at the top of the steps in my own bathrobe and my long, light brown hair tucked into a twisted towel. “If that’s so, then why is he the youngest? Funny how you and dad got a boy and closed the baby factory. It’s like the doctor said, ‘I see a penis. We have a penis!’ and you and dad stopped having sexy time. That’s so interesting.”
“Cora, don’t be crass. Come down here with your luggage so I can check it.”
“What the hell? I’m twenty-five.”
“I know, dear, but this is your first trip that hasn’t been with the family. I’ve always packed for you. Let me check.”
“Mother, did you ever think that’s why I’m going to Hawaii in the first place?” I ask. “I’ve never been anywhere by myself or even packed my own things. You do everything for us. All nine of us. You’re the only woman in the world that had nine children, three sets of which are twins, and insists on doing everything for all of us, even though we’re all adults. How you’re even still alive should be studied by science.”
“You’re leaving because you have it too easy?” she screeches, looking at me like I’m insane. “Most children leave when things get too hard.”
“That’s exactly why I’m going to Hawaii!” I snap back before turning on my heel back to the first room on the right that I share with my sister, Peyton. Vibrations from slamming the door knock Peyton’s vintage Justin Bieber poster off the wall. “Agggghhhh! I can’t believe I still live in this nuthouse.”
Frustration at my life eats at me the way it has for months now. I moved back home after college with the sad realization that life doesn’t always work out the way that I plan. I earned a degree in fashion design and thought I’d take the world by storm after college by designing clothes for someone like Tom Ford. If you’d told me during college that I’d be back living under my parents’ roof and sharing a room with a sibling, I’d have punched you in the face for your blasphemy.
My twin sister, Clara, had the good sense to get a degree in something useful and got a job as an editor at a New York publishing firm right out of school. The closest job I could find in my chosen field is a job at the local department store lingerie section where my mother still buys her underwear. Hence, I’m damned to share a room with my younger sister that smells like chili after she comes home from work at Chili Shack every night.
Of the nine children in our family, five of us still live in our childhood home. At least it’s not as cramped as it was when we were children. Back then, we had to triple up in a room. Sometime around the time my oldest sibling, Samantha, hit the age where she learned about sex, we all begged our parents to stop sharing a bed. I guess we thought that keeping our parents apart at night could stop the relentless pace at which my mother seemed to shoot children out of her vagina. Ryan and Regina were born the next year, so we all thought that the reproduction stopped because a boy had been born. In reality, mom had probably tired of the clown car vagina jokes.
I continue to pack my bag, lamenting the fact that my mother still does everything for me. Seriously, what twenty-five-year-old woman has never packed for herself? I need to get out of here, see the world and learn to actually be more independent. Since moving home, I’ve felt stifled in the way that only adult children forced to still sleep in their childhood bunk bed could possibly feel.
I add socks, my green bikini, my toiletry bag and my eBook reader with a diagonal crack in the left-hand corner of the screen. I’ve downloaded several cozy mysteries and romance books for the flight and the week-long tour of the islands, and I smile at the idea of uninterrupted reading time on the tour. The device has seen better days, but I can’t afford a new one. Well, I probably could have bought a new one before the cost of this trip came up.
The tour itself sounds magical, and that’s part of the reason I dropped everything to go. It’s a six-day tour around Hawaii. The itinerary I pulled up on the tour company’s website shows waterfalls, a surfing lesson, a visit to Turtle Town for snorkeling or diving, a Jeep trek and a farm-to-table meal on the last day. It sounds like a dream come true for a woman from Illinois, and I can’t keep my body still or a thought in my head. To make it even better, the tour is only for people in their twenties. No crying babies. No elderly people holding up the excursions with their walkers that always have tennis balls on the bottom of the poles.
Basically, it’s going to be a tour of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. God, what would it be like to meet someone for a vacation fling or even drink in a bar that I haven’t been visiting since before I was old enough to drink? What would it be like to actually have sex again? It’s not like I can bring a guy home to Dottie and Charlie Calvert watching TV in the living room and explain to them that I’m just going to pop some random guy up to my bunk bed for a quick shag.
Christ, just the thought of a man in my bed again makes me swallow a load of saliva forming in my mouth. I’ve become a spinster who drools at the mere thought of getting laid at the ripe age of twenty-five.
I lucked out even getting to go on the darn tour. My friend from the lingerie department called me a few days ago, crying so hard that I couldn’t understand her. Apparently, she’d received the trip to Hawaii as a graduation trip and had come down with a case of chickenpox. Who even gets that nowadays?
Between hiccupping sobs and words that sounded like, “My mother is antivax, and I find this out now?” I was able to deduce that Ginger couldn’t go on her trip, and it was too late to get a refund. Ginger’s mother was amenable to me paying half of the trip price so she could recoup some of the cost to send Ginger somewhere else after she had recovered, and I was happy to get a trip to Hawaii for so cheap.
I was able to book a last-minute airfare deal on a budget carrier without it breaking the bank. Sure, it ate up my entire savings account and I had to borrow pocket money from mom and dad, but they didn’t mind. I’ve always paid them back when I’ve borrowed money, and my parents saw no reason to think they aren’t going to see their money again.
Heaving a sigh of relief that I’m finally doing something to move my life in an adventurous direction, I throw an old college sweatshirt on top of my zipped carry-on bag so that I can quickly grab it before the flight tomorrow.
I love my family, but I can’t run away from them fast enough.
“Wow, that plane came really close to the road,” Peyton says, looking out of the window of our old station wagon as Dottie turns into the departure area and pulls into what looks like the last available spot. “The runway’s awfully close.”
“Why did you even come, Peyton?” I ask from the front seat. “Are you just going to marvel at the planes coming in and taking off like you’ve never been to an airport? God, you’re such a hillbilly.”
“Well, Einstein, I’ve never been to an airport,” Peyton shrugs. “Mom and dad insisted on driving us in the huge van on every single vacation. I wanted to see the damn airport. Don’t be bitter about our sheltered life. Besides, I didn’t have anything better to do today.”
“Girls, stop. Cora, you’re leaving on a long trip, and you’ll regret it if your plane goes down in a hellish ball of fire somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Your last thought will be how you were awful to Peyton, and you’ll wish you could take back your words.”
Peyton chuckles like my mother’s hilarious, even as I look at her with a horrified look on my face. What a way to encourage your daughter on her first flight. “Thanks, mom. Nothing says, ‘Your mom hopes your first flight goes well’ quite like telling you about the possibility of your plane going down and experiencing a water rescue.”
“Why do you think your father and I insisted we drive on vacations?”
“Because there are eleven of us, and we may as well buy our own private jet as buy tickets for the whole family.”
“That, and I have a fear of hijackers,” my mother mumbles. “I saw this movie that was about this team of hijackers that took over the president’s plane. One of the flight attendants…”
“Mom, stop!” I yell, opening the creaky car door and picking up the to-go travel coffee mug that fell out of the broken cupholder onto the cement of the parking lot. “Just open the damn trunk so I can get my stuff. I’ll then catch my hellfire flight straight to hell, and you and Peyton can go laugh at my imminent demise over Frappuccino’s.”
“Stop being dramatic!”
“I’m being dramatic? You just told me my plane would crash,” I huff, getting my suitcase from the back of the car and shutting the trunk a little harder than necessary. “Bye!”
“Don’t you want us to walk you in?”
“I kind of want to go in and look around,” Peyton adds, hanging her head out of the window like a dog on a road trip.
“Absolutely not. It’s also a safety issue. They won’t let you go to the gate or anything,” I say, looking at Dottie with a fixed glare. “They’ll think you’re a hijacker. You’ll only be able to see the ticket counter.”
“Awesome. I’ve never seen that before.”
“Bye!” I yell over my shoulder, taking off at a run and moving as fast as my suitcase’s rolling wheels will let me move as my carry-on bag bangs against my side.
“Have a safe flight, dear!” my mother yells after me, flapping her hand in a weird wave. “Don’t obey the hijacker commands. You fight like hell! You’re a Calvert! And if that plane goes down, you get in tuck position, put your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye.”
Turning to look at her, I see the anguish in her face that I didn’t let her walk me into the airport, let her buy me a coffee and chat with me while in the security line. Or maybe she really is scared I’m going to get hijacked.
Peyton flips me the bird from the front seat as I walk through the airport sliding doors and walk into a world that is utterly foreign and confusing to me with the overhead monitors and noise of people shuffling into lines. I feel like I’m in kindergarten again because I get in a line without any idea of why or where it’s going.