|The Dashwoods in the 1995 movie - mine are a little different!|
The California Dashwoods, my take on a modern Sense and Sensibility, is due out on May 28 -- and I'll be sharing preorder links and cover art as soon as I get them! For now though, since I've finished line edits, I thought this would be a perfect time to share an excerpt!
In this scene, Abby (Mrs. Dashwood) and Elliott (Elinor in the original) are figuring out where they can go once Abby's terrible in-laws through them out of Norland Park:
“Do you remember John?” Abby asked. “Not John John. My cousin John.”
Elliott sucked jam off his finger. “John in California?”
“He lives in a little town called Barton Lake. He has a store there. It’s where I met your father, actually. He and the Family were there for the summer, and they wanted an au pair for John. John John, not cousin John. I thought, well, I can make more money looking after some spoiled little snot-nosed rich-kid brat than I can doing chalk drawings on the pavement, and—” She cut herself off with a laugh. “And the rest is history.”
Elliott saw the moment her expression shifted from gentle grief into something sharper. He reached out and caught her hand. “Cousin John?” he prompted.
Abby shook herself. “He emailed me last night. He’s got an apartment above his store that he’s happy to let us have. And, if we work a few shifts in the store, he’ll let us have it rent-free. Utilities only. It’s two bedrooms, so it’s going to be a squeeze, but we’ll find a way to make it work, won’t we?”
Four of them in a two-bedroom apartment sounded like a disaster, actually. Abby and Marianne, despite being two peas in a pod—or perhaps because of it—locked horns a lot, and Greta was at the age where she needed her own space to storm off to. It wasn’t ideal, but it was a hell of a lot better than the prospect of living in the car. And it was a starting point, right? A roof over their heads while they figured out their next move.
“What’s the catch?” Elliott asked.
Abby smiled at him and squeezed his hand. “There’s no catch, baby. This is what families do.” She raised her eyebrows. “Well, families that aren’t the Dashwoods.”
Elliott quirked his mouth in a wry smile.
That was certainly true. The Dashwood Family was less like a family and more like a corporation. He wondered what Alexander Dashwood, flying his kites and dreaming his dreams, would have thought about the true legacy he’d left. A legacy of lawyers at every family gathering, of board meetings instead of birthdays, and of looping signatures on contracts instead of Christmas cards. A legacy of scheming sycophants who relied on the family trust for income and spent their lives cozying up to the trustees—Cynthia and Great Uncle Montgomery among them—to keep the money coming.
The Dashwoods really were so awful that it was as easy to reject them on an emotional level as it was to be rejected by them. Practically though . . . Well, enough money to get the girls through school and college would be nice. Elliott just needed to convince John to make that happen somehow. John was under no legal obligation—the Family lawyers had made sure that Abby and her children were in line for absolutely nothing—but John wasn’t as bad as the rest of them. John was their brother. Except there was also no guarantee that John would have any influence with the rest of the Family.
Elliott thought of the space above the fireplace where the Naked Blue Lady had hung.
“California might be nice,” he said at last, when what he really meant was that California might be necessary.
Abby smiled and squeezed his hand again.