Book Excerpt: On Top of the World (Until The Bell Chimes) by David Lamb

Title: ON TOP OF THE WORLD (UNTIL THE BELL CHIMES)
Author: David Lamb
Publisher: Woolly Mammoth Books
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Multicultural/Humor/Satire

2016 BEST FICTION-Pacific Book Awards. FROM THE FUNNY AND NATURALLY BRILLIANT DAVID LAMB, award-winning playwright of the New York Times celebrated play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, comes a modern spin on Dickens’ classic tale that perfectly combines humor and romance in a story re-imagined for our digital, consumerist age. This version of Scrooge and Belle is familiar, yet unlike any you’ve come across before. Scrooge, or rather Scrooje, is music’s biggest superstar, with one hundred million albums sold, fifteen million devoted YouTube subscribers, two and a half million Facebook likes, and twenty-five million fanatical Twitter followers known as Scroojites. Belle, is a legal shark who gulps down her opposition voraciously and whose beauty and stunning figure causes traffic accidents as she zips through the sidewalks of Manhattan stylishly adorned and taking no prisoners.   They never imagined being music’s most powerful couple, but that’s exactly what happened when Belle fell head over heels and gave the Coke-bottle glasses wearing, plaid and stripe attired, scrawny, biggest nerd on her college campus the ultimate makeover, turning him into a fashion impresario whose style sets trends from Milan to NY Fashion Week and who can be seen courtside at the NBA Finals sporting a perfectly-fitted cashmere suit.   Then it happens. Belle realizes too late that she’s created a chart-topping monster as Scrooje’s ego explodes and he starts acting a fool.   Now, it’s been three years since they ve spoken. But tonight at Hollywood s biggest red carpet event, with the whole world watching, they’ll be given a second chance.   Will Scrooje listen to the ghostly-advice of Marley, his best friend since the fourth grade, who at the time of his untimely drowning at his Brazilian poolside birthday bash was as big a star as Scrooje? Will Scrooje finally do right by his number one artist, Cratchit, a genius comedian, who Scrooje invariably rip offs every chance he gets?   And with twenty-five million viewers tuned in will Scrooje finally shed his ego, jeopardize his image and declare his love for Belle, the one he betrayed and let slip away?   Second chances don’t often come around. Will Belle even give him a chance?   Mixing heart, soul, bling and romance in a fresh, original satire about race, class and celebrity worship Lamb establishes himself as one of the most talented and amazing writers today. And leaves no doubt that the Pacific Book Awards chose wisely when they selected On Top Of The World as the year’s Best Fiction.

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Book Excerpt:

The devil doesn’t wear Prada, he wears Sean John and I was the idiot who taught him how to shop.

That was what I got for reading Frankenstein in college. I’d been turned into a mad scientist without even realizing it. Just my luck, I was a math major and the one literature course I took had tricked me into creating a monster.

When I first met Scrooʝe, he—like most humans with XY chromosomes—was a fashion emergency. Awkwardly walking around campus—lost, desperately in need of a haircut, and for some strange reason wearing glasses so big he looked like an owl hunting for prey. He was just plain pitiful.

But I have to confess, from the moment I saw him my heart sang a happy song and I couldn’t look away. Something between us was magnetic.

Hey, what can I say, I was always the kind of girl who liked rescue projects. When I was eight years old, I turned my family’s garage into a makeshift animal shelter, and damn near gave my father a heart attack when a hungry pack of strays rushed at him as he pulled into the driveway.

So naturally, one look into Scrooʝe’s sad puppy dog eyes and I felt right away—he was the one.

Before I knew it, we were college sweethearts and best friends. Of course, I had to clean him up, but after a few months under my tutelage everyone noticed his transformation. They saw that with his gorgeous toffee skin, deliciously full lips and sexy broad shoulders he was the cutest boy on campus.  Pretty soon I had girls telling me I needed to start a makeover service.

That was how it all started. Who could have known that a simple makeover would unleash the devilish genius of the sweetest, shyest, most socially awkward boy I’d ever met, and transform him into music’s biggest superstar with an ego the size of Texas yet more fragile than an egg yolk? And a whole lot messier! Not me.

Without a doubt we’ve traveled a long crazy road together. Scrooʝe was the first boy I gave my heart to. Our relationship went from me rescuing him in college, to him rescuing me in law school, to our emergence as music’s power couple. He was the artist/entrepreneur, and I was the best lawyer love could buy.

And now, we’re strangers.

It’s been three years since we’ve seen or spoken to each other, and sometimes, against my better judgment, I find myself thinking about him and feel a smile creep across my face.

This morning was one of those times when my thoughts turned to Scrooʝe. Normally I’d tell myself off for not letting go, but today I gave myself a break. After all, it isn’t every day that you might not just run into your ex, but do it live on television at Hollywood’s biggest event.

“Everything’s gonna be fine, girl,” I told myself as I contemplated everything that could go wrong if we ran into each other at The Awards. I was especially dreading an untimely re-emergence of my long-standing “klutz curse”.

My whole life, I’d been jinxed with “inopportune clumsiness”. As the ring girl at my parents’ vow renewal, I stumbled, fell in the grass, and lost the rings. As a tiny ballerina, I was the best in my class, until the day of the recital when I went tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty.

Now with the whole world watching, I simply could not afford such an embarrassing spill.

As I sat in the back of a sleek limousine on my way to the ceremony, gazing up at the L.A. skyline, nervously checking my hair in the mirror for the dozenth time in half a dozen minutes, I tried to push down the queasiness threatening to erupt from the pit of my stomach. The last thing I needed was to step onto the red carpet covered in this afternoon’s lunch. The paparazzi would surely have a field day with that one.

Well, like I said it was exactly three years to the day that I stomped out of Scrooʝe’s life, but tonight we were both nominated for Awards. I knew God worked in mysterious ways, but now I was convinced she also had a sense of humor.

I never thought I’d be nominated for anything, but life had other plans. After we broke up, I quickly discovered that the best cure for PTRS—post-traumatic-relationship-stress—was writing. By the time I finished hammering those computer keys, I was author of an award-winning, best-selling, drama-filled, tragically comic novel that Hollywood just had to have. Now here I was nominated for an Award as one of the producers of the year’s biggest movie.

Once word got out that I was nominated, I was immediately blessed (or cursed depending on your view) with a merry-go-round of opinions. From my hair to my makeup to my shoes to my dress, from my eyebrows to my voice, to making sure I didn’t have ashy knees—everyone had an opinion. Normally I was unflappable, but with so many people giving so many conflicting opinions I was suddenly a nervous wreck. Finally, I stopped answering the phone because I couldn’t take any more unsolicited advice. If someone did manage to reach me on the phone, before they could even say a word I’d say, “No, I don’t know what I’m going to wear, and no, I don’t know how I’m doing my hair,” before abruptly clicking off. Unbelievable, Russell Simmons can show up without a tie and wearing sneakers, yet still be a style icon. But let a woman have one eyelash out of place and it’ll be the lead on the evening news.

Two nights before The Awards, I tried to veg out with an episode of Soccer Moms From Hell. But before I could lose myself in the drama, my cell phone buzzed with a text. “Oh, come on!” I yelled, throwing my hands up unnecessarily dramatically. Then I looked at it. It was from my father. He wrote simply—Be you.

At least there was one man in the world I could still count on.

Two days later, on my way to The Awards I tried to wrap my head around the idea that I’d soon be standing on the stage with millions watching. This was not part of the plan. I was a behind-the-scenes kind of gal, not at all attracted to the limelight. So, as I pulled up to The Awards, my nerves fluttered in my stomach like butterflies. But despite my anxiety, when I last checked the mirror I didn’t look too shabby. Thank God, Michelle Obama isn’t the only one who looks perfect in a Carolina Herrera gown.

As I climbed out of the limo and walked the red carpet, waving at the crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite artists, I thought about everything that had led up to this moment and even though I was anxious on the inside, on the outside I smiled as if I weren’t the least bit concerned all while praying for two things—please, dont let me fall in front of all these people, and please, please, dont let me run into Scrooʝe.

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