Excerpt of the Week: Her Name is Veronica

For some reason I blanked out on what I should post for the Excerpt of the Week, because I had been neglecting my works-in-progress lately. (The only WiP that I haven’t neglected, in fact, is Flip City, only because the treatment is almost finished.)

All things considered, I’ve decided instead to post one of my favorite passages from one of my least-favorite NaNoWriMo manuscripts. Here you can see why I’ve decided to adapt this for Script Frenzy; too many descriptive adjectives with not enough thought – or heart – to make us care about the characters here.

What do you think? Sound off in the Comments or send me a tweet at @stella_meimei.

(Copyright 2012 by Stella Torres. This entry is protected by a Creative Commons License for non-commercial use with attribution.) 


It had been more than a week since Lionel Berkeley had died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, yet all three of his children had chosen to remain in Hawaii. Lionel’s estate, after all, was subjected under probate law in the State of Hawaii, and the details behind Lionel’s own last will and testament were still being hashed out by his lawyers in Honolulu. 

“They’re still going to need Veronica to execute the will anyway,” said Lewis Berkeley, the oldest of Lionel’s three children. “How are we supposed to know for sure that this Veronica girl is who we think she really is?” 

“We have already pulled the certificate of live birth from Queens Hospital, didn’t we?” Linus asserted. “It says there that Vivian San Luis gave birth to a daughter here in Hawaii back in ’86. You can’t fake that shit.” 

“It still does not prove anything,” Lewis replied. “The father is not named on the birth certificate. That means Veronica can’t lay claim to the Berkeley name, and everything else that has to do with us. You can’t fake that shit either, Linus.” 

“And then what?” Lana exclaimed. “Do we still have to pull up the long-form birth certificate from the State Records Office to prove that this kid exists?” 

Lewis slammed down his glass of Hefeweizen. “I don’t see the point of us looking for this Veronica girl right now,” he said. “Her mother obviously didn’t care enough to let her take Dad’s name. Why should she care about being a Berkeley anyway?” 

“Calm down, Lew,” said Linus, patting his brother on the shoulder. “We’re all trying to figure out this situation together.”

“That’s what you say now,” Lewis replied with sarcasm. 

Lana shook her head. “Let me put it this way to you, then,” she said. “We all know that Dad had been less than lucid in the last seven years, right?” 

“Right,” Linus answered. 

“And we all know a verbal will cannot be truly enforced,” she added. “Especially if the mental state of the person making the will is questionable at best.”  

“Shit, that’s true,” said Lewis. “That means Dad may have changed his will several times by now.” 

“Possible.” Lana took in another gulp of her Kona Pale Ale from her glass. “So suppose that the will gets executed soon, and suddenly Veronica shows up with a lawyer to contest the will,” she says. 

“What if she asks for a greater piece of the pie?”

“You mean Berkeley Industries?” Linus asked. 

“More than that,” Lewis answered. “She – or at least her lawyer – might ask for a seat at the Board of Directors at the Berkeley Foundation, or a co-trustee position with Linus for the Berkeley Trust. Could you imagine what that would mean for all of us?” 

Lana fell silent, as Linus looked pensively at his brother. 

“I don’t like where you’re going with this, Lew,” he said. 

“You’re not saying…”

“This isn’t about Dad knocking up the help, is it?” 

Immediately the shock registered on Lewis’ face. “Linus, I am just saying…”

“You don’t have to tell me, Lew,” Linus answered. “You’re telling us not to trust her because she’s from the Philippines, are you?”

“No,” Lewis interrupted, “but if Dad had been man enough to put his name on that damn birth certificate when his assistant had that baby…” 

Now it was Lana’s turn to thump down her beer stein like a gavel. “I am sick and tired of this,” she cried out. “Tell you what, forget that I even brought it up, okay?” 

“Now you’re just being a bitch,” Lewis answered. “This is ridiculous.” 

“This is not ridiculous, Lew, and you know it,” declared Linus. “Would you please listen to Lana right now?” 

Lana looked up from her stein, meeting her brother eye-to-eye. “What do you think, Linus?” she asked. “Am I being hysterical?”

“You’re only being reasonable,” he answered. 

Soon the waitress arrived with another round of potato skins and jalapeno poppers for the table. Lana took the opportunity to seize a potato skin from the plate and eat it in one bite. 

“I still say we look for Veronica,” said Lana, as she chewed her way through an entire mouthful of potato. “What do you think?”

“I agree,” Lewis said affirmatively. “But how?” 

Linus took a bite out of his jalapeno popper. “I know a guy,” he answered.  

Love, Stella

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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