This is my stop during the blog tour for Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 14 till 28 May. See the tour schedule here.
Phi Alpha Pi is the oldest and largest sorority on campus and new president Lizbeth has a busy senior year ahead of her. She’s determined to keep her sorority in good standing on campus after a year on academic probation. She’s trying to manage the new sorority house manager, Mrs. C, who has her own ideas about how to support the sorority sisters. All while trying to find balance with her own academic goals to complete an honors thesis, graduate, and decide her future plans.
The last thing Lizbeth expects is her anger when Wil, a new member of the Alpha Pi fraternity, pushes every one of her buttons. Lizbeth finds Wil, a new transfer to the university with his best friend, to be rude, snobby, and judgmental. Even though she tries to avoid him, he seems to be everywhere, scowling with displeasure when he sees her. That is, until his Thanksgiving proclamation of love. That causes Lizbeth to reconsider how she sees the world.
As one of the largest and oldest sororities on campus, there was usually someone in the Phi Alpha Pi two-story Greek revival style mansion. Members were eating, studying, or simply enjoying each other’s company. Today there were twenty women moving into their rooms and unpacking for the start of the school year. Lizbeth, as chapter president, had been one of the first sisters to arrive, but still hadn’t unpacked. She and the other officers were too busy helping their sisters move in. Lizbeth had already put out a small, literal fire from a fallen candle. Then she put out figurative fires of roommate mix-ups and fights about who got which bed. Now Lizbeth sat alone in her room, exhausted and anxious to get out of the house, if only for a few hours.
Lizbeth had never been this involved in the sorority. She had agreed to the position, for her senior year, to help keep the sorority off academic probation for low grades. This had been a looming threat in the past. Lizbeth had helped by teaching the sorority sisters ways to get organized, creating study schedules, and helping create an atmosphere that turned studying into social events. She was glad her best friend Jane, who was Membership VP, was helping with the move in. There were sisters that Lizbeth didn’t know and relationships she didn’t understand. Jane was good at soothing hurt feelings and mediating fights. She had to run a membership meeting later in the day. Rush Week, the week before classes started so potential new members could attend all events, launched tomorrow.
“Lizbeth, did you see the shirts she got the board members?” Marie said, entering her room.
Marie, the sorority treasurer, was holding a hot pink T-shirt up to her body. At twenty years old, she was petite and wore her black hair long with bangs that nearly covered her eyes. When she pulled them back she revealed bright hazel eyes and a nose just a bit too big for her face. Marie was Lizbeth’s “little sister,” a bond between sorority sisters that often lasted the rest of their lives. As their resident gadget geek, she always had the latest technology toy. She had the first Fitbit, the first GoPro, was also the first to adopt new social media, and had happily taken over the sorority’s web presence.
Lizbeth had seen the shirt Marie was holding in the gift basket their housemother had given each officer as they moved in. Mrs. C, as they were instructed to call her, was brand new this year and a bit over-eager. She had welcomed each of the officers with a huge hug and said basket, which had also included tons of candy, candles, and school supplies. She gave each sister a candle as she moved in. It was one of these very candles that Lizbeth had put out when it fell and burned the carpet. Their previous housemother had never been this excited to see them.
“Yes, I saw it,” Lizbeth said with a sigh.
“Lizbeth, it says, ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.'”
“Well, she is up on her Austen,” Lizbeth said with a shrug.
Lizbeth sat down on her bed and let herself fall back on the bare mattress.
Marie put her hands on her hips and sighed before responding.
“You know that’s not the point. Some of us aren’t here to find rich husbands.”
“I believe it was the goal for many sisters in her day. She is new and excited. She will learn some of us aren’t like this anymore.”
“She asked me to wear it tonight.”
“No, you’ll wear an official sorority shirt; it’s tradition.”
Marie huffed irritably.
“Are we paying for this stuff? She hasn’t handed me receipts, but I’m worried she will.”
“Let me know if she does. I think this is her gift to us. She made these herself. I mean, the font is comic sans.”
Marie left the room and Lizbeth heard her door bang. All the bedrooms were on the second floor of the house, but the two officer bedrooms were adjacent, so they could all work together. Lizbeth lay back on her bed wishing she wasn’t living this close to Marie and her roommate Lydia. She closed her eyes for a few moments, hoping to catch a quick nap.
“I think we have everyone settled and don’t need to worry about anything until the meeting starts.”
Lizbeth opened her eyes to see Jane come into their room. The only good thing about having to live at the sorority house, as far as Lizbeth was concerned, was rooming with Jane. She had only joined Phi Alpha Pi so she and Jane could be together their freshman year. Last year, when the sorority had just come off an academic probation for low grades, Jane and a few graduates had begged Lizzie to run for president. The year had been difficult for some of the sisters, but Lizbeth had emerged as a leader. There was only one other candidate for president: Lydia. Lydia was the de-facto leader of the un-academic sisters and the worst of the lot. In the end, Lydia had taken on the Programming VP role, something she was very good at. Lydia had already planned so many mixers that Lizbeth had forced her to cancel some.
“Is it true there is a party tonight after the meeting?” Lizbeth asked Jane.
“Yes, Lydia planned with the guys at Alpha Pi. They have a few new brothers who transferred from another school and they want to make them feel welcome before Rush Week starts. Do you remember Caroline? Her older brother Charlie is one of those members,” Jane added.
Lizbeth nodded, vaguely recalling the woman who had transferred to the university and wanted to get involved at this chapter of Phi Alpha Pi.
“Mrs. C is all abuzz about them because they are so rich.”
“Exactly. She thinks Caroline’s brother could be a boyfriend for one of us. It is so sweet of her to want to help us.”
Lizbeth wished that Jane was being sarcastic, but she knew otherwise. Jane was the kindest person in the world. Jane liked almost everyone, so Lizbeth knew there was something wrong with you if you were the rare person Jane didn’t like (and vice versa).
“You’re too sweet,” Lizbeth said.
“Lizbeth, she’s recently widowed. Her children are all off living their own lives. She wants to take care of someone and we need someone looking out for us.”
Lizbeth rolled her eyes.
“I understand, and I feel horrible for her. I mean, you saw the shirts. God forbid we learn to take care of ourselves rather than hunt for rich men to marry.”
“Some members actually want to meet their future husband. Let her get used to us and learn what we need. I’m sure she’ll calm down. If not, well… you’ll certainly be a good balance for her. That is one of the strengths we value in you.”
Lizbeth tossed a stuffed bear at her best friend before getting up and organizing her half of the room.
The more they walked around the museum, the more Lizbeth realized they liked a lot of the same pieces and artists for very similar reasons. They didn’t draw while in the Matisse exhibit, but Lizbeth would periodically sit and doodle while listening to tour guides who led groups through the space. Her paper was quickly filled with little triangle butterflies and poorly drawn horses.
“Suddenly I expect you to love unicorns and rainbows,” Wil said, sitting next to her on a bench and looking over her shoulder.
“I was joking.”
“I’m not. I also love mermaids. Ask Becca. For years I was going to turn into one when I grew up. It was my career goal for quite a while.”
“Are you a good swimmer?”
“Fantastic! I’m a much better swimmer than I am an artist.”
Wil laughed at her.
“You are great at riding horses and swimming? Did you want to become a unicorn later?”
“No, I was going to be a mermaid princess who came on land to ride her unicorns. That’s why my grandparents bought me Windfola.”
Wil blushed, probably remembering his plan to buy her horse.
“Then your income would be princess-based.”
“Obviously, a great plan.”
This time they both laughed. Wil wouldn’t let her see what was on his paper. They left the exhibit and headed for a cafe in the museum to grab lunch. As they left the exhibits, Lizbeth saw him fold his paper and slip it into his back pocket. As they made their way to the cafe, they got distracted by a collection about roosters across cultures. They stood before a painting of a rooster called “The Cock.” Neither recognized the artist, but Lizbeth felt inspired.
“The thing that catches my eye about this cock is the color and shape. Notice the left curvature of the cock. The shape is of an average cock. What are your thoughts about the cock, Wil?” Lizbeth said.
She turned to face Wil and found him trying to stifle a laugh.
“Do you find cocks funny, Wil? A cock is nothing to laugh at. If you had a cock as grand as this would you want people laughing at it?” Lizbeth said.
She would have continued, but she started laughing herself. She let Wil take her hand and pull her out of the room.
“You’ve seen my terrible drawings. Let me see what you did,” Lizbeth said once they were seated with lunch from the cafe.
“No, it’s nothing.”
“Wil, don’t worry. I won’t tell your aunt how you aren’t a well-rounded young lady.”
Wil laughed at the joke, but refused to let her see what he had drawn.
“This isn’t over. The more you refuse, the more I want to see what you drew,” Lizbeth said as she got up to throw away their trash.
The party was in a penthouse apartment only a few blocks from their house. They could easily have walked over, but instead they took a car. Since all three women were wearing new high-heeled shoes, the less walking on icy sidewalks, the better. Lizbeth had found an amazing black, sleeveless dress on a clearance rack. It looked fantastic on her. This was the extent of Lizbeth’s excitement for the party. She suspected she and her two siblings would be the youngest people there.
“We’re going to play a game,” Becca said on the elevator ride up to the party. “Each of us must find something interesting about the apartment. Lizbeth, a measly library does not count. Nor, Josh, does the food or kitchen. I want mermaid statues in the bathroom, rooftop sex rooms, or, if you’re desperate, famous socialites puking over the balcony.”
“Becca!” Layla said as the elevator door opened right into the apartment.
To say the apartment was big would be insufficient. There were at least two floors, and probably something on the rooftop. The space was large and open with a grand staircase leading up to the second floor. Lizbeth could see the walls of windows, many leading out to the balcony that overlooked the city. The main room was devoid of furniture other than high-end folding chairs. It was full of people with food and drinks in hand. Waitresses walked around the room with trays of food. Lizbeth saw a buffet against a far wall and a bartender serving drinks. Two walls were just floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city skyline. She could see a few people chatting out on a balcony outside. Inside the decor was primarily white and metal.
“I will also accept stolen Nazi art,” Becca whispered in Lizbeth’s ear.
There was a great deal of art in the large front room. Everywhere people chatted amongst themselves. Someone came and took their coats. Another person came over to Jack and Layla and started talking to them.
“Kids,” Layla said, turning to her children, “you’re on your own. Don’t get drunk, don’t steal anything, don’t cook anything, and don’t get lost in the library.”
Layla knew her children well. Each of them grabbed a glass of wine and went on their own way to play Becca’s game. Lizbeth walked through various rooms. Other than some great art, there wasn’t anything of interest for her to tell Becca about. She did enjoy looking at the art, but without Charlotte, she didn’t know anyone but the masters. She eventually put her wineglass down and made her way upstairs. There were people talking on the landing and on the stairs, so it didn’t seem out of bounds. Some of the doors were open. She saw someone come out of a bathroom. She peeked in the door and saw no marble mermaid statue.
She walked into the poorly lit room next to it. It smelled of furniture polish and something familiar. She realized, as her eyes adjusted to the light, that she was in a library. It wasn’t a for-show library either. This was wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, bookshelves full of books. The books were a mix of beautiful leather bound books, worn paperbacks, spiral bound books, and folios of loose documents. A sofa faced a large window that looked out over the city. The view was breathtaking and made her remember what she loved about New York City.
Lizbeth was more interested in the books than the view. She made her way over to a shelf and pulled one out. It was about the navy during the Napoleonic era. The whole shelf was full of similar books. She didn’t care about her mother’s instructions; this was her dream room. Her grandparents’ library in Gardner had been built and filled with books over generations. It was her favorite room in their house. Her mother had built a library in both their homes. She put the book back, and pulled out another one. accidentally snagging another. It fell to the floor with a loud thump.
“Fuck,” she said under her breath and bent down to pick it up.
She stood up and turned to the sound of the voice. There, next to the sofa, was Wil Darcy.
“You certainly have a thing for wandering into my bedrooms,” Wil said softly.
You can find Phi Alpha Pi on Goodreads
“Tension builds as they each learn about the current version of the person they once loved and resolve the ramifications of their choices.”Links:
About the Author:
Born in Boston, MA and raised in Miami, FL, Sara Marks has two masters degrees and plans to never stop getting over educated. She likes the idea of having all the academic regalia she can ever possess and winning with the most degrees in her family. By day she’s an academic librarian. In what little free time she has, she also knits and plays with her dog Cedric Doggory.
There are two tour wide giveaways during the blog tour of Phi Alpha Pi! There is a US Only Giveaway for a prize pack and an international giveaway for 14 e-copies and a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi!US Only Giveaway
One winner will win a Prize Pack containing:
– Mrs. C’s homemade officers shirt in Comic Sans (you pick XL or XXL)
– A Phi Alpha Pi sorority sticker, candle, and bracelet (some of the items mentioned in the story).
– An illustration by cover designer Risa Rodil
– A rooster dishtowel (so you can make cock jokes with Lizbeth and Wil)
– Autographed printed copies of Modern Persuasion, A Little More Modern Persuasion, and Phi Alpha Pi (not pictured)
For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Open for all Giveaway These are the prizes you can win: – 14 winners will each win an e-copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks – 1 winner will win a print copy of Phi Alpha Pi by Sara Marks For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway