Hi guys, we have Mario Kai Lipinski popping in today with his upcoming release Symbols, we have a short guest post and an exclusive prequel scene! So check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Mario Kai Lipinski
Violence is hard to escape because of the scars it leaves—on the body, the mind, and the heart.
Small, skinny, and timid, Matt is the school’s punching bag. He suffers in silence and holds no hope anyone will come to his aid. The last thing on his mind is finding someone special. He’s sure it’s impossible, so why bother trying?
Shane is no stranger to pain. At his old school, he broke a football player’s arms for tormenting his friend, and with his size and multiple tattoos, he looks every bit the thug everyone—Matt included—assumes he is.
Building trust isn’t easy, but a sweet yet passionate romance slowly unfolds. Their road isn’t without bumps, but Matt and Shane navigate them together, finding happiness and security in each other—until another act of violence and its aftermath threatens to tear their lives—and their love—apart once and for all. But like the symbols etched into Shane’s skin, some things are made to last.
Mario Kai Lipinski!
This is an exclusive prequel scene for my upcoming book ‘Symbols’ written for MM Good Book Reviews. I’m so glad to be featured on this fantastic blog and get a chance to present my story.
Matt is one of the main characters in ‘Symbols’, a small and timid boy who serves as Central High’s punching bag. This scene elaborates on one of his remarks in the book about an incident in his childhood dealing with his nemesis Iain.
I hope you enjoy it… and maybe get a little curious about Matt’s and Shane’s adventures. 🙂
I’m not a native speaker, and due to time restrictions, I couldn’t get the prequel scene properly edited. So please bear with me for any oddities and typos you may find. Thanks to my wonderful editors, ‘Symbols’ itself is in top shape, and I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity to work with these awesome people.
Matt adjusted the bow on the present once more. Everything had to be perfect. After all this was the first birthday party he had ever been invited to. And of all parties, it was Iain’s seventh birthday where all the cool kids would be. He looked up at his mom in the driver seat and then out of the car. They had just passed by Central Elementary. It couldn’t be far anymore. The hive of ants parading up and down his stomach stepped it up a notch, turning his tummy into an even itchier place—if this was possible at all. Strangely enough fear and anticipation caused the same tickling sensation in his guts, however different these emotions were. Of these two, he knew fear a far sight better though, but with this invitation everything would change.
“Honey, do you really think you should have spent a hundred dollars on the baseball mitt?” His mom considered him through the inside mirror. A small fold formed between her eyes, creasing the skin around them. “That’s five months’ worth of your pocket money.” The fold vanished, and a tiny smile bent up her lips. “Think of all the wood, glue, and paint you could buy for that money.” Her smile deepened. “We could still make a short detour, return the mitt, and get the board game the nice shop lady recommended.”
Matt closed his fingers around the blue wrapping paper. Since he had bought the present a week ago, his mom had repeated the same tripe ad nauseam. Yet she could talk her lips off, and he wouldn’t settle for anything else. Surely, he loved woodworking, but he loved having a friend as popular as Iain more. The very guy who had teased him all through kindergarten and first grade had invited him. A feeling as epic as this was worth giving up pocket, Christmas, and birthday money for a whole year. “Students in second grade don’t play games with clowns on it.” Especially not a boy as swag as Iain. “The mitt’s perfect.” His fingers dug deeper into the paper. He would give it to Iain and to no one else.
Her lips still locked into the smile, she heaved a sigh. “If that’s what you think, honey.” She indicated and pulled the car over. “Oh, how lovely!” With a sweep of her arm—exaggerated as usual—she gestured at the O’Sullivan house.
The fence around the perfectly square property was decorated with baseball bats, balls, and… mitts. Matt smirked to himself. “You see?” He knew Iain better than his mom did. She had to accept that.
“Sure, honey,” his mom said and tittered. “I’ll pick you up at six. If I’m late, please stay inside the house and don’t wait outside, okay?”
“Yes, Mom.” Matt made sure that she wasn’t watching him through the mirror before rolling his eyes. He was eight already, almost an adult. She didn’t have to play watch dog all the time. “See ya.”
He got out and smashed the door closed, minimizing the chance for more embarrassing mom blah. She waved at him before steering away the car, and he harrumphed. Of course, she had seized that last opportunity to make him look like a momma’s boy. He turned around, looked at the house, and swallowed.
The ants in his stomach kept stomping on, no matter how deeply he breathed in and out. Matt couldn’t loiter here until his mom picked him up again, however enticing this thought sounded. He huffed and took the first step up the path, the gravel crunching under his shoes, his legs shaking. What was his problem? He was just visiting a friend. Absolutely no need to panic. He reached the porch, and the door flew open. Iain stormed out, and Matt leapt back like a jumpy cat while his heart was beating as fast as a mouse’s.
“Matty is here!” Iain’s yell echoed through the garden. He bared his teeth in a wide grin, his freckles glowing and wisps of his curly, red hair standing out from everywhere on his head.
Matt opened his mouth, but Iain grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him into the house before he could say a word. A year separated the two, yet Iain was a good head taller than him and probably twice as strong. Okay, perhaps not exactly twice as strong. Still having Iain as a friend was head and shoulders better than being messed around by him.
Their sprint ended in the living room, as abruptly as it had begun, and Matt leaned back not to crash into Iain.
“This is Matty. The guy from school I told you about.” Iain let go off him and pushed him forward.
Six boys stared down at Matt, Tyler and Eric being the only ones he recognized from school. Pulsing heat crawled up from his neck to his cheeks. He nodded at the strangers. Most likely, these were Iain’s baseball team mates. Being the center of attention really sucked, and Matt’s chest clamped.
“You’re eight already?” A boy with short black hair asked. He was only slightly smaller than Iain.
Matt nodded once more.
“Cool.” The boy said and smiled.
The other guys made strange faces as if they tried not to laugh. Weird fellas, but Matt smiled back at the black-haired boy and swiveled around.
“Here, this is for you.” He extended the gift with both hands toward Iain. “Happy birthday and all good wishes.”
“Sick.” Iain snatched the present from him and tore away the paper in one fell swoop. He furrowed his brow.
“Wow.” The black-haired boy advanced a step and joined them. “That’s a Nakamura Pro.” He touched the leather with his fingertips and probed it. “My big bro has the same. He plays for State College.” His gaze alternated between Matt and the mitt before it settled on Iain. “It’s a really cool gift.” He pursed his lips.
“Yes, it is.” Iain’s eyes flashed up. “For such an awesome present, I have to declare you my guest of honor. Sorry, dudes.” He turned to the other boys and shrugged.
“That’s okay,” one of the guys said. The others bobbed their heads in agreement but seemed to hold back another fit of laughter.
Those were some funny boys, and Matt grinned with them. He could have gone without all that special-guest-hoopla, but he had chosen the ultimate present for Iain. Even the ants took a break to acknowledge that.
“You alone will have the honor to drink from the Cup.” Iain reached behind and got a golden trophy on a marble foot from the sideboard. “Traditions demand that you empty it in one go. Or do you want to curse our baseball team for seven years?” He held out the cup, the other guests booing and giving Matt the thumbs down.
“Of course—“ Matt’s voice broke and he cleared his throat. “—not.” He accepted the trophy from Iain. This had to be at least a pint of soda, shining golden and sparkling lazily, but he couldn’t let the guys down and raised the cup.
“Do you really think he should drink it?” The black-haired boy stared at Iain, and fine lines extended from his eyes as he squinted them.
“You don’t want to ruin everything, do you? Matty deserves it.” Iain glared back at the boy before facing Matt. “You truly do.”
The black-haired guy had seemed so nice, and now he made such a fuss. Matt really fell short at assessing people. His wrong impression of Iain was the best example for this. He had finally found a friend and wouldn’t disappoint him. He brought the goblet to his lips.
“Drink! Drink! Drink!” The other boys clapped their hands, cheering him on.
Matt’s stomach was stinging, and he was almost suffocating, but he had almost conquered the Cup. He owed Iain and the others. The last gulp took an eternity to go down his gullet, but finally, he yanked the empty trophy up into the air and swung it triumphantly. He was panting and sweating, yet he had done it. The other guys hooted at him and laughed so hard they had to hold their bellies. Being the center of attention wasn’t too bad after all. He had never felt that exhilarated, as if happiness itself circled through his veins. Just the black-haired boy stood there, arms crossed over his chest and brooding. For once, someone else was the buzzkill and not Matt.
“Come with me. I’ll show you my room, and we can find a special place for your gift.” Iain took the trophy from him and pressed it into the hand of the black-haired boy. Again, Iain grabbed Matt by the wrist and pulled him along, away from the others and up the stairs.
Iain’s den was a mess. The bed wasn’t made, and his empty wardrobe stood open, the clothes lying scattered everywhere on the floor. Obviously, not everyone was a perfectionist like Matt. He swallowed down a chuckle.
“As my special guest, you will spend the party in a special place.”
The room blurred around Matt. He crashed against the back wall of the wardrobe, a low drone filling his ears and white sparks exploding before his eyes. His head was swimming. With a bang, the doors fell closed, and the key rattled in the lock. A burning pain crawled down from Matt’s shoulders over his back. Whatever prank that was, it stank. Being Iain’s friend was almost as painful as being his victim.
“Have you really thought that I’d invite a loser like you to my party?” Iain’s voice came from the other side of the door, strangely dampened and still ringing with malice. “My parents are too busy with the rug rat and don’t even know you’re here, so don’t get your hopes up for someone coming to your help.”
This wasn’t a prank. This was dead serious. The undertone resonating in Iain’s voice left no doubt about that. Matt hammered against the doors. “Let me out!” Only a shrill squeal came out of his mouth. “Please!” He added in a whisper. The ants had returned, eating away at his stomach. He pulled in his legs and curled up on the floor of the wardrobe. His hands throbbed from banging against the doors, but the tears didn’t come. Yes, he was a loser. A miserable, pathetic loser not worth crying for.
“You dweeb!” Subdued laughter came from outside. “Oh, by the way, I put a handful of mom’s peeing pills into the soda.” More laughter reverberated in Matt’s ears. “But don’t you dare to piss into my closet. I’ll make you regret it if you do.”
“Let me out.” Matt’s voice lacked any strength. His shoulder and hand hurt, but the betrayal stung more, draining him of the little energy left. He couldn’t even blame Iain. Matt had brought this on himself. He knew better than to trust Iain. He knew better than to trust anyone—and he would never make that mistake again. Even the black-haired guy had backstabbed him. If he let no one close, no one could ever harm him again. It was as simple as that.
“Wanna out? You wish, asshole.” Iain’s cackling trailed off, and the noise of a door shut was the last thing Matt heard from outside
At least, he was alone now.
The self-luminous glow of Matt’s watch had died down a while ago, but he must have spent more than three hours in the wardrobe now. Iain hadn’t returned, and Matt could only hope he wouldn’t. The slight twinge in his bladder had grown into full-fledged agony, but he wouldn’t grant Iain the satisfaction of peeing his pants. Reciting all sonnets of Shakespeare once more would keep him distracted. Iain and the other dumbos downstairs didn’t even know how to spell Shakespeare’s name. Matt chuckled, and a pang shot through his tummy. He hissed through his gritted teeth. One more hour and his mom would be here.
“From fairest creatures we desire increase, that thereby beauty’s rose might never die,” he mumbled to himself.
Only one more hour, and he’d be safe forever in solitude.
Mario Kai Lipinski lives in Herne, Germany.
He is a spare-time author, and his evil day job, teaching mathematics at university level, isn’t that evil after all. Granted, on some days he wants to strangle his students, but it only takes a coffee or two and he remembers how much he loves them. He loves nerdy science stuff too. Does it show in his books? Of course it does.
English is not his native language, and he frequently gets asked why he writes in English. The answer has two parts. Firstly, he has slightly masochistic tendencies. Secondly, most books he reads are in English. So it feels only natural to write in this language too. English is beautiful—until it isn’t. Never, absolutely never, get him started on comma rules.
One reader described his books as “sexually explicit Disney movies.” That hits the nail on the head. Mario is into romance with a capital R and loves his cheesy. He is so good at channeling his inner teenager that sometimes he doubts he even has an inner adult.