Hi guys, I trust you all had a lovely weekend whether you celebrated Valentines day with a loved one or spent the day with your book boyfriends/girlfriends.
Today on the blog I’ll be sharing an excerpt from a previously self-published and successful author, Cherie M. Hudson’s book, Unconditional! Yay for self-published authors, they’re slowly taking over the writing scene by storm.
Twenty-one. The age when adult life begins. In my case, it’s the age I learned my future sucked, big time, and there was nothing I could do about it. Every minute of every day I face the fact my life is only going to get worse. Why? Because I have early-onset Parkinson’s Disease. I’m not going to let it get me down, but I also can’t let anyone close. That’s not fair to them, or to me. Trust me. So that means my heart and my soul is off-limits.
But then I traveled to Australia on a college scholarship program and life royally screwed me over. Again.
Raphael Jones is an arrogant Australian celebrity, the hottest guy on campus and a pain in my ass. Worst of all, he makes me ache for a life I’ll never be able to have. Especially when he takes me in his arms and does wicked things to my body.
How do I have a hope of surviving ten weeks in Australia when it’s not just the paparazzi who have me in their sights, but Raph as well? Because Raphael Jones is a man who always gets what he wants. And no matter what I say or do, he refuses to accept what I so painfully know: a life and future with me is no life at all.”
Australia was not what I was expecting. Sure, I hadn’t even made it out of the airport, but still, where were the kangaroos? The koalas? Where were the hot guys walking around in Speedos? Where were the Tim Tams? Didn’t those delicious chocolate cookies fall from the sky over here? I’m sure I’d read that somewhere? Or maybe I’d dreamt it.
I must admit, the second I’d learned I’d won my college’s scholarship to study Environment Studies abroad—and by abroad, I mean a gazillion miles away from Plenty, Ohio, my hometown and the only world I’d ever known—I’d been experiencing weird dreams about Australia.
In one, I was dating a kangaroo that sounded like Chris Hemsworth. I remember waking in the morning stroking my pillow with the words “You had me at g’day,” whispering through my head. In another dream, a shark called Bruce kept trying to take a bath with me.
See what I mean? Weird dreams. I chalked them up to nerves. Winning the scholarship, partly funded by Plenty’s only college, partly funded by the University of Sydney, was a double-edged sword.
On one razor-sharp side there was the awesomeness of winning the scholarship in the first place. Mind you, winning makes it sound like luck had something to do with it, which it didn’t. Hard work, long hours studying, zero time socializing, movies missed, days and days researching, so many days I sometimes forgot what the sun looked like. That’s what earned me the scholarship. That, and my passion for the environment.
I’m what my folks call a tree-hugging greenie. Well, my mom calls me that. My dad—who had grown up in Australia and moved to the US when he met Mom during a vacation in LA—has been dead for over three years now. Killed when a drunk driver ran off the road and struck him and our dog as they were jogging.
I was a tree-hugging greenie wrapped up in the unassuming guise of a twenty-two-year-old hometown girl who still had bangs and wore pigtails on the weekend. Who still ate peanut butter straight from the jar and loved watching Sleepy Hollow and Glee when she wasn’t studying environmental degradation and its impact on wildlife the world over.
On the other even sharper side of the damn blade was the fact I had to fly a whole day to get to Australia. Did I mention I’d never been outside of Plenty? I did mention a drunk driver killed my dad and my dog only a few years ago, right? Leaving my mom a widow?
Did I mention my mom suffers from Parkinson’s disease?
Did I mention I do as well?
No on the last two, huh? Sorry about that.
Yeah, I’m a shaker. But I’ve got it under control. Good meds, meditation, tai chi, and did I mention good meds? Add them together and I’m okay. Mom, however, isn’t. And with me being on the other side of the world, who’s going to help her up when she falls down? Which she does. Often.
She told me to go, that’s why I’m here. She demanded I go. But being this far away from her … God, I don’t even …
Sorry. Didn’t mean to get maudlin. Long and short of it, Mom has Parkinson’s. She’s alone and I’m here because I’ve never seen her so proud as when I won that scholarship. How could I not go?
But now that I was here—and I was excited to be, I really was—where were the kangaroos? Even a stuffed one on a pedestal or something. And more to the point, where was my passport?
Oh my God, where was my passport? I was about to go through Australian customs in about twenty seconds and I couldn’t find my passport. It was in my bag on the plane. So where was it now?
I started at the deep, authoritarian command, and shot the man behind the counter a harried look.
I shook my head.
He raised his eyebrows and beckoned for me to approach.
I swallowed. Suddenly aware my fingers were shaking, I clenched my fist. Was it nerves? Or—
The customs official was now frowning at me. A prickling pressure at the back of my neck told me my fellow travelers were probably glaring. Why wouldn’t they be? I’d be glaring too at the idiot who was rooted to the spot and holding up the line that allowed you to enter the country you’d just flown over nineteen hours to get to.
I swallowed again. Cleared my throat. Squeezed my fist—crap, I really was shaking—and stepped forward.
The man behind the counter gave me an expectant look. “Passport?”
During the nineteen-hour flight over, I’d passed the time by imagining my first few moments in Australia. In my admittedly sleep-deprived fantasy, the customs official who granted me access would sound like the kangaroo I dated in my dreams. Yes, I will admit now, I have a thing for Chris Hemsworth. But how could I not? Have you looked at him? Is there a sexier, hotter guy on the planet? No, I don’t think so. Anyway, the customs official of my dreams would smile at me and tell me I looked amazing after such a long flight.
I didn’t, by the way. My hair was flat and greasy, my eyes were scratchy and puffy, and I’d managed to spill most of the coffee the flight attendant had given me somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, somewhere around three am, all over my shirt. Or maybe it had been two pm? Who the hell knew? Helpful tip if you’re planning on any long-haul flights—don’t wear a white T-shirt, no matter how cute you think you look in it. It’s a bad idea.
So, going back to my mid-flight fantasy … I’m greeted by a super-hot customs official who tells me I look amazing, just as a camera crew from one of those travel shows runs over and asks me if I mind being interviewed about being an American college student in Australia. Added to that, they also inform me Chris Hemsworth is in the airport and wonder if I’d like to meet him. He’s researching a role in a movie about the plight of the dingo in the outback and has read my paper about the environment and native animals online and wants to talk about it with me.
In that fantasy, I had my passport.
In reality, I had no idea where it was. God, how could I lose it between the plane and—
Hope you guys enjoyed that. It’s funny to read about Australia from a character’s point of view. What did you think of the cliches of Australia? 😛