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Book 1 Website Chapters 1-2

Standing before my floor

Standing before my floor to ceiling pegboard of nature-inspired vintage adornments, I lift today’s declaration, a 19 th century floral bib necklace of citrine and ruby. Sparkly. Long strands of my once all strawberry blond locks are tucked into place with the others, unique depending on the perspective but not belonging to any soughtafter color trend. I am the only one in a family of coal black hair. Repeated inquiries into this genetic abnormality and the possibility I was adopted were dismissed as an irritant by my parents but gave hope by my brothers that the ‘switched at birth’ error would soon be discovered and I would be returned. Unfortunately, I stayed. Leaning in, blue irises spring open against porcelain skin. I apply mascara, a hint of blush and lip balm and walk past the stack of books. A shiver halts, I behold the collection on my dresser, their arms and faces frozen, their bodies unique and historic to time. But the digital version on my nightstand flashes. I quickly lock the door behind me. “Will you ever for just one day, not run?” Beth leans against the counter, coffee cup in hand and Mötley Cruë blond-by-choice hair not yet tamed for her pin-up shot. “No.” I struggle to close the clasp, then hoist my Hulme satchel into the awaiting divot on my shoulder. “It’s relaxing.” “Scott called while you were at work last night.” Beth scans my form, “I see Elaine hasn’t stopped. Your cliff has a waiting line?” She grabs my arm as I head for the door, The Rules of Life by Melissa Abbott-Cooke. Contact: Melissa@therulesoflifebook.com 615-669-5643 10

“Oh! Jason stopped by to give me the job ads he’s floating for New York. As always,” her lashes fan, “He asked about you.” “No thanks Beth, I don’t date people at work.” “Bear Boy of my dreams or not, I’ll take clean cut if it looks like Jason. Michelle too; I’m hoping she’ll pad my bonus for letting her know. He’s going to head up the New York site you know, to get out from under Ben.” She waits, continues, “Ben went straight to Bracket about you. Ted will be pissed and it may be the kiss of death for Elaine.” “Beth, moving to another department or a promotion doesn’t solve my problem.” “Michelle told me Bracket’s hired a firm to fill Mike’s Global Sales VP position. Elaine’s not getting the promotion.” Unclenching my teeth, “Not reporting to Elaine doesn’t solve the problem Beth. And why isn’t he promoting Elaine? She sold Berkeley!” She sips, “Kathryn, don’t give her excuses.” “Beth, she may be direct, but she gets the job done. She’s just working her wheel like the rest of us.” “Kathryn, it’s too early in my day for your personal wheel thing.” She scans my dress, “Direct is too kind. It shows on you. You’re an idiot for staying with her.” A sheepish grin pops her brow, “Then again, I’d have never made it out of Numbers Theory class without you or met your brothers or Scott for that matter.” She recalibrates. “Just let Bracket The Rules of Life by Melissa Abbott-Cooke. Contact: Melissa@therulesoflifebook.com 615-669-5643 11

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