Excerpt #2

This second excerpt is from Chapter 9: We Had to Say Goodbye. If you love it please check out the full book at the Library or at www.lulu.com

“At the first stop Lynn used all of her self control to stay seated and was glad that she did because a young man boarded the bus and sat right next to her. He had lovely blond hair and deep blue-green eyes that dazzled with mischief. His face was smooth and boyish, and he squinted his eyes against the sun like a cowboy in a Western movie. A cigarette hung out of the right corner of his mouth. He was positively gorgeous.

“’Lo.” He said as he plunked down beside Lynn. He smelled like fresh tobacco, a brisk fall breeze, and sweat – but it wasn’t a heavy stinky kind of sweat, it was light and clean, and Lynn liked it.

“Well, hi there.” Lynn answered, turning to take him in fully. He wasn’t as tall as Andrew, but he was at least a head taller than her.

The man held out a tanned hand for Lynn to shake and she took it. “My name’s Leo.” He said. His hand was warm and rough and he had a firm grip.

“I’m Lynn.” Lynn thought she could stay on the bus forever if she had Leo to keep her company.

“Lynn. That’s a nice name. Where are you headed?”

“Toronto. I’m going to be a star.” She wasn’t sure what was making her so bold with Leo, but she was glad of it.

“A star? No kidding? Why would you want to do that?”

Lynn was taken aback. She’d never had a stranger take interest in her dreams before. Besides it seemed like a silly question; didn’t everyone want to be famous? She smiled and answered, “Because it would be glamorous. It would be clean and pretty and wonderful and people would adore me.”

Leo’s face turned into a sideways grin. “Have any experience?” His tone suggested that he had heard it all before, but Lynn was too naive to catch it.

“No. But I know how to work hard. When I get to Toronto I’ll find a job and a place to stay and I’ll just keep showing up at that studio until they love me.”

Leo laughed a carefree boyish laugh. “You’ve got spirit, that’s for sure.”

Lynn shook her head. “No, not really. I don’t feel full of any sort of spirit or soul. It’s just what I have to do.” She really did feel as if she had to do it, as if she had no choice in the matter, as if fate had ruled it and she had no say.

Leo’s squinty eyes found Lynn’s and she blushed lightly. There was something about those smoldering eyes that made her skin tingle. Leo moved his tongue around in his mouth in a pensive manner before speaking, “Well, I hope you make it then.”

Lynn just nodded. She let the silence sit for a moment and then asked, “So, where are you headed?”

Leo shrugged. “I hadn’t decided yet. I thought I’d just get off at the stop that felt right to me.” He looked around the bus lazily and then returned his gaze to Lynn.

Lynn was fascinated. Here was the sort of man that had stories to tell; he had been places. “So, have you been to the city then?”

“The city? Which one? I’ve been to a lot of cities. Generally haven’t cared for most of them though. Cheap girls and even cheaper men if you know what I mean?”

Lynn thought of Mr. Ronalds and shivered. “Yes I do.”

Leo nodded his head and leaned his seat back. He closed his eyes as if to sleep but continued talking. “Yeah, so I stop by for a few days to make some money usually, but I don’t stay long.”

Lynn watched Leo’s chest rise and fall as he breathed. “So where’s home then?”

Leo scoffed and opened one eye, “Home?” He closed it again and continued, “No such place. I’ve never had a home.”

Lynn nodded her head. “Me neither. Well not really. I mean I did for this last little while, but not before that.”

Leo opened one eye to look at Lynn again and she got lost in its blue-green light before he closed it. She had a strange sensation of having to pull herself out of his eye before the lid slammed down or she’d be lost forever. Leo was oblivious to this of course and simply said, “No kidding?”

“Nope.”

“So you’re a drifter too then?”

“No, not really. I just never had a home. Never really been anywhere, though.”

“Not sure how that would work. Generally if you stay someplace too long it starts to feel like home. I hate that feeling. That’s why I keep moving.”

“What about a family?” Lynn wasn’t sure what made her ask this; after all she hated being asked about her own family.

“Don’t have one. Parents were killed when I was ten. Had an older sister but it seems she had the same sort of idea you did. But she didn’t fare so well. Found her in a dumpster one night.”

Lynn was horrified and hugged herself tight against the harshness of the world. Suddenly the city was sounding less bright and clean and more terrifying and dark. “Oh no! I’m so sorry.”

Leo sat back up and shrugged. “Why be sorry? That’s the way the world is. That’s why I don’t bother with it. Just keep going. That’s the only way.”

Lynn nodded her head but she wasn’t sure if she was agreeing or trying to make sense of what he had said. She knew the world was full of hate and death, but to find someone so utterly unaffected by it was new. “So it doesn’t bother you?”

“It would, I suppose, if I gave it a chance. But I don’t. That’s how you go crazy, thinking too much. This way I’m free. Free to look forward and have fun. Free to just live while I can.” Leo’s whole face seemed to light up and his mischievous grin reappeared on his face. “If you can’t have fun, what’s the point?”

Lynn nodded. “I suppose so. Well, that’s why I’m going to be a star. Then maybe Frankie and Andrew can come too.” Lynn had gotten so used to thinking and talking about Frankie and Andrew that she forgot Leo had no idea who they were.

“Your family?” Leo asked.

“Sort of. You could say that.”

“Oh, one of those. You’re better off alone, trust me.”

“I don’t think so. You don’t know Frankie and Andrew. If you did you wouldn’t say that.”

“I’ve known a lot of people who seem great, but it’s just not worth it to stick around. They tie you down, you know? And eventually they’ll either die or let you down.”

Lynn shook her head. “Not Frankie. He’s the one who put me on this bus.”

“Well then he wanted to get away. It’s all the same.”

Lynn shook her head, not willing to believe that Frankie wanted to be free of her; he couldn’t want that.

“How old are you, anyhow? Off alone to a strange city to be a star, at what age?” Leo scrutinized Lynn closely and Lynn felt a little ripple of pleasure run through her. She enjoyed the way he seemed to be studying her.

Lynn had learned long ago that for people to take her seriously she had to lie about her age. No one took a just turned fifteen-year-old seriously. She had also learned the limits of her age. She could fake being anything from sixteen to eighteen. Anything older and people just wouldn’t believe it. Since she guessed Leo was twenty-five she decided to place herself at seventeen. “Seventeen.” She said.

Leo nodded his head as if this fit with what he had thought. “Well, you’re still young then. Be careful in the city. People will rip you to shreds if you let them. Watch out for the men there too.”

Lynn smiled. “I know all about men. I’m no baby.”

Leo smirked and laughed. “No, I suppose you’re not.” He reclined in his seat again and was quiet. Lynn thought he fell asleep but she couldn’t be sure. Either way she didn’t mind because while Leo’s eyes were closed she was free to watch him rest. His chest moving slowly up and down had a hypnotic effect and eventually Lynn fell asleep.”

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