Yesterday on the blog, I kicked off this amazing giveaway for LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU + other really awesome goodies (be sure to stop by that post after you read this one, because you do NOT want to miss this opportunity!). Today I am thrilled to be sharing an exclusive excerpt from the book, thanks to the lovely Mercy Brown. Fair warning: You'll definitely be needing/wanting this book after reading what's below!
Hi all! Thanks for stopping by for an exclusive LOUD excerpt! I’m so excited Ginger let me drop by to share some of Emmy and Travis with you!
The following scene comes a little bit later in the book, (Chapter 14), after Emmylou has put Travis through a lot of indecisive flailing. They both know she’s in love with him by now, but she’s terrified of screwing everything up and she just can’t figure out how to handle the situation.
This scene comes after they stay up all night to write a new song to play on the air at the local college radio station--and end up having their most intense hookup yet. But the next day, when Travis lets Emmy know his future plans may not be as band-centric as hers, they get into an argument and things are tense between them yet again. This excerpt opens when Travis is dropping Emmy off after brunch.
Hope you enjoy meeting Emmylou and Travis Soft and getting a peek at their story!
FROM LOUD IS HOW I LOVE YOU – CHAPTER 14
“Look, I just don’t get it,” I say. “I thought we were of the same mind on this.”
“The band, Travis. Come on, don’t be so dense.”
He’s gritting his teeth he’s so irritated with me, and he’s just not that easy to piss off—I should know, since I’m probably better at it than anyone.
“Is that all you ever think about? The only thing in the world you even care about?”
“I take it seriously. Don’t you?”
“Of course I do,” he says. “But maybe that’s not the only thing I take seriously. Maybe there are other things in life I care about, too.”
“Then that’s your problem,” I say. “Because those other things are going to hold you back.”
“Oh, right. Now I see,” he says, and turns to look away from me, dead ahead out the windshield. His eyes are cold and so far away. “I get it.”
“Everything,” he says.
I go inside and curl up in a ball on my bed. I’m tired, I don’t want to do any schoolwork, I don’t even want to play my guitar because that makes me think about him and every time I think about him I just picture the moment he leaves, all pissed off at me again. I spend the day scribbling in my lyrics notebook, different crappy lines of songs I’ll never finish writing. I watch Raising Arizona and eat a bag of microwave popcorn. I look at the clock. It’s seven p.m. and I anxiously await the sound of van tires on my gravel driveway and get up to look out the window several times. Twenty-five minutes pass before Travis calls to say he’s still working on his paper so he’ll meet me at the studio at eight. Here we go, I think. Here it comes. He’s finally done.
I drive my CRX over the bridge into New Brunswick and park behind the Student Center. At a quarter to eight, Travis is there and he’s taken a shower and he’s in a black button-down over a Girls Against Boys T-shirt and jeans and Converse and his hair is wet and he’s got his acoustic guitar. He’s so cold to me that I feel frozen enough to crack. Billy has left the outside door propped open with a brick, so we go in up the stairs and Billy hands us each a beer (which is illegal, by the way) while Ween’s new single is playing. We drink them, and after the single, Billy interviews us on the air.
“Emmy and Travis Soft from New Brunswick’s very own Stars on the Floor are here tonight, and they’ll be opening up the Ag Field Day show,” Billy says into the microphone. “For those who are either dead or unconscious, Ween is coming home to headline, so it’s going to be mobbed. Congrats to you guys for nailing a sweet slot.”
“That sounds so wrong,” Travis says.
“It’s a gift. That’s why I’m the guy with the radio show,” Billy says. “So how’d you end up getting it? You deserve it, of course, but there were about twenty bands jockeying for it.”
“Well, after our last show at the Melody I barfed on Travis,” I say. “But the catch is, I was lucky enough to do it in front of Dean Ween.”
“Who could pass up a class act like that?” Travis says.
“Remember this is showbiz,” I say. “It’s not how good you are, it’s who you humiliate yourself in front of.”
“Everyone loves a spectacle,” Billy says.
He asks us to play our song, and I tell him the Overnight Sensations audience is getting to hear the debut of our latest tune, even before the rest of the band has heard it, which makes Billy super happy. He introduces us again and we start to play.
Even though we’ve played through “Loud” about four hundred times since last night, it’s not quite in my hands yet and Travis is mad at me so I’m distracted and nervous. The song is new enough that I still have to think about what I’m doing and what comes next. I worry if Travis has it down, but I shouldn’t because he obviously does. He glances up at me when we get to the chords and I start to sing. I close my eyes and try to lose that nervous wiggle in my voice, but I’m nervous, I can hear it. I hate that. We get to the chorus in one piece, though, and I sing it and it sounds even better than it did when I recorded it on the four-track. But the second verse comes, and as I’m about to sing the first line, I choke—I forget what the hell the words are, and for some stupid reason, I don’t have the lyrics out. I’m playing, so I can’t grab them from my guitar case at my feet. I just choke. And then I panic. I’m in the control room of WRSU and I’m dying up here.
I look at Travis with an apologetic look, and he just nods: It’s okay. When the riff comes back and I don’t sing, he starts singing the words for me and his voice is so good that even though I can remember the words now, I just play along and listen to him. He looks up at me, raises his eyebrows, and then I jump back in for the chorus, but he doesn’t drop out, he sings it along with me and breaks into this really cool-sounding harmony that he just makes up, right now, and it makes the song even better. It ends and Billy is on his feet, clapping and saying, “Bravo, bravo, magnifico!” in the control room, and I’m staring at Travis thinking he just saved my ass again. He’s my f***ing hero. And he’s looking back at me with a reassuring smile that I really don’t deserve.
Outside in the parking lot after we’ve loaded our guitars, Travis is leaning against the driver-side door of the van, his arms folded across his chest, and I’m facing him, leaning against my car feeling sheepish.
“I’m so sorry, Travis,” I say, and I can’t look at him so I look down at the blacktop under our feet.
“A lot of things. Screwing up on air tonight, for one.”
“You don’t need to be sorry for that,” he says. “That was no big deal.”
“Well then, I’m sorry that I’m like this,” I say.
“Like what?” he asks, raising his eyebrows.
“I don’t know, bossy?”
“As a county fair pie crust?”
I know he’s teasing me but it still hurts.
“I’m sorry I was a jerk today. I’m just so afraid of losing what we have together.” My voice cracks and I don’t realize until now how close I am to crying. I think I’m talking about Stars on the Floor and his MBA, but now we both know that I’m not. His face softens and he drops his arms and wraps them around my shoulders, pulling me into him, and I let him because I have grown very fond of the feeling of him holding me.
“Emmy, we could have a lot more than this, you know?” he says. “If you’d just relax and let it happen.”
I look up into his face, lit all soft and dreamy by the streetlamp. I do and don’t want him to kiss me. Like, I’m longing for him to put his lips to mine, to put his hands in my hair, and I’m terrified of it. It doesn’t matter because he’s not kissing me, he’s waiting for me to say something back. Unfortunately, I do.
“Yeah,” I say. “But we’d have so much more to lose.”
He lets me go and leans back against the van again, shaking his head at me.
“Bean, you’re my best friend and you know how rare it is to find someone you get along this well with and can write music like this with.”
“Of course I know that,” he says, his tone with me rightfully exasperated.
“You’re my unicorn,” I say, and I don’t even care how dumb it sounds. “You’re like this magical, mythical beast and I never had a horse so maybe I don’t know how to take care of unicorns very well, but I do know I’ll never find another one.”
“I’m your unicorn?” he says, giving me a funny look. “Really, Emmy? Your magic beast?”
“Well? Unicorns are awesome, aren’t they?”
“Of course they’re awesome—they aren’t real. Unicorns don’t have school loans to pay off or parents to deal with or an alcoholic boss or concerns about supporting themselves on eight dollars an hour, and they don’t have any expectations of you, either.”
“It’s a metaphor.”
“Yeah, well I’m not a metaphor. I’m real and I’m right here in front of you, waiting for you to figure your shit out.”
And I don’t know what to say, because it’s not like I’m not trying.
Visit the author: Mercy Brown's website