Excerpt - “Peekytoe”
When we walked into this restaurant, he was the only other person to recognize Livvy Holland. The short
haircut was supposed to be a disguise and give me a little more privacy. Within three minutes, five other people
knew my identity, the daughter of Jackson Holland II. Since we sat down ten minutes ago, four more people were
informed. I hadn’t even had time to enjoy the brief anonymity, and I resent him for it. I decide to set a limit of
fifteen people. After the fifteenth person, I’m getting a cab back to my dorm. I don’t care if it is a forty-five
minute ride to campus.
“Sir, would you like another drink?”
“Yeah, make it a Dewar’s on the rocks,” Wayne says. “You sure you don’t want anything, Livvy?” He hands
me the wine list, but my eyes never leave his as I shake my head in the negative. The waiter walks quickly to the
bar as I take a sip of my water.
“You kind of ruined it for me,” I explain. “Now that they know who I am, they know I’m not old enough to
drink.” Not that I want to, anyway, but it’s the principle of the matter.
“Sure you can. That’s what money’s for,” he says with a laugh.
“Oh, am I picking up the bar tab tonight?” I ask brightly, blinking innocently.
“That’s not what I meant,” he says, reaching across the table to put his hand on mine. “I’m sorry. I just
wanted to make sure they gave us good service.”
I smile at him, trying not to be so shrill, but he’s making it impossible for me to have a good time. “Well, this
place is known for its good service. I don’t think we had to worry about that.”
“I just want the best for you, Livvy.”
“I understand,” I say with a nod. “Thank you.”
“Do you know what you’re going to get?”
“The vegetable risotto,” I tell him.
“That’s the cheapest entrée here! You can get anything you want.”
“I would like the vegetable risotto.”
“Are you going to get a salad?”
I glance over the menu, seeing something that makes me smile. “Yes, this peekytoe crab one, because the
name’s too good not to try it.” I giggle to myself before looking up at him. His brows are furrowed and he looks
too serious. “Peekytoe crab?”
“Livvy, those are throw-away fish,” he says. “You don’t want that.”
Fish? I look at him in disbelief and sigh. “Just order for me, please,” I tell him. “Whatever you think I’d
like. I’m going to the ladies room.” Before he has time to try to stop me, I grab my bag and go to the hostess
station to find out where the restroom is. I consider leaving now, but I promised my roommates I’d give him a
He’s cute, yes, but he spent the entire car ride here trying to impress me with useless facts–and some tidbits that
he believed to be facts, but weren’t. I’d learned a lot from dating the smartest guy I’d ever met. It’s quite possible
he’s ruined all other men for me.
In the bathroom, I pull out my powder and touch up my makeup. I stare at my reflection, still wondering when I’ll start feeling like myself again. I haven’t felt real happiness in months.
As I put away my compact, I glance at my cell phone, checking for messages or texts. I’d stopped feeling
disappointment at the lack of communication some time ago. It’s just normal now. I expect nothing, and get
Wayne stands when I return to the table, helping me with my chair. “Thank you,” I tell him politely.
He takes a drink before sitting back down across from me. “Vegetable risotto and the crab salad you wanted–”
“Peekytoe,” I clarify, wishing he would just lighten up and say it. The name makes me smile again. If I just
keep thinking of this crab, he may actually think I’m having a good time. Peekytoe. Peekytoe. Peekytoe.
“Yes. That.” I look down at the wooden table so I can roll my eyes without him noticing. I wonder if I’ll be
like him–lacking proper manners and a sense of humor–when I’m twenty-four.
I’d met Wayne on my first day of orientation. He’s a grad student, but had signed up to help introduce
Freshman to the Yale campus. A native of Manhattan, he recognized me by my name, but not by my looks. The
pixie haircut had been a surprise to everyone–even my parents. I got it the day before I left for college. Mom
cried. Dad was shocked, but impressed that it had grown long enough for me to donate the tresses.
“Some little girl’s going to be very happy,” he’d said. I was sure he was right, but I had selfishly cut it in
hopes of it making me happy. I wanted a fresh start. I needed one. I’d been sad for too long.
The new hairstyle didn’t make me any happier. In fact, it had the opposite effect. I cry a couple times a week,
now for a different reason; a silly one, I admit, when I’m thinking rationally: I miss my long hair. My roommates
keep telling me that the cut is very flattering. I think they’re just trying to be nice. We’re still in the ‘honeymoon’
phase, doing anything we can to not get on one another’s nerves in our small living quarters.
“Tell me about your summer,” he says as we wait for our salad course.
“I painted a lot,” I tell him. “That’s really all I did this past summer. I have nothing interesting to report,” I
explain with a shrug.
“Well, what did you paint? Like, a house? A room?”
“No. It’s fine art. This series about... um,” I start. “Well, it chronicled a relationship, from its inception to its
demise.” I swallow hard and look away from him, hoping he doesn’t see the pain I feel.
“What kind of relationship?” he asks.
I don’t understand his question. “A romantic one?” I ask, unsure.
“That sounds pretty grown-up for a seventeen-year-old,” he says.
“I’m pretty grown-up for a seventeen-year-old,” I affirm. “Does my age bother you?”
“Not one bit,” he says. “I prefer a younger woman. But you’ll be eighteen... when?”
“A few weeks.”
“Then you’ll be an adult,” he says raising his eyebrows suggestively.
“Mm-hmm,” I respond, wondering what he’s insinuating but not caring enough to ask.
“Your peekytoe crab salad, Miss Holland,” our waiter says with a grin.
“Do you laugh every time you say it?” I ask him casually.
He chuckles easily. “I do. I love when people order it,” he says. “How can you not smile?”
“My thoughts exactly. Thank you.” “My pleasure, Miss Holland. And your foie gras, sir.” I look away from his dish quickly. Had I known he
was going to order that, I would have voiced my disapproval. I suddenly lose my giddy smile and my appetite.
“Have you had foie gras before?”
“No,” I tell him, crinkling my nose as I shake my head. Although my dad used to enjoy it, my mother had
convinced him to never eat it again. Once I heard the reasons, I never even considered it.
“It’s delectable.” He scoops some on his fork and holds it over the table. “Try it.”
“No, thank you.”
“You’re not one of those people, are you?”
“No,” I say, not wanting to get into a debate over fatty duck liver. I realize quickly my disapproval wouldn’t
have convinced him to choose another starter, anyway. How am I going to get through this dinner?
a Rafflecopter giveaway