Déjà is when you feel as if you're reliving a moment in your life.
This is one of my favorite Victorian homes. Every time I walk by it, I'm dumbstruck.
It takes my breath away.
I imagine it as the perfect home for the heroine of my latest three-novel series, Extracurricular. In my imagination, she lives there with her husband, Daniel, who is a corporate attorney; and her three children—seventeen year-old high school seniors, Chuck and his sister, Charly; and their twelve year-old son, Noah.
Nothing in life is perfect. Usually, our imperfections are something we'd rather not showcase to the world. In many cases we'd rather not address them at all.
Or, perhaps we prefer to hide them.
They are our dirty little secrets.
Audrey's secret goes back twenty-two years. Unfortunately, for her it as just resurfaced in the form of one of the twins' teachers, Egan Gable.
Egan was also once Audrey's instructor. She's recently discovered that he's back at her high school alma mater: Ashbury Academy, the private prep school founded by her mother, Lavinia.
Lavinia also has a secret, which she divulges to Audrey at the end of Extracurricular – Book 1. Keeping this secret for her mother is tearing Audrey apart because she has sworn she will never tell Daniel, let alone anyone else.
Ironically, Egan is an open book. He thinks nothing of baring his indiscretions in his novels.
In the excerpt below, from Extracurricular – Book 2, Audrey reacts to the twins inquisition about Egan's novel.
(Spoiler alert: if you haven't read Book 1, I'd suggest you wait until you do…)
I hope you enjoy it. If you do, give Extracurricular a try.
Extracurricular / Book 1 (Signal Press
(Release Date: June 28, 2019)
BOOK 1 of an Episodic Series of 3 Books
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-02-5
It's your child's senior year.
A private high school's reputation is at stake.
A math teacher refuses to grade his final exams on a curve.
Students have only one more shot at the SAT before college applications are due.
And a few desperate parents with much more money than brains are willing to do anything to get their children into Ivy League colleges.
And Audrey's dirty little secret will soon be the downfall of everyone and everything she holds dear: love, family, friends, and her private high school alma mater.
In EXTRACURRICULAR, a dark family secret leads to a college admissions cheating scandal at a private school, setting off a crisis of conscience for the parents, teachers, administrator and the students involved—and a catharsis for one couple about their marriage.
Extracurricular Extracurricular/ Book 2
Release Date: Friday, September 20, 2019
Digital ISBN: 978-1-970093-06-3
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-970093-04-9
Extracurricular – Book 2
You’ll never guess who we saw last night!” Tallulah’s voice boomed through Audrey’s car’s speaker.
Oh, no, Audrey thought.
There is no way I’ll allow the kids to hear this conversation.
“Can’t talk now, Tallulah! We’re driving to school!” So that Tallulah would take the hint, Audrey tooted the car horn, causing an elderly man strolling in the crosswalk with his teacup poodle, to bolt upright. He grabbed the dog, wrapping the pooch in his arms protectively.
As the tiny poodle yelped hysterically, the man raised his hand in a one-finger salute.
The kids burst out laughing.
“Oh, my God! Is everyone okay there?” Tallulah asked.
“Ma just scared the bejeezus out of some poor old guy, is all,” Chuck proclaimed. He tapped his mother on the shoulder “Want to pull over so I can drive?”
“Charly scoffed, “Like heck! I’m the safest driver in the family—”
“No way!” Noah piped up. “It’s Dad by a long shot!”
“Tallulah, I’ll call you back.” The only thing good about the conversation was that it gave Audrey an excuse to hurry off the phone.
“Don’t bother, love! Just meet Bliss and me for lunch—Rose’s Cafe, one-ish! We’ve got to tell you how—”
Immediately, Audrey tapped her phone off the speaker.
“Mom…MOM! You’re passing the carpool line!” Through the rearview mirror, Audrey saw her youngest son smack his head with the palm of his hand. She skidded to a halt.
The car immediately behind her honked its horn. She sped up again and swerved to the curve, just beyond the drop-off point. The teacher tasked as the carpool monitor gave her a scowl.
Audrey’s mea culpa was a wave.
She caught her youngest son’s eye in the rearview mirror. “You’ve made your point, sir. Now, give me a kiss before your walk of shame.”
Noah’s smack on the cheek was too quick for her to corral him for a kiss of her own.
Never mind, she thought. I’ve embarrassed him enough.
Anxious to find out what the twins thought of their seventh-period teacher, Audrey wracked her brain for some way to raise the subject. She need not have worried. Five minutes into the fifteen-minute ride from Noah’s school to theirs, Charly paused the twins’ usual verbal jousting to declare, “Hey, guess what, Mom? I’m going to try out for Debate Team. Our seventh-period teacher is the coach.”
Chuck scowled. “And that’s why I’m not.”
Audrey gripped the steering wheel so hard that her knuckles turned white.
“The teacher? Who is it again?” To her own ears, Audrey’s voice sounded like a squeak.
“His name is Egan. And he thinks he’s hot shit,” Chuck muttered.
“He’s not the only one. Everyone thinks he hot—especially Fawn,” Charly taunted. “In fact, she’s trying out for Debate Team too.”
Chuck’s jaw fell open. When he caught his mother’s eye in the mirror, he shut it and shrugged. “Then, maybe I will too,” he declared.
“Ha!” Charly crowed. “After how you sassed Egan on his very first day, what do you think your chances are of making it?”
“You…you got into an altercation with your teacher—on his very first day of school?”Audrey exclaimed.
This time, Chuck avoided the mirror and looked out his window instead. “I was asking Fawn something—”
“She squealed while Egan was making his point,” Charly corrected him.
Chuck retorted, “Well, I proved to Mr. Big Shot Gable that you weren’t the only one in the class who could quote Shakespeare, Little Miss Show-Off.” To prove his point, Chuck nudged his mother. “You see, Mom? All those times you quoted the Bard to put me in my place finally paid off!”
This time, Audrey turned red. “Wow, I’m so proud,” she murmured sarcastically.
Chuck nodded vigorously. “Yeah, well you would have been if you’d seen his face.” Chuck slapped the back of Charly’s head. “Don’t worry, you’ll be the teacher’s pet in no time, just like you are in all your classes.”
The blush that crawled up Charly’s neck was not lost on Audrey. She felt as if the pit of her gut was on fire.
That’s why Charly wants to try out for Debate Team—to impress Egan. History is repeating itself.
I can’t let that happen.
Audrey glanced at Charly. “Honey, do you even have time for Debate Team? You have so many other extracurriculars! And almost all your courses this year are APs. Isn’t it more important to focus on your grades?” She took a deep breath, then added: “In fact, why don’t you drop Comp Lit and do something fun like… I don’t know, Glee maybe?”
Charly looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “Glee? Are you kidding me?”
“She’s got a point there, Ma.” Chuck exclaimed. “Haven’t you heard her sing?”
Charly turned to pound Chuck’s arm. He inched away just in time to avoid it.
“I will not be dropping out of the AP class I’ve waited two years to take,” Charly growled. “And as far as Debate Team goes, I’m not trying out just because it’ll quote-unquote look great on my college apps. I’m doing it because it’ll be fun. So if you want me to have more fun this year, mission accomplished.”
Audrey’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. Still, she nodded silently.
Don’t push it. Don’t make her suspect anything.
“And besides,” Charly continued, “don’t you want me to follow in your footsteps and lead the debate team to victory?”
“I?…Oh…well…” Audrey stammered. “How did you know about that?”
Charly rolled her eyes. “I saw the trophy in AA’s display case. There was an LA Times article attached. It said you, specifically, led the team to victory.” Charly grinned. “Mom, I get it: you’ve set the bar pretty high. But I’m going to do my best to beat your record.”
“To be frank, it was a team effort,” Audrey insisted. “And it was a lot of hard work, believe me. Yes, it was exhilarating—but for all the wrong reasons.
“Mom, since you already know the ropes, you can help me make the team too,” Chuck declared.
Audrey panicked. “But…Why would you even go out for it? Between basketball and baseball, don’t you have enough on your plate?”
Charly snorted. “Because of Fawn. He’s afraid he’ll lose her to Egan. At least, that’s how Fawn’s playing it.”
“She isn’t ‘playing’ anything,” Chuck shot back. He caught Audrey’s eye in the mirror. “I need an academic extracurricular. Something like that will look great on my college apps. Isn’t that what you keep telling me? So, you’ll help me—right?”
Chuck’s gaze said it all: You love me. Of course, you will.
How could she say no?
As far as Audrey was concerned, they couldn’t reach Ashbury Academy’s student drop-off queue soon enough. While their car idled in line, Charly’s peck on the cheek goodbye came with a question: “Since you were on Debate Team, you had Egan too, right?”
“‘Had’… him?” Audrey stammered.
“For Comp Lit. Isn’t that why you’re such a Shakespeare nerd?”
“Oh! Yes, of course! I mean, that one year Egan was here, I was in his class.”
“Then you must have been excited when his novel came out. It’s called Extracurricular.”
“Everyone was.” Even to her own ears, Audrey sounded defensive. She turned her head to hide her frown.
“Do we have a copy in the house?”
“No…” Technically, she was right. Her copy was buried in the back of the closet of her old bedroom in Lavinia’s house.
“Oh,” Charly shrugged. “That’s okay. Zina thinks her mom may have a copy because he taught her too. If not, I’m sure there’s a copy in the school library.”
“Why do you want it? So that you can impress Egan by giving it a glowing review in class?” Ignoring his sister’s glare, Chuck grabbed his book bag. “Or do you just want to read the sex scenes?”
Charly’s eyes went wide. Turning to her mother, she asked, “Are there sex scenes Extracurricular?”
Audrey answer was a flushed face.
Chuck hooted with laughter. “Wow, Mom! Really? His porn is that hot?”
“I wouldn’t know,” Audrey huffed. “Frankly, I never opened it.”
I didn’t have to. Egan read it to me—along with an auditorium filled with others just as moved by his erotic fantasy of…
“I’m sure they’ll have a copy in the school library,” Charly reasoned.
Oh my God—she’s right!
Hearing the honks behind her, Audrey lurched the car forward before squealing to a halt in front of the school’s entrance. “Out, kiddos. Make your mama proud today!”
The twins took the hint and scrambled out of the car.
After pulling away from the curb, Audrey took the first parking space she could find. She waited for AA’s clock tower to chime the final bell announcing the start of the school day and then rushed through the campus to the library…
(c) 2019 Josie Brown. All rights reserved