Archive | July 2014

Starting Over #5

Tuesday TalesWelcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is part of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

The story of Victoria and her little shop in Oak Grove Square continues. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘bloom’.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tales site for more entertaining story snippets.

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OGS_Jave Time interiorVictoria struggled to get her weary body in motion. A stop at Java Time was just what she needed today. It was ten o’clock. She should be at Serendipity opening up. She glanced out the front window to where her shop was, kitty corner from the coffee shop. There certainly wasn’t a line of people banging at the front door to let them in. If she arrived a few minutes late, no one would even know.

Dark haired Carmen stood behind the counter looking a lot perkier than Victoria certainly felt. “Honey, I think you’re going to have to break down and do the coffee bit this morning. I don’t think your Chai tea is going to touch that shade of drag ass you’re wearing this morning.”

“Ugh. No. No thanks.” Victoria stuck out her tongue in response to the coffee suggestion. “Not for me. I’ll stick to my Chai Tea.”

“I thought you liked coffee. You always take a deep breath when you walk in here.”

“I like the smell of coffee. I adore the aroma. It’s the taste I can’t abide.”

“Oh. You’re one of those.” Carmen filled a cup with a hot, frothy concoction and scooted it across the counter. Victoria clutched a handful of single dollars and was busy searching for change in the bottom of her purse. “Forget the change. You’re good. Besides, the sooner you get this in ya’ the sooner you’ll become human again.”

“Thanks.” Victoria started to take a sip of the steaming beverage and jerked her head back. “Ooops, still too hot. Guess my return to humanness will have to wait a few minutes longer.”

Carmen wiped the counter between them. “You worked late last night. When I closed up there were still lights on over there. How late did you stay?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Too late. I got caught up reading an old journal and lost track of time.”

“From those boxes that hunky guy carried in yesterday?”

“Ha! Blond and hunky maybe, but he was a cold and arrogant jerk. Looks are deceiving on that one. But yes, it was in one of his boxes. You sure don’t miss anything, do you?”

“Oh honey, if you only knew. I know everything that goes on in this square. Anything you want to know, you come ask me. Except for Marie, over at Three Tarts bakery. I don’t have any dirt on her, she’s too squeaky clean.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind. Note to self … watch yourself around Carmen. She knows all.”

“Hey, it’s not hard to do. I watch. What they don’t tell me – and a lot of ‘em spill the beans right to me – I see. I just keep my eyes open and find out all kinds of delicious secrets.”

Victoria gave a wave and wandered off across the street, carefully carrying her caffeine fix. Her hands wrapped around the disposable container, glad for the warmth to counter the frigidness in the air. She wasn’t sure whether to be glad that people noticed what happened in this small little sphere, or to be annoyed that she’d apparently nestled right in the midst of a bunch of busy bodies. She stopped to look at the bedraggled planters in front of Serendipity, filled with dead, brown plants, a casualty from the ice storm a few weeks earlier. The square was prettier when she’d first looked at the space, with bright blooms gracing the planters spaced around the four sides.

As she unlocked the front door, a voice called out from across the street. “Helloooooo.” Victoria turned to see a woman carrying a folder headed her way, blond hair bouncing and a bright red scarf flying behind her.

“I’m Heather, from City Hall.” She stepped inside behind Victoria and gazed around the space crammed with antiques in every spare space. A smile filled her face. “This is just delightful. Look at all this loveliness,” she gushed.

“Am I missing a form, or late with something?” Victoria inquired.

“Oh no! Goodness no.” Every word from Heather’s mouth came out with a soft, breathless quality. She turned back towards Victoria and aimed her megawatt brilliant smile in her direction. “Not at all. I came over to introduce myself and ask about a little project we’re trying to get going. We’re forming an Oak Grove Merchants Association with the businesses, to join together as a coherent team to enhance the retail opportunities here. Kind of like a little Chamber of Commerce in a way, with monthly activities planned for the town square. I wanted to see if you’d like to join.”

“What’s involved with joining? It depends on the requirements. And the cost. I’m barely keeping my head above water right now.”

“That’s exactly why the City wants to take a more proactive step towards bringing business here. To help out our merchants.” More breathy commentary followed as brochures were eased into Victoria’s hands.

Too smooth, Victoria thought. She really does belong in City Hall. Heather had a way of focusing in on the subject of her conversation, making them feel as if they were the most important person on the planet at that moment, all the while silky utterances falling from her lips.

When they got to the one meeting each month and only $25 a month, Victoria readily agreed. After her guest left, she wasn’t sure if she complied because she really wanted to, or whether she just gave in to get Heather out and on her way. Victoria felt a little confused. She really wasn’t sure what had just happened.

She spent the rest of the morning dusting, sorting, and rearranging. The jingle of the bell interrupted her busyness two or three times, but the small purchases didn’t even begin to cover what she needed to bring in each day to pay the rent. Maybe it’s a good thing I did join the merchants group, she thought. We all need some extra business. Not that January was a blockbuster month for most businesses, with most customers spent out from the frenzied buying the month before.

oak grove_fiesta wareAnother jingle at the front door alerted her. She turned and opened her mouth to say ‘Good Afternoon’. Who stood centered in the open doorway surrounded by a gust of cold air? The man she hoped that she’d never see again. He stood there clutching a manila envelope.

She felt the sudden sting of irritation rush through her whole being. “You going to stand there all day letting all the warm air out?”

“Sorry.” He stepped inside and closed the door tightly behind him. He glanced back towards the corner display – filled with Fiesta Ware – with a distracted look. A softness filled his face, making Victoria’s heart unexpectedly flutter. Then the shutter came down, leaving a cold stony glare behind.

“I found these today during our demo. I thought you might want them.” He held the mysterious envelope out towards Victoria.

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Starting Over #4

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is part of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

The story of Victoria and her little shop in Oak Grove Square continues. This week we’re writing to a photo prompt. Only 300 words!

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tales site for more entertaining story snippets.

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TT_July 2014 promptThe wagging tails at the front door almost dispelled her wrath. Almost.

It was when she walked out back with Cody and Cowboy that the brilliant calming light of the full moon fully soothed her. In its place a gentle wave of loneliness washed over her. It didn’t happen often. And when this feeling did drift into her life, it was usually only for a brief time. Generally Victoria was extremely happy with her life. It was full. It was satisfying. She did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. And a life with an occasional moment of feeling alone was certainly better than having someone in your life that cheated on you whenever they got the chance. Or, in the words of the pilot she’d banished long ago, “… only when ‘the magic’ was gone.”

From now on, she was in charge of the magic in her life. She intended on flying solo for the rest of her days. Especially when the world was full of arrogant jerks like that Toby who’d entered Serendipity earlier that day.

Building cookie cutter houses where my cows used to roam. Really! The thought raised her ire once again.

“Come on boys,” she called to the two dogs roaming the back yard. “Let’s eat and go to bed.”

She was tired. That must explain her irritability. A good night’s sleep is what I need.

A good night’s sleep is not what she got. And it wasn’t visions of sugar plums dancing in her head as she tossed and turned. Although, I suppose some girls may consider the blond hunk that infiltrated her dozing thoughts a sugar plum

 

Starting Over – #3

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is the start of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

Victoria moves to Oak Grove, a tiny town in north Texas, looking for a new beginning. From her quaint antique store on the town square, she encounters more drama than she ever expected. In the midst of getting to know her storekeeper neighbors and learning who she can and can’t trust, will she find the one thing she’s not looking for, true love? Stay tuned each week to find out.

This week’s prompt is: Summer.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tale site for more entertaining story snippets.

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In between the few customers that wandered in during the afternoon, Victoria priced the dishes and added them to her burgeoning collection. That task out of the way, she allowed herself to sit and peruse the items from the trunk she’d just purchased. She sorted the small quilt pieces, most of the like pieces strung together on a thread. Just like my grandmother kept her quilt pieces together, she mused. She arranged the photographs in various piles. A very few had names and dates written on the back, their fading ink barely legible. She wished that more of the photographs had been documented in some fashion.

journal_Charlotte M CopelandVictoria was elated to discover an old leather bound journal hidden at the bottom. The sporadic dates began in 1903 and ended with a few random entries from the early 40’s. Charlotte M. Copeland. Victoria began reading her tale, fascinated with this woman from the past. How can she – or her relatives – have just left these in the attic of the house they sold?

She started sifting through the photographs, trying to find Charlotte’s name written on any of them. She glanced up and was startled to see the darkness enveloping the square, with the golden halos from the street lights piercing the night time. Goodness. Where had the time gone? A glance down to her watch revealed that she’d technically been closed for over two hours.

And not even an extra customer, thankful that I was open later than usual. Which was too bad. The few customers she did have that day didn’t even begin to cover what she’d paid out to the handsome stranger.

After locking the front door and turning out lights, she grabbed her jacket and headed for the back door. I guess it doesn’t matter I was here late, she muttered to herself. It’s not like anyone’s waiting for me at home. Except the menagerie of dogs and cats that would be irate because their dinner was late.

Turning the corner near home, her headlights reflected ghostly giants sitting in what used to be a twenty acre field. Bulldozers, bobcats, and water trucks sat scattered around the new housing tract that was in the early stages of development. Water and sewer lines were in the midst of being laid, giving the skeleton appearance of where new streets would follow.

OGS_longhorn bluebonnetsA frown settled across her face. So much for enjoying the pasture at the end of my street. I used to love seeing the bluebonnets and paintbrush scattered across the vista and watching the longhorns laze around in the summer shade of the oaks, she thought.

Now it’s going to be just another cookie cutter field of houses. More cars. More traffic. The glow of the headlights illuminated the developer’s sign, posted next to the mandated zoning change sign. ‘TL Burdett Developers’.

The vision of writing out a check to Toby L. Burdett earlier that day surfaced in her memory.

It’s got to be him. No wonder he has no interest in sentimental items – he’s too busy destroying the community in the name of progress.

By the time she reached her front door, her mild irritation had grown into a full blown fury. I hope to goodness that man never crosses my path again.

Starting Over – #2

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

Today’s snippet is the start of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

Victoria moves to Oak Grove, a tiny town in north Texas, looking for a new beginning. From her quaint antique store on the town square, she encounters more drama than she ever expected. In the midst of getting to know her storekeeper neighbors and learning who she can and can’t trust, will she find the one thing she’s not looking for, true love? Stay tuned each week to find out.

This week’s prompt is: Sea.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tale site for more entertaining story snippets.

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The jingling bell above the front door caught Victoria’s attention, interrupting her task of sorting out silverware patterns. A blond god stood in the doorway, haloed by the golden sunshine behind him. His image banished all thoughts of spoons and forks. Well, not all thoughts. Visions of spooning and forking quickly filled her head, but they didn’t have anything to do with the piles of silverware scattered around on the table.

“Hello,” the vision inquired. “Do you work here?”

Victoria momentarily forgot that she was a store keeper and here was a live, walk-in visitor. Where was her customer service? “I’m the owner.” She advanced and held out her hand. “I’m Victoria. Is there anything in particular that you’re looking for today?”

When her extended hand was ignored, she dropped it to her side. Well! How rude. His golden image receded to a mere mortal, an ill-mannered one at that.

“I’m not looking to buy today. I’d like to sell some things. Are you buying?”

“It depends on what you’re offering.” Victoria tried to keep a clipped tone out of her voice. He was still a customer after all, even if he was brusque and obviously didn’t believe in the art of small talk.

Oak grove_old trunk“I have a box of old dishes and a trunk full of old things – mostly junk it looks like, but some old photos and letters, pieces of fabric, things like that.”

“I’d have to see the items to see if they’re anything I’d be interested in.”

“They’re in the car. I’ll go get them.” The visitor reached for the sunglasses perched on top of head and headed outside.

Victoria edged towards the front window, curious as to which vehicle he approached. He was unlocking a sapphire blue BMW Roaster parked directly in front of Serendipity. A soft sigh escaped her lips. The perfect car to showcase such a handsome man. Good thing I’m not in the market for any man or I’d be like a swooning teenager right now.

As he grabbed a dusty box from the trunk, his bulging forearms brought a flush of heat to Victoria’s face. She scurried back to the table filled with silverware, not wanting to be caught watching.

The tinkling bell gave her warning to compose herself.

“Here’s the dishes.” He sat the box on the floor next to Victoria’s well-worn sneakers.

She looked down at her feet. I would have had to dress for comfort this morning. I knew I should have dressed a little classier today. She kneeled down on the floor and folded the box edges back. “Oh! Franciscan Desert Rose! It’s a very …”

“I’ll go get the trunk.”

“ … popular pottery pattern, first produced in 1941,” she muttered to the retreating back. “Not that it looks like you care.”

When he carried the old steamer trunk in, Victoria didn’t even care that he’d left mid-sentence. Seeing the vintage trunk, excitement bubbled up inside, even if it was marred by a tacky piece of duct tape. He opened the lid, hinges creaking the whole way, and Victoria could hardly contain herself. “Ohhh,” she gasped. She carefully sifted through the sea of treasures within. There were lots of cut out quilt pieces, all vintage calico fabrics, easily dating to the Depression era and possibly earlier. A few skeins of yarn looked handspun and precious. But the tattered box filled with photographs and letters was her favorite find.

She carefully sifted through the old tin types. “Did these belong to one of your relatives?”

“Oh good Lord no. I wouldn’t have any of this old junk around. I found them in the attic of a house I bought. What would you give me for all of it?”

“It depends on how old the dishware is. Although it was first produced in 1941, Franciscan put out this pottery design until 1962 when they sold their plant. In 1984 Wedgewood bought the pattern and moved production to England. Then, Johnson Brothers bought it and ran a limited 60th anniversary line in 2001. Let me take a closer look at what you have.”

The silverware on the table was pushed to one side as piece after piece found their way on the table. Dinner plates, dessert plates, a serving platter, cups and saucers. “These are definitely older pieces, not reproductions. They’re all in very good condition. The butter dish has a few nicks at the base, but they’re not terrible.”

Victoria reached for the pencil and pad she’d been making notes on earlier. Flipping the page over, she started making a list. “Six dinner plates, eight dessert plates, eight saucers, seven cups …” She jotted numbers beside each item on the list and tallied up a total. “I can give you three hundred and fifty dollars for the dishes.”

“Only three hundred and fifty dollars? They’ve got to be worth more than that.” He walked over to some similar plates displayed in a white distressed hutch in the corner. He picked one up. “Look. This single plate here is fourteen dollars.”

“Yes it is.” Victoria bit her lip in an attempt to remain calm. “But if I sell it for fourteen dollars, I can’t pay you fourteen dollars for it. I have to make some money on it too. I have a landlord to pay, utilities to pay, insurance to pay. I’m sure that as a businessman you can understand that.”

A look of understanding passed across his face. “Of course. I didn’t stop to think about that. How about the trunk?”

oak grove_old trunk filledVictoria looked fondly at the leather carrier. “While this is personally my favorite, the items inside don’t bring much money. Pictures usually only go for a dollar, two tops. The fabric pieces, while fascinating, will probably only sell for maybe ten dollars at best. And the trunk itself is in pretty poor condition. I could go a hundred and fifty dollars for the trunk and everything inside.”

“That’s five hundred all together …” He paused, deep in thought.

Victoria noticed that when he was thinking so intently she liked the way his blue eyes softened with little crinkles on the sides. He wasn’t quite as foreboding or ultra in charge.

The transformation vanished and Mr. no-time-for-dallying-Businessman was back in place. “Deal. I’ll take five hundred for all of it.”

Victoria quickly made out a check, before he changed his mind. She wondered as she was writing it out – ‘Toby L. Burdett’ – why does that sound familiar?

Starting Over – #1

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

After completing Rosemary’s story last week, I was going to continue with the next ‘Posie’ in the group. But then … my flighty Gemini side kicked into high gear and urged me to try something new and outside of my comfort zone. Today’s snippet is the start of a new WIP, tentatively titled ‘Starting Over’.

Victoria moves to Oak Grove, a tiny town in north Texas, looking for a new beginning. From her quaint antique store on the town square, she encounters more drama than she ever expected. In the midst of getting to know her storekeeper neighbors and learning who she can and can’t trust, will she find the one thing she’s not looking for, true love? Stay tuned each week to find out.

This week’s prompt is: Ride.

Enjoy – and feel free to leave a comment. Click the link here to go back to the main Tuesday Tale site for more entertaining story snippets.

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STARTING OVER

To all outward appearances, Oak Grove was a small, bucolic Texan town. When she moved there, Victoria didn’t realize how much drama and deceit she’d encounter on the courtyard square.

oak grove_iris depression glassVictoria stood at the front window of Serendipity arranging a new display of Iris patterned Depression glass, one of her favorite designs. She stopped, holding the rare pitcher in hand, and gazed across the street to two fellow merchants standing near one another in an intense discussion. They probably didn’t think they were noticeable, hidden in the dappled shade of the oak trees lining the courthouse set in the middle of the square. They didn’t realize that the view from Victoria’s antique and collectible store had a front seat view of their secluded spot.

From Victoria’s position near her window it appeared that Hank, the owner of Hank’s BBQ Grill on the opposite side of the square, and Jacqueline, the owner of the trendy clothing store next door, were very close friends. The intimate gestures – the way they touched each other’s shoulders and the way they held their heads so close to one another as they spoke – caused Victoria to speculate. She wondered if Hank’s wife knew about this obvious interest in Jacqueline.

Now, she wondered if she’d made the right decision about running away to Oak Grove. But she couldn’t look back now. Every cent she owned had gone into this new business venture. She’d made all this effort to disappear and leave her old life behind, including the pilot and all of his lies. She had had to keep moving forward with her plan. Although, she had no intention to ever trust another man again.

She thought that a new start in a quiet, non-descript town was the perfect solution. She’d spent weeks driving through dusty little burgs set far off the main roads and highways. Every chance she got, she’d jump in the car for a ride through the countryside. She found towns she didn’t know existed. Some were mere blips on the scenery, while others spread out and occupied more space. A few had silly whimsical names, such as Rhome and Ponder. Others were a little larger, with the central part of town filling several blocks, such as Mineral Wells or Bowie.

Most towns showed some promise for a new start. Yet they all had something lacking. Not big enough. Too big. Too far away. No prospects for commerce. Only a farming community. Too close to the highway. Nothing available. Great space but too expensive. Too flat, too barren. No atmosphere.

Oak Grove_shady sidewalkAnd then she’d stumbled upon Oak Grove, nestled back in the country midway between Denton and Roanoke. It was close to Texas Motor Speedway, yet far enough away that the high traffic volumes shouldn’t impact the community. There was a small town square, with the common courthouse-in-the-middle configuration, encircled by small businesses on all four sides. Stands of post oaks and flowering crepe myrtles shaded the town, bringing relief from the intense Texas summertime heat.

The neighboring town to the east, Bluebonnet Hills, was filled with huge 6 and 7,000 square foot McMansions accented with driveways full of Expeditions, Lexus’ and Jaguars. The homes there screamed ‘I’m rich! Look at me!’ The few miles of meandering road between the two towns kept the ostentatious lifestyle out of arms reach, yet Bluebonnet Hills was close enough that its residents regularly showered their money like confetti upon the nearby communities.

The best part of the road trip on this particular day was the ‘For Sale’ sign hanging in the front window of Serendipity. All those years of haunting dusty bins at other antique and collectible stores could come in useful.

Within 30 days the papers were signed and the store including its lease and all the merchandise now belonged to Victoria.

A glimpse of Jacqueline striding across the street; her long dark tresses bouncing with each step, jolted Victoria back to the present. As Jacqueline passed by the front window, she jumped as she noticed Victoria standing there, a red flush spreading quickly up her neck and across her face.