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Saturday, December 17, 2011

4000 copies sold!

It's Official!!


I have sold OVER 4000 copies of UNLOVABLE!!! To celebrate I am going to give away a PAPERBACK copy(US ONLY, International winners will receive and E-copy) AND to the US winner a few bookmarks!
To enter you need to:

1. Like my Amazon page here:http://www.amazon.com/Unlovable-Port-Fare-ebook/dp/B004K1F9BA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324167067&sr=8-2

2. Scroll to the bottom of the SAME amazon page(see #1) and "AGREE" with "Tags Customers Associate with This Product" and tell me what number you are for the tag " Young Adult Romance" AFTER you agree. (Only agree with the tags you feel apply!!)

3. Add a comment below! Make sure you tell me what tag you are!!

The contest will end December 31st, at Midnight, East Coast time!!

THANK YOU EVERYONE for your love and support this year!!It has been phenomenal!

And the winner is!

Gena Robertson! Thank you to all who entered!! Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah to all.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Win a paperback copy of Unlovable

The Romancing Christmas Giveaway Hop is being hosted by Reading Romances!


Win a paperback copy of UNLOVABLE:

Just add your comment below AND become a follower of my blog:

This is open to everyone however international winner will receive an ebook!:



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Great Reviews!!

Below are listed a few wonderful reviews of Unlovable from some wonderful Book Bloggers!!! Hope you Enjoy!!

Check it out!
1.Fictionaldistraction

2.Good Choice Reading

3.Confessions of a Bookaholic

4.Tough Critic Book Reviews

5.Book Passion for Life

6.Bittersweet Enchantments

7.Into the Hall of Books

8.Book Birdie

9.YA-Aholic

10.Xpresso Reads

11.And A few Amazon.com Reviews!

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Read of 2011 - Not kidding!, December 29, 2011
By GenaR -
This review is from: Unlovable: Book One of The Port Fare Series (Paperback)
I cannot gush enough about this book. I couldn't put it down once I started it! This author knows how to draw the reader into a story and keep them there. The characters were so well developed that I felt I personally knew them. I am now invested, and am so thankful that this is just the first in a trilogy. I cannot wait for the next book, due out in March, I understand.

I don't like spoilers, so I will just say that the back cover should be enough to capture your attention - the cover itself speaks volumes as does the title of the book. Once you open it, the pages deliver a powerful story that makes you feel the emotions of the character that is telling their point of view.

This book doesn't just tell a story, it gives a message. Several, actually. About peer pressure, community service, what neighbors can and should be like, what co-dependency is and what it can do to you and others, and mostly learning about trust and what love is.

I can promise you, this book will be one that I will re-read over and over. It's on my keeper shelf. For. Ever.
**********
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Letters Inside Out, November 21, 2011
By
Amanda Miller "Book Blogger" (Kentucky, USA)
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: Unlovable: Book One of The Port Fare Series (Paperback)
There are few books that I feel can be considered both adult and young adult. This is one of those books! I had seen Unlovable reviewed on various blogs and knew I needed to read it. I had bought it and reviews were piling up, so I kept putting it off. I want to kick myself for waiting so long!

Here we have an undercover cop, a 17 year old girl who may or may not be involved in a drug ring, and some horrifying murder victims. Actually, we have a whole lot more than that. A LOT happens in Unlovable, it's action-packed and filled with extremely lovable characters, despite the book title.

Some of the story is very stereotypical, but it's done in a way that is fun and still keeps you guessing. It's the type of book you don't want to put down, because you have to know what will happen next.

Maggie has lived through so much in her seventeen years, I couldn't help but feel for her! The main three guys...Seth, Booker, and Cole are all each very different, but you can tell they all care about each other very much and are like brothers. I cannot wait to read the next two books in the series.
*************
5.0 out of 5 stars A Touching and Romantic Story, November 19, 2011
By
R. Lane (Southern California)
This review is from: Unlovable (The Port Fare Series) (Kindle Edition)
This was such a sweet and lovely romantic story! I was truly touched by this book.

Seth Prescott is a Mobile Enforcement Team, or MET agent working undercover, posing as a senior at Port Fare High to investigate the growing drug problem in Port Fare. Maggie Brown is a senior in Port Fare High. She lives in a trailer home with her mother who is a passed-out, mean drunk. Maggie gets good grades and keeps to herself. She has found out that expressing any emotion to her mother just encourages a slew of hateful remarks or worse. Maggie has caught the eye of Seth, he finds himself growing sweet on her. Every time he gets around her though, he gets tongue-tied. Maggie of course thinks Seth is hot but couldn't imagine him being interested in her. He's always hanging out with the cool crowd. Topping that list is popular cheer captain, Hillary. Hillary is a vile, mean-spirited, jealous creature! Ughh!!

The drug problem is getting worse in Port Fare and their new lead on a heroin ring brings them to Felix Hoffman, seen talking to two suspected drug pushers. Felix lives in the same trailer park as Maggie. The police think that Hoffman and Maggie's mom could be involved. Armed with this new information, Seth's assignment is to get close to Maggie and find out if her mother is connected somehow.

I'm astounded that Maggie is such an amazing girl in spite of the creep of a mother she has. This mother is beyond horrible! It was truly heartbreaking the way she treated Maggie. But with Seth getting close to her, and caring for her, you see the walls she's put up for protection slowly coming down. You just have to love Seth, being so patient and protective with Maggie, showing her love she's never known. These two had some very swoon-worthy, knee-weakening scenes, one of my favorites:

His lips were soft and warm on mine, though somewhat hesitant.....I started to pull away when his hands began winding their way through my hair. He held my face gently as his mouth moved carefully against mine. It felt wonderful. My head began swimming as I drew myself tighter against him......After several moments, he pulled away. I didn't open my eyes, instead drawing my bottom lip into my mouth to get one last taste of him. Suddenly realizing how long my eyes had been shut, I popped them open to see him smiling down at me! I was mortified!....his mouth dropped back onto mine, and this time there was an undeniable eagerness to his kiss. I struggled to stay calm, if only he hadn't tasted so good and felt so incredibly warm. Maggie: "the river Phlegethon will have to freeze over before I kiss you again." Seth: "Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I watched you taste my kiss back at the park, Maggie. You enjoyed it as much as I did. You know it and I know it. Sooner or later our lips will meet again. Personally, I'm voting for sooner."

I edited a little just to fit the scene, but you get the picture!! Hot!!

I loved this story, and now I'm a true Sherry Gammon fan. I can't wait to read the next book in the series that continues on with a secondary character, Cole. I do hope that we get to see some of Seth and Maggie in that one too! As a side note, I love the cover of this book!! It is so beautiful, and anyone who knows me, knows that this is a big draw!
****************
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW., November 13, 2011
By Love Story Fanatic -
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Unlovable (The Port Fare Series) (Kindle Edition)
I must say...I caught myself being a little judgmental without even reading the sample or description of the book. The cover struck me as odd...ive learned my lesson TRULY "NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER!" This book captured my heart and at times I felt myself crying...all the things Maggie (and Seth) had to deal with broke my heart. The relationship between Maggie and Seth just captured my mind and heart. But I must say, the part with the CaL class made me laugh...a lot. It was BEAUTIFULLY written, and it BLEW ME AWAY. I CAN'T WAIT FOR MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR. Personally, I enjoyed the story. It was worth every single once of money and time. I love this book. It most DEFINITELY made close to the top 5 best books I. Have. Ever. Read. I would recommend this book in a heartbeat, it is truly a must read. I will for sure be reading it again in the near future. :)
************
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written!!<3, September 17, 2011
By N. Johnson (california,ca usa)
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: Unlovable (The Port Fare Series) (Kindle Edition)
I'm completely addicted, (between the bathroom breaks and my daughter) I finished reading this book in two days! It was captivating, it kept me guessing and wanting more. And even when I wasn't reading the book I was thinking about it. The story was great along with the I can relate to them characters, and not to mention the cleanliness of this book is simply refreshing!! I can't wait for the next book to come out, I would recommend to anyone!! You have to read this book, you will absolutely love it!! Amazing job Ms. Gammon!! <3

Friday, December 2, 2011

March 2012

I know I am supposed to have Unbelievable ready by December, but it won't be!! Sorry! I will have it ready by March 2012. I fell and messed up my back and ribs, making it impossible to sit for longer than 2 hours at a time without sever pain. I have been going to a chiropractor and am getting better. I am working on Book 2 EVERYDAY!! Thank you all for your support, and I hope you have a beautiful Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Signing!

The town of Fairport is having a Christmas festival and they have invited all the local authors to come and do a book signing!! So exciting!
So if you have DECEMBER 3rd from 2-4pm open, and you are in the area-Fairport NY, Does that name ring a bell to anyone;}} stop by and see me! I will be giving away FREE bookmarks!!-
Santa will be there, along with wagon rides and other activities for the day. And there will be a Tree lighting ceremony too!! See ya there! Here is a link to the library's web site:
http://www.fairportlibrary.org/ for more info.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

UNLOVABLE!!

Unlovable is on THREE best sellers list on Amazon!! THANKS EVERYONE!

#4 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > People & Places > Social Situations > Bullies

#34 in Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction

* #73 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Children's eBooks > People & Places > Girls & Women

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bet you will like this book!



Jen, Goth girl, bets her fellow Goth'ers she can turn straight-laced, nerdy boy Trevor…I mean Trev, bad. The prize for winning? A lip piercing paid for by her buddies.
Trev is surprised by Jen's new found fascination of him. He has reservations about her motive, but he is just too nerdy to think this Goth girl has dishonorable intentions.
And so the fun begins.
Ms. Bennett has a gift. Geek Girl is fun, witty, enchanting, and wonderful. I laughed, nodded in agreement, and cried as I devoured each page. When it was done, I felt sad, as if I'd lost a friend. I will definitely be rereading it…Oh wait, I already did! Yes, it is that good.
Ms. Bennett's clever use of nicknames moves the story along and provides a visual without endless pages of description some authors put you though. Example: One character is dubbed: "Mrs. Brady/ Cleaver," by Ms. Bennett, and you know EXACTLY what this woman is like by those three little words. Love it. There's The Dorks, The Mouse, The Fosters (her foster parents…I'll talk about that in a minute), and many more.
Each character is well developed and interesting. No frivolous characters or fillers here, just pure story. I fell in love with Trev. He is sweet, funny and completely nerdy; who doesn't love a good nerd.
And Jen, with her attitude, and Goth hair and makeup. My heart bled for this poor girl. Thanks to her nefarious father and equally horrible mother, Jen is forced into foster care. It doesn't take long for her to become jaded by the broken government system. What I really appreciate about Geek Girl is that the author didn't take pot-shots at foster parents. As a former foster parent myself, there are a lot of wonderful people trying to make a difference in the lives of these kids that are labeled as "Throw away." It is refreshing to see the good side of foster care exposed.
I loved being inside the head of Jen. Her sarcasm is hilarious. Despite her resistance, we watch Jen rise to the top like cream as love invades her soul and as she begins to see the world in a new light.
My favorite part is when The Fosters… Hmm, maybe I should let you discover that for yourself!
I do have ONE COMPLAINT about Geek Girl: Why did it have to end?

I was given an advanced read copy by the publisher in return for a fair, honest review. It did not impede my judgment in any way. Please, my integrity is worth far more than a free copy of a paperback book. Now, if chocolate were to be offered, all bets are off ;}}

Author Cindy Bennett's Website: www.cindycbennett.com
Cindy's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/authorcindycbennett

Friday, November 4, 2011

Great Review!! THANKS!

http://fictionaldistraction.blogspot.com/2011/11/review-unlovable-by-sherry-gammon_04.html
Goodreads Summary:
Seventeen year-old Maggie Brown is the poster child for Heroin Chic, complete with jutting bones and dark-ringed eyes. But drugs are not Maggie's problem; her mother is. Maggie's struggling with her growing feelings for the new guy at school, Seth Prescott, and fears he is just another person who will let her down, like everyone in her life has done so far. Seth Prescott is an undercover cop assigned to Port Fare High, and despite his job, he's developed strong feelings for Maggie. While Seth's working tirelessly to flush out the sadistic drug peddlers that have invaded the small town of Port Fare, New York, Maggie's fighting to stay alive as the fight turns deadly.


My Rating: 5.0 / 5

First thoughts:
While reading this, I never wanted it to end. It's such a heart-breaking but addicting novel and I couldn't get enough. Maggie and Seth are amazing characters and I wanted their story to go on forever. No matter how sad this novel might be at some points, it always made me smile again and makes me want to read many more stories written by Sherry Gammon.

More detailed:
Unlovable is a very lovable story, one that will stay with me for a long time. I had heard good things about it before starting it, but I never expected to love it as much as I did. It completely surprised me in a very positive way. It's a story about loving and being loved in return, about trust and finding the strength to survive a seemingly hopeless situation.

Despite the heart-breaking moments of this novel (and Unlovable has quite a few of these), I loved every word, sentence, page, chapter I read. While I usually prefer more lighthearted stories, there is something special about this novel and the way it's written that made it possible for me to get completely sucked into the story.

The most amazing thing about this novel are the characters Sherry Gammon created. Not only are Maggie and Seth incredibly realistic and relatable main characters, but their friends Booker and Cole are just as great as they are. I felt like I knew all of them as though I were a part of their world and I would love them to be real. The great thing about them is the fact they are realistic - human being with flaws. But you can ignore these because their positive sides make up for them.

Adding to that is the amazing style of writing. The story is told from different points of view: we have two first-person narrators (sometimes Seth, sometimes Maggie) and sometimes we get to experience the bad guys' (Bill and Allan) point of view via a third person narrator. Sometimes so many different perspectives can be a bit overwhelming, but it just makes everything more exciting and interesting.

All in all, I would recommend this book to everyone. You should definitely read this as soon as possible. Its amazing characters and beautiful narration will captivate you right from the start and you won't forget this story easily. I can't wait to read more of Sherry Gammon's novels since I'm adding Unlovable to my favorite books of 2011.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Book review!

http://www.goodchoicereading.com/2011/10/review-unlovable-by-sherry-gammon.html?showComment=1320071648171
Check out this wonderful book review!! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!

My Thoughts: (Wanda of Good Choice Reading)


I absolutely love this cover! I think it's gorgeous and I absolutely love this book! It was completely amazing, amazing, AMAZING!!! I first saw this book on Goodreads and added to my "TBR" list. Then a few days later Sherry contacted Good Choice Reading requesting a review and all I kept thinking "If only life were that simple". I want something and I get it. Just like that. LOL. No, seriously I quickly replied back saying that I'd love to review her book.

From the beginning to the end, there wasn't a dull moment. Sherry makes you fall in love with each of her characters. I'd love for her to write me in and make me fall in love with Booker. ::Sighs:: She goes into details with each characters. So you get to know each character on a personal level and get to understand some of their actions. Mostly only Nicholas Sparks books makes me cry, but not anymore. "Unlovable" made me cry. I felt so bad for Maggie. My heart was so torn for her.

From the beginning, you learn that Seth is undercover in Maggie's school. And his main goal is to find out who is the dealer and who they getting their supplies from. But the unexpected happened, he fell in love with Maggie. The one person who was told her whole life she was an unlovable nothing. She finally had someone who loved her for her and was willing, able and ready to do whatever for her. Which is a sweet change from what Maggie is use to her whole life. Maggie is use to her alcoholic mother ways, her mom did nothing but verbally abuse her. She put her daughter down for every single thing. Maggie went through so much in life and now she was given a break by having Seth in her life. Which she deserved more than anything. Though this isn't just a romance story it's also a suspense and it was so beautifully written. I'd love to see this book exceed the expectations Sherry has for it, because it's just that good.

Sherry also introduces you to a HOT, very cocky and wise ass Booker! I'd like to have him being the superhero in my story. Booker works with Seth to crack down on the drugs happening in Port Fare. And when he meets Maggie, their relationship immediately became a brother/sister relationship. Whenever Maggie and Booker was in the same page, I knew I can expect laughs. There's so much to Booker's story that will tug your heart strings and make you fall in love. I am in love with Booker. LOL

Need I say I love this story? I don't think so. This book was better than I expected and I wish Sherry oceans of success with her series. A definite must buy! A definite Good Choice for Reading!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A shout out to my readers!

Everyone gives Shout Outs to authors and book bloggers, and I fully support that! BUT, I would like to give a big Shout Out to my many readers, over 3000 so far. THANK YOU for all your love and support. You are the best!!layouts myspace

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Giveaways!!

Two of my favorite book blogs are giving away copies of my book UNLOVABLE! Check it out.

http://www.ya-aholic.com/2011/10/giveaway-unlovable-by-sherry-gammon.html?showComment=1317819689621#c8681737190752131504

http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/2011/10/unloveable-by-sherry-gammon-e-book.html

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another wonderful review!! Thanks so much Danielle

This is the first non paranormal book i have read in a whole lot of years and to be honest i didn't know if i would enjoy reading any other genre .... well I'm glad to say i didn't just enjoy it i LOVED it no loved is an understatement of how i feel about this book i am in awe of it ! "Unlovable" is an amazing story of tragedy, Love and Hope and how sometimes life can be a bigger trial than we ever expected but if we never give up and if we can learn to allow others to love us even if that means risking getting out hearts broken the trials can seem easier to bear and unconditional love can help heal even the deepest of wounds .... "Unlovable" had me laughing and crying and feeling emotions no book has provoked in me before ..Its so well written that i had to remind myself that i was not really a part of their world .. i read several nights till 2am because i just couldn't put it down but the whole time i was thinking i should stop because i want to savour this beautiful story. I'm totally in love with this book and its characters, Maggie, Seth & Booker are incredible people with generous loving hearts, compassion and a willingness to love and be loved even when life has thrown them into horrific circumstances. Unlovable is an incredible and beautifully written story about NEVER giving up not on yourself, not on love and not on humanity! I really cant describe in words the affect this phenomenal book has had on me all i can say is it is a story i think everyone should read because there is so much to gain and enjoy.

I give "Unlovable" 10 out of 5 stars because it stands out and is unlike anything i have ever read and its impact will be with me for a lifetime , i will be reading it again and cant wait till my daughters ...no until all my children are old enough to read it, learn from it and enjoy it! If you only read One book your entire life i recommend it be "Unlovable"

Reviewed by

~Danielle~ Here is her link!
https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/notes/confessions-of-a-bookaholic/review-for-unlovable-by-author-sherry-gammon/151053774987608

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great interview!

Sherry Gammon Author Interview and Giveaway!


Today I had the pleasure to interview the wonderful Sherry Gammon, author of the YA novel UNLOVABLE. You can read my review here. She answered many questions here for us on the blog and has also generously provided us with a giveaway for her readers! So, without further ado, here is my interview with Sherry:

Destiny: What was your inspiration to write Unlovable?
Most YA authors stick to paranormal, and those who write contemporary, rarely touch on such sensitive subject matter.


Sherry:Honestly, UNLOVABLE started out as a paranormal story, but me and my brilliant thinking(NOT!) thought the paranormal market was going to dry up!! I rewrote it as a contemporary …but honestly I LOVED it as a paranormal!! I am doing another story, and I’m going to use the stuff I delete in that book. I LOVE paranormal!

Destiny: Was much research involved in the writing process?

Sherry: Not a lot. I didn’t know snot about guns, so I had to research guns! Nor hypothermia! I got it wrong and had to amend it with Cole telling Seth the “Proper” way to handle hypothermia.

Destiny: I know when I was in school, we were supposed to have had an "undercover cop" in our high school. How did you come up with this idea?

Sherry: In the paranormal story, Seth worked for the paranormal council, the governing body of the paranormal world. So when I changed it, I made him a cop.

Destiny: Your novel was very clean of sexual content and language. Was that done purposely to make it more widely readable to a larger age range?

Sherry: Yes, plus I wanted a story my girls could read. Can you imagine reading a sex scene written by your mother EWWWWW! Plus, there are a bazillon books with sex as the focus. It was not what I wanted it to be the focus of mine book.

Destiny: This book would be a fabulous tool for kids to have when they are in a situation and think they don't have anyone like them that they can relate to. Did that cross your mind when you were writing Unlovable?

Sherry: Very much so. UNLOVABLE is very real! I grew up with two girls that suffered like this and it was where I got my inspiration from. We also did foster care, and I saw a lot of sick, dark things. It can be a real ugly world sometimes.

Destiny: This is book one in a series. Will the next book's character's face similar real-life struggles?

Sherry: Unlovable is a huge emotional drain, that’s for sure. Book 2, not so much. I hope people won’t be too disappointed! Book 2 is more about revenge, growth and decisions. Do we let the circumstances in our life control us, or do we take control. Sweet lovable Cole is about to get his sock blown off, too! Book 3, Yes! More trauma, and dark secrets!!

Destiny: When can we expect the next book?

Sherry: I am shooting for December!

Destiny: Is there anything you would like to add?

Sherry: I just want to thank you and all the book bloggers that give our books a voice. Self-published authors have a tough rode fighting the BIG publishers, and without great people like you, we wouldn’t stand a chance! And one more thing NEVER GIVE UP! It is the theme for the PORT FARE SERIES. Life is tough, but you must NEVER give you! You weren’t put here to wallow with the turkeys, get up and fly! That’s probably a little dramatic, but it is how I feel deep inside. Hang on and never give up. No matter how dark it gets, the sun will shine again. You can MAKE it happen! Get up and fly!

A BIG THANK YOU to Sherry for such a fabulous interview!! If you would like to enter to win a copy of UNLOVABLE, you can click on the link below to fill out the entry form. Sherry is offering the following:

ONE PAPERBACK COPY OF UNLOVABLE TO A US WINNER
and
ONE EBOOK COPY TO AN INTERNATIONAL WINNER

The giveaway will be open until midnight September 15th. One entry per person, multiple entries will be deleted. Have fun!
Go here for the giveaway--http://totallybookalicious.blogspot.com/2011/09/sherry-gammon-author-interview-and.html?showComment=1315504125257#c1098428899830646437

Friday, September 2, 2011

My cover artist!

My cover artist, Paul Beeley, and the covers he design for my on a really fun book blog called FiveAlarmbookReviews: http://fivealarmbookreviews.com/2011/09/02/shelf-candy-saturday-6



Wednesday, August 31, 2011

And the winner is...

And the winner is...

Okay, this is not the real winner, but it is close. When I originally had Paul make this cover, I wanted to do the words in white with a green background, as did Paul. But after I saw the yellow paint on the girl's paintbrush, I decided the word BELIEVABLE needed to be yellow. Most of you didn't like the yellow one, so I compromised and did it a very PALE yellow..which I like even better than the bright yellow. Remember, the Dreser's are deceitful, so wouldn't the sister be also... hence her trying to highlight the word believable and not the UN part! Hope you like it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New cover!!

Okay, The cover for book 2, UNBELIEVABLE, is done!! Pick your fave and leave me a comment.

The Pictures are the same only the font/color is different! Notice the paint brush in her hand has yellow paint, like some of the words;}







Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New design

I gave my book blog a new design. Let me know what you think! If you were one of my fave blogs before, please let me know. When I changed to this template I lost ALL my Favorite Blogs!!!
I am working hard on book 2, UNBELIEVABLE!! Someone posted Book 2 and Book 3 as coming soon on Goodreads....NO pressure on me now;}
Thanks for your support everyone!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book review and interview!

1. What is the one book everyone should read, in your opinion?
Definitely, Mrs. Mike by Nancy and Benedict Freedman
2. Goals for future projects/books?
I have three manuscripts that are nearly complete. I am currently in the process of editing a crime thriller that takes place in Seattle, Washington. Tarrin Grace has just come through a very difficult divorce, and just when things are beginning to look up, her young daughter, Lexie, is witness to a heinous murder. Suffering from a form of post-traumatic, Lexie is unable to recall details of the crime or the murderer. However the killer remembers her and Tarrin must risk all she has to protect her family.
3. Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
Music is definitely the inspiration for my writing. I make playlists for each novel and I listen with headphones while I write. The Alias was inspired around the Transformers soundtrack, believe it or not. The pace and mood of the compositions matched the story and helped break up those awkward moments of writer’s block. When I needed to write a particular scene, I changed the song to match the emotion I wanted to portray.
4. Did you always want to be a writer? No...As a young child, I suffered from severe ADHD. I didn’t excel in school or in reading, and I was often placed in remedial classes to help me along. I hated school work. However, around the age of 11, I won a contest. The prize was a book written by Mary Downing Hahn titled Wait Till Helen Comes. One boring afternoon, with my mother’s encouragement, I sat down and read that book. I finished it in a few short hours. At that point, I realized words had the ability to hold my interest and calm my chaotic thought process. From that moment on, I read anything I could get my hands on, and by the time I reached 12, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first full-length novel that year. The story line is weak and my writing is awful, but I’ve held onto that tattered manuscript. It means the world to me. The completion of that manuscript was a huge turning point in my life. I suddenly realized that I could succeed with hard work and determination. It was an uphill battle, but I turned my grades around, graduated high school with honors, and went to university with an academic scholarship. I still struggle to remain focused and retain facts and information, but writing is the one area in my life where I can channel my thoughts.
5. How do you react to a bad review?
I eat ice cream and pout. Then, after I’ve had my fill of self-pity, I get back to work and do the very best I can.
6. If you could co-write a book with ANY author, who would it be, and Why?
Jennie Hansen or Dorothy Keddington…While wandering aimlessly through my local library one afternoon, I happened to stumble across Return to Red Castle and Run Away Home. I checked both books out and I read into the night and throughout the next day. I couldn’t put either book down. It was at that point I knew what I wanted to write. I loved suspense.
7. How did you come up with the idea for The Alias?
What inspired you to write the Alias?

My story ideas usually come from a conglomeration of different events that touch my life. At the time, a close friend was pursuing a divorce where she had suffered some spousal abuse. I was struck by the amount of strength it would take to leave behind such a marriage and the amount of courage needed to build a new life. One of the main themes in The Alias is domestic violence. Jacey, the protagonist, is attempting to build a new life for her son after leaving behind an abusive and controlling husband. One reviewer said, “Having had some spousal abuse myself, the author handled the topic with a maturity I appreciated.” I’ve really tried to portray that quiet strength in this novel.


8. If you could go back in time to when you first began The Alias, is there anything you would tell yourself?

I would tell myself to stop being such a ninny and grow a backbone. I’ve been writing for years, but I was nervous to send my work into a publisher. I was terrified of being rejected. Criticism is a hard pill to swallow. But I wish I had sent The Alias in sooner. I wish I hadn’t allowed my fear of criticism to hold me back as long as it did.

MY REVIEW:
Jacey is a divorced mom who needs to escape her life, quickly. Her ex-Hubby, an abusive creep, has the FBI on his tail, and he also believes he deserves to have custody of their son, Blaze. Jacey assumes a "new" identity, and escapes to Utah with her son.

The story was intense, with action and suspense at every turn. The abuse by the Ex-hubby were real and heart-wrenching, making it difficult to read without crying.

The Alias was a great read and I enjoyed every last second of it!! First-time novelist Mandi Slack did a masterful job at telling a story on such a difficult subject. I can't wait to read more from her! Thanks, Mandi!



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book review


I read a fun fun book!! The Princess Sister is a fun fresh idea. The poor girls were named after... well, Disney princess by there collective mothers(who were sisters). As you can imagine, while the girls were growing up, every cliche was thrown at them from poison apples to lost slippers. They tried their best to distance themselves from the Disney character, however the other kids at school never let them forget!
Thankfully, the girls had each other! The story begins as the enter the dreaded High school years! The girls must now pull together even more to make it through... as if High school wasn't bad enough, try surviving it with a name like Snow White!
There are also several fun fairytale "ideas" throughout, such as kissing toads!!! This novel is a real charmer and worth a read for the young and the young at heart!! Well done new author Stacy Lynn Carrol!
My daughter loved it also!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Beautiful review!

I got a beautiful review on Goodreads today and I wanted to share it!! Thanks Mollie!

Mollie Harper rated it 5 of 5 stars
It's next to impossible to find the words to express what a phenomenal book this was. It has taken me several weeks to write the review because I wanted to make sure I got it just right.

First off, I can't believe this was a debut novel. It was so beautifully written. The plot was so unique and refreshingly paranormal-less ;-) Once I started, I could not put it down. Seth is an undercover cop that falls in love with Maggie. Beautiful, unloved, co-dependent Maggie. What I love most about her is that even though she had every right to be, Maggie never played the victim. She and Seth begin a powerful journey together that's so pure and full of romance. Even without sex (Yes ladies, he is saving himself for marriage), their relationship is overflowing with passion.
Seth's friends Cole and Booker completely stole my heart. The way they all look after each other and rally around Maggie had my heart completely bursting; they were a family.

The story is told mainly from Seth and Maggie's POV. Usually I don't like it when an author bounces back and forth, but Sherry Gammon pulls it off beautifully. It drew me closer to the characters and allowed perspective that only enhanced the story. The author was able to realistically portray a story of abuse, love, co-dependency, romance, and triumph in a way that was far beyond most books I've read.

The sequels are bitter/sweet for me. I was so in love with Cole and Booker that the idea of a story surrounding them makes me jump up and down. However, I became so attached to Maggie and Seth; I would love the story to progress around their developing relationship. Even though they may not be the center characters in future books, I have a feeling they will remain part of the story. Can't wait to find out!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free books!

http://www.ya-aholic.com/2011/08/600-follower-giveaway-international.html One of my FAVE book bloggers is giving away an entire series(three) of YA books. Check it out!! Go Haley!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Author Interview!

I was interviewed for an awesome teen book blog! here is the link. Thanks Haley of Ya-aholic book blog.
http://www.ya-aholic.com/2011/08/author-interview-sherry-gammon.html

P.S. If you are looking for a good teen read, besides mine of course;} check out Haley's blog, it is really great!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Giveaway WINNER

And the winner is
Emily Adams Afutiti! Congrads Emily!! Send me your address and I will mail UNLOVABLE to you ASAP!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Sale, Sale Sale!! Three of my Favorite words!! Right now my novel UNLOVABLE is on SALE at Smashwords.com for 25% off!! Enter the code SSW25 at check out UNTIL July 31st!! HERE IS A DIRECT LINK:
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/38374

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Paperback Book Giveaway!USA ONLY. I will also give an EBOOK Version Worldwide in either Kindle format or Epub.

Paperback Book Giveaway!

My novel sold over 600 E-copies in June alone! To celebrate, I am giving away a signed-and you know you want it signed;}- copy of Unlovable in paperback!!

---THIS GIVEAWAY IS SEPARATE FROM THE GOODREADS GIVEAWAY I AM DOING SO YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR BOTH IF YOU WANT!---


If you want a signed paperback copy, here is what you have to do.


1. Add yourself as a follower- BUT not anonymously! I can’t mail a book to anonymous!! Look over to your right on this page to do this!

THAT IS ALL YOU HAVE TO DO, BUT... If you want to increase your odds of winning, please do the following ALSO!

2. "Friend/Like/Follow" my book's FB page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Unlovable-Book-One-of-The-Port-Fare-Series/129260103811533?created&v=page_getting_started

And leave a comment so I know you were there... Just a simple 'HI, I was here' would be fine, or you can comment on the novel if you'd like to!! Make sure to leave your Facebook name in your comments so I can find you if you win!

3. "Like" my Amazon page.
http://www.amazon.com/Unlovable-Port-Fare-ebook/dp/B004K1F9BA

4. "Like" my Barnes and Noble page. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/unlovable-sherry-gammon/1029730320?ean=2940012120045&itm=2&usri=unlovable

5. If you have Goodreads account, you can become a Fan…I know, weird, me with fans!!
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10380227-unlovable



That's it!! Contest ends JULY 31, 2011!!
Thanks! I'm grateful for all of your support!
Sherry Gammon

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Reviews!

Below are a few of the reviews for UNLOVABLE from off Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads!
***
Donna's review
Jun 26, 11

5 of 5 stars
Wow! I think I’m going to follow the lead of my friend Haley (whose review is here: http://haleyeliseread.blogspot.com/2011/...) and give you a few quote’s from the book because I honestly don’t know where to start with this review….so here goes;

He peered into my eyes and it felt as if he was burrowing into the dark recesses of my soul. His fingers ran softly across my cheek, brushing away the tear. There was an undeniable tenderness about him and it made my heart flutter. – Maggie

I thought about Maggie standing in my door just over three hours ago. It took all I had not to pull her into my arms and kiss her. There she stood with her wet, snow-packed clothes plastered to her malnourished frame and those hapless blue eyes driving tears down her waxy hollowed cheeks, begging me to kiss her. Everything inside me screamed, “Hurry, before she changes her mind!” Nevertheless, I didn’t! “Yup, I deserved a medal” – Seth

Unlovable is truly an amazing story!

The story follows the lives of Maggie and Seth. Maggie being a 17 year old girl, who is half starving because her mother would rather drink alcohol than put food on their table. Maggie has spent all her life living with her mother and suffering years of emotional abuse. Her mother constantly telling her she’s an unlovable nothing and soon Maggie starts believing her.

Seth is a high school student or so he appears to be. He’s really an uncover cop trying to stop drug crime in Port Fare. He’s always has a slight crush on Maggie but when an assignment comes up involving Maggie, he has no choice but to get to know her better.

As their lives quickly intertwine they are thrown into a wonderful self-discovering and loving relationship but they also put into a dangerous situation when there is a dangerous killer on the loose…..one that could cost them their lives.

Again, I’m going to say Unlovable is a truly an amazing story. This story had me captivated from page one and even though I finished it a few hours ago, I’m still thinking about it now. When Sherry Gammon asked me to review her work, I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of her work before but wow! I totally wish I had because I would have made sure I had read this book a long time ago. Sherry has created a heart breaking story that will leave us readers with hope that everyone can be loved and will get a happy ending they deserve. Not only has she wrote a captivating story but she’s managed to write about a very hard subject which is completely raw, passionate and truly breath-taking.

Our two main characters are well developed and easy lovable. Maggie and Seth are two completely different people but two people willing to see the better in everybody else. Maggie has so many hard times with her mother but even through it, she is still as loyal as ever to her. She’s one strong person and felt completely real to me. Now Seth is just an amazing character all round. He sees the person Maggie really is even if her appearance isn’t what it should be. He’s kind, generous, selfless and he’s definitely stole the show for me in this book.

The story itself is an emotional rollercoaster. I managed to feel so many different emotions while reading it and I felt I really connected with the characters. I loved that we got to see a part of the killer’s journey too, is only a few chapters but it’s enough to keep you going through the whole book knowing that something dangerous is going to happen. I also loved the secondary characters like Booker and Cole and I’m really interested to see their journey’s next in the next of the series.

Overall, I think any fans of Simone Elkeles or Jennifer Echols will absolutely fall in love with Sherry’s work like I have. Read it guys! It’s truly not a story you want to miss out on.

P.S Its only 69p on Kindle! BUY IT and show this author your support!

Thank you to Sherry for giving me the opportunity to review her work.
***

June 19, 2011, J. Omullane "Book Whisperer" (Bloomington, IN) 5 out of 5 stars: UNLOVABLE Must read!
Unlovable is a remarkable love story. Captivated within the first pages, this was a thrilling and quick read. I have found myself to be a sucker for the undercover ops men, but this was much more than the mysterious undercover gorgeous man. It was a story about Maggie, and her acholoic mother. It was about this young woman's courage to overcome everything that she should be and could be; to become something exceptional. More importantly it was about this young man's ability to see the superficial layers, and fall in love this poor abused girl that is too stubborn and hard headed to accept charity from anyone. Readers will envy the relationship of these two love birds. Indiviually they are giving and wonderful people, but together they are awe inspiring and exceptional. Both with difficult pasts Maggie and Seth are mature beyond their years. The level of commitment in the store with stop readers dead in their tracks. I loved every heartfelt minute of this story, and I am distraught to see it all come to a close. Although, the highlight of my day was finding their will be two more books in the series. Book 2 will be the story of Cole, and book 3 will be the story of Booker. Though I must say that I believe I might stay a little partial to Seth and Maggie; I hope the next books will somewhat include them as well. I would recommend this read to anyone that liked books such as: Pefect Chemisty, The Girl I Used to Be, anything by Jennifer Echols, or Leaving Paradise. This was a truly breath taking love story that you don't want to miss.
***
Haley's review
Jun 23, 11

5 of 5 stars
The few times I'd Run into her in the hallway, my tongue had swollen to the size of a small whale, essentially blocking off oxygen supply to my brain -Seth

Unlovable was a story that I don’t even know where to start with, it is incredible, amazing, perfect, super, and completely LOVABLE.

Maggie Brown has convinced herself she truly is unlovable, and why shouldn't she believe that, her always drunk mother reminds her of it every day. Of course there is Seth..Seth Mr.Popular at Port Fare High..but he couldn't possibly love Maggie..could he?

Seth Prescott is an undercover cop, his current job? Attend Port Fare High, and get close to Maggie and find out if her mom knows anything about the current drug rates going up in Port Fare, while trying to stop the murders also going on in Port Fare...Seth has had secret feelings for Maggie for a long time...and this job is finally gonna be the thing that forces him to talk to her.

This book was..WOW just amazing. It is so beautiful, I could not believe how good this story was, I went into it thinking it was just gonna be OK! It blew my mind! I started reading this one night and couldn’t stop..I had to stay up until I finished the whole thing..and once it ended all I wanted was for it to continue! I wanted no NEEDED more of Maggie and Seth! There Romance is one of the best I have read ever !

Maggie as a character was great, she is so caring and so strong. Her mom emotionally abuses her almost every day and yet she still loves her and tries to care for her mother. You couldn’t help, but love Maggie. You also couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor girl..the things her mother says..are some of the most hurtful things a mother could ever say to their child. Yet still Maggie stayed strong. She truly was an amazing chick! She has become one of my favorite Lit-Chicks for her awesomeness (:

NOW onto Seth..

Seth is perfect. He is handsome, mature, sweet, caring, and just well perfect He wants nothing more than for Maggie to open up to him and let him love her and take care of her, and throughout the whole book that is his main concern, caring for Maggie, protecting Maggie, and most importantly trying to convince Maggie he loves her.
(I LOVE SETH!!!!)

Unlovable was truly an amazing story, it had everything romance, action, mystery, thrill, everything. If you are looking for a strong story with beautiful romance then Unlovable is for you!

--Unlovable is mainly from Maggie's point of view, but every few chapters is from Seth's point of view (:

Unlovable is the first of a trilogy!

I also thought I would share some of my favorite quotes:

"The few times I'd Run into her in the hallway, my tongue had swollen to the size of a small whale, essentially blocking off oxygen supply to my brain"-Seth

"She makes you nervous, huh? Must be love. Puppy love anyway." "Shut up, Booker"-Seth and Booker

Scooping up the mail off the wobbly kitchen table, I thumbled through it while standing next to our trash bin. One was addressed to me: Maggie Brown, You may already be a $ 1,000,000 winner! "Goodie, my troubles are over" -Maggie

"Crying? What the heck was wrong with me? It must be PMS! I stayed a few steps behind him secretly drying my face and running through a calendar in my mind"-Maggie

"You know, I'm surprised the three of us can fit in your car"..."Three? I do believe there are only two of us."..."Me, you, and your over-sized ego. I believe that makes three." -Maggie and Seth

I whacked him on the arm. "hmm, did a butterfly just land on me?" He glanced around pretending to look for some nonexistant bu.- Maggie and Seth
***
June 12, 2011, Lesley Bucio 5.0 out of 5 stars ...Deliriously, unbelievably, fantastic!
This review is from: Unlovable (The Port Fare Series) (Kindle Edition)
Wow, can I just say it was an incredible story? No? Too late, already did! Sherry Gammon certainly doesn't do things half-ass when writing! The way she's woven the lives of the characters in Unlovable is nothing short of amazing. I was a weary at first because it was in such a low cost--granted I bought it via e-ink but still, though maybe I wouldn't have bought it otherwise. So glad I did, thank you Sherry Gammon!!!

We basically have your hot undercover cop cliche down packed (in a good way), troubled co-dependent teen as a heroin (no pun intended!), and a town with a heroine epidemic in the mist of it all. It is told in Seth's (undercover hottie), Maggie (co-dependent), and little snips of Bill and Alan (heroine suppliers) point of views.

Naturally, Seth and Maggie are the main characters, though you really develop strong feelings for Cole and Booker (Seth's bffs) through Seth's narrative on who they came to be so close, that's just how great of a writer Gammon is, truly! You really hate the the women who gave birth to Maggie all throughout the book in the mist of a major snot-fest as you read of the heinous acts she does to Maggie. Given that, you develop if not compassion than certainly understanding (again, way to go Gammon! I don't think anyone else could have orchestrated that as beatifically as you did). With that said, I was never won over by her, less so at the end.

Maggie comes off as an emotionally scarred girl hell bent on the approval from a women who gave birth to her--I chose not to call her a mother! She is fragile and delicate both physically and emotionally. though a tough cookie all together. I really loved her so much I still cry every time I think of the things she underwent. It seemed close to blasphemous for a girl such as her to go through all that, though I felt better she had Seth throughout the hard stuff. Seth... Wow, where to begin? He is really something all his own. I don't want to say much because I want you to fall head over heels without my help. It did seem that he fell for Magpie all too fast in my book though, but it had to happen. I also got miffed about the no love scenes, though maybe I'm used to reading juicy things like that in my young adult novels (take Forget You by Jennifer Echols for example, just the right amount of action) though I really hope with the next two books coming out--Unbelievable and Unbearable--Gammon will allow that, considering that the main characters--Cole & Booker!--are old enough, unlike Seth(21) and Maggie(17), though really if we're being realistic, Ms. Gammon, in real life they would have already been well into it. but I digress given that Seth's father was a Chaplin and inevitably instilled high morals into his son. Though she is part of our GoodReads' Clean Romantic Novel's club...sigh.

Speaking of Magpie, I truly can't wait for Unbearable, I'm going to have such a field day reading it due to the fact that the main character will feature Booker, the 28 year-old hot MET Captain, turned hot lawyer in this book!! (If you're reading this Ms. Sherry Gammon, please fill me in on the release dates for both please!!!!!!!)

Okay, enough dilly-gagging and buy the book already! This is my first true rating for any book--I think I did good--and I wouldn't have done it for any other book that instilled such profound emotions in me otherwise. Get going, buy buy BUY!!!

May 28, 2011 bvampgirl71 5.0 out of 5 stars loves this book! Want more now please,

I read the book in one day! I couldn't put it down!!! You will be hooked! Give this book a try!!! When will the other two books be out?
***

February 17, 2011 Erin Denise Graham Steele 5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!!!!
Unlovable is an intriguing and beautiful story! I couldn't put it down either time I read it. I love how the author pulled in a myriad of current issues. I felt like I was Maggie during the Maggie chapters, and like I was Seth during the Seth chapters. I cried, I laughed, I got mad...Sherry Gammon is an incredible author! I HIGHLY recommend this book!
***

January 21, 2011 Hollyberry - 5.0 out of 5 stars AWESOME!!,
I loved it!!! One of the best books I have read in a long time. I loved how it was in Seth and Kate's point of view. I laughed, I cried, bit my nails off with suspense. I recommend it to anyone who loves to read quality books!
***

Feb. 7, 2011 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars

This is the story of a young woman who hasn't been dealt a fair hand in life. It is a story of the journey of the relationship with her alcoholic mother, as well as everything she has to deal with as a high school senior: including a new boy in school who may just be what she has been waiting for. But despite all of the hard knocks in her life, she has to come to terms with the fact that she can be loved.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New cover!!


I hired Digital artist Paul Beely to design me a new cover...Isn't it great!! I love his work, and he does A LOT more than design book covers. He can take a photo of you and total change the setting. Very cool! You can check out his work at:
His web page: www.create-imaginations.com
AND
His flickr account:www.flickr.com/photos/paul-beeley

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Synopsis

Synopsis:
Port Fare, New York, has fallen into the clutches of true evil. The Dreser brothers have arrived with a scheme to increase drug sales in the area by whatever means possible. Seth Prescott is part of MET, Mobile Enforcement Teams, a branch of the DEA. He’s been assigned to work undercover at Port Fare High, and things aren’t going very well, that is until senior Maggie Brown enters the equation. He’s harbored a secret crush on her from day one, and now that she is in the center of the case, he’s trying to stay clear and object while walking the line between business and unrequited love.
Maggie is truly the poster child for Heroin Chic, complete with jutting bones and dark-ringed eyes, but is she an addict, or is there another reason for her appearance? She struggles with her feelings for Seth, fearing he is just another person who will eventually let her down, as everyone in her life has done thus far.
Seth works relentlessly to inject fear into the dealers and flush them out into the open, while Maggie fights to stay alive as the hunt turns deadly.
Seth and Maggie’s romantic journey is one of humor, heartbreak, and self-discovery.

~Preface~



Before I could reach his lifeless form, Alan grabbed my face and lifted me onto my tiptoes; my battered lungs begged for air. Dragging his slimy mouth along my neck he muttered, “I’ve waited so long to have you, I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to control myself as long as I’d hoped.”
He then stopped and pinched his eyes shut before dropping me back to the ground. “No, Alan, you can wait a bit longer for your revenge,” he counseled himself while stroking my hair. “But maybe a little taste wouldn’t hurt.” He jerked my face to his, dropping his foul lips to mine.
Something inside me snapped. If I was going to die, I was going to go out fighting, so fight I did. I raked my fingers over his face, digging up flesh, and while forcing my thumbs into his eyes, I brought my leg up between his, hard, crushing his groin.
He stumbled and fell on top of me, pinning my battered body to the ground. His weight added unwanted pressure to my already tender ribs, and I screamed out.
However, Alan’s screams overshadowed mine; he was in serious pain. I began scratching, biting, and punching every inch of him I could make purchase with, holding nothing back. Still reeling from my well-placed knee, he spewed out a list of profanities a mile long as I broke free and forced my broken body across the kitchen floor toward the gun. I was almost to the drawer, when, from his prostate position, he hooked my foot, dragging me back several feet.
I looked back at his sweaty face, now scarred and bleeding thanks to my fingernails as he leered at me. “You. Will. Pay. For. That.” Reaching into a pocket by his left knee…











~1 ~

SETH


“Absolutely pathetic!” You’d think I really was an awkward high school senior instead of a top of my class, MET agent. Yet, here I sat at my ridiculously oversized desk, spinning a cheap Bic pen in tight little circles, lamenting my lack of courage.
“Get a grip, Seth, and talk to her already!” I shoved the pen back into the desk drawer and slammed it shut. Only my self-imposed chastisement didn’t help. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get up the nerve to ask Maggie Brown out on a date to save my life.
I crossed over to the window, frowning down at my scarred cowboy boots clapping against the linoleum floor. Not exactly my first choice in footwear, but they did provide me with a convenient place to hide my sidearm. It’s not as if I could meander around the high school with a gun strapped to my chest.
Okay, focus. Maybe I should try making small talk with her; that’s assuming I don’t choke to death on my tongue first.
While considering a few other lame scenarios, my eyes wandered over my dreary surroundings. It was your vintage government-issued office. Aside from the obese desk that lay sprawled across the center of the room, cold and lifeless, a rusted gray filing cabinet sat stuffed in the corner, with a gray pleather chair leaning cock-eyed against it. A seriously out-of-date laptop, which was, believe it or not, gray, hummed loudly in the top right corner of the desk. The only bright spot of color in the room was the half-empty blue and red Diet Pepsi can parked in the center of my desk.
Fortunately, I seldom had to be in my office. I worked throughout Upstate New York with the Mobile Enforcement Team, or MET. Being a specialized unit of the DEA, our job is to work specifically with local authorities in helping to dismantle drug trafficking in urban areas. For the past five months, I’ve been working undercover at Port Fare High pretending to be a student. Heroin use was on the rise in Port Fare, with three reported deaths from overdose last summer alone. The dealers were making it stronger, therefore, more addictive, and cheaper.
My assignment was to buddy up to the popular kids, figure out who was using, and from whom they were buying the stuff. That meant I had to spend most of my days with the school’s cheer captain and her groupies. Thanks to my wealth, she and her clique readily accepted me into their circle. She was the quintessential social climber and one shallow girl. I learned right off she wasn’t using heroin, but I wasn’t too sure about some of her friends.
There were three others working undercover at the school besides myself. One agent worked with the different sports teams, another covered the known drug users at the school, and the last was a floater. His job was to blend quietly into the background.
I hated deceiving the students, but the dealers had to be stopped, too many lives were being wasted. I appeased my guilty conscience by telling myself we weren’t after the kids who were using the stuff; we wanted their supplier.
The case actually began last winter. I was on an assignment near Syracuse with my team captain, Booker Gatto. We were tracking a particularly unscrupulous drug dealer, trying to learn who his supplier was. The scum dealer’s MO was to hang out around the local elementary schools. He would lace candy and other goodies with drugs before offering it to them in hopes of getting them addicted. Nine children lost their lives before he was killed in a shootout at a local pool hall. We lost one agent that day. He left a wife and two small children behind.
The dead dealer’s fingerprints and dental records turned up a big fat zero. His identity went to the grave with him, and we buried him simply as John Doe. Booker felt the situation was suspicious and had the case file sealed to the public to protect the team from retaliation.
We never learned who his supplier was, but we did stop the flow of heroin into the area, temporarily anyway. It seems there’s always another piece of trash waiting in the wings to fill the void.
Word on the street was that Rochester was the new hot spot for our elusive supplier, more specifically, the community of Port Fare. My town. Since volunteering for the assignment at the high school, I’d grown to know these kids. Most were good kids, some were a little lost, but overall they were a good group. I made it my personal mission to catch the low-life if it was the last thing I did.
My thoughts of the high school brought me back around to my other problem. Maggie. She didn’t fit into my assignment at the school, and I seldom, actually never got up the nerve to talk to her. The few times I’d run into her in the hallway, my tongue had swollen to the size of a small whale, essentially blocking off the oxygen supply to my brain.
Before I could tear myself up again, my office door flew open. In sauntered my team leader and best friend, Booker. No, he was more than a friend, he was like a brother to me.
I laughed at him in his black, full dress uniform, including the standard issue Glock pistol tucked into a leather holster at his waist. I hated our wool uniforms, too itchy. Luckily for me, jeans and tee shirts were the required uniform of my current assignment, along with the boots, of course.
“What’s up, Book?” I went back to my desk and sat down, my pleather chair squawking out in protest.
“We got a new lead on the heroin ring. It’s the most promising one yet.” Booker shoved the door closed roughly behind him causing the glass to rattle in its frame. Flipping open a thin manila folder he took three photos out, tossing the top one onto my desk.
“This is Felix Hoffman,” Booker said, tapping the photo of a seedy-looking man with stringy red hair and a pockmarked face. “He’s a small-time thug with a record a mile long, mostly for dealing marijuana, but it seems he has new aspirations. He was seen in Applegate Park talking to a couple of new guys last week.”
“I’m guessing we don’t know who these new guys are?” The man in the photo had creep written all over him. Definitely not someone I’d want to run into in a dark alley, not without my Glock, anyway.
“Nope. However, word on the street is they have a powerful contact.” He dropped down onto the corner of my gray desk and continued.
“Do you remember that stabbing last week in Applegate Park?” I nodded. “Cole’s the doctor assigned to her case. He called me this morning when she came out of her coma, and I went over to interview her.”
He set the file down and pulled out a small blue notepad from his breast pocket, flipping over a few pages. “Her name is Michelle Stringer, 18 years of age. She went into the park looking to score some grass, and came across our new friends instead. They intro’d themselves to her simply as Bill and Alan and tried to convince her to buy some heroin from them. She said she wasn’t interested, but this guy Alan was insistent that she try it. He said he only offered the good stuff, and she wouldn’t regret it.
“He began bullying her around.” Booker’s eyes darkened as he spoke. He held zero tolerance for men who abused women. Understandable on all accounts, but especially after what he’d been through. “But it seems our Ms. Stringer is a second degree black belt,” Booker said. “She got a few good kicks in until this Alan character drew out a pearl-handled knife from his pants. He proceeded to shove her into their car.”
“What kind of car?” I sat up and reached for the pen I’d been spinning earlier, along with a slip of yellow paper from my desk drawer.
“Beige,” Booker said, rolling his eyes.
“That narrows it down.” I sat back, tossing the pen onto my desk.
“She did say it had several rust spots,” he offered, jotting something down in his notebook.
“Ms. Stringer stated Alan had fastened her wrists together with cable ties, and that he really got off on cutting her up with his knife, telling her he could make her scream for hours before she died if he wanted.”
“Guy sounds like a real … charmer,” I said, forcing back a coarse remark.
“After he finished with her, she was kicked to the curb, literally, and left for dead. An older man out walking his dog found her almost immediately and called 9-1-1. It’s probably the only reason she’s alive, and the fact that Cole was the doctor on duty when she was brought in. I don’t believe she would have made it otherwise. The guy’s a miracle worker.”
“What about the other guy? Bill, right?”
“Alan and his huge knife demanded most of her attention. She did say Bill wasn’t too happy about Alan using a knife on her. The two men had an intense argument, but Alan was determined to punish her for kicking him. When Alan threatened to carve Bill up if he didn’t shut his mouth, the argument pretty much ended.”
“Was she able to give us a description?”
“She guesses Alan to be about six feet tall and Bill to be a couple inches shorter. Both men were dressed in black polyester shirt and pants, and Alan had on shiny black ankle boots with silver zippers.”
“They’re definitely not fashion icons,” I said. “How about hair and eye color?”
“Slicked-back, dirty blond hair for both men. As for their eyes, is bloodshot considered a color?” he frowned.
“So they were high.” That was not unusual, selling was how most of dealers supported their own habit. “Anything else?”
“Only that Alan wore a one inch silver disk in his right earlobe” Booker flipped the notebook shut and tucked it back into his pocket.
“Is she willing to work with a police sketch artist as soon as she’s feeling stronger?” Hopefully, this was the break we’d been looking for. 
“Yes, I’ll run the drawing through the files, and maybe we’ll find a match.” He slid the next photo onto my desk.
“Meet Barbara Brown. This old driver’s license photo is the only picture we have of her. I’m still trying to find something more recent,” Booker said, before swiping a drink of my now warm soda. He winced and set it back down.
“Haven’t you ever heard of ice, kid?” Ignoring him, I looked over the photo. The woman’s blue eyes looked familiar.
“It seems she’s somewhat of a recluse,” Booker said. “We’re not even sure how she’s involved yet. We do know that Hoffman’s been over to her house almost daily for the past few weeks, and he doesn’t come empty-handed.”
“Drugs?” I asked, scanning the info beneath the photo. It stated she was only twenty-five years old when the picture was taken, yet she looked much older. I didn’t pay it much heed since it was a DMV photo, and when have they ever been flattering?
“Again, not sure. Some days he brings over a few grocery bags full of something and leaves an hour later empty-handed. Other days he comes with nothing more than a bottle of vodka, but when he leaves, he has the weighted-down grocery bags from before. We thought about bringing him in for questioning until he was spotted with the guys in the park. Now we’re hoping he’ll lead us to them. Something tells me they’re the big time players we’ve been after.”
“What makes you so sure there’s a drug connection between him and Barbara Brown? Hoffman could be her boyfriend.” I didn’t doubt Booker, I just felt bad for the poor woman.
“Because of her.” He dropped the last photo from his file onto my desk. “Ma—”
“Maggie.” I sat up sharply, picking up the photo. “I know her. She’s a senior at Port Fare High. What does she have to do with this? Is she this woman’s daughter?” I knew the answer before I'd asked the question. The eyes, they held the same pained expression.
“Yup. Physically she’s a textbook case, kid. She’s gaunt, with jutting bones, and she has dark rings around the eyes. She could be the poster child for Heroin Chic.”
“You’re wrong about Maggie. She’s brilliant. She has a 4.0 GPA, and she spends her lunch hour in the library most days. No one’s mentioned that her mother does drugs, but I have heard she drinks a bit.” That was a mild exaggeration. I’d overheard Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Zack Finkle telling some of the guys in the locker room that her mom was an all-out drunk.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but look at the photo, kid. Something’s going on with her.”
I absent-mindedly ran my thumb across Maggie’s cheek in the glossy eight by ten before realizing Booker was watching. I grabbed my warm soda and took a swig. Yuck! His face was split wide in a grin.
“So, you’re sweet on her?”
“No… I… well, she’s nice. The other students genuinely like her. In fact, she was dating this obnoxious kid until last week, and he’d been whining about her being a goody-goody because she wouldn’t smoke grass with him. Supposedly, that’s why they broke up. I sincerely doubt she’s doing heroin. Or cocaine,” I added before he could.
“Does she seem out of sorts when you talk to her?”
I cleared my throat. “I haven’t actually talked to her.” I dropped my gaze, wanting to hide my anxious expression.
“She makes you nervous, huh? Must be love. Puppy love, anyway.”
“Shut up, Booker.”
“Kid, you’re in the presence of a master. Here’s what you have to do, my callow friend. You joke around with her, tease her a little, you know, get her to laugh. Make it so she’s the nervous one. That, my friend, is how you’ll win the lady’s heart.”
“This coming from a guy who hasn’t had a date in years.”
“Because I choose not to date.”
“Yeah, right,” I laughed. “Look, she seems nice, that’s all. I’d hate to think she’s involved in this mess.” I began casually spinning the pen on my desktop again hoping my lie wasn’t too obvious.
“I guess you’d better put on your game face, I’m adding her to your assignment. Pull back a little on the kids you’re currently working with and refocus most of your energy on Ms. Brown. Make her your new best friend. Something’s going on at her house, and only time will tell whether she’s involved or not.”
I dropped my head back against my chair and groaned. Booker laughed. “I have every bit of confidence in you.” He slipped the photos back into the file and set it on the desk. “She sure is skinny. Anorexic, you think?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
“Ask her out. The girl looks as if she could use a good meal… or three. Check her arms for tracks while you’re at it.”
“And how exactly do you suggest I do that? 'Hey, Maggie, you want to go get a burger? Oh, by the way, do you mind if I check you for needle marks?'”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something.” He got up and headed for the door. “One more thing, kid. Be very careful,” he warned soberly. “She’s only 17, which means she’s still considered jailbait.”
I chucked my pen at him, missing his head by no more than an inch. He chuckled and darted out the door.
Slumping back in my chair, a sickening feeling crept into my gut. Maggie couldn’t be on drugs, could she? Scrubbing my face in frustration, I looked down at the photo of the pretty girl with the sad blue eyes and prayed that my partner and lifelong friend had it wrong.
However, he seldom did.







~2 ~

MAGGIE


“Absolutely pathetic!” Sadly, pulling the comb through my hair again did nothing to improve it. The dull brown strands fell lifelessly down the center of my back. Of course, technically, hair was already dead, yet somehow mine seemed deader than most. I carefully set the skinny comb on the edge of our avocado green sink. The bathroom was much too small for a counter-top so the retro sink had to pull double duty.
“I wonder if Hillary ever has a bad hair day.” I asked my reflection in the chipped mirror above the sink. “Probably not.” Hillary was the cheer captain at my school, Port Fare High, and every boy’s fantasy girl. Whatever!
I wasn’t an ugly girl. I had nice eyes, sort of. There were huge shadows around them anymore thanks to too many late-night study sessions, but their blue color was somewhat pretty. I had a good nose. It was straight and short, though it did turn up a little too much at the end, but my skin was clear, this week anyway.
I jabbed my fingers through my hair again in hopes of infusing some life into it.
Nope.
I dropped my hands back down onto the sink’s edge, forgetting about the precariously placed comb and sent it plunging into our pink toilet. Yet another great day in my dull boring life! I fished the comb out, poured bleach on it and left it in the sink to soak. I wrapped a rubber band around my dead hair and went to my room.
The back seam of my one and only winter coat had ripped out right before Christmas, and I now had to dress in layers to keep warm. I pulled on a tank top and two tee shirts before grabbing my beige sweater off the bed and heading into the kitchen to pack some lunch.
Scooping up the mail off the wobbly kitchen table, I thumbed through it while standing next to our trash bin. “Hmm, junk mail.” One was addressed to me: Maggie Brown, You may already be a $1,000,000 winner!
“Goodie, my troubles are over.” I tossed the envelope into the dilapidated orange bin and gathered the peanut butter and the last of the bread from the cupboard before continuing.
The next letter was addressed to my mother. Barbara Brown, you are invited to join the Wine of the Month club. Call 1-800—“Oh, yeah, exactly what my mother needs.” I ripped the invitation into several small pieces and filed it alongside the $1,000,000 advertisement. The only other piece of mail was the overdue electric bill. “Shoot!” I set it beside the tattered dish drainer to remind myself to write out a check after school.
With only one slice of bread left, I made up half a sandwich for my mother. If anyone needed food, she did. I packed up my book bag and walked over to where her skeletal frame laid sprawled across the couch sleeping off last night’s dinner: a bottle of vodka. I swept back a matted strand of gray hair from her prematurely-lined face—no one would have guessed her to be only 34 years-old—and kissed her cheek, something I’d have never done if she were coherent.
“I lo … bye, Mom.” I wanted to tell her I loved her, but she’d never made our home a safe place for expressing emotions, and even though she was asleep, I still couldn’t do it. I’d learned from an early age to keep my feelings buried deep inside, training myself never to cry in front of her. Having to endure her ridiculing if I were to show her my true emotions would have killed me.
I thought back to when I was just seven years old. I’d fallen out of an apple tree and hurt my arm. Lying on a rotting heap of wormy apples, I screamed out in pain and within seconds, my mother was at my side.
“Shut up! You’re embarrassing me.” She jerked me up by my injured arm and dragged me into the house. “Stop crying and go to bed!”
I remembered rubbing the tears dry from my cheeks, and forcing myself to stop crying. “My arm hurts, bad!”
“Good! Maybe that will teach you to be more careful, cry-baby.”
Two days later the school nurse noticed my swollen, misshapen arm during recess and tried calling my mom for over two hours but she never answered so the neighbor listed on my emergency contact card drove me to the hospital instead. It turned out my arm was broken in two places. And the reason my mother never picked up the phone? She was passed out from her liquid lunch.
Social services showed up at our home the next day. My mother was sober by then and was able to lie her way out of trouble, but she went ballistic on me after they’d left.
“If you ever pull a stunt like that again, I’ll stick you in a foster home so fast your head will spin, then you’ll no long be a burden to me!” From then on, all my tears were saved for my pillow.
I turned and gave the room a quick once-over to make sure nothing was lying around that she might stumble over and hurt herself on. Quietly closing the door of our dilapidated blue trailer, I tightened my antiquated sweater as the bitter cold wind sliced through it. “Oooh!” Spring couldn’t come soon enough for me, despite the beauty of Upstate New York, the winters were brutal.
 The school was close, only 12 minutes away if I jogged, something I usually did during the winter months. It was the first day of school since Christmas break, and I was looking forward to getting back into a routine.
When I reached the park near my home, a sporty red Lexus IS F pulled up alongside me. My heart skipped a beat. I knew the car and could easily pick it out in a crowd, along with its hot owner. Seth Prescott: beautiful car, beautiful hair, beautiful… seriously, what wasn’t beautiful about him? He even had a way of making the scruffy brown cowboy boots he always wore look hot. He’d transferred to Port Fare High from some fancy private school last summer, and I’d developed a serious crush on him, along with every other girl in school. I knew he was out of my league, but it didn’t stop me from indulging in a daydream or two. I’d heard he lived alone since his parents died a while back. Rather impressive for a guy who was only eighteen.
“Want a ride?” He flashed a to-die-for smile as a gust of wind caught his shoulder-length brown hair, tossing the silky locks onto his face. His green eyes sparkled as he brushed the hair behind his ears and laughed.
Yep, he was freakin’ hot.
I thought of the look on Hillary’s face if she were to see me in Seth’s car. Priceless. I quickly doused the daydream. “No, thanks.” The idea of trying to make conversation with Mr. Tall and Yummy, even if only for five minutes, was more than I could handle this early in the morning. I’d rather walk. He let out a rush of air as if he had been holding his breath and drove away.
Crossing the school parking lot a short time later, my ex-boyfriend Zack Finkle cruised by in his rusted-out Chevy something or other. I quickly diverted my gaze to the ground. He honked his horn, or rather played his horn in his search for a parking spot, all the while primping his spiky blond hair. Some goofy tune bellowed out of the car, and he gave his engine a punch of gas as he shifted gears. For some unknown reason I waved, though I had to wrestle back a sneer. He smiled and winked one of his dull gray eyes. Sick! We broke up after dating for two months. He insisted we sleep together, I insisted we didn’t.
I won.
Weaving my way through the last row of cars, I was nearly plowed down by a bright yellow Mini Cooper driven by none other than Hillary Jeffers: cheerleader, beautiful, perfect in every way. Perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect clothes, and perfect pom-poms. She barely glanced in my direction. No surprise, she rarely acknowledged my existence. It worked for me.
Naturally, Zack had a thing for her, but Hillary only had eyes for Seth—and who could blame her—even still, I had no doubt Zack would have her one day, he was a devious little worm. His family had considerable power in the community, which meant they hung out in all the right circles. Regardless of her lust for Seth, Hillary lusted after power and money even more. Zack was just her speed.
I entered the main building via the gym door and went straight to my locker, running into Karen Mayes on the way. She was yet another tall gorgeous cheerleader, but Karen was Hillary’s opposite–she was nice. She looked toasty warm in her long, red sweater and black leggings.
“Hi, Maggie, did you have a good Christmas?” Her smile sparkled against her clear ebony skin, as did the shiny white headband in her hair.
“Yes, how about you?”
“Great. My family and I went skiing in Utah for a week. It was awesome. Have you ever been there?”
“No,” nor had I ever been skiing. After fighting with my locker combination a few times, I opened the door and shoved my extra books inside.
Karen carefully slipped her pom-poms in behind my books and gently shut the door. Her locker was jammed fully of cheer paraphernalia, leaving little room for the blue and gold streamers. I let her keep them in mine.
“I appreciate you letting me use your locker. I guess it’s silly to be this fussy over pom-poms, it’s just that some of the other girls get rather nasty if they don’t look perfect.” Undoubtedly, she meant Hillary. “Did you get anything fun for Christmas?”
“Oh, you know the same old boring thing.” Nothing.
“Yes, but those boring Christmases make the big Christmases even better, don’t you think?” She then lowered her voice. “Guess what? I got an email from Mrs. Connor over break. I’m getting a B!”
I’d been helping her study for her English Lit class during the lunch hour. She was getting a D, and would have been suspended from the cheer team if she couldn’t bring it up to a C.
“That’s great!”
“Thanks for the help. I lost track of how many lunches you skipped to help me.”
Not many really, it’s not as if I brought lunch very often.
“Hey, I have an extra donut. Do you want it?” She wiggled a tan sack at me. “It won’t make up for all the lunches you missed, but it’s a start.”
“Are you sure?” I tried to sound casual despite the fact I was starving.
“Positive.” She handed me a glazed doughnut from a small sack. “See ya later.”
“Thanks.” I eagerly stuffed the doughnut into my mouth. It tasted wonderful. Of course hungry as I was, cardboard would have tasted wonderful. After licking the last of the icing off my fingers, I made my way over to my first class of the day, Modern Mythology.
Port Fare High divided the classes up into 90-minute blocks. Each class was taught every other day, a plus for me since I hated math.
On the other hand, it could be extremely painful if you had a dull teacher. Case in point, the Modern Mythology teacher, Dr. Bore. Or as he was known amongst the student body: Bore the Snore. Not only was he a complete bore, but he was also a bit bizarre.
The self-proclaimed nonconformist was a thin, scrawny man, with a feeble gray beard. It matched the straggly gray hair he kept tied back in a ponytail via a thin leather strap. He wore collarless shirts, and because the school policy stated male teachers had to wear a tie, he kept one draped about his neck, untied. He wore sandals every day. Nothing, neither rain, nor sleet, not even snow could keep him from wearing his silly Birkenstocks. If that wasn’t bad enough, a weird odor hung on him all the time. I did my best to avoid standing too close to him.
His five or six minions sat in the front desks soaking up every word he had to say, while the rest of the class battled sleep. My favorite spot was the far right corner of the room where I could sit unnoticed. Before class started, I dropped into my usual desk and began doodling in my notebook, immediately becoming lost in my thoughts. So lost, I didn’t notice who sat down next to me.
“Hello, again.” I immediately recognized the deep warm voice and turned to look into Seth’s delicious eyes. He had on a long-sleeved, yellow striped polo and a pair of well-worn Levis. I glanced about to see who he was talking to, only to discover there wasn’t anyone else around.
“Hi?” Not meaning for it to sound like a question, I blushed.
“Maggie Brown, right?” I nodded cautiously at him. “Where do you live?”
Why did he want to know that? “Why?” I sounded rude, which wasn’t my intent. Maybe I should stick to nodding. My hand sprung to a strand of limp hair that had escaped from my rubber band, and I was about to begin twirling the hairs back and forth between my first two fingers, an anxious habit of mine, but thankfully, I caught myself and quickly dropped my hand back down.
“I noticed you were walking to school today and it’s pretty cold out. Would you like a ride in the mornings? My house is over on Ivy Circle, do you live near there?”
Where else would this beautiful being live except for on the rich side of town. “Sorry, I live off Main Street, by Applegate Park. Thanks anyway.”
He reached over and tucked the limp strand of hair behind my ear. His fingers felt warm as they brushed against the jaw of my still cold face and it forced another shiver down my back.
“It’s not that far out of my way. If you’d like, I can pick you up,” he said with a smile.
My first instinct was to wonder why he was being so kind. What did he want? True, I had seen him around school, but we’d never hung out, let alone had a conversation.
“I’m trying to get in shape for track team tryouts in the spring.” Okay, that was a shameless lie. “Thanks anyway.” He looked as if he was about to insist, when Hillary appeared out of nowhere, wrapping her arms about his neck. She was wearing a pink mini skirt and white blouse. How she was staying warm was a mystery to me.
“Good morning, beautiful.” Hillary smiled as he turned and stood. I briefly wondered if I looked as mesmerized as she did when looking at him. “Will you help me with the Mythology homework? You never called back last night, naughty boy. Trying to avoid me?” She stuck out her bottom lip in a pout and slid her arm around his waist.
“Sorry, Hillary. I was busy and forgot.”
“I’ll forgive you if you come over and help me before class starts.” She flashed him another impish pout and turned to leave. He followed like a whipped puppy, but not before he glanced back at me and mouthed, “We’ll talk later.”
Okay, weird. I had no idea he even knew my name. Apparently, Hillary had her hooks into him deep. She whistles. He jumps. I wondered if a guy would ever care for me like that. “Maybe if I was built like Hillary,” I mumbled under my breath.
I was actually enjoying the single life since breaking up with Zack. I had no one trying to force me into compromising on things I wanted, or didn’t want.
While we were dating, Zack was constantly trying to pressure me into trying alcohol. No thanks. Living with an alcoholic all my life gave me ample cause to avoid the stuff. He also tried getting me to smoke pot, which in my book was the same as alcohol except more destructive.
However, his all-time favorite thing was to try pressuring me into sex, with him. Ha! As if! A ripple of disgust washed over me as I remembered his wet, sloppy kisses. Since breaking up, I’d tried to figure out why I ever dated him in the first place. Loneliness, I suppose. But now that I was free, loneliness wasn’t so bad. I was independent and enjoying it immensely. I vowed never again to have a boyfriend hanging around me like a noose. I was a liberated woman who didn’t need a boy to be happy.
Dr. Bore droned on and on, it felt as if class would never end. To break up the agony, I pulled out my new class schedule and verified the changes. Everything was pretty much the same as last semester, except I added a fourth period Culinary class and had to switch my Community at Large class to second period.
Community at Large, or CaL, was my favorite class. Students from the high school drove over to Hunter Hills, the local elementary school, and assisted the teacher in the classroom for an hour with various activities. I worked with the emotionally needy children. Over half the class was in foster care, having been through unspeakable horrors already in their young lives. CaL was the highlight of my day. Truthfully, it was more like the highlight of my life. I felt more alive there than I did anywhere else. I willingly gave those kids the real me I didn’t trust to anyone else. It felt liberating, and truthfully, they did more for me than I could possibly have done for them.
The bell rang, rousing me out of my daydream. Since carpooling to the elementary school was mandatory, I hurried toward the CaL classroom to find out who I was driving with.
“Hey, Maggie, how was your Christmas break?”
Melody Winkmyer. We’d known each other since the third grade though we rarely hung out. She was short, maybe 5’2,” and had tons of short, curly brown hair. Her face was always a bright red, as if she’d just run a marathon. She was also a wizard on the lacrosse team. “Have you heard the latest?” Gossip, Melody should have a PhD in it by now. To be sure, the girl knew something about everyone. “Mark and Debbie broke up!”
That was news. They had been a couple since tenth grade, and everyone assumed they’d get married after high school. “Debbie and her family went on a cruise over Christmas break, and she met some guy from Mexico. They’re engaged!”
“Not!”
“Debbie told me herself. Her parents are livid.” Melody’s cheeks were positively glowing with excitement over the news. It made me uncomfortable.
“How’s Mark doing?” I liked Mark, he was a decent guy. This had to be difficult for him.
“Well, he’s not in school today!” She smiled broadly. I was about to change the subject when Hillary rushed past me. Seth was walking directly ahead of us, no doubt, she was trying to catch up to him.
Melody frowned. “Are those two still an item?” Hillary reached Seth and looped her arm through his. She proceeded to flip her long strawberry-blond hair, drawing attention from every male within 100 yards. I had to pull my head back to avoid being smacked in the face with it.
Her frown deepened and she whispered loudly, “Never mind. Does he ever date regular people like me?”
“There are plenty of other guys out there. Zack and I broke up.”
“No thanks, he’s too handsie.” So true. He had little respect for anyone’s personal space especially if that someone were female.
“I heard Seth keeps a comb in his back pocket in case his precious hair dares to mess up,” she again whispered loudly. I hoped he was too busy drooling over Hillary to overhear her, though he’d have to be deaf not to.
“I also heard he ducks into the bathroom between classes to check up on it. Girls only like him because he’s hot, I’ll bet his personality totally sucks. And did you know Hillary changed her schedule around so they would be in all the same classes?”
“I don’t know him very well, he seems nice.” She rolled her eyes and accused me of having a crush on him before running off after another friend.
The CaL classroom was full. I worked my way to the back, waiting for my carpool assignment. The teacher, Miss Coy, came in and tried to call the class to order. She was a small soft-spoken woman and it took her several tries to quiet the room down. Eventually, a techno-geek helped her hook up a microphone. It only made it worse. Her petite voice kept breaking up over the speakers. I leaned toward her as if it would help me to understand better.
“Most of you had this c—ss last s—ester and wo-ld like you to conti—e driving with the same p—ple. H—ever some of you are new, or h—ve switched perio—. Who does not —ave a ride this seme—er?” My hand and four others shot up. Before Miss Coy could ask for volunteers, Seth Prescott turned to her and said something.
Seth? I had no idea he had signed up for CaL. He didn’t seem the type: a good looking, seemingly self-absorbed guy, working with children? I quickly chastised myself for judging him unfairly. I’d noticed I was getting a little too judgmental lately and decided my New Year’s resolution this year would be to rein it in. Might as well start now. I will not judge, I repeated over in my mind.
Miss Coy said something in reply to Seth before calling the class to order again. “Who can t—ke —?” She rattled off the other four student’s names, nine kids volunteered, and she made the assignments. “Maggie Br—, you’—be riding wi-h—” Her voice broke up again making it impossible for me to understand her. She continued. “These assi—ments are for the e—ire semest—, no exceptio—,” she added sternly. I raised my hand to ask of my fate, when Seth appeared next to me out of nowhere.
“Ready, Maggie?” Seth rattled his keys in front of me. I gawked at him as if he had lost his mind. Surely, Miss Coy hadn’t assigned me to ride with him? “I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for the entire semester, you heard what she said about switching rides.”
Why did he volunteer to take me? The expression on my face must have been obvious because he added, “I believe we’re both in Mrs. Mathew’s class at Hunter Hills, correct?”
I groaned silently and nodded. There was my answer. What in the world would we possibly have to talk about on the drive over? Hair-gel? He could probably give me some pointers, his hair always looked great even after the wind had tossed it onto his face. I heaved my book bag up onto my shoulder, smiled politely, and followed him out to the parking lot.
An arctic blast cut through my thin sweater as he opened the car door for me and I let out a gasp. He was around and in the car in record time, cranking up the heat and twisting the vents in my direction. “You really should wear a warmer coat,” he said. “You could get pneumonia wearing only that.” His car had black leather interior; it was beautiful, and cold. I was glad the heater worked well.
“I love this sweater,” I mumbled through my chattering teeth. Besides, it’s not as if I had another choice. Rich people like him don’t have a clue what … You’re judging him, Maggie. I smiled, tightened my sweater around me, and blocked out the negative thoughts.
Before long, we lapsed into an uncomfortable silence, neither he nor I seemed to know what to say. I wrenched myself closer to the door while stealing a quick glance at him. I was surprised to see his hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel, so tight his knuckles were white. I looked out at the road to see if maybe we were driving on ice. It looked clear to me.
Finally, Seth broke the silence. “Why do I make you nervous?” He had a slight smile on his face now. “By the way, you should slide to the center of the seat, it’s much more comfortable.”
“I’m comfortable, thanks.” In actuality, the armrest was digging into my hip, causing me significant pain. I shifted a bit, making it worse.
“Isn’t Hillary taking this class with you?” I desperately wanted to change the subject.
“No, cheerleading practice was switched to second period. She had to drop CaL.” He chuckled softly, leading me to believe he’d heard Melody in the hall earlier. How embarrassing!
Only when we pulled up to the school did I realize my fingers were tangled up around my hair. Seth looked over at me and smiled. My face went pink as I untwisted them. He jumped out and came around to open my door before I could get out.
“Thanks for the ride.”
He nodded. “This is my second semester here. It’s my favorite class.”
“Mine too,” I said, astonished.
“Why is it yours?” His face looked sincere, as if he was truly interested in what I had to say.
“The kids love you, and they don’t care what you wear.” I thought of my thin worn out sweater. “Nor do they care what your hair looks like.” That was aimed at his vanity. For a split second, he smiled. “They love you and want you to love them, no strings attached. It’s …” I trailed off in search of the right word.
“Pure love.”
“Yes, pure love.” I couldn’t have said it any better. This was the one place I ever felt loved or wanted. My mother certainly didn’t love me, at least she never expressed it in any way. As a child, I longed for her to gather me onto her lap and read me a story, or brush my hair and tell me I was pretty. She never did. She never hugged me, or tucked me into bed at night, and she never made me dinner, or any other meal for that matter. She had a wicked mean streak, and when she was upset, her harsh words nipped at my heart. She was a cold, distant woman who drank too much.
A year and a half ago things changed-for the worst. She was rarely sober anymore and seldom left the house. Her words took on a new cruelty; they cut clear to my soul, some days shredding it into pieces. Words like: get out of my sight, you lazy girl, or, can’t you do anything right, you unlovable nothing? And my favorite, I should have given you up when I had the chance!
As we approached the school door, a passage from my favorite Victor Hugo novel Les Misérables crossed my mind. For Jean Valjean there was no sun, no beautiful summer days, no radiant sky, no fresh April dawn. Completely lost in my pain, I didn’t feel the tears brimming up in my eyes until one spilled over the edge.
Seth softly turned me around to face him. “What’s wrong?” He peered into my eyes and it felt as if he was burrowing down into the dark recesses of my soul. His fingers ran softly across my cheek, brushing away the tear. There was an undeniable tenderness about him and it made my heart flutter. His reaction caught me off guard, I stammered for a moment not knowing what to say. Should I tell him about my pathetic life, explain to him how unloved I was, or how I could totally relate to these children and what they were feeling?
I opted for the safe answer, like always; show no emotion, keep it locked inside, they can’t hurt you if they don’t know anything about you.
“It’s the cold air, it’s burning my eyes.” Clearly, he didn’t buy my lame excuse, but to his credit, he said nothing. He held the school door open for me and led us down the hall.
Crying? What the heck was wrong with me? It must be PMS! I stayed a few steps behind him secretly drying my face and running through a calendar in my mind.
Approaching the classroom, I peered around his shoulder and saw twenty-two little smiles eagerly awaiting us, their little cherub faces pressed up against the glass before the door promptly flew open. Out they came, jumping on Seth and me, knocking us both to the floor. Their reaction to him stunned me. Apparently, they loved him as much as they did me.
Zane, a tenderhearted blond boy, was now perched on my knees. “Why are you here early, Miss Maggie?”
“I had to change my school schedule to this hour.”
“Wow! Our two most favoritist teachers at the same time,” swooned Noah, a sweet little guy with big brown eyes. “I’m the luckiest boy ever!” He smiled as Seth helped me up off the floor.
“You know what this means!” said Elise, a stunning, curly-haired blond girl.
“What?” Seth asked.
“It means you two have to get married.” She smothered her giggle into her hands, along with several other little girls, while some began chanting, “Kiss her! Kiss her!” Seth laughed loudly, scooped me into his arms, and before I could protest, planted a big noisy kiss on my cheek. Wow, his cologne smelled heavenly. I laughed as the girls cheered and the boys made gagging sounds. He released me when their teacher, Mrs. Mathews, a tall, middle-aged, Korean woman with long silky black hair, came out into the hall and shooed them back inside.
“Alright, children, settle down.” As always, her voice was gentle. “We now have Mr. Seth, along with Miss Maggie as our visiting teachers for this hour. Since we haven’t had our guest teachers read to us for several weeks, we’re going to separate into two groups for story time.” She quickly divided the kids up and sent the groups to opposing ends of the room. Harrison, a precious redheaded boy, chose several books for me to read as the rest of my group settled into beanbag chairs or on small carpet squares. Noah curled up in my lap and began stroking my cheek.
The time flew. Occasionally, I’d hear Seth read a line with exaggerated drama and the children would laugh. I tried not to look over at him, yet my eyes were drawn there as if by some unseen force. He was glowing. He seemed at home with the little first graders, three of whom were sitting on his lap. I was taken aback by this side of him.
Halfway through the hour, Mrs. Mathews had us switch places so the children could spend equal time with both of us, though Noah insisted he stay with me. I looked at Seth as we crossed the room. He smiled and winked. I dropped my head as my face turned at least four shades of red, and my mind flooded with suspicion. Why was he acting this way? Did he think I was going to be another notch in his belt?
Elise tugged at my arm. “What’s wrong, Miss Maggie?” I didn’t realize my expression had deteriorated into a scowl. Nudging the negative thoughts out, I began reading to my new group.
By the end of class, my ill feelings toward Seth had almost vanished, that was until he slipped his arm around my shoulders while we walked down the hall toward his car. I pulled away and gave him an icy glare.
 “Sorry,” he said, wrestling with a smile. “My car is out this way.” I glanced around and realized I had turned down the wrong hall. I nodded curtly and walked toward the correct door, completely humiliated by my childish overreaction.
I settled quietly into his car, and we drove back to the high school, again, in tortured silence. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear he was as nervous as I was.
Clearing my throat, I attempted to make conversation as we approached the school. “The kids really like you,” I said.
“Yeah, probably because I’m so hot!” he teased, I think… I hope!
Augh! Melody!
“You know, I’m surprised the three of us can fit in your car.”
“Three? I do believe there are only two.”
“Me, you, and your over-sized ego. I believe that makes three.” I jumped out before the car came to a complete stop, slamming the door shut behind me. I was trying to placate some of my guilt, though why I should feel guilty I had no idea. It was Melody who criticized him, not me.
“You’re welcome,” he shouted to my backside.
Just because he does something kind doesn’t mean he’s not an egomaniac, I reasoned, still trying to salve my wounded pride.
Later at lunch, I cut through the cafeteria on my way to the library. The placed reeked of rotted food and gym socks, not the most enticing smells for a lunchroom. Divided into rows of three were forty long gray plastic tables with attached benches. Spaced evenly across the ceiling were a dozen humming fluorescent lights and down the center of the room sat three black garbage cans spaced between the tables, adding to the ambiance.
Seth and Hillary were snuggled together at their usual table near the front of the room, all giggles and jokes. Never once did he look my way, which was just fine with me. Who needed an arrogant snob in their life? I had enough to deal with without adding him to the list, including the nagging voice in the back of my head telling me it was wrong to judge him. It really needed to shut up!
I arrived home from school to find my slimy neighbor, Mr. Hoffman from across the road, walking back toward his haggard gray trailer. My guess was that he had spent the afternoon with my mother and a bottle of vodka, something he seemed to be doing all too regularly over the past three weeks. I opened the door and found my mother passed out on the couch and surmised I was right.
My mom used to have lots of friends coming by to visit until I realized they were using her for what little money we had. After I’d gone to the bank and set up a checking account with direct deposit, and kept the checkbook hidden, the supposed friendships evaporated. Except for Hoffman. He’d moved in a few months ago and they’d become fast friends. He gave me the creeps.
I set about cleaning the house so not to think about the aching hunger in the pit of my stomach. It was a pocket-sized trailer consisting of an extremely small living room-dining room-kitchen combination. The sparse mismatched furnishings were tattered beyond repair.
There was a brown couch that sagged horribly in the middle, a blue armchair—minus an arm- and a rickety kitchen table with two wobbly folding chairs  Toward the back of the trailer was our micro-chip sized bathroom, and opposite the bathroom, were two 9 by 7 foot bedrooms. My mother rarely used hers, preferring to spend most of her days and nights passed out on the couch.
The floors throughout were a linoleum, cold brown linoleum, and it was normally littered with an empty booze bottle or two and a few stray tissues. The walls were painted a blanched white and were bare and tedious, mostly because we didn’t have the money to decorate them. I’d used thumbtacks to hang some old beige pillowcases over the tall narrow windows to afford us privacy.
My frantic cleaning efforts were rewarded. I found 83 cents under the chair’s flattened cushion. I finished my housework and ran to the store to buy some day-old bread.

G

Most of my lunch hours were spent in the library studying, that way I didn’t have to watch others eat, but not today. I had a peanut butter sandwich, and I ate in the cafeteria sitting alongside Melody who had asked me to sit with her before anyone else did. On any given day, I battled hunger headaches, this afternoon, however, it was a tension headache from listening to Melody’s insipid gossiping. I made several attempts to change the subject and finally gave up. The girl was like a dog with a bone. I tried to chew loudly on my dry bread and crunchy peanut butter, nevertheless, her voice still hacked through the white noise.
“Hillary said you are riding with Seth to CaL class now.” Melody adjusting her black polka dot shirt as she spoke. “How many times did pretty boy fix his hair on the ride over?” I shrugged my shoulders, dropping my head back down to my lunch. “You’re trying to be nice by not saying anything, but you know I’m right. Look at them. They’re the perfect couple.”
They were sitting a few tables away from us, and I hoped they couldn’t hear her this time. I didn’t dare look, and instead nodded silently and continued staring down at my dehydrated bread.
“They sit there never speaking to anyone who isn’t in their little clique. They think they’re better than any of us because they’re rich and good-looking.” She snorted loudly. “They’re totally self-absorbed, it's as if the rest of us don’t exist.”
I wiggled around uncomfortably in my seat, debating whether to say something about Seth and the way he loved the CaL kids, or that I had indeed seen him hanging out with lots of different kids around school, not just the popular ones. But I didn’t. Instead, I swallowed the last of my sandwich and gathered up my things.
“I have to go, Melody. Thanks for sitting with me today.” Some of what she said was probably true, yet I couldn’t stop thinking about him yesterday with the children. I rushed to culinary class, relieved to be away from her.
The advantage of a cooking class was you got to eat what you created, and hungry as I was most of the time, I’d even eat my cooking. The classroom was close to the cafeteria, and with my hasty departure, I arrived ten minutes early. I chose a desk in the far back corner and hoped the teacher wasn’t one of those control freaks with a seating chart.
The classroom was huge. On one side were twelve two-person desks, and on the opposite end of the room were twelve white stoves with small counters to the left of each, along with four stainless steel refrigerators spaced out across the back.
Soon the class began filling up. Several of my friends stopped at my desk to ask how my Christmas was. Since everyone had already partnered up before coming in, I was still sitting alone at my desk when the teacher arrived. I hoped that she’d pair me up with someone who cooked better than I did.
“Alright everyone, take your seat.” The teacher, Mrs. Gianchi, was a feisty Italian woman with dark hair she wrapped tightly in a bun and anchored to the top of her head with several clips. Her smile was warm and generous, and her cheeks glowed bright pink, presumably from the heat of the ovens in the room. I’d seen her walking around in the halls before with her flowered aprons, and they usually looked nice, but today she had on a striped dress and the combination of the two made my eyes hurt.
 “Good afternoon.” She stepped her petite frame up onto a small stool so everyone could see her better. “We’re going to jump right into cooking today with an easy lesson on candy making.” She explained how we were to mix up the ingredients and record the effect the various temperatures had on the candy mixture as it heated up. She directed us toward the stoves, dividing everyone up into pairs. When she came to me, I still didn’t have a partner.
“How can this be?” She pulled out her roll book. “There’s an even number of students enrolled in class.” Before she could find the list, Seth appeared out of nowhere, startling me.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said with a grin.
Oh, no! This can’t be! We now had three classes together!
“There you are,” Mrs. Gianchi said to him, closing her book.
“I was held up, it won’t happen again.” He looked over at me and quietly added, “I had to fix my hair.” Heat overtook my face, and I looked away.
“I need you to partner with Maggie.” He smiled broadly at Mrs. Gianchi’s request. I turned my back on him as he slid up behind me, standing much too close. I moved a few inches away, hoping he wouldn’t realize it. He did and scooted even closer. I got the distinct impression he was teasing me. I folded my arms across my stomach and glued my feet to the floor. He would have to walk over me if he thought I’d give him another inch. My eyes stayed fixed on the teacher, and yet I could feel his smile burrowing into the back of my head. She handed me the instructions, and I accidentally bumped into him moving toward the small counter. Still ignoring him, I began measuring and pouring items into the pan.
“Would you like my help, or am I supposed to stand here and look pretty?” he asked. I passed the recipe over and signaled for him to continue. He poured and measured so quickly I had a hard time keeping up with what he was doing.
Neither of us spoke as the temperature of our candy mixture slowly rose. Bore the Snore’s class was more thrilling than this… well, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad. Thankfully, Mrs. Gianchi interrupted our rampant excitement. “Class, remember drop a small amount of your mixture in cold water at each temperature gauge, and record the reaction on your worksheet.”
An eternity later, the stupid mixture finally reached 230 degrees, our first test temperature. I reached into the pot, scooped up a spoonful of the sugary substance and was about to drop it into the glass of cold water, when an all-too-familiar voice startled me, causing me to spill the liquid candy.
“Seth, what did you do in a previous life that doomed you to be stuck with her for a partner?” Hillary. She was dressed in jeans and a cute black shearing jacket with a white fleece collar that made her alabaster skin glow. I never felt uglier. She gave me a supercilious look as she folded her arms across her chest. Her perfect chest. I quickly folded my arms cross my not so perfect chest, as if it was a big secret God had forgotten to give me breasts. “Nice sweater, by the way,” she added. “It just screams trailer trash.”
“That’s enough, Hillary.” Seth frowned and glanced over at me. I was surprised that he actually shut her down. Impressive, though it didn’t seem to bother her at all since she just flipped her hair and twisted his face back to hers.
“My notebook is still in your car from last night.” She actually purred as she walked her fingers up his arm. “I need it for my history class. May I have your keys?
“I put the notebook in my bag this morning, wait here, I'll go got it.” Hillary and I both watched him walk over to the desk and rifle through his book bag.
Abruptly, she coiled back to me. “You’re so out of your league, girlfriend.” Her voice was low and her face, tight. “Even if he were to go out with you, it’d be for one reason and one reason only. Your kind are merely toys for boys like him.”
Racking my brain for a witty comeback, I came up flat and turned back to the thermometer. It now read 315 degrees. Sure, now the dumb mixture heats up fast! We’d missed every reading in between. I pulled the pan off the burner as Seth returned with the red notebook. Hillary tucked it under her arm and blew him a kiss as she left.
“It’s ruined.” I slammed the pot onto the back of the stove, causing the contents to splash everywhere. “If your airhead girlfriend hadn’t come in and interrupted us we wouldn’t have failed this cooking lab. Now we’re going to get an F on the assignment!” For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I was letting those two upset me like this.
His jaw tightened. “Hillary’s on the honor roll, so I guess that blows your airhead theory, and she’s not my girlfriend. Please let Melody know, won’t you?”
He snagged the candy worksheet, wrote down the answers, and tossed it back at me, muttering that something wasn’t working and he needed to make a phone call. He turned and stormed out the door without saying another word. Mrs. Gianchi rushed over.
“What is the matter with Seth?” I shrugged my shoulders trying not to look guilty. She picked up the worksheet and smiled. “He’s such a nice boy and what wonderful penmanship.”
Geez, even the adults were bedazzled by him!
“This worksheet looks correct. Once you’ve cleaned up this mess, you may leave,” she said, pointing at the candy splattered on the stove. She walked away leaving me to wallow in my misery. It took me the rest of the class period to clean up the now hardened mess.
My mind kept replaying Seth’s angry words in culinary class on my walk home, and I took offense to his comment. Melody was the bad guy here, I had never said anything about him.
On the other hand, I didn’t stop her from maligning him or Hillary either, and I did laugh at a few of her comments. As hard as I tried to appease my guilty conscience, I still felt terrible. I had been a victim of false rumors before and even though they were lies, it still hurt. I swore to myself that the next time Melody started ranting about Seth, I was going to speak up. My decision helped ease the guilt somewhat, and I picked up the pace. It was cold.
I got home and took a long hot shower to warm up my frigid body. My mom had already ingested her daily allotment of booze and was passed out on the couch. I thought about helping her into bed, only the last two times I’d tried, I was rewarded with some pretty nasty bruises. She was an ornery drunk. Sometimes it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.