High school senior Victoria “Tori” Reeve has it pretty good. She’s rich, she’s smart, and she’s popular. What more could a girl ask for? Sure, she’s a little lonely, what with being single and her best friend going off to college and all, but she’s got her work at the Spaulding Crisis Center to keep her busy. When she gets a new boss in the very easy on the eyes form of Isaac Larsen, suddenly her volunteer work feels a lot less like work. Even if he does seem to cause Tori to break out into spontaneous fits of foot in mouth disease. Somehow in spite of her blunderitis, Isaac still seems to be interested in her in a more-than-employer or even more-than-friends kind of way.
So really she should have known that things would go sideways.
Trouble comes to Spaulding, and that trouble seems to be centered on Tori and the Crisis Center. Is she really the focus? Or does this all have to do with the new mysterious man in her life? In her efforts to find out, Tori stumbles across some secrets. Skeletons that might have been better off left in the closet. As it turns out, Spaulding is a hot spot for bad blood…
As a special treat, Ginny gave me permission to share a snippet from Chapter One. Enjoy!
“Oh and that hair color! Right out of a bottle. You know it’s as fake as those perky tits her daddy bought her…” It was the last Friday night before the start of my senior year. By all rights, I should’ve been at some sketchy party in the middle of the woods getting drunk off PBR while convincing myself that letting some totally hot guy feel me up was an awesome idea. Instead, I was the same place I spent almost every other night between the hours of seven and eleven, manning the phones at the local crisis center. That was how I ended up listening to someone who sounded suspiciously like Taylor Johansson- who’s nasal voice was akin to a swarm of ticked off bees- rant about how someone who sounded suspiciously like me was purposefully trying to ruin her life. Clearly this was a crisis of epic proportions.
My eye roll was wasted on the empty office.
The truly maddening part was that after knowing her for my entire life, you would have thought I’d be used to brushing aside her idiocy, but ho-no. Instead, I was sitting here on the very last Friday of Freedom wondering why. Why would someone call a crisis hotline to complain about the size of anyone’s breasts, let alone mine? Why was she so preoccupied with the size of my breasts? Why anyone would dye their hair brown? Had the expression changed to “brunettes have more fun” when I wasn’t paying attention? When the rant reached the fifteen minute marker- and I was totally not wondering if Taylor would even notice if I set the phone down to get a cup of coffee- she heaved an exaggerated sigh.
Only, you know, it sounded more like a whir.
Because her voice was so nasal.
It wasn’t mean since it was true.
“So what are you going to do about this?”
“Do about what?” I asked dumbly, wondering what I could have possibly missed.
Another loud sigh. “What are you going to do about Victoria?” HA! I had been right, she was talking about me. Though why she spat out my name in a tone normally reserved for offensive curses, I was at a loss for.
But then, that was kind of par for the course in this trainwreck of a conversation.
“I’m afraid that I can’t do anything about her, ma’am. We’re just here to help you talk through your problems”
“Well, what the hell good does that do me?” She snapped. “Can’t you like, take care of her or something?” Like the crisis hotline was actually a volunteer organization staffed by mobsters.
“You mean like make her sleep with the fishes?” I know, I know, I shouldn’t have been encouraging her, but honestly, this entire call had become too ridiculous for words. She was using a hotline for kids who were had actual issues to plot my demise. I did stop myself short of laughing.
I do have some class.
“No, no. Don’t be stupid. If we killed her, everyone would just feel sorry for the dumb cow. No, we should like, mess with her hair dye, so her hair turns all green. Or better yet, just cut all her hair off while she’s sleeping”
“I’m sorry ma’am,” I said, massaging the bridge of my nose and wondering if she could stop acting five. I’d even say pretty please. “All I can do is help you talk through your issues. If you’d like to discuss what the real issue is with this woman,” I began, but her snarl cut me short.
“I’VE BEEN TELLING YOU THIS ENTIRE TIME. THE EVIL RICH BITCH IS PURPOSEFULLY OUT TO GET ME. SHE’S PLOTTING TO STEAL MY BOYFRIEND!! JUST TODAY HE SAID THAT I SHOULD BE MORE LIKE HER…. HE’S LEAVING ME FOR HER…” and she broke into hysterical sobs. I tried to remember the identity of the guy I was supposedly plotting to steal, but since I had no interest in any of the chuckleheads from school, I doubt it actually mattered. It mattered even less a moment later when she screeched “FORGET IT, YOU’RE NO HELP ANYWAYS” and hung up.
I had never been so happy to end a call in my entire life. I celebrated by groaning and slamming my head down on my desk.
A deep voice asking “rough night?” from behind me had me smiling into my desk. I didn’t raise my head, I didn’t have to. Another side effect of so many sevens to elevens spent here, my boss’s rumble was now part of my psyche. I could even picture what he looked like. His hair, which was always cut military short, was the same chocolate brown color of his eyes. In his mid thirties, he was 6 feet tall, and while he wasn’t muscular he had the toned body of a man who ran every day. The only thing he was more devoted to then his workout schedule was his wife. Which might just have been why so many of the teenage girls who volunteered here didn’t last longer than a week. He would be wearing a dress shirt- the sleeves rolled up and the top button unbuttoned- paired with black slacks. His wire rimmed glasses would be sitting just slightly crooked. Rick was nothing if not predictable.
I merely grunted in reply without even bothering to lift my head.
“I uh, I have something to tell you Tori.” He continued. It was strange to hear him pause since he was usually calm and confident. When I didn’t reply, he continued. “As you know, Lisha is pregnant” Rick’s wife was in their second trimester with their first child, and was just starting to show. She looked utterly adorable with a baby bump. “Now that I’m going to be a daddy, I’m going to be changing my shift here at the center. I can’t stay until midnight every night. It’s not fair to Lisha. So I’ve hired someone to cover the seven to eleven shift with you. Nice boy, going to college for pre-med, plans on becoming a shrink…” there was no way that Rick rambling meant anything good for me. I finally lifted my head from my desk and turned to look at him. His shirt cuffs were still buttoned, along with the top button of his shirt, and he was actually wearing a tie. No, this was no good at all.
“Who is it Rick?” I asked while eyeing him suspiciously.
“Well, it’s Isaac Larsen.” I couldn’t help but groan. Well this explained the caginess. The Larsens were members of an “alternative religion”, aka cult, that had a “homestead” on the edges of town. There was an unspoken arrangement between the Larsens and the town of Spaulding. You ignore us, and we’ll ignore you. It would appear that Isaac was about to break that uneasy truce.
“One of those cult freaks?” I asked and even to my own ears it sounded like whining.
“We actually prefer the term ‘alternative religion’ freak” came a disembodied voice from behind Rick. I starred at Rick in abject horror. To his credit, he attempted to look sheepish.
I shot from my chair as a man emerged from Rick’s office. Simply put, the man was stunning. He had dirty blonde hair in that ‘I just rolled out of bed’ style that was currently popular, and it perfectly framed eyes that looked remarkably like multi-faceted emeralds. They stood out even more against his ivory skin that looked like it had never even heard of a blemish. He had angular cheekbones, a strong jaw and a perfectly straight nose. His face was almost too perfect. He was taller than Rick, probably 6’1 or 6’2, and while he’d never be mistaken for a body builder, he had a muscular physique. It was as if someone had dressed a Greek statue in a suit. And his shoulders. Dear lord, even in that suit you could tell he had perfectly delicious broad shoulders. I had the most distressing desire to dig my fingers into those shoulders.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Ms. Reeve.” He extended his hand, and I hesitantly accepted. “Mr. Murphy speaks highly of you.” Because it wasn’t enough that he was- dare I say it-dreamy, there was also the not-so-small matter of his voice. Oh, his voice. His voice was like warm honey. Like being caressed. Like being wrapped in velvet. It was also entirely to blame for what happened next.
“I am so sorry.” I stammered. “You see I just got this call for a girl in my class and I’m pretty sure she was trying to get someone to, I dunno, do away with me. Pretty funny, calling a suicide hotline and asking the person on the other end of the line to commit suicide.” I broke into a nervous giggle before continuing at a breakneck pace. “It appears that I’m trying to steal her boyfriend, something about dying my hair and getting my breasts enhanced. Because obviously if I dyed my hair I’d go for the box labeled ‘mud’.”, I just couldn’t seem to stop myself. “Not to mention that with these hips, that ass, and my waist line that I seem to have misplaced you can tell that my 36Cs are a little on the small side and definitely not something I’d have wasted my trust fund on.” Thankfully I ran out of breath.
Then I realized what I had just said. Except that, no, I did not just say that. I couldn’t have. From the expression of shock on Rick’s face, I guess I had. The devilish glint in Isaac’s eyes and the smirk that graced his lips confirmed it.
Oh dear god. Please just let the earth open up and swallow me whole.
“Oh I don’t know,” he said, barely containing his laughter, “I think you look quite… proportionate”
Anytime now with that swallowing me whole thing. I covered my face with my free hand, hoping to hide the fact that I had assuredly just turned a brilliant shade of crimson. Oh lord, had I actually been shaking his hand this whole time? Yes, yes I had. When I noticed, and tried to pull my hand away, he brought it to his lips and brushed my knuckles in a kiss. It was a charming, old fashioned gesture. Which just made me feel like an even bigger idiot. The corners of his lips had turned up into a slight grin. He lifted his head slightly so that he could peak at me from under his hair and our gazes locked. For a second, his eyes seemed to turn blood red and his smile suddenly seemed ominous. Rick chose that moment to not so subtly clear his throat, reminding us that we were not alone. Isaac dropped my hand, and I carefully inspected my shoes. When I looked back up, Isaac’s eyes were back to resembling many faceted emeralds. I must’ve just imagined them being red. No one’s eyes are red.
So there we were. Stuck in an awkward silence with me once again wishing that the earth would get on with the swallowing me whole thing. Promising anything for this moment to end. In answer to my prayers, the phone rang.
“Saved by the bell.” Rick muttered while he ushered Isaac away, promising him a tour of the rest of the small office.
I took a deep breath before picking up the phone. “Spaulding Cares Crisis Hotline.” To my credit I sounded pleasant enough given the slight feeling of guilt that I had knowing that my relief came at the expense of someone mid crisis.
“I’m having quite the crisis,” came a familiar male voice, and I smiled in spite of myself. “You see, I’m in love with my best friend, but my penis is just SO LARGE that I just know that it will scare her off forever. I’m just too much man for her delicate sensibilities to handle.” He let out an exaggerated sigh.
“Hello Drew,” I said with feigned exasperation. Andrew Anderson was my oldest and closest friend, and just hearing his voice made me smile.
“Oh no, Tori, is that you?” He knew it was me, who else would be stupid enough to be here on a Friday night. He groaned, loudly. “TORI! NO, TORI! THIS IS NOT HOW I WANTED YOU TO FIND OUT!” Now he was just being a ham.
“What, that you’re in love with me? I hate to tell you, but I already knew that. You told me when you were like six, remember?”
“No, no. I mean about my,” dramatic pause, “sensitive condition.” I could hear the grin in his voice, he was loving this.
“Oh I’m sure it is quite sensitive,” I snorted, “though this does give it a whole new meaning when I ask if you took the blue pill, Mr. Anderson.” It’s unbelievable, but Matrix jokes never got old and never failed to win me a chuckle. “So how are you adjusting to dorm life?” Drew had just moved into the dorms in preparation for his freshman year at Syracuse University where he’d be studying Architecture.
“Well I found out why my father relented so easily on the whole apartment thing. It would appear that I am the only freshman on campus to be in a single dorm room. Just once I wanted to prove that I could make it on my own, but no, he just has to single me out by buying me preferential treatment.” He didn’t have to say he’d been dealing with this his entire life, we both had, and we both knew it. Our fathers were both old money and had been in the same fraternity at Harvard. It was a minor scandal that Drew hadn’t gone to Harvard. After all, he was a legacy. To be honest, I think it was the main reason he wasn’t going. As long as I was being honest I might as well admit that I was thrilled that instead of being about six hours away in Boston, he’d be less than an hour away in Syracuse. “Enough of my melodrama though, what the hell are you doing playing Mother Teresa on a Friday night?”
“What else would I be doing?” I thought back on my disastrous meeting with my new boss and shuddered. “I don’t think I quite have the social skills required for anything more glamourous. I just made a royal ass out of myself.”
“You? Get out of town.”
“I know, it’s shocking, but as hard as it is to believe, it’s the truth. My new boss is Isaac Larsen, as in the Larsens, and after calling him ‘one of those cult freaks’ while he was in hearing range, I then tried to cover my social faux pas by telling him about my hair and the size of my breasts.”
Drew actually choked. “You did what?”
“I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow night. We are still on for tomorrow night, you’re not calling to bail on me?”
“Not on your life. I was actually calling to see how insistent you were on going to a party tomorrow. I was thinking that since I ended up in a single room, I might as well make the best of it. How ’bout instead of playing a rousing game of ‘avoid the vomit,’ we order pizza and Netflix it up?”
“Well, I guess that would be alright.” I sighed and acted put out. I hated parties and Drew knew it. He was doing me a solid, but I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of pressing my advantage. “It’s going to cost you though.”
“Of course it is. Let me guess, you want to pick the movies and the pizza toppings? So we’ll be going with pepperoni and pineapple pizza and ‘Hello Dolly’ then?”
“How did you know?”
“You’ve gotten predictable in your old age, Reeve. Anyways, I should let you go so you can save the world. I’ll pick you up at six tomorrow.”
“See you at six.” I hung up feeling slightly less mortified and settled in for the last hour of my shift.
About the Author:
Ginny Lurcock lives in New Hampshire with her husband whom she adores, her daughter, whom she also adores, and their cat. Who she likes alright.
Oh, and her father, his two cats, her sister and her sister’s boyfriend.
When not writing she enjoys playing games (of the board and video variety) or reading to the point of obsession (she’s not an addict, she can quit whenever she wants), watching intelligent television, mindless television, sports, movies and listening to music.
Basically, she likes all the things.
And somehow she still manages to find the time to be bored.