Monday, 24 February 2014

Read an Excerpt from Tiffany and Tiger's Eye

The other day I posted some background information about the semi-icky setting of my new 1980s novel, Tiffany and Tiger's Eye (click here to read that post) but I didn't tell you too much about the book itself.

It's back to basics, today:

Tiffany and Tiger's Eye was written by me, Foxglove Lee, and published by Prizm Books.

How many secrets can a family keep?

If there's one thing Rebecca knows, it's how to hide her problems. But with a rock-and-roll dad who drinks too much and a mom who works day and night, Rebecca needs a sympathetic ear. That's why she tells her troubles to Yvette, an antique doll that once belonged to her grandmother.

In the summer of 1986, after her father's strange disappearance, Rebecca and her little brother are sent to the cottage with Aunt Libby and Uncle Flip. Rebecca's relieved to get away from the city, and her relief grows to bliss when she meets Tiffany, a water-skiing blonde who dresses like Madonna, makes her own jewelry, and claims to see auras.

But strange things happen when Rebecca spends time with Tiffany. Her aunt and uncle are convinced she's acting out -- and she'd have good reason to, considering they obviously know where her father is and won't say -- but she can't convince them she isn't the one trashing her bedroom and setting fires. As crazy as it seems, Yvette must be the culprit.

There's nothing more dangerous than a jealous doll that knows all your secrets...

I don't know what came over me, but I blurted out, "I got my period!"

Uncle Flip's eyes shot wide open, like I'd just punched him in the stomach. A blush came over him, starting with his ears and devouring his face. He squirmed so much I actually felt sorry for him. I sat up straight on the couch and bit my lip, wishing I could take the words back.

"Is it the first... the first... time?" my uncle stammered.

I looked away and lied. "Yes."

"Oh." He swallowed hard. "So, you don't have any... any..." He lowered his voice and said, "Supplies?"

I shook my head. I couldn't look at him. When I needed pads at home, I took them from the cupboard in my mother's bathroom and hoped she wouldn't notice. Any time I was babysitting, I'd sneak off to the bathroom and take just a few. It was easy to hide things down the front of my overalls. Overalls concealed all sins.

Uncle Flip rose stiffly from the couch, disappearing into the bedroom he shared with Aunt Libby. He was in there so long that I got up to check on him. I felt like I was floating as I stuck my head beyond the door. We never went into Aunt Libby and Uncle Flip's bedroom.

The curtains were closed, and the light was off. Even in the relative darkness, I could see how cramped it was. They had a double bed in the middle, flanked by long dressers pushed up against the walls.

But the furniture had nothing on the d├ęcor. Somebody had installed shelves along all the walls, and they were packed to the gills with... dolls!

My heart thundered as I stepped inside. I felt like I shouldn't be there, like I was walking on hallowed ground. Aunt Libby wouldn't like it. I could feel her presence like a ghost just over my shoulder. There were porcelain babies, girls in ostentatious dresses, and little women with sun umbrellas. I'd never been a doll person, but they were obviously antiques. They must have been worth a fortune.

"Your grandmother collected those," Uncle Flip told me. He was standing in the corner, holding a box of maxi pads. The packaging was cardboard, not plastic, and it looked almost as old as me. "Your aunt..." He bowed his head and the box rattled in his hands. "God, I wish Libby was here..."

"It's okay," I said, wanting to comfort him.

"Do you know how to use these things?"

"Yeah." There was very little floor space in the cottage bedrooms, but I wedged myself inside and took the box from him, clutching it to my chest. "Don't worry. I'll figure it out."

Uncle Flip nodded and shot me a brief smile. "You're a smart girl."

I wanted to run away, but the dolls had a hold on me. I could feel their eyes burning into the bare flesh beyond my T-shirt. My armpits poured out sweat despite the deodorant I'd only just started using. I'd shaved the week before, even though my mother insisted I should wait until I turned sixteen. The regrowth pricked me terribly.

"Why don't you take one of these guys?" my uncle asked, reaching up and grabbing a doll. His big hand made her body look so small.

"Take one? Why?"

"Well, I thought... Doesn't a girl usually get a present when she has... has her first..."

"Yeah, and a party." I felt bad for laughing, but I couldn't help it. "And a pony!"

Uncle Flip's ears glowed red, but he laughed too.

My uncle and I both looked at the doll he'd chosen for me. She wasn't a baby doll or a little girl, but she didn't look like an adult woman, either. Somewhere in between, just like me. Uncle Flip brushed a stray orange ringlet from her porcelain forehead. I was no doll expert, but just by looking around the room I could tell redheaded dolls weren't all that common. He was giving me something special, and I think he knew that.

"Won't Aunt Libby be mad?"

"Nah." Uncle Flip ran the back of his hand down the front of his moustache. "These dolls scare the hell out of your aunt... oh, sorry, scare the heck out of her."

I smiled at how careful my family was about swearing. We rarely said bad words out loud, not even the minor ones like hell and damn.

"If they scare her, why does she keep them?"

"Because they belonged to her mother," my uncle said, and I understood well enough that I didn't ask any follow-up questions. "I'm going to check on your brother, see what that little monster's up to. You sure you're okay?"

When he left the cottage, I lingered in my aunt and uncle's bedroom. It still felt out of bounds. I looked up at the shelves of blonde dolls with parasols or teddy bears sewn under their arms. Their prettiness overwhelmed me, and I cast my gaze down over the one doll that was mine.

With her pouting crimson lips, huge green eyes, and thick black lashes, she was beautiful in a way that enchanted and perplexed me. I put my box of maxi pads down on the bed and held my doll with both hands. Her dress had a country flavor -- tiny rust-colored flowers on a cream background, rosettes up the front of her chest, and lace around her neck. Over the dress, she had on a half-apron in less-than-pristine white.

She looked at me so inquisitively I was convinced she had a mind beyond those deep, dark eyes.
"What should I call you, dollface?"

Like a flash, the name Yvette streaked through me. I could have sworn that I heard it out loud, with a hint of a French accent, like the doll had spoken to me.

Of course, I was being silly. My mother always said I let my imagination get the better of me. She was right.

Even so, I lifted the doll to my face and rubbed her cool porcelain nose against mine. Closing my eyes, I kissed her little lips. 

Tiffany and Tiger's Eye is published by Prizm Books and available from the publisher's website, Amazon, OmniLit and other retailers.

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