, Book 2|
June 1 2004
Read an Excerpt
Note: this book was republished in e-book format in May 2011.
Sixteen-year-old Emily spends her month of work experience on a Scottish sheep farm, complete with wild sheep (who seem determined to do her in), her best friend Holly (who challenges her to a contest to see who can snog the local hottie first), and Ruaraidh the shepherd, AKA the Scottish God of Love who just happens to have eleven fingers.
Kilt-watching, disasterous castle tours, graffiti spraypainted sheep, and tanning lotions gone horribly awryâitâs just another month in the life of Emily.
Subject: Emilyâs Glossary for People Who Havenât Been to Scotland
Faffing about: running around doing nothing. In other words, spending a month supposedly doing work experience on a Scottish sheep farm, but really spending days on Kilt Watch at the nearest castle.
Schottie: Scottish Hottie, also known as Ruaraidh, the subject of much drooling and first prize in the âWho Can Snog Him Firstâ contest.
Mad schnoogles: the British way of saying big smoochy kisses. Will admit it sounds v. smart to say it that way.
V.: very. Using it abbreviated is coolio to the third power.
Bunch of yobbos: a group of mindless idiots. In Scotland, can also mean sheep. You can take it from meâthere is nothing stupider than a sheep, especially when youâre trying to make them take their liver medicine.
Stooshie: uproar, as in âIf Holly thinks she can take Ruaraidh from me without causing a stooshie, sheâs out of her mind!â
Sheep dip: not an appetizer.
Subject: Plaid, plaid, everywhere!
Date: 2 January 2009 8:19pm
Hoots mon, it’s a bracht bricht moonlit nicht!
Yes, yes, we’re here in Scotland (note the while I’m in Scotland e-mail addy, please), and already things are looking up, despite the fact that Brother still will not let me get a cell phone for the remaining few months weâre here in Britain. Which, of course, means Iâm stuck with e-mail only. Ugh. Honestly, could any girl be blighted with a worse father? I think not.
But as for the looking up partâŠfirst off, there’s Alec (I refuse to call him âUncle Alecâ because I’m almost seventeen, not a child). Is it illegal for a man to marry his wife’s niece? If it’s not, hoo baby, watch out, Emily’s in town! I don’t care if he is almost as ancient as my father, he’s just so scrummy! He’s got this really sexy thick accent, the kind that rolls all over you and makes you feel all warm and squidgy inside. Yeah, sure, it’s a bit hard to understand him unless you’re really concentrating, but no man is perfect, right? Anyhoo, I’d be all Emily the Seductress with him despite his Great Age but Aunt Tim gave me one of those squinty-eyed glares that screamed âHands off, younger and much more attractive female! This man is mine!â
I think she’s just jealous of my stunning use of cosmetics.
So there we were, the Fam (minus Bess, she’s off with her BF MonkâI still don’t see why she gets to go off on her own just because she’s nineteen) and Holly and meâoh, I meant to tell you, Holly finally got the OK to do her work experience here too, which is utterly coolio, because although Alec is a really hottalicious Older Man, and Aunt Tim is pretty cool for an aunt despite the squinty-eyed glares, they’re both elderly with a capital EL. Holly is fun, even though she is a year younger than me, and let me tell you, I’m going to need major copious amounts of fun to survive a whole month out in the middle of the Highlands on this muddy sheep farm. Although it is cool that the schools in England have us doing a month of working on a real job. I guess thatâs one of the bennies about Brother having dragged us to England to live for the year while he does the scholar exchange thingâI get to do work experience, which is going to look so good on my transcripts, donât you think?
I know, I know, you said all along it was a mistake to spend my whole month of work experience on a farm in Scotland, but the only other job I could find was at the library, and you might just as well give up all hope of having any sort of cool if you’re stuck in the slave’s quarters at a library. Old people work there! If nothing else, the hottie quotient is very low in a library, whereas at least in Scotland there are guys in kilts. I didn’t watch all those years of Highlander to come here and not see guys in kilts!
Where was I? Oh, yeah, so we were all standing around outside Alec’s and Aunt Tim’s house, bundled up in our coats and scarves and gloves because Scotland is evidently in outer Siberia, looking at mud, mud, a couple of dogs, and surprise of all surprises, more mud, when all of a sudden, Brother goes completely mental. Not that thatâs saying much about a man who everyone calls Brother (even Holly calls him Brother now), but you know just how mental my father can be when he wants to.
âTimandra, I expect that you and Alec will both keep an eye on Emily and Holly while they’re here,â he said, waggling his Unibrow at Aunt Tim and Alec. âAnd just in case the phrase ‘keep an eye on them’ is too vague, let me elaborate.â
I groaned and tried to look like Brother hadn’t had Parent Sex with Mom sixteen and three-quarter years ago. No, wait, that’s when I was born, that would meanâŠumâŠsixteen years and nine months, plus nine months of Mom being pregnant with meâŠlet’s see, that would be seventeen years exactly if I borrowed three months from Mom being pregnant, which leaves six left over, except she said I was a bit late in coming, so you have to add on a couple of extra weeksâŠoh, never mind, let’s just call it seventeen and a half years ago, âK? Back to what I was sayingâI tried to look like Brother wasn’t really my father. Because, I knew, you see, just what he was going to say.
It had to do with boys. It always has to do with boys, everything Brother talks to me about these days has to do with boys. You should have seen him before Christmas when I told him I needed some more money to buy Christmas presents.
âFor whom?â he asked, all suspicious and nosy. Have I told you he’s started to pick up an English accent? Four months in the country and he’s saying things like âbrollyâ for umbrella, and âtaâ instead of thanks.
To be honest, I like the ta thing, but I’ll die before I admit that to him.
Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Before Christmas.
âFang and Devon,â I answered his question (truthfully because I know Brother likes Fang the best of all my guy friends, although he’s not too hot on Devon ever since Devon’s party where I barfed all over him because I was drunk).
âYouâre going to what?â Brother asked, and cocked the Unibrow at me in the way he thinks is so intimidating, but really just makes me want to laugh. âYou’re buying presents for your boyfriends?â
âBro-THER!â I said, giving him a look. Honestly, the things I have to suffer having a medieval scholar for a medieval father. He is just so Ancient Times! It’s all âduty and honorâ this, and âno inappropriate touchingâ that. Are you sure you don’t want to trade dads? I’d be happy to put up with your dad’s new trophy wife if you want to take Brother. âDevon and Fang arenât my boyfriends, theyâre just my friends. And I want to buy them Christmast presents not just because theyâre my very best guy friends, but also because they were so nice about telling Aidan off when he turned out to be the BF from hell.â
The Elderly One muttered something about me trying to drive him into an early grave, which is just ridiculous because we both know he’s about a hundred years old now, so there’s nothing early about it. But that was a couple of weeks ago, earlier today I just knew that he was going to embarrass the pants off of me by saying that Alec and Aunt Tim were supposed to protect our honor and guard our chastity with their lives.
ââand we all know how boy-crazy girls are these days, so Chris and I expect you to do everything humanly possible to protect their good names and honor against besmirchment, not to mention guarding their chastity like it was a gold-platedâŠerâŠewe.â
âCome along, Brother, the girls will be just fine,â Mom said, tugging him toward the car.
âNot that I expect miracles, mind you.â Brother dug in his heels and gave Alec that father look (you know, the one that fathers exchange with each otherâthe one that’s almost an eye roll). Alec just looked puzzled, in a hottie Older Man sort of wayâhe does puzzled much better than Brother. âDo everything you can to keep them chaste, but don’t put your life at risk.â
âThanks for the ride to Scotland. I’ll e-mail you later,â I said loudly. âTime to leave now! Buh-bye!â
âEhâŠâ Alec said, eyeing Holly and me, his view of our extreme coolness obviously being tainted by my father’s slander.
âThey can spot a boy at distances beyond the range of normal human eyesight, you know,â Brother added. Alec looked startled.
âDear, we really should be starting back. I’m sure Emily and Holly will behave like adults,â Mom said, trying to haul Brother over to the car.
Brother’s hair ruffled in the wind and formed into his traditional horn of hair that made him look like part rhinoceros, part man (with an emphasis on the rhino). âIs that supposed to make me feel better? Good God, Chris, you’ve armed the girl with condoms and contraceptives and informative pamphlets, and God only knows what else. Itâs not like it used to be in the Middle Ages, I can tell you that! Back then, fathers knew what their daughters were up to. They locked the little darlings into towers until the day of their wedding. Thereâs much we can learn from from our medieval ancestors. Chastity belts, for one.â
Aunt Tim snickered, then tried to cover it up by pretending to cough.
âOHMIGOD, Brother!â I yelled, and socked him on the arm. âJust embarrass me to death, why don’t you?â
âEmbarrass you? Nothing embarrasses you!â He turned back to Alec. âYou should see the avaricious light that comes to their eyes when they spot a boy. It’s positively frightening. The last four months with Emily have taken off at least ten years of my life.â
He’s going senile, of course. That’s the only thing that explains why he talks that way. âYou’d better stop somewhere and get a hot water bottle for Brother,â I told Mom. âI think his brain has frozen up.â
âWhy, just today I was almost trampled to death when we stopped at a mall.â
âIt wasn’t a proper mall, it was a strip mall kind of shopping center,â I thought it only right to point out. âThere was no theater, no piercing place, and no pizza! It’s not technically a mall if there’s no pizza.â
âNever cross a teenage girl’s line of sight when she has a boy in the crosshairs,â he warned Alec. âYou’re taking your life in your hands if you do.â
Aunt Tim snickered again, this time not even trying to make it sound like a cough. I let Brother glare at her because I was too busy trying to set things straight. âOh, for Pete’s sake, all we did was go around you so that really cute guy wearing the kilt wouldn’t know you were with us.â
âThey shoved me to the ground, both of them. If I hadn’t been quick, they would have run right over the top of me to get to some knobby-kneed kid in a kilt standing outside a music store.â
âBrother lives in his own little fantasy world. We humor him as much as possible,â I told Aunt Tim. I figured that as his sister, she should be the first one to know the truth about him.
âAh! There, do you see? That’s the look, the one Holly is wearing. That’s your warning sign, Alec. If you see either of them wearing that look, run for cover lest you be trampled to death in their lust to get their clutches on some unwary male.â
I looked over at Holly to see what on earth Brother was making such a fuss about. Holly stood stiff as a rock, her eyes huge, her mouth hanging open as she stared down toward the big barn across the yard. I turned to look, and just about fell on my butt in surprise.
A hunk, a hottie, a god in jeans and a black leather jacket walked out of the barn toward us. He was the most droolworthy, hottalicious, utterly coolio boy I’ve ever in my whole entire life seen, and that includes seeing Orlando Bloom live and in person at the Hard Rock CafĂ© in London (I know you’re not into The Lord of the Rings ever since you saw all of the Pirates of the Carribean movies, but I’m sorry, Orlando as The Leg Man is just seriously beyond Will Turner). This guy was tall, had long red hair (red!) that brushed his shoulders, and the most amazing walk!
I stared at him, and I have to admit, I almost drooled. Really, I almost drooled, I could feel the slobber gathering up on my tongue. I had to swallow a couple of times, it was that bad. I grabbed Holly’s arm as the vision of hunkitude walked toward us, and she grabbed mine. He was so fabu, we had to prop each other up to keep from falling over into a major faint. No, wait, fabu isn’t good enoughâhe was mondo coolio ĂŒber-fabu!
âWhoâŠwhoâŠwhoâŠâ I couldn’t get the words out because my tongue was broken. It felt all swollen and huge, like it was glued to the top of my mouth.
âWho is that?â Mom asked, nodding toward the red-headed god as she gave me one of her pitying looks. I tried to smile at her in appreciation, but I think my lips were broken too, because they didn’t smile properly, they just kind of hung there, flapping in the wind.
Everyone turned to look at the boy who stopped to pat one of the black and white sheep dogs.
âAh. That’ll be Rwawruahwr.â
I know, I know, but I swear to you that’s what it sounded like Alec said. It started with an R and kind of turned into a gargle, but I didn’t care. This guy could be named Booger and my heart would still be his.
âWho?â Brother asked, narrowing his eyes.
âRwawruahwr,â Alec said again. âHe’s helping me out for a few months while Mark is in New Zealand.â
Mark is Alec’s shepherd. He’s kinda nice, but really, really oldâalmost fifty.
âRrrrwowry?â Brother asked, his Unibrow all scrunched up.
âMmmrrrowr,â I purred, then sucked in my cheeks so I’d look like I had real cheekbones, not the kind that are put on through the skillful use of makeup.
âHis name is Rory,â Aunt Tim said. âOnly it’s pronounced the Gaelic way, with a little extra fillip at the beginning, and you roll the Rs. It’s spelled R-U-A-R-A-I-D-H.â
âSurely you jest,â Brother said, flaring his nostrils, which, I have to tell you, is not a pretty sight since he’s evidently growing the Redwood Forest of nose hairs in there. I made a mental note to remind Mom she needs to break out the pruning sheers, then turned my attention back to where it was meant to be. âHow old is he? He looks like he’s about eighteen or nineteen.â
âEighteen,â Alec said.
Holly’s hand tightened on my arm as the gorgeous hunk of flesh straightened up and smiled at us. Eighteen! He was eighteen! How very fortunate that I like older men!
âUm. Does heâŠuhâŠhave a girlfriend?â I asked, figuring it was worth risking the embarrassment of asking the question in order to find out.
âOh, god, eighteen and male,â Brother groaned, and put his hands over his face. Mom patted his arm and made soft little murmuring noises in his ear. âWhereâs a tower when you really need one?â
Beside me, Holly squeaked. She does that when she’s excited. I’m trying to break her of the habit, but you know how it isâonce a squeaker, always a squeaker.
âI’m of a mind he doesn’t,â Alec said, giving me a thoughtful look. âBut you might be wantin’ to ask the lad himself that, Emily.â
âNo, no, no. It’s doomed, the whole visit is doomed,â Brother said, still moaning into his hands.
No girlfriend! Bwahahahahah! He’s mine, all mine! Well, he would be as soon as one formality was taken care ofâŠ
âDibs the hottie,â I said at exactly the same time that Holly whispered, âBagsies he’s mine!â
Bagsies, unfortunately, are the same as dibs. Rats.
âI called dibs first,â I whispered back, my words a bit slurred because it’s hard to talk with your cheeks sucked in.
âNo you didn’t, I bagsied him before you finished your sentence.â
âHullo,â Ruaraidh said as he came up to where we were all standing next to the car. âYou must be Timandra’s family. I’m Ruaraidh Andrews.â
He held out his hand for Brother to shake. I managed to get my lips working again, and tried to look very coolio and casual and all that while still maintaining my cheekbones. Brother stared at Ruaraidh’s hand like it was made up of toads or something.
âHe’s got six fingers,â Brother said hoarsely. I blinked at him a couple of times, then looked down at Ruaraidh’s hand. He was right, Ruaraidh the Scottish God of Love had six fingers on his right hand. SIX FINGERS! OHMIGOD!
âDear God, he’s eighteen, male, and has six fingers on one hand,â Brother said, turning to Mom. âI hope you’re happy, Chris, I just hope you’re happy! Because you said she would be fine up here for a month, we’re going to have grandchildren with twelve fingers.â
âGrandchildren?â Ruaraidh’s eyes opened up really wide as he turned to look at me. I tried to smile at him. I couldn’t. I was too mortified.
âUmâŠI’m adopted. He’s not my real father. In fact, I don’t even know him. He was hitchhiking by the side of the road when we drove up here. My mom thought it would be fun to pretend he was my father. Ha ha ha,â I said, praying he would think I was telling the truth.
Holly said something that sounded like, âGark!â I knew just how she felt.
Two dark red eyebrows swooped upwards over beautiful dark green-ish/gray-ish eyes. He obviously didn’t believe me.
Brother took a deep breath and started into another lecture about us not committing any âcarnal actsâ (his words, not mine). Fortunately, Mom got him into the car before he could do too much more damage, but all things considered, it was too late.
So that’s it, Dru. One day in Scotland and my life is officially over. The most delicious boy on the entire planet not only has six fingers on one hand, but he also thinks my father is one green maraschino cherry short of a fruitcake, and I’m some sort of super-slut who wants to have his children even though I’m not even seventeen yet.
This is going to be a very long month.