Archive | October 2014

Starting Over #13

Fiction, Make believe. All made up.

And then, real life enters our fiction. Such as the courthouse square in Denton, the drumming on Saturday nights, Paschall’s … and Shelly and her awesome Ghosts of Denton tour. That’s all real. The rest of it … we return you to your regularly schedule fictional story.

Welcome to Tuesday Tales, where this week we’re writing to the prompt ‘ghostly’. Return to Tuesday Tales to check out the other great stories with – ghostly – leanings.

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CNJ_Denton at nightToby turned the Roadster into an empty space in front of Jupiter House. “Here we go, a spot just waiting for us.”

“Perfect,” Victoria agreed. “Even with the winter cold, Denton is still full. I’ve been up here in the summer where I’ve had to circle the block three or four times to get a parking space. I wish Oak Grove Square was as busy as Denton is.”

“That’s the beauty of a college town. Not that hanging with the younger crowd is my idea of a fun night. I passed that phase long ago.”

Victoria glanced across the confined space, assessing the driver’s clean cut profile. “Hmmm, somehow I don’t see you as ever being a party-animal.”

Toby laughed in agreement. “No, probably not. I think I went straight from college to creating my company. All my hours went into building my business.”

“Then you’ve probably never been to a drumming up here.”

“Drumming?” He sounded incredulous. “No. I can’t say as I have. Drumming with what? Like drum majors and parades and such?”

“No. Hand held drums. More ethnic. They meet on the south side of the courthouse on Saturday nights. People bring drums, shakers, tambourines, and all sorts of instruments. And many bring extras, to share with visitors. Sometimes people start dancing. Under the trees all lit up with their lights and the rhythmic beat of the drums … it creates an energy that’s soothing and peaceful, yet energizing at the same time. I don’t think I’ve been up here though since I opened Serendipity.”

“Businesses do that to you. They take a lot of time and energy.” Toby headed towards a plain brown door next to Andy’s Bar and held it open.

Victoria scanned the place, tipping her head up and back and forth. “What’s in here?”

“Paschall’s.”

“There’s no sign.”

“No. Trust me. It’s here though.” He ushered her inside and walked up a man standing behind a nondescript desk. “He’ll need your ID to register you if you haven’t been here before.”

That taken care of, they headed upstairs and into a room that amazed Victoria. Her head swiveled in every direction, trying to take it all in. “I feel like I stepped into someone’s private library. Book cases, couches and seating to lounge on, board games, eclectic art pieces … is there anything that isn’t here?”

“Nope. Not that I can think of. There’s even dart boards. And the most amazing drinks you’ve ever tasted.”

She wandered over to the large windows overlooking the courthouse square. “It’s beautiful. The trees shrouded with lights is even more beautiful from up here.”

Toby moved up beside here to join her gaze across the vibrant square. His closeness jarred Victoria out of her reflective interlude. The fluttering tingle in the pit of her stomach spread out to the tips of her toes and brought a flush to her face. A rush of nervousness made her wonder why she’d come for a drink.

CNJ_ShellyGlancing down on the courthouse lawn she spied a small group of people congregating. “What’s going on down there?” Anything to distract him.

He leaned in closer to the window and looked down. “Oh, that’s Shelly. She has a ghost tour every weekend.”

“Oh really? I haven’t heard of that.”

“It’s the ‘Ghosts of Denton’ tour. I got dragged to it one Halloween. Not my choice, of course. But it was actually quite good. She’s a phenomenal story teller. She certainly knows this town and all of the ghostly tales and legends that go with it.”

The waitress gently interrupted them for their drink orders.

“I’ll have an Alamo,” he told the server. Turning to Victoria, he reported, “It’s delicious, citrusy and sweet, with a hint of a smoky flavor.”

“I’ll have one too.”

“Shall we sit?” He headed towards a huge, lush circular seating area in the corner, a chessboard gracing the low table in front.

As they settled down, drinks in hand, conversation lulled. She turned towards him. “You’ve got to pay up now.”

“Pay up?”

“Yes. Remember. That was my condition. I’d come for a drink but I want to hear about your grandmother.”

His jaw clenched slightly. “Why are you so concerned with my grandmother?”

“Because of all the things in my shop, you wanted an old Pyrex bowl that reminded you of your grandmother. And when you spoke of the biscuits she made in a bowl like that, your face softened and glowed. You became someone else. I’d like to get to know that person. And I think your grandmother and her memories is the key to this softer, gentler man.”

A long pause spread its tentacles through the space wrapping around the two inhabitants cozied in the corner. She waited. She was nothing if not patient. His chest heaved in a large sigh. A twitch by his eye finally slowed down and his features smoothed out. “I told you before that I don’t look to the past. I don’t have good memories of my childhood.”

“Yes. I remember,” she said softly and soothingly.

“The summer I spent with my grandparents is the only happy time I had. My mother and I lived in a car for more years than I ever remember being in a home. And even then, it was barely a hovel with new boyfriends in and out of our existence.”

He tipped his glass and downed half his drink in one swallow. “Do you have any idea what it’s like to sleep in a car every night? To have to use the restroom outside behind a bush? To have to go to the nearest Walmart and use their facilities to clean up? To only have one pair of pants and only a few shirts, that were usually filthy and stunk because we rarely had a place to do laundry?”

“No. We weren’t rich growing up, but we always had everything we needed. I have to admit I wouldn’t even know what it was like.”

“I swore I’d never be there again. I wasn’t making the same choices my mother made. I would have money, a good home and a secure life. And did I say money? Lots of it?”

“Why did you only live one summer with your grandparents? Couldn’t your mom have let them raise you? It sounds like they had a good home and would have taken good care of you.”

“Because …” His voice broke and his eyes moistened. “Because …” He couldn’t continue.

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Starting Over #12

Tuesday TalesWelcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt.

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

The story of Victoria and her antique shop in Oak Grove Square continues. Earlier in the tale, Victoria purchased a trunk full of old items from a handsome, but seemingly cold and uncaring, man. He enters Victoria’s life again, coming with an odd and surprising gift, a packet of old love letters. His appearance in her life leaves her full of conflicting emotions.

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.

TT_martini glasses

The look on her face showed that she was just as surprised as he was.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” she murmured. “You think we could make it through a meal without wanting to strangle each other?”

“Hey, at least we admit to our differences,” he laughed. “All right, how about a drink instead of a meal? Then, you wouldn’t have time to lecture me about what I’m doing to the pristine Texas landscape and I wouldn’t have enough time to chastise you for seeing the world through your rose colored glasses.”

Handing him his wrapped package, Victoria threw up her hands in mock surrender. “Oh, what the hell. If we end the evening at each other’s throats, it’s not like it’s anything new.”

Toby cocked his head as if appraising the antique store lady who was far from an antique. “If you want to stay close to home, we could run across to Hank’s BBQ for a beer.”

The wrinkled nose he got in response clued him in. “Alrighty then, not a beer drinker I see.”

“No, that’s one thing I never acquired a taste for. That, and all the jalapenos that you Texan’s are so fond of.”

“I know the perfect place then. Paschall’s. Up in Denton. They make a chocolate martini to die for. I think you’d love it.”

“Yum. That sounds divine. Only on one condition though.”

A puzzled look crossed Toby’s face. “I didn’t take you for a negotiator. What condition would that be?”

“Your grandmother. I want to hear more about your grandmother.”

A frown appeared, replacing his look of puzzlement. “Not that. Anything but that.”

“No. That’s the deal. Your grandmother or it’s all off.”

Starting Over #11

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘letter.

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

The story of Victoria and her antique shop in Oak Grove Square continues. Earlier in the tale, Victoria purchased a trunk full of old items from a handsome, but seemingly cold and uncaring, man. He enters Victoria’s life again, coming with an odd and surprising gift, a packet of old love letters. His appearance in her life leaves her full of conflicting emotions.

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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A groan escaped her lips when she saw the man entering the shop. A little eye candy now and then was one thing. But today, she wasn’t in the mood to deal with Mr. Non-Sentimental.

“What? No pastures to tear down today?” she queried.

An amused expression crossed his face. Sapphire eyes studied her across the room and a smile played around the corners of his mouth, as if he were fighting this simple human expression.

“I come in peace,” he bantered. “Alas, I’m not bearing any gifts today.”

The reminder of his last visit and his unexpected offering made Victoria feel ungrateful and ashamed of her almost rude behavior. “I’m sorry. That remark was unwarranted. Especially after your delightful gesture. I’ve enjoyed reading the letters Charlotte and Edward wrote to each other.”

“I thought you would appreciate them. After seeing the way your face lit up as you went through the items in the old trunk, I knew they belonged here with you.” He grinned and his eyes lit up with a surprising twinkle.

Victoria felt a surge of warmth rush through her body, starting in the middle of her stomach and ending with a red, flushed face. “Um … um …” she stammered, unable to voice a coherent thought.

“There’s something in here I couldn’t get out of my mind. I was hoping you still had it.”

“In here? Funny, I can’t picture anything in here appealing to you.”

Toby’s laugh filled the room and made Victoria’s heart race even faster. “No, you wouldn’t think so, would you? But I saw one item the other day that reminded me of a happy moment.”

Victoria peered closely, examining his face for clues. “So, there was some happiness in your past. It wasn’t all bad.”

“One summer …” his face clouded with a frown, then cleared again. “Mostly it was bad. I told myself I’d never go back to where I came from. That’s why I don’t look back. At all. And I certainly don’t relish remembrances of the past like you do. But, one summer was special.”

OGS_pyrex bowlsHe headed towards the corner where the Fiestaware and other pottery were displayed. “Ah good, it’s still here.” He reached for a large yellow Pyrex bowl sitting on the table full of old potato mashers, green handled peelers, and other vintage kitchen utensils. Tipping the bowl he dumped the contents onto the table and headed towards Victoria carrying the object of his search.

“This reminds me of my grandmother. I saw it the other day and a picture flashed through my head of watching her mix biscuits in a bowl like this. She made the best biscuits and she’d serve them hot from the oven with fresh butter and honey.” He paused and looked at the bowl as if it held secrets he’d long forgotten. “I was happy that summer.”

Victoria waited. The temptation to come back with a smart remark about this not looking like his typical household wares was strong, but she held it in. She didn’t want to interrupt his reverie. It seemed that he didn’t travel down memory lane too often, especially with happy scenes like this.

A shake of his head seemed to jolt him back to the present. “I’ll take this,” he said, handing her the bowl.

Victoria took the bowl and turned toward the counter with the register and supplies. She wrapped the bowl securely in a layer of bubble wrap, nestled it in a large paper sack with her logo plastered across the front, and tied the handles with a red gingham strip.

“How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing. This one’s on the house.”

“No. I can’t do that. You have a business to run here.”

“That’s true. But sometimes the heart is more important than money.”

“That’s where we disagree,” he countered.

Victoria laughed. “Oh, I think we disagree on more than this. But I insist. I feel it in here,” she patted her chest. “You need this in your life right now. I can’t take money for that.”

“Then let me take you to dinner.” The invitation slipped out unplanned.

Starting Over #10

Tuesday Tales

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘’short’.

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

The story of Victoria and her antique shop in Oak Grove Square continues. Earlier in the tale, Victoria purchased a trunk full of old items from a handsome, but seemingly cold and uncaring, man. He enters Victoria’s life again, coming with an odd and surprising gift, a packet of old love letters. His appearance in her life leaves her full of conflicting emotions.

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_public meetingHeather sashayed to center stage, touching shoulders all the way. “Nice to see you, Hank,” she gushed.

Soft breathless syllables fell from her lips. “Denny, glad you could make it. How do those fast little cars of yours do on the icy roads? It must be so fascinating working with all your … toys.”

“Samuel, how nice for Irene that you could stand in for her. Pageturner’s must be busy today. It’s such a wonderful bookstore.”

“I’ll be talking to you later, Steve. I have a problem that those great, big, drummer arms may be able to help me with.”

“Randall!” More gushing and simpering. “Now, you know you’re not a merchant on the square. But …” stroking the arm of his jacket, “… I guess since you own half the buildings on the square you’re welcome to join us.”

“Does she know there’s any women in the room?” Marie whispered.

Victoria’s laugh burst out, catching curious looks from those around her.

As Heather strutted back and forth across the room during her presentation, shoulders back, breasts proudly displayed, Victoria placed a hand over her mouth and leaned closer to Marie. “I guess this is the perfect job for her. She certainly enjoys being the center of attention.”

The men watched every move raptly, eyes glued to City Hall’s spokesperson. They may not have listened, but they didn’t miss a move or a step. The women in the group listened. But only because a merchants association and monthly events would be good for the town and every business on the square.

Possible events were bantered back and forth. Everyone liked a few of the ideas. Some ideas were split pretty evenly between the fans and the dissenters. And others, well, some ideas were ludicrous right from the first utterance. But a good give and take left the new merchant’s group with a nice starting plan in place.

A unanimous decision made Marie the lead for February’s kick off event – ‘Love is in the Square’. The Valentine’s weekend themed event was sure to draw a crowd to the small town.

“Lucky you,” Victoria laughed under her breath. “Glad I’m not the one with the bakery.”

Attendees chattered back and forth, excited about the events planned for the new year ahead. Heather stood, surveying her lost audience and clapped her hands together, cutting the chatter short. “Before we break up, there’s one more piece of business we need to discuss.”

The room quieted down, not sure what else there was to talk about.

“There’s been a filing with the zoning division.” Puzzled glances were exchanged with one another. That was city business. What did this have to do with a group of business owners? Heather continued her explanation. “It’s for the empty lot on the corner by Bertie’s quilt shop. Someone’s filed for approval to build apartments there.”

“Apartments?”

“Not in the middle of the square!”

“No way!”

“Oak Grove Square is no place for apartments!”

The group was incensed.

OGS_zoning noticeHeather’s hand waving in the air got their attention. “Now, you know since I’m a city employee, I can’t take a stand on this. The city itself can’t take a position. All they can do is file the paperwork, uphold certain standards and present the case to the zoning board.” She began pacing, seeming a little more agitated than her usual, calm self. “As merchants, business owners, and property owners in Oak Grove Square, you are entitled to a say in the matter. Y’all will receive a letter with the notification about the hearing. But, I wanted to give you a heads up about this so you can do any leg work you can prior to the official meeting.”

The meeting adjourned with a flurry of protests and animated discussion. Others, with no employees to open and service the businesses they owned, hurried off to unlock door and cross their fingers that they’d have business today.

On the way out the door Marie ran her idea past Victoria.

“No, Marie, no blind dates for me. I have no intention of getting involved with any man again.”

“But my cousin is handsome and charming. He’s a successful businessman. It’s not like he’s a slouch or a bum.”

“No. Sorry, Marie. It’s one of those ‘been there – done that’ things. I’m flying solo from now on.”