A Sneak Peak at Alicia Chapter 1

Hello friends! I've decided that April is the month where I'm going to finish writing Alicia so that I can publish it in May. This blog post is a sneak peak of the first chapter. Enjoy!


The Dance


I can’t believe I’m standing next to Zach Frampton.  It’s our end of school dance and my classmates are flailing around like unstable people in the middle of the gymnasium while I’m off to the side of the room, sipping punch with one of the cutest boys in school.  If it wasn’t so humid from all of the sweaty bodies pulsing around me, I would think that I was in a dream.  A smelly, disgusting dream.

But did I mention that Zach got me a cup of punch?  Because he did.  He completely surprised me by being a total gentleman.  I mean, it’s not like I expected him to be rude or anything, but you know what I’m saying.  Boys aren’t always so thoughtful when they’re in middle school. I’m surprised in a good way

“Do you have any big plans for the summer vacation?”  Zach asks, before taking a sip from his cup of punch.  He normally doesn’t partake in eating or drinking artificial sugars because he’s such a serious athlete, but he decided to make an exception for tonight because it’s a celebration.

He looks nervous, like he doesn’t know what to do.  His feet are apart and he has one hand thrust into his pants pocket, in what I guess is supposed to be a casual move.  But he looks anything but casual.  He looks pretty anxious.

“I’m going to an academic program at Eastern Pennsylvania University.”

“Wow.” Now it’s his turn to surprised.  “Why are you going to school during the summer?”

“Because it’s an honor to be invited, Zach.”  I look at him, hoping that he understands.  “It’s a program for high school students who are gifted in academics but also dedicated to service and helping the community. We’ll be taking all kinds of classes as well as participating in service projects to help the campus and the surrounding area.”

Zach nods his head.  “Ok.  That’s pretty cool.”

It’s at this unfortunate moment that I remember what my friend said about Zach. Tia, who has been one of my best friends since elementary school, used to compare him to a puppy.  She would say that both he and the puppy are adorable but they differ in that a puppy actually has the chance to become smarter and have a bright future.

I always called her out on her harsh judgments and defended Zach.  A big part of that might have been because of my huge crush on him.  I can’t help it.  I’m just a total sucker for guys with dark hair and blue eyes. We learned in science class last year that that combination isn’t one that happens all the time.

“It is.”  I agree with him.  “But enough about me. What are you doing this summer?  Do you have any trips planned?  Are you going to the beach at all?”

“I’m a junior lifeguard at Skyview, actually, so I’ll be spending most of my summer making money.”

Skyview is the biggest local community park and their pool is the one that most of the kids on our side of the county go to during the summer months.  Memberships are pretty cheap but they also do day passes.  The only kids who don’t go are the ones who live on the other side of the county and the kids who go to Mayfield Manor, which is a very exclusive country club.

I’ve only been to Mayfield Manor one time and it was while on a field trip with my girl scout troop when I was in the third grade.  The manor has some sort of historical significance to our town and so we went there for the day to learn about it.  The only thing we really cared about was the water slide though.

“Wow.”  I say.

I temporarily forget that I’m standing in the middle of the middle school gymnasium and there are kids flailing and gyrating to today’s hits all around us.  I glance at Zach and it feels like we’re the only ones in the room.  But then another kid pops into my field of vision and I sigh.  At least Zach and I are the only people that matter.

“So you must stay pretty busy during the summer.”  I say.  “Have you ever had to save anybody?”

“No.  It’s not usually that exciting.”  Zach admits.  “But my cousin was a lifeguard at Mayfield Manor a couple of years ago and the craziest thing happened.”

“What?”

“There you are!”

Without much warning a person grabs my wrist and I can tell from the way it feels that they’re sweaty.  Gross.  I do my best to smack the person’s hand away.  I try even harder when I can actually see who it is.

“Stop it, Tia.”  I tell my best friend.  But considering the fact that she’s ruining the longest conversation that I have ever had with Zach Frampton, she may as well be a former best friend.

“I can’t.”  She says seriously, reaching her hand out again.  Her long reddish brown is wild and pulled back in a haphazard half bun.  She closes her fist and her grip on me is much harder this time.

“Why not?”  I demand.  Then I turn back to Zach who is looking uncomfortable.  “Sorry about this.”

He steps back.  “No, it’s ok.  Why don’t you guys talk?”

“I really don’t think it’s necessary.”  I say quickly, even though Tia still has a death grip on my arm.

“Yes it is.  Please, Alicia?”

Now someone else has ahold of my other arm.  I turn to see who it is and it’s a boy who I’ve never seen before.  I would be concerned except for the fact that he’s gazing at Tia with that adoring look on his face.  It’s the look that all guys give Tia.  I try to brush him off but he has a tight grip as well.

“Stop it.”  I say to them.  “I’m not in the mood for this and you’re hurting me.  Stop!”

“Too late.”  Tia turns to Zach and smiles sweetly.  “We need to talk to Alicia.  Bye!”

Zach lifts his punch glass to me.  “Catch you later, Alicia.”

I don’t even get the chance to respond because Tia and her mystery boy yank me through the crowd and out of the gymnasium doors.  There are supposed to be teachers guarding the doors so that students can’t wander the halls of the school but there’s nobody on post.  A quick glance tells me that Mr. Kronos and Ms. Busby are too busy flirting with each other to properly look after the students.  That’s just awesome.

“Tia.”  I ask.  “Where are you taking me?”

Tia doesn’t say anything but the boy starts talking.

“Where aren’t we taking you?”

I turn to glare at him.  He has slicked back dark hair, dark wash jeans, and a black t-shirt.  He’s either a musician or a troublemaker and I don’t really want to be associated with either of those things.

“I wasn’t talk to you.”  I say to the boy.  “Whoever you are.”

But it doesn’t matter who I was directing my question to because neither of them responds.  They just keep tugging my down the hallway.  It’s all going so fast that I don’t even bother to protest any more.  I’m really just trying to keep up with them so I don’t fall flat on my face.

“Are we going up to the roof?”  I ask, as they yank me into a stairwell that’s just a few feet past the locker bank where my locker is.  “I really don’t like heights.”

“Good god.”  Tia rolls her eyes.  “No.  We are not taking you up to the roof.”

The boy just scoffs.

We go down a flight of stairs and the boy opens the door at the bottom so that we’re now on the first floor.  The school was built on a hill so technically both the first and the second floors are ground level but the second floor is where the main entrance and administrative offices are.

They keep going down the hallway and at the end of the hallway is a set of double doors.  I have a feeling that we’re going to go straight through the double doors but I’m not sure exactly why.

There isn’t much time to worry about it because they push me right through.  And when my eyes adjust to the darkness I realize that I’m surrounded by my friends.  Mallory, Vanessa, and Luke are sitting in a little circle with a couple of candles in the middle.  It’s probably the crappiest makeshift campfire that I’ve ever seen.

“Hey Alicia!”  Mallory calls out.  “Good job Tia and Jesse.  You got her.”

So that’s the new guy’s name.

“Jesse.”  I mutter under my breath.

“That’s my name!”  The boy comes over and holds out his hand, like he’s waiting for a handshake or something.  “It’s like that old eighties song about the guy having a thing for his buddy’s girlfriend.”

“Oh.”

That’s all I can think of to say at the moment.  I don’t shake his hand.  I’m honestly not too happy with him because of whatever part he had to do with this kidnapping plan.

“You guys are really the worst.”  I tell everyone, walking over to sit down next to Vanessa while smoothing out my skirt.

“I told them it was a bad idea.”  Vanessa whispers.

I wink at her.  “Thanks.”

It’s amazing that the four of us girls have stayed friends for so long, considering how much we fight when we disagree about things.  I’m the organized, level-headed friend.  Vanessa is the quiet but thoughtful friend.  Mallory is the artistic, well-spoken friend.  And Tia?  She’s the wild one.  She’s the friend who always has a plan, and those plans can either turn out to be good or very, very bad.

“To be fair.”  Mallory says, clearly trying to make peace with everyone.  “If we had known you were talking to Zach, we wouldn’t have pulled you away.”

“What are you talking about?”  Tia demands.  “Of course we would have pulled her away.”

Mallory sighs.  “Speak for yourself.  We all know how long Alicia has had a crush on him.”

I can feel my cheeks turning red as I think about how Luke and Jesse are still here, and they didn’t need to find out about my personal life this way.  Actually, I don’t want Jesse finding out about my personal life at all.

“Do we have to talk about this in mixed company?”  I ask, trying to shut everybody up about my stupid crush.

Jesse looks confused.  “What’s mixed company?”

“Come on.”  Tia says, pulling him over so that the two of them plop down in the grass next to Luke.  The circle is complete.

“To be fair.”  Luke says, leaning over to talk to me.  “Everybody already knew about your crush on Zach.  You’re not exactly as subtle as you think you are.”

I turn to face him.  “What?”

“I’m just saying.”

I lie back so that my head is in the grass.  My dark curly hair is like a pillow against the hard ground.  It’s kind of nice.  “Oh my.  This night is not turning out how I expected, you guys.”

“Calm down.”  Mallory says, giving me a withering look.  “We haven’t even told you why you’re here yet.”

I sit up.  “That’s true.  Why are we here?  It’s the last dance we’ll ever have in middle school.  Next year we’ll be lame freshmen who might not even get asked to the dance.  Why aren’t we in the gym enjoying it?”

“Well said.”  Jesse says, giving me a nod of approval.  “You’re quite the wordsmith, aren’t you?”

I don’t say anything.  Like I said, I don’t really want to associate myself with that fool.

“She sounds like a Hallmark movie.”  Tia says, punching Jesse in the arm.

“Oh, she does not.”

The two of them continue bickering for a few seconds until Mallory, who is clearly in charge of this little shindig, tells them to shut up or they’re going to regret it.  She has two brothers and so she knows how to take control and get people to listen to her when she needs to.

I’m impressed.

“Anyway.”  Luke says, glancing down at the time on his cell phone.  “Are we going to get this show on the road, or what?”

“Let’s do it.”  Mallory looks at Vanessa.  “V, you can pass out the paper now.”

Vanessa goes around the circle and hands each attendee a little piece of paper and a pen.  She hasn’t said a word for a while now.  She’s usually too shy to talk in front of boys.  They make her nervous, even Luke who is an honorary member of our group.

Once we each have a piece of paper, I’m left wondering what we’re supposed to do with the paper.

“Mallory?”  I ask.

But Mallory doesn’t respond.  She just turns to Tia.

“Alright.”  I say, taking the bait.  “Tia?”

Tia smiles.  “Well since you asked so politely, yes.  I’ll explain.”

It doesn’t take long for her to explain.  Everybody is given a piece of paper and we’re supposed to write down a goal on it for the summer.  It can be anything.  It can be about love.  It can be about your friends.  It can be about achieving something you never thought imaginable.  But it has to be a personal challenge that you will work to overcome over the summer.

Everybody gets to writing as soon as Tia is done explaining.  I’m not sure what to write.  I stare into the candles which are flickering, doing my best possible job to stall so that I don’t have to reflect on my current life and come up with a summer goal.

“I don’t know what to write.”  Luke says.

“Just write something for yourself.”  Tia urges him.  “We’re going to fold them up and throw them into the fire then.  It’s ceremonial.”

That doesn’t sound safe but I know better than to bring that to Tia’s attention.  One of the worst ways to get her to stop what she is doing is telling her that it doesn’t seem safe.  Those words literally mean nothing to her.  That’s why she’s the wild one.

“Ok.  Is everyone done?”

I’m not quite done yet, but then an idea comes to me at the last minute.  I scribble it down on my piece of paper and fold it in half.  Vanessa collects our pens and our pieces of paper so that everything is anonymous.  Then she hands both to Tia.  I guess she is the secret ringleader of this circus after all.
“Well.”  She says.  “Let’s do some guessing, shall we?”

Mallory’s brow creases.  “I thought you said that we were going to throw them into the fire.  You said it was for ceremonial purposes.”

“That was a lie.”  Tia says blatantly.  “If I had told you that I was going to read them out loud, would you have really been honest?”

I groan.

“Now here’s the first one.  I want to finish writing my screenplay.”

That’s an easy one.

“Luke!”

Luke smiles.  “Heck yeah.  I think I can actually finish it this summer if I get to work on it as soon as possible.”

“Good deal.”  Jesse nods, as if he knows what we’re talking about.  He runs a hand through his slicked back hair.  “Good deal.”

I roll my eyes.  It’s no secret that I’m not liking this Jesse guy.

“How about this?”  Tia asks.  “I want to make a new friend this summer.”

“Vanessa?”  Mallory guesses.

Vanessa nods shyly.

This summer, Vanessa is going to work at her Aunt’s bed & breakfast in Rehoboth Beach Delaware where she doesn’t know anybody.  She hardly even knows her Aunt since she’s only met her a couple of times in the past.  Given her shy nature, I think it’s going to be hard for her to adjust.  But she can do it.  She’s a lovely person and we believe in her.  She just needs some help believing in herself from time to time.

Tia moves on to the next piece of paper.  She takes her sweet time unfolding it.

“My goal is to ask out the girl of my dreams.”

We all look around at each other.

“That has to be Jesse.”  Tia says.  “Unless any of you ladies have something you want to share with us.  Something… dare I say personal?”

“It was me.”  Jesse admits sheepishly.  “And it’s true.  This summer is going to be the summer where I get up the nerve.  It really will.”

“Good luck, dude.”  Luke says, reaching over to pat him on the back.  “I still haven’t figured that one out.  Girls our age are impossible.”

“We’re not impossible.”  Mallory says pointedly.  “We’re just figuring ourselves out.”

“Right.”  Luke rolls his eyes.  His tone makes him sound like he doesn’t believe her.  “Ok.”

“No fighting.”  Tia calls out.  “This is a ceremony for friends.  Now let’s read the next one.”

We wait for her to unfold the next piece of paper.

“I want to keep practicing the cello so that I can make it into the orchestra in high school.”

That’s an easy one.  There’s only one person in our group who plays the cello.

“Mallory!”

“You got me.”  She says, with a laugh.  “But since I’m stuck here in town all summer, just working at the day camp a couple of mornings a week, I’m going to have a lot of time on my hands.”

“But you’ll have me.”  Tia points out.  “And Jesse.”

Mallory smiles weakly.

Honestly, I don’t blame Mallory for her reaction.  Tia is one of my best friends and I obviously love her but the idea of spending all of summer vacation with just her and Jesse would put a frown on my face as well.  I really don’t blame her at all.

Vanessa nudges me.  “It’s totally fine.  She’ll have Tia and Jesse.”

I smile to myself.  That’s the funny thing about Vanessa.  She’s so quiet but sometimes she has the funniest comments to make on the side.  I feel like if she wrote a blog or a book, I would be hanging on to her every word.  I feel like everyone would.  Maybe I should bring that up to her sometime.

“Next.”  Tia unfolds another paper.  “I want to survive summer school.”

“It’s not Jesse.”  I point out.  “So it has to be you.”

Tia grins at us.  “Guilty.  Ok now it’s time for the last one.  I would like to have my first kiss this summer.”

Everybody knows it’s my paper because I’m the only one left.  And because they know it, they all decide to tease me by making kissing sounds and goofing around.  I don’t care.  I tell them all to shut up.

“What?”  I say.  “I’m just being honest.  How can you fault me for that?”

“It’s not that we fault you.”  Mallory says, looking over at me.  “It’s just that yours is a very personal goal.”

“Well so is everybody else’s.”

“I guess.”

We debate our summer goals for a while and make bets about who will accomplish theirs first and who is most likely to not accomplish theirs at all.  I hope that we all accomplish ours by the time school starts in August but maybe that’s just wishful thinking.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

“What are all of those cars doing over there?”  Luke asks.

We’re sitting on the side of the property by the outside running path and the sports fields, but our view of the front of the building is still decent.  I realize right away that the cars must be parents coming to pick their kids up from the dance.  That’s the only problem with having school dances in middle school.  You can’t drive yourself so you must depend on your parents to transport you.  If you’re lucky you can set up a carpool with your friends, but if you aren’t, there’s a good chance your Mom and Dad will get out of the car and embarrass you by calling out your name a thousand times.  It’s just a fact of life.

“I guess we should probably blow these out.”  Vanessa gestures to the candles.  “We’re lucky someone hasn’t noticed us out here so far.”

“Word.”  Tia says, leaning forward to blow them out.

I hadn’t realized that the candles were scented but as soon as the flames stop flickering and the little bit of smoke clears, the air smells so sweet.

“What kind of candles are these?”  I ask Mal.

“Oh!  I found them in my Mom’s linen closet.  One of them is pumpkin pie and the other is called Fall breeze.”

I nod my head.  “Is that really what a Fall breeze smells like?”

“I know, right?”

“So I guess that’s a no?”

She shakes her head.

Luke sees his Dad’s Subaru out front so he heads straight for his Dad’s car while the rest of us say bye to him and then head inside.  Vanessa and I are riding home with Mallory, who is being picked up by her older brother Ben so we follow her up to the main floor so that we can watch for him from the lobby windows.  Mallory and Vanessa start discussing what they’re going to be wearing to our eighth-grade graduation ceremony but I get lost in my own thoughts.

Judging by what our summer goals are, it is going to be one heck of a summer.



What do you think? Are you going to check back to see how the girls (and guys) progress with their Summer goals? First Book is all about Alicia and the next 3 books in the series will be about the other girls.

Yours truly,
Marian Elizabeth
to keep up to date with all my latest ramblings! :)

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