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Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium: A Sweet Home Alabama novel: The Teenage Adventures of Felony Melanie, #1
Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium: A Sweet Home Alabama novel: The Teenage Adventures of Felony Melanie, #1
Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium: A Sweet Home Alabama novel: The Teenage Adventures of Felony Melanie, #1
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Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium: A Sweet Home Alabama novel: The Teenage Adventures of Felony Melanie, #1

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Big City, Big Glamour, Big Trouble


Check out the new young adult romantic comedy series featuring "Felony Melanie" seven years before the events of the movie Sweet Home Alabama.


Before Melanie Smooter became hot fashion designer Melanie Carmichael, she was known as Felony Melanie, the teenage troublemaker of Pigeon Creek, Alabama. Aching to escape the boredom of small-town life, she gets into many reckless adventures. Her boyfriend, Jake, is always by her side – and the local sheriff is usually close behind.

When Melanie qualifies for the Miss Alabama Princess Pageant Southern Regional in the big city of Mobile, the first prize scholarship could be her ticket out of Pigeon Creek. But can her homemade dresses compete against the expensive gowns, and can a "trailer trash" girl survive when a haughty debutante will do anything to destroy the competition.

Meanwhile, Jake thinks beauty pageants are silly, but he'll be there to support Melanie – as long as he can avoid getting kicked out by hotel security. Then Jake and his friends start to suspect someone is sabotaging the whole pageant. They try to follow the clues, but it isn't easy when everyone dismisses you as redneck kids.

Melanie needs to prove herself on stage. Jake and the gang need to make sure she gets the chance. Can they show they're more than what people see on the surface?


Douglas J. Eboch is a screenwriter and author who wrote the original screenplay to the movie Sweet Home Alabama starring Reese Witherspoon. His sister is the author of over 80 books under the names Kris Bock, M.M. Eboch and Chris Eboch.

PublisherSEE EWE
Release dateMay 4, 2020
Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium: A Sweet Home Alabama novel: The Teenage Adventures of Felony Melanie, #1
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    Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium - Douglas J. Eboch

    Chapter 1

    Melanie peered between the bleachers. Her hands clenched as Jake dodged a tackle and scrambled for open space under the lights of the high school field.

    She crossed her fingers. Come on, baby, you got it!

    He’d worked so hard to get this far. As a sophomore, it would be almost impossible for him to make first string for the 1993 season. Still, if he proved himself in this scrimmage, maybe Coach would give him a chance. So far, Jake was outperforming the starting quarterback – at least in Melanie’s opinion. It might take something big and showy to convince everyone else.

    Jake drew back the arm holding the football.

    An ankle shifted sideways, blocking Melanie’s view. She cried out and bobbed her head like a quail, but other bodies in the stands blocked her from every angle.

    Melanie huffed out a breath and pushed the foot aside.

    Jake’s short pass sailed through the air, right into the arms of his tight end.


    She whooped and threw her arms up. Whack! Her hands banged on the underside of the bleachers.

    A dull roar flowed down over her as the fans above stomped their feet and cheered.

    Lurlynn leaned forward and looked between her legs at Melanie. You okay down there, Mel?

    "Yeah, if someone would stop moving her feet." Melanie flexed the sting out of her knuckles. She should be in the stands with Lurlynn, shouting and jumping where Jake could see her. He needed her support, the way she needed his. Sure, he’d put on a brave face, say it was only a practice game, but under his easy-going exterior, Jake had a sensitive soul.

    But no, she was grounded. For nothing more than sneaking out instead of doing her chores. It was so unfair! Summer was supposed to be for hanging out with friends and having fun.

    Melanie crouched to check on her parents in their usual place at the far end of the bleachers, watching the game like everyone else in town. Friday night high school football was the biggest thing to happen in Pigeon Creek all week, even if the season hadn’t started yet and the game was only between their own players. A few folks claimed church on Sunday was more important, but plenty of folks skipped church. No one skipped a football game.

    Lurlynn held her wavy brown hair back with one arm to keep it from dragging on the bleacher. She passed a soda between her legs. Less than two minutes left. Jake’s annihilating the secondary.

    I knew he would. Melanie took a swig and passed back the can. She didn’t want to miss a single moment of Jake’s game, but he probably wouldn’t get the chance for another big pass like that. She sighed. I’d best be getting along if I’m going to beat my parents home.

    Okay, bye. Lurlynn lifted her head.

    Her feet shuffled to block Melanie’s view. At least that made it easier to walk away. She ought to be sitting quietly in her room when her parents got home. She had to remember to ask questions about the scrimmage, as if she hadn’t seen it herself. She wouldn’t have to fake excitement at hearing how great Jake did.

    She paused at the edge of the bleachers. She’d be in full view as she went from the stands to the parking lot. Only for a minute, but it was the most important minute of this plan. The ref blew his whistle. Mama turned toward Daddy. Melanie slipped out from under the bleachers.

    Don’t look back. Don’t hurry. Be cool. Running would attract more attention.

    Shuffling and snorting sounds rose from nearby.

    Melanie jerked to a stop and searched for the source of the noise.

    It didn’t matter. She had to keep moving. She stepped forward.

    Three boys popped up from behind the next car. They raced away as if launched out of a cannon.

    Bang! Bang! Bang!

    Melanie jumped high enough to set a world record. When she finally landed, she gasped for air. Dang redneck boys, starting their Friday partying early with cherry bombs in the parking lot.

    Principal Peck shouted from the stands, You boys git over here!

    The boys took off into the woods cackling like hens.

    Everyone in the county must be looking her way. Melanie resisted every urge to look back toward the bleachers. She took one shaky step after another, whispering, Wasn’t me, nothing to see here, just some blonde girl nobody knows.

    Another voice cut through the humid air. Melanie Smooter! You’re supposed to be grounded, young lady!

    Melanie glanced back. Adults frowned and shook their heads, while teenagers laughed and waved. Heat crept across her cheeks.

    Her mama stood at the top of the bleachers, hands on her hips, glaring. Earl, you go collect that fool girl.

    Melanie ducked her head and spun away, but it was too late to pretend she hadn’t heard, and way too late to pretend she hadn’t been at the game. Her mama would pitch a fit to end all fits. Melanie would probably be grounded for the rest of the year. Why couldn’t Mama understand? She and Jake were in love. She simply had to see Jake play.

    She ran her hands through her hair and swore softly. She should be there when Jake got off the field. He’d want her there.

    If she was busted anyway, she might as well enjoy the rest of her last evening of freedom. She veered toward the school building with a grin. This Friday night just got a whole heap more interesting.

    She slammed through the school doors and jogged to the back of the building near the athletic field. She caught her breath and fluffed her bangs. Finally, the team entered. Jake had his helmet off. He looked fine, all sweaty with his hair mussed.

    He smiled, his eyes crinkling in the way that made her stomach flutter. Hey, Mel, I thought you had to get home before your parents did.

    She wrinkled her nose. They already saw me. Figure I better give Mama time to cool down before I show my face.

    Jake took her hand. Well, me and the guys was fixing to go celebrate down at the river. Come with.

    That’s the first place Daddy will look for me. Melanie gazed at her boyfriend. His big, rough hand hugged hers, sending little tingles all the way to her toes. He should celebrate his big victory, and she should be there with him. Someplace Daddy wouldn’t bother to look. Let’s go up to the old moonshiners’ cabin.

    All right. Jake planted a kiss on her that made her knees weak and her chest flutter.

    He winked and swaggered into the locker room. Those football pants sure fit him nice.

    Melanie left the school by the back door and took the long way around to the overgrown fire road that led up by the abandoned cabin. She’d be grounded on top of grounded. Her parents didn’t understand how crazy it made her to be stuck in this little town with nothing to do. Anything fun seemed to get her in trouble. She liked fun, so she was always in trouble.

    There’d be hell to pay tomorrow, but that was tomorrow’s problem.

    Melanie perched on a stump half hidden among the bushes and weeds. Jake and the gang would be along soon. It was finally starting to cool down a bit, though the humidity still thickened the air. Today had been what her daddy referred to as a three T-shirt day.

    Something rustled in the bushes behind her. She twisted to peer through the heavy growth. The cherry bombs had made her jumpy. Sure, the woods could hold dangerous critters, but this was most likely only a bird or rabbit. But you had to watch out for wild dogs, and wild pigs were huge and nasty, with tusks like Bowie knives. She sniffed the air for the smell of wild hog, all wet fur and decaying mud and piss, stinking to high heaven. None of that, thank goodness. But was that ... body spray?

    A new sound rumbled through the dusk. Eldon, are you hunnnnngry?

    Melanie leapt to her feet. Clinton popped out of a bush a few feet away.

    She groaned. Not this again! She spun away from him.

    Skinny Eldon stalked her from the other side, grinning. I’m starving.

    Melanie backed up, but her legs bumped the stump. No. No, no, no.

    I could use a Melanie sandwich, Clinton said.

    She darted for the road.

    Clinton and Eldon jumped forward and squashed her between them. Clinton’s flowing mullet tickled her cheek as his broad chest smothered her.

    Melanie wriggled. Did y’all forget to shower after the game?

    She squeezed out of their sandwich.

    Jake and Lurlynn were a little ways down the road, busting up. Some boyfriend and best friend. Jake’s three-month-old hound puppy, Bear, jumped around his legs, yapping along with the laughter.

    Lurlynn drew close to Clinton and sniffed. He smells okay to me.

    Melanie crossed her arms. You’re crazy.

    Lurlynn fluttered her lashes at Clinton and opened her mouth. Was she finally going to say something to let him know how she felt?

    Eldon pushed between them. I’m not really hungry, but I sure am thirsty. He held up a bottle of bourbon.

    Woo hoo! Clinton hollered.

    Lurlynn stepped back with a sigh.

    Melanie grinned when she saw the booze. If tonight was her last night of freedom, she intended to live it up.

    Let’s get moving then. Wade stepped out of the shadows with a twelve-pack of beer tucked against his side and a wide, goofy grin under his scraggly red mustache. Melanie hadn’t even noticed their quieter friend until then. Jake led their little gang, while Clinton and Eldon were the clowns, but you could always count on Wade to deal with practical matters, such as finding someone to buy beer for them.

    Come on, y’all, Eldon said. I got an eleven o’clock curfew and that hootch ain’t gonna drink itself.

    Bear howled as if in response, a squeaky puppy howl. Everyone laughed, and Bear’s tail whipped back and forth with delight.

    Jake took Melanie’s hand. They hiked up the old road, Bear running ahead and trotting back to join them. Eldon grabbed the bourbon from Clinton. He took a swig and passed it on. The bottle went around five or six times before they turned into the woods, a mile up the road. The moonshiner’s cabin was about fifty yards back. The whole thing leaned to one side, only held up by the tree growing through the middle of it. Moss speckled the wood, while the still for making moonshine was more rust than metal.

    Melanie smiled at their own little paradise. Daddy won’t come all the way up here.

    The cabin was hardly a secret, but adults usually couldn’t be bothered to navigate the rough road. If they did drive up, their lights and the sound of the engine gave plenty of warning, and the woods offered an easy escape. She took a gulp of bourbon. It burned down her throat and into her stomach. She gave a full body shake. Maybe she should switch to beer for a while. She hadn’t had any dinner but a bite of Lurlynn’s hot dog.

    Jake built a fire in the circle of stones right by the low porch. Melanie sat on the edge of the sagging porch and bumped shoulders with Lurlynn. Wade popped open cans of beer and handed them out. Meanwhile, Clinton searched the bushes for any leftover blackberries. The woods hummed with the chirps of crickets. Clinton would probably eat them too, if he could catch them.

    Melanie sat back and sipped the beer. The Milky Way stretched across the sky. Would a big city sparkle like that from above?

    You looked like you could start for the Crimson Tide already tonight, Jake, Eldon said.

    Roll Tide, everyone said in unison. Bear barked happily.

    I don’t know ’bout that. Jake dropped to the porch beside Melanie and stroked his dog’s silky ears.

    He pretended to be modest, but his smile told Melanie he was pleased with himself. It wasn’t easy to get out of Pigeon Creek, but a football scholarship to the University of Alabama was one way.

    Everyone will be saying how great you are. Melanie chuckled. A high school scrimmage is the highlight of social life in Pigeon Creek. The whole town was there.

    That’s why I love this town, Jake said. Everyone knows you, and they care about what you do.

    Melanie rolled her eyes. That’s exactly the problem with living in a small town like this.

    She had to find a way out, but her path wasn’t as clear as Jake’s. Academic scholarships were out of the question, and she didn’t have the discipline for cheerleading, according to the cheer coach. Her mama hoped she’d scrape together enough money from beauty pageant prizes, but what she’d won so far mostly went toward entrance fees and costumes for the next pageant. She’d need a lot more than a few local pageant wins to pay for even a year in college.

    Anyway, colleges didn’t teach anything she wanted to learn. If Jake went to the university, maybe she could move out to Tuscaloosa with him. She’d have to get her own place – Daddy was liable to drag her home by her hair if she tried to live with Jake before getting hitched. Maybe she could get a job in a clothing store or something. She was a pretty good seamstress, so she could alter clothes for

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