A Holland and a Fighter Excerpt: Burgers with a Side of Eggplant and Peaches

Sexually Suggestive Emojis

Honestly? There’s nothing quite like Jon and Livvy being in love. It’s been AWESOME “being in love” with them, too. I think you’ll love every moment of this book, but this night is particularly special for our lovebirds… so here’s the first excerpt. I don’t want to give too much away of A Holland and a Fighter–in a way, it’s a love letter to my most devoted readers: the Holland bubble.

Jon’s wearing his ten-year-old Columbia baseball cap when I get downstairs. He looks so cute and boyish when he wears that; it reminds me of when we were much younger. He looks like high school Jon, like the one that asked me out for the first time when I was fifteen and he was seventeen. On my tiptoes, I deliver to him another kiss. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with him all over again tonight.

“Did I already tell you how lucky I am to be with you?” he asks.

“Will you still be saying that at two in the morning when I’m nudging you to get me some Tums?” I ask him.

“It will be tinged with sarcasm, but yeah.” He tosses his keys in the air once and catches them, setting the alarm and opening the door to the apartment for me.

I notice he slipped on his jeans. “Should I put on actual pants or something?” I ask him, suddenly having second–rational–thoughts about my lounge pants.

“Nope. Normal people do this every day. We’re just ordering burgers, running in, picking them up and leaving. Why can’t we be normal for a night?” he poses the question to me.

“The Scotts go normal… I like that,” I tell him.

“The car should be ready when we get downstairs,” he tells me, holding his hand out for me. Butterflies blossom in my belly. “Did you just blush, Liv?”

I shrug my shoulders. “This is… fun. I just feel so… happy.”

In the elevator, he envelops me in a hug. “This is fun.”

Once we’re in Jon’s SUV and hidden by his tinted windows, I pull out his phone and find the menu for the place with the best burgers in the city–he’s the keeper of all the bookmarks to our favorite places. “Wow, they have a bunch of new things since we last did this.”

“It’s been years, Liv,” he laughs. “I hope they’ll still serve us.”

“We tip very well,” I remind him. Their food caters toward an adult crowd, so it’s not someplace we take the girls. When we normally get nights alone, we go out to nicer, sit-down restaurants–places where we can carry on a conversation with one another.

“Think they’ll make them to go?”

“We’ll tip even better. I’ll call them.”

“I’m thinking you should have worn jeans…”

“The high’s wearing off from earlier, huh?” I ask him, pinching his forearm and laughing.

“See if they’ll bring it to the hostess stand,” he whispers as I wait for someone to answer.

“Thank you for calling Raoul’s. How may I serve you?”

“Hi. This is Livvy Holland,” I say, earning a poke in my side from my husband for using my maiden name. It’s the one that gets the impossible done in this town, though. Scott can open many doors. Holland gets us the red-carpet treatment.

“Yes, Ms. Holland, what can I do for you this evening?”

“My husband and I have had a crazy night, and we were just wondering if there was any way we could get a couple of your burgers. It’s, like, the only thing I’m craving…” I say.

“Oh. Ummm. Let me ask the chef,” she says.

“We’ll pay whatever,” I tell her before she slips away.

I link my fingers with Jon’s while I wait for an answer. He holds on to me tightly.

“Ms. Holland? The chef says we can prepare burgers and fries for you and your husband. How would you like them cooked?”

“Oh, thank you so much!” I gush. “Both medium rare with everything on them. And could you have them ready at the hostess stand? We’ve been working in the nursery tonight, and we’re not really dressed to make an entrance, if you know what I mean.”

“Of course, Ms. Holland. We’ll have them ready in fifteen minutes.”

“We’ll be there. Thank you!”

Working in the nursery, huh?” he asks.

“Sounded better than screwing, right?” I make a production out of sliding his phone into the pocket of his tight-fitting jeans.

“A little more to the left,” he suggests.

“Yeah, yeah…” On my phone, I shoot a quick text to Shea.

– Guess who got some…

I wait for a response, but by the time we get to the restaurant, I still haven’t heard anything back from her. If I know her and Will, she’s probably getting some, too. Still… she should be celebrating this with me! It’s been months! Auggie the cockblocker took a night off!

“Ready?” Jon asks.

“Do I have to?” He nods his head, but I already knew the answer. It’s not safe for me to idly sit in a car late at night in SoHo, just like it’s not safe for Coley to take taxis by herself. They’re easy opportunities for bad things to happen. The words originally came from my father but have since been echoed by all the men in our family.

There are times when I miss the freedom, but I would never give up my life with my family, and especially my life with Jon. Not for anything in the world.

People are excited to see us out in public. Many of them are yelling my name, but I keep my head bowed down, not wanting to be in any pictures tonight, and I know that’s the only reason they’re calling me. Fortunately for us, they’re just average New Yorkers. No paparazzi tonight. That’s one good thing about going somewhere we don’t normally visit–none of the vultures are waiting on the off-chance they may catch a glimpse of us.

Jon makes quick work of the transaction. I don’t even watch him pay because I know he’ll tip them very well. When we met, he was very frugal with his money. After growing up without any, I couldn’t blame him. But since realizing what we make and what we stand to inherit someday, and knowing that both of his brothers are taken care of, too, he’s good about taking care of people who take care of us.

And trust me, getting us these burgers is truly taking care of me tonight.

“I cannot wait to eat this,” I tell him when we settle back into the car.

“Mrs. Scott?” he says abruptly.

“I will, though! Don’t worry. I wasn’t going to start now!”

He shoves his phone in my face before we pull away. “Can you tell me why Will is sending me sexually suggestive emojis right now? With confetti and champagne?”

“I mean,” I say, grinning, “what’s sexually suggestive about an eggplant? And a peach?” I ask innocently.

“There’s a rocket and a tunnel, too, ma’am,” he says, mockingly annoyed. I scroll though no less than twenty texts from his brother–half dirty, half congratulatory–all very Will.

“I just have no idea.”

“You told Shea.”

“I haven’t seen Shea!” I argue.

“Does your phone have an eggplant and peach on it?”

“Absolutely not! When Shea and I talk food, we spell it out. She’s a chef. She’s wordy like that.”

“Stop playing coy. What’d you tell her?”

“I just told her to guess… who… gotsome,” I say quickly.

“Got some?” he asks. “That’s how you talk about it? What are you, 13?”

“It’s been awhile, okay?” I laugh.

“I got some,” he says, mimicking my voice.

“Oh, my god. But wait! Don’t get onto me about telling Shea. It’s obvious you’ve told your brother you haven’t been getting any by his response to you.”

“Brothers talk! Whatever! It’s a guy thing!” he counters.

“Well, so do sisters.”

A Holland and a Fighter © 2019 Lori L. Otto

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Available for Preorder: A Holland and a Fighter

The 18th book is coming right on the heels of Make Waves. The release date will be July 15, 2019! If you like to feel your books, you will want to read this one.

Here are the preorder links for the Kindle ebook and the signed paperback. You can add it on Goodreads, too!

Want to know what it’s about?

It wasn’t the name I was born with, but it was a gift that was given to me at the age of four. On that birthday, I didn’t know what it meant to be a Holland, but over the next thirty-something years, there would be many lessons taught by a generous and adoring family. To be a Holland means to accept differences. To compromise. To listen, but to also speak your mind. To appreciate the world around you. To give back.
To be a Holland means to love.

I was never the fighter in my family. If there was a pacifist among the brothers, it would be me. I was the peacekeeper. The unifier. The one who was charged with keeping the family together; but in that very challenge, was it not a fight? The struggle may not often be a brawl, but there’s always hardship. This I know too well. To be a fighter means to face adversity. To do the unexpected. To stand alone. To have courage and strength of character. To prove everyone wrong.
To be a fighter means to live.

This is a story of love, life and the unexpected events that force us to fight for both.

Now… I’ve had quite a few readers ask me, “who’s this book about?” What?! Really? I didn’t mean to be coy; I had no intention to tease anyone with this. I felt like both sections gave plenty of clues to anyone who really knows my characters.

And I guess that’s the point with this book: you need to know the characters. You can’t pick up and start with this one. Just like with Make Waves, A Holland and a Fighter is not a standalone* or an entry-point** into my books.

To answer the question, this book is mainly Livvy and Jon’s, but… you get special cameos from no less than nine other characters from various other books in my library. This is the reason that I recommend readers read all of my other books before reading A Holland and a Fighter to get the full impact of the story.

Now, if you haven’t done that, and let’s say you’ve only read the Emi Lost & Found series and the Choisie series, I think you’ll follow along just fine… you’ll just be farther in the future than you may have expected, and the relationships between characters will be more developed and, likely, more complicated than you may remember. There may also be some children you haven’t met yet. 😉 You’ll figure that out.

At the bare minimum, though, you need to have read the Emi and Choisie series.

If you liked the Emi Lost & Found series and the way it made you feel, I think you will want to check this one out. Once again, here are the preorder links for the Kindle ebook and the signed paperback.

*Books that can be read as a standalone: Not Today, But Someday; Number Seven; Contessa; Crossroads; Love Like We Do (side a); Love Will; In the Wake of Wanting

**Books that are entry-points into different series: Not Today, But Someday; Lost and Found; Contessa; Crossroads; Love Like We Do (side a)

You can buy/read all my books on Kindle!

Make Waves Excerpt: Dinner at Mom’s

I haven’t put out snippets or anything for Make Waves, and I thought, “That’s not fair…” So, today’s the day I fix that. Here’s a scene with the Scott brothers and their mom. The narrator for this is Max.

The next night, Will, Jon and I are at Mom’s for dinner. She didn’t cook; Will brought something that smells amazing from Shea’s test kitchen. It doesn’t really matter what it is–I know it will be locally sourced, healthy and delicious.

Mom has more color in her face than I’ve seen in a while, and more energy, too. Even though I offer to set the table, she insists that I allow her to be useful while she can be.

While Will follows his wife’s specific instructions for reheating the dishes, Jon and I sit in the living room and catch up. “How’s home life?” I ask him. “All the girls?”

He nods. “We’re all good. Liv says hi. The girls miss you and Callen. You guys need to come over.”

“After the trip to Washington,” I tell him. “We’ll take them out to dinner or something.”

“Oh, they’d love that.”

“Any talk of… more kids?”

He laughs. “Livvy and Shea are plotting. They have a grand plan to raise one at the same time.” He rolls his eyes.

“You don’t want to have another one?”

“Oh, I’d like to… maybe try for a boy. I’d be fine with either. But Shea and Will aren’t ready yet. Sorry. Will isn’t ready yet. He’s going to go work with NASA and the Fermi team next year, and that may put him out of the country for a few months. He doesn’t want to leave Shea on her own.”

“Yeah, I forgot about that.”

“But our brother’s going to work with NASA,” he says, nodding with a prideful grin. I smile, too. “Are you looking forward to your trip? When do you leave?”

“Sunday morning, and fuck yeah. I cannot wait.”

“How’s your arm feel?”

I flex my fingers and wrist. “It’ll be fine,” I tell him with a cocky expression. “Holding a paddle’s easy. The motion only bothers it a little.”


“Why don’t you guys get off your asses and eat before I take it all?” Will says loudly from the kitchen.

“Will, stop,” Mom admonishes him, even though he was joking and neither of us took him seriously. Of course, we are going to the dining room table to get our fair share.

Jon offers Mom the chair between him and me, smirking at Will and me because we didn’t think of it first. It wasn’t that he was simply the first. Will and I were sitting down. We literally didn’t think of it.

“Thank you, Jonny,” she says.

“You’re welcome, Mom.”

“You look really nice today, Mom,” I tell her.

“I already told her that,” Will says, just to be troublesome.

“Me, too,” Jon pipes up.

“So? Can’t I tell her, too? I was gonna say so earlier, Mom, but Will wouldn’t shut his fat, fucking mouth.”

“Whoooooa!” Jon and Will both shout. Will shakes his head in mock disapproval.

She laughs at us.

“Sorry, Mom,” I say, smiling sheepishly and giving her a peck on the cheek.

“It wouldn’t be a family dinner without the cursing,” she says, patting my leg. “I gave up long ago. Can I say grace, though? To balance it out?”

She prays while the rest of us listen; she knows we all have our own beliefs or disbeliefs, and at this point in her life, she’s accepted all of us as we are. After switching churches about five years ago, her outward views changed, and love and tolerance became her new core values.

“Amen,” she says. Jon and I say it with her; Will nods.

All three of us make sure Mom has food on her plate before we take any, so at least we’re all in sync there. Once we all start eating, my mother glances at each of us and smiles.

“I got my results back yesterday.”

Jon sets down his fork. “Mom, I was going to go with you. You were supposed to call me.”

“I wanted to go alone, Jonny. It’s okay.”

She swallows and closes her eyes for a second; her lashes become wet with tears.

“What is it, Mom?” Will asks.

“There is good news,” she starts. “The TACE did what it was supposed to do. It shrank the tumors in my liver.”

“That’s great,” I say, holding her hand. It’s very cold.

She crinkles her nose and one of the tears drips down her cheek. “But the prognosis isn’t any better. In fact, my liver function is worse… he says one to three years.”

I bite my lip to keep from crying. My brothers maintain stoic looks.

“What can we do?” Jon asks. “What’s left?”

“He said we could go through another round of TACE in a few months and see if that can shrink it further–”

“Then we’ll do that.”

“But the damage is done.” She shakes her head, releasing my hand and taking her napkin to wipe her nose. “At the most, it could add six months. It’s a waste of money–”

“Money shouldn’t be a consideration here, Mom,” Will says. “Any of us can help you now. You just have to look past your pride.”

“I don’t want it!” she says loudly.

“I don’t care!” he argues. “I’ll find a way to give it to you. That’s not going to be the reaso–”

“The treatment, Will.” Her voice is soft. Her shoulders slump. “I don’t care about the money. I’m tired of feeling sick, and those treatments make me feel like I’ve poisoned myself. I feel better without them, regardless of what they do. They’re not helping like we want them to.”

“But you could have more time with us.” I stare at her, not understanding.

“What do you think that last six months is going to be like, honey? Do you expect quality time with me?”

“But you’ll have six more better months before that,” I argue, unable to stop the tears.

“Maybe,” she says. “Maybe. But then I have to endure months of the procedure again, and the illness and recovery from that again. Do you see how this works?

“Max, I don’t want to be a burden.”

“You wouldn’t be,” I tell her. Jon and Will seem to know something else.

“I’ll be a burden you love; a burden you won’t mind bearing, but a burden nonetheless. This is my fate, but, boys,” she says, now looking at all of us, “I wanted you all to know that I am grateful of how my life has turned out. I owe it all to you.” Jon hands her another tissue. “I was a burden you all hated before.”

“That’s not true,” Jon says. I shake my head. Will looks down at the table; we all know their relationship was much more strained than ours.

She huffs and smiles, waiting for Will to look up. When he finally does, she continues. “I love you.”

“I love you, too, Mom.” His eyes water as he starts tugging on his hair.

“I love all of you.”

“We love you,” Jon and I both tell her, hugging her from both sides.

“But I could have a good three years left in me, right? If tonight is any indication, I would say that’s definitely happening.” She picks up her fork and takes a bite. “I feel better than I have in a very long time.”

“That’s really good,” my oldest brother says, sighing. My brothers and I look at one another before we start eating again. I’m not as hungry as I was earlier, but I pick at the good food, forcing myself to eat it because I don’t want it to go to waste.

“There’s one last thing,” Mom says when we finish. “Jon, can you make some coffee? Decaf?”

“Uh… now?”

“Yes, please. I have some homemade zucchini bread in the oven, too, if you want to heat that up.”

The dining room table is still in the kitchen, so Jon isn’t too far while Mom continues talking.

“I want you two to reach out to your father.” She takes a sip of her water while Will and I stare at her, mouths agape. “Sometime. It doesn’t have to be now, but I will rest easy knowing that things are settled between you three.”

“As far as I’m concerned, Mom, things are settled,” Will says, standing and picking up his and Jon’s plates.

“Sit down,” she tells him. “Jonny can clear the table. You cooked.”

I look up to see Jon leaning against the counter, his arms crossed, his eyes on us. He’s not in any hurry to do chores. Even though he doesn’t share the same father Will and I do, he knows the pain The Asshole has caused us, and he will stand united in any decision we make.

He disowned me, Mom. Remember?” I ask. “Because I’m queer.”

“No, because he’s ignorant,” she argues. “I want you to be the bigger person.” When neither of us says anything, she continues. “I have his number. He lives in a trailer home in Divide, Colorado.”

“We know,” Will and I say.

“How do you know?”

“Doesn’t matter.” He shifts in his chair, leaning back. “All I can say is it’s Max’s call. It will always be Max’s decision, and I don’t have any say in the matter.”

“Hard pass.” I shake my head. “I’m dead to him; he’s dead to me.”

“But he’s not dead, and I’m afraid you’ll regret that decision when he is,” she says.

“Will he? If died, would he care?”

“Don’t even say that… but it doesn’t matter what he has to live with for eternity. I care about you.”

“Mom…” Everyone can hear the minor annoyance in my voice.

“It will put my mind at ease,” she says. “Even if you don’t believe in it, I still do.”

It’s not that I don’t believe in it; it’s that I have plenty of time to figure out what I believe, that’s all. I’m just not committing to anything yet.

I give it about two seconds’ thought. “I can’t, Mom.”

She looks at Will. “No.” He shakes his head.

Glancing up at my oldest brother, she pleads with him. “Jon, please do something?”

“Mom, there’s nothing I can say.” He goes back to making her coffee, and Will and I clear the table, trying not to let the awkwardness ruin our night.

Make Waves ©2019 Lori L. Otto 

Are you ready to read? Get Love Like We Do (side a), Love Like We Do (side b), (It Happened) One Friday and In the Wake of Wanting… or check out ALL of my books!

Pre-order Make Waves today!

Coming Soon – Summer Revival (Sides A and B)

If you’re on my email list, then most of this is old news to you, but I just realized I never put this on my blog! For shame!


Summer Revival is my current work in progress. Crossroads is *not* its prequel, but rather just a sort of introduction to the world. What Crossroads does is simply set up the environment for Summer Revival. It establishes a friendship between Max Rosser and Trey Holland. It talks about the living arrangements of Will, Max and his mother. It give you a sense of who they are and what influences them. That’s about it.

Summer Revival is not Will’s story. It is Max’s. It will pick up about 8 years after Crossroads, when Max is sixteen. The series will be split into two books.

Side A, the first book, will be narrated by two characters you already know:

Fifteen-year-old Trey Holland is definitely his father’s son. Responsible and conscientious, he always tries to do the right thing. He’s popular in school, a good athlete, and driven to exceed in academics. He doesn’t allow his new girlfriend, Zaina, to hinder any of his plans, either. He knows what he wants and he knows what it’ll take to get there. Even though Trey and Max have gone to different schools since childhood, they’ve been best friends for the past eight years. They’re as close as brothers, and Trey would do just about anything for his friend.

Twenty-eight-year-old Jon Scott is adjusting to life in Manhattan again, and it’s a whole new world. After living in Brazil for the past four and a half years, he’s getting used to a new job, getting reacquainted with his family, and trying to establish a new home life for himself. He’s relied heavily on his brother, Will, to keep an eye on their youngest brother Max, and he’s not sure he made the right choice in leaving them behind when he sees how Will has decided to live his life. He feels obligated to step in, and provide the support he should have given his brothers while he was away.

Side B will be released later. One narrator is Max; another is someone you will meet in this story:

Sixteen-year-old Max Rosser is outgoing, happy, flirtatious and fearless. He’s been afforded more freedom than most kids his age. While his mother has continued with her sobriety, her interest in other things has still kept her attention away from her sons. While Jon was away, Will was supposed to keep a watchful eye on Max, but Will’s constant focus on school kept him busy, and his disdain for his mother kept him away from their apartment unless he needed a place to crash for a night. Fortunately, Max and Trey have stayed very close over the years, and the Hollands have often provided much needed structure when others have not.

Sixteen-year-old Callen is a schoolmate of Trey’s and a friend of his and Max’s. The three have been close friends for a few years, playing summer sports together and going out as a group on the weekends. Callen is the best athlete at their school, and has the ego (and girlfriend) to prove it. His relationship with cheerleader Brinlee is the talk of the school. They’re the perfect couple–inseparable, so in love and serious. Callen’s parents are well-known in the community, and in their conservative private school. They don’t always see eye-to-eye with their son, but when they hear rumors about him, they simply deny everything. Their Callen is a good boy. He would never do anything wrong.

Summer Revival will test friendships, relationships and family bonds. The whole series hinges on the happenings of one night… and the involvement of quite a few people. There are central characters. There are supporting ones. There are peripheral ones. But they’re all important. Below are the actors/models/whatever I see for these characters.


What about Will, you ask? Well, I’ve already fallen for him, and the guy won’t stop talking to me, so yes, I plan to have a book for him after Summer Revival… it will likely pick up (chronologically) right where this series leaves off. I’ve kind of already figured that part out.

I have no ETA for this. No. No release date. Please don’t ask. I can’t give you one. Keep in mind that I still have that ‘real’ 8-5 job that I have to do… so all the writing comes second to that, unfortunately. It’s not what I want either. (We can all whine together now.)

Dear Jon has a synopsis!


A summer with his family in Utah is all Jon Scott needs to pull himself together. It’s time to focus on his mom’s sobriety and the continuing education of his two younger brothers, Will and Max. For once, things seem to be on track with that part of his life. For the first time, he sees real hope for his family.

This family time is a much-needed distraction from the relationship he walked away from in Manhattan. Livvy Holland, the girl he’s loved since they were children, has let him down for the last time. He doesn’t want to waste his time dwelling on the fight they had, or the shocking incident that happened the next day, after her graduation. It’s something he’ll never forget, or forgive.

Things never go as Jon plans, though. Despite her actions and a distance of two thousand miles, Livvy has every intention of keeping Jon’s attention throughout the summer with a series of 30 letters: three a week for every week he’s gone. He doesn’t have to read them; there are times when he simply doesn’t want to. He has plenty of things keeping him busy: a job that requires long hours, family friends that come over for parties, brothers that ask too many questions, and a girl that’s very unlike anyone Jon’s dated before.

But there’s something about Livvy Holland that keeps drawing him back to her. Reading the letters will either break the ties, or reunite them. His brain wants one thing; his heart wants another.

By the end of the summer, Jon will return to Manhattan. He’s come to terms with his past. He has a bright future. Back at Columbia, though, he must accept choices Livvy has made without him that will change his present plans.

Add it to your TBR list!

A preview of Dear Jon…


My mother digs into her purse and produces a small case with a Superman logo on it.

“Clever,” I laugh.  “I bet Clark Kent had the same case.”  I put the glasses inside and secure it shut.  “If you wear these all the time, you’re gonna make yourself dizzy.  Only wear them when you need them.”

“But they make things look weird,” Max says.  “It’s funny.”

“It’ll be funny until you trip walking down some stairs or straight into a wall… and they aren’t cheap, Max.  You need to take good care of them.  Okay?”

“Okay.”  He immediately takes them back out of the case and puts them back on.

“What did your brother just tell you?” Mom asks.

“I’m gonna go read!” he argues, grabbing the unopened letter and running out of my room.

“Is that from Livvy?”  My mother looks away as she asks.

“Yeah,” I say, getting up.  I’m not afraid he’ll read something he’s not supposed to.  He’s not used to cursive writing, and most of Livvy’s letters were written with such emotion that her penmanship seemed rushed, and messy.

“I met Audrey,” she adds, moving aside to let me out of my room.

“Yeah?”  I don’t really want to discuss any of the women in my life with her.

“I didn’t realize you had a date tonight.”

“I do.”

“She was so good with Max.  Really sweet.  And so pretty.”

“I’m glad you approve,” I say, not really caring one way or another.  I find my brother hidden on the side of his bed in the next room.  The slurping of his milkshake gives him away.  When I hold my palm out, he returns the letter to me, unopened.  “Glasses?”

He hands me those, as well, after putting them in the case.  “Are you gonna kiss Audrey?”

“Max, come on.”  I turn around to see my mother sitting on Will’s bed.  I blush, embarrassed by his question.  I’d been wondering that myself all day.  “Some things aren’t any of your business.  Livvy’s letter?  None of your business.  What I do tonight?  None of your business.”

“What are you doing tonight?” Will asks, joining us in the room but lingering in the doorway.

“Going out with Audrey from the glasses place.  Remember?”

“You gonna have sex with her?”

“Will!” my mother tries to reprimand him, but he just rolls his eyes, ignoring her.

“You still mad at me for asking her out?” I challenge him.

“What’s sex?” Max asks.

Mom takes that as her queue to leave, but urges my youngest brother to go with her.  “He didn’t say sex,” she lies.  “Will said Chex… like the cereal.  ‘You gonna have Chex with her?’  That’s what he said.”

“You can’t have Chex at night!  It’s for breakfast,” he says before he’s yanked from the room.

“Actually, you can have Chex any time of the day, Max,” I yell after them, happy that my mother may actually need to step in and teach my brother something.  It’s about time.

“Whatever!” she calls back to me.  “I would hope that you would wait to have Chex with this girl!”

“Whatever,” I whisper to myself, glaring at Will.  “What was that about?  If you have something to say to me, do it.  Don’t try to make things uncomfortable in front of Mom… don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing when you take your long showers.  I was your age once.  I could point that out to her, if you really want to compete.”

“Shut up.”  We both take a seat on opposite beds.

“You can’t be mad at me for this.  She’s the one who made the suggestion to go out on a date, Will.”

“You didn’t have to ask her out.”

“I’m interested in her.  There’s no reason why I shouldn’t take her out…”

“I liked her.”

“I promise you, Will, if she was some seventeen-year-old girl that you’d known for any reasonable amount of time, I would never have asked her out.  Even though that’s an incredibly unrealistic expectation for you to think some senior in high school is going to want to go out with you, I know there are some lines you don’t cross.  But face it, she showed you some sunglasses for five minutes.”

“But she said I was cute!”

“Her job is to sell glasses, Will.  She gets paid to make people feel better about themselves.”  I know by saying that, I’m likely making him feel pretty crappy about himself.  “The truth hurts,” I add.  “But I’m sure she wasn’t lying… you favor me, and she’s interested in me, so… of course she thinks you’re cute.”

“You didn’t even let me have a chance.”

“You want to come with us tonight?  We’ll fight it out.  We’ll make her pick.  I mean, is that what you want?”

“I just don’t want you to go with her.”

“What… if you can’t be happy, I shouldn’t be happy, either?  That’s pretty selfish.”

“She can’t make you happy,” he says.  “You can’t be happy without Livvy.”

“Livvy is not my girlfriend anymore.”

“But you’re still holding her letter in your hand.”

…to be continued…

Dear Jon (Choisie 3) ©2014 Lori L. Otto

One Week Until OLIVIA – here’s a snippet!

Livvy’s got a problem. She and Jon fell asleep in her room, and while it was relatively innocent, it’s not something her father will ever accept.


Jon’s upstairs, alone, with my family, after spending the night in my bed.  I have no idea how many lies he’s had to tell at this point–nor do I know what they are.  I hate this.  

After brushing my hair, I quickly pull it back in a messy French braid.  I put some powder on my face and run some gloss over my lips, then shut off the lights and run upstairs.

“There she is,” Jon says, immediately standing up off the couch as soon as he sees me.  My whole family is in the living room with him.  “Good morning, Olivia,” he says with a forced smile, crossing the foyer to get to me.

“Hi,” I say, holding my arms out for a hug.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” he whispers in my ear, “and Angelotti’s for dinner.  You had antipasto and eggplant parmesan.”

“I hate eggplant,” I whisper back, tucking my head into his shoulder to hide my lips.

“So I learned,” he says, letting go.  “But you liked it last night,” he whispers, raising his eyebrows and nodding to me.


“Where’d you get that shirt?” Mom asks.  Of course she notices.  Jon hadn’t put two and two together until she poses the question.  He lets me answer.

“Goodwill,” I say, looking down at it.  “I thought I could paint in it.”

“Goodwill?” Dad asks.

“What?” I ask, shrugging my shoulders and leading Jon into the empty kitchen.  “They have cool vintage things sometimes.”  I’d never been in a Goodwill before, and had no idea where there even was one.

“Ahhh,” Dad says, following us closely.  “And here I thought you were trying to save me money.”

“Well, it’s a win-win.”  Dad chuckles under his breath as the three of us take seats at the formal dining room table.  Mom and Kelly bring Trey and Nikki in, getting them situated before going back into the kitchen to get food.

“Emi, please, take a seat,” my aunt encourages her.  “Livvy said she’d help.”  I look up at her surprised, but quickly recover as I jump from my seat and return to the kitchen.

“There’s lipstick on the collar of that shirt,” she says.  “You couldn’t find anything else?”

“Kelly, Dad was coming downstairs.  It was the first thing I grabbed.  Just go with it, okay?”  She shuts her eyes and shakes her head, taking a few deep breaths.  “What do you need help with?”

“Put some bread in the toaster,” she says, “and then go take your mom and dad some coffee.”

“Kelly!”  My uncle’s voice makes both of us jump.

“Matty,” she says with a sigh.  “I didn’t know when you’d be home.”

“You makin’ us breakfast?” he asks giving her a hug.

“Yes, how do you like your eggs?”

“Over-easy,” he says, coming over to me after I start the toaster.  He hugs me and picks me up off the floor.  I can hear him sniff.  “You smell like sweat and men’s cologne and–” he says quietly in my ear.

“Is it that bad?”

“Smells quite good to me,” he says, setting me down.  “So yeah.  It’s that bad.  Is this Jon’s shirt?”  He grabs a piece of cantaloupe from a bowl on the island.

“No,” I say loudly, because I’m sure my parents heard the question.  “Go say hi to Mom and Dad,” I tell him with a glare, letting him know that they’re home.  “And Jon,” I add as he covers his mouth in surprise.

“I can’t wait to hear this story,” he says, leaning in to me quickly on his way into the dining room.

OLIVIA ©2014 Lori L. Otto – release date June 17, 2014

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Three Weeks Until OLIVIA – here’s a snippet!

Teaser1Jon shakes his head.  “It’s weird, because I’d never really thought about ‘love’ when it came to my dad.  It wasn’t something I’d ever really looked for.  I knew some kids had that–hell, I knew you had that, with the way your dad doted over you–but I just assumed you were all lucky, or special, or somehow extraordinary.  I never knew it was something I should expect.  I mean, my dad never even told me he loved me.  And when Will and Max came along, their dad was the same.  Emotionally dead.

“And Mom wasn’t much better.  She was too hurt by my dad–and then too drunk in the wake of what happened.  She’d tell me she loved me, but it was rarely when she was in a coherent, sober state.”

“I love you, Jon,” I tell him spontaneously, moved to say so by his story and by my own genuine compassion for him.  “How could anyone not love you?”  Sadness overwhelms me as I look into his eyes, and I feel myself begin to cry.  “Don’t believe it for a second.  Just because they didn’t say it doesn’t mean they didn’t feel it.”

Another tear falls down his cheek, but he never breaks down.  He looks at me for a few seconds, his thumbs wiping away the wetness from my face, and returns my involuntary verbal outburst with an instinctive physical one of his own.  His lips crash hard against mine, moving quickly as his hands lace through my hair and rest at the nape of my neck.

Both of us in need of a breath, he turns his head to the side slightly, resting his temple against mine.  My hands press on his chest, feeling the fast rise and fall of his breathing that mirrors my own.  His left hand trails down my right arm until it reaches my hip.  His fingers grasp my hipbone as his right hand gently caresses my cheek.

“I need you,” he whispers in my ear.  I nod my head against his, and I know he can feel my response.  He continues to stroke the corner of my mouth with his thumb.  I kiss it sweetly, and he lets it linger over my lips.  I kiss it a few more times before I grasp his t-shirt in my hands and start to take it off.  He lets go of me to pull it over his head.

His eyes trained on mine, he stands up in front of me, offering his hand to help me to my feet.  Once standing, I kiss his lips, then his jawline, then his neck, and he turns his shoulder like clockwork, bending down ever so slightly so I can kiss the dream and the sleep. ©2014 Lori L. Otto


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