Exclusive excerpt from my new book
The next few days I’m sharing excerpts from my new book. It’s not out yet, but you’ll get exclusive peek here!
Jennifer Carnegie was a “clever girl,” at least that’s what her father always told her. He doted on her and her older sister, Laura. She was three and Laura seven, when a drunk driver slammed into her mother’s car as she was driving home from work. The three of them went on without her as best they could. The only framed picture of the four of them in the house sat on a cluttered bookshelf in her father’s study. She was too young to remember her mother. For her father and Laura, the memories were too painful. They never spoke of her.
David Carnegie, a professor of Irish literature and film studies at The Ohio State University, gave his daughters an idyllic life. Under his protection and guidance they flourished. He valued education, and when Jennifer showed flashes of brilliance, he urged her to reach higher. Jennifer wasn’t a social butterfly like her tall, elegant, and popular older sister. She preferred the company of her books over people. Jenn spent countless hours reading and studying. The world was a fascinating place, and she had a voracious appetite for knowledge. Her father encouraged to take honors and advanced placement courses in high school. She made the honor roll, was selected class valedictorian, and graduated a year early as a result. There was never a question about where she would attend college. What was the point of having a family member on the faculty if that didn’t mean you could get a break on tuition?
Jennifer’s fascination with chemistry, and languages lead to a double major; chemistry and Arabic. She’d managed to teach herself Farsi as well. Her father’s high hopes for her soaring academic career were about to come crashing down. For as long as she could remember her only desire was to make her father happy. Jenn’s academic life, from AP courses, to honor roll, to math camp were all mapped out by her father,and it bored her to tears. She ached to burst free from the safe, bookish bubble he’d placed her in. She was an adult now, free to choose her own path. Her father always assumed she’d enter grad school for an advanced degree, but she’d changed her mind. At the ripe old age of twenty-one she was asserting her independence. She was applying to the CIA.
The kind of jobs that would put her language and chemistry skills to good use required and advanced degree either a Master’s or PhD, and the idea of spending more time in a classroom or research lab made her cringe. She’d already missed out on so much, dating, prom, sleepovers, and boys, the list went on and on. Dad took excellent care of her and Laura, but he knew nothing about raising girls. Whatever decision and choices he’d made they were expected to fall in line and in agreement. It was time to take her life back and defy his expectations. He would understand and perhaps even be proud of her.
“The CIA?” David Carnegie was aghast.
“Yeah Dad, the CIA,” she repeated, bursting with pride.
“Where on earth did you get such an idea?” He plopped down onto the leather couch in a state of shock.
“From you. You always told me I was a clever girl.” She slid down onto the couch next to him.”What do you think?” she asked turning to face him.
“Why? CIA? How?” he asked, concern etched into his rugged features.
“Dad, I’ve already missed so much with all of my studies and research. I don’t want life to pass me by.” The air in his dark wood paneled study was heavy. As a child she loved this place, but at this moment, the air was stifling and she felt claustrophobic.
“At least you were safe. The CIA is not the kind of job you apply for if you want to be safe,” he said wagging a finger at her.
“I don’t want to be safe, Dad, I want to make something of myself. I hoped you’d be happy about that. I finally know what I want to do with my life,” she told him as she tugged on the sleeve of his chambray shirt.