Friday, December 9, 2011
I'm very excited that Off Limits debuts today on Amazon. This is book two in my nitty gritty series and let me just say it was very hard to write. I wish I could say I grew up in a high school where things like suicide, young girls getting pregnant, drug overdoses and mean girls didn't exist. Sad, because all of that went on and much more. When I wrote Off Limits I wanted to focus on two girls -give them each a unique voice with their own set of problems. What I also wanted to highlight was the force of a real friendship - you know the type. The type of friend you worry about, the type of friend you try to help out when they're down and the type of friend you tell the truth to even if that means it might kill the friendship.
To celebrate my launch - I'm giving away a copy of Off Limits to read. Leave a comment and one lucky person will receive an e-copy of Off Limits.
By Renee Pace
“You coming over tonight, Rebecca?”
I make the question casual, like it’s no sweat off my back if my best friend can’t come over tonight. Inside my gut twists and rolls with the thought of being alone. She plays with her dyed blonde ponytail, pulling the strands tight to her head to fluff it up higher. She’s not paying attention to me. Rebecca’s one focus is Blair. Blair’s main focus is Rebecca. They make me sick.
“Can’t Linds. I’ve got plans.”
I hate that nickname and no matter how many times I ask her not to call me that she doesn’t listen. She dismisses me with a swish of her ponytail and walks over to plant one on Blair’s lips. I cringe with disgust. For the life of me I can’t understand what she sees in him, besides his muscular body. Muscle or not, he’s not something I’m into.
I re-read the text from my mother and resist the urge to type a pleading note back to her not to spend another night away. Mom’s been at a conference all weekend. I had Friday, Saturday and even Sunday night covered. It’s Monday. She was supposed to come home tonight. Now I’m left scrambling for an excuse to spend the night somewhere else or begging a friend to come to my house for a sleepover. Worse, I have to make my impromptu sleepover sound casual, like it’s an afterthought that me, the so-called perfect girl in this Prep school, wants a friend or better yet friends to spend Monday night at her house. No one has sleepovers on Monday. Even I know that. Thing is, I’m all into bucking the trend. Especially when a friend will keep me safe and they won’t even know it.
Taking the time to look at my reflection staring back at me thanks to my handy-dandy locker mirror I reapply my pink lipstick, add a bit more black eyeliner around my bottom lids and flick my long blonde hair off my shoulders. I look cool and sophisticated thanks to Mother’s recent shopping spree and my practiced ‘I’m fine’ look. I’m totally decked out in designer duds, from my shoes to my new hot purple matching bra and underwear, although no one’s going to see that. It’s the top of the line on this bod. But just once I wish I didn’t feel like trash. They say clothes make the woman. My clothes, like the makeup I carefully apply, are my body armor. They protect me and conceal me. Even my scars—carefully hidden thanks to my long-sleeved sweater. They are my shame. My dirty little secret I can’t tell anyone.
Armed with my new Coach purse, another gift from Mother-dearest, I saunter to class. It would not be cool for me to be late so I never am. Appearances must be maintained and just like my good grades, which are totally expected, I play my part to a T.
The class is totally boring and I can’t absorb one freaking word the teacher is droning on about. Something to do with DNA, mitochondria and cellular fusion. I hate biology. You of course would never know that. My last test was a ninety-eight percent and I participate in class even though inside it kills me.
“Mr. Turner, I didn’t catch the last part of what you were saying, do you mind repeating it?” I make sure to bat my eyelashes at him and throw in a flirty smile. Sometimes using the way I look makes me sick. Not today.
“Sure Lindsay, as I was saying…”
This time I take notes. It helps me concentrate on his class, forcing my mind not to wander into that dark place. An itch starts on both of my wrists but I don’t scratch. Scratching would ruin the plastic surgeon’s work and piss my mother off to no end. My mother and I don’t talk about the “incident”. That’s her word, not mine. I have another word I like to use, but uttering that makes her angry. Trust me, that’s not pretty.
We went from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Mexico, just the two of us, but not once did we talk about anything important. The five and a half hour flight might have never happened. But it did. The “incident” happened and now…now, I am supposedly all better. As if! And like all mistakes, we wiped all memories of it clean from our lives. Well, that’s how Mother viewed it. Me, I’m not so sure.
Now we live in Toronto. To say I hate this place would be an understatement. Gone is my tree. The one tree that grew up with me. Mother planted it in our backyard, blubbering away about “us” making our own memories when my father walked out on us. She never once looked back at that relationship, except to look at me. I should have been the wise one. Make one stupid mistake Lindsay and voilà, you’ll get taken away from all you know, including the stupid silly things that shouldn’t matter, but do. Like that tree, which had been on a piece of property in my mother’s family for close to two hundred years. She sold off the acreage to some developer, but not before we trekked an hour back into the bug-infested woods for that damn shrub. Cedar. That’s it. We didn’t think it would survive but that tree did. It grew and grew, so much so, that it became my own special tree. Now, that’s gone. After all the shit that’s happened in my life, I honestly can’t believe I miss that stupid tree.
My mother couldn’t live with the shame of my so-called accident. The reality is she couldn’t live with the gossip and still to this day, a full six months later, she is not interested in learning the truth. I tried to tell her it wasn’t an accident. That didn’t go so well.
“What did he say?”
Without turning my head I answer Megan. She’s sitting next to me, only because she got assigned that seat. Megan, with her mousy-brown hair, is about as boring as you can get. The cosmetic ladies would have a field day with her face. I bet she doesn’t even own lip gloss. I look at her for a good twenty seconds.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
“You doing anything tonight?” I turn my head slightly, giving her a bit of my attention but not all of it. Inside my head I am still going through all my friends, trying to figure out who might say yes to coming to my house tonight. Most of my friends have cheerleading practice on Monday night. Since I couldn’t even try out for the team because of my “weak” wrists lie, I’m not on it. Neither is Megan.
She hasn’t answered me, so I’m forced to look at her. “Megan, you busy tonight?”
She gives me a puzzled expression. “No. Why?”
“Want to come over?”
“Over. Like, as in to your house to do homework or something?” I can’t help notice how her uni-brow furrows in frustration and she’s got a pack of whiteheads on her nose that could seriously use some medication. What she really needs is a good makeover. Oh. My. God. I am a genius.
I move my chair slightly closer to her. “Look, come to my house tonight and we’ll give each other makeovers.”
Her eyes widened and honestly the biggest smile on the planet lights up her face. I feel like a heel. What the hell am I thinking? Oh, I know; I’m not thinking. I’m desperate. I can’t believe Megan is my last hope.
“Sure. That would be great. I can come over for a bit.”
A bit. I need her to commit for the night. “I was thinking…you know, there’s nothing going on…why don’t you spend the night?” I gulp. It’s too late to swallow back the words but I know I have just committed social suicide. For a second I wonder which is worse—home alone or having Megan over.
Thank god she asks the question in her whisper-like voice. “Yeah,” I nod. “A sleepover, that’s a great idea.” I am so royally screwed. I made her think sleeping over at my house was her idea. It’s not, but if it will get her to commit, I don’t care what she thinks.
“You sure?” she asks.
Not really, but I don’t have anyone else to ask and you’re my last hope. I nod, making sure my smile is bright and full, stretched taut across my face. I notice she’s still taking notes. How the hell can she concentrate on this boring stuff when my guts feel like they are being twisted into pretzel shapes?
“Just you and me, tonight at my house for a makeover. Come around six and we’ll have time for a movie later.”
“You sure your parents won’t mind? It being Monday night and all.”
“My mother’s away at some stupid work conference. And my stepfather doesn’t care what I do.” And that’s the truth. He only cares about one thing but that’s not going to happen—if she comes over, that is.
“You are so lucky. By the way, I don’t have any makeup to bring.”
“Don’t you worry. I have enough stuff to outfit my own store. When I’m done with you tonight you can take whatever you want home with you.”
“I wish I had your life.”
I gulp. A flash of terror slides through my skin at her words. If she knew my real life, if she knew what went on in the dark, when Mother’s not home, she most certainly would not want my life. I can’t say anything for a full minute. Instead, I start to take notes again. My heart’s hammering away and sweat glides down my new shirt. I’m glad now I put on my sweater.
“You okay?” she asks.
“You bet. Just plotting out in my head what we’re going to do tonight.”
The bell rings. Class is over. I gently close my laptop. No one carries scribblers or school books at this school. It’s high-tech all the way. The sickening part is that with it being mid-morning, religious class is next. I am not one bit Catholic, even though my mother said we were. I fake my way through religious class much like how I pretend being happy. Guess I learned how to lie from a pro. The worse part about my next class is with it being Monday it’s mandatory confessional. Honestly, some of my best lies take place in the privacy of a wooden closet. Just me and the priest, separated by a silly wooden barrier. I should journal some of the “indecent” things I confess. They sound exciting even to me so, I can just imagine the hard-on they give that fat, disgusting priest. If there’s one thing I have learned in the past year it’s how to spot a pervert. Trust me, he’s just like Greg, my stepfather, who ever since I turned fourteen has snuck into my room to show me his idea of loving. The concept of that type of love is not something I want. If that’s loving, I will take hate any day.
I know something the priest and most of my fellow students don’t know. There is no hell in the afterlife. I’ve been there. Died for a good three minutes. I didn’t feel a thing. Only this life is living hell.
“See you at six,” I remind Megan, as we casually join the mass exit from class.
“Can’t wait,” she says.
I can’t help noticing the bounce in her step. It should make me happy. It doesn’t. I don’t even like Megan. She’s a pathetic excuse for protection but she will have to do.