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Friday, January 21, 2011

Leesie's poem to finish Chapter 32


Celebrate with me everybody! We passed 50k words yesterday, and I didn't even notice. Thanks for loving Michael and Leesie enough to hang in there with me, every day, all this time. 

Here's the rest of Chapter 32. I got emotional typing it up. Those of you who are known to get teary  might want to have a tissue ready. 

LEESIE’S MOST PRIVATE CHAPBOOK
POEM #??,
The next time
Michael pulls up
in front of Jaz’s hopping shack
and I flurry out to meet him,
I’m shy—
to touch his hand,
to kiss his lips,
to tell him the requested
missionaries, sufficiently stuffed
with fish soaked in buttermilk,
breaded with Jaz’s secret recipe
and fried to perfection by Junior,
wait on the porch.
He’s different—strange to me—
I no longer lead, guide, walk beside.
He’s taken control of his destiny
and mine.

His lips taste familiar
as we linger at the roadside
reconnecting after five days apart.
“Are we going to do this?” His
whisper stirs my hair.
I nod—find his lips again.
“What was that for?”
“In case you never kiss me again.”
My face gets hot. “Remember last time?”
A phantom from his last
missionary encounter rises
menacing between us.
He wafts it away with a wave
of his hand, strong and tan,
that cups my chin.
“That’s not going to happen—
Those guys were right.
I didn’t have ears.”

He takes my hand
and pulls me along the path
to meet the two smiling elders
who know him from church.
Guys his age—humble, excited to teach.
Michael reflects their energy,
listens, nods, accepts, believes.
At the end, he says the prayer
when they ask.
“Dear Heavenly Father”—
his voice is tender and full of love—
“Thank you—thee—for opening
my eyes and giving me
Leesie
to fill my heart.”

I join his “amen,” in the name
of Jesus Christ, and offer my own
silent thank you, in awe of the man
beside me who shakes
the missionaries hands, makes
the next appointment, sees them off,
then reaches for my hand
and brings it to his lips,
kissing, one by one, the nail prints
he left so long ago when he showed
me his wounds and I tried to anoint them
with the only balm I knew.
He pulls me into his arms,
kisses me tenderly,
like I’m a daughter of God.
And my brimming heart knows
he’s ready to be
a son.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chapter 32 - Michael/Leesie CHAT!

I couldn't figure out how to write this scene. It came out as a long conversation. And then I realized, duh, Michael and Leesie aren't in the same apartment anymore. They can chat!! It was so much fun to type this up as a chat. It gives an unbiased spin to the conversation.



CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

LEESIE HUNT CHATSPOT LOG / 07/06  5:30 PM

liv2div says: hey babe, it’s me…I borrowed Alex’s computer
Leesie327 says: Does this mean you aren’t coming over tonight?
liv2div says: I have to teach…last minute
Leesie327 says: We missed you at church yesterday.
liv2div says: I missed going.
Leesie327 says: Really?
liv2div says: don’t get mad…I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon without you
Leesie327 says: That’s amazing! Read as much as you want.
liv2div says: I got to the part where an angel stopped that rebellious guy and his friends and told them to change their evil ways…I feel kind of like that
Leesie327 says: I never said you were evil.
liv2div says: who says you’re the angel?
Leesie327 says: I forgot what a snot you are when we chat.
liv2div says: how’d you get to church?
Leesie327 says: Junior has a vintage VW bus.
liv2div says: whoa, classy wheels
Leesie327 says: He got it back from a friend on Saturday. I helped him scrub it this morning, but it still smells like pot.
liv2div says: how do you know what pot smells like?
Leesie327 says: Today was an education.
liv2div says: So, babe, what do you want to do now that Jaz doesn’t need you?
Leesie327 says: She still needs me—lots. I’m going to help with the fish shack, too.
liv2div says: how long?
Leesie327 says: Until you’re done here, I guess.
liv2div says: And then I can take you home?
Leesie327 says: Yeah. For sure. Let’s go so there’s plenty of time before school starts.
liv2div says: time for what?
Leesie327 says: To see my parents and Stephie. Visit Gram, and um
liv2div says: spill it…what else?
Leesie327 says: Maybe enough time to have a quiet wedding in the backyard?
liv2div says: What if I got baptized? Would there be time for a wedding in the temple?
Leesie327 says: Excuse me. I just had heart failure. Did you really say that?
liv2div says: it doesn’t seem impossible anymore
Leesie327 says: Listen, I’d love to have you get baptized that soon, but I don’t want to rush you. Take your time. You have to be a member for a year before you can go to the temple.
liv2div says: A whole year? That’s a new one. I thought all I had to do was get baptized.
Leesie327 says: Baptism is a huge step. Don’t do it until you’re totally ready. But marry me before we move down to Provo.
liv2div says: what if I decide not to get baptized?
Leesie327 says: It won’t make me love you less. I’ll respect your decision and pray you’ll change your heart.
liv2div says: if you start praying, I won’t stand a chance!
Leesie327 says: So I can tell my mom to start planning a wedding?
liv2div says: no…don’t do that
Leesie327 says: Please, Michael. I’ve got your diamond on my finger. End of the summer. You promised.
liv2div says: in the backyard? even if I’m not a Mormon?
Leesie327 says: If we’re married, we can have our own apartment, no more saying good-bye every night, and we can—24/7, remember?
liv2div says: I know
Leesie327 says: Don’t you want that?
liv2div says: of course I do
Leesie327 says: So we can get married?
liv2div says: let me think about it
Leesie327 says: You’re not getting out of it.
liv2div says: what am I supposed to do in Provo?
Leesie327 says: That’s you’re problem.
liv2div says: maybe I want to come back to Cayman and work or go somewhere else
Leesie327 says: You need to go to college. You could go to the U or UVU.
liv2div says: and study what?
Leesie327 says: I don’t care. Our kids need an educated father.
liv2div says: KIDS!
Leesie327 says: Uh-huh. Three girls and two boys.
liv2div says: FIVE?
Leesie327 says: Don’t you want kids?
liv2div says: yeah, I do
Leesie327 says: I’m starting young. We can have lots.
liv2div says: We’re just 19.
Leesie327 says: I’m almost twenty.
liv2div says: not…maybe we should wait that year
Leesie327 says: No. No way. You’ll take off. Leave me again. I’ll lose you.
liv2div says: give me some credit…I’ll stay in Provo…I won’t let you out of my sight
Leesie327 says: But that puts all kinds of pressure on you to get baptized right away. I won’t do that to you.
liv2div says: you aren’t doing it…I am…you really want to be a mom at twenty?
Leesie327 says: So we’ll wait a couple years on the kids. Let’s just get married. The backyard will be full of flowers in August.
liv2div says: and what will you tell those kids of ours when they want to do that instead of hang on for the temple?
Leesie327 says: That their father drove me crazy every time he walked into a room, and we’d suffered long enough.
liv2div says: you just want my body?
Leesie327 says: Uh-huh.
liv2div says: aren’t you the girl who taught me we came to earth to be tested?
Leesie327 says: That’s not fair. You’re too good a student. I give.
liv2div says: get used to it, babe, I don’t like to lose
Leesie327 says: That means we wait? Crap. What do we do next?
liv2div says: I guess we better call the missionaries…if I’m going to do this, let’s do it!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The rest of Ch. 31--at last!

You are all so awesome for being so patient. Here's the rest of Chapter 31! I hope you like it. I brought back the whole gang.

Ch. 31 cont.

MICHAEL’S DIVE LOG – VOLUME 10
Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  07/03
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Depth:  
Visibility: 
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  
Comments:

            When I steer the boat close enough to shore to get cell coverage on our way back in from the afternoon trip, I pick up a text from Leesie.
            J’s son in rstrnt calling Pres B
            Jaz’s son? Do I know Jaz has a son? I think so. What did they say about him? Restraining order? That’s it. He can’t come near his mother. No one ever said why. That’s why I was nervous about Leesie staying there. I forgot all about it as soon as I met Jaz. She’s overpowering. Did he hurt her? Threaten her? Where has he been? Why is he there now? Freak. I think Leesie’s alone there.
            I dial Leesie. Her phone goes straight to voicemail. She always forgets to charge it. Way to go, babe.
            Or maybe the dude turned it off.
            I try Jaz’s land line. It’s busy. Off the hook? Cut? Freak. Freak. Freak.
            I push the boat into high gear.
            I’m working today with Gabriel and Cooper. Alex drove Leesie back to Jaz’s for me this morning.
            Cooper yells, “What are you doing? This is a no wake zone.”
            “I think Leesie’s in trouble.” I toss him my phone and explain.
            Gabriel joins us at the front, catches the gist of the situation. He examines the text. “Who’s Pres. B?”
            I concentrate on the steering the speeding boat. “The guy from her church.”
            Cooper puts his hand on my shoulder. “Calm down then. He’s handling it.”
            I shrug him off. “What if he’s not? What if she didn’t call? Or he didn’t pick up? I gotta get over there.”
            Gabriel hands back my phone. “We’ll go, too. You might need us.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “Of course, dude.” Cooper slaps my back and yells, “Hang on tight! We’re coming in hot!”
            The divers in the back sit down and grab something.
            Cooper gets his phone out of his dry bag and starts dialing the guys. He gets a hold of Brock who promises to have Ethan and Seth ready to go as soon as the boat touches the dock.
            Gabriel grabs hold of an overhead bar for balance as I slam the boat through the cut in the reef and speed across the flat lagoon to the dock.
            Dani’s there to catch the ropes and offload the divers. “Go, go! I’ve got this.”
            Gabriel, Cooper and I tear out of the boat and up to the parking lot. Ethan, Seth, Brock, and Alex wait by my car.
            Gabriel greets Alex with a hug. “Don’t worry, mi cielo, I’m sure we’ll be fine. See you later.”
            Alex glares at him. “Like hell you will.”
            “You’re not going.”
            “And who’s goingto stop me?”
            Aparently not Gabriel. All the guys cram into my car, and I take off—heading North. It’s a mile or two longer but there’s no traffic and the road is open so we can speed. Gabriel and Alex follow in his sleek red porche. I wish this bucket I’m driving had that kind of speed.
            Ethan’s in the front seat beside me. I chuck my phone at him. “Keep trying to call her.”
The car is silent except for the sound of muted dialing and the obnoxious engine. I grow more and more tense. Grip the steering wheel so hard my knuckles turn white. My arms ache.
“Freak!” A slow car ahead blocks my progress. I pull into the oncoming lane and zoom around it. An approaching car lays and its horn and brakes hard.
“Watch it.” Seth yells as a whip back into my lane and the car I passed starts to honk.
I ignore him and press down on the gas, check the rearview mirror. Gabriel aims his porche at the gap in the middle of the road between the slow car and another car coming the other direction. He pulls up close behind me.
I focus on the road ahead. This piece of junk I’m driving shakes too much at 90 mph, so I ease it back to 85—keep it there the whole way.
I pull up to Jaz’s, bail out and sprint around back. “Leesie?” I yell. “Are you here? Leesie!”
The porch is empty.
The living quarters, too.
I hear noise in the restaurant.
I burst through the door screaming, “Leesie!” with all the guys and Alex at my back.
Leesie and Aunty Jaz sit at a table eating fish.
I turn from them to find a massive black guy with a head full of dreds barreling down on us wielding a fish cleaver.
“No! No!” Leesie leaps up, gets between us. “It’s okay.” She backs hard into me and holds her hands up to ward off the guy. “Didn’t you get my text?”
“That’s why we’re here!” I hold my arms out to keep the guys back.
The fish guy backs off.
Leesie turns around. “Why didn’t you call?”
I grab her shoulders. “I did.” I shake her. “A thousand times.”
“Oh, no.” She sticks her hand in her pocket and pulls out her cell phone. It’s dead. “I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry.”
I’m shaking I’m so upset. “I tried the landline, too.” I get a hold of myself, stop shaking her.
“Jaz has been using it.” She takes my hands. “I thought you were still on the water.” She peaks around me at all the guys and Alex—fists clenched, panting—ready to defend her. Her face goes crimson. “I’m so so sorry.”
“Well, now,” Aunty Jaz pipes up from her table, “now that you’re here, you can help celebrate. Junior’s come back to me—and he’ll make fish for you all.”
Junior smiles like Aunty Jaz. “Of course. Of course. Come in. We’re re-oping the shack tomorrow. You’re our first guests.”
I collapse at a table in the back and slump down on it. Hide my face in my hands. Leesie introduces everyone to Aunty Jaz and Junior.
A few minutes later, Leesie scoots a chair close to mine. She strokes my back. “I can’t believe I put you through that.”
“Freak, babe. It was hell.”
She combs my hair with her fingers. “I didn’t know my phone was dead.”
“You could have sent another text. Or left a phone message.”
“You’re right. I’m so stupid.” Her voice shakes.
I look up. She’s gone really pale. “Are you okay?”
“I am now.” She squirms close.
My arms encircle her. “Were you scared?”
Her head bobs up and down, bangs my chin. “I heard him in the kitchen, got a look—hid out back. Sent you the text. Called President Bodden. He was concerned and told me to stay put until he got there. He was fast—twenty minutes—but it seemed like forever.”
“He just showed up by himself?” I rest my cheek on her head. It’s sweaty. Poor, babe.
“One of the members is a cop. He came, too. They told Aunty Jaz to stay put, but she got here about the same time.” She puts her hand on my neck.
I cover it with mine. “They confronted him?”
She shrugs. “They made me stay in the cop car until it was safe.”
“Thank God, you’re okay.”
“They all just left like five minutes ago. I should have called you, though. I wasn’t thinking. Will you forgive me?”
I kiss her forehead. “Uh-huh. I would have come anyway.”
“But not with the posse. I feel like a fool.”
“Are you kidding? They’re getting the best fish on the island. Look at them.” I loosen my grip on her so she can peak over my shoulder. “They’re loving it.”
“Where’s Dani?”
“She offloaded the boat, so we could leave right away.”
Her forehead wrinkles up. “Isn’t there a night dive scheduled?”
“Dani can guide it. They’ll find somebody to drive.” I squeeze her hand. “No big deal.”
She snuggles close to me. “It is a big deal. You should be really mad.”
“I know.” I release her hand and tip her head back so I can see her face. “I’m just glad you’re safe.”
She kisses me. “Thank you.”
“I love you.”
“I know.” She kisses me again.
Junior puts a plate of steaming fried fish on the table in front of me. “You want more, Sister Leesie?” He waits beside the table.
She lets me go and sits up. “I’m stuffed. Thanks.”
I bend over the plate, inhale the spicey aroma, suddenly starving. “Thanks, man.”
Junior grins. “You know my mum’s fish?”
 I nod while I load up my fork and shove it in my mouth. I close my eyes and chew in bliss while the sweet, tender fish and crips spicey coating part in my mouth.
Junior’s off frying more fish by the time I open my eyes and start digging for another bite.
“Oh, crap!” Leesie jumps up, knocking over her chair. “Kim!” She runs through the door into Jaz’s living quarters. I follow with my fish.
Leesie’s laptop is dead, too. I plug it in for her and watch over her shoulder. Kim’s frantic. Steamed at first like I was, but calms down when the whole story comes out.
She wants to know Junior’s story. I do, too, so I eavesdrop.
The gist of it is he took his dad’s death hard. I can relate. Junior got mixed up with drugs, stole from Jaz, threatened her. She turned him in. The judge imposed a restraining order. He got probation and community service and left the island, ashamed, as soon he could. Poor, Jaz. That must have killed her. He got a job frying fish in the Bahamas, cleaned up, worked hard. Came home as soon as he heard about Jaz’s foot. He called his sister—homesick for news.
I bend over and kiss Leesie’s cheek. That could have been me if it wasn’t for her. I took my parent’s death hard. But she was there.
Leesie signs off with Kim. We sit out on the back porch holding each other—not talking or even making out. Just being.
That’s all I really want.
To just be.
With her.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Chapter 31 - Leesie and Kim get chatting

Here's a nice, juicy Leesie and Kim chat. I figured this would work better through Kim's eyes.

I've got some more great, great news. Erzsi Deak, one of my SCBWI fairy godmothers who made my deal with Penguin possible, is launching her own literary agency, Hen and Ink. And guess who just signed with her? ME!!! I can't think of anyone I'd rather work with as an agent. With Erzsi in my corner, I should be able to bring you more books really soon. Those of you who might be looking for an agent, I'll add a link to her website ASAP!

I've got loads to get organized and send to her. She's moving on things really fast. But don't worry. Leesie and Michael come first all this week. I'll post every day. Thanks for being so patient while I was sick last week.

I hope this post makes up for it a little bit!


CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

LEESIE HUNT / CHATSPOT LOG / O7/03 2:22 PM

Leesie327 says: Good you’re online. I so need to vent.
Kimbo69 says: What’s he done now?
Leesie327 says: Michael? I’m not mad at HIM. Michael is perfection.
Kimbo69 says: He’s hot—but the guy’s got his flaws.
Leesie327 says: I didn’t think I could love him more, but every day I do.
Kimbo69 says: So that study thing you’re doing is going well? He’s swallowing the Mormon stuff?
Leesie327 says: It’s not like that. This is the most beautiful experience. I wish I could explain it to you.
Kimbo69 says: No thanks. Don’t turn your religious zeal on me. We have an agreement, remember?
Leesie327 says: He prayed. Really prayed. And God answered him. He called me so excited.
Kimbo69 says: God or Michael?
Leesie327 says: Very funny.
Kimbo69 says: So you’re goingto live happily ever after?
Leesie327 says: I was going to type YES, but then I thought of Phil. That will always hurt—but Michael is trying so hard, dropping all his barriers—for me.
Kimbo69 says: How are you going to tell him that you and Phil were fighting over him in that pickup? [I can’t remember if Kim knows this! If she doesn’t, I’ll have to add that!]
Leesie327 says: I’m never going to. I won’t tell anyone. Promise me, Kim. You can never say a thing.
Kimbo69 says: Calm down. You know you can trust me. So what interrupted perfection in paradise.
Leesie327 says: It was dumb. I shouldn’t let stuff like that upset me. I dealt with so much worse every day in high school.
Kimbo69 says: You’re making me crazy. WHAT HAPPENED?
Leesie327 says: Michael has to work through the 4th of July weekend, so he slept on Jaz’s porch last night and too me back down to East end this morning to go diving while Aunty Jaz got her treatment. Jaz’s friend picked her up and took her home for a change of scenery. She must be having a good time. She’s still not back.
Kimbo69 says: Did you get hurt diving?
Leesie327 says: Dani and Seth were on the boat with us.
Kimbo69 says: Did Miss Sleze-bucket hit on your man?
Leesie327 says: No. She tried to save him from the clutches of the evil Mormon devil-worshippers.
Kimbo69 says: What?
Leesie327 says: She grew up in the South going to one of those churches that show anti-Mormon videos to protect their flock.
Kimbo69 says: Churches do that?
Leesie327 says: She said that if I don’t turn away from my evil ways and find Christ, I’ll be damned. Apparently, I’m no longer a Christian.
Kimbo69 says: She lectured you?
Leesie327 says: And I just sat there in stunned silence.
Kimbo69 says: She’s really one to talk.
Leesie327 says: My dad always taught us “contention is of the devil.” Arguing with someone who just wants to fight just makes everyone angry. Pointless.
Kimbo69 says: You let her get away with that?
Leesie327 says: I didn’t want it to get ugly in front of Michael. Turning the other cheek is a lot harder than it sounds.
Kimbo69 says: So what happened?
Leesie327 says: Michael told her to shut up. Seth almost decked him.
Kimbo69 says: That sounds peaceful. You did this in front of all the paying customers?
Leesie327 says: No. We were up front. Michael was driving the boat.
Kimbo69 says: He defended you. That’s so cool.
Leesie327 says: I brokered a truce. By the time we got out to the dive site, they were all business as usual.
Kimbo69 says: Flakes.
Leesie327 says: I don’t know. Maybe Dani really believes that stuff about us. Lots of people do.
Kimbo69 says: Then they should keep it to themselves.
Leesie327 says: No way I can say that. Our missionaries go all over the world NOT keeping it to themselves.
Kimbo69 says: What are you going to do if she starts in on you again?
Leesie327 says: Smile and thank her for her concern. I don’t want her angry and bugging Michael. He’s with these people all the time.
Kimbo69 says: Get God to zap her. You’re tight with Him.
Leesie327 says: He’d say I’m supposed to love her.
Kimbo69 says: Hah! You are crazy.
Leesie327 says: Certifiable—crap—there’s noise in the restaurant. Somebody’s in there.
Kimbo69 says: Maybe Jaz came home.
Kimbo69 says: Leesie? Where are you?
Kimbo69 says: Are you okay?
Kimbo69 says: You’re scaring the panties off me.
Kimbo69 says: If you don’t come back and answer me, I’ll never chat with you again.
Leesie327 says: There’s a massive black guy in there scrubbing the counters down. I think it’s Aunty Jaz’s son.
Kimbo69 says: The criminal?
Leesie327 says: No one said he’s a criminal.
Kimbo69 says: Get out of there now!!!!
Leesie327 says: What if Jaz comes home, and he hurts her?
Kimbo69 says: What if he hurts you?
Leesie327 says: I’m going to go out back and call Michael.
Kimbo69 says: Can’t you call someone closer? Like the police?
Leesie327 says: Oh, yeah. I wonder if 911 works here. I could try that. Pres. Bodden. I’ll call him. Right after Michael.
Kimbo69 says: Go hide.
Kimbo69 says: Get help from the neighbors.
Kimbo69 says: You’re gone aren’t you?
Kimbo69 says: Crap. girl. You better phone me.
Kimbo69 says: What’s happening? I’m sitting right here. I’m not going anywhere until you tell me you’re okay.
Kimbo69 says: Don’t do anything stupid.
Kimbo69 says: Geeze—now you’ve even got me praying.