Happy Book Birthday to Cassie Shine’s HARP’S VOICE (Harp’s Song #2)! I’m so excited (and a little sad) to take part in the release day launch for the conclusion to the HARP’S SONG duology. Check out the book and excerpt below, and then be sure to enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter.
Harp’s Voice (Harp’s Song #2) by Cassie Shine | Release Date: June 24, 2014
Single-minded to the point of near seclusion, Harp Evans’ only goal was to move away from her abusive mother, and start a new life at college. Now a freshman at a prestigious university, Harp continues to struggle letting people in, including her ex-boyfriend—Connor Williams—who has always stood by her, especially after her mother exposed a devastating secret about Harp’s origin. While Harp figures out how to navigate her relationships, especially with her mom, Anne, she will have to exorcize her own demons and face challenges with uncompromising courage, including reuniting her broken family—the family that was shattered by the acts of one man. After almost twenty years, is it possible for people to change their minds and open their hearts? More importantly, is Harp strong enough to pull them all back together?
CHAPTER 19: BROWN-EYED GIRL
Emma: Good morning sunshine???!!!!!
Me: Thanks for the wake up call.
Emma: Be there in 20. Be Ready. XOXO
I crawl out of bed and shuffle toward the smell of coffee to find my mom in the kitchen reading the paper.
“Good morning,” she says. “I know you got home late last night so I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Well, Emma texted me and is going to be here in about twenty minutes,” I relay to her. “We’d better get ready before she walks in and explodes when she see’s us still in our pajamas.”
My mom laughs, “Ok, I’ll go get ready. Catherine should be here at the same time.”
We’re still in limbo waiting for my mom’s results from her last scan, so Emma and Catherine decided a girl’s day was in order.
“Helloooooo!” Emma screams exactly twenty minutes later.
“In my room!” I yell back.
Emma throws my door open with gusto, taking one look at me, “That’s what you’re wearing for girl’s day?”
“Good morning to you too, dear friend.”
“Harp, I love you, but seriously, you cannot wear cut offs and a T-shirt … especially that T-shirt.”
“Morning Anne,” she hugs my mom. “See, Harp, look at your mom, she knows what the appropriate attire is for girl’s day.”
My mom and Emma look like twinsies about to walk a mother/daughter catwalk in similar floral sundresses with strappy sandals, and compared to my chucks and ‘I love treble’ T-shirt, I feel very out of place.
“Fine,” I sigh. “Pick ….”
Emma doesn’t wait for me to finish, already rummaging through my closet, scraping hangers across the bar quickly dismissing things, until she holds out a lavender sundress, “Here wear this.”
I shrug out of my clothes, throw the dress on and then grab the pair of sandals she’s holding in her hand.
“Does this meet your approval?” I twirl with my hands out to my sides.
She claps her hands in rapid succession grinning like it’s Christmas morning and she’s four years old.
“Ok, let’s go get manis and pedis ladies,” she announces as she walks through the hallway to where my mom and Catherine are waiting for us
The three of them talked the whole way to the nail place while I texted Jayden and Harmony, working out the details of our trip next week.
“Emma, have you declared a major yet?” Catherine asks, handing my mom a bottle of fire engine red nail polish.
“Communications Studies,” she answers dipping her toes into the bubbling water. “They have a solid journalism program and a student-run fashion magazine. I’d love to work in fashion doing PR or writing fashion columns.”
“That sounds perfect for you.” Catherine agrees.
“Are you sure about this color for me, Catherine?”
“That color is perfect, Anne,” Emma insists.
“Did you have a good first year, Emma?” My mom asks sitting in the pedicure chair next to Catherine, across the aisle from Emma and me.
“Yeah, it was good. I didn’t luck out with an awesome roommate like Harp did, but other than that I really liked my classes and made some good friends.
“Did you miss being home?” Catherine asks.
“Honestly, no,” she laughs. “My parents are more interested in their social lives than they are in me or Ethan.”
“You totally missed Ethan,” I call her out.
“Fine, yeah, I missed him. Before we left for school we’d always been together … it was kind of weird not seeing him every day, even though he annoys the crap out of me.”
“Well, honey, he’s a boy, so that’s a given,” Catherine laughs.
“And, that’s just what siblings do,” my mom adds. “Push your buttons like no one else can.”
“Anne, you have brothers or sisters?” Emma asks curiously.
“Yeah, I do—a sister,” my mom sighs. “We haven’t talked since I moved away, but we were really close as kids.”
“What’s her name?” Emma asks.
“Well, Ginny’s loss is our gain,” Catherine says enthusiastically.
“For realz,” Emma agrees holding her fist out. When my mom actually bumps fists with her, I can’t contain myself.
“Harp, you did not just snort.” Emma states stunned.
“OMG! What are we gonna do with you?” She teases.
“Love her just the way she is,” my mom answers smiling at me.
“Hello,” my mom answers her phone waving her hand in front of our faces. We’re in the dressing room at Anthropologie with half the sale rack surrounding us.
“Yes, this is Anne Evans.”
“Ok … uh huh … yes, ok. Thank you, Dr. Morris. Ok, I will.”
She hits end on her phone and the three of us watch her every move. I’m trying to decipher her facial expression but there’s not really one to decode.
“Anne?” Catherine breaks the tension. “Were those your results?”
“Yeah,” my mom clears her throat.
“And?” I ask feeling my muscles tense in preparation for the bad news that I’m certain she’s going to deliver.
“Clear,” she blurts. “I’m all-clear. Clean as a whistle.”
“EEEEEEEEEK!” Emma shouts clapping her hands.
I catapult myself toward my mom, my force knocking her into the wall.
“Oh my God! I’m so glad!”
“Me too,” she laughs, hugging me back. “Me too!”
“This calls for an extension on girl’s day!” Catherine announces. “Who’s in for girl’s night?
I pull away from my mom and shrug my shoulders.
“I think a night on the town is exactly what I need,” my mom smiles, hugging her friend.
“Ok, then we’ll need new outfits.” Emma announces.
“Seriously?” I groan.
“Yes, seriously.” Emma sticks her tongue out at me.
“These strawberry margaritas are delicious!” Emma says for the tenth time.
She and Catherine are sucking down their second round at our favorite Mexican restaurant.
“You’d better slow down there,” I tease. “I’m not holding your hair back tonight.
“Don’t worry so much,” Emma waves her hand dismissively.
“Fine!” I pull the margarita toward me and take a large gulp.
“Woohoo!” Emma cheers garnering stares.
“You know,” I whisper. “You might want to stop drawing attention to our table considering we’re underage.”
“Oh, yeah,” she giggles. “Good idea!”
After we’ve stuffed ourselves to the brim, we get back in the car and my mom drives us to the small downtown area where there are some bars.
“Seriously, mom?” I lean forward from the back seat. “You’re taking us to a bar?”
“Yeah, girl’s night out isn’t complete without dancing,” she says as Catherine and Emma cheer.
I’m slammed with a wall of cigarette smoke and loud music as I walk in and follow everyone to a table.
“The band’s really good,” Catherine says waving the server over. “I love this song! It reminds me of college”
“Harp, let’s dance!” Emma squeals, pulling me to the middle of the dance floor. Catherine and my mom join us and we laugh, dancing to a lineup of 80s and 90s songs until I’m soaked in sweat and my mouth is so dry I can’t speak.
I motion to my mom that I’m getting something to drink and she nods, getting Catherine and Emma to follow me back to the table.
“Will you come to the bathroom with me?” Emma asks as I suck down my replenishment.
“Yeah, let’s go,” I hop off my stool.
“Anne is so cool!” Emma says with a high-pitched, wavy voice.
“Yeah, she’s pretty cool,” I chuckle.
“And she’s so young and pretty,” she rambles. “She’s not all stuffy and old. My mom would never be caught dead in a place like this. She’d be mortified. But your mom, is just so … so … I dunno … fun!”
“Come on,” I laugh at Emma as she washes her hands. “Let’s go dance off more of that margarita.”
“Ooooh! More dancing … yay!”
“Excuse me,” I say to the man with salt and pepper hair sitting on my stool.
When he turns his head, my jaw drops to the floor.
“Doc … doctor Stewart?” my voice ratchets an octave.
“Hi Harp,” he laughs at me. “Looks like you’ve made a full recovery.”
“Must have been the terrific doctor she had,” Catherine says in a flirty voice as she winks at him. I look at her—completely horrified—and then at my mom whose face is really pale, a sign of her embarrassment.
Dr. Stewart graciously shrugs off the blatant one-liner, stands and gestures for Emma and me to sit down, so we do.
“What are you doing here?” I ask confused because the last time I saw him I was laying in a hospital bed after getting punched in the face.
“I was just telling them,” he says pointing to mom and Catherine. “I play in the band. I saw you guys dancing and thought I’d come say hi during the break.”
“You’re in the band?” I ask dumbfounded.
“He plays the drums,” Catherine pipes in.
“Your mom said that you’re going to school at Oberlin,” he addresses me.
“That’s great, I’ve heard you’re an amazing cellist. I’ll have to keep tabs on you.”
“You know, Anne plays the violin and the piano,” Catherine shares.
“Is that so?” he raises his eyebrows.
“She also sings,” Emma says. “You should hear her sing in the car … she sounds better than the actual people on the radio.”
“Well, then, maybe you’ll join us for a song tonight?” Dr. Stewart suggests.
“That’s a great idea Anne!” Emma squeals.
“I agree,” Catherine smiles at her with a mischievous sparkle in her eye.
If looks could kill, Catherine and Emma would be dead right now from the death rays shooting out of my mom’s eyes.
“Only if Harp sings with me,” she tells Dr. Stewart.
The compassion I felt for this woman a moment ago disintegrates when Catherine and Emma in unison start chirping about what a good idea that is.
“So, Harp, I guess your mom’s fate is in your hands,” Dr. Stewart jokes. “What’s it going to be?”
Ugh.I.Hate.Them … All.
“What song, Dr. Stewart?” I ask giving my mom the evil eye.
“Call me Dylan,” he says obviously amused by the four of us.
“So, Dylan,” Catherine purrs, “What song do you suggest for these two lovely ladies to sing?”
Dr. Stewart—Dylan—thinks about it while looking at my mom, “How about Brown Eyed Girl?”
Emma gasps and I whip my head to her. “Sorry,” she whispers. “It’s just so sweet—you know, that he picked that song.”
I roll my eyes.
“Harp, you know that song?” my mom asks.
“Yeah, I know it,” I snap.
An older man, who I recognize as the lead singer appears at Dr. Dylan’s side. I watch them like a detective, narrowing my eyes when the guy laughs and smacks Dr. Dylan on the back before walking toward the stage.
”Well, ladies, I’ve got to go,” he smiles that George Clooney ‘I know all your secrets smile’ and turns to my mom. “Third song in, Anne. See you up there.”
She nods her head and we all watch him walk to the stage, climb the stairs, and position himself behind his drum kit.
When I return my focus to my mom, her head is bowed, her face illuminated by a blue-ish glow.
“Ow!” she screeches, jerking her head up from her phone.
She gives Catherine a glare that would rival Elizabeth Taylor, but Catherine isn’t fazed. She raises her eyebrows and keeps her eyes on my mom.
Finally my mom gives in and rolls her eyes. “Ok, fine … say whatever it is the two of you are dying to say,” she points between Catherine and Emma.
They both start talking at the same time and we all laugh. Catherine proceeds first, “Anne, that man likes you … like likes you.”
“OMG Anne, he’s so dreamy … and he’s a doctor … and he plays the drums,” Emma coos. “Dr. Dylan is hot!”
“Well, thanks to you two for being so obvious,” my mom says sarcastically.
“And you,” she scowls at me. “You weren’t supposed to agree to sing, you were my sure way out of this, so even though I’d like to blame those two, I can’t. I blame you for this.”
Out of nowhere, the waitress slides fresh drinks across the table. Before Catherine can take a drink of her cheap chardonnay, I grab her glass and take a gulp. There’s no way I’m getting on that stage without some liquid courage.
After I set the almost-empty glass down, my mom hands me her phone and my angst fades because she’s pulled up the lyrics to Brown Eyed Girl.
“You good?” I ask handing her the phone back after scrolling through the lines. She nods, downing what’s left of the wine. “This is the second song in the set … we’d better look alive.”
I glare at Emma and Catherine, whose faces are plastered with Cheshire cat grins, before following my mom to the center of the dance floor where we sway to the beat of the music.
Before I know it, the lead singer announces a special guest performance-our cue. We climb the stairs on the right side of the stage and walk in front of the bass guitarist.
My mom glances over at Dr. Dylan, and hands him a napkin. He looks at it before giving her an appreciative head-to-toe once-over that I’d like to erase from my memory.
I’ve performed in front of hundreds of people before, but not only that, I’ve also performed in front of the toughest critics. None of that has me feeling the amount of nerves I’m feeling right now, on a stage, in front of fifty people in this hole in the wall bar.
My mom leans into me, and whispers the key in my ear. I swivel my head around left to right … the guys in the band all look the same—middle aged yet young at heart.
When my head stops dead center, in front of the dance floor, my mom weaves her hand into mine. Her eyes are twinkling, and the corner of her mouth curves into a slight ‘give ‘em hell’ smile.
On this stage, with her … it’s miles—no light years-from where we were a little over a year ago when there was no balance in our lives or our relationship with each other.
The band begins and it’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. The bass guitar reverberates with such power that my normal heartbeat punches an irregular rhythm inside my chest. The drums hammer the beat, and then my mom’s voice enters the mix. My whole body is wired physically and emotionally.
She sings the first verse, eyes closed as she hits each note with perfect pitch and when her eyes open, the raw strength of her voice mesmerizes me so much that I miss my cue. She looks at me, nods her head and I jump in and harmonize the rest of the bridge.
Our individual voices complement each other, neither one overtaking the other. Instead, as we listen to each other, we adjust our tone … our dynamics … rolling and dipping to enhance each other’s voice.
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HARP’S VOICE Release Facebook Party!
Let’s Celebrate! You’re invited to Cassie Shine’s HARP’S VOICE Release Facebook Party on Saturday, June 28th at 5PM PDT (8PM EDT). Join Cassie for a fun-filled celebration with a lot of giveaways and special guests!
RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/773630852657150
***Any contestant that uses dummy or contest only accounts to enter will be disqualified.***