When Emily Parker leaves her small hometown in the late 1980s for California West University, she thinks she has it all figured out. But when manipulation, vanity, and pleasure enter her life in the form of a whirlwind college romance, will she stay true to herself? Add the watchful eye of an older brother who also attends Cal West, friends who care too much, a strenuous class load and part-time job, and throw in a young, interested professor. Emily’s path to adulthood challenges her at every turn.
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When I first met Emily she was no more than a wisp of imagination. A flash really. I was just drifting off to sleep when I first saw her. A girl, young and beautiful, stood in front of the mirror. Not staring to admire herself but instead taking inventory. Slightly confused and a little intimidated by her new life. At the same time outwardly confident.
Today she’s made herself at home in my life. I’ve watched her learn and grow. I’ve been by her side as she has journeyed from a sometimes confident high school senior through college to a self-sufficient woman. Along the way she’s struggled to understand life and love and independence. She’s smart and feisty, but that doesn’t stop her from getting into trouble and wondering if she made the right choices.
As with all authors, there’s a bit of me in Emily – and I’m willing to bet, a bit of you in her too.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt.
Spanish class was next. I had taken four years of high school Spanish, so at least something was familiar. It was a second year college level course but it didn’t intimidate me. I found a spot, again somewhere in the middle of the room: this class was smaller than Oceanography but still bigger than Design 101. As people settled into their seats, the teacher came through the door surrounded by a cloud of disarray and incense, pulling a rolling cart full of books and papers. In a bright orange, pink and black poncho, she was a sight. Her voice was full and rich and it seemed to match the long, curly mane of black hair flowing down her back. She spoke only Spanish: this class was beginning with the jolt of my previous classes. She handed a stack of what had to be the class syllabus to the first person in each row to pass back. (Of course I didn’t know the Spanish word for “syllabus.”) As the guy in front of me turned to hand me the stack, I reached up. The stack slipped through my fingers to the floor. Oh, I was such a dope! I silently turned in my seat to pick up the papers when he bent over to help.
“I’m sorry, I let go too soon,” he said, kneeling to help me.
“No, it was totally me,” I said, shaking my head. Yep, I’m a klutz. I stretched for the three pages on the floor to my right before I looked up at him.
“Well, I don’t know about that, but if you say so.” One corner of his mouth curved up into an impish smile. He handed me the sheets that fell in the opposite direction. Then I realized he looked familiar. Had I met him? No. I didn’t think so. I smiled back wondering why his face seemed so…then I remembered: he was the guy who offered to help me when I must have looked completely lost my first day.
“You know.” He stacked the rest of the papers on my desk. “I might need some help.” What? I thought. Did he remember too?
“Yeah.” He pointed to the stack in my hand. “Figuring out what that says.” OK. Probably not.
I took my first look at the syllabus and saw it was entirely in Spanish. Great! I hoped I could read it. When I looked up again, his smile widened and for a flash. I felt my cheeks heat up.
“I’m Graham,” he said extending his hand. I reached over and opened my mouth to respond as I heard the girl behind me clear her throat.