"I was fourteen when it happened. The day the Mackey’s moved into the house next door. The day that changed my life, as much as it was, forever. A tiny, blonde girl standing on my doorstep would be the beginning of the craziness which became my life. This girl became my best friend, my confidant and side kick. She also introduced me to the love of my life."
Chloe, a computer and gaming nerd, hides behind the scenes in school and keeps to herself. Mina enters her world like a hurricane, helping her find herself and introduces her to Leo, Mina’s gorgeous older brother. Chloe instantly developed a crush, but knows he only sees her as Mina’s best friend. Or does he?
Leo, graduating high school and trying to figure out what to do with his life, becomes immediately mesmerized by a gorgeous, tall brunette, dancing like she hadn’t a care in the world and laughing without restraint. Dumbfounded to find out this amazingly beautiful girl is Chloe, Mina’s best friend. He fights against his desire, determined he and Chloe cannot be together. But how long can you fight against true love?
All Grown Up is a laugh out loud, heartwarming and heart breaking tale following the lives of Chloe and Leo and all of their misfit friends. Through long distance and separate paths of life, can true love prevail once you’re all grown up?
Available 8/2 on Amazon:
I was fourteen when it happened. The day that changed my life, as much as it was, forever. The day the Mackey’s moved in to the house next door. My glamorous afternoon of sitting around was interrupted by the doorbell. I answered the door, seeing a tiny, blonde girl standing on my doorstep. This girl being the beginning of it all, the ambassador of the craziness which is my life.
"Hello." I couldn't help but take in her tiny, delicate appearance.
"Hi, I’m Mina. I just moved in next door." She beamed brightly.
Mina was very small and thin with straight, long, blonde hair, fair skin, and blue-gray eyes. She was dressed like a Barbie doll in a pink polo shirt and matching skirt.
"Mina, you could’ve waited for me." A petite, fair skinned, curvy woman with highlighted brown hair stepped beside Mina. "Hello, dear, I’m Elaine Mackey. We're your new neighbors. Are your parent’s home?"
"Umm…hold on a second." Turning back into the house, I yelled, "Jude, there are people at the door!"
My stepmother quickly stepped from the kitchen, wiping her hands on a dish towel. She was probably making more baked goods for her Women’s Club. Club, ha! More like an excuse to get together and gossip about whoever hadn’t attended the so called meeting.
They introduced themselves again.
"It’s nice to meet the both of you. I’m Judith Fisher and this is my daughter, Chloe."
"Stepdaughter," I mumbled.
I still hadn’t completely forgiven my dad for marrying Judith and moving her two children in with us.
Judith cleared her throat. Clearly, I made the situation uncomfortable and the guilt began to eat at me. Judith treated me like one of her own, but, since mom left, I was used to it just being me and Kenneth.
"Please come in." Judith stepped back and gestured for them to enter. Taking a step back, Mina bounced in and Elaine glided as if she were walking on air.
Judith took Elaine to the kitchen.
"Why don’t you show Mina your room, dear?"
I turned to Mina apprehensively.
"You wanna go to my room?"
"Definitely!" She perked up and followed me up the stairs.
After entering, she walked around, surveying the area, and then walked out onto the small balcony.
"Oh my goodness!" She squealed, making made me jump. "Chloe, your room is straight across from mine! If that tree wasn’t in the way we could see directly into each other’s rooms."
"Really?" I responded, my sarcasm thick.
I wasn't being too friendly, but I also wasn’t a very forward, outgoing person like Mina seemed to be. Once school started she would most likely end up with the popular crowd. I would remain with my small click of friends known as the geeks.
"So, what’s all this?" She turned to my desk which was covered in computer hard drives, CDs, flash drives and circuit boards.
"Umm…I like computers. A lot." I bit my lip.
"I guess so." She smiled at me. "Chloe?"
"I really like you. I think we should be friends." She plopped down in front of my stereo and started going through my CDs. "Oh my god! I love this song," she screamed as she put the Prince Greatest Hits CD in and turned on Kiss. I had stolen it from my mother’s things before my dad tossed the final box into the dumpster.
~ ~ ~
The weekend after meeting Mina and Elaine, the Mackey’s held a barbeque. Kenneth, Judith, my step-sister, Christy, my step-brother, K.C., and I arrived before everyone else so we could help out with any last minute preparations. Plus, they lived right next door.
The Mackey’s house was one of the biggest on the block. It was definitely bigger than our four bedroom house. They had at least six bedrooms.
Our house was beige with green trim, while theirs white with blue trim. The Mackey’s had a four car garage, ours a two, and they had the pool. Not that a pool was all that useful in Tillamook. However, the Mackey’s had a heater installed so it was able to be used more often.
We were greeted by Mina, who almost tackled me in the entryway of the house, and then Elaine introduced us to her husband, Dr. Robert Mackey.
Judith introduced all of us before going to help Elaine in the kitchen, Christy following closely behind. Since she was sixteen, she was all of a sudden an adult now. Dad and Robert headed to the barbeque to pretend to watch the meat cook while really talking about sports. Mina pulled me towards their back yard.
"Come on. You can meet my brother." She grabbed my hand and took me through the back door at a faster pace. "He’s older, seventeen actually, but he is pretty cool sometimes. When he’s not going all overprotective on me." She rolled her beautiful gray eyes and made a face.
We stopped in front of the most gorgeous boy I had ever seen. He was tall and lean, but still muscular. His face was perfect, as if angels had created it by hand. And his hair, oh god, his hair, it was the same dark chocolate brown as Elaine’s, but held naturally sun bleached highlights. It was wavy and seemed to be either perfectly unruly or styled into the best bed head I had ever seen. Then his eye color, his sparkling hazel eyes, my infatuation began immediately.
"Leonard!" She yelled in a purposely annoying tone.
"Don’t call me that." There was a quick slap to his arm before her introduction. "Chloe, this is Leo. Leo, Chloe." She motioned between us.
Like the bumbling idiot I'd suddenly reverted to, I could only stare and smile.
"Hey, Chloe, nice to meet you," he smiled back.
"Head’s up!" K.C. yelled.
Looking toward his voice, a Frisbee came straight for my head. I ducked quickly, waiting for impact, but Leo caught it.
"Thanks," I said, color creeping into my cheeks.
Mina pulled me to the large oak tree between our homes and tugged me down to sit next to her.
"Wilhelmina, huh?" I raised an eyebrow at her and fought the laugh bubbling to the surface.
"Shut up," she giggled. "I was cursed with my maternal Grandmother’s name." She rolled her eyes. "Leo got stuck with our paternal Grandfather’s name."
I nodded and couldn’t hold back as the laugh snuck out. Mina tried to pretend to be angry, but eventually laughed with me.
Later the same evening, when it began to get dark, we went to her room to hang out. Christy joined us. She could be a little stuck up and mean, but she was okay for the most part. She just thought since she was older she knew it all.
Mina and Christy were going through Mina’s closet discussing fashion and what they were planning to buy for school this year. At least they had that in common. I wasn’t big on fashion. I like my jeans and T-shirts, thanks. When Mina found out about my fashion preferences, she made a vow to teach me the ways of the shopper.
I’d rather be a Jedi.
I was average, nothing special. I had fair skin, brown hair to my waist, dark brown eyes, black rimmed glasses and I was awkward and lanky. All knees and elbows as my father, Kenneth, always said. I was under no impression I was more than the girl next door.
~ ~ ~
Having Christy as a step-sister with her dark bronze skin, black hair, almond-shaped, hazel eyes and curve after curve, wasn't exactly an ego boost. Compared to her and K.C.'s Native American genetics, I was definitely the ugly step-sister.
Surprisingly, Mina had been right. From that day on, we were best friends. I would have never thought it was possible, but Mina stood by my side without one thought, never deterred by our differences. See, she was the Barbie cheerleader type and, well, I was the geeky girl next door. Under most circumstances this wouldn’t matter, but this was high school. Image seems to mean everything when you are in high school, tiers of popularity and all.
Mina and I spent a lot of time talking under the oak tree between our houses, which would become known as our tree. It was also where, by the end of summer, Elaine had a contractor build a tree house we could both access from our balconies. Elaine and Judith had gotten quite tired of yelling at us for climbing tree branches over to each other’s rooms.
It was hard to believe how quickly the summer flew by. Mina, Christy and I had spent the majority of the summer shopping, swimming, hanging out and talking about boys. Well, Mina and Christy talked more about boys than I did. They both could tell I had a crush on Leo, though neither did more than tease me about it.
I did have a crush but I knew nothing would ever come of it. After all, I was going to be a freshman and Leo was going to be a senior. Not only that, but I was Chloe, the smiling, mute, best friend to Mina. It was just a crush. And, by the end of summer, I could tell he saw me as nothing more than a little sister.
Right before freshman year began, Kenneth and Judith went out for dinner in Seattle with the Mackey’s. Mina took their overnight trip to every advantage she could and decided to have a party. I think she invited every person under the age of nineteen in Tillamook County.
When she decided to play dress up with me, I almost hyperventilated.
"Calm down, Chloe. You look hot." She tugged at her boobs as she spoke, trying to create more cleavage.
I looked in her mirror and shrugged. Maybe if I had some curves this would look good, but I had none. It was like a board with denim jeans stretched tight and a halter top.
Mina pulled me around her house to mingle with people. When we got to the game room set up in the Mackey’s basement, Leo was sitting with a group of guys drinking and playing video games.
The semi-circle around the large television consisted of K.C., Leo, Paul, Max and Randy. There were all calling each other names and taking bets on who would kick whose ass. I was watching them all closely when I noticed Leo had turned to look at Mina and me. I smiled, blushed and turned my head.
"Did you want to play, Chloe?" Leo asked.
I was shaking my head ‘no’ when I heard Max – the loud guy who lived down the street – speak up.
"What? Yeah, go ahead, Mackey…a girl would play better than you." He laughed boisterously and everyone but K.C. joined. K.C. knew better and he smirked, speaking quickly before I could make my exit.
"You know what? I need to run to the bathroom. Chloe, why don’t you sit in for me until I get back?" He winked.
"You’re going to let her take over your game, dude? Are you crazy? We can wait for you."
K.C. shook his head. "Nah, it’s alright," he answered Max.
I walked over and, with a wink, he handed the controller over to me.
"Your loss, dude," Max finished.
K.C. leaned over and whispered, "Kick their asses, Chloe." He smiled large as he headed off. They were playing a game we had at our house, but what these guys didn’t know was that it was my game and I am a video game fanatic.
Yeah, I was a geek all the way around.
The cars were lined up and the race began. I sat cross legged in K.C.’s spot. I stayed back for the first lap paying attention to how they all played. The second lap started and I stepped up my game, flooring them all. On the final lap I had sent Max to wreckage, Leo was too damaged to keep up, Paul had given up and Randy was two places behind me. I finished first, Randy second and, well, the others didn’t matter. I heard K.C. laughing hard from behind the group. Everyone turned to him.
"You knew she would crush us?" Max looked astounded.
"Hell yeah, I did!" K.C. pumped his fist in the air. A boost of confidence I hadn’t felt all night rose inside me. Then K.C. took it away, unintentionally. "Don’t underestimate my geeky, gaming sister!" He laughed.
They all laughed.
I got up, sighing, handed K.C. the controller back and went to find Mina.
"Hey, Chloe," I turned to the sweet smooth voice belonging to Leo.
"Nice game." He smiled and turned back to his friends. My heart fluttered and I had a smiled permanently etched on my face for the rest of the night.
~ ~ ~
Freshmen year went about the same except Mina was still at my side. To say I was shocked she stayed around was an understatement. She was envied by most of the school because of her money, fashion sense, quick wit and of course because they worshipped Leo Mackey. He quickly became the star quarterback, top contender for prom king, and overall top of the list as the guy every girl wanted to date.
By association, I became less invisible to everyone. Mina decided to take over the school newspaper and news station, which she pulled me into. Typically, a senior was the chief editor in charge of the paper but Mina was determined. She didn’t get chief editor her freshman year, resolving that the title would be hers by the end of sophomore year. I, of course, handled the technical and computer stuff.
Mina tried to pull me into cheerleading, but after one session of trying to teach me how to do a cheer for tryouts she finally agreed to leave me alone about it. Instead, I joined a computer group after school. So, while she had cheer practice I had meetings with my fellow geek squad.
Our freshmen year had gone by typically smooth for a freshmen year. Summer had come up quickly, and there were a lot of graduation parties; including Leo’s. I remember the night of his graduation party. After our moms shooed us away from the partying, Leo and his friends cranked the music and started in on the heavier drinking. My father – as mayor – had turned a blind eye. Mina and I crept out to our tree house to sleep. Okay, to spy on the party.
We saw Christy, she got to stay since she was sixteen. Though, by the looks of things, she wasn’t sticking to the no drinking rule Judith gave her. Christy was flirting with Randy, who seemed to be entertained by her. Then I saw Leo. He was away from everyone else in a corner of the yard on a blanket with some blonde girl. Even though it had only been a crush, it still hurt to see him. I knew it was the girl he'd been seeing for about a month, Charlotte.
That summer flew by quickly. Christy took Mina and me to lookout beach every sunny day she could. It was an excuse to see Randy. I also met Jay Bennet that summer. He was eighteen, like Leo and K.C., but he wasn’t going away to college. Jay had decided to go to a local trade college for mechanics, the same school Randy attended.
Christy also got grounded repeatedly for sneaking out to see Randy, though she never confessed to our parents. He was her first love, her first everything.
~ ~ ~
Sophomore year of high school started off much like freshman. Mina was the first sophomore girl to make varsity cheer and I was head of the computer group. I worked closely with the Computer Technologies teacher on programming, troubleshooting and other projects. I helped create the school’s new website and Mina pushed for the newspaper to use my computer knowledge to produce more efficient and interesting papers, as well as a school blog.
I have to admit, by the end of sophomore year, I started to come out of my shell a little more. Most of this I owed to Mina and Christy. However, there was one more person to bring me out of hermit-like existence; my cousin, Veronica. She'd been living with Grandma Fisher, who passed away before the new school semester. So, she came to live with us. We moved her into my room since it was big enough for both of us and I loved having her around.
Veronica was a year older and absolutely gorgeous. She was tall, fair skinned, had long, curly, strawberry blonde hair, bright hazel eyes and the body of a 1950's pinup girl. The summer she arrived every boy in town was using her as shower material. However, Roni was independent, feisty and ridiculously smart. She loved the mechanics of things, how things worked and had hit it off with Jay. Even though it was nothing romantic or physical, Mina and I teased her repeatedly about being alone in a garage with him.
~ ~ ~
Sophomore summer brought with it a little more chaos and trouble. Mina, Roni and I were a force to be reckoned with. I swore our parents were going to end up drowning us in the Mackey’s pool. We snuck out a lot, went to parties and had gotten more interested in guys.
It was a summer of first kisses and first loves. My first kiss was with a boy named Kevin. Mina’s was with a boy named Jason; both of them happening the same night at a beach fire. Roni was a little more experienced and it was her first night with a boy named Dan. After that night, Roni had a hard time shaking him off.
As with each year, the summer ended and it was time to prepare for the return to school. We were going to be juniors. It was exciting. Mina already secured her spot as the head cheerleader and editor of the school paper. Roni was a cheer co-captain, along with Christy.
The biggest change for me was me. That summer I became more confident, had grown into my own person, and embraced my geek side. Mina’s past two years of fashion tips and makeovers had rubbed off a little as well.
My physical appearance changed as well. Well, more like I finally developed. I was no longer all knees and elbows. Now, at almost 5’7", my body curved, but remained lean – especially with the help of morning runs.
Mina first brought the changes to my attention when I stepped out of her house in my bathing suit to jump in the pool. She stood in front of me just staring, and then yelled for Roni and Christy.
"Chloe, when did you get to be such a hottie?" Mina smirked. I pushed her into the pool.
And when I caught guys actually checking me out, I didn’t know what to do. It was all new to me and made me feel ridiculously self-conscious.
I wasn’t sure what junior and senior year would hold for us.