A YA romance on ice.
Thank you for checking out my Kickstarter page! I would really appreciate your help in funding the publication of my Young Adult novel Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks.
The novel is complete, edited, and ready to roll out before Christmas, but only if I get some help in paying all the little costs and fees still to go.
Because I believe in community, every donation you make to this project will result in me making a donation to the Granite Curling Club Juniors Programs.
Below is a picture of the $40 reward necklace. The same coins are used in the $20 reward bookmarks, Below that you'll find an excerpt from the novel.
Darcy Bennet lives to be on the ice. When the other little girls were watching the Olympics and dreaming of figure-skating, she was dreaming of representing her country not with skates but with a broom.
At seventeen, Darcy still has Olympic dreams, but she has more immediate concerns. Like getting her team to Regionals, making sure she's accepted by the local college, and convincing her best-friend and team skip not to go to a university on the other side of the continent. Oh! And, possibly most important of all, resisting the urge to kill Lucas Fitzwilliam. 'Cause he may be really annoying, but Darcy's pretty sure they don't have curling in prison.
The following is the opening of Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks. I hope you enjoy it and will consider donating to get a copy of the full novel.
NEW SCHOOL YEAR RESOLUTIONS OF MISS DARCY BENNET
Graduate high school! Finally!
Help Jean with her resolution to have a serious boyfriend senior year. (Finally!)
Maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, weighted.
Be nicer to the half-monsters. They can't help being hyperactive six-year-olds.
Think of a better, if less honest, answer to “Why do you want to attend Catskill College?” other than “Because it's five minutes from my curling club.”
Win club bonspiel.
Become Junior Curling World Champion!
Win Saturday Juniors League, just for good measure.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a teenage girl must be in need of peer approval, but the only peer whose approval had ever meant a thing to me was my best friend Jean. That's why I felt so betrayed when I learned my approval meant nothing to her.
College recruitment booklets were strewn across Jean's bed, testaments of her disloyalty. I stared at them in disbelief. “California? Seriously?”
My best friend wouldn't look at me as she tugged on the ash-blond ponytail draped over her shoulder. “UC San Diego has one of the strongest Oceanography programs in the world.”
“Oceanography? Since when do you care about oceanography?” I picked up one of the brochures. A racially diverse group of students seemed to be having class on a beach. Like that was a good idea. Even if they managed to pay attention to the lecture, their notes would be covered in sand. “When's the last time you even saw the ocean?”
“That doesn't mean I can't be interested in it,” she muttered.
I flung the ad down on top of the others and stomped over to the window. The sun slid slowly behind the Catskills, its beams tracing highlights on the fiery spread of autumn leaves. Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. And after the snow came it would be even more beautiful. Why would she want to leave? “There's no ice in California.”
The springs on her bed creaked as she sat down. “Sure there is.”
“Not in San Diego.”
“Not outside,” she said, her voice soft. “But they have indoor ice, same as anywhere.”
My hands bunched into fists, fingernails digging into my palms. I leaned my forehead against the window, looking for comfort in its coolness. “There's no curling.”
She sighed, loud enough that I knew she wanted me to hear it. “Yes, there is.”
I shook my head, my skin rubbing against the glass. “No. There are no dedicated curling clubs anywhere near California.”
“Ugh, Darcy! This is why I waited so long to tell you.” There was a thump as she flopped back on the bed. “Arena ice is still ice. You can still curl on it. And it's not forever. It's just college.”
Right. Only four years. Four years that would take us from our soon-to-be eighteen to twenty-two, which was a year too old for Juniors. My chest shook as I struggled to stay calm. I straightened up, but kept my back to Jean. “What happened to staying here? Going to Catskill with me? You're just going to abandon the team?”
“You know it's not like that.”
Did I? I turned around and stared at her. “No, I don't know that. What I know is you're destroying the team so you can move to the opposite end of the country. And, yeah, so maybe you'll only be gone four years, but then what? You're not coming back here with a degree in oceanography. You're not going to lead us in the adult league. We're never going to the Olympics together.”
“Darce...” Tears reflected in her eyes as she shook her head. “The Olympics? That was our dream when we were ten. It's not something to build a life around. Curling... It's not everything.”
I blinked back tears of my own. There were so many things I wanted to say, to scream, to sob, but I didn't even know where to start. My heart was breaking and she didn't even care.
“Is this really about curling?” Jean asked as she sat up. Her ponytail was a complete mess now. “You don't need me to be a great curler. You'll make an excellent skip next year.”
As though telling me I could take over team leadership would make me feel any better. We'd been curling together since we were eight. We'd been friends even longer. Best friends. We were supposed to be best friends forever, not best friends until college. “It won't be the same.”
“No.” She got up and walked to me. “But that doesn't mean it won't be awesome.”
Actually, as far as I could tell, it did.
WAYS TO KEEP JEAN IN MERYTON
(or at least in New York)
Win Junior Curling Nationals, but not World. This will give her motive to return with us next season.
Write to the University of California and explain how unsuited to study the Pacific Ocean people from the Catskills are.
Hack into the SAT system and make it look like she failed horribly. This has the downside of keeping her out of Catskill too, but she can spend a year in community and then transfer over.
Convince her I will kill myself if she leaves. Though she may see through this...
Convince her I will kill her sister if she leaves. This is much more plausible.
Help her make good on that New School Year Resolution she made to have a serious boyfriend for senior year. Then let him convince her to stay.
A lot of people don't understand why I love curling. They just don't get the game. They don't want to. I try not to let it bother me. I mean, it's their loss, right?
I've taken a lot of teasing for my game over the years, but it's worth it for the ends where everything clicks, when not only do you see all the right shots, but the team can come together and pull them off. The feeling of doing everything right with your best friends by your side makes up for the bad days, the ridicule, and the endless allegations that curling isn't a real sport. There's nothing that compares to the satisfaction of being down by two in the final end and scoring three to win the match. Unless maybe it's doing that in the Wold Championships or the Olympics or something.
I felt good about our most recent victory when we left the Catskill Curling Club, but the happy mood didn't last long into the party my teammates dragged me to afterwards.
“Come on, Darcy. Please?” Jean's eyes were huge as she clasped her hands in front of her and begged me to play wingwoman in Scarlet Johanson's living room. Normally, I wouldn't mind. I wanted to find her a boyfriend, both because it would make her happy and because if the relationship was serious enough it might keep her in-state for college. But she wanted me to distract her crush's best friend, who happened to be Lucas Fitzwilliam, who also happened to be a complete jerk.
“Why don't you go talk to Colin?” I asked. “He's been eying you all night.”
Jean dropped her hands with an exasperated grunt. “If you think Colin's so great, you go talk to him.”
As it happened, I didn't think Colin was great. Adam was cuter, nicer, and much better about bathing on a regular basis. He was tall and athletic and looked a lot like he'd stepped out of the pages of one of the more dashing tales in Arabian Nights. However, Adam was also best friends with Lucas, which meant something was seriously wrong with him. Not only that, but history had shown that while Adam never had any trouble finding girlfriends, he was incredibly bad at keeping them. It made me think all his exes might know something we didn't, something that would make him not so great a catch no matter how hot he was.
“Where are Maria and Cat?” I surveyed the room, seeing neither our teammate nor her girlfriend. “I'm worried about them. They hardly know anyone here.”
Jean's blue eyes rolled. “They found a dark corner somewhere. They're together, they're fine.”
If they were making out in a corner, I expected some guy would've alerted us all to the hot lesbian action by then, but I had to agree they were most likely okay. I just didn't want to talk to Lucas. We shared half our classes, so I saw more than enough of him during the week.
And I didn't understand why Jean thought she needed me. It's not like she required a bodyguard on the journey across the room to the where the boys were bent over a chess board. Yes, a chess board. What kind of loser goes to a party to play chess? Well, Lucas for one. And Adam for two. What was Jean's obsession with him? Oh, right, that whole Prince of Persia thing he had going.
“Please, Darce?” Jean's chin quivered a little. Too scared to go over on her own, she was about to start crying over me refusing to help her. Dammit. I was always a sucker for tears.
As Scarlet's stereo blared dance music despite no one dancing, we navigated over to the boys, who sat on stools at the bar lining the far wall. Sadly, all the bottles had been removed from the bar's shelves and the only thing in the fridge Scarlet's dad had back there was pop. Alcohol might have made Lucas more tolerable, though probably not.
One glance at the board showed me Lucas was clobbering Adam. The latter reached out and put his hand on his rook, freezing when I made a little noise of disapproval. He looked up. “Not a good move?”
I shook my head. If he did what I assumed he meant to do and captured Lucas's bishop, he'd lose the rook to Lucas's queen. At this point, all he had to defend his king with was that rook and three pawns. It was possible he could force a draw without the rook, but he should try to hold onto it.
He touched the piece again and raised his eyebrows at me, seeking guidance.
“I'm not playing her too,” Lucas said, crunching his face up like I was an unwanted fungus.
“Of course not,” I said. “Because then you'd lose.”
Adam laughed as Lucas skewered me with a look that would have made most people back down. I'd never been the kind of girl that shirks away from challenging glowers though, so I just folded my arms and glared back at him.
“Fine,” Lucas said. “You're next.”
While Lucas and Adam looked back at the board, Jean gave me an enormous grin. I'd been about to inform Lucas that I'd rather snack on razor blades than play a game with him, but that joyous beaming stopped the words before I could start them. Jean would owe me though. And I'd have to think of something really good to demand from her.
“So, why is this stupid?” Adam asked as he made the move I'd cautioned against. Jean's lips jerked apart to tell him, but she closed her mouth without saying anything. I ground my teeth over seeing her act dumb just so some boy didn't realize she was smarter than him. Why would she want a guy who was turned off by brains? If Adam wanted her to be the stereotypical idiot blonde, he wasn't worth bothering with.
Without comment, Lucas swept his queen over to capture the rook. It was still theoretically possible Adam could have forced a stalemate, but he shook his head and held out his hand.
Jean inched closer to the board, frowning at it. “You're giving up?”
“Yeah, he's got me.” He misinterpreted her frown for confusion rather than calculation. “He still has his queen, which can move anywhere and none of my pieces can move more than one square at a time.”
She nodded like she'd needed that information. Which she most certainly hadn't. I started to think Adam had some serious problems in addition to bad taste in friends, but she kept looking at him like he was a god on earth. With a nervous nod toward the kitchen, she said, “I'm going to go grab some pizza. Anyone want anything?”
Adam took the bait instantly, jumping off the stool in his eagerness. “I'll come with.” He flashed me a wink. “Kick his butt for me, would you?”
The two vanished before I could banter back and I sat down with a frown.
Pieces clicked against the board as Lucas moved them back into their starting positions. “You don't have to play if you don't want to.”
“Huh?” I looked up at him. “No, I was just... Thinking about something.”
He grunted and finished setting up. His hair flopped forward as he worked. It was auburn and had grown just long enough to brush his shoulders. Other girls liked his hair. If it had belonged to someone else, I may have too. It looked like it should be advertising shampoo.
My hair was shorter than his because it turns bushy if I let it get longer than a pixie cut. From overhearing him talking to his friends, I knew he didn't care for it, that he preferred hair like Jean's long locks. Preferred blondes to brunettes like me too. Not that I made a habit out of eavesdropping on him or anything.
He held his hands out, fists closed. I tapped the left one, which turned out to hold a white pawn and gave me first move.
He answered my opening with a mirror move and cleared his throat. “So, I heard you won today.”
My fingers paused on the pawn I was about to move. Lucas made it clear the first day I met him that he was in Camp Curling-Is-Lame. He couldn't have cared to hear about me and the girls winning. Did he mention it just to throw me off? “Yeah, we did.”
I moved the pawn. “Thanks.”
We made it two more moves before he tried talking again. “Carol says you two are destined to battle for the house title.”
“Maybe.” It suddenly made sense for him to mention curling. Carol, Adam's sister, played at my club. And every other guy at our school had a thing for her, so of course Lucas would too. She was every bit as attractive as her brother and she worked it like crazy. No boy ever dissed curling to her face. No, with Carol they all acted like it was the most interesting thing ever.
He captured one of my knights. “You don't think they'll make it to the final round or you don't think you will?”
Carol's rink, or Team Nemesis as I called them, and mine were unarguably the two strongest Juniors teams in our club. That might have made us rivals even without her skip, Ellen, being a stuck-up bitch. For the last two years, Ellen and Co had snagged our club's spot in the regional playdowns by winning the annual Catscratch Bonspiel. That they'd yet to make Nationals didn't make me feel any better about it. That we'd taken the Saturday Juniors title from them last year helped a little. Just not much.
“If you're digging for info on Carol,” I told Lucas, “you'd be better off hitting up her brother. I don't know her that well.”
He looked up from the board with a furrow forming between his eyebrows. His eyes were a deep brown, almost the color of the polished wood of the bar. “You'd have a point if that's what I was doing.”
My throat was tight as I swallowed. Lucas's frown gave him a dark, brooding sort of air. Very vampire romance hero. Good thing I was a werewolf girl.
I took a breath and concentrated on the game. After a few moments, he made another move and I followed it quickly. We went on playing in silence and for a while we seemed well matched. Then he started making mistakes. The balance shifted in a few moves, until I was finally willing to look at him again from curiosity.
His eyes weren't on the board. They were focused over my shoulder somewhere.
I twisted to follow his gaze and found Jean leaning against a wall, Adam bending over her with one arm propped near her shoulder. They were nearly touching, their gazes locked on each other and the air between them crackling with electricity.
“Guess that's going well,” I said.
“What?” Lucas asked. He waved a hand in the air. “I couldn't hear you over the music.”
He was totally lying, but I shrugged it off. “Nothing important. Is the music distracting you?”
“What?” He looked at the game situation and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, I guess. It's not really conducive to thought.”
Not conducive to thought. Who talks like that? Other than Lucas, I mean. “I don't think you're supposed to think to it.”
His mouth curved a little on one side. “You want to dance to it?”
“You're not getting out of this that easy.” I took his queen off the board with a thunk as his eyes flickered back toward Jean and Adam.
He chuckled despite the loss, but frowned when he noticed exactly how bad his position was. Guess he hadn't been paying attention at all. His fingers tapped next to the board as he tried to come up with a way out of his predicament, but he kept getting distracted by the view across the room.
“You can surrender and free yourself up to stare at them.”
His fingers went still. “I'm not staring at them.”
“No, but you keep looking over there. Might as well save yourself the eye motions.”
He shook his head as he made himself look at the game. He moved a bishop, right into the path of my remaining rook. The move was stupid enough that I wasted several moments trying to spot the trap before taking the clergyman.
If Lucas were better at acting, I'd have thought he was trying to throw the game, but I didn't credit him with the skills to fake the level of disgust on his face. He made a halfway decent move with a knight, but followed it up by sacrificing his second bishop to capture a pawn.
“Seriously, dude. Just go over there.” Beating him would have fun if he'd been paying attention, but I couldn't find joy in slaughtering an opponent who wasn't even looking at me.
“Aren't you supposed to be keeping me from going over there?”
Oh, right. I'd kind of forgotten that. “Was it that obvious?”
He shrugged. “She dragged him off pretty fast. Plus, you never initiate conversations with me. So, yeah, it was.”
I never initiated conversations with him? Well, no. Because when we did speak to each other, it wound up going like this. “You never talk to me either,” I muttered.
“Any reason I should?” He'd stopped watching Jean to look at me, his mouth pulling into a sullen frown.
My queen slid diagonally to capture the pawn protecting his king. “Check.”
“Check,” he repeated, sounding annoyed. Lucas wasn't used to losing at anything other than hockey and I guessed he didn't know how to do it with grace. He moved his king out of check, but it was useless. One more move for my rook and it was checkmate. His fingers flicked the king over and he stood up, leaving the piece dead on the battlefield. “Good game.”
“Yeah, good game.” It wasn't, not even close, but it wasn't in me to rub that in. I stood up. “I'm going to the bathroom.”
Lucas had vanished when I got back, leaving the board exactly like it was. Grrr. I hated people who left things out like that. It's not like it takes long to make things neat. I went ahead and set it back up, quickly before someone could trap me into playing again. If anyone else at the party was lame enough to do that.
I went a bit too quickly. A few pieces fell behind the bar and I had to walk around to grab them. I had them in my hands and was about ready to stand up when two voices came in over the music. Lucas and Adam.
“I'm just saying you need to stop and think.” That was Lucas, I'd have known the smarmy overtone anywhere.
“What's your deal, bro? You jealous? You want her?”
The music faded in time for me to get the tail end of a moan of denial. “Don't be ridiculous.”
Right. Because it would be ridiculous for him to be into someone like Jean, someone with more brains than boobs, a girl more likely to cure cancer than become a supermodel. Not when he could be lusting after Carol. Though even she was too smart for him.
The music kicked in sudden and loud, drowning out Adam's response though I crawled closer trying to hear it. Something banged against the the top of the bar, like someone had walked into it.
“You okay?” Adam asked.
“Yeah, fine.” Lucas sounded distracted and annoyed, like he had for most of the evening. “But, seriously, you need to take a long look at that girl and make sure this is what you want to do.”
In my fists, the chessmen dug into my flesh. I had to loosen my grip from fear I'd break the stupid things.
“Yes, Dad,” Adam said. I could almost hear the sarcastic look he must have been wearing.
I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Then twenty. Killing Lucas sounded like a great idea, but doing it in front of a room full of people would be stupid. I got to one hundred and stood up.
Lucas sat on the closest stool, his chin resting on a fist as he looked straight at me. His eyebrows went up, but not as an expression of surprise, more like a taunt. A big old, “Whatcha gonna do now?”
I slammed the game pieces down. “You're an asshole.”
He leaned back, folding his arms across his chest. “Says the girl I just caught spying on me.”
“I wasn't spying on you!” I stormed around the edge of the bar.
He jumped from the stool to come after me. “You weren't? Why were you hiding then?”
“Why do you care?” I shook my head and weaved around some people hovering over the refreshments. “I wasn't hiding. I was cleaning. Not that you'd know what that was.”
He bumped into someone, barely glancing at her as he offered an insincere apology and kept after me. “Where are you going?”
“Away from you.”
“Darcy, I don't think you understood what you heard.”
I spun around, so pissed my muscles shook. “Oh? And what did I misunderstand?”
He opened his mouth to answer, but Carol slunk in next to him and wrapped her arm around his. His lips pressed together as his eyes went to her.
“Never mind,” I said. “I don't want to hear it. Stay out of Jean's business.”
That time when I rushed off, he didn't follow.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
seconds to go
Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Sincere thanks and good karma. :)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $5 or moreYou selected
Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks in either DRM-free epub or Kindle format (on December 1st, before it's available to the general public!), and a $1 donation to the Granite Curling Club Juniors.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $15 or moreYou selected
A signed copy of Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks, an e-copy, and a $2 donation to the Granite Curling Club Juniors. (For international shipping, please add an extra $5 to help cover additional costs.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $20 or moreYou selected
A signed copy of Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks, an e-copy, AND a handmade curling-themed bookmark made by the author, and a $2 donation to the Granite Curling Club Juniors. (For international shipping, please add an extra $5 to help cover additional costs.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $40 or moreYou selected
A signed copy of Pride, Prejudice, and Curling Rocks, an e-copy, a handmade curling-themed bookmark, AND a custom-made curling-themed necklace created by the author, and a $2 donation to the Granite Curling Club Juniors. (For international shipping, please add an extra $5 to help cover additional costs.)Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
All of the above, fawning in the acknowledgments, and the right to a cameo appearance in my next curling novel, Much Ado About Curling.Estimated delivery:
- (25 days)