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Hey guys, its #ATO Tuesday! We’ve got B.A. Binns takingover today with a character interview and a clip from her wonderful book Minority of One! Don’t miss it 🙂
Take it away B.A.
Interview with Julian Morales, part of the multi-ethnic cast in the Farrington High books. In book three, Minority of One, he takes on the role of love interest for Sheila Galliano. She seems to despise him, at least until he discovers her secret. He can use the information to expose her, or to protect her from the people who blame her for her father’s crimes.
I’m here at the spring fling dance at Farrington High School on Chicago’s south side where students are celebrating the beginning of a new season. My job is to interview the guy they call Jules, aka Julian Morales Sanchez. He’s is easy to spot. He’s the only guy trying to maneuver four dates. Apparently successfully, since not one girl is trying to claw another’s eyes out.
But they all throw dirty looks at me when I pull the darkly handsome, amber-skinned, six-foot Hispanic sophomore away for an interview.
“How do you manage?” I ask, once we’ve moved away from the party crush. The music is still loud, so I lean close to hear his answer. He’s over six feet tall, so we have to get extra close.
“It wouldn’t be fair for me to bring just one girl,” Jules says, apparently not understanding that my questions are supposed to be about the way he took control of the basketball team midseason and led them to a string of victories. He looks totally confident. You just have to look at him to see why. He’s tall, well muscled, and could easily be mistaken for a senior. Big hands, intelligent eyes that announce who he really is, the star center and captain of the team that took Chicago high school sports by surprise.
“And yet, I hear you used to be shy,” I say, going with the flow. This is more fun than asking him a string of the usual questions, anyway. It’s impossible to believe any guy with the moxie to wear an electric purple shirt and chino pants as black as his shoulder-length hair could ever have been labeled shy.
He starts to laugh, revealing big white teeth. But his eyes grow sad. “Things haven’t always been good, especially after my mom ran off with that guy she met on the Internet. I didn’t trust myself for a long time.”
“You’re certainly king of the school now.”
“You said it.” His amber skin darkens as he blushes. Seriously, it’s cute.
“I hear you can get any girl.” I pause and then add, “Except Sheila Galliano.”
His gaze turns to the thin blond freshman standing with a group of female friends. She’s a transfer student, the new French teacher’s daughter, and apparently more interested in one of the school outcasts than in the hero.
“Why do I need a girl who calls me a salad?” he sneers.
“Actually, the word she uses as salaud. It’s a French word that means—”
“I can guess what she means. I’m not some stupid pendejo who…” He unleashes a string of Spanish too fast for me to follow, much less transcribe. Amazingly, he still looks cute when he’s angry. “I don’t care about that girl,” he finally returns to English. “I care about my friends, and she’s going to end up ripping poor Neill apart.”
“It sounds like you and Neill are close.”
“We’re like this.” Julian holds up two fingers, close together. “Wanna make something of it?”
“Of course not. It’s just that not every teen would admit being close friends with a boy who came out as gay.”
“I’m not every teen. I don’t pick friends based on what other people say or think.”
I’m beginning to think Sheila is a fool.
Except…from the corner of my eyes I see her green eyes staring across the dance floor at us. Maybe Julian’s official dates don’t need to fight each other, but I think if I stay here with him too much longer, that girl may come after me. And she’s a brown belt in karate.
And now for the clip!
I’m not good with computers. My phone isn’t all that smart. I hate social media sites and crazy search engines that don’t respond when I say, “Tell me everything about the affair between my mother and Neill’s brother.”
That trick always works on TV.
I click on a tile and check out my homepage on the Social-Ease site. I haven’t been there in months, not since I found the first wave of insults after the trial. I closed down my PersonalPage, but someone with far better computer skills than I put up a phony page so people could continue leaving truly creative insults.
Tears fill my eyes and the screen blurs.
“What’s wrong?” Julian’s voice is soft and sympathetic.
“Why are you here?” I hurriedly close down the Social-Ease tile and brush away tears. “Why aren’t you with the jiggling Carmen? Isn’t that a basic lesson in Harem Building 101, never abandon a girl who wants you?”
“I failed the Harem Building class. Sometimes it takes me forever to learn a lesson.”
His black jacket falls open, revealing a tight polo shirt that outlines his chest muscles. I want to touch him and see if those muscles are as hard as they look.
“You could take me for a test drive.” Julian flexes his arms.
How can I be so obvious?
“Not everything is about you,” I say. “I’m not what you think I am.”
“Not even if I think you’re the missing Planchette heiress?”
Ice fills my veins. He knows? How? How many others know? He must hate me now. “I’m not an heiress.” I close my eyes. I can’t look at him. “I’m not even a Planchette. I’ve been disenfranchised, and the whole world hates the name Benderton.”
“Not me,” Julian says.
“How did you find out about me?”
“The Internet. I looked you up. At least, I tried to. Most people, you search for them, you find something. Sheila Galliano seems like a nice-enough lady. Only she’s eighty. Or was, when she died twelve years ago. She married and changed her name to Planchette.”
“My mother’s grandmother. I was named after her.”
“I figured that out.”
“Who else knows?”
“I haven’t told anyone, and no one else around here is smart enough to figure you out. Besides, I don’t think anyone else watches you the way I do.”
I open my eyes and look at him. There is no sign of blame on Julian’s face. Something tight inside my chest begins to soften.
“I’m sorry your father is dead,” he says.
He is the first person to ever say that. Relatives said it was a relief there wouldn’t be a trial. People who lost money after the company’s collapse cursed Daddy for robbing them of their right to see him convicted. Reporters called him a coward, and former employees literally spat at the funeral procession. He wasn’t the greatest father. He would have hated prison. But I wish he were still alive.
“Did you read all the mess people wrote on my PersonalPage?” I ask.
“If you mean the hate posts, yeah, I saw all that.”
“I closed my spot down because of all the stuff my so-called ‘personal pals’ wrote. Someone put up a phony page just so they could write more. Once people find out I’m here it will all get worse.”
“No one will get anything from me. Not as long as I get paid.”
“You expect money?” I am surprised, and disappointed, by his words and the smirk on his face. I don’t know why. One thing being a Benderton taught me is that nothing in life is free. I reach for my purse. “How much do you want?”
My breathing quickens and grows shallow. My stomach threatens to tie itself into a hangman’s noose. No way. I can’t.
Not this salaud who has probably kissed every girl in school. I have never before kissed a boy. What if he thinks I’m terrible at kissing?
“Maybe.” I pause, swallow. “I agree to one kiss. Just one.”
Julian takes his time, grabbing every advantage of the situation. He puts an arm around me. His other hand brushes my cheek.
He kisses me.
Every inch of my skin tingles. My eyes close. The kiss is soft and deep and warm. The scent of his musky cologne makes my head spin. So does the electric feel of his arms. He steals my fear and exchanges it for warmth until my chest threatens to explode. I don’t want the embrace to end. He starts to release me. I reach up, put my hand on the back of his head, and pull him close again. I sigh as he pushes his body against mine.
I remain still for a few long seconds after the kiss ends.
“I knew you liked me.” He leans back. A satisfied smirk fills his face, as if he had just matched every Powerball number.
That’s it? Not “I love you,” or even “I like you.” He is the conqueror, and I the stupid fool who gave in. I still feel him. I still want him to kiss me again. Now he’ll expect me to fall in line at the end of his harem.
Neill Mallory feels he disappointed his family once by coming out as gay, nothing will make him hurt them again. Sure he feels an unexpected interest in the new girl, Sheila. But he really wants a chance to get back together with Carl, his former boyfriend. For some unknown reason, his family wants him to steer clear of them both.
Sheila Galliano’s family has disappointed her all her life, beginning by abandoning her in an exclusive all girls’ boarding school at six. Now she’s transitioning to an inner-city school in Chicago where she feels more out of place than ever. The friendship she and Neill develop is almost as surprising as her attraction for Julian Morales, the player with a harem she refuses to join.
Minority of One follows a group of teens finding friendship and love along the road to an answer to the age old question, what happens when you are the only one of your kind? This question speaks to the source of so much teen angst that finding an answer is part of the rite of passage into adulthood.
Follow these teens as they struggle to tear down the Act Like a Man Box that tries to define what boys/men are, are not, do, and don’t do. In the search for love and acceptance they uncover secrets that change the course of all their lives, and give readers two romances for the price of one.
B A Binns writes to attract and inspire readers of all ages with stories of “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.” She finds writing a major exercise in self-discipline, and the perfect follow-up to her life as an adoptive parent and cancer survivor. She has written three contemporary multicultural Young Adult books: Pull (2010), Being God (2013), and Minority of One (2014). In 2010 she was a finalist in the RWA Golden Heart® contest. Her work was named to YALSA’s 2012 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers, won a 2010, and has been nominated for the 2012-2013 Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award and for inclusion on the 2015 ALA Rainbow Project list. She has a MS degree from Michigan State University and is the founder of All The Colors Of Love press, dedicated to diversity in MG and YA fiction. B. A. is the YA genre-ista of the Romancing the Genres group blog, http://romancingthegenres.blogspot.com. Her favorite quote – “Easy reading is damned hard writing.”
And there yo u have it! Sounds pretty cool to me. Thanks for taking over B.A.! See y’all next week.
<3 always LH