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One To Tell The Grandkids – First Two Chapters

June 11, 2014

Hello, everyone!

I’d like to offer the first two chapters of my new book so you can have a chance to meet Taryn, Caleb, and Slate. These chapters are offered to you pre-edits, so you may see some changes when the finished product arrives.

Let me know what you think, and check this space to find out more about when the book will be released. I hope to be solidifying a cover soon.

Thanks!

Chapter 1: Whoops

“Taryn Elizabeth Sato, stop your groaning.” Robin Barone, one of Taryn’s two best friends, jiggled the handle of the bathroom door, trying to get in. “Your parents are not going to kill you for getting knocked up. You’re twenty-six, not sixteen.”

“Fine. I’m going to kill me for being this stupid.” At least the typical teenage mother got knocked up by her boyfriend. Taryn had been kicking herself every day for the last month about going home with a random stranger. Just as she was getting over the embarrassment—bam. Two pink lines. Taryn glared at the pregnancy test on the counter like she used to glare at her Algebra tests in high school, as though she could will the results away before she had to tell her parents.

“Honey, come on out of there. I can’t hold you if you’re behind a locked door.”

“Yeah. Hold on.” She dragged herself up off the bathroom floor and came face to face with her mirror twin. “Idiot.” With a sigh, she opened the door to face her friend. She crossed her arms over her chest and stared down at his shoes.

He clucked. “Oh, Tare. It’s going to be okay, baby girl.” He rubbed her shoulders. Taryn closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his waist. She leaned her cheek on his chest, feeling better when she was tucked up under his chin. He swayed them back and forth. “You’re going to be okay. We’re going to take care of you.”

~0~

Robin went into caretaker mode. Taryn’s mysterious, draining stomach flu had been what tipped them off to the possibility she might be pregnant. Robin tucked her into bed for a nap, and by the time she was awake again, the third of their trio, Melanie Devonshire, was in her living room being dressed down.

“Shut up, Rob. Like it was my responsibility to stop her from doing anything. She’s a big girl.”

“Friends are supposed to look out for each other.”

“That’s what I did.” From where she was in the hallway, Taryn could see Melanie looked as disgruntled and guilty as she sounded. “You know how stressed out she was. There’s nothing wrong with a good lay.”

“She was drunk off her ass, Mel. You don’t let your friend wander off with a complete stranger when she’s that drunk.”

“She didn’t seem that drunk. She was having a good time for once. The guy was really into her.”

Robin scoffed. “Yeah. Obviously. You should have-”

“Cut it out, Rob.” Taryn stepped into the living room. “Mel’s right. I’m a big girl, and I shouldn’t need a babysitter.”

Mel offered her a sheepish smile. “Well, you’ll probably need one soon, eh?”

“I guess so.” Queasy with that thought, Taryn sat on the couch before her legs could betray her. Her friends followed suit and sat on either side of her.

“Maybe it’s a false positive. It could be stress,” Melanie said.

“You think I’m that lucky?” Hanging her head, Taryn groaned. “How did this happen?”

Mel snickered, though not unkindly. “I’ll tell you how. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.”

Despite herself, Taryn grinned.

“Is it really such a bad thing to happen?” Robin asked, his tone gentle. “I think you could do it, Tare. You’ve got a decent job. You have us.” He paused. “And your family.”

“My family. They’re going to love saying ‘I told you so’. Sure it’s a decade later than they expected, but my brother always said I was going to be a fuck up.”

“You haven’t-” Robin began to say, but she cut him off.

“Don’t sugarcoat this.” Taryn rarely drank because she knew what happened when she did. She liked drinking too much, and had never mastered the art of cutting herself off at pleasantly tipsy. Her stopping point was blackout drunk. Drunks weren’t known for making the best life decisions.

Despite her embarrassment at waking up next to a naked stranger, the empty condom wrappers littered about the room had given her some relief. The situation she found herself in now begged the question, if he’d managed to put a baby in her, what else could he have left behind?

She got up again and began to pace. “You realize I don’t even know the guy’s name? Hell, I don’t even remember what he looked like. How am I supposed to find him?”

Melanie made a face. “You have absolutely nothing on him? Not a first name? A first letter even?”

“You were there too. You said you saw me with him. Do you remember him?”

“I was surrounded by my own pretty, and I wasn’t all that sober myself.”

Taryn flopped back on the couch and folded her hands over her stomach. She stared up at the ceiling and tried to call back the memories she’d pushed away with vehemence a month before. “I remember… long brown hair. It was soft. Like rose petal soft. Almost too soft to be a man’s.”

“Well, great. We can go around Los Angeles feeling guys’ hair. Count me in.” Robin chuckled when Taryn stuck her tongue out at him. “No birthmarks or hairy moles you can recall? We need something distinguishing.”

Taryn snapped her fingers. “Oh, that’s right. He had a tattoo. Maybe more than one.” There was something important about tattoos, something that was right on the edge of her memory.

Robin raised an eyebrow. “Tattoos? For you? I thought you didn’t like guys with tats.”

“Right, because as we’ve established, I was thinking very clearly that night.”

“Tattoos are good, and not just because they’re sexy. Now we have a little more to work with.  Do you remember any details about the tat?  Anything that stands out to you at all?”

“Yes, actually. He had a tattoo of a road. It was along his left hip with the word ‘wander’ down the middle.’”  Her cheeks heated when she remembered licking along that trail … and then farther down.

“Well, he gets points for originality,” Robin said. “At least it wasn’t anything cliché. So now we have soft brown hair and a distinguishing tattoo. And really? No hint of a name?”

Taryn began to list masculine names in her head. None of them fit. She thought it was uncommon, and it had reminded her of rocks.  ”I think his name was like a stone.”

“Rocky?” Melanie threw mock punches in the air as if she were the boxer once played by Sylvester Stallone.

Taryn laughed. “Definitely not.”

“You remember the tattoo. Think about that. Try to hear what he was saying to you when you saw it. What you said to him,” Robin said.

Taryn closed her eyes.

That tattoo. It had struck her off guard how hot she thought it was, the way it hugged his hip. As Robin noted, tattoos never did anything for her, but that night, or that tattoo, or that man… something had clicked.

I want one,” she remembered saying.

Hotness, you let me work on you, and you can have anything you want.”

“Oh! He works at a tattoo parlor.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah.”

“That we can work with,” Melanie said. Then her lips tugged downward. “Wait. No. There have got to be hundreds of places in L.A..”

“No, no,” Taryn said as another whispered memory came back to her. “He said he worked close to the bar we were at—within walking distance. That’s got to narrow it down some, right?”

Melanie pulled out her cell phone and began tapping. “It looks like there are five tattoo shops within a couple miles of the bar. We can go to each one until we find this stone guy with the lame hip tattoo.”

Taryn brightened until she remembered why she’d been doing her damnedest to forget this guy for the last month. “And then what do I say?  Hi, remember me?  Congratulations, you’re going to be a father. Yeah, I can see that going over really well. He’s going to hate me. Oh, God. I can’t do this.”

“Who cares what this guy thinks, Tare, we-”

“I can’t have a baby with a complete stranger, Mel. My genetics already suck, but I went and mixed them up with some random guy? What if we can’t find him? Then I spend this kid’s life wondering if it’s a time bomb? I can’t raise this kid alone. I can’t do it. There are too many variables, and I don’t want to go through all that alone.”

“Breathe.” Robin rubbed her back.

“We’re putting the cart before the horse here.” Melanie took her hand and squeezed. “Taryn, this is a surprise. This isn’t something you wanted. If you don’t want to keep it, it ends here. Rob and I will never tell anyone.”

“You have us any way you slice this cake. You’re not alone.” Rob hesitated a beat before he went on. “I know your family can be tough, but they’d be there for you, wouldn’t they?”

Taryn wrung her hands. “They would be there. They would love the baby, but I’d be a disappointment forever.” She frowned. “I guess I’m already a disappointment anyway, right? Mike will be pleased. You know there’s nothing he likes better than saying I told you so.”

“Screw them,” Melanie said. “If they’re dicks about it, screw them. You want to do this thing, you can make your own family. We’ll be a patchwork quilt family—a little piece of all of us to bring this kid up right.”

Taryn’s lips quirked up. “You want to be this kid’s aunt, is that what you’re saying?”

“Heck yeah. I could rock the aunt. Me and Rob both. Think about it. We’ll cover shopping because we’re going to do it anyway, and you hate it. You already call us in every crisis over your blood family. Why not?”

“Patchwork quilt family, huh?” She sat up straighter and picked at a frayed thread on her jeans. “If I keep the kid, I have to tell the dad. What does Baby Daddy get to add to the quilt?”

“Best case scenario? You and Baby Daddy are made for each other, and this is all kismet,” Robin said.

“Yeah, right. That sounds like my life.”

“He brings his own patches,” Melanie said. “And we all get to figure out how we fit to make a whole quilt of beautiful, haphazard pieces.”

Robin laughed. “That was poetic and strange coming from you.”

“Hey, man. Babies are a beautiful thing. New life beginning, new hope, all that. You know me. I’m the only one I know more unromantic than Taryn, and I still get the warm fuzzies for babies. I don’t know. I think it’s a cool idea that I could be part of what makes this kid who it is, even if it’s a small part.”

“Crap. That means I’m going to be a huge part,” Taryn muttered. “You want me to be someone’s Mommy? That’s insane.”

“This isn’t about what I want, Tare. We can’t make this choice for you. All I’m saying is it could be really cool.”

Taryn rubbed her temples as though she could massage away the traffic jam of thoughts in her head. She breathed in deep and back out. Her friends sat beside her in silence for a few minutes, lending their support as they promised. She pressed her tongue against the roof of her mouth before the words tumbled away from her. “Okay, but calling the baby ‘it’ creeps me out. We can call it Patch for now.”

Robin fist pumped and Melanie grinned.

Chapter 2: Surprise

“Hey, hey, hey. I can’t have you clean cut, old guys with no visible tattoos hanging around. It’s bad for business.”

Caleb Ryder looked over his e-reader at his friend. Slate’s stern expression broke into a grin, and he pulled Caleb up out of his seat into a back slapping hug. “Didn’t expect to see you today.”

“Eh, I was driving Oni nuts. Can you get lunch?”

“Yeah, sure. Give me a few minutes though.” Slate moved behind the counter. “I have a client coming in at two, and I need to have this sketch ready.”

“Take your time. I have my book.”

Slate retreated to the counter with his sketchbook. For a while, the only sound was buzz of the tattoo guns and the muted conversation of the other artists and their clients.

Caleb looked up when the bell above the door jangled. A man with streaked blue and black hair looked in, glancing around at everyone in the shop as though he was looking for somebody.

“Be right with you,” Slate said without looking up from his work.

The stranger seemed bemused by Slate’s lack of attention, and Caleb felt the need to speak on his friend’s behalf. “When he gets inspiration, he has to get it down quickly or it would be lost.”

The stranger grinned. “Oh, I get it. This is important stuff.” He pulled up his shirt to show off an intricate tattoo along his side. “I’m not in any rush.”

“That’s great work,” Caleb said.

“It goes without saying I can do better, of course.” Slate still didn’t look up from his work, but he smirked.

The stranger wandered over to the counter. “Let’s see what you got.” Slate tilted his sketchbook in the stranger’s direction. The other man whistled. “Wow. That’s truly fantastic.”

Caleb hid his own smile when Slate finally looked up to find the stranger was leaning into his bubble space. Their faces were mere inches apart, and the man was Slate’s kind of handsome.

“You’re very talented,” he said. Caleb didn’t miss that his tone had taken on a hint of suggestion.

Slate noticed, as evidenced by the way his blank look turned into his most charming grin. “Thank you. This is for a client, but…” He flipped back a few pages and pointed at another drawing. “This one I’m working on for me.” He rested one arm on the counter, near the stranger’s, and pulled up his sleeve. “I was thinking right here.” He ran a finger along his upper arm.

Caleb shook his head and looked back to his book. It wasn’t an accident Slate had found an excuse to show off his arms. He didn’t have much in the way of muscles, but the tattoos on his upper arms were stunning, his own version of flexing. Caleb glanced out of the corner of his eye to see if the stranger had taken the bait. Sure enough, the man ran the pad of his finger over Slate’s arm, tracing the edge of the tattoo there. “I think it would work well with what you have,” he said.

Slate winked and shifted to lean both his elbows on the counter. “Now that you’ve helped me, how can I help you?”

The stranger blinked and straightened up as though he’d just remembered he’d come in with a purpose.”With what you could do, I wish I was looking for ink, but I’m actually looking for someone. This is an odd question, okay, so bear with me. Is there anyone here with a name like a stone? Onyx maybe? Jade?”

Caleb put his e-reader down.

Slate raised an eyebrow. “Slate?”

“Slate would work. Where can I find Slate?”

“Well, you’re looking at him.” He pointed to himself. “Slayton McKenzie.”

The man’s posture went stiff, and he took a step back from the counter. When he spoke again, his tone wasn’t at all flirtatious. “Do you have a tattoo just here?” He pointed to his left hip. “A trail or a path?”

Caleb’s protective instinct flared. He had the urge to step between Slate and this guy. Nothing good was going to come of this conversation.

“This tattoo?” Slate lifted his shirt and pulled the side of his pants down to reveal the tattoo on his hip.

“Of course. Of course it has to be you.” The stranger shook his head.

“I’m sorry, but what are we talking about here? Do we know each other?”

“No. Not you and I, anyway.”

Before they could continue the conversation, the bell at the front door jangled again, and a young woman stepped inside. Caleb meant to only glance at her, but as he did, her eyes met his. Their gaze lingered several beats longer than was polite before she looked at the stranger. “Robin?”

Robin moved to her side and took her hand. “I think we found him, Taryn.”

The look Taryn gave Slate was appraising, and if she had not gone shock-pale, Caleb might have been irritated on his friend’s behalf.

“This is Slate,” Robin said.

“Slate!” The woman slapped a palm to her forehead. “Yes. Of course. Slate.”

“Okay,” Slate mumbled, crossing his arms over his chest. “What the heck is going on? You two obviously know me, but I have no idea who either of you are.”

“Oh, man. Okay. Time to face the music.” The woman looked as though she was going to be sick. Robin obviously thought so too as he wrapped a supportive arm around her waist. She gave him a shaky nod. “I got this, Rob. Give us a second, yeah?”

“Are you sure?”

She didn’t look sure, but she nodded.

For a moment, Caleb was sure Robin was going to argue, but he hugged her instead. “I’ll go get Mel. We’ll be here, okay?”

“Thanks.”

The silence that followed was awkward. Even the other artists seemed to have piped down. The buzzing tattoo guns made for eerie background music. Caleb was on the edge of his seat, his mind flipping through various scenarios. This woman didn’t have any paperwork with her, so she probably wasn’t from the courts.

“Lady, you’re killing me,” Slate said. His smile was weak, and Caleb could see he was trying not to fidget.

“I’m really sorry.” She looked him over again. “You really don’t remember me at all?” The tone of her voice was pleading. “It was a bar, The 21st a few blocks from here? I mean, it was five weeks and two days ago?”

Caleb started at the name of his bar, but Slate banged his fist on the counter. “Shirley Tipsy!”

She closed her eyes. “That’s how you remember me?” She sighed. “My name is Taryn.”

Now that he had identified her, Slate was his usual smiling self. “Oh, man, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again. What happened to you?  I woke up the next day and you were just… gone.”

Caleb was beginning to catch on. A few weeks before, he was supposed to go out with Slate, but he’d gotten held up. Slate had a one night stand with a woman he could only remember as Shirley Tipsy—she’d ordered many dirty Shirley Temples—and now she had tracked him down despite the look on her face that told him she would rather be anywhere else.

“It wasn’t one of my finest moments,” she said, reaching one hand up to twirl a finger through her hair in a nervous gesture. She glanced at Caleb and back to Slate. “Do you think we could go somewhere private? Outside at least?”

Slate’s smile fell and he narrowed his eyes in suspicion. Wait. Why are you here? What’s so important you need to speak to me in private?”

“I really think we should be alone.”

“Ah, fuck.” Slate looked pissed. “I’m clean, lady. You didn’t get it from me, okay?”

Caleb smacked his hand against his forehead. “Christ, Slate.”

Taryn’s head snapped up. “Wait, what?”

“I’ve never had a disease, so you didn’t get it from me.” He tugged his hair out of its ponytail in restless irritation. “Great, there goes my clean record.”

“Slate,” Caleb said, but it was far too late.

“Are you kidding me?” Taryn’s face had gone from pale to flushed red with anger. “I’m not diseased, you arrogant asshole. I’m pregnant.”

Under other circumstances, the look on Slate’s face would have been priceless. He stumbled back a handful of steps. “I… what?”

“I said I’m pregnant. Yes, it’s yours. Yes, I’m sure.”

“That’s not p-”

Before Slate could make a bad situation worse, Caleb grabbed him by the arm and yanked him. “Shut up. Now.” He turned to Taryn. “I’m sorry. My friend here has a very bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He’s not an asshole. I promise.”

“Right,” Taryn huffed.

“You’re upset.”

“You think?”

“Half an hour. Give us half an hour to regroup, and then everyone can speak like rational adults. There’s a Vietnamese restaurant one block that way. Give us half an hour, and we’ll meet you there.”

“We?”

“Assumption on my part. Bring your friend with you. It just seems like the kind of situation you both need support for, right?”

Taryn glared. Caleb got the distinct feeling she would have argued, except her eyes brimmed with tears. She looked away quickly. “Sure. Fine. Whatever. Vietnamese food. Half an hour. I’ll be there.”

The second she was gone, Slate let all his breath out in a whoosh. He gripped Caleb’s arm and began muttering under his breath. “Oh, man. Oh, man. Oh, man.”

“Come on.” Caleb started leading him to the door Taryn had just exited.

“Oh, man. Where are we… what…”

“Just follow me, Slate.”

~0~

Caleb dragged Slate to his bar, and sat him on a barstool. Almost twenty minutes had passed, and Slate still hadn’t touched the shot the bartender, Oni, had set in front of him at Caleb’s request. Instead he sat with his head in his arms on the bar. “I’m in trouble. Oh, man. I’m in so much trouble.”

Oni eyed Caleb for an explanation. “What he means to say is he got a girl, a woman, in trouble.”

“Got her in trouble?” Oni’s eyes bulged. “As in you knocked her up?”

Slate groaned.

“Come on. Get up. That’s a bar, not a pillow.” Caleb patted his friend on the back. “Talk to me.”

“It was a dick thing to say to her,” Slate said as he lifted his head.

“Yeah, but that’s pretty much the least of your problems right now.” He shook his head. “You really have the best taste in hook-ups, don’t you? The kind of people you-”

“Hey.” Slate’s eyes narrowed. “Shut your mouth, okay? Whatever happened that night, she seemed like a nice girl. Either way, she’s going to be my kid’s mother, so show some respect.”

At his own words, Slate paled and he slumped again. “Oh, man. What am I going to do?”

“You know I have to ask this, but are you sure you want to take her word it’s yours?”

“I’m not going to be that prick who insists it has to be someone else. I was a moron that night. We both were. Yeah, I’m not naive. I know she could be trying to pull one over on me, but I’m not going to be the one to suggest that. I’ll keep my eyes open, and if something doesn’t add up, I’ll deal with it then. But really, I just can’t figure why she would lie about it. Why choose me? I’m no one. I’m not rich.”

“Oh, good. Your rational self seems to have kicked in.”

“Yeah. Crap, how did this happen?”

“Looks like you should have spent more time paying attention in Sex Ed instead of giggling when the teacher was trying to teach a class of freshmen how to use a condom properly.”

“I did, too. I giggled my ass off in that class.”

“I know. Are you calm enough now to think before you speak? That woman, Taryn, is probably pissed and scared.”

Slate grabbed the glass in front of him and shot it back. He waved Oni over. “Can I have another?”

“Uh, no. No other shot,” Caleb said. “You’re going to need a clear head for this one.”

“You’re coming with me, right? I can’t do this on my own. I need to borrow some of your calm, or I’m going to freak right out on her again.”

He looked so much younger than he was and scared. Slate had always brought out a protective side of Caleb, and it had never been stronger than it was right then. “Of course I’ll go with you. I said I would.”

Slate sighed in relief. “Thank you.”

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 11, 2014 8:42 pm

    OMG I’m hooked! I mean I was already hooked but now I just need. LOL Freaking love it!

  2. Collette permalink
    June 11, 2014 9:24 pm

    Love it! Can’t wait for more.

  3. Vanessa permalink
    June 11, 2014 11:38 pm

    I can’t wait for this! Great work like always!

  4. June 12, 2014 8:19 am

    Ooooh, sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to read it. 😀

  5. June 12, 2014 5:39 pm

    I love it already gal!!! Caleb sounds like a real sweetie and I can’t wait to read the finished product!!! 🙂

  6. Sarah permalink
    June 15, 2014 5:04 am

    I really enjoyed the first two chapters and I definitely want to read more. I have questions about some of the characters, that may flesh out and be clearer with edits. I’m just so glad you gave us this peak! Do you have an estimated release date?

    • June 15, 2014 10:10 pm

      Thanks so much for your lovely replies. To answer your question, I don’t have a set date. Shooting for July but it depends on when I get edits back. When I know more, you will. 🙂

  7. NixHaw permalink
    July 1, 2014 4:53 am

    Right. More please!!!

  8. Sylvia Chew permalink
    July 25, 2014 1:20 pm

    This looks really good – can’t wait!!!

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