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Monkey Business Excerpt

Monkey Business

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Excerpt: Kimmy Contemplates the Random Acts of the Universe

What am I doing here? Jerry, the guy sitting four seats diagonal to me started a multimillion-dollar paper company. Juan, sitting in the corner, is an international student from Columbia and has two degrees in neuroscience. The woman I met in the bathroom at the dorm is an investment banker and hangs out with British royalty in her spare time.

I was in a diaper commercial.

I’m not sure why I couldn’t come up with something a smidgen more intellectual than discussing my crap, literally. I am so pathetic. I must have been an admissions mistake. Stapled to a worthier application by accident. That’s the only explanation. I don’t know how I aced the GMATS. I must have gotten an easy version.

The class is laughing now, while my knuckles are gripping the sides of my desk in panic. They’re laughing at a joke where Arbitrage Pricing Theory is the punch line. What am I doing here? I don’t even know what Arbitrage Pricing Theory is.

Something pings me in the head. A paper airplane is nestled between my freakishly long foot and the leg of the desk. I look over my shoulder to see my nightmare from last night demonically smiling at me.

I’ve been successfully avoiding him all morning. I even managed to avoid looking at the back row for the last three hours, a feat not as difficult as one might think. When returning from the shower this morning, I spotted him standing by my door, knocking and hollering, “Kimmy? Kimmy, you there?”

I ducked back into the bathroom. When I heard him searching inside the bathroom, I sneaked into a stall. How could my potential husband have turned into my personal stalker in just twenty-four hours? What does he want from me? I thought all men wanted was action, and then they took off. Why was this one still around?

I rushed into orientation, claimed a desk with my sweater and pen and then disappeared back outside. I correctly assumed that he wouldn’t be able to sit next to me if he didn’t know which desk I’d taken. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the law of random act of chance or whatever it’s called into account. Until he threw an airplane at my head, I’d managed to pretend to concentrate on the lecture with intensity usually reserved for a Details magazine. (I love men’s mags. Women’s are so annoying: “What do I do? My mascara is clumping?!” Who friggin’ cares?) I spin around and there he is. Two rows behind me. The gig is up.

The entire auditorium is ogling me like I’m butt naked. Nice work. It’s only my second day and I’m the class slut.

I give him my best thin smile.

“How are you?” he mouths.

“Fine. And you?” I mouth back.

A goofy, buoyant smile is plastered on his face. “Want to hang out tonight?” This time his mouth has sound, and the entire room is in heat waiting for my response.

Ahhhh! What kind of question is that? Hang out? As if hang out could mean anything but hook up. If I say yes, I’m a slut. No, and I’m a bitch. It’s like I’m at a witch trial.

Blink, blink. What to do, what to do. I skim the back row to see what the peanut gallery is expecting. And then my eyes lock with the bluest eyes I have ever seen. I feel like I just fell headfirst into a bucket of rich blue paint. They’re opaque and beautiful and I lose myself in them entirely.

I snap back into focus and check out the rest of the man with the magical gaze. He’s wearing a blue-collar shirt that matches his hypnotic eyes, and he’s leaning forward, his elbows on his desk. His hair is dark, black almost, and piercing blue eyes - I bet he could easily play Superman in any upcoming remake.

I’m in love. Okay, I know I’ve thought that before, but this time I mean it. And this time the object of my love is looking at me while I’m looking at him. I smile, then turn back to the front of the room. The best way to flirt is to make eye contact, smile and then look away. Screw you Wayne, I’ve found someone else!

"Um...Kimmy?” Jamie asks.

I crane my neck backward again. “Yes?”

“What about tonight?”

Oops. If I want to marry Blue Eyes, I can’t say yes. But if I say no, the peanut gallery will condemn me for life. What kind of girl sleeps with a guy then refuses to see him? Sure, if I were a guy the act would have earned me kudos, but face it, I’m a woman struggling to survive in a testosterone terrain.

I take a politician’s platform. “We’ll see.”

The goofy smile returns to Jamie’s face.

I spend the next hour looking straight ahead, feeling the hairs on the back of my neck prickle as if it were cold in here. Actually, it is cold in here. I’m a bit nippy.

Of course that could be because of Blue Eyes.

Maybe when the bell rings, he’ll smile at me, and we’ll chat about school and then he’ll ask me to get a coffee and I’ll say sure and we’ll grab a cup to go and park ourselves under a tree on campus. He’ll spread out his jacket so my beige pants won’t get stained with dirt. Damn, I don’t think he has a jacket. What will I sit on? His lap? Wrong. Too early—I don’t want a repeat-Jamie experience. I guess I could sit on my notebook. Anyway, we’ll smile shyly at each other. The wind will blow through my hair. And then we’ll sit together in all our classes and fall madly in love. We’ll spend the next two years studying in the library, giggling together. He’ll explain to me all the things I don’t understand. Like Pricing Arbitrage. Pure bliss. One day we’ll tell little Blue Eyes Junior how we met on the first day of orientation.

Once again, I might be getting a smidgen ahead of myself. He might have taken a look at my fat ass and decided I was repulsive. Or he might already be married. He might already have a Blue Eyes Junior. I should know by now that you have to look at a man’s left hand before you look in his eyes. Unfortunately, since he’s sitting diagonally behind me, two seats over from Jamie, from my position there’s no way I can get a good look at his ring finger.

He doesn’t look married.

“Okay, guys,” the class leader says, “it’s time for you to divide into groups of five. Remember, you’ll be working with these people for every group assignment this semester. LWBS’s policy is to allow students to choose their own work groups within their Blocks. Some B-schools assign the groups, but LWBS believes you are capable of making the decision. I would suggest that you talk among yourselves, to get better acquainted. Each group should be made up of people of diverse backgrounds in your groups so that you’ll be able to attack assignments from various angles. For example, you don’t want five engineers in one group.”

Panic. This must be how the heavy girls felt in gym class. No one will pick me. What can I add to a group? Uh, nothing? How’s this: two accountants, one engineer, one banker . . . and a diaper model. I slouch in my chair. Through the slits in my eyes I watch my fellow students mill about. I don’t look up in case they’re pointing at me and shaking their heads. No, not her. No morons in this group.

What happens to the people who don’t get picked? Will we be rounded into the corner to become the loser group? Maybe I’ll be the only one left. I’ll have to do all the assignments by myself. First I’ll struggle to understand them, then I’ll fail them, and then I’ll get booted back to Arizona.

“Psst, Kimmy.”

I practically pirouette at the sound of my name. Jamie. Sweet Jamie.

“Want to work with us?”

As far as I can tell, us includes himself, (gulp) Blue Eyes sitting next to him and a skinny bleached blond guy making a beat with his pen on the edge of his desk.

“Sure,” I say, way too quickly to appear nonchalant. Wow. They want me. They want me to work with them. Maybe there’s some merit to being the class slut, after all. Soon enough they’ll realize I’m really a relationship type of girl, but by then, I’ll be completely assimilated into this group. With Blue Eyes. Three boys and me. One boy who wants me, one who’s a stud, and one who looks like fun in the musical-I-have-a-garage-band way. This will be awesome!

Until they realize that I’m totally useless and start to hate me. What if they have secret meetings and vote me out of their group, Survivor-style?

But awesome until then.

I catch Blue Eyes’s gaze and exude my best come-hither smile. He smiles back.

Jamie jumps out of his chair and sits on the table. “Excellent. She’s Kimmy, by the way,” he says to the other guys.

“We figured,” Musical Blond Boy says, smirking.

“The smart ass over there is Nick. The beautiful Lauren is on his right?”

Lauren? No one said anything about a gorgeous Lauren. I take one look at the stunning African-American beauty and want to cry. She towers over Nick and is sitting with perfect posture, her perfectly perky breasts at attention. Her hair cascades in jet-black curls down her back.

I noticed her when I walked in. How could I not? Every eye in the room followed her when she strutted to the back of the room, parading through the rows like she was on a catwalk.

Bitch.

I know it’s wrong to hate women just because they’re better looking than I am, but I retain the right to remain politically incorrect.

“Hey,” she says, leaning into her palm, her elbow on the desk.

“Hi,” I say, trying to infuse my greeting with enough suspicion so she’ll know I’m on to her.

“And,” Jamie continues, “the ugly guy sitting next to me is Russ.”

Russ. I smile and lock eyes with Blue Eyes once again.

“Nice to meet you,” he says, extending his right hand to shake. His fingers are soft and warm.

And how is his left hand?

Ringless.

The year is looking up.