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
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.”
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?
Prologue – HARP’S VOICE
(Anne Evans – Past)
Today Harp received her high school diploma. Happiness, sadness, guilt and hope were ping ponging through me as her name was called and she walked across the stage.
It was hard not to let the sadness and guilt override the happiness and hope, but that has been a constant struggle since I confronted her. The day I arrived at her District solo performance, there was a big chance she wouldn’t listen to me. It was risky, a big step; one my therapist urged me to take.
I knew she was right—it was time to make amends. I had finally purged all the details of my sexual assault—after seventeen years—and admitted that Harp was the product of that offense.
Even though I had suffered with the burden of that secret, and the memories of that night—that man—Harp had suffered far worse.
She was innocent; a beautiful, fresh, clean soul who didn’t get the love-the mother-she deserved, because I was blinded by hate … and for that, I will always feel guilty.
The human spirit is an inexplicable thing. There are people, like me, people that get knocked down and can’t get up. People that wallow in the pain that put them there, they let it fester and pull them further and further into oblivion. Then there are those who get pummeled, yet rise and repeat the process over and over again. That’s my daughter.
Even as a child, she never let me ruin her. Years of neglect, verbal and physical abuse would push her to the floor, but the next day she would rise, as if she were surrounded by angels—their love cocooning her and making her stronger.
Since the day I told her that the man who raped me was her father, and now, also my brother-in-law, I watched her struggle. It was as if we were in the third round of a boxing match, with only twenty seconds left and that was the last blow … but it wasn’t.
It was, however, the one that left her on her knees and vulnerable with her arms tangled in the ropes.
She wasn’t knocked out, but she couldn’t get back up, instead she was in limbo. Ditching her friends, her support system, and leaning on people who used her.
Dropping the news of my breast cancer was the last blow though. It was the one that sent her to the mat … she was done and shrouded herself in misery and doubt.
When she ended up in the hospital after being struck in a bar fight, I sat by her bed and prayed with more conviction than I’d ever had before. Then, I shamelessly and selfishly begged. I begged those angels—who I was convinced had taken a sabbatical—to come back and protect my daughter-to guide her, to enlighten her.
As I watched her accept her diploma of freedom, I knew those angels had heard me because she was glowing. She was happy from the inside out.
We’ve confessed our wrongs to each other (mainly mine) and we will continue to purge our feelings. It will be a bumpy road, but it’s the only way we can begin to forgive, and ultimately heal.
About Cassie Shine
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.***