My Life Undecided (Deleted Opening)

My Life Undecided Deleted Chapters

So I was going through some old book files the other day and guess what I found!?

The original deleted opening of MY LIFE UNDECIDED!

So I thought it would be fun to post it!

These two chapters take place before the infamous party that the book now opens with (the one that lands Brooklyn in the backseat of a police car). As you’ll see, a LOT has changed since this very early draft.

In this version, Hunter Wallace Hamilton III is already Brooklyn’s boyfriend when the story opens (which is not the case in the final book), Brooklyn’s parents are the owners of a new restaurant (in the final version, her mother is a real estate developer), and I should also warn readers that this opening is a tad more “risque” than the finished book. It deals with issues of virginity, alcohol, eating disorders, and fake IDs.

I remember scrapping this whole original opening and just starting WITH the party and all the consequences of it because this opening was feeling too slow to me. Not enough happened. It seemed to be a lot of character building and back story, which inevtibaly helped me to discover who Brooklyn and Shayne were. So I guess I could chalk this up to more of a “character exploration exercise” in the end. Some of the text (as well as the title of the first chapter) did end up in the final book, as you might remark.

You might be asking why I chose to change Brooklyn’s boyfriend situation moving forward. I decided to make Brooklyn single at the onset of the story instead of already dating Hunter for two reasons: 1) I thought her being single really emphasized her self-perceived inferiority to Shayne and 2) I wanted to use Hunter later in the story as an appealing “option” to play on the theme of “choice.” So I decided to make him a new student from the South who had just moved to town and whom Brooklyn meets just after being dumped by Shayne early in the finished book.

Okay, so there you have it. I hope you enjoy these never-before-released deleted chapters from the VERY early draft of MY LIFE UNDECIDED. (Disclaimer! These are unedited, unproofed!)

Read more about MY LIFE UNDECIDED and watch the trailer here. And don’t miss the free BONUS prequel story, told from Brian’s point of view, which can be downloaded for your Kindle, or Nook!

1. Shayne’s World

“Trust me, it’s going to be insane.” Shayne slides into the orange vinyl Taco Bell booth next to me with her oversized plate of Nachos Bellgrande and her Diet Coke—a contradiction I’ve always noticed, but never dared point out. “Like insane insane.”

I nod and chew on the end of my straw, pretending to mull it over. Although the contemplation is really just a pretense. There is nothing to think about. If Shayne Kingsley thinks it’s a good idea, it’s a good idea. Why anyone would ever challenge anything she had to say is beyond me. Which I suppose was a good thing. The less required thinking on my part, the better.

“Well,” she prompts, picking up a loaded chip and taking a dainty, drip-free bite out of one end. Shayne is the only person I know who can eat an entire plate of Nachos Bellgrande without getting dirty. Not even so much of a hint of a cheese drizzle on her chin. And don’t get me started on the calorie count. I don’t even want to know where she puts all that food she eats.

“Well, yeah!” I reply, as if the answer were obvious. And it is. As I’ve already explained.

“Right?” she answers back.

“Genius,” I confirm with a resolute nod of my head. I reach out and break a miniscule piece of a chip from her plate and pop it in my mouth. Oh my God, it tastes heavenly. Like an explosion of salty corn goodness. My taste buds are rejoicing.

I haven’t eaten anything but a completely unsatisfying mixture of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper for the past two days. I read in one of the tabloids that it helped some celebrity lose 20 pounds in like two weeks. I’m trying to fit into this amazing pair of size zero designer jeans that Shayne gave me last week because she deemed them to be, after only one wear, way too big for her. And after a preface like that, there’s no way in hell I’m going to admit that I could only get the zipper half way up. I figure a few more days of drinking the funky lemonade and those jeans will be as good as buttoned.

“So, then you’re in?” she asks, polishing off another 200-calorie chip.

“Of course, I’m in,” I declare and then slightly less confidently ask, “How many people is a ‘a few?’”

Shayne shrugs as she chews. “You know, a few.”

I nod as if this answers my question as Shayne claps her hands together excitedly. “Oh, this is going to be so awesome.”

“What’s going to be so awesome?”

I look up to see my boyfriend, Hunter Wallace Hamilton III, having just returned from the bathroom, sliding back into the booth next to me. Okay, I don’t actually call him Hunter Wallace Hamilton III on a regular basis. I just like introducing him that way. Because it sounds better. You know, like, prestigious. Names with numbers on the end are hot. As is the guy now sitting next to me with his arm casually draped over my shoulder. His family moved to town five months ago from Atlanta and since then, he’s all anyone at school can talk about. Once I found out that he was a “the third,” I knew I had to date him. Shayne expertly orchestrated the set-up and we’ve been together ever since.

“We’re having a little get together at Brooks’ house on Saturday night.” Shayne tells him. “You know just a few people.” She turns and gives me a quick wink.

Hunter raises an inquisitive eyebrow in my direction. “Really?”

Shayne answers for me. “Yes. And you’re in charge of scoring the refreshments.”

“Refreshments for what?” Billy Watkins asks, appearing beside our booth with an overflowing tray of soft tacos. Seriously, there are so many on there, some are actually teetering dangerously over the side. The intoxicating smell wafts across the small space between us and cruelly taunts my taste buds.

God, I’m hungry.

“Saturday night. My place.” I inform him as I take another sip from my cup of highly disappointing Taco Bell tap water and try to imagine it’s a milk shake.

“And your parents are cool with this?” Hunter asks me, shooting me an uncertain look.

I open my mouth to speak but once again, Shayne beats me to the punch. “Her parents are flying out to Boston on Friday morning to visit Izzie at Harvard,” she pronounces the name of the school in this pompous, snooty accent, as if it’s one of the Queen of England’s prestigious hunting chateaus.

“Sweet!” Billy slides into the booth next to Shayne and presses himself up against her. “I’ve been waiting to get some alone time with you,” he breathes.

Shayne scrunches up her face in disgust and pushes him off her. “Gross. Save it for your Tacos.”

As much as Shayne plays the “annoyed” card around all of her doting suitors, I know for a fact that she relishes in the attention. It’s part of her MO. She’s made out with a least a dozen guys at our school since the beginning of the year but will she go out with any of them? Never. Because as long as you keep everyone at an arm’s length, you’ll always give off the impression of being perused. And there’s nothing Shayne likes better than being pursued.

Billy shrugs off her rejection and happily begins unwrapping the first of his gazillion tacos, polishing it off in two enormous bites before moving on to the next one.  I know it will only be a matter of seconds before Shayne notices his shift in focus and remedies the situation.

And sure enough, a few moments later, she reaches out and coyly flicks at Billy’s earlobe, skillfully redirecting his attention right back to her.

She can be really fascinating to watch sometimes. Inspiring even. Being the most popular girl in our class is a full-time job. One that she’s managed to make look easy for nearly three years running.

“So, Hunter,” Shayne says, wiping her fingertips on her napkin. “You think you can score us some good stuff with that fancy fake Georgia Driver’s License of yours?”

He shrugs. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Actually,” I interject, seeing my moment to be a hero and jumping on it. “My parents always keep lots of alcohol on hand at the restaurant. I could probably swipe something from the store room before they leave. I doubt they’ll notice one bottle.”

“Score!” Billy shouts, launching his hand into the air and receiving an ecstatic high five from Hunter.

“You sure know how to turn a guy on, baby,” Hunter drawls in that sexy, Southern accent of his that makes my heart feel like gooey chocolate left out in the sun. Then he leans and pressing his lips to mine, his tongue instantly filling my mouth. Normally I don’t like it when he does that in public. Personally I think it’s gross…and kind of tacky. But Shayne has assured me several times that when Hunter Wallace Hamilton III sticks his tongue in your mouth, it’s nothing but hot. Especially in public where everyone else can envy you. Plus today, his mouth tastes like the two burrito supremes he scarfed down the minute we got here and it is beyond heavenly. I practically attempt to suck the remnant spices from his tongue.

Once he pulls away, I discreetly wipe my mouth and return Shayne’s approving smile.

“So what are we talking about?” Billy presses. “Vodka? Rum? Gin?”

I shrug. “Whatever you want. The restaurant has a full bar so there’s pretty much some of everything in there.”

“I love you,” Billy proclaims, grabbing my hand and kissing it. Then he turns to Hunter and gives him an apologetic look. “Sorry, man. But I love her.”

Hunter laughs and gives him a friendly punch across the table.

When I notice the faint, imperceptible-to-the-untrained-eye trace of discontent flash across Shayne’s face, I quickly fulfill my expected obligation as best friend and say, “I can’t take all the credit. It was pretty much Shayne’s idea.”

Billy instantly turns his doting attention back on Shayne. “Then it’s you I love.” He leans in and kisses Shayne’s bare, perfectly bronzed shoulder. “But of course, you already knew that.”

Shayne rolls her eyes and makes a histrionic display of wiping her shoulder with a paper napkin from her tray. I make a point to laugh along with the rest of the group. Even if no one else can see the small, barely visible shift, I know that I have done my job well. And that everything is right back to the way Shayne wants it.

2. Reality TV…Abridged

Every time I get home from hanging out with Shayne and the rest of the crew, I collapse from total exhaustion. It’s grueling work being around those guys. All the hair tossing, the flirty smiles, making sure whatever I say is witty enough for people to laugh at but not so witty that I sound intellectual. It’s a chore on any other day, but today I am feeling especially weak.

I walk into the kitchen and pour myself a glass of my supposedly magic fat-destroying lemonade, devouring it in one long, guzzling gulp before quickly dispensing myself another and carrying it upstairs to my room. I pull Shayne’s “too-big” size-zero jeans out of my dresser and splay them out on the bed.

I down the remainder of my glass then disappear into the bathroom to pee in a last minute attempt to shave a few extra millimeters off my stomach before trying the jeans on for the fifth time this week.

Please let them fit, I silently pray as I slide my left leg in, followed by my right and yank them up over my hips. The zipper tab resists for the first few tugs and then finally relents and inches its way upward. But then it stops about an inch from the top. I suck in a giant breath and pull harder, but it’s no use. I’m still at least three more skipped meals away.

Damn it!

Looks like it’s lemonade for lunch again tomorrow. Just the thought of drinking more of that stuff makes me want to polish off a giant bag of Doritos in one sitting, or whatever “healthier” organic knock-off version my mother has in the pantry. But I tell myself that if I can just make it two more days, I’ll be able to fit into the jeans by Saturday night.

After a dinner of more lemonade, I hunker down in the living room to watch television. I uninterestedly flip through all the recorded reality shows that take up half the space of the DVR until I get to my favorite show, Myth Busters. I know it’s kind of lame show to watch, but for some reason, I’m totally hooked. I don’t know what it is about those guys. I just find them fascinating. Of course, Shayne would flip if she ever found out that I watch anything that airs on the Discovery Channel. That’s why I have to watch it quickly and delete the evidence. She’s much more into those MTV reality shows. You know the ones that follow around over-privileged, supposedly normal 20-somethings as they gallivant through their glamorous New York and L.A. lives. Honestly, those shows bore me to tears. But Shayne happens to think they’re gospel so that’s why my DVR is set to record them. Another pretense in my highly pretenseful life. Just in case Shayne stops by and wants to watch one while she’s here.

After I finish the latest episode of Myth Busters—a particularly entertaining one where they disprove the legitimacy of high speed car chases in movies—I retreat to my room to complete my usual post-television homework. And I’m not talking about school homework. Like pre-algebra problem sets or French verb conjugations or anything. I’m talking about my Shayne homework. The process of reading online recaps and blogs about our purportedly mutual favorite shows so that I can be prepared to discuss them in exhaustive detail tomorrow at school. Like a form of Cliff’s Notes.

My parents get home around eleven, pop into my room to download their own abbreviated, Cliff’s Notes-worthy account of my day, and then go straight to bed…as usual. Ever since they opened the restaurant—Pierce Place—a year ago, they’ve been pretty non-existent around here. Both working long hours and always coming home well after dinner time five to six nights a week. Which leaves me to fend for myself most of the time. Not that I mind. Actually, I prefer it. It’s better than the alternative of having them constantly breathing down my neck, asking me why I don’t apply myself, why I make such bad choices and of course, my all-time favorite: why can’t I be more like Izzie? If she can manage to graduate at the top of her class, serve as captain of the girl’s tennis team, and get into Harvard, it shouldn’t be that hard for me.

I’m constantly trying to explain to them that, actually, in fact, it’s harder. But they don’t seem to want to hear that.

I once saw this special on the Discovery Channel that said that younger siblings statistically perform worse in school (and in life) than first-born children. Because first-born children start out with a clean slate. A benchmark free existence. Whatever they do—whether it’s achieve excellence or barely manage to scrape by—is the measuring stick against which all other siblings are compared. And when you have a measuring stick like Izzie, you might as well just throw in the towel and get used to mediocrity. Which is exactly what I’ve learned how to do. Because really, what’s the point of trying when, according to the Discovery Channel, I’m destined to come up short anyway.

As soon as I hear my parents’ bedroom door shut, I slide open my window and like clock work, exactly five minutes later, Hunter climbs through it. We’ve been doing this after-hours alternate-entry routine for the past four months. Another great thing about having new restaurant owners for parents is that they’re so freaking exhausted by the end of every day, they sleep like rocks. Often with the help of a prescription sleep-aid. My mother is so paranoid that she’ll be unable to fall asleep due to all the stress of her ever-growing mental to-do list, she usually just preempts the possibility completely and downs a double dose of Ambien the minute she walks through the door. The resulting comatose state lends itself very well to Hunter’s 11:30 pm visits.

I’d like to say that we do all this interesting stuff while he’s here. But really, we just make out. Which I guess is interesting, too. I mean, he is Hunter Wallace Hamilton III. And I know that any other girl in my school would die to have him climbing through their window in the middle of the night to make out. But after four months, the whole invariable routine is getting kind of, I don’t know…old.

Not to mention the fact that…well, he’s not really that good of a kisser. Southern accent or not, the guy really needs to learn to get control of his tongue.

But he looks so darn good all the time, it’s hard to hold that against him.

As if he can sense my boredom, Hunter suddenly moves his hand from its usual spot under my tank top and hovers it just below my belly button. At first, I welcome the unexpected change—a new feeling, a new sensation—but then his hand moves down further still and now the tips of his fingers are actually creeping underneath the waist band of my flannel pajamas. And the way they’re wiggling around, it almost seems like he’s searching for something. Then, as though, he’s given up his haphazard exploration after only a few seconds, he just proceeds to attempt to pull my pajamas off completely.

I stop him mid-yank and sit up. “What are you doing?” I ask, even though I have more than just a sneaking suspicion what he’s doing. I’m not stupid…despite what my report card might say.

He gives me this innocent, childlike look complete with puppy-dog eyes and everything, and says, “I don’t know, Brooks. I just thought you were ready—we were ready for the next step.”

I don’t have to ask what the next step is. Believe me, that notorious “next step” has been on my mind for while now. I mean, I’m fifteen years old, how could it not be? Especially when Shayne has already taken that next step with at least two different guys (that I know of). The only difference is, Shayne pretty much skipped all the other steps.

“I don’t know,” I hedge, biting my bottom lip.

Hunter is quick to come back with, “What’s not to know? We’ve been together for five months. It’s just the natural order of things. What exactly are you waiting for?”

“I don’t know,” I say again, mostly because it’s true. I really don’t know. “I guess I just don’t want my first time to be with my parents zonked out on sleeping pills in the next room.”

He laughs at this and presses his lips gently against my collar bone. “Well, that’s easy,” he says between kisses. “They won’t be here this weekend, right?”

He has a point. They won’t. They’ll be in Massachusetts visiting my measuring-stick sister at college. And he’ll already be here anyway for the little get together Shayne is planning on Saturday night, so I suppose the timing is perfect. Besides, he’s right. Exactly what am I waiting for? A knight in shining armor? I’m dating Hunter Wallace Hamilton…the third. It doesn’t get much more fairy-tale ending than that!

And as my valiant white knight works his way up to my mouth and his hand maneuvers back under my tank top until we’re once again at our usual first positions, I think to myself, I guess Saturday night it is, then.

But I’m immediately disappointed by how anti-climatic it sounds.

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