[SPOTLIGHT] Ready for the World - Charmeljun Gallardo




About The Book Series


Ready For The World - Driver’s Education:


Fifteen-year-old Brandon Delacruz’s wants are simple. He wants to be popular, drives a cool car, and have the girl of his dreams on his arm. Instead, he’ll have to settle for being on the honor roll, riding his ten-speed bike, and having his best friends, Josh and Ally beside him as they learn the ins and outs of high school.

But as Brandon begins to discover feelings for Ally, a tragedy occurs that changes their lives. And now, he’ll spend the rest of the year sorting through his complicated feelings and his uncertain relationship with Ally...all while keeping his grades up. Because unlike getting a driver’s license, life doesn't offer a practice test. Brandon will have to rise and meet the challenges of the real world, whether he’s ready for it not.

Ready For The World – Superstar:


Brandon Delacruz is destined to write the next great novel. At least, that’s what he hopes what’s in those stacks of notebooks around him. And why shouldn’t he be full of confidence? He’s doing great in school and after a long hard road, he finally has the girl of his dreams, his best friend, Ally. 

But before the year can even start, Brandon’s life is turned upside down. Nothing is what he thought and things don’t happen the way he hoped. And as he sifts through his feelings and tries to make sense of everything, he meets Rachel, a confident and self-assured girl that doesn’t suffer fools lightly.

Ally has been the love of Brandon’s life, but things between them have become complicated without explanation. While he and Rachel are seemingly a perfect fit. Which girl will he choose? And more importantly, which girl will choose him?

Purchase Links

Ready For The World: Driver’s Education 

Amazon India | Amazon USA


Ready For The World: Superstar


Amazon India | Amazon USA



Book Excerpt from Ready For The World: Driver’s Education

We pulled into the parking lot at the 32nd Street Bowl-A-Rama and jumped out of the car. Every Friday during the summer, they cleared the game room and turned it into a club. Josh spent the first few minutes gawking at every perm and pair of neon leg warmers that walked by.

“You‘re making us look like a couple of stalkers,” I said.

He walked up to this short blonde girl with a triangular haircut and neon green sweater. “Which girl did you think was cute, Brandon? THIS ONE?”

The blonde girl glared over at the troublemaker, which was me and not the doofus pointing right at her. Josh looked over at me and laughed his famous silent laugh with squinted eyes. But it wouldn‘t be complete without the knee-slap.

A few hours later, we were sitting at a table in the corner of the club. We were toasting ourselves with a couple of sodas on a great night out.

“Good times,” I said.

“This night ain‘t over yet,” Josh said after taking a sip. “Whose turn is it?”

Mine,” I said. I slammed my empty glass on the table. “Go ahead. Bring it.”

Josh and I always played a game we called “Two Bucks.” It was “Truth or Dare” but without the truth part. One of us would come up with a task and a time frame to complete it. Whoever failed gave the other two bucks. Neither one of us had to give up any money in the last month and a half. The last time we played, Josh started every conversation by barking like a dog. It made for some great entertainment when we went to the McDonald‘s drive-thru that night.

“Since you‘re grounded, I‘m gonna go easy on you,” Josh said. “Two bucks says that you can‘t go over to that girl in the corner and get her to dance with you in less than fifteen minutes. You have to dance one whole song. If you guys start in the middle of one song, you must keep her on the floor with you through the entirety of the next song. Deal?”

I took his hand and shook it. “Which girl is it again?”

“That one,” he said. “The girl wearing the white sweater and pink dress.”

I saw a tall brunette with long straight hair and shapely legs in the far corner. She looked pretty good from where we were, but her back was to us.

I whipped off my jacket and threw it at his face. “Keep an eye on that for me.”

I walked through the dance floor and made a beeline toward the girl. It was getting near the end of the night and the DJ had already started up the slow jams. If I was going to win the bet, I had to work fast. I checked my breath by huffing into my palm and taking a whiff. It smelled passable enough, like a mix of French fries and spearmint chewing gum. I got close to the brunette and leaned in her ear. “Excuse me, do you wanna dance?”

“That depends,” the brunette said as she turned around. “Do I get a share of the bet?”

Standing before me was Ally. Gone was her ever present Cincinnati Reds baseball cap. In its place was a long, silky head of hair that flowed with every little motion. Her funky rimmed glasses were gone too. I saw a pair of deep brown eyes and long eyelashes touched with a bit of makeup. Her lips, which were usually smacking on a piece of bubble gum, looked redder and fuller. She had on a fluffy white sweater and a soft pink dress that made me think of the sky before sunset. She was the most beautiful girl that I had ever seen.

Ally snapped her fingers. “Earth to Brandon, come in.”

I blinked for what felt like the first time in a long time. “Um…sorry about that.”

“You and Josh are playing ‘Two Bucks‘ aren‘t you? What‘s the bet?”

“The bet is that I‘m…um, supposed to talk to um…the girl that he pointed at…um…you…which you already know…and we‘re supposed to dance for one song.” Jeez, how many times can a guy use “um” in a sentence?

She tilted her head and her hair cascaded down alongside her like a waterfall. “Well, I don‘t want to make it too easy for you,” she said.

Huh?

“The bet. I‘ve gotta make it at least look good.”

I smiled. “Oh you do, do you?”

“Of course,” she beamed. “So, let me hear it.”

I had never noticed how beautiful her smile was. “Um...hear what?”

“Your pick up line. If you didn‘t know me, what line would you have used to get me to go and dance with you?”

I shuffled my feet a bit. “I pretty much gave it.”

“So your best line consists of ‘Excuse me, do you wanna dance?’”

“Well, I tend to say it with a great deal of charm,” I said as I extended my hand. “So, what do you say?”

She gave me a tiny smile. “Okay.”

I walked beside her toward the dance floor until we got to a small clearing in the middle. We faced each other and I put my hands at her waist. A flush of heat ran up to my head and pulled my hands away. “Sorry, was that okay?” I asked her.

She put her hands on my shoulders and laughed. “Yes, Brandon. It‘s fine.

Neither of us said anything for the first few moments. At times, I‘d look at her face and watch the colored lights move across her cheeks and shine on her eyes. But when she turned toward me, I‘d look away and marvel at the mirror ball above us. When I thought it might be safe to look back, I‘d catch her looking down toward the floor. This happened a couple more times until we finally met eye to eye. We both laughed and the tension in my shoulders melted away. From that moment on, neither of us looked away.

“Hey,” I said.

“Hi,” she said.

“Tell me if I step on your feet. “

She smiled. “I will. “

“They‘re nice,” I said. “Your shoes, I mean. They‘re nice.”

“Thanks,” she said as she stroked her hair behind her ear. “I like your shirt. “

“This old thing?” I asked. I moved my hands from her sides to her back.

She rested her hands on my shoulders and bit her lip. “It fits you really well. “

My hands brushed against her hair. “I never knew your hair was so long. “

“That‘s because I usually have it tied up and under a baseball cap. “ Her fingers grazed the back of my neck.

“I like it,” I said. I moved my hands upward until I could feel the ends of her long strands of hair near the middle of her back. “It‘s soft.

She brushed a few stray hairs away from my eyes. “You‘ve got soft hair too.”

The music swelled in my ears. My fingers brushed against the tiny straps of her dress. She caressed my neck with both hands and nestled her cheek against mine. I lifted my head from her shoulder and pressed my forehead against hers. I stared right into her closed eyes and I could feel myself losing air.

Ally?” I asked.

Her eyes opened. “Yes, Brandon?”

I tilted my head and drifted toward her. I felt the heat from her lips getting closer and closer to mine. I got a whiff of her cherry perfume and felt dizzy. But as our lips were about to touch, I felt a rhythmic buzzing on my chest. Ally looked down at her tiny purse trapped between us. She looked down and I felt her shoulders slump.

“It‘s my pager,” she said.

“A what?” I asked. I knew what a pager was. But my brain wasn’t exactly working at the moment.

“Dad makes me carry one whenever I go out,” she said as she reached into her purse. “It‘s from home. I‘d better call them back. Did you see a payphone around here?”

I shook my head to get my vision back in focus. “Um…there‘s one near the bathrooms toward the back.”

She smiled and grabbed my hand. “I‘ll look for you when I get back.”

“I‘ll be here,” I said. We kept eye contact as she made her way across the room.


About the Author

Charmeljun Gallardo is a former Radiologist and author. His first book is Ready for the World young adult book series. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a Creative Writing degree in 1996. He is a writer, photography enthusiast, sports fan, movie geek, stroke survivor, and an adventurous foodie. He lives in San Diego, California with his wife and son. 

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