Archive | December 2014

Thyme for Love #1

For Tuesday Tales, I’m starting out the New Year with a new story. Thyme for Love takes place in Oak Grove Square, the tiny Texas town where Victoria and Toby met, fell in love and lived happily ever after. This time Cupid has another unsuspecting target in mind. Join us to see what happens next …

Return to TUESDAY TALES for more great snippets. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘New Year’.


Thyme for Love

An Oak Grove Square romance

Heather sashayed to the front of the room and pivoted in a move any model would be proud of. “Welcome,” she called to the merchants, in her usual soft, breathless manner.

“I’m surprised she stopped fawning over Hank long enough to attend to business,” Victoria whispered to Marie and Sally, sitting on either side of her. Marie, from Three Tarts Bakery, and Sally, from Crafters Cottage, stifled giggles, especially after Heather turned and glared in the ladies direction.

The usual cast of business owners from Oak Grove Square filled the small conference room at City Hall. Since they’d formed their merchants association after the beginning of the New Year, they’d met regularly since and had a full slate of activities planned to generate interest in their tiny town.

Victoria owned Serendipity, an antiques and collectibles shop on the north side of the square. She was one of the newest business owners, recently moving from California to this small north Texas town. She’d doubted her decision at first, but after falling head over heels in love with Toby when he wandered into her shop one day to sell an old antique trunk filled with miscellaneous treasures, she knew that this move had been for the best.

OGS_walking shoesMarie and Three Tarts tempted the business owners and the entire town with baked goods and delicacies. The scents wafting from the bakery filled the town with yeasty, fragrant aromas. Victoria was not the only one summoned by the delightful whiffs. Many found that their breakfast was a fresh baked croissant, donut or cinnamon roll. To ward off the unwanted pounds, a few of the ladies started walking together before opening for the day.

Sally seemed to be the only one in town immune to the tempting treats at Three Tarts. She rarely indulged in the bakery goods, sweet or savory. But she did enjoy a nice brisk walk, so she began joining the others, usually munching on a fresh apple or pear while they walked.

“I don’t know how you have the will power,” Carmen, from Java Time, commented one morning while they were walking. “If I didn’t have to be at the coffee shop so early, I’d be eating my way through the morning at Marie’s bakery.”

“I’m just not that tempted by sweets,” Sally replied. “Oh, now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy a nice soft cookie for dessert every now and then.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet. Every now and then. Like never. Where I’m eating every time I turn around,” Marie said. She pinched a handful of flesh around her belly. “That’s why I have this. And you don’t.”

Sally sighed. “But I’d trade it all in to have a sweetie. Will power keeps me out of the bakery. But it still doesn’t do a thing for me between the sheets. Every time I see Victoria and Toby walking around town holding hands I just want to die. I’d love to have someone in my life like that.”

“You’ll find someone.” Victoria patted Sally’s shoulder. “When the time is right. Hey, I wasn’t even looking. I wasn’t going to get involved with anyone ever again. Until my Toby came waltzing into my life. Don’t look for him. That’s when he’ll turn up.”

“I haven’t been looking. I’ve been so busy getting Crafter’s Cottage off the ground and going that I haven’t had time to look. All my time and energy is spent on this darn business. Creating products, working with vendors in the different booths, and then all the paperwork that goes along with a store and twenty six vendors.”

With a shake of the head, Sally brought her attention back to the meeting and away from the conversation she’d had with her friends on their walk a few days earlier. Business … think about business, not the lack of a man in your life, she cautioned herself.

She brought her focus back to Heather droning on at the front. “So the Council decided that with all the other farmer’s markets in the immediate area, we wouldn’t have enough draw – either from the growers or the customers – so they nixed the idea of a weekly market. However, there was consensus that a one-time summer herb festival may be a viable event.”

OGS_herb festival“We just need to coordinate so that we’re not in competition with the others,” Carmen advised. “The lavender farm in Gainesville has an annual event in May. And I think May is when the botanic gardens herb festival is. So we’ll want to check on what dates they’re planning their events.”

Marie raised a hand. “We don’t want to do it too late though. By then we’re roasting here and it’s hard to get people to come out in the heat.”

“We’ll need someone to take the lead on this. They can coordinate the date and start looking for vendors. Any takers?”

Without thinking, Sally thrust her hand in the air. “I can. I’ll head up the committee for the herb festival.”

Her friend’s heads swiveled in her direction. “What?” they whispered in unison.

“Hey, when you don’t have a love life, there’s plenty of time for work,” Sally muttered back to them.

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Starting Over #16

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

Victoria and Toby, seemingly mismatched with her love of antiques and the past and his desire to not delve into the past, take a surprise drive to the house his grandparents lived in, before they were killed by a drunk driver.

This is the last segment of Starting Over. I need to wrap up the tale to submit to a publisher in the New Year. Tuesday Tales will be taking a brief two week Christmas break. We’ll be back on December 30th, and I’ll have a new story for you!

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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“The only happy moments of my childhood were spent in that farmhouse down there.”

Tears welled up in Victoria’s eyes. “That’s your grandmother’s house?”

TT_in car snowy dayA long pause of silence filled the car. A soft, “yes” was finally uttered in response. “They were my only rock of stability. My flaky mom couldn’t keep her life together, so Grandpa and Grandma did what they could. Until they died. Then my world was back to sleeping in cars and always being on the move.”

“Why didn’t you and your mom move into the house after they died?”

“They didn’t trust my mom anymore. Everything they ever gave her she always sold. When someone with a habit doesn’t want to get well, they never will. Any gifts or help they tried to give her were always just a means for another drinking spree. Another weekend – or month – of partying. So their will stipulated that the house be sold and the money put into a trust for me. Something my mom couldn’t touch.”

“That’s too bad.” Victoria reached out and covered his hand with hers. “I’m so sorry. Do you come back to look at the house often?”

A genuine laugh erupted from the driver. “Ahhh … no! This is the first I’ve been back in years. But, you’re so curious about the grandmotherly influence of my past, I thought you’d like to see it.” A somber look settled in and replaced the laughter. “The money did pay for my college though. I suppose I should be grateful for that. At least the money went to a purpose they would have approved of.”

The two sat in silence; Toby deep in thought and Victoria unsure of what words to use in a moment like this. When Toby burst into laughter again, she looked back at her escort, a little confused about the flip-flopping moods. A smile had reappeared on the handsome bronze face.

TT_elvis“My Grandma liked to cook and bake. I told you about her biscuits.” She nodded her head in agreement. “She also liked her music. The radio or a record was almost always playing. Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Barry White – but mostly ‘The King’. She knew the words to every Elvis song there was. Sometimes she’d grab me up and we’d dance around the kitchen like we were the only two people in the world.”

A tenderness filled Victoria’s heart, thinking of the little boy dancing around the kitchen with his beloved grandmother. Maybe she’d been too hasty in judging him as cold and uncaring. People often have odd ways of dealing with pain and unpleasantness in their lives. She wasn’t immune to that. She tended to run away. He apparently built walls around his heart.

 

Starting Over #15

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. This week we’re writing to a winter wonderland picture prompt. Only 300 words! Reading will go quick.

Victoria and Toby, seemingly mismatched with her love of antiques and the past and his desire to not delve into the past, are having a drink together when he proposed a drive the next day. Where to? He won’t share.

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_Dec 2014 picture promptToby sat his drink down and laid a hand on Victoria’s knee. Sparks pulsed from his touch as if she’d been electrocuted. “Are you open on Sundays?”

It took a moment for his words to register through the heat suffusing her body. “Uh … no … not anymore … not busy …” Words stammered out. She felt like a fool, unable to utter a coherent sentence.

“Take a drive with me tomorrow?”

“Uh … yeah …” That wasn’t where she expected the conversation to go. “Where?”

“Let me surprise you.” A hint of suspicion crossed her face. “Trust me,” he added. “I think you’ll like it. You and your soul from the past.”

Once they’d finalized plans for a drive the following day, the rest of the evening wrapped up as two old friends with no lingering touches or sparking fingertips. To Victoria’s relief – and slight dismay – he delivered her to her doorstep as a perfect gentleman, gave her a quick peck on the top of her head and shooed her inside to stay warm.

There wasn’t much debate about what to wear or not wear. ‘Dress warm’ were his parting words, so the heavy boots, muffler, fuzzy angora hat and ski gloves were the chosen apparel. On this snowy day, no wondering how much cleavage to show or not show.

The car headed north on 35 until it veered to the west and kept going. And going. Even as the ground got whiter, he kept on. “No clues where we’re going?” Victoria queried.

“Outside Jacksboro. Just past Fort Richardson.”

“What’s out there?”

“You’ll see.”

She surreptitiously peeked at his face for clues. It was sometimes somber, sometimes a half grin appeared.

The car purred as he pulled over and stopped, overlooking an old white farmhouse in the distance.

Starting Over #14

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES. We’re returning to romance in ‘Starting Over’. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘raid’.

Victoria and Toby, seemingly mismatched with her love of antiques and the past and his desire to not delve into the past, are having a drink together. She’s anxious to see if he’ll keep his part of the bargain and share about his grandmother.

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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CNJ_police raidVictoria waited patiently and quietly, her hands clasped around her drink.

Composing himself, Toby continued. “A drunk driver ended their life. Coming home from the Stockyards one night. They’d driven to Fort Worth to celebrate their anniversary. Coming home, a truck, driven by a drunken backwoods low life, ran the red light and plowed into their Oldsmobile.” He took a deep breath and continued speaking, before his courage fled. “I was just a young boy, but my world was shattered. They were the only bright spot in the treacherous minefield of my childhood. And they were taken from me.”

“I’m sorry,” Victoria murmured. “My heart aches for the young boy you were. That must have been devastating.”

“It was. I survived. Life goes on.” He spoke brusquely, as if it didn’t matter.

“So that’s why you wear the hard shell around you, to protect you from more sorrow?”

He looked up, gazing into her eyes deeply and intently, for just a moment with no guard, no shield. “No one’s ever taken the time to try to see what’s inside that I don’t show the world. Why? What does it matter, this old stuff from the past?”

“Because that’s the part that really matters – the parts hidden inside. That’s the real you, not the façade you paste in front of you as a show. I don’t care about the masks. I want to know the real person inside.

Toby laughed, to break the seriousness of the moment. It was getting a little too touchy-feely for him. “And here I thought you were just interested in my sexy ride and my money.”

A flash of irritation surfaced, until Victoria realized that he was purposefully joking, to break where the conversation was headed. For someone with that much pain hidden deep in his soul that he hadn’t dealt with, he’d be uncomfortable and it was best to touch on memories like this in small doses.

She held up her glass as if to toast and laughed. “No, it’s not your baby blues, your Beamer or your money. It’s the old papers, lace and trunks you keep running across. It’s your antiques, baby, that’s what I lust after.”

They relaxed into an easy banter after this. Toby was glad that they’d crossed the flashback in time to his childhood and were back in the present. Victoria was pleased that they’d broached a difficult topic that revealed the source of his coldness and lack of sentiment. It wasn’t that he was lacking in emotion. It was simply buried beneath years of a calloused exterior. She looked around the room. “There’s a lot of history here.”

“I knew you’d like it. You and your soul from the past. You’d be amazed at Denton’s past. I remember a story I heard one night when I was hanging out at the pizza place on the north side of the square.”

“You were hanging out a pizza joint? That doesn’t seem to be your M.O.”

“Well, I was younger then.” He riffled a hand through his hair, causing a disturbingly surge of warmth to flood through Victoria’s body. “Back in my college days.”

“You went to college here?”

“Yep. Compliments of my grandparents. They’d set up a trust fund for me, which was enough to put me through school if I was careful.” He glanced up towards the ceiling, as if expecting to see their spirits floating in the room watching him. “With a part time job with a local contractor, I made it through. Leaving me enough money for a beer now and then. My buddies and I were downstairs, having a brewskie one night, when an old-timer joined us. He was in his cups that evening, so we weren’t quite sure what was fact and what was fiction. He was telling us about the tunnels that ran under the town, from the courthouse to different buildings in the square. There were hidden rooms and deeper tunnels where they stored the alcohol back in Prohibition days. Supposedly he was a young boy in town when there was a raid on the establishment. ‘Coppers everywhere’ he said. Of course, we didn’t know if it was truth, or if it was the gin talking.”