Tales and thoughts from the coal face of writing and life from the agoraphobic and crime obsessed author of Vile City (Detective in a Coma book 1) Jennifer Lee Thomson. She also writes as Jenny Thomson.
Friday, 5 June 2015
Introducing an excerpt from A Life of Inches by Douglas Esper
Ryan Kelly and Woodie Wodyzewski always fight for every inch.
Whether on the baseball diamond, the basketball court, or even the dance floor, these two friends are true competitors.
When Ryan beats Woodie in a bike race because Woodie has the misfortune to be hit by a car, he seems to have won. But the beautiful girl who crashes into their lives is worth far more than any trophy.
Molly De Leon knows all about winning, and nothing will keep her from her goals.
Ryan and Woodie have been vying for Molly since the day they met. How can she possibly choose between them?
Woodie has a complicated family situation and she desperately wants to help him through his misery and confusion. A little on edge with a temper, he’s the bad boy in her life who reminds Molly a lot of her mother, a powerful politician she’s grown up watching bend men and women to her will with a simple smile.
Ryan, on the other hand, is very close to his parents, grounded, and has a good sense of humor. He’s not your typical jock; he’s a safe, reliable pick, and a constant in Molly’s life—that is, until his injuries lead him down a destructive path.
Molly realizes it’s time to make a decision…
But how can she risk losing either one of them when they both own a piece of her heart?
1. I turn in
time to witness Woodie’s arms lash out in an exaggerated sign of frustration.
Fury and adrenaline fuel his fist outward, connecting with Molly’s jaw just as
she reaches to wrap him in a caring embrace.
before I can comprehend what happened. Whatever breath her lungs still hold
escapes as a grunt as she hits the ground. Woodie pivots, eyes too full of
anger to carry concern.
shock, I unfreeze my feet, and call out, “Molly.”
Woodie tilts his
head skyward and screams louder than his last outburst. It carries throughout
the whole park, an echoing challenge to anything within earshot.
I cradle Molly’s
head up from the dirt, rocks, and anything else that might cause her further
damage. I place my other hand on her stomach to hold her still.
All of a sudden
I have to act as a shield between her and Woodie, and that’s something I never
ever dreamt I’d be. Woodie has always had a temper, but this feels different.
My best friend just hurt Molly, yet his only concern revolves around a bouncing
orange ball and a rusting hoop.
I call, “Get
over here, Woodie.”
be pumping through his veins by the bucket, but I know he’ll come to his
senses. Hell, let him yell and scream all he wants. I’m fine right here with
this angel in my arms.
I look down and
realize I’m caressing Molly’s cheek. She reaches up and matches my action.
Overwhelmed by the moment, I lean forward, making my advance and ambitions as
obvious as possible. I follow her raised jaw and peck a darkened area, already
“My hero,” she sighs, smiling despite the
ugliness of the situation. “If you’re going to sweep me off…well, back onto my
feet, you had better kiss me with more passion than that.” Her mischievous grin
widens as she grabs my shirt and pulls me toward her. Our hands seek placement
and purchase. Following her lead, my lips part. I run my fingertips down her
arm as the taste of orange pop touches my tongue.
I flash back to
the thousands of times I’ve pictured this moment, our first kiss. I don’t
recall ever daydreaming of it happening to the soundtrack of screams. Though,
as I pull back to peck down her left cheek toward her neck, I can’t imagine a
more perfect moment.
2. From across
the entire frat house, Molly’s emerald eyes sparkle with an intensity that
would make anyone living in Oz jealous as she enters the party. Back in high
school, Molly was self-conscious of her curly hair, but now she appears to be
speak with a pause between each word. “She. Looks. Gorgeous.”
trendsetter, Molly wears a silky purple blouse that betrays her athletic
figure. Not that she looks like a bodybuilder or some East German swimmer. It
isn’t as much about big muscles as the way she carries herself.
player from my college, Jimmy-John escorts Molly, arm in arm, into my home.
Goodbye confidence, hello jealousy. “Where does he get off, walking in here
In his free
hand, the dumb jock clutches a shot glass full of my whiskey.
I admit, “I’d
rather fill that glass with a rabies shot.”
“All right, Ryan,”
Woodie whispers. “It looks like our lady has just upped the stakes. If this
slab of beef thinks he can waltz in and swipe her away, he has another thing
I ask, “Ok
champ, what’s the plan?”
Instead of a
reply, Woodie advances toward Molly and her date.
ringing as I follow. “Wanna drench him in beer? We have plenty.”
In the end, it’s
nothing personal against the guy, but Molly’s out of his league, hell, she’s out
of his universe.
the kitchen a few paces ahead of me. Shock stuns me for a moment as Woodie
reaches out his hand to Molly’s beau, and says, “Hey pal, what’s up? It appears
you’ve made a mistake. You see, this is my girlfriend you just waltzed in here
with, and I don’t appreciate it.” His voice remains calm, yet his pace ramps up
as he crosses the room toward the mass of human clay standing with Molly.
out his hand toward Woodie to shake it, and I know this will ruin the party. Woodie
grabs the extended hand, pulling as hard as he can. Lowering his left shoulder,
Woodie lunges forward.
Jimmy-John realizes what’s happening, momentum carries both men off their feet.
Airborne, they crash backward into a door that doesn’t stand a chance. The
splintering of old wood startles everyone. With little room to maneuver, I know
this fight will get real ugly, real fast.
Woodie grabs onto the man’s shirt and
shoves. “How’s that feel?”
3. Pushing with
all of my strength, I extend my arms another an inch as I think of Molly, of
Woodie, and about pitching a baseball. Another surge of effort, another inch,
but the thoughts fueling my workout remain the same. I think of her. I think of
him. I think about baseball.
Ho Ban, my team’s
trainer, says, “A little faster, now.”
myself from the stench of the padded floor, I push as I kiss Molly. Another
push and I strike out Woodie.
attempting to ignore the dull ache in my arm growing sharper with each rep, but
I don’t allow any sign of self-doubt to show on my face. I’m not going to let
anything stand between myself and the Triple-A Championship tonight.
“Ryan, keep your
back straight. I don’t want to see you favoring your right side anymore.”
Ho, a former baseball star from South
Korea, is one of only three people in the
organization aware of my shoulder issue from college.
pain, Ryan,” he says. “Embrace the pain and rise above it.”
I think about
Molly, and I push faster.
The sweat feels good,
the warmth of motion feels good, and, to be honest, even the pain feels good.
Woodie, here I come.
Ho says, “Good.
Good. That’s better.”
It’s still early
in the day, yet I’ve been training for over an hour to prepare for tonight’s
big game. Quickening my pace, my arms grow weak and a little shaky.
Ho says, “Ok,
I ignore him and
Ho claps his
hands, the sound echoing around the empty gym. “We get it. You’re capable of a
massive amount of very fast push-ups, but you’re not going to win us the game
at 7 in the morning.”
a career requires a knack for swinging a stick of wood and hitting the ball
screaming toward you at high speed, but keeping a routine can prove just as
important a skill. The ability to grind it out day after day, night after
night, small-town city after small-town city is what separates the successful
players from the ones you’ve never heard about.
Tonight, I’ll be
facing off against my best friend and oldest rival, Hank “Woodie” Wodyzewski.
I push, and I
4. Woodie wraps
his arm around Molly and pulls her close. “We’ve been arranging trips to see
each other over the last year, and I just want to follow the natural
progression of things. If I get traded, I’ll be leaving as early as tonight, so
I had to ask now.”
Molly seems to
have just noticed something of immense importance on her shoes.
I ask, “Will
Mitch be going with you guys?”
forgotten, Molly regards me with confusion, anger, and betrayal.
My friend’s brow
furrows. “Mitch who? The gym guy?
“Molly, do you
want to tell him or should I?”
slump and she slinks out of Woodie’s embrace.
Woodie asks, “What
is it you want to tell me, Molls?”
To her credit,
she doesn’t hesitate or try to deny anything. “For the past few months, I’ve
also been seeing Mitch.”
nostrils flare, his eyes dart back and forth, and his upper body shifts back
and forth as if containing his anger causes discomfort.
Molly slows down
her speech, an attempt to calm the situation down. “I did it to appease my
dating him for months?”
Woodie snaps, “Call
him right now and say it’s over.”
“It’s not that
simple, Woodie. He contributes to several campaigns that mean a lot to me.”
Woodie jabs a
finger into Molly’s collar as he speaks each word. “Don’t you dare.”
As usual, Molly
isn’t willing to back down to anyone. “Woodie, listen, I don’t owe you
anything. I won’t sit here and get treated to like a three-year-old by some
aggressive, selfish jerk who can’t control himself when things don’t go his
way. I like Mitch and you don’t own me.”
he lunges toward her. His arms are out, but his palms are open, as if he’s
trying to hold her, not hurt her. Molly uses her quickness to evade his
advance. Woodie regains his balance, takes another step toward her, but again
she retreats toward her car.
Breathing now, a
good sign, Woodie slumps his shoulders and searches the trees for the right
words. “Molly, don’t go. I’m sorry. I just want, I mean, today is supposed to
Molly still has her guard
up as she turns. “Woodie, I know what today means for you, and I’m so proud of
you, but I can’t be here right now. Not like this.”