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The Best of Us Excerpt:

Senior Year...

She wasn't expecting the attack that came from her blind spot, so when the impact came, she was completely unprepared. As the almost two hundred pound weight landed on top of her, all the air was knocked out of her body. Her head hit the ground and she wasn't sure what had happened.

She could hear voices but she couldn't make out what they were saying, they sounded like they were in an empty room, far away. She opened her eyes to look at the train that had hit her. She would have said something but she still hadn't gotten her wind back yet.

He was looking down at her, grinning like an idiot. Slowly the smile faded and was replaced by a look of concern as he realized he had hit her pretty hard.

"DOG PILE!!!!" Was what she heard as the ringing in her ears started to subside.

"If I'm gonna die, I would rather be taken by surprise." She thought.

He moved so that his body was running the same length of hers. He had a knee on each side of her legs and his elbows were on either side of her shoulders, creating a bridge of sorts over her.

"Hold on." He said as a blur of bodies came running and jumping on top of them. He had leveraged himself up off of her to be able to take some fo the weight of the added bodies piling on tip of them.

She had closed her eyes when she heard the yell indicating that things were about to get worse. But he had managed to keep most of the weight off of her. She cautiously opened her eyes and was looking up at her best friends' face. She was on the very top of the pile, smiling.

"Hey Carly, what'cha doing down there?" Jenna asked, then winked at Carly.

"Got off guys; I think I hit carly too hard." Daniel said, albeit with a strained voice, after all, he was supporting three people on his back.

Everyone sobered and got off Daniel. there was a look of concern on everyone's face. Carly laid there on a gorgeous spring day with the most beautiful blue sky above her when suddenly all she could see was four almost identical faces looking down at her.

"Carly, are you alright?" Harm asked.

"Come on Carly, talk to us." Carter said squatting beside her.

Carly looked at Daniel, "You're an idiot." Carly said in the same tone you would tell someone what the time was.

"Oh good, see she's not hurt." Daniel said, extending his hand to help her up.

"That hurt, you Neanderthal!" Carly said with venom as she reached up and hit Daniel in the chest which was wasted effort for all the reaction he showed.

"Hey, we were playing football and you were staring off into space. It's your own fault!" Daniel said in his own defense.

"Yeah? First off, we are playing flag football which means no tackling and second, WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM!!!" Carly finished in a yell, then winced at the pain in her head.

All three of the guys busted out laughing and Jenna couldn't help but join in. Carly glared at the four siblings and if her head hadn't been hurting so much she probably would have joind in too. Instead she turned and walked back to the cooler to get some ice for her head.

"Come on Carly, it was all in good fun!" Daniel said to her retreating back.

Jenna followed carly to the ice chest, "You okay?" Jenna was a little worried; Carly wasn't one to hold a grudge, expecially against Daniel.

"I'm fine, just knocked the back of my head a bit." Carly sat in one of the lawn chairs they had brougth to the park with them.

"You know that if you don't pay attention, one of the boys will do something..." Jenna let the comment trail off. They had both been recipients of the boy's pranks from time to time and they constantly had to be on their toes around them.

"Yeah, I know. But if I'm not mistaken, the dog pile call was yelled by a female Wayne sibling...unless one of your brothers is still going through puberty I'm guessing it was you."

Jenna tried for an innocent look but couldn't pull it off. Instead she shrugged and gave Carly a sly smile, "I was just trying to help."

Carly rolled her eyes, "Give it up." Carly had been in love with Daniel since just about forever. Jenna had known about Carly's feelings since day one but only occasionally teased Carly about it; apparently this was one of those days.

"Look, he was lying there, you were lying there..." Again, Jenna let the comment hang.

"So you think that dog piling us would somehow, what, make Daniel realize how much he secretly loves me and we would hook up? Get a grip Jenna."

"Of course not, but it couldn't hurt."

"You weren't the one on the bottom." Carly said without heat.





Old Acquaintances Excerpt:

O n c e  a g a i n , R i s s a N e i l w a s the only one left to lock up. It was of her own doing. Her small boutique- her dream since she'd been little- had been showing a steady incline thanks to the extra hours she'd put into it since her mom's death two years earlier. Her personal life, on the other hand, had shown a steady decline for the same reason. She really didn't miss dating, but she'd neglected friendships, and it showed. Only one true friend had stuck by her since her mom's death.

Matt Johns understood, having lost his parents in a skiing accident when he was eighteen. He'd had trouble adjusting with being an adult orphan. His parents had been rich, and a lot of people came out of the woodwork to offer him help and guidance. That is, until they found out that he couldn't touch the money until he graduated college or turned twenty-five, whichever came first.

Rissa and her mom had taken Matt under their wings during that difficult first year of his parents' accident. They asked for nothing; they only wanted to be there for him. During that year he was at their house a lot for support, advice, home-cooked meals, and things he missed being able to do with his parents. He and Rissa had become very close during that time, a bond that went beyond friendship and became the one relationship they both treasured beyond any other.

Rissa stopped walking when she heard a noise. It was late and the parking lot was dark. The only light was from a meager streetlight too far away to be of any help. Rissa stood still, listening to the night. She wasn't sure what had caught her attention, only that there had been a noise that didn't belong. Rissa started walking, wishing she'd parked closer to the store. There it was again. She started walking faster while trying to find her keys, realinzing how vulnerable she was. This was a shoopping district and no one was out at this time of night.

She thought she heard footsteps coming from the bushes that edged the parking lot. She took off running to her car as a dark figure stepped out of the bushes. In her haste to unlock her car door, she dropped her purse. She carried one of those big purses men always tease women about, and for good reason- she carried everything but the kitchen sink in it. The contents of her purse scattered all over the pavement and under her car.

She tried to grab as much as she could while constantly looking over her shoulder toward the area she thought the noise had come from. Leaving her keys hanging in the lock, she used both hands to frantically shove her brush and her wallet, along with her makeup bag and the novel she had been reading, back into her bag. she wasn't concerned about some of the smaller stuff she saw laying around. The parking lot was so dark she wasn't sure she would be able to find it all anyway. She was more worried about whatever had made the sounds she heard. Figuring she was pressing her luck, she left everything else on the ground, got in her car and locked the door.As she pulled out of the lot, she made sure her headlights shone on the area where she had seen the shadow- nothing. "Stupid imaginataion," Rissa said with a forced laugh, but she knew she hadn't imagined it. As she pulled out, a shadow emerged from the bushes, walked to where Rissa had been parked and picked something up that had fallen underneath the car.







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