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Excerpt #2 (from Chapter One, © 2014 Nancy Koenig)
Chianti Lounge – December 2007
Tears stop in their tracks as they always do, as if they are afraid of what lies beyond the safety of my eyelashes. I attempt to change the channel of my thoughts. With my mind constantly running, there are many networks to choose from. There’s no reason to stick with one if I don’t like the program it’s broadcasting.
I’d much rather think about Britney’s issues, as her latest hit pulses through Chianti Lounge, the upscale Long Island hot spot where I await my friend, Grant. Dance music feels out of place between jazz sets. Britney just doesn’t fit in here, or anywhere, lately. I feel for her. Mrs. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous has truly gone off the deep end this year.
I haven’t felt too far from it myself. Thankfully, it hasn’t come to shaving my head and smashing cars with umbrellas yet, but that may not be as far off as I’d like to believe.
Cue another replay of last night’s dream. It’s the one mind channel I can’t seem to turn off at will: the Zakary Network. I haven’t seen the guy in ages, but he still haunts my psyche on a regular basis through the dreamstate. The effects of seeing him often linger for days.
Not this time. I’m not going to be emotionally derailed again by someone who didn’t choose me. Instead, I am considering the man who has, again and again. Grant deserves me. So I’m thinking I’ll get good and buzzed tonight and let him have me.
You may say if I have to drink beyond my senses to do something (or someone) it probably isn’t in my best interest. But even if I regret this tomorrow, it will give me something better – or at least more original – to think about than Zakary.
This time, I will really let myself go. I’ll fully give myself to Grant, heart and soul as well as body. Or should I wait for our trip? Maybe our chemistry will translate better in another language.
I smile as I realize it’s already translating better. Much better! Right here on Long Island. I realize I finally have enough love for myself to choose the guy who cares deeply about me over the one who got away. Ran away, really, like he was training for the Olympics.
Screw you, Zakary. You can haunt me in my dreams all you like, but you went on with your life. I’m finally going to get on with mine.
On my way back to the table, a guy abruptly stands up from his bar stool and bumps right into me. My breath ceases the moment he turns to reveal his gorgeously familiar face.
For a few rapid heartbeats, I actually think it’s him. In the history of lookalikes, no one has looked more like someone than this young man looks like Zakary, circa 1994.
He stares at me like I’m the ghost, and apologizes before we scurry off in opposite directions. Like a sneeze that announces its intention but doesn’t follow through, my tears remain where they always do, burning my eyes before vanishing back into the abyss.
I take several deep breaths and silently rehearse my words as I walk back to the table.
“I can’t do this.” I say when I arrive.
“Do what?” Grant asks, as if what just happened between us only occurred in my imagination.
“Any of it. Go home with you. Take the trip. I want to do all of it but I can’t. I’m sorry.”
The tears return to their starting gate. Grant hasn’t seen me cry in over a decade. No one has.
“Why not? What’s wrong?”
“I just can’t be with you or anyone else until I get closure. With him.”
“Oh Jesus, not again,” Grant says with a tone of disgust. There is no need to qualify “him.” This is not this topic’s first rodeo.
“I know. I can’t help it. I wish I could.”
“Vienna, what’s wrong with you? When are you going to accept the fact that it’s over? He moved on over ten freaking years ago! Don’t you think it’s time you do the same?”
Those who participated with 2014’s contest may have noticed the absence of the spicier sections of this excerpt. Rest assured, the juicy scenes are still in the book itself! 🙂
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