Little White Lies (The Girlfriends #1)
In Little White Lies, Book # 1 of the Girlfriends Series âeighth grader Rachel Scott finally has the perfect boyfriend. Heâs good looking, athletic and wealthy. The only problem is he doesnât actually exist. Rachelâs escape into her fantasy world worries her parents and they insist she meet with the school counselor. Frustrated with her life and without her best friendâs approval, Rachel heads down a dangerous path, looking for love in all the wrong places.
Little White Pills (The Girlfriends #2)
In Little White Pills, Book #2 of The Girlfriends Series -Tenth grader Steph Baxter has it all, perfect looks, perfect grades and a perfect life. Sheâs a model high-school student and a member of the cheerleading squad. But in her quest for excellence, she makes dangerous choices. Soon her simple solution becomes a complex problem. Follow Steph and her best friend Rachel as they cope with Stephâs unexpected journey. Can Steph find support before itâs too late?
Little White Magic (The Girlfriends #3)
In Little White Magic, Book #3 in The Girlfriends Series â Tenth grader Rachel Scott is sent to work at a remote summer camp with her best friend Steph. Hoping to find a boyfriend, she enlists the aid of a Tarot card reader. The cards lead her on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns. Will the girlsâ friendship survive as Rachel becomes obsessed with her mission to save a new friend?
Little White Castles (The Girlfriends #4)
All Rachel wants is to unravel the mystery of her missing mother. Why did she disappear over a decade ago without saying goodbye?
With the support of her friends, Steph and Dylan, and the guidance of her Tarot cards she must decide if the explanation lies in a faraway town.
A family emergency and her motherâs odd behavior threaten to disrupt her quest. But the Tarot and a new friend with psychic powers gives her courage to find the answers that really matter.
Can the truth transcend Rachelâs fantasies?
Little White Lies Chapter 1
My nameâs Rachel and I invent stories. My parents call me a fibber â a liar, to be exact. Lying makes me feel better. To me itâs just pretending. A designer home, trips to Maui and Disney World and, of course, my imaginary boyfriend, Walker Johnson. We met at summer camp. My imaginary summer camp.
âLiar, liar pants on fire,â I hum as I push open the door to the school counselorâs office for my weekly meeting. Her small room has one dirty window. Books and black binders line the shelves in the corner. The smell of sweat fills the room. Four boys from my class have just finished talking with Ms. Paxton. Probably fighting at lunch again. I sigh as I slump into my usual place at the round table.
Ms. Paxton leans forward, clasping her hands together. I try not to stare at them, but I canât help myself. Theyâre spotted with freckles and veins that pop up. I never want to have hands like that even when Iâm old. But she has a kind face and I like her.
Last week my best friend, Stephanie, and I saw Ms. Paxton jump into a Mercedes convertible after school. A good-looking man was in the driverâs seat. We almost died. Who would have thought Ms. Paxton could be hot?
âRachel, howâs your week going?â
âGreat.â Itâs only Tuesday, not many things have gone wrong yet. What does she expect me to say? âNot much to report, Ms. Paxton.â
She leans back in her chair and waits. She knows me. After all, Iâve been coming to her sessions since the beginning of the term. My parents make me. They say I have issues. Some days, like today, my issue is being in this room. Great!!
âTell me about your weekend.â
âSame old, same old.â I wince when I realize I sound like my dad.
Ms. Paxtonâs eyebrows rise. Thatâs her signal that she needs to hear more.
âWell, I hung out with Steph. We burned some CDs, watched dance shows on TV and ate junk food. I made a ton of popcorn. We added half a pound of melted butter and Parmesan cheese. Then we finished with bowls of chocolate ice cream and some vinegar chips.â
Ms. Paxtonâs eyebrows lift another inch.
The last time we talked, I whined about my weight. Iâm supposed to be following Weight Watchers, but I canât seem to stick to the program. Why shouldnât I reward myself every once in a while?
âI got another great e-mail from Walker.â
âHe wants me to join him in Vermont next summer.â
I listen carefully to the tone of her voice. I think sheâs still a believer.
Little White Pills
My fate is the Land Of Perfection. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect life. But Iâm faltering. Iâm not who you think I am.
I stroke the side of the plastic vial of little white pills, considering what to do. I twist off the cap, pop one down my throat and gulp some water. Itâs all good. Theyâre prescription, you know. Not mine, of course, but legal. Just something to take the edge off my day. I tuck my secret deep in my pocket and get ready for school.
Iâm the girl you love to hate. I have it all. Brains, looks, friends. My best friend Rachel says so and sheâs right about everything. So Iâd like to agree with her â but most days, about this particular topic, I think sheâs wrong. So what if Iâm pretty, get straight Aâs and have a ton of friends? None of that makes me feel good.
Iâm only in the tenth grade and Dad and Mom keep asking what I want to do with the rest of my life. My life. I tell them I havenât a clue. What I do know is I plan to be ultra-careful about the path I choose. I wonât follow my dad.
I donât want to spend my life hating what I do. I donât want to wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and think âIs this all there is?â I need to discover whatâs out in the world at my own pace. Thatâs the problem. My parents are fast-track kind of people, looking for the best, wanting the most expensive stuff. Every day they push, push, push. Push themselves. And push me.
My grandpa wanted Dad to be a lawyer. So he went to Harvard Law School. But now heâs a busy orthodontist in Portervale, north of Seattle. I have no idea why he changed his mind. Now he spends all day making smiles sparkle. One day I wish he would make me smile.
My mom used to be a model. But then she got married and had me. I wasnât part of her plan. I think sheâs still recovering from the fact she got pregnant. Now sheâs a home stager. She gets to spend other peopleâs money to make their houses look fabulous in order to sell them. The owners then move on to their next fantastic place.
I think her work is boring. Everything is super organized and the sofas look like you shouldnât sit on them or theyâd bruise. The designer kitchens shine but never have a yummy smell. So Mom fakes it. She uses a mini Crock Pot and chucks in some gingerbread goop. This aroma makes the house feel homey so clients will fall in love with the place. I suppose it works because sheâs always busy. She loves âdecluttering and neutralizingâ a home, as she calls it, to help buyers see its full potential. But she should look carefully at her daughterâs potential.
Me? Iâm Steph, Child Number One of the Baxter household. Actually, Iâm the one and only, and this is my story.
Little White Magic
Normally I love a Tarot card reading, but today something is wrong, wrong, wrong. Madame Arianaâs azure eyes skewer me like a laser.
I shrink back in my chair. âWhat do you see?â
In the silence, her silver bracelets jingle as she places twenty-two cards in a circle, her long fingers caressing each one. I know what sheâs doingâthe Soul Mate spread. Iâve studied the cards throughout my senior year. She points to the card in the middle.
âThe King of Wands,â she says in an ominous tone.
âWhat does that mean?â
She spins one of her five rings slowly with her left thumb. I stare at the largest ring, the one with the dragon. My stomach plummets. Iâve always hated dragons. Thereâs something about the blood-red eyes that is beyond scary. I make an effort to refocus.
âDoes that card represent the past?â
âBe patient, Rachel. The cards will let you know.â
Iâm here to find out if Channing really loves me or if this is just a summer romance. I guess Iâm nervous because heâs my very first real boyfriend. Iâm not counting my neighbor last year who I thought might be interested in me. Channing could have any girl in Camp Winnoski. Every day I wonder why he chose me.
The neglected cottage has thick purple curtains and black walls. Three plump crystals dangle from glossy beaded strings in the window. Good. Three is my lucky number. A dusty stench thickens the air. Even though itâs late in the afternoon, itâs so dark outside it feels like midnight. Another summer storm is brewing.
Madame Ariana talks about the past. But I donât want to think about my mom abandoning me, dad always working, changing schools. Not today. I want her to tell me about Channing. About the future.
âYou are ready for a deeper connection with your soul mate. But I see confusion and conflicts. The King of Wands will be your mentor. He will inspire you. In time, harmony will rule.â She leans across the scarred pine table and whispers, âYou will be two jewels polishing each otherâs rough edges.â
That sounds cool, but â¦
The lights flicker and thunder rolls in the distance. Raindrops drum on the tin roof, making my heart beat faster. Madame Arianaâs blue shawl rises and falls over her bony shoulders as she arranges a new spread. âAh, the King of Wands again.â
I study the card. The regal figure is sitting on a fancy throne, wearing a robe and crown and holding a wand with a bunch of leaves sticking out the top. I wish I could remember its significance. Iâll check it out later in my favorite Tarot book.
âBut heâs reversed,â I add.
âYes.â Madame Ariana stares at me. âThe energy of the card is blocked.â
Wonderful. I peek at my watch. My best friend, Steph, is waiting outside. She must be wondering whatâs taking so long. I want Madame Ariana to hurry, because I need to shower before dinner. The line for the camp washrooms is ugly if you donât arrive early. But I want to hear that Channing is The One!
She leans forward and speaks carefully into the microphone on the table. âThe vision is still taking shape.â
I get to keep the tape. When I return to camp Iâll have to dredge up a tape player. That will be a pain. Camp Winnoski has almost zero technology. Weâre allowed brief emails to our parents in the office on Sunday afternoons with mega supervision. What a drag. Iâm still in withdrawal from saying goodbye to my iPad and iPhone. I mean, thatâs punishment!
As Madame Ariana taps the card, I notice the tattoo on her wristâa snake curled around something I donât recognize.
âYes, still taking shape,â she murmurs. âThe cards say you must confront your strengths and weaknesses. Show neither doubt nor fear. The vision indicates you will be strong.â
âWhat vision?â I suddenly have my own vision. I can see my hard-earned money evaporating.
âYou must put forth effort and legwork,â she continues.
Hmm, sounds like school. And this is my summer to be free. Well, sort of. Working as a camp counselor isnât exactly a holiday.
Annoyance chokes my brain. âIs my boyfriend, Channing, the King of Wands?â Obviously, I have to be specific.
âDoes he inspire you?â
Well. All I know is that heâs one hot guy who is attracted to meâand Iâm wondering why.
Madame Ariana delivers vague suggestions and I try to concentrate. She isnât giving me answers and this session is costing me a lot. My dad and stepmom would come unhinged if they found out that a large part of my salary is going to a Tarot reader. I can hear my dadâs voice: âRachel, I canât understand why you believe such nonsense.â I love him, but heâs way too practical. He doesnât believe in coloring outside the lines, if you know what I mean.
Raindrops splatter and slide down the grimy windows, leaving spidery trails. Canât Madame Ariana read the disappointment on my face? Surely if she understands the universe, she knows what I want to hear.
âTrust your instincts. The answers will come.â She switches off the recorder and hands me the tape. âIâll tell you more next time.â
Or not. I pay her sixty-five dollars and leave. As I open the door, sunlight and fresh air stream into the room. The storm is over. Steph, wet hair clinging to her face, grabs my hand and we begin the thirty minute hike back to camp. Our sneakers squish through the muddy puddles on the winding path in the Vermont forest.
âWhat took so long? What did she say?â
âShe told me lots of things about myself I already know. There were clues about the future, but she didnât tell me what will happen. Just that there will be conflicts.â Simply saying that word makes me shudder. I reach inside the pocket of my cargo pants and touch my special comfort stones. My tourmaline for compassion, my amber for protection, and my malachite for spiritual guidance.
âOh, that sucks. I know you wanted to hear about Channing.â
Steph grabs me around the waist. I put my arm around her and we lope along like we used to when we were little. We were experts at three-legged races.
âThereâs something that really bugs me. Apparently I will meet my mentor, the King of Wands. Madame Ariana wouldnât say who it is. But I canât afford to go to her again. I wonder if sheâd lower her price if I cleaned her cabin. The place is disgusting. It smells like my brothersâ socks.â
In the middle of a Saturday morning, two days after Christmas, my dad launches a thunderbolt into my world. My mom, who evaporated when I was four, has sent me a letter.
As he hands over the promised message, his eyes brim with tears. He moves closer on the couch in our family room and gently squeezes my shoulder. Dread saturates my brain now that the moment is here. Maybe reading this is one giant mistake. All I know is that once I open the letter, my life will change forever. Finally, Iâll understand why she disappeared. Iâve imagined every possible reason. But now is the moment of truth.
Taking a gulp of air, I rip the envelope open and study the shaky handwriting. Forcing the words from my throat, I read aloud so that my best friend Steph and my stepmom Diane, who are sitting on the other sofa, can share in the news.
My darling daughter Rachel,
I tried many times to connect with you. But I couldnât do it. Years have passed, I know. I donât expect you to forgive me. I canât forgive me. But...now, Iâm ready to explain. Iâve spoken with your father. Hopefully he can arrange the details. Right now, Iâm living in Prickly Pear Junction, Arizona. Iâm looking forward to seeing you.
I stare at Dad, searching for his reaction, and he pulls me into a hug. Memories from the past float through my mind.
âRachel, I thought this letter was important and that you should know where your mother is living. She phoned me last week. Weâve talked, but I havenât made any firm plans. I wanted to speak with you first.â
His eyes are red and he turns away to wipe his face. I slowly re-examine the note, inspecting each line for a clue. A bubble of annoyance expands in my brain. This letter tells me nothing. Absolutely nothing.
How can she do this to me? Iâve waited years to hear from her and now all I have is this meaningless bunch of sentences. Why didnât she say something that would help me?
Steph shoots across the room and pulls me to my feet. âIâm so sorryâI know you expected more.â
âYeah,â I mutter as I race upstairs to my bedroom, abandoning the letter, just like my mother abandoned me.
Steph follows, grabs my shoulders, and gives me a shake. âTalk to me, Rachel. What are you thinking?â
âI just want to understand. After twelve years of waiting to hear something, I need to know whatâs going on with her. Is that too much to ask?â I collapse onto my bed and pound the pillows in frustration. âI donât want to wait. I want to talk to her today.â
âRachel, get up.â
I turn over and look at her through bleary eyes. âAnd donât think that food will be the answer to this. Iâm not always starving.â Well, not always, but most of the time.
âI know you. Eating wonât solve this problem. But what can I do to help you feel better?â She crosses her arms and gives me one of her serious, no-nonsense stares.
I sit up slowly and hug my knees. âHereâs the thing. I thoughtâI mean I really, really believedâIâd discover something new about what happened when she lived with Dad.â
âMaybe today isnât the day.â
âYouâve got that right,â I say on a sigh. âI canât imagine their conversation. My momâs disappearance hurt him, too. Even after all these years, some days he canât hide his resentment.â
Steph sits next to me. âListen, nothing has really changed. You knew she was out there somewhere.â
âBut things are different now. Fiona or my motherâI never know how to think about her. I canât remember much of my life with her. Now she wants to meet me. Why? After all these years! What does she want from me? I thought I was ready for this moment. I dreamed about this moment. But now that itâs here, Iâm a mess.â
âWell, at least we know your mother is somewhere in Arizona.â
âRight. Dad thought she was living in New Mexico. But I guess not. All Iâve heard is that she moves around a lot. She works in restaurants. Thatâs all I know.â
âDonât you want to meet her? This is just nerves, Rachel. Youâre in shock.â
I shake my head. âI donât know what to think. Iâm stunned that she wrote to me. I mean, I wanted her to write, but itâs going to take a while to sink in.â
âHey, turn around. How about one of my famous neck massages?â
As Steph vigorously kneads my tight muscles, I let my mind wander. What would happen if I went to Arizona? What would that accomplish? So, I would meet my mother. Then what? Iâve always considered the meeting, but Iâve never thought about what would happen next.
âRachel, letâs look up this Prickly Pear place and find out some information. That might help you make up your mind about whether or not you want to go.â Steph slides her phone out of her pocket. âIâve never heard of the town.â She taps the name into Google. âWoo-ee! Check this out. You wonât believe it. Youâre totally going to adore this.â
âRead it to me.â
I flop back onto the bed and close my eyes. Stephâs voice drones on and on about the vegetation, the weather, the hiking trails, and the Jeep tours available at Prickly Pear Junction, just outside of Phoenix. Yeah, yeah.
Suddenly my eyes fly wide open. Wide, wide open. âRead that part again, please.â
âSure. âThis sleepy town is more new age than Sedona. Tourists will discover opportunities for aura readings, crystals, vortex information, flower essences, the Tarot, and other occult practices. Explore the events of the past and their influences on the present. Open your mind and spend your holiday in Prickly Pear Junction.ââ
âSteph,â I shriek. âIâm meant to go there. I know it. I know it.â
Jodie Esch lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, dog, cat, chickens and alpacas. When not living in her fictional world, she spends her time as the âWaste Management Queenâ picking up manure on the property. She is passionate about words and is obsessed with writing and reading.