Happy Mother's Day! As a tribute to motherhood, I've shared one of my favorite scenes between
And, to celebrate, THE PRINCE CHARMING HOAX is on 99c through the Big Day on Sunday, May 11. If you buy the print book on Amazon, you get the ebook for free! (Links to ebook retailers below the excerpt.)
EXCERPTOne of my favorite scenes in THE PRINCE CHARMING HOAX comes early in the story, in chapter 4. I think it really captures the good mother-daughter relationship, which is a foundation of the book. Ali, has just come from shopping for her prom dress. Let's join them.
Ali, Dana, and Tori spilled out of Dana’s Civic. Leah watched as the girls hugged each other good-bye while Ali retrieved her packages from the trunk. Laughing and all talking at the same time, they were the perfect image of what life should be like at their age with prom and high-school graduation approaching. Ali waved good-bye to her friends and walked toward the house.
“Hi Mommy!” Ali dropped her packages at the door and ran to give Leah a hug and kiss. “I’m so glad you’re home. Wait ‘til you see what I got!”
“My little ray of sunshine, I’m glad you’re home, too.” Leah squeezed Ali. “Did you get a dress today?”
“I got EVERYTHING!”
“Great! Go upstairs and try on the whole outfit so I can see. That is, if you can find a space to stand. Every inch of your room is covered with something.”
“Sorry. I’ll clean it up before I go to work,” Ali gave Leah a peck on the cheek and quickly headed upstairs, arms full of shopping bags.
Leah tore the top sheet off the pad, ripped it up, and threw it in the trash. She was not going to spoil Ali’s joy today. She began to do the dishes as she waited for Ali to come out and show off her finery.
After a few minutes, Ali put on music. “Are you ready, Mommy? I’m coming down.”
Leah ran into the living room and looked up to the top of the spiral stairway. She knew Ali loved to make a dramatic entrance, but she was totally unprepared for what she saw. Her daughter stood on the top step, enveloped by the sun streaming in from the two skylights above the staircase, as if in a spotlight.
Ali had chosen a classic-style gown in white crepe knit with one shoulder strap, a diagonal neckline and slit up the side. Ethereal as Aphrodite, she glided down the steps and rotated at the foot of the stairs, so Leah could see her back. The dress draped down gracefully to her waistline, exposing her back. Ali wasn’t wearing anything under the dress and didn’t need to. She filled every curve of the design perfectly.
Ali had tried to contain her massive golden mane in rhinestone clips, but some of the long heavy curls escaped, framing her face and falling down her shoulders and back.
“Don’t you like it, Mommy? You’re not saying anything.” She searched Leah’s face for an answer.
“Mom, you’re crying,” Ali said, and she rushed over to hug Leah.
“You are so beautiful in every way, Ali. Your hair, your smile, your inner shine. I love you so much.” Leah laughed through her tears. “Don’t squeeze against me, or I’ll get your dress all wet. You better go change out of your dress, now. Thanks, though, for the preview. It was exactly what I needed today.”
Ali’s phone rang and she hiked up the dress as she raced upstairs to answer. Leah smiled. So much for grace and beauty, she thought.
Leah’s humor turned into concern when she heard Ali screaming. She ran upstairs to find her daughter sitting on the bed, tears streaming down her face.
“Ali, what’s wrong?”
“Mom, Justin’s been suspended, and they won’t let him go to the prom.”
“Suspended from school? For what?”
“He told off his coach or something. I don’t know. You know how Justin is. He had a temper tantrum.”
“It must have been pretty bad if got suspended, Ali. Coaches and players fight all the time.”
“I don’t know, Mom. You’re not helping. All I know is the principal said he couldn’t go to the prom. So now I don’t have a date.”
“Oh no. Sweetie, maybe he could apologize to the coach and the principal. There must be something he can do.” Leah sat next to Ali and stroked her hair.
Ali rested her head on Leah’s shoulder, wiping her eyes and nose with a tissue.
“Come on, Ali, get out of your dress before it wrinkles beyond repair.”
Ali sat up and crossed her arms. “What’s the difference? I won’t be able to wear it anyway.”
Leah felt her defensive maternal instinct flaring. If Justin were there, she would have strangled the little twerp.
The phone rang. Ali picked it up. “Hello. Yeah, I’m all right. OK, call me later.”
“Was that Justin?”
“Yeah. He’s on his way to school now with his parents to talk to the principal. They’re going to beg him to let Justin take me to the prom.”
Leah nodded. She knew Justin’s parents loved Ali and probably wanted to strangle him, too.
“You see? Now take off your dress and let me hang it up. It’s going to be all right, Ali. I know it.”
“Mommy, why do guys do stuff like that?” Ali asked as she slipped off her dress.
“You know. Act tough, mouth off, stuff like that.”
“Guys are turkeys, Ali.”
Leah regretted her statement immediately. “Look, Justin’s a good kid. You know that. He’s just very immature.”
“Does it get better when guys get older?”
Leah was grateful that her phone rang at that moment. “Be right back, sweetie. Let me get that.”
“I know, it could be Doug,” Ali teased.
Leah checked the call screen on her bedroom phone. It was Jonathan Lazarro. “Hi Jonathan.”
“Leee-ah! Haven’t spoken to you in a while. How’s it going? Still moving to New York?”
The last thing Leah wanted to do right now was talk about moving to New York. And Jonathan would gloat if he knew the truth. He had warned her about getting involved with Doug from the very beginning. She had brushed off his admonitions, thinking he wanted a chance with her himself.
“Can’t talk now. I’m in the middle of a crisis with Ali.”
“What’s wrong? Did she break a nail or something?”
“Don’t be an ass. You know she’s not like that. As a matter of fact, her problem is her boyfriend. It doesn’t matter how old guys are, they find ways to fuck women over.”
“Sounds like someone other than Ali is having boyfriend problems. Is something wrong between you and Mr. Wonderful?”
“I gotta go.”
“Wait, Leah. I’m sorry. Really sorry. I called to invite you to a gallery opening this Saturday. You know I was kidding about Ali and the nail thing. Please come with me. It’s free drinks and food and great art. Please.”
Leah sighed. “You know they serve crappy wine at those things. Headache wine.”
“Come on, Leah. If you want, drop by my studio first and I’ll serve you good wine before we go. Please. I haven’t seen you in a while, and who knows when I’ll see you after you move.”
Leah heard Ali’s phone ring across the hall and hoped it was good news.
“All right, Jonathan I really have to go now, though. Call me on Friday and give me all the details.”
Leah waited until she heard Ali hang up. “Was that Justin?”
“You don’t sound happy.” Leah peeked her head in Ali’s room. “What happened with the principal?”
“Justin said he and his parents pleaded with Mr. Aronson, but the answer was no. They even brought my picture and asked why I should be punished too.”
“And what did Mr. Aronson say?”
“He said Justin should have thought about me before he got in the coach’s face and screamed profanities. He said it wasn’t the principal or coach’s responsibility to consider me.”
“Ali, I’m so sorry. Are you going to be all right?”
Ali looked worn out, but turned it off with a shake of her head. “Of course I will. I’m your daughter. You don’t let them see you cry and neither do I. I’m going to the prom by myself, and I will be voted Queen! Who needs a King, anyway?”
Leah was startled with her daughter’s comeback. Did Ali really think she’d learned that attitude from her?
Leah brightened. “Ali, I am so proud of you. And, let me tell you something. In that dress and with that attitude, you’ll be more than Queen of the Prom. You’ll be Empress of the World and Ruler of the Universe!”
Leah’s phone, still in her hand, rang. It was Doug’s name on the call screen this time. Leah decided to let voice mail pick up.
“Who is it, Mommy?”
“No one important.” Leah walked back into her bedroom and replaced the phone on the charger cradle next to a framed photo of her and Doug taken in front of the Eiffel Tower.
“My family is just as important as yours, you bastard,” she muttered. “And for once, I’m going to put our needs first.”
* * *
Now through Mother's Day, THE PRINCE CHARMING HOAX ebook is only 99 cents at the following retailers: