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Authors: Allison Rushby

Being Hartley

BOOK: Being Hartley
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Being Hartley

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Allison Rushby

 

No part of this book may be reproduced, copied, stored, scanned, transmitted or distributed in any form or by any means, including but not limited to mechanical, printed, or electronic form, without prior written permission of the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

Contact Information:
[email protected]

 

First paperback edition February 2014

Cover Art ©
 by Georgina Gibson. All rights reserved.

Formatting by Finish The Story, www.finish-the-story.com

 

Publishing History

First Edition, 2014

Print ISBN: 978-1495449086

Published in the United States of America

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1
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"Thea?" I hear my mom call out from the kitchen.
Her voice distracts me from what I'm doing—what I've been doing for the last forty-five minutes—and I miss the step I've been getting wrong over and over again. Ugh. What is wrong with me today? I press pause on the remote and take a deep breath, trying to refocus. Okay, one more time. I rewind a few seconds, and it's only as I'm ready to start over that I frown, realizing that the "Thea" I heard might not have been the first time Mom has "Thea'd" me in the last ten minutes or so.

I take a couple seconds to think about how annoyed she sounded.

Maybe about a seven?

"Coming!" I yell back, hoping that I can buy myself a few more minutes.
"I just need to…" I let my words trail off, because not only does Mom already know what I'm doing up here (the thumping on the floorboards is a dead giveaway), she doesn't entirely approve.

As I press play again, I decide, this time, to concentrate on my cousin Rory's image on the screen.
She and her partner Noah aren't the lead dancers in the advanced segment on
Saturday Morning Dance
today, but it's easier for me to follow someone I'm so familiar with, even if she is in the background.

The only problem is
, as soon as I focus on Rory, I don't get any further than before, because I simply lose it. The show today is a special eighties show, and the two songs we're dancing to in the advanced segment are both Michael Jackson. The first one was "Thriller," which was a whole lot of zombie fun. This one is a song I don't think I've heard before—"P.Y.T." I'm loving it, though. And Rory obviously thinks it's a find as well, because she is goofing around back there with her partner, trying hard not to laugh—if that smirk on her face is anything to go by. Fair enough, really. After all, there's some pretty weird stuff going on in that song, including…

"Michael Jackson's 'Pretty Young Thing,'" a voice says, and I turn to see my mom behind me, leaning against one of the house's tall metal columns.
"I haven't heard that song in years. I thought I recognized that grunting and panting. Oh, and let's not forget the odd chipmunk vocals at the end…"

I press pause on the remote again and raise one eyebrow as I stare at her.
"Um, I hate to bring this up," I remind her, "but you're the one who dated him."

"Once.
One date. Before all the…fuss. And I was seventeen. It hardly even counts." She shakes her head with its tight cap of trademark blond Hartley curls.

My eyebrow travels even higher now.
"Hate to break it to you, Mom, but I think any number of dates with Michael Jackson counts. Especially now."

She sighs at this, defeated.
"Yes. Especially when people
won't let you forget about them
. Wait, hang on. Not that there was 'them' as in, plural dates. It was one date. I've told you before. We got ice cream. It lasted forty-five minutes max. It was nothing! A publicity stunt, really. Now, dinner in five minutes. Understand?"

"I'll be right there," I say, going back to the TV.
There's no point quizzing her on how many scoops and what flavors MJ got, because I've asked her a hundred times before and she can't remember. Yet—and this is just unbelievable to me—she can remember the exact outfit my dad, the scriptwriter, wore on their first date. And every course that he ordered. And how she fell for him when he somehow accidentally dunked his tie in his glass of red wine, then tried to pretend it was some kind of sophisticated wine-tasting maneuver. (I'll stop here before I vomit.) Sure, I love my dad, but come on, Mom…really?

"Oh, and Thea?"

I look back at her now, in case she finally
has
remembered Michael Jackson's ice cream preference. "The problem is you're not hitting the fourth beat hard enough. Hold it for a half second longer and you'll get it." And, with this, she steps forward and pulls off the move effortlessly. "One, two, three
and
four. See? Don't be in such a hurry all the time."

"Um, okay."
I rewind, ready to start over, my eyes wide. How long has she been standing there? And how can it be that easy? Anyway, I take what she said and run with it. After all, my mom's been in the entertainment biz for forty-one-and-a-half of her forty-two years. (She started at six months with a soap commercial—six months pretty much being the average age every Hartley enters show business. Oh, except me, of course. I'm banned.) She knows what she's talking about when it comes to stuff like this.

Ready to give it another try, I choose not to focus on my goofy cousin.
Instead, I opt to follow Lucia and her partner Tobias. Nice and safe. And when I get to the step I keep messing up, I hit the fourth beat harder and hold it that half second longer.

And my mom's right.

I've got it.

With a big smile on my face
, I press pause one more time and swivel around to see my mom still hovering. But she doesn't look equally happy that I've mastered the step that was tripping me up. In fact, she doesn't look happy at all—she looks kind of…deflated. She takes the few steps over to me then reaches out to push some of my sweaty curls back behind one ear. "Oh, Thea," she says with a sigh. "Honey, be careful what you wish for."

* * *

Even though it's the first day of two weeks' vacation, my alarm goes off at six a.m.—the time I'd set it to the night before. Of course, last night, I'd had good intentions, and getting up so early, throwing on a layer or ten, and joining my mom and Anna on the deck for yoga seemed like a good idea.

Now?
Not so much.

I lie still for a minute or two, thinking about whether I'm going to do this, then with a groan, I swing my legs out of bed.
I'm awake. May as well be awake and on the deck doing yoga. I'm already wearing a pair of thick gray stretch pants that can pass for yoga gear, a T-shirt and socks, so I just grab my trusty thermal hoodie that's lying over the back of my desk chair, pull it on, and I'm out my bedroom door.

I run down the wood steps that lead from my wing of the house, open the glass door
, and cross the short metal walkway that leads from one rocky outcrop to another and takes me over to the living quarters. It's freezing out, and I zip my hoodie up as I go, glad that I remembered to grab it before leaving my room. Crossing time zones and countries and seasons as often as we do, I can sometimes make inappropriate clothing choices. Like the last time we left Australia for a stint in NYC. It was boiling when we left Australia in January, and then our plane landed at JFK right before a blizzard struck. I mustn't have been thinking straight (heatstroke, probably), because I'd packed a suitcase full of short shorts and tank tops and had to hit the stores with my tutor for an entire half day before we did any work. Whoops. Have to try that one again soon.

"Hellooo…" I call out as I slide the glass door open and enter the nice warm dining room.

"Out here, Thea!" I hear Anna's voice call from the deck. "Juice on the kitchen counter for you."

"Thanks!" I call back as I make my way toward the kitchen, across the heated polished concrete floor.
For some reason we always go juice crazy in Tasmania, even in winter. I grab my juice off the counter and take a long sip. Anna hasn't forgotten—apple, beetroot, carrot, and celery,
sans
ginger. Mom likes hers
with
, but there's something about uncooked ginger that makes me gag.

I drink as I go, exiting the bifold glass and steel doors, crossing the deck.
As soon as I pick it up, I pretty much polish off the whole glass in one go.

"Slow down!" Anna laughs, stretching on her mat beside my mom.
"Enjoy it. We can wait a whole fifteen seconds for you to finish it in
two
gulps."

"If that comes back up when you're doing downward dog, try and aim over the side of the deck," my mom advises me.

"Noted," I say, jogging on the spot. It's cold out here, even with the overhead heaters on.

Anna gestures to the far side of the deck. "Looks like your friend's back."

I glance over to see a kookaburra sitting on the wooden railing. It's taken me a while to get used to him, with his weird markings that look like eyeliner, his messed-up feathered Mohawk, and blue-inked wings. He looks like some kind of tough punk bird, but over the time we've spent here, I've gotten to know him, and I've come to realize he's all show with his big laugh. His bright little eyes that are always on the lookout for treats are the giveaway.

"I've already given him some ham," Anna tells me before I ask.
"Two helpings actually, the greedy thing."

Some of his friends call out to him with a cackle
, and he flies off the railing and swoops down into a nearby tree. I move my attention outward then, over the stepped grassy terraces and helipad, then over the wide expanse of ocean shimmering below us. It's a gorgeous day—the perfect weather to kick off a two-week vacation. And I'd probably be more excited about it all if, like a normal teenager, I had vacation plans. Movie marathons, trips to the mall, hanging out with friends…

I start down the wrong train of thought and quickly shrug it away.
Friends don't happen very easily when you cross at least three continents most months. The few friends I've made through dancing are pretty much all off at a hip hop dance workshop in London that I had to say no to because we were "going home" for a "family vacation." Who goes
home
for a family vacation? It didn't even make any sense. Of course, my mom hadn't been able to see my point of view on that one.

So, here I am in Tasmania.
On my fun lite vacation.

It takes me a while to register the fact that the helicopter is actually on the helipad.
"Did Dad get in this morning?" I ask.

"He's just taking a shower
, and he'll be out. He's being a total grump, though, so I'd watch out until he de-LAs."

No great surprise there.
This time around, Mom was so desperate to de-LA we didn't even wait the extra forty-eight hours in LA so Dad could travel with us back to Australia. Seriously. And we'd only been there for three days while she made some contractual appearances for her latest film before bolting back to base, aka Burnie, Tasmania's fourth-largest city (and when your largest city has a population of 220,000 people, fourth-largest is really saying something). We didn't even have time to really catch up with my cousins, the only people on earth who really "get" me. And because I haven't caught up with them face-to-face in ages, Mom and I fought about that as well as the vacation thing, which was fun. Still, I knew that Dad was being given a hard time on rewrites of his latest script, so I also knew better than to ask to stay in LA with him.

"Quick stretch, Thea?" Anna stands up from her mat.
"We're doing an advanced standing series today."

Advanced.
That sounds scary. "I'd better, or I'll be in pain afterwards." I take a deep breath and go over to sit down on my mat. Yoga will probably be good for me today. I promised myself I was going to try and think positively and behave myself this vacation in the hope that we might all get along a bit better. Maybe then my mom would be able to see where I'm coming from on a few issues…

I tune in to Anna and let her guide me through the stretches, all the while knowing I'll probably be limping tomorrow.
I learned the hard way that Anna's sessions can be more than slightly crippling. Still, you have to hand it to her—over the past year, she's whipped my mom into some kind of shape. Not long ago, I caught Mom secretly gloating at the fact that she wasn't in the "stars with cellulite" issue of some celebrity gossip magazine this year. When she saw me, she'd quickly tucked the offending publication under a cushion and claimed it was my tutor, Beth's, magazine. Sure, Mom. Sure.

* * *

We're three quarters of the way through Anna's grueling hour-and-a-half Spanish-Inquisition-like yoga session when Deb, my mom's personal assistant, sticks her head out the door. "Sorry," she says, pointing to the cordless phone as we both wobble in our goddess squats (not very goddess-like, I have to say), "but it's your brother, Erik, and he says it's important. I wouldn't bother you otherwise."

"It's okay, I'll take the call for you," my dad says, entering the scene.
"Ladies!" He waves at the three of us on the deck.

"Hey, Dad!" I say back. Then I look at my mom to try and scope out what the call's about, but she looks as mystified as I am. She doesn't know what Uncle Erik wants that could be so important either.

"Faces forward, goddesses," Anna tells us. "Let's refocus."

But we can't refocus.
For the next ten minutes or so that my dad is out of sight with the phone, we're all twitchy and wriggly and eyeing the bifold doors and generally not concentrating very well at all. When my dad returns, Mom and I both practically fall out of our pyramid poses.

"Maybe you'd better leave it for today," my dad says, his expression serious now.
"It's Rory."

BOOK: Being Hartley
12.18Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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