Have you ever made a bucket list? What would be on it? Today I’m excited to join TLC BookTours to share an excerpt from the new title: THE FRIENDSHIP LIST by Susan Mallery available August 4th!
The Friendship List by Susan Mallery
Formats available: hardcover, large print, paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: Chick Lit, contemporary romance, women’s fiction
Published by HQN Books on August 4, 2020
Synopsis: Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…
Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.
So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?
The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.
Keith pointed to the door. Luka shuffled out. Keith sank into his chair. He’d been hard on the kid, but he needed to get the message across. Grades mattered. He was willing to help whenever he could, but he had to be told what was going on. He had a feeling Luka thought because he was a star athlete he was going to get special treatment. Maybe somewhere else, but not here. Forcing Luka to get an A sent a message to everyone who wanted to play varsity sports.
He’d barely turned to his computer when one of the freshman boys stuck his head in the office. “Coach Kinne! Coach Kinne! There’s a girl crying in the weight room.”
Keith silently groaned as he got up and jogged to the weight room, hoping he was about to deal with something simple like a broken arm or a concussion. He knew what to do for those kinds of things. Anything that was more emotional, honest to God, terrified him.
He walked into the weight room and found a group of guys huddled together. A petite, dark-haired girl he didn’t know sat on a bench at the far end, her hands covering her face, her sobs audible in the uneasy silence.
He looked at the guys. “She hurt?”
They shifted their weight and shook their heads. Damn. So it wasn’t physical. Why didn’t things ever go his way?
“Any of you responsible for whatever it is?” he asked.
More shaken heads with a couple of guys ducking out.
Keith pointed to the door so the rest of them left, then returned his attention to the crying girl. She was small and looked young. Maybe fifteen. Not one of his daughter’s friends or a school athlete—he knew all of them.
He approached the teen, trying to look friendly rather than menacing, then sat on a nearby bench.
“Hey,” he said softly. “I’m Coach Kinne.”
She sniffed. Her eyes were red, her skin pale. “I know who you are.”
“What’s going on?” Don’t be pregnant, don’t be pregnant, he chanted silently.
More tears spilled over. “I’m pregnant. The father is Dylan, only he says he’s not, and I can’t tell my m-mom because she’ll be so mad and he said he l-loved me.”
And just like that Keith watched his Monday fall directly into the crapper.
Keith left work exactly at three fifteen. He would be returning to his office to finish up paperwork, supervise a couple of workouts and review final grades for athletes hovering on the edge of academic problems. But first, he had pressing personal business.
He drove the two short miles to his house, walked inside and headed directly for his seventeen-year-old daughter’s room.
Lissa looked up from her laptop when he entered, her smile fading as she figured out he was in a mood. Despite the attitude, she was a beauty. Long dark hair, big brown eyes. Dammit all to hell—why couldn’t he have an ugly daughter who no guy would look at twice?
“Hi, Dad,” she said, sounding wary. “What’s up?”
She rolled her eyes. “Seriously? There is something wrong with you. I heard what happened at school today. I’m not dumb enough to date a guy like Dylan who would tell a tree stump he loved it if it would have sex with him. I’m not sleeping with anyone and I’m not pregnant. I told you—I’m not ready to have sex, as in I’m still a virgin. You’re obsessed. Would you feel better if I wore a chastity belt?”
“Yes, but you won’t. I’ve asked.”
“Da-ad. Why are you like this? Pregnancy isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I could be sick and dying. Wouldn’t that be terrible?”
“You can’t win this argument with logic. I’m irrational. I accept that. But I’m also the parent, so you have to deal with me being irrational.”
He pointed to her bathroom. She sighed the long-suffering sigh of those cursed with impossible fathers and got up. He followed her to the doorway and watched as she pulled the small plastic container out of the bathroom drawer and opened it.
Relief eased the tension in his body. Pills were missing. The right number of pills.
“You are a nightmare father,” his daughter said, shoving the pills back in the drawer. “I can’t wait until I’m eighteen and I can get the shot instead of having to take birth control pills. Then you’ll only bug me every few months.”
“I can’t wait, either.”
“It’s not like I even have a boyfriend.”
“You could be talking to someone online.”
Her annoyance faded as she smiled at him. “Dad, only one of us in this house does the online dating thing and it’s not me.”
“I don’t online date.”
“Fine. You pick up women online, then go off and have sex with them for the weekend. It’s gross. You should fall in love with someone you’re not embarrassed to bring home to meet me.”
“I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t want complications.”
“But you do want to have sex. It’s yucky.”
“Then why are we talking about it?” He pulled her close and hugged her, then kissed the top of her head. “Sorry, Lissa. I can’t help worrying about you.”
She looked up at him. “Dad, I’m taking my pills every day, not that it matters because I’m not having sex. I’m not. I’ve barely kissed a guy. Having you as my father makes it really difficult to date. Guys don’t want to mess with you and risk being beat up.”
She smiled even as she hit him in the arm. “You’re repressing my emotional growth.”
“Just don’t get pregnant.”
“You need to find a more positive message. How about ‘be your best self?’”
“That, too. Gotta go.”
“I’m having dinner with Jessie tonight. Remember?”
“No problem. Be home by ten.”
He got back in his truck but before starting the engine, he quickly texted Ellen. I need a couple of beers and a friendly ear. You around tonight?
The response came quickly. Only if you bring fried chicken. I have beer and ice cream.
You’re on. See you at six.
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