Eeeee!!! I am so excited about this book. I’ve been fortunate enough to read Surviving The Rachel by my lovely friend Aven Ellis and let me tell you, you are in for a real treat. It’s the most gorgeous, romantic, sweet, cosy story and definitely one of my favourite reads of 2014. Aven has a wonderful style of writing and I always devour everything she writes, but Surviving The Rachel is probably my favourite of hers so far and definitely her most romantic. You only have one more day to wait as it’s out tomorrow but in the meantime, here is a sneak peek of Chapter 1.
Drastic times call for drastic measures.
I wrinkle my nose as I stare at my reflection in my mirror. Okay, so that might be a wee bit dramatic on my part, but I do feel the need for a change.
Like a haircut.
A serious haircut.
I remove the rubber band holding my long, jet-black locks in place and shake out my hair, which I haven’t changed since college.
Nothing screams “I’m a woman ready for change” like an entirely new hairstyle.
And if anyone needs a change, it’s me, Bree Logan.
I study myself in the mirror. My green eyes stare back at me, and I think of how my summer can be recapped into three major events. First, I graduated with honors from the University of Arizona, but I can’t find an entry-level job in advertising. Next, my boyfriend Alex—who I thought was The One—dumped me after graduation and bailed on our apartment in Chicago. And due to lack of gainful employment and my stupid ex-boyfriend not giving me any money toward breaking the lease, I had to move back home with my mom and dad.
I bite my lip for a moment. Okay, yes, that’s my crappy summer. So if anyone needs a haircut to signal change, it’s me.
I’m ready to start over.
I’ll keep looking for a break in advertising while working as a cocktail server at the Bradley Scott Hotel downtown. I’ll pay off the money I borrowed from my best friend, Avery Andrews, to break the lease of the apartment in Lincoln Park. Then I’ll save up so I can move back to the city and have that post-graduate life I dreamed of and planned for.
Suddenly there’s a rap on my doorframe. I turn and see my mom standing there with a bottle of water.
“I thought you might need another one after unpacking these boxes,” Mom says, stepping around the boxes that I have piled in my room.
I turn and smile gratefully at her. “Thank you.”
Diva, my mom’s toy Pomeranian, is right on her heels and begins barking and growling at me.
“Now, Diva, Bree isn’t a guest, she’s home now,” Mom says soothingly, picking her dog up and cradling her to her chest. “You need to get used to that, Precious.”
I almost laugh. Leave it to the dog to remind me of my inability to pay rent and land a professional job.
“I’m thinking of cutting my hair,” I announce, unscrewing the cap on the bottle of water and taking a sip. “Maybe go into the city this afternoon and get it done by some cool professional.”
“Oh, Bree, are you sure, sweetheart? Maybe you should start with more layers or something? I don’t want you to do anything you’ll regret.”
“No, I’m ready for change in my life,” I say honestly. “I feel like this is symbolic of that change, you know?”
Mom sits down on my bed, next to a box of pictures. She puts Diva down and begins to sift through them.
“I can understand that,” Mom says. “Oh, I love this picture of you and your friends.”
I smile as Mom shows me a picture taken in July at Wrigley Field. It’s me and Avery, my best friend since middle school, our mutual friend, Emma Davenport, Avery’s boyfriend, Deacon Ryan, and his brother, Zach.
“That was a fun afternoon,” I say, smiling at the memory.
Mom sifts through a few more and then glances up at me. “I notice there are no pictures of Alex in here.”
I sit down on the other side of the box and frown. “I got rid of all of them,” I admit. “Looking at them was like being reminded how stupid I was to even think he could have been The One.”
“Sweetie, you were a young girl in love for the first time,” Mom says soothingly. “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
I flop backward on my bed and groan. “Oh, but Mom, I was so blind. There were so many red flags. Like how he never wanted to do anything I wanted to do, we always did what Alex wanted to do. He was never interested in what I had to say. We always had to party when I wanted to go get a Starbucks some nights. And I was always driving him around because he got so drunk all the time. What did I see in him? How could I ignore all that?”
Mom drops the pictures back into the box. “You were in love with him. And sometimes that can make you blind, Bree. But you’ve learned from this, and that’s a good thing.”
I sit back up. “Oh, yes, I’ve learned all right. My next boyfriend isn’t going to be a selfish partying jerk.”
“So are you ready to date again?” Mom asks in a hopeful tone.
I see she’s grinning at the prospect, no doubt eager to start finding potential men for me.
“No. The last thing I need is to be dealing with dating when I’m trying to get my career off the ground.”
“Are you sure? Have you seen the Cheltens’ grandsons, Jack and Eric, yet? I keep telling you to go over next door and introduce yourself. They are such nice boys and they are your age, Jack is the older one, he’s twenty-five, and Eric is—”
“Oh no. No, no, no. I know what you’re thinking. No.”
“What am I thinking?”
“That I’ll end up dating one of them,” I say, giving my mom the suspicious eye.
“Well, Eric is very charming and available,” Mom declares.
I furrow my brow. “How do you know?”
“Gah, Mom,” I wail, putting my hands over my face. “Please tell me you didn’t.”
“Of course I did,” she explains. “It’s called making conversation.”
No, it’s called scouting the field for your daughter.
“Well, I’m not interested. I’m not ready.”
“That’s too bad, because that Eric is so cute. Jack is, too, but Eric is just charming,” she says as she stands up. “Well, I’m going out to the garden. Lots of work to do. Oh, by the way, your father and I have plans for a movie and dinner tonight. If you are home by five, you can join us.”
Good lord. I thought being a third wheel with Avery and Deke was bad enough, but resorting to being a third wheel on my parents’ date?
That is a whole new level of hideousness I do not want to experience.
“Um, thanks, but I think I’ll just stay in tonight,” I say honestly. Which appeals to me. I haven’t had a Saturday night off in forever, and I want to order a pizza and have a movie marathon.
“All right,” Mom says. “Come on, Diva, let’s go outside.”
Diva barks happily and follows my mom out the door. I pick up my phone and do a search for some modern, hip, downtown Chicago salon. City chic, that’s what I want. I scroll through suggestions from Google until I see this:
Fringe Chic Spa & Salon—Modern Hair for Chicago’s Modern Woman
I call the salon, hoping against hope there might be a cancellation or opening today.
“Fringe Chic Spa & Salon, how can I help you?” says an utterly bored-sounding woman.
“Erm, yes, I’m calling to see if it is possible to get a haircut today?” I ask hopefully.
“Frederic is booked solid for months. So are Javier and Orlando,” she says as I hear keystrokes on her keyboard. “But you can have an appointment with Marcolo if you can get here in one hour.”
One hour? It takes about 45 minutes to drive there if traffic is awesome.
“Okay,” I say as if suddenly this haircut is the most important thing ever. “Um, how much is a haircut?” I ask as I realize I neglected to look at the prices on the website.
Wow? That’s not bad at all for a downtown salon.
“For the cut,” the receptionist says haughtily, interrupting my thoughts. “If you want it dried and styled, as I am sure you do, that will be an additional $120.”
“Of course,” I say, mentally calculating cut + style + tip + parking downtown and the slim availability left on my MasterCard . . . and I’ll just make it.
By five dollars.
The receptionist takes my name, says they’ll see me at two o’clock, and hangs up. I frantically toss on a coral-colored maxi dress. I slide into my flip-flops and hesitate as I glance down at my toes. Crap, my pedicure looks like hell. I ditch those shoes and put on some espadrilles instead. Better.
I grab my purse and dash down the stairs. I slide the patio door open and pop my head out. As soon as I do, Diva begins barking and growling at me again.
“Mom,” I say over the barking, “I’m going into the city to get my hair cut.”
My mom glances up from the rose bush she’s pruning. “Okay, good luck.”
“All the way to the city for a haircut?” my dad asks. “That sounds extreme.”
“I want it to be chic,” I explain.
“They can’t cut chic hair in the suburbs?”
“Dad, I want it done in the city. So I’m going now,” I yell over Diva’s yip-yap-yip-yapping. “See you later.” And with those words, I bolt out the door.
Luckily traffic into the city isn’t bad, and I pull up to the valet stand with a few minutes to spare. After I hand over my keys, I step inside the posh salon. It’s all black and white and silver, with funky light fixtures hanging down from the ceiling. I see Chicago’s elite drinking champagne and being fussed over by stylists all dressed in black. The music is edgy sounding. Everything, in one word, is incredibly hip.
Hip. That is who the new Bree is going to be. Edgy and hip and ready to reclaim her life.
I approach the receptionist, who appears just as bored in person as she sounded on the phone. She is texting on her iPhone and only looks up after I clear my throat.
“Hello, I’m Bree. I have an appointment with Marcolo,” I say.
The girl nods. She punches a button on her headset and speaks into her mic. “Marcolo, your appointment is here.” She disconnects and shifts her attention back to her iPhone, not even glancing at me. “He will be right up.”
I take a seat in a sleek black and chrome chair and restlessly tap my foot. I’m excited about this. I haven’t deviated from my style much since college, and this will give me just the boost of confidence I need to go out and attack the advertising job front again.
I see a young man with a bright pink Mohawk approaching me. He’s very tall—about 6’4—and rail thin. He is wearing all black, of course, and has piercings in his nose. And tattoo sleeves.
Perfect, I think happily. He’s cool and young and will totally be able to give me an awesome new hairstyle.
“Bree?” he asks in a high-pitch feminine-sounding voice.
I stand up and smile. “I’m Bree.”
“Hello, I’m Marcolo,” he says, extending his hand. “Pleased to meet you, Bree. Come on back.”
I nod and follow Marcolo to his station. I slide into the chair, and he lifts up my hair. “What can I do for you today?”
“I need a change,” I say. In more ways than one. “I’m open to anything.”
“Ooooh, I love that,” Marcolo says excitedly. “Tell me about yourself. Your interests, what you do, so I can create a vision for you.”
Wow, Marcolo is going to create a vision? I totally lucked out getting in to see him today!
“Well, I recently graduated from the University of Arizona,” I start out, meeting Marcolo’s eyes in the mirror. “I want to work in advertising, as an account representative.”
“Mmmmmmm, what about your interests?” Marcolo says, playing with my hair.
“I like being outside,” I say. “I like taking nature walks. I love good conversations, whether over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. I love shopping. And I’m obsessed with the show Friends. I know every episode by heart.”
Marcolo stops playing with my hair. “Interesting. Who is your favorite Friends character?”
“Oh, easy. Rachel. I love Rachel Green.”
Marcolo spins the chair around, so I’m facing him. “I’m inspired. I have a brilliant idea.”
Yes! I’m going to look fabulous when he’s finished; I can just tell.
“Really?” I ask, smiling at him.
“Let’s give you a modified Rachel cut.”
I pause. “Do you mean The Rachel?” I say, referring to the haircut that exploded during the 90’s when Friends came on the scene.
“Yes. But with an edge.”
I bite my lip. “But . . . that cut was popular a long time ago. I’m not sure about all those layers.”
“This is not going to be that cut,” Marcolo explains excitedly. “Fewer layers, some bangs. It will be fresh and sexy.”
“I don’t know.”
“Bree, you said you wanted a change. I’m offering you something fresh and familiar at the same time. What do you think? Marcolo works at one of the best salons in Chicago. He wouldn’t lead me wrong, right?
I take a deep breath and nod excitedly. “Let’s do it. Give me the modern Rachel.”
And with those words, I put my faith in Marcolo’s vision—and his scissors.
I sit in my car and stare at my reflection in the mirror on the driver’s side visor.
My hair does not look like a fresh, modern, version of The Rachel.
It looks exactly like The Rachel.
Which might be awesome if it were 1994.
But it’s not.
Arrrrrrrrrrrgh! Oh, but I don’t just have The Rachel. I have one with heavy bangs cut in, Marcolo’s “modern” twist.
My beautiful black hair is now in that infamous, choppy cut. Looking incredibly old and dated. And the bangs make it extra hideous.
Why, why, why, did I agree to this? Why?
I slam my visor up. I hear a driver leaning on the horn behind me, so I need to focus and move.
Anger fills me as I think about my hideous new hair. New, hip, edgy woman, my ass! If I were to slap a denim vest on over a floral dress, I’d be a perfect specimen from the Central Perk set on Friends in the 90’s.
I groan aloud. Of course, I want to work in “Image is everything” advertising. Who the hell is going to hire me with this outdated haircut?
Hmmm, let’s see . . . Nobody!
I fume as I navigate my way toward the expressway. And not that I’m remotely ready to think about dating, but no guy is going to ask me out with this shitty hair either.
A bit of my anger dissipates with that thought. I guess that’s a bonus. Maybe by the time all these freaking layers have grown out, I’ll be ready to go on a date.
There is more traffic on the way back, but I don’t care. I have no plans for tonight, other than to sit around with hair clips and try to figure out if there is any way to fix Marcolo’s disaster of a haircut. Oh, yes. And maybe I’ll get a bottle of wine and down a few glasses. Along with a box of Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies that my mother keeps stashed in the freezer. Crappy haircuts call for a crappy dinner.
I park in front of the garage, then I make my way up the front steps and thrust the key into the lock. Diva is already growling and yipping at the door. Ah, yes, the perfect ender to the evening. Diva will probably bark more now because I look scary with this stupid outdated hair, too.
I open the door, and before I know it, Diva shoots in between my legs and down the steps, and across the lawn to the Cheltens’ house.
“Diva!” I scream, taking off after her. “Diva, come back here!”
I watch in horror as she runs up to the neighbor’s porch. A young man is coming outside and stops when Diva moves straight toward him.
“Stop her,” I plead.
The guy goes to shut his door, but Diva shoots right past him—and into his house.
“Hey, hey, come back here,” he says, heading back inside after Diva.
I sprint up the steps and bound into his house after him, only to find Diva running around in circles around his living room.
“What is wrong with her?” he asks.
“She’s insane,” I cry. “Diva, stop!”
Diva jumps on a chintz couch to avoid me. I dive toward her, but she leaps down onto the floor and under a dark, cherry-wood table. Now the guy is trying to catch her, but he misses as she dodges around a white Queen Anne style chair to avoid his grasp. Finally, she stops. And pees all over his hardwood floor, narrowly avoiding the floral rug that is the centerpiece of the living room.
“Oh no,” I gasp, my hand flying over my mouth. “I’m so sorry!”
I turn to the guy, who is gazing back at me. For a brief second, I’m distracted from the disaster at hand. His dark-blue eyes flicker at me, and I stare back into his face, one filled with freckles. It’s an interesting combination—the reddish-brown hair, tousled with gel, the dark-blue eyes, and the freckled face . . .
Then I realize I need to clean up after Diva.
“Please, let me get some paper towels so I can blot it up,” I say in an embarrassed rush. “Then I’ll take Diva home, and I’ll come back to clean the floor for you.”
He’s silent for a moment. I’m waiting for him to explode, but then he simply clears his throat.
“So is this,” he says, sweeping his arm out toward Diva and her puddle, “how you planned to introduce yourself to me, Breanna Logan?”
Surviving The Rachel is out tomorrow, a gorgeous, cosy, read to curl up with this Christmas.