Notes From The Backseat (Red Dress Ink Novels)

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9780373895489: Notes From The Backseat (Red Dress Ink Novels)

It s either Willa Cather or blondecide, I guess.

I thought I knew everything about Gwen Matson. We ve been best friends since sophomore year at Analy High. I know her to be smart and confident with a retro style that would give Jackie O. a run for her money. (Albeit a graceful, sweat-free run in kitten heels).

Not once did she ever display a rabid need to record every detail of her existence. But never before had she gone on a weekend road trip with her amazing boyfriend Coop...and his evil, yoga-toned best friend, Devil Blonde Dannika. Now she s writing to me like mad.

Not that I'm complaining. I m in gay Paree (good), meeting my future in-laws (bad), so her tireless scribbling is keeping us both sane.

Usually, a well thought-out What Would Jackie Do? helps Gwen pull it together. But this crisis is beyond help. I know Gwen and Coop are meant to be, but can their love withstand Gwen's psycho jealously and Dannika's twisted sabotage?

And what do you do when you re just watching it all unfold from the backseat, over 3,000 miles away?

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Jody Gehrman teaches writing at Mendocino College in Northern California. Unlike her heroine, she has never perused Victoria s Secret in class, she s never had a crush on a student and she is well aware that syllabi cannot be purchased on Amazon. Notes from the Backseat is her third novel. Visit her at www.jodygehrman.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

My best friend, Gwen, talks like an auctioneer when she's excited. Her hands f lit about and her mouth moves so rapidly she's already halfway through the story by the time you can say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up. Start at the beginning." Her mind has a tendency to race ahead, and getting her to explain anything in a simple, chronological sequence is almost impossible. This time, though, she spelled it all out pretty clearly, with only occasional lapses into stream-of-consciousness neuroses peppered with expletives. Who could blame her for those little slips though, when the Creature from Planet Blonde was treating her like the gassy old family dog, making her ride in the backseat for thirteen hours on twisty coastal roads, filling her head with suspicions about Coop, who's probably the only man in the western hemisphere with the body of a rock star but the heart of a—

Oh, wait. I'm doing it now, too, aren't I? Okay, let me back up a little.

I was packing for Paris when I realized I had absolutely nothing to wear. It was one of those dry-mouthed, cold-sweat moments that sometimes hit you when you're leaving the country in less than twenty-four hours with your very French fiancé to meet his upper-crust Parisian parents. We were staying for a month and so far I'd packed my favorite pair of threadbare plaid pajamas, the oversized Mickey Mouse T-shirt I've been wearing since I was twelve, a pair of ancient Levi's with four patches sewn into the butt and my toothbrush. I'm not very schooled in the art of fashion, but even I knew I couldn't very well make a glamorous impression with that wardrobe—at least, not without accessorizing heavily.

There was no question. I had to see Gwen, stat.

A little background: I met Gwen twelve years ago, during our sophomore year at Analy High. I was the new kid, walking around with that dazed, I'm-never-going-to-survive-until-three-o'clock catatonic stare. The minute I stepped foot in the Home Ec room I spotted her and my listless I-don't-care-if-you-talk-to-me-or-not mask slipped away just like that. The morning sunlight through the dirty windows lit her like a starlet waiting for her close-up. She was wearing leopard-print kitten heels and a boxy 1950's pink wool suit. At her throat was a strand of pearls, matching earrings shone from the dark, meticulously arranged sweep of her shoulder-length bob. But here was the touch that rendered her truly surreal—the over-the-top Gwenism that made me wonder if I'd stumbled through a metaphysical portal and come out in 1957: on her head was a pillbox hat. It sat at just the right, casually precise, slightly f lirtatious angle, and I could tell by her smirk that she knew the effect was dazzling.

Gwen Matson's reputation at Analy High could be summed up in two words: total freak. Everyone there considered her a tragic example of what could happen if you were just a little too weird to be cool. She was cuter, smarter and better dressed than anyone at that small town school—she was even valedictorian and yearbook editor—but the popular kids treated her like a leper because she insisted on walking around in pillbox hats, patent leather shoes and kid gloves. This was the nineties and Grunge was King. Gwen was the anti-Grunge; she'd sooner set her own hair on fire than don a f lannel shirt.

In sharp contrast to Gwen's stubborn eccentricity, I was a die-hard conformist. Gwen's willingness to stand out terrified me, so much so that I was afraid, in those first few seconds, to befriend her. I hesitated there in the doorway of that stuffy Home Ec room, hovering between my just-try-not-to-be-noticed past and the bright pink future of a friendship with Gwen. I guess her allure was more powerful than my fear, because I stepped forward and said in a small, trembling voice, "Hi. My name's Marla." She seized my pale fingers and we shook hands like the wives of ambassadors meeting on the steps of the White House. "Gwen Matson," she said. "Charmed, I'm sure."

As soon as we finished high school we ditched that northern California hippie town and headed off to UCLA together. I studied modern dance—a useless degree, but I couldn't help myself. I'm very impractical. It's one of the few things Gwen and I have in common, though for me it manifests in a rather crippling inability to make a decent living. Gwen's impractical in a different way; she'll pack four mink stoles, three pairs of stilettos, a satin gown and a cigarette holder for a trip to my Colorado hunting cabin in December. She doesn't even smoke. On the career front, though, Gwen's impressively together. She double majored in business and costume design. Now, at twenty-eight, she owns a beautiful little vintage clothing store in Los Feliz and she designs for a handful of little theatre and indie film companies scattered throughout L.A. It's widely understood that Gwen only designs for period pieces, and only when the period is somewhere between 1952 and 1963. Everyone's learned not to even call her unless their show falls between those dates; otherwise, their Juliets always end up looking suspiciously like Jackie O.

Determined to solicit Gwen's professional advice, I left my barely packed suitcase gaping open on my bed and drove east from Santa Monica toward Los Feliz. On the way, I stopped at a Rite Aid and bought a few things I'd need for the trip: Visine, mascara, ear plugs, a French manicure kit (when in Rome...). On my way to the register I passed through the stationary aisle and a small leather-bound book caught my eye. It looked completely out of place there amidst the juvenile primary-colored spiral-bound notebooks and plastic neon pencil boxes. It had a soft, buttery cover and the pages felt substantial as I f lipped through them. I couldn't find a price tag, but I stuck it in my plastic shopping basket anyway. It was an impulse buy, like the Snickers bar or Cosmo you snag just before you reach the checkout—it had the same reckless, slightly sinful f lavor, even though I wouldn't normally classify a blank book as indulgent.

When I got to the register, the girl rang up everything else, her long, clawlike fingernails f lying over the keys with practiced ease. When she got to the journal, though, she stood snapping her gum, f lipping it this way and that with a puzzled look. "Where'd you get this?" She had a thick accent, maybe Puerto Rican.

"Um—stationary aisle," I said.

"This is not a product we carry."

I furrowed my brow. "But...it was there. On the shelf."

"I don't know what this is." She snapped her gum some more, then called out to a short, acne-ridden boy at the next register. "Hey, Tom, you know what this is?"

The boy glanced over his shoulder. "Looks like some kind of book." He went back to ringing up an endless pile of Huggies for a sad-eyed mother.

All at once I could see they weren't going to sell it to me, and the thought made me feel oddly bereaved—even a little desperate. "You know what? I just realized. That's my journal. I bought it at a bookstore down the street." I reached out and yanked it from her, laughing my most convincing vapid laugh.

She looked suspicious, but only shook her head in a way that communicated her thoughts on the subject perfectly ("Why didn't you say so in the first place, bitch?"). She announced my total and handed me my receipt. I escaped with the mysterious book tucked safely inside the white plastic sack, feeling as if I'd gotten away with something.

I'm not religiously inclined, but I do believe in fate and omens and mysterious forces pulsing just under the surface of our painfully normal lives. Looking back on it, I see myself as a messenger that day, a delivery girl, probably one of millions, transporting a necessary object from one place to another. I was like an ant, clutching a crumb in my pincers, following my instincts blindly, all the while working for the good of the colony.

I had no way of knowing that little leather-bound journal would save my friend's life. Well, her love life, at least—which maybe, in the end, is the same thing.

I pushed the glass door open and the bells jangled brightly, drawing Gwen's attention. She was at the counter in a bold black-and-white spiral-print sheath. In one gloved hand she gripped her phone—the retro kind that makes you think immediately of Marlene Dietrich in a feather boa, lounging on satin sheets. Her lips were painted that old-fashioned cherry red that no one under the age of eighty can pull off. Except Gwen, of course.

"So, tomorrow, then?" she was saying into the phone as her eyes followed me around the store. I was browsing, but without much intent. I knew I would have to surrender to her superior taste if I was going to pack a suitcase filled with Paris-worthy ensembles. "Eight o'clock? You think she can get here from San Diego that early?" There was a pause. Gwen played with the rhinestone earring in her hand. She considers pierced ears gauche and always removes her right clip-on before answering the phone, just like the women of film noir. "Okay, great. I guess I'll see you then. Can't wait. Bye."

"Was that Coop?" I asked as she hung up.

She nodded, looking dazed. "Oh my God, Marla. What am I going to do?"

"About what?"

She let out a gusty sigh and adjusted the white scarf at her throat as if she found it suddenly constricting. "We're leaving for our trip tomorrow."

"Oh, right—to Mendocino?"

She nodded, and I noticed then that she'd gone utterly pale. I let go of the wool blazer I'd been examining and went to the counter. "What is it, G? I thought you were really looking forward to that."

"Was looking forward to it, yes. Not now."

I folded my arms. "Uh-oh. What month is this?" She rolled her eyes. "Yes, we've been dating three months, but—"

"Gwen, don't do this. You always do this."

She slapped the counter and her gloved palm made a hollow thudding sound against the glass. "I'm not doing anything! Guess whose retreat got canceled because the swami kicked it?"

"What?" She was losing me, here.

"Oh, God." She yanked at her scarf again, this time more violently. "I'm going to have a panic attack...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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