The Secret Lives of My Toyotas

ToyotaHighlanderHybrid My husband and I don't consider ourselves car people. We consider ourselves Toyota people.

Car people are fickle. They want the latest/greatest/hottest/fastest/newest car on the market.

Toyota people are smart. They want reliability, dependability and safety. And they want a great-looking car.

We bought our first Toyota, a Corolla, just a week before our firstborn, our son, was born.

That was a momentous day for two reasons: It was also the day I decided to follow my dream and write novels.

One Toyota (the Corolla) led to another (Camry) and then another (Camry)….

Two kids and a move cross-country later, we are still Toyota people. We went on our family vacations in these cars. We taught our children how to drive in them. We went to every major life event in them: weddings, graduations, funerals.

So you see, it's habit-forming. Something about never having to worry about unnecessary fix-it issues (like my sis-in-law and her Volvo…).

In fact, I love our Toyota so much, I wrote the Highlander Hybrid into my latest book, SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES. You can read the excerpt below.

Oh, and by the way: I'm participating in a Toyota/TwitterMoms campaign, which inspired this
post. My opinions, thoughts and feelings are my own. As a TwitterMom,
I'm eligible for a courtesy gift from of $50.

So, what will I do with that gift certificate? Sharing it with some lucky winner! I'll be sending her/him an autographed copy of my book ($10.20 in, along with a $25 Amazon gift card.

Here's how it works:

1. Read this excerpt, below, that comes from my book SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES.

2. After reading it, answer the question below it, and email me the correct answer to; Put “Toyota Excerpt” in the subject line;


3. Comment below about why you love your own Toyota, or something about the excerpt (below) that resonated with you.

BONUS (gets you another freebee entry in the contest!):

4. Give my “auto-biography” a thumbs-up on the Toyota Facebook page, here…

All correct entries received no later than 12 midnight PT on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, will be eligible for the autographed book, and the $25 gift card.

No purchase necessary. You must be over 18 years of age to participate.
This prize is applicable to the US and Canada only.

Good luck, and happy driving this summer,


* photo of the Toyota Highlander Hybrid 2010, the car driven by my heroine, Lyssa Harper.


Chapter 6

“The majority of husbands remind me of an orangutan trying to play the

—Honore de Balzac



Monday 4 Nov, 10:13 a.m. It is true
that the Highlander Hybrid goes from zero to sixty in around 9.6 seconds.


However, the
inverse of that—say, you’re driving at sixty miles an hour down Highway 101 in
a rainstorm when you blow a tire—happens a little slower.


I am
experiencing this now, as my Highlander hydroplanes out of control as yet
another rain wave rolls under its chassis.


I eat up the
first few seconds with some freaking out and swearing at myself for forgetting
Ted’s warning about going too fast on bald tires. Then, oh possibly another six
seconds goes to slamming on the brakes and praying up a storm as the Highlander
spins out of control. By the time it comes to a complete stop and my heart rate
goes back down to normal, I’m guessing I’ve lost another twelve seconds.


Okay, I lied.
My chest is still heaving twenty-two seconds later, when I hear the tap on my


“Lyssa, are
you okay?” Harry Wilder’s face stares back at me, blurred and contorted through
my rain-spattered window. It’s
been a couple of days since we saw each other in the park.

I nod slowly
and roll down my window. The cold air feels great on my face because it reminds
me I’m alive. “I—I was very stupid, going that fast.”


“I’m just
happy you’re alive. Look, would you like me to call someone?”


“No, that’s
okay, really. I have Triple A. I’ve got the card here somewhere . . . ” My
hands shake as I rummage through the deep, unfathomable well of my bag, but I
can’t find it. DAMN DAMN DAMN Olivia’s been playing in my purse again . . .


I look up
again just in time to see a raindrop roll off the tip of his nose. “Oh, my God,
sorry! Why don’t you get in?” I fumble with the auto-lock. When he hears it
click, he jumps into the passenger seat behind me.


He’s wearing
a rainproof jacket, but he’s shivering nonetheless. With his hair coiled into
damp curls, it strikes me how much more like him his daughter looks than like DeeDee.


“Listen, by
the time you find the number, I could have already changed your tire. Do you
know if you have a spare?”


“Yes, but—you’ll
get wet!”


He laughs
heartily at the obvious. “At this point, I think I’d say that’s a moot

I’m happy to
hear no pain in his voice, like the first time we met. Maybe DeeDee’s shopping
spree put things in perspective for him. “Okay, sure, it’s there, somewhere.
Let’s look together. The least I can do is hold the umbrella.”


We both jump
out of the car and head toward the hatch. After moving the kids’ basketball and
soccer gear, with some finagling we’re able to shift the backseat forward and open
the compartment, which holds a fully inflated tire, thank God, and a jack.


He heaves
both out and crouches down to set up by the blown tire. As I stand over him
with my umbrella, I’m given a different point of view of Harry Wilder. I take note
of how thin his hair is at the crown of his head, and the way in which his
shoulders expand and roll beneath his jacket as he cranks the jack and twists
off the bolts. A few moments later, when he stands up to move the flattened
tire out of the way, he forgets how close I’m standing and bumps his head into
the umbrella. I’m caught off guard and topple backward, but he grabs my arm
before I fall into a puddle.


“Sorry!” we
say in unison, then, “Don’t be—” and then together we laugh. That breaks the
tension. But then a mist of awkwardness envelops us again.


I find it suffocating.
Apparently he does too, because he clasps my hand with his even tighter.


 My hand lingers in his just long enough for me
to appreciate its warmth.


And to feel
his wedding band.


Yes, Harry is
still in mourning.


nonchalantly as I can, I take my hand out of his. We stand there in the rain,
letting it pull us back to reality. Finally I realize that one of us should say
something. My attempt is feeble but sincere. “You know, I’m forever in your


“Don’t be
silly. I’m just glad you weren’t hurt, and that Olivia wasn’t with you, or your
boys. That spinout was pretty scary.”


I shake my
head in wonder. “I don’t know what I would have done if I had hurt them.”


“We can’t
protect them against everything.” He frowns. “All we can do is make the
judgment calls we feel are best, at any given time.”


“But that’s
just it. We’re only human. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we screw up.
Ted warned me about these tires being bald. I just haven’t made the time to buy
new ones. Well, there’s still a couple of hours before school is out. I was on
my way to the bank, but I think it’s best that I head over to Costco now and
get them changed out.”


He laughs. “Hey,
do you think that place has something called Lunchables? Temple is finally
burned out on my peanut butter and banana sandwiches. That’s top of the list of
my household duties today: bring home these Lunchables.”


It’s my turn
to smile. “You’ve never been inside a Costco?”


“DeeDee did
all the shopping. She even picked out my suits.” He grimaces. “But
hey, I’m game for anything now.”


A Costco
virgin? This should be fun. “Tell you what: you follow me over, and while they’re
changing my tires, I’ll give you a tour. And by the way, Olivia loved having
Temple over. Do you think she’ll be up for it again, maybe later this week?”


“It’s a deal.”
He reaches out again to shake my hand.


I take it
again. But why do I have such a hard time letting it go?


© 2010 by Josie Brown. Published in June 2010 by Simon &
Press. All rights reserved. Excerpted from SECRET LIVES OF HUSBANDS AND WIVES. This work is protected under copyright laws
reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the
material in
any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher


Where is Lyssa headed before Harry comes to her rescue?

Email your correct answer to
Please put “Toyota Excerpt” in the subject line.
Must be received no later than 12 midnight PT, on Tuesday, July 20, 2010

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