Book Excerpt + Giveaway - Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clarke
EXCERPT # 4
"My fingers trace the edge of the soft fabric. This was her blanket. One of a few keepsakes I managed to collect before my father had my mother's apartment cleaned out. It had been all of twenty-four hours after the funeral and I unlocked her apartment door to find each room empty. There was a uniformed mover inside—someone David hired—packing the remaining items into a solitary box.
“What are you doing?” I demanded. “Where are my mother’s things? Who are you?”
The poor guy explained that he was asked to remove everything from the apartment and dispose of it.
“Dispose of it,” I remember shrieking, “like trash?”
The man backed away, holding up both palms as if we were launching into a Jackie Chan martial arts battle. Without another word, I heaved the box onto my hip and left the building. After a stop at my apartment to drop off my mother’s belongings and pick up one very important item, I went straight to my father’s office at Forbes.
I stormed inside the building, ignoring the receptionist, and leapt around scuttling secretaries. My father was at his desk. He looked up, brow furrowed, when I entered the room.
“Julia,” he said, getting out of his chair.
“How could you?” I asked, keeping my tone low and soft. I was not going to lose control. I would act like an adult.
“What are you talking about?” my father asked, sitting back in his chair with a frown. But he knew. I could see it in his eyes. He knew.
“You’re throwing out everything. You hired someone to dispose of my mother’s things. You didn’t tell me. You didn’t ask me. How dare you try to erase her memory?” The steadiness in my voice wavered. I waited for an answer. A flicker of emotion. Anything.
My father shifted in his seat. He leaned forward and clasped his hands. His cufflinks caught the light. The flash of silver irritated me. Then, I realized why. He was wearing a gift from my mother; cufflinks for his fiftieth birthday.
“Give those to me,” I said and held out one hand.
“Pardon me?” my father appeared taken aback.
“The cufflinks. My mother gave them to you.” I began to tremble. My palm felt damp. I made myself stand straight. Unwavering.
My father stared back at me. He didn’t move. He didn’t remove the cufflinks.
I expected as much.
With a swift movement, I yanked the book from under my arm and slammed it down on his desk. The pages flew open. For a moment, I caught myself. Was I really doing this? The album was a collection of postcards—places we’d visited during my childhood, my teenage years, and in college. It was my mother’s idea. She loved postcards—wacky ones, beautiful ones, every sort of postcard she could find. It was a way to remember all of my travels. That’s what she told me when she bought me the first one. My mother sent them when she was on trips. When I was older, I mailed them to her. It was a way we had connected.
My heart thumped as I peeled back the first page. I glimpsed my mother’s writing on the back. After a moment’s hesitation, clutching the thick rectangle between my fingers, I tossed it at my father’s head.
The first one was the most difficult. After that, it became easier. I launched another, and another. Pictures of Myrtle Beach, The Poconos, and Napa Valley flew past David’s head. I followed up with New Mexico, Dallas, and the Florida Keys. The floor around my father became a sea of color. The air filled with picturesque scenes—beaches, mountains, lakes.
The Grand Canyon bounced off his nose. Las Vegas landed on his shoulder. The Seattle Space Needle slid past his elbow. In a final rush, I sent postcards of St. Simon’s Island, Cancun, and Knoxville, Tennessee into my father’s lap.
For my grand finale, I held up the remaining pages and dumped them into the trashcan. David didn’t even blink.
“Good-bye.” I let the door to his office slam behind me.
He never answered.
I close my eyes against the memory, tucking my body into a smaller ball on the sofa. As my knees press against my chest, I sigh. I wrap both arms around my legs, hugging them closer.
For the thousandth time since my mother’s death, I wish I’d kept the album. I wish I’d kept even a few of the postcards. A tear escapes from the corner of my eye. It runs down my cheek and splashes onto my arm.
Most of all, more than anything, I wish I had my mother back.
A wisp of a girl, feet flying, is wrestling valiantly with a dark-haired man three times her size. After a few seconds, the man squats down with the girl, gently holds her wrists and forces one hand open, then the other. Defeated, the girl lets the stones fall like hail in a thunderstorm.
I step from behind the vehicle. A much too-thin, agitated woman rushes out the back door. It bangs hard behind her.
“Ella Rae Sweet, you come here this instant.” Her face a mix of frustration and frown lines, the woman storms for the steps leading down to the parking lot.
For a moment, the woman becomes my mother, and me, the child. The lines soften into a round blonde woman in an apron and skirt. I’m six years old again, my usual headstrong-self running away from trouble. I’ve likely broken a vase or knocked over a table.
The wood on the stairs creaks, an eerie loud crunch. We all look up in time to see the second rung crumble into several pieces beneath the woman. As she falls forward, her mouth opens in a silent shriek of dismay, too late to make a sound.
Like a tight end in a pro-football game, the dark-haired man springs into action. In one fluid motion, he shoots to the bottom of the steps, crouches down, and catches the woman in both arms. Touchdown!
Wow. I blink at the impressive display of athleticism."
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. She is the author of Stay Tuned, Dancing Naked in Dixie, and Center of Gravity (October 2012).
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends. Check out her website at www.laurenclarkbooks.com. You can also find Lauren on GoodReads, Twitter, and Facebook.
Smart, Sassy Fiction with a Southern Twist
Other stops on the tour:
Sept 10 Forget The Housework, I'm Reading Guest Post/Excerpt
Sept 11 Chick Lit Reviews And News- Review/Author Interview
Sept 12 Nette's Bookshelf Excerpt/Guest Post
Sept 15 Chick Lit & WIne Review
Sept 16 The Thoughts Of A Girl, Review/Excerpt
Sept 17 Library Mosaic Excerpt
Sept 18 Desperado Penguin Review
Sept 19 Captivated Reading Excerpt
Sept 20 WV Stitcher Review
Sept 21 Kritters Ramblings Review/Author Interview
Sept 22 Steph The Book Worm Review
Sept 23 Aria's Dark Muse Review
Sept 24 Amy's Booket List Review
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