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Beaches, dogs and adventures:

all of this, you can read the opening, then come back here to read more. Here’s the opening:


by Joey Jones and Mark Jones

This is the next bit after the excerpt on Kindle Scout:


Or I could just step out in front of a bus – a quicker, and more humane, way to go. “Sounds kind of cramped.”

“Well, that’s the point. Whatever you’re feeling, you have to deal with it, because you can’t get away from it.” Midgie retched. I fought the urge to join her. “Pastor is right there, and they bring in speakers like Tilly Bestway. She was a big help to me, at the Women’s Retreat. She says that if anything is bothering you, you have to bring it out right away.” Molly snapped her fingers. “Not later that day, or the next day… if you wait, you’ll just come up with reasons to keep from dealing with it…” Molly mopped at something best left to mystery. “That’s not her real name, of course. She took that name…”

“Because hers is the Best Way?” Oh, Tilly sounded like a fun girl.

“What? No. Her first name isn’t ‘Tilly.’ She took that name to show she’s a Tiller of God’s Soil.”

She’s a what, now?

“You could room with Casey in the women’s house,” Molly continued. The women’s house? Apparently the couples wouldn’t be Encountering each other. “Jerry could bunk with Gideon…” Molly sounded so hopeful. I glanced at Jerry, who grunted, leaving me to tell Molly that we couldn’t go. Molly wilted. “Oh. I just thought…,” she glanced at Jerry. Back to me. “Well, if you don’t want to…,” in a hurt voice.

Actually, Jerry never uses all his vacation time, and I still had a few days, but I wasn’t going to spend them being lectured by Crazy Casey and Tilly the Tiller. My lips stretched into something meant to be a smile that was probably closer to the insane grin the villain of a slasher movie makes just before revving up his chainsaw. “How are you back there?” Okay, it was a dumb question. She and Midgie had been audibly, olfactorily miserable for hours. Molly mopped up the back seat and murmured something, not quite meeting my eyes.

When I didn’t say any more, she let it drop. I filed it all away under “annoying things I resent that will come up at some time in the future.”

Come on, everybody has a list like that.

Now, Molly leaned in between the front seats, a stiff, bright smile on her face. Her eyes almost, but not quite, met mine. “She called while I was waiting for you. She just wanted to know if you were…” she hesitated, “all right.”

I earned my place in heaven by not voicing any of the replies that occurred to me.

“Well, it was nice of her to ask,” Molly said, irritability leaking through her smile. Jerry kept his eyes glued on the road.

I know what she wanted. She wanted me to beam girlishly and trill, “They’re so nice! I can’t think of anything better than days spent in constant contact with them!” Thing is, they weren’t nice, and I could think of a lot of things I’d rather do. Molly turned to me, head cocked, like a bird waiting to be fed. I manufactured a smile out of gritted teeth and stiff lips. “Uhmm!” If Jerry can get away with it, so can I.

We all like to believe we walk in a straight line from past to future, our heads held high and our path direct, but we don’t. Every action we take, every thought we have, is connected to every other that came before. Every argument is built at least partially out of tiny bits of past arguments.

Molly and I weren’t just talking about the Smugfriends. We were talking to each other through the filter of our experience of one another. We were waiting until our low expectations of each other had been met, confirming that we still knew what to expect.

Molly said, to Jerry, “They really did like you.”

Jerry didn’t comment, so I made a polite, guttural noise. They wouldn’t like us if they’d heard what we’d said on the way home.

Jerry stared at the road as though pleading with it for something. Molly said something else, but what? I grunted again. Apparently, my grunt sounded like a question, which I’m prepared to swear it definitely was not.

Molly took a deep breath. When she spoke, her voice was careful. “Well, actually, since you asked…”

Sounds of alarm bells ringing and bomb fuses burning. Ask what? I didn’t ask! Abort! Abort!

“Ah…” Molly gave the little sigh she gives before saying something that makes me want to scream. “I was thinking…”

No! No! Whatever it was she thought I said, I take it back!

“I was very embarrassed. The way you treated Casey and Gideon…” What? Help me, Lord.

Wait, what was she doing? When did we start openly addressing things? Nobody consulted me! Jerry glanced back at Molly in the rear-view mirror, turned back to the road. Molly took a deep breath, let it out through pursed lips.

“You mean well…”

Was she being insincere, or expressing a hope?

“I’m sure you do…”

Definitely a hope, a faint one.

“…but… you just sat there, not talking…”

Yes, and I was rather proud of that, considering what I might have said.

“…leaving Casey and Gideon to carry the whole conversation…”

Which they were only too happy to do. People say someone talks “non-stop,” but they don’t mean it literally. Unless they’re talking about Casey. I was transfixed, watching her. She doesn’t stop talking to inhale. She must take in air through osmosis, like a plant.

“I know what you’re thinking…”

Oh no, you don’t. Believe me.

Of all the times for us to stumble into this. Jerry was going to be irritated, and because he can’t express irritation with his mother, I’d get both my dose and hers.

She shook her head mournfully at me. “I know things have been tough at work…”

How would she know? She doesn’t even know what I do.


The’s Kindle Scout campaign is done, but you can still read an excerpt of it (just click the link above). To those who voted for our book, thank you! You should be hearing soon if the book has been picked up and if it is, you’ll get instructions on how to get your free copy. Here’s hoping you get our book and we get picked up, but in the meantime, many, many thanks!

Copyright © 2005 – 2018 Joey and Mark Jones


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