The human shell that bears my name wears jeans, a little makeup, and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap. She feels hollow. Like her guts have been scooped out. The guts that made her take risks. The jittery stomach that made her puke before a race. The pulsing heart that made her fall in love. The delicate tissues that made her human. Made her real.
It’s all been sucked out of her.
Shutting my eyes, I listen to the sounds around me in the first-class departure lounge. A man speaks to his wife in German. He’s flying to Toronto on business and must be on the phone since he’s telling her when his plane is scheduled to leave. A woman in a strong Jersey accent scolds her child for making a fuss over her drink. Yeah, she’ll be sitting right next to us on our flight, I bet.
I tune out the voices and stretch on this comfy leather couch I found.
The silk scarf covering my face lifts as my sister leans in to destroy my moment of nirvana.
“Are you gonna be moody on the plane too?” Paige asks.
“Yes.” I grab the scarf and place it back over my face.
Paige lifts the scarf again. “Do you want a cookie? The walnut chocolate-chips are wicked.”
“No.” I take it from her again. I don’t wanna talk. Eat. Or experience life. I want life to leave me alone for a while. Or better yet, forget that Samantha Sutton ever existed.
Doesn’t Paige get the message? Do I have to spell everything—
Paige lifts the scarf. “Please stop feeling sorry for yourself. You’ll get through this. Everything will be mucho better. You’ll see.”
A spark of rage throws me off the couch and into my sister’s face. “Shut up. You don’t know anything. My future is gone. I screwed up my entire life and I don’t need my baby sister acting like she knows what’s best for me because you don’t know crap. You’re useless to me right now. Do you understand? Useless. Go bother someone else with your condescending wisdom.”
Paige wants to cry, but she somehow chokes off the tears. She stands and grabs her purse before shuffling out of the lounge.
Good. Now I’ll have some freaking peace.
I lie down on the leather couch. Voices murmur around me. Fingers point. That loud argument with Paige draws the room’s attention to that eighteen-year-old girl on the couch. That girl who looks oddly familiar because she took off her stylish Italian scarf and her large designer sunglasses that disguised her identity.
Please leave me alone. I don’t want to be her. I want to be a nameless traveler. A plain, uninteresting girl you would pass in the hallway without a second peek.
I throw on my sunglasses, hoping it will make me invisible again.
Their hushed voices start it off.
“Is that the girl who…?”
“Samantha Sutton. Yes, that’s her!”
“How could she do that to her team?”
“What a spoiled brat. Did you hear what she did?”
“What an embarrassment to the sport.”
“She’s a teen girl. What do you expect?”
The first-class lounge becomes my court room. All the passengers self-appointed judges. I can’t look at them. But I can’t stare at the ceiling for another hour. Maybe if I sit here and be quiet, they’ll leave me alone.
The voices go on and on as if I can’t hear all the awful things they’re saying about me.
People take pictures. I ignore them and play a game on my phone.
They stand up and approach me.
I don’t look up or acknowledge them.
Those people snap pictures anyway. Like I’m this inanimate object. Not a person with feelings. Or a girl who craves her privacy.
A few ask questions. Normally I would answer and be that professional sports celebrity I’ve been in the past. But I’m too fragile now. If I talk about what’s happened this week, dig up all those horrible moments again, I’ll totally lose it. So I walk out of the first-class lounge…
…and into a sea of media. They circle me like a pack of wolves and I’m trapped. They just won’t let the story die. Guess my location isn’t a secret now. Microphones and cameras aim for my head. It’s the quickest way to take me out. Their questions fly like spears…
“What’s the real reason you skipped the German Grand Prix? Was it to get back at the team for not supporting you?”
“Will Porsche sack you for embarrassing them?”
“Did Ralf Wolert’s nephew break up with you because he found out you were pregnant?”
“Was the pressure too much for you? Are you seeking professional counseling?”
“Is this the end of your career in Europe? Will you try to race in America?”
I can’t answer them. The mountain of crap that I’ve created is suffocating and I have no energy left to fight it.
My cheeks become moist.
Crap. I can’t start bawling. Not here. Not in front of the cameras.
They want to break you. Reduce you to nothing. Don’t let them do it.
The cameras move in to capture my face. The tears flow and I can’t stop. These reporters will get what they want. A pathetic little girl crying over the boy she loves.
I wedge myself in between two reporters and push through them. I dash across the terminal in this frantic state. Searching for an escape. Searching for anything that will keep them away.
And they’re chasing me. Seriously. Chasing me across the freaking airport.
I spot a women’s restroom and dash inside.
Finding an empty stall, I slam the door shut and sit on the cold toilet seat. I relax for a second and rest my head against the wall. Then it rolls out like a tidal wave. I sob and the tears drip off my jaw. I drift forward. My wet cheek slides against the wall. The friction it makes is the only thing preventing me from collapsing on to the bathroom tiles.
There’s a commotion as the restroom door opens. Things being moved around. It must be the mob. They won’t give up. They’re stuffing themselves into this bathroom. Excited that I’ve trapped myself inside this stall. They don’t care about decency. Or empathizing with the pain of a human being. All they care about is their story. Catching pictures of me in this helpless position would be the perfect image for their news feeds.
The stall door opens.
She kneels down and wraps her arms around this hollow and broken girl who’s totally lost it. Paige rocks me back and forth like a child. But it does the job. It helps me find my voice.
“I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to say,” I blubber through the tears. “I’m losing my mind.”
“Don’t worry,” Paige says in this upbeat tone that I hated a few minutes ago…but I so need to hear now. “I blocked the door. No one’s coming in here.”
“But they’re still out there. Waiting to pounce. I can’t—I can’t get on a plane now.” I sniff and my nose is clogged from crying. “Look at me. I’m a disaster. And everyone’s gonna stare at me on the plane for what…? Nine hours?”
“We’ll charter a private jet home, okay? Megan will have a cow, but this is an emergency and we’re spending the money.”
I manage a nod.
Paige dives into her purse for a moist towelette and cleans my face. I sneeze and snot comes out my nose. Paige gives me a tissue and I blow into it. Paige gets rid of the tissues and my ball cap. She brushes my hair to make me look like a girl again.
I breathe in and relax.
Paige searches her purse and takes out a big cookie. “Here, I saved you one.”
I take the cookie and examine its rocky surface of walnuts and serious chunks of chocolate. My mouth waters. “Are they really wicked?”
“Dude! You won’t regret it. Now do the Cookie Monster on that bad boy while I call NetJets.”
Book & Author Details:
Legends by Doug Solter
Publication date: September 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication date: September 2nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Looking for an exciting young adult read about a kick-butt girl that doesn’t revolve around high school?
Meet Samantha. She drove the car that killed her dad. Now racked with guilt, the 18-year-old-girl racer dedicates her life to becoming what her dad always planned her to be…a racing champion. Now demoted to number three driver, Samantha feels alienated from her friends on the crew and Manny. And the worst part of it is…she knows it was all her fault.
Determined to make amends and save her Formula One career, Samantha re-commits herself to winning the championship. But how? How can she convince her boss to give back her car? How can she convince the crew that she’s changed? And how can she win eight consecutive races against the best drivers in the world? That’s what it will take for her to have a shot at the world championship.
Manny doesn’t like to create waves. His uncle owns the racing team, but the crew teases the boy like one of their own. But that’s okay. Manny dreams of designing his own race cars and he thought his girlfriend Samantha would race them. But she tossed him to the side when the self-absorbed racing star took over from the small-town girl from Oklahoma that he fell in love with.
Samantha needs an edge. She needs that revolutionary new transmission Manny designed that made her car so nimble and fast. But Manny hates her. She neglected him so bad that he broke up with her. Why would the boy help her? Especially when Manny’s ex-girlfriend is making her move to take Samantha’s place.
The world now thinks Samantha Sutton is a joke. Solid proof that girls don’t belong in a race car.
She doesn’t have a choice. Samantha must prove the world wrong.
(Skid (book 1) is free and Rivals (book 2) is only 0.99 this month so readers can get caught up with the series!)
Growing up in Oklahoma, Doug Solter began writing screenplays in 1998 and became a 2001 semi-finalist in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. He made the switch to writing young adult novels in 2008. His first novel, the Formula One racing romance SKID, was honored as a young adult semi-finalist in the 2013 Best Kindle Book Awards.
His paranormal werewolf romance MY GIRLFRIEND BITES was honored in the same category in 2014. Doug is also a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. He respects cats, loves the mountains, and one time walked the streets of Barcelona with a smile on his face.