Tuesday, 19 November 2013
Escape Publishing Birthday Book Excerpt & Giveaway - Finding Home by Lauren K. McKellar
When Amy’s mum dies, the last thing she expects is to be kicked off her dad’s music tour all the way to her Aunt Lou in a depressing hole of a seaside town. But it’s okay — Amy learned how to cope with the best, and soon finds a hard-drinking, party-loving crowd to help ease the pain.
The only solace is her music class, but even there she can’t seem to keep it together, sabotaging her grade and her one chance at a meaningful relationship. It takes a hard truth from her only friend before Amy realises that she has to come to terms with her past, before she destroys her future.
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‘Amy, we need to talk,’ Dad said.
I sat across from him at a table in a crowded restaurant that was full of the usual Sunday morning types. Dad looked completely different to the man I’d seen onstage the evening before. Then, his look had been slick: ripped jeans, designer shirt; now, he appeared a lot older than his 37 years and more tired. His hair looked a mess, sticking up in all the wrong places, and his clothes were dated.
‘About what?’ I sipped my orange juice. The cool liquid helped my head, which throbbed from my efforts of the evening prior.
‘Your behaviour at the show,’ he finished. It hadn't happened yet, but — oh, yes, there it was — the sigh. That inevitable exhalation that always seemed to occur just before Dad did something he didn't want to do. ‘You’re seventeen. You know full well that you shouldn't be drinking.’
‘I’m 18 in three months. And so what, anyway?’
‘So you can't keep acting like this.’ A frown creased his face.
I twirled my straw around. Little flicks of juice spun up the sides of my glass, creating a tiny, orange mosaic. ‘It's not like I do it all the time.’ I shrugged.
‘Just every time you come and see the show. And when you're not at the show, you're in a hotel room by yourself.’
‘And it's not normal, it’s not healthy, and I want you to stop.’ He ran his hands through his thick black hair and stared me down. His craggy face was a minefield of peaks and troughs, and he had the sort of distinguished nose that would make an actor on The Bold And The Beautiful jealous. It felt weird to think of the thousands of middle‐aged women who had worshipped him onstage the night before. To me, he was just my dad and a pain in the ass, at that.
A lady strutted her way over to the table. ‘Excuse me, but can I please get your autograph?’ She threw her blonde curls over her shoulders until they were resting on her double D‐sized boobs, and then shoved a piece of paper under Dad's nose. Two tables away, a group of women in their early thirties were giggling, whispering, and pointing in our direction. I averted my gaze. It was enough to make me sick.
‘Can we get out of here?’ I squirmed in my chair.
Dad ignored me, signing the napkin and making polite small talk with the lady. She leaned forward again and touched his shoulder, tossing her head back when she laughed. It would only be a matter of time before she would reached across the table to grab something and ‘accidentally’ brush her breasts against his chest. I think a tiny bit of vomit actually began to work its way up my throat and into my mouth.
‘I'm leaving,’ I said, grabbing my bag from the floor beneath me.
‘What?’ I spun around. The blonde had retreated to her table, and Dad was now indicating I should sit. I did, rolling my eyes and letting my bag slump to the ground. I’d had enough.
We sat in silence for a while, studying each other.
‘I think you should go to your aunt’s.’
‘For a holiday?’ I asked, my brow furrowing.
‘No, Amy,’ he said, sighing. That brought Dad’s total count for the day to two. ‘To live.’
The words resonated in my head, sounding over and over again, like I was in a church hall or a bad horror movie. To live, live, live, live. Dad was sending me away.
‘What? Why?’ The questions tumbled out of my mouth. Why was he doing this? Was leaving me for his fans not enough?
Dad almost whispered the words. ‘Just until the end of high school.’ He leaned over to put his hand on my shoulder.
I shook it off. ‘But…but why? I’m getting good grades!’
‘It’s not grades I’m worried about,’ he replied.
My voice rose in panic. ‘You don’t care about my education?’ People had started to stare.
‘I didn’t say that. I just…I think you should go to your aunt’s and finish your studies at an actual school.’ He clasped his hands together, interlocking his fingers as if he was praying. Clearly he hadn’t thought he’d be getting this reaction.
‘But I barely see you as it is.’
‘That’s not true. We spend all day, every day together. It’s just nights that I have to work.’
‘Sitting in the back of a bus while we drive all over the country hardly strikes me as quality time, Dad.’
‘Then what difference does it make if you’re at your aunt’s instead of here?’
‘You're trying to get rid of me.’ His question hurt, stabbing at my insides. How could he hate me so much that he’d want to send me away?
‘I’m not trying to get rid of you, but this behaviour is unacceptable and you just don’t listen to me,’ he said. ‘Maybe staying with Aunt Lou will do you some good. Plus, this means you can hang around people your own age again.’
‘I can’t believe you,’ I blurted out.
‘It’s for the best. I’ll visit you, and —’
‘It’s for the best?’ I asked. ‘Sure, I don’t have a mum, so what’s best for me is to not have a dad, too. You know you drove her to it, right? What happened to her was your fault!’
Silence. His jaw dropped, his eyes widened.
As far as I was concerned, it was true. If he hadn’t decided to pursue a career in music, we wouldn’t be having these problems. We would still be living in our old apartment, and Dad would be spending every spare second with me, teaching me the keyboard and singing me to sleep.
And Mum would still be alive.
Finally, he spoke. ‘It’s only going to be for a few months. Nothing between us will change.’
‘You’re right,’ I replied. I stood up and grabbed my bag again. ‘Because you don’t really act like much of a father now, anyway.’
‘Oh, Amy. My life isn’t normal. I only want the best for you, and I promised your mum I'd give you that.’ His dark eyes were drawn and red. Lately, severe wrinkles had begun to develop at the corners, even though he was only 37. My dad, the aging chart‐topper. I hated him and his stupid job. How could he just ditch me after all we’d been through together?
‘Dad, I promise I'll stop drinking,’ I said, trying to bargain. Don't send me away.
‘Good.’ He smiled.
‘Don't leave me,’ I whispered. But he was already on the phone, responding to Joe, or his tour manager, or his sound guy, or possibly even the president of the Stevie D fan club.
It was done. I was leaving. Even though a few months ago this had been exactly what I’d wanted, things were different now. Mum wasn’t by my side, and we weren’t leaving to escape the madness together. My dad, the only immediate family member I had left alive in the whole world, didn’t want me. Now, I’d have no one.
One thing was for sure — there was no way I was ever going to forgive my father for this.