Local author Megan Karasch entertained readers with her debut “RomCom” novel in 2011 titled Tales From My Hard Drive. This summer she follows that up with an adventure comedy, Chaperones, inspired by her own European adventures as a college student.
A San Fernando Valley native, Megan studied at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Pepperdine University School of Law. During college, she spent an entire year soaking up European culture in Lancaster, England. Her experiences living abroad struck a chord that reverberates to this day in her writing. After graduating, Megan lived in Santa Monica and then the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles.
About the book
Growing up with parents so protective they made a convent seem like a beach resort, Andrea Lieberman developed a catalog of phobias so large, even going to church seemed like risky business. It wasn’t until she was 26 year old that Andrea finally had enough -- she wanted to live life and not just fear dying. So she accepts a photography assignment for a magazine traveling through England. Excited but petrified to reveal the news to her boyfriend, he beats her to it with news of his own -- a marriage proposal, leaving the lingering question of their impending nuptials as she packs up her camera, her pepper spray and every insecurity she has accumulated since birth and travels abroad. Thanks to unforeseen obstacles at every turn, Andrea’s photographic journey becomes a comedy of errors, but ultimately she discovers the most revealing picture to develop will be the one of herself.
Take a few minutes and read an excerpt from Chaperones, which Megan Karasch has generously shared with readers of the LA Books Examiner. Be sure to share it with the book lovers in your life.
Reprinted by arrangement with Megan Karasch from Chaperones by Megan Karasch. Copyright © 2013 by Megan Karasch.
“Honey, I have huge news. Amazing news. Life-altering news that I just cannot wait to share with you!” I had planned to say to my boy friend, Brandon, while driving the twenty-five minutes it takes to go five miles in Los Angeles. My intestines were in knots and I managed to chew each of my nails so far down that I struck blood. I knew he’d eventually be happy for me, because he would agree that opportunities like the one I was moments from sharing with him come once in a lifetime, but the road to that emotion would certainly be paved with tears and heartache.
I pulled up to Brandon’s house, took a deep breath, and then several more, and walked in. That’s when something, call it Murphy, Mother Nature, The Force, or a different being with a screwed-up sense of humor, threw a wrench into the middle of my plan, shattering it to smithereens.
The house was empty. Throwing my keys on the counter to make myself comfortable, I noticed a picnic basket wrapped in an absurdly large, candy-apple red bow – the kind of bow most often seen wrapped around cars in commercials that “hint” to women that their husbands are lazy deadbeats if they don’t drive a luxury SUV into the living room and waste a hundred feet of ribbon tying it around the thing. A paper sign rested atop the basket: Don’t even think about opening me. I mean it. Pick me up and take me across the street to the park. Don’t worry, I’m watching you, it’s safe. I love you. – Brandon xoxo
Never having enjoyed surprises, I opened the left side of the lid slightly and found another note: Seriously? Laughing, I opened the right side: Satisfied? You’ve got another note. Stop your snooping and take me to the park. Enter where we always do. I acquiesced to the demands in the notes, picked up the basket and walked out.
Upon entering the park, I immediately happened upon a trail of rose petals that led me into a pocket of trees I had always avoided because it seemed an ideal hiding place for knife-wielding lunatics. Today, however, petals paved the way and I knew this madness was Brandon’s doing, not the elaborate plan of a psychopath. I picked up the rose petals as I walked, eager to keep mementos from what I felt was going to be extraordinary day. I put a few of them up to my nose and breathed in that intoxicating aroma unique to a rose. In my world roses always announced something wonderful. I received them on my first date with Brandon and on our six-month and one-year anniversaries. He also sent them to me a few times when I was working on photo shoots, “just because.”
As I walked further through trees, I began to hear the vibrant strings of the Spring movement of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. My smile grew painfully wide while I listened. As the music grew louder, I walked faster, excited about what I would find beyond the trees and also itching to get out from the dark, insect-ridden thicket. What the hell was crawling all over my legs? The sunshine greeted me again as I stepped out into a wide-open field smelling of fresh-cut grass. Dogs chased Frisbees, children swung high on the swing set and played messily in the sandbox, and picnic blankets lay in luminescent, kaleidoscopic designs around the lawn.
The sounds of laughter created a staccato pattern around Vivaldi’s violins. Though there was dynamic activity on all sides and I was concerned that the kids on the swings were going so high they might fly right off, I eventually focused in on the giant heart outlined in rose petals a few feet ahead.
Brandon stood in the center of the shape, tall and proud, his upper body covered in a tee with a printed tuxedo shirt and jacket, his hands in the pockets of khaki shorts. I chuckled at his shirt and jacket, his hands in the pockets demonstrated his playful nature. Sunglasses concealed his warm, chocolate-brown eyes and the sun glinted off his sandy blond hair, creating a reddish tint. My eyes began to fill with water and I ran the last few steps toward my darling Brandon, dropping the basket and the rose petals I had accumulated en route. I threw my arms around him and attempted a graceful, dramatic embrace, as though I had just come off an airplane to find my beloved who had been at war for twenty years, but my momentum was too great and it carried me onto his toes, practically knocking him into a bottle of champagne lying beside him inside the heart.
The ends of Brandon’s hair around his neckline sat in a pool of sweat and his back was damp. We unlocked our embrace and he smoothed my hair back from my face. He gave me a long, tender kiss hello, followed by multiple quick lip-to-lip pecks. As he held my face in his hands and our lips continuously met, I knew he was seconds from asking the question virtually every girl looks forward to from the moment she sees Prince Charming slide the glass slipper onto Cinderella for the first time.
After a few minutes of passionate lip locking, Brandon removed his sunglasses and held my hands in his.
“Andrea,” he said. “Standing in the spot where I met you at a party I didn’t really want to go to, I know you are the woman who makes me glad I’m alive.”
He knelt down and reached his hand into his pocket. A second later his hand emerged, shaking slightly, closed around that classic black velvet box I had dreamed of since before I even fully understood its significance.
Brandon stared deep into my eyes, his eyes shimmering as they began to accumulate tears, and continued. “The last year of my life has been damn near nirvana and I would be a total fool not to tell you now and every day following that I love you. My darling Andrea Joanna Lieberman, will you marry me?”
I looked down at Brandon’s handsome face, tears sliding down my cheeks like a light rain in early June. I tried to stare into his eyes, but the sun bounced off the diamond, creating a prism of color and rays of light. The world was silent, save for the sound of my galloping heartbeat.
“I have to tell you something,” I said. Now? I’m choosing to tell him now? I should have had my head examined, but there wasn’t time. I had no choice. I had to tell him. But look at the diamond! No, it’s not fair to him. The 1.5 carat princess-cut in a platinum antique setting with – holy shit, is that ten baguettes? Dammit, focus, Andrea! Sure, the diamond would have been the envy of everyone I knew, but it would have to wait. Brandon deserved the whole truth. Seriously, though: did he pick that out by himself?
“Huh? Is it something other than ‘yes’?” he asked, with squinted eyes and a furrowed brow.
“What?” Brandon began to rise from the posture he had taken before I destroyed a moment so perfect that perfection seemed a demeaning term.
“Well, no, wait. Kneel back down.”
“Hon, I think the moment has passed.” He closed the box, which made a deafening POP. I jumped.
“No, it hasn’t,” I said, placing my hands on his shoulders and pushing him down.
He again bent down onto one knee and opened the box.
“Okay, perfect. Try again.”
“Fine. Will you marry me?” he said, his voice slurred and lackadaisical this time, his eyes looking up and away in the distance.
“Bran,” I love you so much. And because I think you may be the one, I have to say, I can’t marry you right now.”
So that was me ruining – twice – what should have been the most beautiful, romantic moment of my life.
“Is that a no?” he asked with genuine confusion and a quickly expanding dollop of anger.
“You forced me to ask twice so you could say no?”
He rose again, shoving the ring into his pocket as I bit my lip, smiled, and shrugged like a toddler caught stealing candy from a jar.
“It’s not really a no,” I said, attempting to hollow out the deep hole in which I stood.
“But it’s not really a yes,” he clarified.
“Right, it’s not really a yes.”
Brandon ran his hands through his hair and tilted his head back before looking at me with alternating expressions of bewilderment, resentment and pain. “Damn, Andrea. I don’t know what to say to that.”
And neither did I. His reaction had left me speechless. And ill. That I had caused such a pain to someone so unbelievably dear to me, and for reasons not at all his doing, made me more nauseous than the fast food bacon chili cheese fries that sent me to the emergency room for a stomach pump.
“Well, when do you think you’ll know?” he asked after moments of searching for what to say next.
“About six months.”
“There’s a specific timeline?”
“I know this proposal was unexpected. But I thought we were in the same page.”
“Well, we aren’t that far apart,” I muffled, staring down and chewing on my thumb where the nail used to be.
Brandon took a seat on the grass, his knees bent up to his chest and his arms draped over them. I sat likewise. A genuinely kind and understanding man, he tried to grasp why I would utter such an ugly response to his beautiful question.
“Okay, Andrea. What’s the issue? You don’t know me well enough?”
“No. I don’t think I know me well enough.” Who was I, Jerry Seinfeld? Surely I could have done better than: It’s not you, it’s me. But the truth was… well, that was the truth.
The tears that had originally formed and fell from the sublimity of the scene now fell from the sadness, heavier and more imposing – like an East Coast rainstorm in January. I had little doubt that I was sitting beside an incredible man; someone whom, if I whittled the wood, I could see myself whittling with when we were too old to care how utterly lame it is to whittle wood. He’d be there for me through the years to share the most joyful of times; he’d be next to me, holding my hand, through those dark times when you can’t find words strong enough to express sorrow. But I wasn’t ready. I was old enough to be ready. I should have been ready. But I wasn’t.
*Reprinted by arrangement with Megan Karasch from Chaperones by Megan Karasch. Copyright © 2013 by Megan Karasch.
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