Throwing this Thursday back to the first scene I wrote in “Enchanted Heart”, which was originally called “Wild Card.”
Here’s to all the first scenes that were cut in the making of books we love. Remember, this is a naked scene (cut and unedited).
Happy New Year
What the hell just happened to my life?
So here’s the deal, my life sucks and while all 18 year old girls, I mean women, think their life sucks, well mine really does – or at least it has for the last three months.
In September, my best friend since the sixth grade, Malory, moved to Las Vegas.
In October, the homecoming crown I was all but guaranteed to win went to my worst frenemy, Crystal Shoemaker. And by the end of the homecoming dance my then boyfriend, Justin, also went to Crystal -should’ve seen that one coming when he was crowned homecoming King.
In November, my parents squashed my plans to visit Malory in Vegas. Actually, I’m “never to step foot in that God forsaken city. EVER!” Mom’s words, which coming from an A-list Hollywood actress is all but laughable only second to my father’s nod of approval; he’s a famous Hollywood producer. Wait till I tell them that UNLV is the only other college I applied to, besides their beloved alma mater, USC.
I mean, senior year is supposed to be amazing, the year that lives in your mind and makes you want to come back twenty years later.
It’s supposed to be, well, kick ass. Right?
The pale blue comfort floats down over my head as I wait for my machine to pick up the call.
Hi, you’ve reached Cassie. I’m not home and if you don’t have my cell number then don’t bother leaving a message, I won’t be returning it. Have a great day.
It was only a matter of time before the phone in my room started ringing. Guilty parents, guilty best friend, two months ago I could have included a guilty boyfriend in that list, but Chrystal Shoemaker. What’s a girl to do?
“Cassie, it’s your mother. Baby girl, pick up the phone. Honey, she’s not picking up. I knew we shouldn’t have agreed to let her stay by herself while we were filming-”
“Mom,” I scream even before I have the phone in my hand. No way was she sending a baby sitter to watch over me. “Mom,” I grab the phone and slam it to my ear. “Mom, I’m here. It’s,” reaching for the clock, I nearly fall off my bed. “It’s 7:30 in the morning. I was sleeping.” It was a lie and we both knew it.
“Happy birthday to you…”- the dual voices of my parents start singing over the phone line-“Happy birthday, dear Cassie. Happy birthday to you.”
“Thank you,” I feel the tug of a smile on my face as I walk to my window. “Tell dad the surf’s up.”
“Oh baby girl, are you sure you don’t want to fly out to New York? Your dad has us doing a segment at the MTV studios and we can watch the ball drop from there. We’ve got three more days of filming and then-”
“No mom, I’m good. I’m just going to hang out with some friends in Santa Monica.” That was a lie too; I had no idea what I was doing tonight.
“Invite them to the house. I’d prefer you weren’t on the road tonight. New Year’s Eve is just not-”
“Mom,” I quickly interrupt her before she has either me or my dad on a plane to cross the country. “Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be home before midnight.” I shoot a quick look in the mirror to see if my ears are turning red. I just can’t lie, not even over the phone, my body has a physical aversion to the act; I wish I knew who I got that trait from, but… “I’m just going to Gina’s house for the night.” I finish the lie with ears the color of a Valentine’s Day heart.
“Ok…” I can all but feel the regret from my mom’s voice. All she’s ever wanted to be was a good mom and today marks the end of that journey. Today, I’m eighteen and no longer her baby girl.
“I love you, mom.” I finally break the silence and give in to what I know she wants the most, “I’ll call you at midnight. New York time.” I promise then click the phone off before she can say good bye or make any plans that include me getting on a plane. Grabbing my ratty terry cloth robe, I slide my free hand into the only good pocket left and walk out onto my balcony to wait for call number two: guilty best friend. And believe me, she has a lot to be guilty for, well, at least her mom does. I mean, who moves their daughter senior year? C’mon!
So, here I am in December, which pretty much sucks every year because, let’s face it, the only thing worse than being born on Christmas is being born on New Year’s Eve. It’s just a piece of crap birthday all the way around. You don’t even get the two for one Christmas present. You just get…forgotten.
A quick look at the black face of the quiet phone and a breeze kicks up off the ocean, the sweet scent of morning mist and brine swirl around my head like memories of long lost friends.
Speak of the devil and she shall appear, or at least call. “What up, Viv?”
“Do I need to sing or have mom and pop already covered the Happy Birthday serenade?” The sarcasm all but oozes out of the ear piece of my phone, “Figured as much.” Malory never did get my relationship with my parents. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that their A-list Hollywood, still happily married or just plain give a crap about me.
“So,” Malory’s voice sings across the line, “whatchya doing tonight?”
“I don’t know.” I didn’t have to look at my reflection. I really didn’t know what I was doing. Malory’s in Vegas and all my other friends, well, let’s just say I use the term “friend” loosely. I slump down into the chair on my balcony and watch the ocean roll in and out.
“I do.” Malory’s voice breaks the silence with a tone that’s certain to get me into trouble. “Do you have the fake ID I bought you this summer?”
“Don’t interrupt, I know you do.” I can all but see the grin on Malory’s voice as she continues, “Pack your hottest club outfit, and don’t even think that a pair of jeans fits in that description, because I will dress you myself-
“Wait,” I squeal as I stand up in disbelief. “You’re coming to LA?” It’s my turn to interrupt Malory, because my best friend in town on my birthday.
“Nope, you’re coming to Vegas.”
I try to say the words, “I can’t come-” but all that comes out is a small whisper of, “oh, no.” I sink down into the cushions of my lounge chair.
“Oh, yes.” Malory mimics back in the same whisper before the excitement of her latest quest to get me in to trouble kicks her voice up two octaves. “You’re ride will be there at 3 which means you’ll be here no later than 8. I know you’ve probably already promised mom and pop a phone call at 9 aka midnight New York time, which means as long as you make the call, you’re golden.”
Another whisper of, “oh, no.” is all I can seem to muster in response as I stand up and walk back inside. “oh, n-”
“Shut. Up. Cassie.” Malory snaps, then with the cool voice that should just equal a weeks worth of me being grounded continues, “even if mom and pop figure out you aren’t safe and sound in their cute little Colony beach house in Malibu, there’s NO WAY they can get from New York to LA before I can get you home, even if I have to fly you!”
“Oh, no. Malory. I-”
“If you say, ‘I can’t’,” she whines the last words, “one more time I will personally come to LA and beat you before I throw you into the backseat of the Tahoe.”
“Wait!” I shriek praying that even Malory wouldn’t be so cruel. “Did you say…Ta-hoe?” The silence over the phone was all the confirmation I needed. “Ah, hell no! I’m. NOT.-”
“Yes. You. Are.” The finality in her voice means that I should just clear my schedule for the next month, because that’s how long I’m going to be grounded.
The sound of coins falling from a slot machine jingle in my jacket pocket and I know instantly it’s a new text message from Malory: Where are you?
I sway to the left as the driver makes a small correction in the Tahoe while staring at the luminescent screen. My ex-boyfriend gives my frenemy another stomach turning, “I love you.” I’m sure that’s followed by some form of PDA; I know Justin too well. A pet of the hair, a caress of the cheek, a squeeze of the hand, I look up in time to see his signature move, a kiss to the back of Crystal’s hand. That used to be my hand and I used to sit shotgun in the passenger seat of this truck.
Hell! I type back and turn the notifications to vibrate. If I’m driving to Las Vegas in the third row of the love fest Chevy Tahoe with Justin and Crystal, Gina and Darrin then the least Malory can do is virtually come along for the ride.
U r not in hell. Now tell me where u r! Malory texts back.
“Where are we?” I sigh and cringe at the fact that even I think I sound like an annoying six year old whining “are we there yet?”
“Tell Malory we’re about an hour out. We just passed Roach, Nevada,” Justin yells back over the blaring stereo of old 80’s punk tunes. “You aren’t getting car sick are you?” The first acknowledgement of our past slips through as Justin quickly looks back at me, double checks the road then triple checks me, probably for fear of his upholstery. Crystal just shoots me a wish-you-weren’t-here look as she raises Justin’s hand up to her mouth and places a small kiss. Trust me; she’s not the only one who wishes I hadn’t jumped into the back seat. The wind throws my ponytail into my face as Darrin rolls down the window; a small grin tugs at my left cheek. If he knew me, he’d know that was my I-so-wanna-kill you grin.
Instead I say, “I’m fine,” and look back at my cell phone.
We’re an hour out. Just passed Roach? Seriously! Is Vegas the only real city in NV?
I let that last slam surf the airwaves to Malory as I look out over the desert. The sun is sinking into the west setting the sand on fire with brilliant shades of red and purple, while the smell of dry desert waiting patiently for its next drink of water gushes through the back seats of the Tahoe. Little glimmers rise up from the desert like tiny diamonds sprinkled on the sand just waiting for someone to veer off the path. Little promises of riches and dreams dancing along the highway to the ultimate sin city.
I’ve never been to Vegas, but there’s always been something about the city that’s made me want to come here. An unexpected draw that since I was a little girl had me fascinated with anything to do with Vegas. It drives my parent nuts, but then there isn’t much I do these days that doesn’t.
My dance team had a competition in Henderson, Nevada. My parents wouldn’t let me come. One of the few times they’ve insisted I go on location with them. My pocket vibrates again:
Justin. I text back irritated that she should know; Malory is the one who had the brilliant idea to throw my butt in the same car as my ex boyfriend and his new girlfriend. This morning I was lying in my little bed in Malibu feeling sorry for myself because my parents are on location in New York for my birthday, after seven hours and about 700 phone calls of me trying to cancel, I’m packed with fake ID in hand and on the road to Vegas for a New Year’s Eve/birthday party.
C U in 30. Malory texts back.
“Do you know what Malory has planned,” Gina angles her body sideways. Now she wants to chat? Four and half hours into the drive and now she wants to make small talk.
“Um, no,” I try to put a smile on my face as I catch another of Crystal’s cantankerous looks in the vanity mirror; at least Gina’s trying. “I was just told to get my butt in the truck and to bring my fake ID,” I fish out the ID from my back pocket and hold up exhibit A.
“Same instructions,” Gina grins back and twirls her fake ID between her fingers.
“You know Malory,” I glance out the window to see if the desert is still sparkling, “never a dull moment.”
“And she’s had three months to plan this.” Gina looks out the window with me. “Hey, Cassie,” Gina catches my eyes in the reflection of the window, “Happy Birthday.”
“Thanks.” I smile back at her. Somebody besides my parents remembered me.
With out fail thirty minutes later we exit the freeway and hit the famous “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign and for the first time in my life I feel like I’m home.
The strip sparkles like someone spilled too much neon glitter on a piece of black paper then decided to blast a thousand watt light at the whole damn thing. It’s gaudy. It glimmers and it’s absolutely perfect. Everyone’s face is pressed to the window, all of us “cooing and awing” appropriately as we past casino after casino. A black pyramid shaped hotel on the left with a light shooting straight into the sky, a set of lions protecting the emerald lights of the MGM hotel and casino. The New York Skyline shoots straight out of the desert complete with a roller coaster curving around the Empire State Building then dipping down and under the Brooklyn Bridge. Five minutes later we past the Eiffel Tower on the right and the fountains of Belagio with its magnificent water show in full effect.