Today I am so pleased to welcome Lilah Suzanne to Joyfully Jay. Lilah Suzanne has come to talk to share an exclusive mini story set in the world of her latest release, Blended Notes (Spotlight Series 3). She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Blended Notes author Lilah Suzanne shares a short story about the moment that her protagonist, country music star Grady Dawson, first acted on his feeling that there was more to romance than girls.
Somewhere in the middle of seventh grade, Grady notices girls noticing him. His voice has gotten deeper recently, his shoulders broadening. He’s grown taller than most boys his age, but not all of them. Normal tall, not freakishly tall. At home, Grady scrutinizes his face in the bathroom mirror, rubs his fingertips across barely-there wisps of blond facial hair. Memaw says he’s very handsome, but of course she has to say that. Still, she may be on to something.
At the parties he suddenly finds himself invited to, Grady ends up in closets and kitchen pantries and far off dark corners with girls who look right past him at school. He lives in a trailer park and gets in trouble all the time and wears clothes from Goodwill, so he’ll always only ever be a social outcast. Yet making out with him has become some sort of teenage girl rebellion merit badge. Getting drunk and fooling around with Grady Dawson at a party: check. He doesn’t mind, only he does actually.
It’s not just girls who notice his looks now, as it turns out. Kyle Maloney lives in his neighborhood, has a Playstation, a dad that isn’t around, and a mom that works two jobs. Sometimes they’ll steal cheap beer from the gas station down the street before they hang out at Kyle’s house, but today they only managed to lift a cigarette from his mom’s purse before she left for her night job. They play Crash Bandicoot and pass the Virginia Slim between them until Grady announces, “This is game is stupid.”
“You just think that ‘cuz you suck,” Kyle responds without any heat, cigarette dangling from his lips. He switches it out for a racing game then asks, “You hooked up with Maddie H?”
Grady takes his time selecting a car, switching through all the options three times before replying with feigned ignorance, “She the one with red hair?” Like he doesn’t know who Maddie H is, like she isn’t one of the most popular girls in school.
“No, brown,” Kyle says. “Pick somethin’ Grady, damn.”
Grady selects a car. “Oh yeah. Yeah, I did.”
“Nice,” Kyle says. He works his jaw like he’s about to say something else but can’t bring himself to, like Grady does when he gets called on in class and sort of wants to answer but doesn’t want to get called on again for knowing the answers even more.
They race through several tracks and finish the cigarette and Grady is getting restless and annoyed, itching to do something stupid. His Memaw will come looking for him soon and he can’t stand being in that trailer with Grandaddy as sick as he is, like they’re both just waiting around for him to die. Maybe Kyle will let him stay the night again.
“Would you ever like—“ Kyle blurts suddenly. “Do that stuff with a guy? Like, just to mess around.”
For a second, Grady is sure that Kyle knows. He knows somehow that Grady likes boys in the same way he likes girls and he knows all the stuff that Grady thinks about alone in his bed and all the stuff he’s looked up on the computer. But it’s Kyle who looks panicked; avoiding eye contact with his cheeks bright red, his hands are tightly gripping the game controllers and shaking so much that he keeps running his car off the track and into the sidewalls.
Grady licks his lips. What if it’s a trap? What if Kyle just wants to humiliate him? Grady scoots closer and waits to see if Kyle scoots away. When he doesn’t Grady asks, “Can I sleep over?”
“Wha— I guess—“ Kyle fumbles. Grady takes a chance and presses his knee against Kyle’s knee, then puts his hand there, too. Kyle swallows, turns to face Grady and whispers, “Okay, yeah.”
He pauses the game.
“Picture it,” Grady starts, walking backward down the center aisle. “It’s late fall, no more heat or humidity or afternoon rain.” Nico tips his head at Grady as he gestures at the tree branches above him. “We’ll hang origami cranes from the branches. Didn’t you say something about that? Cranes?”
Nico’s arms uncross and fall open. “I did.”
“And we can string ropes with paper lanterns all across here,” Grady continues, sweeping his arms over the space above the benches. There’s a large, flat rock to the right of the tree-branch wedding altar. “We can set the band here. Or a harp?”
Nico nods, slowly making his way down the aisle. Grady’s throat tightens. “A band,” Nico says. “Just acoustic guitars.”
He’s playing along, and Grady is reinvigorated. “Yes. And we can decorate this with flowers, maybe?”
“Vines,” Nico counters. “I like the symbolism: strength, perseverance. The cranes mean commitment and longevity.”
It’s not the tedium of wedding planning or the boredom of the seemingly pointless minutia that makes Grady want to skip ahead to the <em>I do’s; </em>it’s how overwhelmingly and completely he loves this man and wants to commit his life to him—all of it, good and bad, ups and downs, sickness and health. His life is a lot, <em>he</em> is a lot, yet somehow he found Nico who is still here, pinning down the details of their happily ever after, despite everything.
“We can come in at the same time from either side,” Grady says, once Nico has joined him on the raised platform beneath the arch. He clears his throat to loosen the sudden thickness in his voice. “And we’ll say the vows that we wrote ourselves—”
“Oh, no, are we doing that?” Nico interrupts, spinning on his heel. “You write songs! That’s not fair; yours will be so much better than mine.” Nico clicks his tongue and flashes a hint of a smile.
“Yeah, they will,” Grady teases back. “Not a dry eye in the house, guaranteed.” He exaggerates his accent on the last word, hillbilly-style. Nico laughs, and Grady takes his hands.
“It’ll be something like: Have you ever had a moment when you looked at someone and the whole world disappeared?” Hamming it up, he glances at the imaginary audience, then turns more seriously to Nico. “Even though we were on a red carpet in Hollywood with cameras and superstars—and their entourages and egos—” Nico laughs, but Grady doesn’t. “Even with all that craziness, all I saw was you. And I knew I had to meet you. And then after I met you, I knew I had to get to know you more. And after I got to know you, I knew I had to kiss you. And after I kissed you—” He pauses again, not for effect, but to cope with the swell of emotion in his chest. “After I kissed you, I knew that I had to find some way to keep kissing you for the rest of my life.”
Grady Dawson’s future looks bright. He’s at the top of his country music career, has a close-knit group of friends who have become his Nashville family, and has found solid ground in his personal life as he plans his intimate, private wedding with Nico, his stylist-turned-lover, turned love of his life. It seems Grady has finally left his difficult childhood and tumultuous youth behind. That is, until his past shows up on his doorstep, news of his upcoming nuptials is leaked to the media, and his record company levels demands that challenge his integrity as an artist and as a person. The foundation of Grady’s new life begins to crumble, and fast. Will he be forced to make the ultimate choice between a private life with Nico and the public demands of his career?
Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer from North Carolina, she spends most of her time behind a computer screen, but on the rare occasion she ventures outside she enjoys museums, libraries, live concerts, and quiet walks in the woods. Lilah is the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, Broken Records, and Burning Tracks.
Lilah has brought 5 Blended Notes eBooks and $25 IP Web Store Credit Grand Prize to give away along her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- By entering you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out by Rafflecopter for entries.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Void where prohibited by law.