Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sweet Saturday Samples: We're back to Wil and Gramps (Just Shut Up and Drive)

Welcome to Sweet Saturday Samples!

This week, we're checking back with Gramps and Wil from my YA WIP, Just Shut Up and Drive. I think last time we left off with the discovery of young Dakota throwing up in the back seat of Wil's car.

Today, we're going to find out a bit more about her.


Wil darted his eyes to the rearview mirror. Dakota was sitting in the middle of the backseat. “Holy crap!” he screamed, slamming on the breaks so hard he veered off onto the highway shoulder.
Gramps jumped in his seat. “Pull over here and put the flashers on.”
Wil regained control of the car and slowed down. He put the car into park and turned on the warning lights. Then both he and Gramps scrambled out of their seats and opened up the back doors.
There was Dakota, pale and breathing hard. Her blonde hair was matted to her head with sweat. She held a plastic bag from their earlier stop in her lap. Well, Wil thought. At least she had the courtesy and common sense to find something to puke into.
“Dakota!” Wil shouted so loud his voice cracked. “What are you doing back there? You almost got us killed!”
“Take it easy, son,” Gramps said. “Can’t ya see she’s scared and sick?” Gramps got into the back seat beside the girl. “Are you okay, young lady? Are you feeling any better?”
The girl nodded weakly. “I guess my tummy didn’t like all the pop I had for lunch. Maybe I should have eaten something.”
“You mean, you didn’t have any lunch?” Wil squinted. Not that he was surprised, considering the attitude of her caregivers.
“No. I wanted grilled cheese and fries but Aunt Vanessa says I’m too fat to have stuff like that so I had to have a salad. I didn’t want salad so I didn’t eat anything.”
Wil shook his head. Really? Dakota was one of the tiniest kids Wil had ever seen. And Aunt Vanessa wasn’t exactly a lightweight. She could stand to lay off the fries. His stomach felt like someone had punched through his gut and twisted it, remembering that Aunt Vanessa and Uncle Frank each had a steak dinner with all the fixings and dessert.
“Well, if I’d known that I would have sent you your grilled cheese too. Here. Let me take that from you.”
While Wil took the plastic bag from her lap and tied it up, Gramps took a face towel from his bag and soaked it with cold bottled water he’d got back at the restaurant. “Here ya go, kiddo. Wipe your face off and take a drink of this. Then you, me and Wil here should have a chat.”
Fortunately, they stopped right by a roadside garbage can. Repressing a gag at the thought of the plastic bag’s contents, he turfed it into the can, hearing an echoed splat when it hit the bottom. He faced the car, seeing the tops of Gramps’ and Dakota’s heads. He was pretty sure the extra passenger wasn’t part of Gramps’ journey itinerary.
He shuffled back over to the car and sat on the other side of Dakota, leaving the two doors open to air out the smell. “Okay, Dakota. Are you ready to tell us what’s going on?”
The girl lowered her head until her chin was tucked into her chest, her eyes glistening with tears.
Gramps and Wil looked at each other. “Okay, then,” the old man said. “Why don’t we just start with why you snuck into our car?”
Dakota shot Wil a side-glance. “Well, you were so nice to me at the restaurant. Nobody ever did that stuff for me. Well, my Mama did but…” she stopped and sniffed. “I told my aunt and uncle that I had to go pee. I don’t even know if they heard me but I just went anyway. Then I went outside. I saw you drive in so I knew where your car was. I was going to come back in, I swear. But when the back door opened up, well, I just got in. I know it was wrong but by the time I thought to get out, you were coming out and started up the car. I got worried, my tummy felt yucky then, well…you know…”
“It’s okay,” Wil said, shifting his position so he faced her. “But won’t your aunt and uncle be worried about you? I mean, even if they weren’t acting very nice, they’ll still wonder what happened to you, right?”
Dakota lifted her head up and faced him. “I doubt it. Maybe if they run out of money.”
Wil frowned. “What do you mean?”
“My dad left my mom when I was a baby. I don’t know why. My mom never told me. Things were going okay then my mom got sick with cancer. She couldn’t take care of me like she used to and because she had no one to help us, my dad came back and took me. My dad is fun and everything but, well, he doesn’t always do nice things. He had to go to jail and that’s why I’m staying with my aunt and uncle. Uncle Frank is my dad’s brother but he’s even less nice than my dad.”
Questions bombarded Wil’s head, but he knew from experience that kids could only handle so much interrogation under normal circumstances, never mind when there are extra crappy things going on. “Where is your mom right now?”
“Regina,” she said, tears spilling down her cheeks. “I’m not allowed to talk to her so I don’t even know if she’s okay.”
“What do you mean you aren’t allowed to talk to her?” Gramps asked, handing the girl a Kleenex.
Dakota shrugged. “Daddy’s rule. I heard him telling Uncle Frank during a jail visit that if he finds out I talked to Mama, he’d hurt Frank something awful and take away all the money he gives him to take care of me.”
Wil’s heart ached. “Does your mom have friends in Regina? Is someone helping her?”
The girl seemed to brighten a bit. “Oh yes. Auntie Kara. She’s not really my aunt but her and Mama are best friends and she’s there all the time. Or, at least, she was while I was there. But, I guess, because Auntie Kara isn’t my real family, they wouldn’t let me stay with her. That’s why I had to go stay with Daddy.”
Thank God the mom isn’t alone, especially when going through cancer.

Thanks so very much for joining me. This story has come to mean a lot to me. And although I'm working on three WIP's at the same time (yes, you read that right...I know I'm nuts. LOL!), this story needs to come out.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend. OH! And be sure to check out the rest of the writers on the SSS list this week HERE! There are some amazingly talented people there.


  1. You created great empathy for Dakota in this excerpt! Well done!

    1. Hi Sandra! Thank you very much. I hope so. Poor Dakota has had a rough start to her life. But she's in very good hands now. ;)

  2. Great sample. I felt for all of them. I hope Wil and his grandfather are able to help Dakota.

    1. Hi Patricia! =)

      I'm glad you felt that from this scene. I'm starting to adore these characters so I'm glad they've all found each other. And don't worry, they will help Dakota. ;)

  3. This story, with the little girl, has taken such a heart wrenching detour.

  4. Hi Lindsay. Isn't Dakota wonderful? I think she's going to teach these two men a thing or two and bond them in a way they didn't think was possible. ;)

  5. This was a fantastic excerpt. I felt real empathy for Dakota, in part because I'm horrible with motion sickness myself. I hope Gramps and Wil are able to help her.


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