Teaser Tuesday: It’s Complicated

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This is an excerpt from my latest WIP.  It’s about a girl from Wisconsin, who moves down to be with her father in Florida who just remarried.  Now she has to adjust to living in a new place, with her step mother and step brother, let’s see how she does, shall we?   
Please note that this is a really rough draft.  There are–I’m sure–grammatical errors and it needs a lot of fluff and the characters need more development, but you’ll get the general idea. 🙂
CHAPTER ONE
They always tell you that the world is your oyster, but they never said anything about the pearl.  And really what was a pearl except for a small irritation that turned into something so precious and rare, millions sought after it.  The same can be said about love.
            Why that thought ran through my head as I boarded the plane to go to my father’s house, I didn’t know, but it was a nice thought anyway.  The plane was filling quickly with people and I doubted the seat next to me would remain empty for very long.  Bored, I looked around at my fellow passengers, but stopped when I saw a boy, about my age, two rows back on the opposite side.  His sun-streaked brown hair was a disheveled mess on top of his head, but in such a way that I knew it was done on purpose.  He had a set of headphones in his ears and he bobbed his head as he rooted around in his bag. 
            He must’ve felt me staring at him, because he looked up and then glanced around until he saw me.  He lifted one brow and returned my gaze, which made my heart stutter, but I didn’t look away.  Instead I smiled, and gave him a little finger wave.  He gave me a lopsided grin in return, showing off the dimple on the right side.
            A man wearing blue jeans, a blue and white-stripped shirt and suspenders stepped in front of me, blocking my view.  I let my gaze drift upward and groaned inwardly when the man smiled at me, showing yellowed and missing teeth.  His face was dark with the stubble of his unkempt beard and even with the space of the seat between us, I could smell a mixture of sweat and something worse I couldn’t place.  I fought the urge to cover my nose, and breathed through my mouth instead.  It didn’t really help.
            “Hi there, little missy,” the man said.
            I gave him a weak smile and nodded instead of answering.
            “Is this seat taken?”
            I stared at him.  I didn’t know what to do.  If I told him yes and then no one showed up, he’d get angry and I didn’t know what would happen.  On the other hand, if I said no, I’d be stuck not being able to breath for the whole trip.  I cursed my mother for being cheap and buying me a ticket on the one airline that let you choose your own seats. 
            I was saved from answering when a male voice said, “Yes it is.”  Suspender man and I turned toward the voice, and the boy that had been across from me smiled.  “I was afraid I wasn’t going to find you, Sweetheart.” 
Sweetheart?  I raised a brow, but played along.  “I was getting worried, too.  You’re very late.  I thought maybe you were going to miss the flight.”
Amusement shown in his eyes as he turned to Suspender Man, gave a quick nod of his head and slipped into the seat next to me, before he kissed my cheek and went back to rooting around in his backpack. 
Suspender man stared at me for a moment before lumbering off and finding a seat elsewhere.  I felt bad for whoever would have to sit next to him, but was happy that it wouldn’t be me.
My cheek was still warm where the boy had kissed me and I lay my hand against it, absently.  “Thank you.”
He grinned and the dimple flashed again.  “Not a problem.  But now you owe me a favor.”
I chuckled.  “A favor?”
“Yep.  The damsel in distress always grants the knight in shinning armor a favor.”
“I see.  Okay.  So, what favor is it that I owe you?”
“Your name.”
“My name?”  I’d been expecting a kiss or something and this had thrown me completely off balance.
“Yep.  Unless of course you want me to continue to call you sweetheart.”
I mentally shook myself to get my mind flowing properly.  “Mackenzie, but I go by Mac.”
“Well, Mac, I’m Sloan and I’ll be providing the entertainment for today’s flight.”
I did the one thing I promised myself I’d never do because of a boy.  I couldn’t help it.  I giggled.  “Pleased to meet you.”
He set his bag under the seat in front of him, but didn’t read the book he’d pulled out.  Instead he tapped it against his knee as he stared at me and I noticed his eyes were a tawny brown and matched his bronzed skin perfectly.  I’d heard eyes could be that color, but had never actually seen it. 
Before I could stop myself, I blurted out, “You have beautiful eyes.”
He winced.  “Thanks,” he said, and turned his attention to his book.
Cursing myself for not having control of my brain-mouth function, I watched out the window until the plane had taken off, the attendants did their thing, and the seatbelt light had flicked off before finding the courage to apologize. 
“I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
He slid his finger between the pages before speaking.  “It’s alright.  Everyone always comments on my eyes.  I should be used to it by now.”
He went back to the book, but I wasn’t going to give up just yet.  “I get it all the time, too.”
He glanced up, narrowed his eyes, and then smiled.  “I’ll bet you do.  What color are they?  Blue?  Or purple?”
I shrugged up, but lowered my head and peered up at him through my lashes, fluttering them slightly.  “Depends on my mood.  Right now, I’d say blue, but if you make me angry you’ll get to see purple.”
He dog-eared a page and slid the book between him and the seat.  “So what’s the quickest way to make you angry?”
I grinned and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear.  “Fortunately there isn’t much.  I’m pretty even tempered.  Unlike my mom.” I rolled my eyes.  “She’s part Irish and has the famous temper.”
“Sounds like my dad,” he said.  “He’s got a wicked temper.  That’s why my parents split.”
I nodded in complete agreement.  “Yep.  Same here.   My mom has a way of turning any argument around on you.”
            He turned in his seat slightly, lifting the armrest between us so he could rest his leg on the seat.  “Your parents divorced too?”
            I turned to face him and our legs bumped.  “Uh, huh.  I’m going to visit my dad.  He just got remarried. I couldn’t make it for the wedding.  I’d have missed a week of school and my mom put her foot down.”
            “You, too, huh?  Must be something in the air.”  He rolled his eyes.  “My mom just got remarried.  I went to my dad’s while they went on their honeymoon and then my mom thought it would be a good idea to spend the summer with him, to get to know him better.”
            “I take it you didn’t want to go,” I said, noticing the look he’d had when he said it.
            “No, I didn’t.  I wanted to stay at home, but he—my stepdad—thought I should go see my dad and convinced my mom I should too.  So, I was shipped off without even a backward glance,” he said.
            “You don’t like your dad?”
            “No.”  It was said bluntly, without even a hint of emotion in it. 
            I wanted to know more, but knew it was better to wait until he volunteered the information.  If he did, that was.  “I’m sorry.” 
I moved to look back out the window, but he asked, “Do you like your dad?”
I smiled as memories of being pushed on swings and playing baseball in the backyard came to mind.  “Oh yeah.  He’s the best.  I don’t blame him for leaving.  My mom can be a real pain.”
            “So, why don’t you live with him instead of her?”
            I wrinkled my nose.  “School.  My mom didn’t want me taken out before the end of the year. And then she wanted me to stay with her for the summer, but I ‘intruded on her social life’, so she decided to let me have my way and move back with my dad.”
            “So, you’re moving to be with him now?”
            I shrugged.  “Yeah.  I’m hoping it works out.”
            He frowned.  “If he’s that great, why wouldn’t it work out?”
            I made a face.  “My new stepmom.”
            “What’s wrong with her?”
            “Besides the fact that she’s with my dad?”
            He laughed.  “Yeah, besides that.”
            “She took my dad from me,” I mumbled and started down at my hands, which I’d clasped in my lap.
            “What do you mean?”
            “I used to live with him, but then he met this woman at some conference and a few months later he’s moving down to be with her and I’m being shoved at my mom so I can finish school.”  My teeth clenched toward the end, and I had to force my jaw open to finish.
            “Why didn’t she move up to where you lived?”
            “Because she’s a selfish blonde bimbo,” I said with a shrug.
            “What?  Why do you say that?”
“She refused to leave. So he left me to be with her.  He left everything to be with her.”
            “That sucks,” he said, but smiled up as the flight attendant asked if we wanted something to drink.  He waited until she brought us our soda and then leaned over to me again.  “I’m sorry.”
            I shrugged.  “Nothing I can do about it.”
            “My mom got married pretty quickly too, but we didn’t have to move.  Not that she would have.  Our house has been a part of our family for generations. He moved in with us.  She met him at work.”
            “So, how come you don’t like him?”
             “Besides he married my mom?” he asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
            I laughed, despite myself.  “Yeah, besides that.”
            “He’s a jerk. And he’s got city written all over him.”  He sneered at the word city.
            I crossed my arms over my chest.  “What’s wrong with the city?”
            He chuckled.   “I take it you’re a city girl.”
            “And proud of it,” I said, my own smile tickling the corners of my mouth, despite the slight feeling of insult his comment had given me.
            He tapped his book on his knee again.  “I didn’t mean to insult you.  It’s just that he thinks because he lived in the city he’s better and smarter than me.  He treats me like a kid and is constantly telling me what to do, how to behave.  He pretends to take an interest in my grades, but he only uses it to rub it into my face that his daughter is smarter than me and I should be like her.”
            My heart broke a little and I reached over and patted his hand.  “I’m sorry.  I can’t imagine how that made you feel.”
            He went on as if he hadn’t heard me.  “Worst of all, he’s trying to be my dad.”
I cocked my head to the side.  “Why is that last one a problem?  He is, sort of.  Isn’t he?”
            “No, he’s not.  He’s just the man my mother married.  He’s nothing to me.  Therefore he can’t tell me what to do.”
            Knowing how he felt, I nodded.  “Yeah, agree completely.  What is it with stepparents?  Why do they think they can just step in and take over?”
            He shrugged.  “I don’t know. And my mom expects me to just listen to him. I don’t even know him.  Or his stupid goody two shoes of a daughter.  And to make matters worse he wants to get me into baseball and football.”  He made a face.
            I had to laugh.  “Well, don’t you want to do those things?  I thought all boys liked sports.”
            “I do like sports, but I prefer rodeo type sports.”
            It was my turn to be surprised.  He didn’t look like a cowboy.  Didn’t cowboys wear those big hats?  “Rodeo?  Like with cows and horses and stuff?”
            He smiled.  “Yeah.  I do calf roping and saddle bronc riding.”
            I swallowed as an image of him hanging on for dear life to a bucking horse filled my head.  Just the idea of getting onto a horse made my skin crawl. “And you’d rather do that than football?”
            He chuckled.  “Yeah. There’s nothing like it in the world.”
            “But isn’t that dangerous.”
            “Yeah, but that’s part of the thrill.”
            “I’ll just take your word for it.  I don’t think I want to know that kind of thrill.”
            He sent me a wicked look.  “I bet I could change your mind.”           
The corners of my mouth lifted a fraction.  “Uh, huh.  And how do you suppose you’ll do that?”
            He shrugged.  “Where in Florida are you moving to?”
            I scoured my mind for the name of the town.  “Geneva?  I think.”
            His whole face lit up.  “Yeah?  I live out there.  Going to Oviedo High?”
            Since it sounded familiar, I nodded.  “I think so.”
            “Awesome!” He bent over and yanked out his bag and yanked out his iPhone.  “What’s your number?  We’ll hang out and I’ll introduce you to my friends.  That way when school starts you won’t be the odd man out.”
            I nodded and a few of my fears about the move disappeared.  I rattled off my number as I reached for my purse to pull out my own phone, and then programmed his number into it.
            When we’d replaced our phones, he smiled and then tugged on a handful of hair that had escaped my braid.  “You called your step mom a blonde bimbo, but you have blonde hair.  Isn’t that insulting yourself?”
            I thought on it and then shrugged.  “Okay, she’s just a bimbo then.”
            He laughed and then changed the subject.  We spent the rest of the flight talking about the school, his friends, and the ranch he lived on.
            When we landed, he led the way to the trams and then past security, since he knew his way around and I didn’t.  On the other side, he smiled and waved when he saw his mom.  She was only slightly taller than me and looked like a doll.  Her mouth was a pretty pink and matched her nails perfectly.  Her eyes were the same color as her son’s and even more startling with her roses and cream complexion.
            She didn’t even notice me behind him as she swept him up into her arms and pressed a kiss to his check, smearing her lipstick across his skin.  He wiped it off with his sleeve and then turned to me.  “Mom.  This is Mac.  She’s moving here with her dad.  She’ll be going to my school.”
            She turned to me, and the smile faded.  Her lips formed a small “o” as her eyes widened, but before I could wonder about it, my dad’s voice boomed my name and I turned with a huge smile on my face.
            He picked me up and swung me in a circle before pulling me closer for his famous bear hugs.  He set me on my feet, but held me at arms length.  “Well, look at you.  You’re even prettier than when I left.”
            I grinned.  “Thanks, Daddy.” He let go and I turned around to introduce him to Sloan, but stopped when I saw the expression on Sloan’s face.  “What’s wrong?”
              He didn’t respond.  Instead he rolled his eyes, tossed his bag onto his back again, and tromped off toward the exit.  I raised my eyebrows and looked to his mom.  “What did I do?”
            She gave me a forced smile as my father stepped over to her, and when he slipped his hand into hers, the light bulb went off on top of my head.
 Sloan’s mother was my new stepmother.  Which meant Sloan was now my stepbrother.


One Response to “Teaser Tuesday: It’s Complicated”

  1. lynnrush says:

    >Ohhhh, wicked twist there at the end. OH man!