This novel was sparked into life by the strangest thing. My daughter was sitting at the computer, playing on the Barbie website. You know the Chelsea doll? Well, it’s her favorite (go figure). Anyway, she’s sitting there pasting these little Chelsea stickers into a scene. She has, like, hundreds of them. Suddenly, she yells out, “Forward Chelsea army! Sparkle, sparkle!”
And I laughed because it was the oddest thing ever. But then I thought, “You know? The world needs more sparkles. It needs more girly, silly, pink and pretty things.”
And at that moment, a young adult contemporary book was born.
Now, Glitter and Sparkle has nothing to do with an army of Chelseas. But it does have glitter. And it does have sparkles. And after writing dark and heavy Seirsha of Errinton, I was ready for some fluff.
I love it. I hope you will too.
Without further ado, here’s Chapter One.
Glitter is the most fabulous thing ever created. With a little spray-on adhesive, you can literally stick it to anything. That’s why I’ve covered my lamp, bookshelf, wall art, and virtually everything on my desk in the stuff.
These aren’t kindergarten craft projects, either. If anyone can wield a glue gun and a paintbrush with a bit of finesse, it’s me. Just ask anyone who follows my blog. (And not to brag, but there are a lot of people you could ask, if you know what I mean.)
“Lauren, it’s time for dinner,” Mom yells up the stairs.
I’m staring at a new owl figurine I bought at the mall yesterday, trying to decide what I’m going to do with it. It’s white, completely boring, but it has so much potential, I just had to pick it up. Idly, I run a comb through my hair as I think over my options.
Sighing, I step back from my desk. Parents, or maybe just my parents, don’t understand how the artistic muse works. I can’t just stop for dinner. I need to create.
I roll my eyes as soon as the thought crosses my mind because it’s a tiny bit dramatic, even for me.
After quickly pulling my mess of honey-colored curls in a quick ponytail, I snatch the owl and trot down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“I think it needs to be hot pink,” I announce to no one in particular as I plop into my regular seat and set the owl beside my plate. “But I’ve used it so much lately, it’s feeling overdo—”
I gurgle to an abrupt stop. Sitting directly across from me, in my repulsive older brother’s regular seat, is the hottest guy I’ve seen in my life.
And I have no idea who he is.
“Hey.” His mouth twists into a sideways smile, and he looks as if he’s trying not to laugh at me.
“Who are you?” I blurt out.
Stupid, stupid, Lauren. When a hot guy says “hey,” you say “hey” back.
“You remember Harrison.” Mom comes up behind him and places her hand affectionately on his shoulder.
This gorgeous, slightly rumple-haired, lean-muscled Greek gladiator is Brandon’s moron friend who used to make rude noises with his armpit?
Harrison’s eyes light with amusement. “You have paint on your cheek.”
As I swipe at my face with a napkin, I inwardly groan and curse. (Not really bad words, mind you. I’m a lady.)
“Just like old times,” he adds, obviously enjoying my discomfort.
What Harrison—and it must be Harrison after all—is referring to, is the day he and Brandon attacked me with Rustic Red paint a summer long, long ago when my parents made us update the shed.
I was ten, so the boys were thirteen. Harrison moved to Connecticut the year after that, and I have never been so happy to see someone leave the neighborhood. Mom, who’s been friends with his mother her whole life, wasn’t so happy.
“What are you doing here?” I ask rather rudely.
I don’t care if he’s now the hottest thing to ever grace our kitchen table—he’s Harrison. And I don’t like him.
Mom shoots me a look. “Harrison’s transferring to the university, and I told Vanna he could live with us for a couple months until he finds a place.”
How is this something my parents forgot to tell me? How do you not toss that into a conversation at some point? Lauren, we’re so proud of you for landing the lead in the play, and, by the way, Brandon’s obnoxious friend is going to be living with us for a few months.
“He’ll be staying in the guest house,” Mom continues.
“The guest house?” I ask, incredulous.
It’s my craft studio, the place I film the videos for my blog. All of my art stuff is out there.
It’s my space.
Instead of answering, Mom shoots me another look and sets a pan of lasagna on the table. Her fabulous garlic bread sits next to it, all buttered and browned to perfection. Sadly, I’ve lost my appetite.
Dad strides into the room and plucks a piece of bread from the plate. As Mom scolds him, I scowl at my owl, refusing to look at the newly gorgeous interloper across from me.
“Deb texted and said you got in early,” Dad says to Harrison as he takes a seat. “How was the weather?”
“It was just fine, sir,” Harrison says. “Thank you for letting me stay here for a bit.”
“Not a problem,” Dad says. “We’re happy to have you again. You practically used to live here.”
Ugh. I just…I can’t do this. I start to stand, already forming excuses. I’ll fake a migraine or girl problems or…pneumonia or something.
As I’m rising, Mom says, “Lauren. Sit.”
Like a well-trained dog, I plop back in my seat and glare at her. For a brief moment, she shoots me an understanding look. Mom knows I never liked Harrison. He wasn’t like some of Brandon’s other friends who were actually nice to me. He was awful.
With no escape from the table, I let my mind wander. Why couldn’t it have been Austin staying with us? He was Brandon’s best friend in high school, and not only was he incredibly cute, but he also had manners. Oooh…or Jamie. I’ll never forget the summer he and Brandon hung out at the basketball court…
“We moved your stuff to the garage,” Dad says, and when there’s a hush at the table, it becomes obvious he’s talking to me.
Horrified, I look up at him. “The garage?”
“You didn’t think I would share, huh?” he says, missing my meaning entirely. “I moved things around and made room for you. You’re welcome, Princess.”
Harrison watches the exchange, and amusement shines in his ocean blue eyes.
Ocean blue eyes? Where did that come from? Like I care what color his eyes are.
I look at my plate and cut a large, flat noodle with my fork. Normally, I would stuff the whole thing in my mouth, but it’s weird having Harrison here, sitting across from me, studying me for weaknesses he can prey upon later.
“So, Lauren, you’re a senior this year?” Harrison asks.
Of course, I’ve just taken a bite. Silence descends over the table while I chew. Why does food become dryer when everyone is waiting for you to answer a question?
“Yep,” I say and then take a sip of tea, hoping he’ll get the point that I’m not in a talkative kind of mood.
“Lauren’s in advanced art, and she has the lead in the fall play,” Mom says. “Don’t you, honey?”
Harrison grins. “Advanced art? Is that a real thing?”
I squeeze my fork. “Yes.”
“You always liked painting.”
Deep, calming breaths.
My parents laugh, again remembering the day he’s—once again—referring to. Not that they could forget. Brandon brings it up constantly. I had paint in my hair, on my face, and all over my clothes. Of course, at the time, Dad had been livid with the boys. It’s odd how those details are forgotten as time goes on.
The subject of the conversation shifts back to Harrison, and I try not to gag as I listen to my parents get all gooey over his accomplishments. He graduated high school early and already has his bachelor’s degree in architecture. After winning some big award, he was offered a prestigious job position here despite his young age. That’s why he’s transferring universities to finish up his master’s.
Just as we’re standing to clear the dishes, my phone goes off in my purse from the next room. I look at Mom, begging her to let me get it.
“I can handle this,” Harrison offers as he takes a stack of plates, smiling at my mother in a practiced parent-melting way.
Mom waves me off. “Go on.”
I race into the next room just before the call goes to voice mail.
“About time,” Riley says.
After bounding up the stairs to my bedroom, I tell my best friend everything.
“Is he cute?” she asks after I finish.
“Well, yes…he’s actually pretty hot.” I roll my eyes, facing the mirror as I try to wipe the dried paint splotch off my cheek. “But that’s not the point.”
My reflection scowls at me, and my light blue eyes narrow in irritation. At least the encounter has left a pretty flush over my usually fair skin.
“Okay,” Riley says. “So the point is that you have a totally hot—possibly single—guy living in your guest house who used to tease you because he thought you were cute…and that’s…bad?”
“I was ten. And he didn’t tease me because he thought I was cute. He teased me because he’s awful.”
“Well,” she says, and I can tell from her tone that she’s smirking. “You’re not ten now.”
Just as I’m about to further explain why Harrison is the spawn of evil, there’s a knock at the door.
“I gotta go,” I say. “Mom’s come to grovel.”
Riley protests, but I say goodbye and hang up, knowing she’ll attack me for more information at school tomorrow.
I swing the door open, ready to whine, but it’s not Mom.
Crossing my arms, I glare at Harrison. “What do you want?”
“You don’t look happy to see me, Laura-Lou.”
I cringe at the nickname. I hated it when my mom used it when I was ten, and I hate it now.
“Please go away,” I say.
Harrison’s about to respond when his eyes drift behind me to my room, and his jaw goes slack. “Whoa,” he mutters. “Did a bottle of glitter explode in there?”
I stand up a little straighter and refuse to answer.
He brushes past me, and I gape at him.
He’s in my room.
I don’t want him in here.
Harrison picks up knick-knacks to study them, and, one by one, I take them from him and carefully set them back in their places.
“Please don’t touch that.” I rescue a vase filled with crepe paper flowers from his clutches. “And not that either!”
I try to pull a picture frame out of his grasp, but he’s a lot taller than I am, and he holds it above his head while he looks at it.
“Huh,” he says.
Irritated, I set my hands on my hips. “Huh, what?”
“Your boyfriend’s kind of…”
It’s the picture from last year’s prom, and Tyler is certainly not my boyfriend. We only went together because Vance Teller asked vile Kally Prath even though he’d flirted with me all semester in first-period language arts. Still, I feel the need to defend Tyler, even if he is a bit of a dweeb.
“Kind of what?” I demand.
Harrison grins and finally hands me the frame. “Nothing.”
He continues his perusal of my room, and I tap my foot, waiting for him to get bored and leave. I know if I let myself appear rattled, this will be too much fun for him. Predators are like that.
I must not show fear.
“You’re kind of tense.” He runs his hand along my sparkling window casing. “Your dad let you do this?”
Actually, Dad was a tiny bit angry.
I give him a bored shrug.
“You’re one of the girls who tries everything they see on Pinterest, aren’t you?”
At that, I can’t keep my mouth shut. I lean forward and narrow my eyes. “I’m one of those girls who designs things that other people try to copy off of Pinterest.”
He raises an eyebrow, his expression saying, “La-di-da.”
We stare at each other for a moment, making our assessments. Harrison’s hair is a little darker than it used to be. It’s still blond, I think. But there’s a lot of brown in it, too. He wears it pretty short, but it’s just long enough to be slightly messy.
He does it on purpose, the snarky part of my brain thinks. He probably uses more hair products than you do.
It’s weird. Harrison’s so pretty now. But not in a girly way—in a very manly, could be the swoon-worthy star of a popular teen series kind of way.
“All right, Lauren. Here’s how this will work,” he says suddenly.
Crossing my arms, I stare at him and wait for him to continue.
“I’ll stay out of your business,” he says. “If you stay out of mine.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Why, exactly, would I be interested in getting into your ‘business?’”
Harrison laughs and gives me a knowing look. He tosses a sequined pillow back on my bed, disturbing my cat, who’s been watching Harrison with suspicious eyes.
Then he strides to me and does the unthinkable—he sets his hands on my shoulders and leans down.
And, much to my horror, my heart stops. It just stops. I go cold and then hot, and every square inch of me tingles. Oh, and I hate him. But good heavens, his lips looks scrumptious.
He stops about five inches from my face and looks me in the eyes. “I know you had a thing for me when we were young, and you’re probably getting yourself all twitterpated at the thought of me living just out back. This could be hard for you, and I want you to know I understand that, and I’ll try not to make it any more difficult. But I’m not interested in you in that way, so you’ll have to move past it.”
I sputter, and my cheeks grow red—not with a pretty girlish flush but in full-out anger.
“I hated you,” I snarl.
Harrison pats my shoulders in the most condescending way possible. “It’s all right. I understand that you’re just not mature enough to discuss it without getting defensive.”
He gives me a patronizing smile and strides into the hall.
“I didn’t…what is wrong with…” I can’t even form a coherent thought, and I shake with indignant fury.
“Don’t misunderstand me,” Harrison says. “I think you’re a sweet girl, and if you can manage it, I’d like us to be friendly while I’m here.”
With those last words, the door shuts behind him, and I’m left gaping at painted pink and white stripes.
Want more? Check out Glitter and Sparkle on Amazon.