Saturday, 6 April 2013

Month of Men:: Grounding Quinn by Stephanie Campbell Excerpt


Simon and Schuster UK is having a Month of Men Blog Tour. Holla! I'm jumping all over this New Adult bandwagon. If you've not read one yet, do it. See what all the hype is about.
You can see the full tour list {here}.

You should start with Grounding Quinn by Stephanie Campbell. When I read it I had all these eerie emotions surfacing. It hit maybe a little too close to home. I love books that feel real. 

Aren't these covers gorgeous?!



Check out an excerpt for Grounding Quinn by Stephanie Campbell below.
Then go forth and purchase!
Enjoy!

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My mother is totally nuts. I say this with complete certainty, and with the backing of fourteen medical professionals’ opinions. They’ve filled her head – and our medicine cabinet, with enough bottles to make a CVS jealous. Lithium, Darvocet, Prozac, Xanax- they’re all present and accounted for, happy little tablets to curb her unruly moods. So, what did come first, the meds or her major personality defect? If you ask me, I don’t think my mom started off certifiably emo. I think she was unhappy and my dad knew it’d be easier to partially sedate her to keep her quiet than attempt to make her life better. So between him and all the whack job doctors with their happy little concoctions, they’ve made her schizo on their own. But whether it was before or after the pills, my mother’s now bat shit crazy just the same.

   I tap my fingers lackadaisically on the heavy walnut door, as I stare in to the overflowing medicine cabinet. Mom’s insanity at least has one perk. There’s a sea of countless bottles seemingly smiling at me, begging me to pick them. I spin the Lazy Susan until I find a winner. Grabbing the dark, amber bottle, I roll the cool glass back and forth in my palm. My parents are too self-absorbed and preoccupied with my younger brother that they’ll never realize that it’s missing.

   I chug a mouthful of Tussionex (pre-spiked with hydrocodone for your convenience), savoring its warm, syrupy goodness as it coats my throat and flows down into my stomach. I know that in minutes I’ll
feel blissful and alert. My mother’s flakiness and my dad’s patronization will cease to bother me. Yes, now I’m ready to start my day.

   I should be dreading this. Going to summer school is not at all how I envisioned spending the summer before my senior year. I should be off on some drunken Mexican vacation with everyone else in my class, not making up math credits in order to graduate. Too bad I’m galactically inept when it comes to math. I don’t care what anyone thinks, I just can’t wrap my mind around numbers; they taunt me, and laugh at my stupidity. Maybe if I had something else going on, summer school wouldn’t have appealed to me in the least,
but sadly, I do not. My boyfriend Daniel and I broke up the day before he left for Cabo, and my two best friends, Sydney and Tessa, are both out of town, so that helps raise the depression factor a bit.

   The halls at school are empty for once, just the way that I like them. Stepping into the deserted administrative office sort of makes me feel like I’ve made a wrong turn and ended up on the sun. Between the bright fluorescent lights, and intense yellow paint job, it wouldn’t be an unrealistic assumption. The cheeriness of the room leaves me grimacing. I’m tempted to set the attendance sheets of the summer school students that I’ve been charged with delivering on the office desk and leave, but I decide against it. With my luck, they’d get overlooked and I wouldn’t get credit for this damn class. I try to be patient and amuse myself by looking at the class panoramic pictures from previous years. Decade’s worth of happy graduates crammed into the school bleachers showing off their commencement attire. I scan the alternating colors of caps and gowns that so creatively spell out our school’s initials, and find my dad in one of the yellowing, framed pictures. He looks so pompous, even at eighteen. It’s nice to see some things never change. I root around in my purse until I find a black permanent marker and scribble out his smug head.


   “I don’t think you’re supposed to be doing that,” an unfamiliar voice says, followed by a light laugh. Shit.Shit.Shit.

   The marker slips from my hand as I spin toward the voice. I don’t recognize the guy standing in the office with me. To say that he’s huge would be an understatement. His massive frame occupies most of the doorway. He looks like a linebacker, or is it a quarterback I’m thinking of? The point is, he’s a total Sasquatch. His t-shirt and preppy knit cardigan clash with his gargantuan body. Still, he’s decent eye candy.

   “You weren’t supposed to see that,” I mutter.
   He laughs as he reaches down to retrieve my marker. “Apparently. So, someone you don’t like?”
I grab the marker from his hand and shove it back into my purse.
   “Something like that.”
   “I’m Ben,” he says, extending his hand.
   “Quinn.” I glance sideways and shove my hands into my pockets.
   I don’t shake hands. It’s not a germ issue, it’s just that handshakes are for grownups. They’re too formal for people my age and I don’t like them. Mrs. Niño appears from the back room, wiping her mouth with
a rough, brown paper towel.

   “What can I help you both with?” she asks. Her eyes dart back and forth between me and the yeti. He pushes up his sleeves and motions for me to go first. Polite and cute.
   “No, go ahead. I’m not in a hurry,” I say. It couldn’t be any more true. I stare down at my Peru-B-Ruby nail polish, pretending to be distracted and totally not eavesdropping.

   “My name is Ben Shaw. I’m supposed to pick up some registration forms,” he tells Mrs. Niño. His voice has a deep, raspy quality to it that is muy delicioso!
   “Sure, sure, sure,” Mrs. Niño says. She rummages around her cluttered desk, and picks up a dozen paperweights before pursing her lips to the side, looking confused.

  “Do you think it could be that envelope there?” he asks. I detect a hint of faux politeness in his tone. Ben points to a large manila envelope. BENJAMIN SHAW is written on it in thick block letters. I stifle a chuckle.
   “Oh, my,” she says. “Here you go.”
   “Thank you.” Ben says and envelope in hand he turns for the door. I don’t know this guy from Adam, but I do know that my heart picks up pace and I wring my sweaty palms as he leaves.

   “What do you need, Quinn?” Mrs. Niño asks me. Her tone is way more harsh when she addresses me, as if I spend so much time in here – which I totally don’t for the record. I narrow my eyes into my best glare, lob the attendance sheets on to her desk and bolt out the door after Ben. I have no clue what my motive is for following him, maybe I’m just bored. Maybe it’s just so easy to cyber-stalk hotties on Facebook that I’ve moved on to doing it in real life. Either way, the fact that I’m acting like a complete idiot is not lost on me. He’s already in the parking lot when I get outside, leaning against a shiny black car as I approach him.
   “Nice car,” I say.
   “Thanks. Here to deface more private property?” Ben asks with a laugh.
   “Ha,” I mutter. “Actually, I just came to see, um . . .” Actually I’m not sure what I came to see . . . Actually, normal girls don’t chase after strange guys they’ve just met.
   “Did you come out here to hit on me?” The sarcasm drips from
his voice.
   “Absolutely.” I try to sound sarcastic too, and hope the hitch in my voice doesn’t give my nerves away.
   “Well good, saves me the effort.” He gives me a quick wink, and my instincts tell me I’m in big trouble. The very best kind.
   “Well?” he says. He’s standing at the passenger side of the car with the door wide open, tapping his foot. I’m not clear on the question or implied invitation, or whatever.
   “Well what?”
   “Are you going to stand there, or are you going let me take you to lunch?”
   “No way,” I tell him. His confident smile twitches downward at my words and I immediately feel guilty. I slide onto the smooth leather seat on the passenger side of his car. Ben arches his left brow in confusion before rounding the side of the car to climb into the driver seat.
   “You can drive, but I’m taking you to lunch.” I say and without giving it any thought, my lips form a rare, genuine smile. He lets out a raspy chuckle. “All right then, where to?”
   “So, you’re sure your parents won’t be home soon?” Ben asks, glancing over his shoulder into the living room.
   “Positive,” I say. I add another scoop of coffee to the filter, and flip the switch to “on”. I pause to inspect the dark liquid drizzling into the pot. I’d lost track of how many scoops I added while talking to Ben and making lunch. The liquid filling the pot is extra dark and thick.
   “They’re at a baseball tournament with my little brother, they’ll be gone all day.” I qualify.
   “Is that you in that picture?” Ben points to a small frame on the edge of the telephone stand. It’s a photo of me in a leotard wearing my best I just want to please you smile. I was nine.

   “Yep.”
   “Do you still do gymnastics?” he asks me.
   “Not often. Where’d you move from?” I say, changing the subject.
   “The booming metropolis of Bowling Green, Kentucky.” I ladle out some lentils and pasta into two bowls and push one across the kitchen island to him.
   “Thank you,” he says with a smile. Goosebumps prick up on my arms in response.
   “Have you lived here all of your life?” he asks.
   “No. We moved here when I was like eight. My dad had an offer to start an accounting firm with an old friend, so lucky me, here we are.”

   “Where’d you used to live?” He crosses his arms over his sturdy looking chest. The tendons in his arms flex, and I silently tell myself to close my mouth, which is hanging open. I know I said he was only decent looking, but scratch that, after spending just a short time with him, I want to gobble him up.
   “California.” I take a sip of my coffee which is outrageously strong and bitter. I hope he doesn’t notice how I wince. I try to be nonchalant as I swirl extra cream into it, trying to dilute it.
   “Ah, that explains it,” he says.
   “Explains what?” I glance over my mug and he winks.
   “Nothing.” He shakes his head with a smile. “Do you plan on staying here after high school?”
    “God, no.” I love that he seems legitimately interested in all of these lame details about me.
   “Favorite musician?” he asks.
   “Bobby Long, you?”

   “Nice choice. Mayer Hawthorne.”
   We’ve been going back and forth with this game of question and answer without pause for over an hour, pretty much since we arrived at my house.
   “So, what else can you tell me?” he asks.
   “What do you want to know?”
   Ben tilts his head and appears to be weighing his words carefully before asking his next question. My spine prickles with nervousness over what he might ask. It’s standard protocol with me not to divulge much.

   “Pet peeves?” he finally says.
    I tap my fork on the counter top. “When people say, ‘irregardless’. Is that even a real word? I hate it.” Ben leans back in his chair and laughs.
   “How about you?” I ask.
   “High fives.”
   “That’s a good one.”
   His eyes meet mine for a moment, and I fight the urge to look away. 
   “Vices?” he asks. Pills.
   “I don’t really have any,” I say, with a shrug.
   “Oh, come on, everyone has something.”
   Stealing.
   “Oh, yeah, what’s yours then?” I say desperate to divert his attention. My cheeks ignite and my head screams: Deflect! Sidetrack! Distract! 
   He cocks his head to the side and smirks. “Snarky ass women.”
   Once I realize he’s not trying to bully me into divulging some deep dark secret, I humor him and answer. “Carbs.”
“This pasta is amazing,” he says, stabbing at a piece of Farfalle.

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