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It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and his/her book:
FaithWords (August 11, 2008)
Shelley Adina is a world traveler and pop culture junkie with an incurable addiction to designer handbags. She knows the value of a relationship with a gracious God and loving Christian friends, and she's inviting today's teenage girls to join her in these refreshingly honest books about real life as a Christian teen--with a little extra glitz thrown in for fun! In between books, Adina loves traveling, listening to and making music, and watching all kinds of movies.
It's All About Us is Book One in the All About Us Series. Book Two, The Fruit of my Lipstick came out in August 2008, and Book Three, Be Strong & Curvaceous, comes out in January 2009.
Visit the author's website.
List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: FaithWords (August 11, 2008)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Top Five Clues That He’s the One
1. He’s smart, which is why he’s dating you and not the queen of the snob mob.
2. He knows he’s hot, but he thinks you’re hotter.
3. He’d rather listen to you than to himself.
4. You’re in on his jokes—not the butt of them.
5. He always gives you the last cookie in the box.
THE NEW YEAR. . . when a young girl’s heart turns to new beginnings, weight loss, and a new term of chemistry!
Whew! Got that little squee out of my system. But you may as well know right now that science and music are what I do, and they tend to come up a lot in conversation. Sometimes my friends think this is good, like when I’m helping them cram for an exam. Sometimes they just think I’m a geek. But that’s okay. My name is Gillian Frances Jiao-Lan Chang, and since Lissa was brave enough to fall on her sword and spill what happened last fall, I guess I can’t do anything less.
I’m kidding about the sword. You know that, right?
Term was set to start on the first Wednesday in January, so I flew into SFO first class from JFK on Monday. I thought I’d packed pretty efficiently, but I still exceeded the weight limit by fifty pounds. It took some doing to get me and my bags into the limo, let me tell you. But I’d found last term that I couldn’t live without certain things, so they came with me. Like my sheet music and some more of my books. And warmer clothes.
You say California and everyone thinks L.A. The reality of San Francisco in the winter is that it’s cold, whether the sun is shining or the fog is stealing in through the Golden Gate and blanketing the bay. A perfect excuse for a trip to Barney’s to get Vera Wang’s tulip-hem black wool coat, right?
I thought so, too.
Dorm, sweet dorm. I staggered through the door of the room I share with Lissa Mansfield. It’s up to us to get our stuff into our rooms, so here’s where it pays to be on the rowing team, I guess. Biceps are good for hauling bulging Louis Vuittons up marble staircases. But I am so not the athletic type. I leave that to John, the youngest of my three older brothers. He’s been into gymnastics since he was, like, four, and he’s training hard to make the U.S. Olympic team. I haven’t seen him since I was fourteen—he trains with a coach out in Arizona.
My oldest brother, Richard, is twenty-six and works for my dad at the bank, and the second oldest, Darren—the one I’m closest to—is graduating next spring from Harvard and going straight into medical school after that.
Yeah, we’re a family of overachievers. Don’t hate me, okay?
I heard a thump in the hall outside and got the door open just in time to come face-to-face with a huge piece of striped fiberglass with three fins.
I stood aside to let Lissa into the room with her surfboard. She was practically bowed at the knees with the weight of the duffel slung over her shoulder, and another duffel with a big O’Neill logo waited outside. I grabbed it and swung it onto her bed.
“Welcome back, girlfriend!”
She stood the board against the wall, let the duffel drop to the floor with a thud that probably shook the chandelier in the room below us, and pulled me into a hug.
“I am so glad to see you!” Her perfect Nordic face lit up with happiness. “How was your Christmas—the parts you didn’t tell me about on e-mail?”
“The usual. Too many family parties. Mom and Nai-Nai made way too much food, two of my brothers fought over the remote like they were ten years old, my dad and oldest brother bailed to go back to work early, and, oh, Nai-Nai wanted to know at least twice a day why I didn’t have a boyfriend.” I considered the chaos we’d just made of our pristine room. “The typical Chang holiday. What about you? Did Scotland improve after the first couple of days?”
“It was fre-e-e-e-zing.” She slipped off her coat and tam. “And I don’t just mean rainy-freezing. I mean sleet-and-icicles freezing. The first time I wore my high-heeled Louboutin boots, I nearly broke my ankle. As it was, I landed flat on my butt in the middle of the Royal Mile. Totally embarrassing.”
“What’s a Royal Mile? Princesses by the square foot?”
“This big broad avenue that goes through the old part of Edinburgh toward the queen’s castle. Good shopping. Restaurants. Tourists. Ice.” She unzipped the duffel and began pulling things out of it. “Dad was away a lot at the locations for this movie. Sometimes I went with him, and sometimes I hung out with this really adorable guy who was supposed to be somebody’s production assistant but who wound up being my guide the whole time.”
“It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.”
“I made it worth his while.” She flashed me a wicked grin, but behind it I saw something else. Pain, and memory. “So.” She spread her hands. “What’s new around here?”
I shrugged. “I just walked in myself a few minutes ago. You probably passed the limo leaving. But if what you really want to know is whether the webcam incident is over and done with, I don’t know yet.”
She turned away, but not before I saw her flush pink and then blink really fast, like her contacts had just been flooded. “Let’s hope so.”
“You made it through last term.” I tried to be encouraging. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?”
“It made one thing stronger.” She pulled a cashmere scarf out of the duffel and stroked it as though it were a kitten. “I never prayed so hard in my life. Especially during finals week, remember? When those two idiots seriously thought they could force me into that storage closet and get away with it?”
“Before we left, I heard the short one was going to be on crutches for six weeks.” I grinned at her. Fact of the day: Surfers are pretty good athletes. Don’t mess with them. “Maybe it should be, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes your relationship with God stronger.’”
“That I’ll agree with. Do you know if Carly’s here yet?”
“Her dad was driving her up in time for supper, so she should be calling any second.”
Sure enough, within a few minutes, someone knocked. “That’s gotta be her.” I jumped for the door and swung it open.
“Hey, chicas!” Carly hugged me and then Lissa. “Did you miss me?”
“Like chips miss guacamole.” Lissa grinned at her. “Good break?”
She grimaced, her soft brown eyes a little sad. Clearly Christmas break isn’t what it’s cracked up to be in anybody’s world.
“Dad had to go straighten out some computer chip thing in Singapore, so Antony and I got shipped off to Veracruz. It was great to see my mom and the grandparents, but you know . . .” Her voice trailed away.
“What?” I asked. “Did you have a fight?” That’s what happens at our house.
“No.” She sighed, then lifted her head to look at both of us. “I think my mom has a boyfriend.”
“Ewww,” Lissa and I said together, with identical grimaces.
“I always kind of hoped my mom and dad would figure it out, you know? And get back together. But it looks like that’s not going to happen.”
I hugged her again. “I’m sorry, Carly. That stinks.”
“Yeah.” She straightened up, and my arm slid from her shoulders. “So, enough about me. What about you guys?”
With a quick recap, we put her in the picture. “So do you have something going with this Scottish guy?” Carly asked Lissa.
Lissa shook her head, a curtain of blonde hair falling to partially hide her face—a trick I’ve never quite been able to master, even though my hair hangs past my shoulders. But it’s so thick and coarse, it never does what I want on the best of days. It has to be beaten into submission by a professional.
“I think I liked his accent most of all,” she said. “I could just sit there and listen to him talk all day. In fact, I did. What he doesn’t know about murders and wars and Edinburgh Castle and Lord This and Earl That would probably fit in my lip gloss tube.”
I contrasted walking the cold streets of Edinburgh, listening to some guy drone on about history, with fighting with my brothers. Do we girls know how to have fun, or what? “Better you than me.”
“I’d have loved it,” Carly said. “Can you imagine walking through a castle with your own private tour guide? Especially if he’s cute. It doesn’t get better than that.”
“Um, okay.” Lissa gave her a sideways glance. “Miss A-plus in History.”
“Really?” I had A-pluses in AP Chem and Math, but with anything less in those subjects, I wouldn’t have been able to face my father at Christmas. As it was, he had a fit over my B in History, and the only reason I managed to achieve an A-minus in English was because of a certain person with the initials L. M.
Carly shrugged. “I like history. I like knowing what happened where, and who it happened to, and what they were wearing. Not that I’ve ever been anywhere very much, except Texas and Mexico.”
“You’d definitely have liked Alasdair, then,” Lissa said. “He knows all about what happened to whom. But the worst was having to go for tea at some freezing old stone castle that Dad was using for a set. I thought I’d lose my toes from frostbite.”
“Somebody lives in the castle?” Carly looked fascinated. “Who?”
“Some earl.” Lissa looked into the distance as she flipped through the PDA in her head. Then she blinked. “The Earl and Countess of Strathcairn.”
“Very. Forty degrees, tops. He said he had a daughter about our age, but I never met her. She heard we were coming and took off on her horse.”
“Mo guai nuer,” I said. “Rude much?”
Lissa shrugged. “Alasdair knew the family. He said Lady Lindsay does what she wants, and clearly she didn’t want to meet us. Not that I cared. I was too busy having hypothermia. I’ve never been so glad to see the inside of a hotel room in my life. I’d have put my feet in my mug of tea if I could have.”
“Well, cold or not, I still think it’s cool that you met an earl,” Carly said. “And I can’t wait to see your dad’s movie.”
“Filming starts in February, so Dad won’t be around much. But Mom’s big charity gig for the Babies of Somalia went off just before Christmas and was a huge success, so she’ll be around a bit more.” She paused. “Until she finds something else to get involved in.”
“Did you meet Angelina?” I asked. Lissa’s life fascinated me. To her, movie stars are her dad’s coworkers, like the brokers and venture capitalists who come to the bank are my dad’s coworkers. But Dad doesn’t work with people who look like Orlando and Angelina, that’s for sure.
“Yes, I met her. She apologized for flaking on me for the Benefactors’ Day Ball. Not that I blame her. It all turned out okay in the end.”
“Except for your career as Vanessa Talbot’s BFF.”
Lissa snorted. “Yeah. Except that.”
None of us mentioned what else had crashed and burned in flames after the infamous webcam incident—her relationship with the most popular guy in school, Callum McCloud. I had a feeling that that was a scab we just didn’t need to pick at.
“You don’t need Vanessa Talbot,” Carly said firmly. “You have us.”
We exchanged a grin. “She’s right,” I said. “This term, it’s totally all about us.”
“Thank goodness for that,” she said. “Come on. Let’s go eat. I’m starving.”
RStapleton I heard from a mutual friend that you take care of people at midterm time.
Source10 What friend?
Source10 Been known to happen.
RStapleton How much?
Source10 1K. Math, sciences, geography only.
RStapleton I hate numbers.
Source10 IM me the day before to confirm.
RStapleton OK. Who are you?
RStapleton You there?
BY NOON THE next day, I’d hustled down to the student print shop in the basement and printed the notices I’d laid out on my Mac. I tacked them on the bulletin boards in the common rooms and classroom corridors on all four floors.
Christian prayer circle every Tuesday night 7:00 p.m., Room 216 Bring your Bible and a friend!
“Nice work,” Lissa told me when I found her and Carly in the dining room. “Love the salmon pink paper. But school hasn’t officially started yet. We probably won’t get a very good turnout if the first one’s tonight.”
“Maybe not.” I bit into a succulent California roll and savored the tart, thin seaweed wrapper around the rice, avocado, and shrimp. I had to hand it to Dining Services. Their food was amazing. “But even if it’s just the three of us, I can’t think of a better way to start off the term, can you?”
Lissa didn’t reply. The color faded from her face and she concentrated on her square ceramic plate of sushi as though it were her last meal. Carly swallowed a bite of makizushi with an audible gulp as it went down whole. Slowly, casually, I reached for the pepper shaker and glanced over my shoulder.
“If it isn’t the holy trinity,” Vanessa drawled, plastered against Brett Loyola’s arm and standing so close behind us, neither Carly nor I could move. “Going to multiply the rice and fish for us?”
“Nice to see you, too, Vanessa,” Lissa said coolly. “Been reading your Bible, I see.”
“Hi, Brett,” Carly managed, her voice about six notes higher than usual as she craned to look up at him.
He looked at her, puzzled, as if he’d seen her before somewhere but couldn’t place where, and gave her a vague smile. “Hey.”
I rolled my eyes. Like we hadn’t spent an entire term in History together. Like Carly didn’t light up like a Christmas tree every time she passed a paper to him, or maneuvered her way into a study group that had him in it. Honestly. I don’t know how that guy got past the entrance requirements.
Oh, wait. Silly me. Daddy probably made a nice big donation to the athletics department, and they waved Brett through Admissions with a grateful smile.
“Have any of you seen Callum?” Vanessa inquired sweetly. “I’m dying to see him. I hear he spent Christmas skiing at their place in Vail with his sisters and his new girlfriend. No parents.”
“He’s a day student.” I glanced at Lissa to see how she was taking this, but she’d leaned over to the table behind her to snag a bunch of napkins. “Why would he be eating here?”
“To see all his friends, of course. I guess that’s why you haven’t seen him.”
“Neither have you, if you’re asking where he is.” Poor Vanessa. I hope she’s never on a debating team. It could get humiliating.
But what she lacked in logic she made up for in venom. She ignored me and gushed, “I love your outfit, Lissa. I’m sure Callum would, too. That is, if he were still speaking to you.”
I barely restrained myself from giving Vanessa an elbow in the stomach. But Lissa had come a long way since her ugly breakup with a guy who didn’t deserve her. Vanessa had no idea who she was dealing with—Lissa with an army of angels at her back was a scary thing.
She pinned Vanessa with a stare as cold as fresh snow.
“You mean you haven’t told him yet that you made that video?” She shook her head. “Naughty Vanessa, lying to your friends like that.” A big smile and a meaningful glance at Brett. “But then, they’re probably used to it.”
Vanessa opened her mouth to say something scathing, when a tall, lanky guy elbowed past her to put his sushi dishes on the table next to mine. Six feet of sheer brilliance, with blue eyes and brown hair cropped short so he didn’t have to deal with it. A mind so sharp, he put even the overachievers here in the shade—but in spite of that, a guy who’d started coming to prayer circle last term. Who could fluster me with a look, and wipe my brain completely blank with just a smile.
“Hey, Vanessa, Brett.”
My jaw sagged in surprise, and I snapped it shut on my mouthful of rice, hoping he hadn’t seen. Since when was the king of the science geeks on speaking terms with the popular crowd?
To add to the astonishment, the two of them stepped back, as if to give him some space. “Yo, Einstein.” Brett grinned and they shook hands.
“Hi, Lucas.” Vanessa glanced from him to me to our dishes sitting next to each other. “I didn’t know you were friends with these people.”
He shrugged. “There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
“That could change. Why don’t you come and sit with us?” she asked. Brett looked longingly at the sushi bar and tugged on her arm. She ignored him. “We’re much more fun. We don’t sing hymns and save souls.”
“So I’ve heard. Did you make it into Trig?”
“Of course.” She tossed her gleaming sheet of hair over one shoulder. “Thanks to you.”
I couldn’t keep quiet another second. “You tutored her?” I asked him, trying not to squeak.
He picked up a piece of California roll and popped it in his mouth, nodding. “All last term.” He glanced at Vanessa. “Contrary to popular opinion, she isn’t all looks.”
Oh, gack. Way TMI. Vanessa smiled as though she’d won this and all other possible arguments now and in the future, world without end, amen. “Come on, Lucas. Hold our table for us while Brett and I get our food. I want to talk to you about something anyway.”
He shrugged and picked up his dishes while she and Brett swanned away. “See you at prayer circle,” he said to me. “I saw the signs. Same time and place, right?”
I could only nod as he headed for the table in the middle of the big window looking out on the quad. The one no one else dared to sit at, in case they risked the derision and social ostracism that would follow.
The empty seat on my right seemed even emptier. How could he do that? How could he just dump us and then say he’d see us at prayer circle? Shouldn’t he want to eat with the people he prayed with?
“It’s okay, Gillian,” Carly whispered. “At least he’s coming.”
“And Vanessa isn’t,” Lissa put in with satisfaction.
“I’m not so sure I want him to, now,” I said. I looked at my sushi and my stomach sort of lurched. Ugh. I pushed it away.
And here I’d been feeling so superior to Carly and her unrequited yen for Brett. I was just as bad, and this proved it. What else could explain this sick feeling in my middle?
Two hours later, while Lissa, Carly, and I shoved aside the canvases and whatnot that had accumulated in Room 216 over the break, making enough room for half a dozen people to sit, I’d almost talked myself into not caring whether Lucas came or not.
And then he stepped through the door and I realized my body was more honest than my brain. I sucked in a breath and my heart began to pound.
Oh, yeah. You so don’t care.
Travis, who must have arrived during dinner, trickled in behind him, and then Shani Hanna, who moved with the confidence of an Arabian queen, arrived with a couple of sophomores I didn’t know. Her hair, tinted bronze and caught up at the crown of her head, tumbled to her shoulders in corkscrew curls. I fingered my own arrow-straight mop that wouldn’t hold a curl if you threatened it with death.
Okay, stop feeling sorry for yourself, would you? Enough is enough.
“Hey, everyone, thanks for coming,” I said brightly, getting to my feet. “I’m Gillian Chang. Why don’t the newbies introduce themselves, and then we’ll get started?”
The sophomores told us their names, and I found out Travis’s last name was Fanshaw. And the dots connected. Of course he’d been assigned as Lucas’s roommate—he’s like this Chemistry genius. If it weren’t for Lucas, he’d be the king of the science geeks. Sometimes science people have a hard time reconciling scientific method with faith. If they were here at prayer circle, maybe Travis and Lucas were among the lucky few who figured science was a form of worship, of marveling at the amazement that is creation. I mean, if Lucas was one of those guys who got a kick out of arguing with the Earth Sciences prof, I wouldn’t even be able to date him.
Not that there was any possibility of that.
As our prayers went up one by one, quietly from people like Carly and brash and uncomfortably from people like Travis and the sophomores, I wished that dating was the kind of thing I could pray about.
But I don’t think God has my social life on His to-do list.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2008 by Shelley Adina
This article is used with the permission of Hachette Book Group and Shelley Adina. All rights reserved.