So, I was planning to have my first round of revisions on my latest book finished soon, but I’ve had an interruption. Namely, an agent asking for some revisions on Seeking Sara Sterling. I was going to wait a while to do them, but then in the last #Pitmad contest (earlier this month), I had four agent likes on my pitch! So I decided I better dig in and complete those revisions before sending the agents a sample of the book.
Anyhoo, today, I returned to revisions on The Bug Collector’s Bucket List (or so I’m calling it for now). I know–I was planning to wait to share an excerpt, but I just don’t want to. I really love this story. It’s quirky and funny and the characters are already so real in my mind. There’s still much work to be done, but I thought I’d share part of the second chapter with you. This story is told from three viewpoints: K.J., Becka (who are cousins), and their grandpa, Eli. This chapter is in Becka’s POV. Hope you enjoy!
A few minutes later, we pull into another parking lot with a row of modern, two-story office buildings. Mom parks in front of one labeled Sisco and Browning, Attorneys at Law. I look back down at the coke stain which seems to have grown a bit larger. “God, this is going to be embarrassing. Don’t you have a scarf or something I can use to cover it up?”
Mom lets out a huff. “Yeah, Becka. I just keep all my spare scarves in the back of the Jeep. Let me get one for you.”
I want to smack her, but of course, I don’t dare. Instead, I roll my eyes. “Hey. It’s not my fault you decided to drive like a crazy woman on the way here.”
She gives me a stern look. One that says I better shut my mouth if I know what’s good for me. So I do. With my arms crossed and my head hanging, I follow her inside.
The office is small, with stark white walls and absolutely no decor. The smell of tobacco lingers in the air, and it’s about ten degrees too cold in here. I don’t know why people insist on keeping their air conditioner set on sixty. A secretary who appears a few years past retirement age directs us to Mr. Sisco’s office—the last one on the right, and chill bumps have cropped up on my skin by the time we step into the room. The fact that my arms are crossed tightly over my chest, pressing my damp shirt to my skin, isn’t helping.
“Hello,” a round-faced man says from behind a sturdy-looking table. He offers a faint smile as he extends a hand outward, ushering us into the seats across from him. He has a receding hairline and glasses, but looks pretty much the way I expected a lawyer to look. Stuffy.
“Hi Mr. Sisco,” Mom says. Her eyes dart back toward the open doorway, like she’s expecting someone else to come in.
“How are you two ladies doing this afternoon?” he asks once we’re settled into our cushy office chairs.
“Fine,” Mom says.
“Just a little chilly,” I add, trying to keep my teeth from chattering.
“Oh, sorry about that.” He rises to his feet and moves to the doorway. “Constance,” he calls down the hallway. “Could you turn the air up a bit?”
“Sure thing,” she replies. Thank god.
Mr. Sisco returns to his seat and glances at his watch. “We’ll wait a few more minutes to get started. Hopefully, they’ll be here by then.”
“Who?” I ask. Would there be more lawyers involved? I can’t imagine this will be too involved, but then again what do I know about lawyers and wills and such?
Mom gives me a rushed, sidelong glance and then smiles nervously back at the lawyer.
Down the hallway, I hear the front door open and then the murmur of voices. Contance and someone else. A woman. My eyes widen. Oh god. Is that who I think it is?
I turn toward Mom, but she refuses to look my way. She still has that weird, nervous smile plastered on her face. Mr. Sisco clicks the pen on the yellow notepad in front of him. Next to it sits a large maroon folder. My Grandpa’s will, no doubt. My arms constrict tighter across my chest—like I’m creating my own personal straight jacket. I might actually need one after this meeting. Footsteps continue to thump our direction. I suck in a breath and then risk a glance back toward the doorway.
“Hi there,” my Aunt Jackie says, wearing pink lipstick much too bright for this occasion—or any other occasion, for that matter. K.J. shuffles in behind her mom, her eyes glued to the floor. I didn’t get a good look at her at the funeral, but wow, she does look like a boy. Especially with that short haircut. A boy with boobs though. Hers are far bigger than mine. This only reminds me to keep up my self-inflicted stranglehold.
Mr. Sisco has them sit on his side, across from us. That’s probably a smart move, except for the fact that now I have to look at both of them. I realize my jaw is hanging open and promptly close it, but I still stare daggers at my aunt. Every few seconds, my gaze shifts to my cousin, but she refuses to look up.
“Well,” Mr. Sisco says after the longest stretch of awkward silence I’ve ever experienced in my life. “Let’s proceed, shall we?”
Mom still hasn’t said a word. She’s been digging in her purse this whole time and finally pulls out a pen and a small notepad. She stares directly at Mr. Sisco, completely ignoring the other occupants in the room. A small, squeaking sound comes from her mouth, and she nods.
I pull my gaze away from my aunt and cousin and squint at my mom. It looks like I might have to be the one to take charge today.
“We’re ready,” I tell Mr. Sisco.
He clears his throat and then opens up the maroon folder. “I’m just going to jump right in, I guess. I have here, Elijah Walker’s last will and testament, but before we get to that, I’d like to read you the first in a series of letters he left for you.”
He looks up and then at each of us in turn. I gather this letter must hold some significance. I give a nod, while my companions still remain silent and frozen. So far, I’m not too impressed with my aunt and cousin. They’re far less intimidating than I’ve always believed them to be.
After opening an envelope with the word One written on it, Mr. Sisco takes out a folded, peppermint green paper with what I recognize as my grandpa’s handwriting on it. Grandpa loved the color green. So much so, that he’d ordered a bright green coffin, much to everyone’s surprise.
Next to the lawyer, Aunt Jackie leans closer, trying to read the letter herself. K.J. also looks up for the first time, her eyes flashing to me and then my mom. I ignore her, waiting for Mr. Sisco to start reading. In the mean time, I uncross my arms. It’s warmed up to somewhere around comfortable by now. K.J.’s eyes move back to me, specifically to the brown stain on my chest. A smile tugs at the corners of her mouth, and I quickly cross my arms again.
“Looks like you could use some of Grandpa’s fortune to go buy yourself a new shirt,” she says with a mocking grin.
Her mother elbows her, but I narrow my eyes. “Shut up, K.J. No amount of money can buy you any class. Not that Grandpa had anything to leave us anyway.”
K.J.’s eyes widen every so slightly but her expression quickly changes to one of pure smugness. “Actually, he did.” She turns her attention down to the lawyer. “Didn’t he, Mr. Sisco?” RaeLynn frowns and elbows her daughter again.
“Be quiet, girls,” my mom hisses. “And let him read the letter.”