Archive | October 2015

Starting Over – Tuesday Tales: gold

Tuesday TalesIn Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.

Toby and Victoria have had a disagreement about his latest development project. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘gold’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.

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She busied herself with turning the ‘Open’ sign to ‘Closed’ and replied without turning around. “I don’t think we have anything to discuss.”

“C’mon, Victoria, cut me some slack. I come bearing an olive branch.”

“What? You’ll tear down the rest of the square too? Make it all modern and high-rise to match?”

A grim faced stare met her as she turned to face him. He hesitated before replying. “You really don’t give me much credit, do you?”

“Credit?” She laughed, but the edge on the laughter was raspy and ragged. “Oh…I give you credit all right. Credit that you want to tear down pieces of the past, fragments of our history…and cover it all up. Asphalt and concrete. Build it out. Build it up. Build. Build. Build.” The words flew out in a rush and then came to a halt as her face softened.

A look of sadness filled her eyes, replacing the previous angry flashes. “I’m sorry, Toby. I’m sorry that you feel the need to bury your past and your hurts in a flurry of development. But paving over the disappointments in life isn’t the way everyone wants to go. Everyone has issues from the past they’d like to leave behind…but most of us still relish the memories and the era of a time from before. That’s why this little town is so successful. People love coming here to step back into a small piece of the past, if only for a brief time before returning to the hustle and bustle of the modern world.”

She stepped closer, looking in straight in the eye without wavering. The softness of her words tempered the intense look. “Don’t you see what your modern facility, as needed as it may be, would do to Oak Grove Square?”

“You love this town, don’t you?”

“With every fiber of my being. I was running away too. I have memories that aren’t pleasant either. That’s why I chose to start over. Here. This town saved me. My heart belongs here and I will protect this square with all that I have.”

“Then, please…” he pleaded. “Please give me a chance. I worked hard this week on an alternative plan. There’s no more three story complex. Won’t you come see what it is before you make any final judgements?”

Victoria tipped her head back and searched his face for any trace of deceit. Not feeling any sense of deception in him, she nodded. “Alright, I’ll look. Where?” She pointed towards his empty hands. “You say you brought an olive branch, but I don’t see it.”

“At my office. Come with me now?” A slight grin threatened to sneak out. “Before you change your mind?”

This time Victoria’s soft laughter held more joy than scorn. “Maybe you do know me better than I thought.” She shook her head and pulled her hair back behind her ears. “Let me lock up. Shall I follow you there?”

“I can drive. Then I’ll bring you back so you can get your car.”

“What if I don’t like what I see and I want to walk out?”

“That’s why I want to drive. Then I have you captive and we have to talk it out.”

“You don’t fight fair,” she muttered as she ducked behind the counter to grab her purse.

A few minutes later the lights were out, the front door locked securely and the two headed towards Toby’s beamer in a truce. At least for the time being.

The atmosphere on the drive to his office wasn’t as tense as when she’d left his car the week before, but it wasn’t as warm and pleasant as some of their earlier times together either. An uneasy anticipation filled each of them, although for different reasons.

CNJ_modern officeVictoria felt like she was entering the lion’s den as they stepped into the development office. She wasn’t surprised at the clean, austere look of the front office. Two black leather sofas sat on either side of a low steel and glass table. The walls of cool gray linen wrapped the room, including the ultra-modern receptionist desk.

“Oh my God, I should have known,” she laughed. “What? No frills? No doilies or knick knacks? No golden trinkets?”

“Nope. Not a one. They’re all down in your little shop. You didn’t leave any frippery for the rest of us.” His chuckle let her know that he didn’t really mind her assessment. He motioned towards the first room in the short hallway. When he flipped on the light, it revealed a conference room as severe as the rest of the office, except for the rolls and piles of paper scattered across the surface of the gleaming glass monstrosity functioning as a table.

Victoria strode to the side, anxious to scan the blueprints in front of her and see what Toby’s mysterious Plan B was.

“Those are the bungalow plans. Those won’t tell you much yet.” Toby moved next to her grabbed a set of prints from a tube and started to unroll them. “You’ll want to see these first. This is the overall plan for the space.” He dropped few weighted bags on the corners to hold the plans flat and started pointing. “This is the empty lot on the corner. Here’s Main and here’s First.”

“That doesn’t show a big building there.”

“Nope. Not anymore. Told you I changed the idea.”

“What are those little squares?” She tapped a finger on the plans.

“Bungalows. Small independent residential buildings. See how they’re all set along this path?”

“It looks like it meanders all over the place.” Victoria looked puzzled, while Toby looked pleased.

“It does. It’s a walking path that wanders through the complex. This area along the two streets is a park area, which can be shared by the residents and the community. The bungalows in this area closest to the town are for those more independent…the ones that don’t need as much care.”

He pointed to the far side of the plans where a larger building occupied the space. “This week I put on option on the five acres behind the corner lot. If I get that property, that’s where the larger facility will go.” He held up a hand to ward off any protest. “Single story only. With the park environment continuing and encircling all the buildings.”

“All the buildings?”

“Yes. Three. But spread out. One will house residents in private rooms needing minimum care and interaction. One will be for those needing more intensive medical care and supervision. The third will have community rooms for programs and crafts, a kitchen and dining hall for meals, and a physical therapy room.” Now he looked very proud of himself. “It has everything the other facility had, just spread out and put together in a different way.”

CNJ_Senior housing“It will be like living in a park for them.”

“More like the woods. I plan to keep the trees and plantings fairly heavy, so they feel like they’re more in nature.”

“While from the downtown, all the merchants and visitors will see is a large park.” Victoria turned to Toby with a look of amazement. This she’d never expected. “Well…” Words failed her as an intense happiness welled up inside her. A lump filled her throat. She couldn’t speak even if she’d had anything to say.

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Starting Over – Tuesday Tales ‘corn’

Tuesday TalesIn Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.

Toby and Victoria have had a disagreement about his latest development project. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘corn’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.

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A chilliness filled the car on the rest of the drive back. Each one thought they were right. Neither one wanted to admit that the other’s opinion had any merit.

Victoria’s brain frantically whirled away, composing a list of the steps she’d take during the week, who she’d talk to, and what calls she wanted to make. She vowed to contact Heather at City Hall first thing in the morning. She was so busy formulating her plan of attack she almost didn’t realize that they’d pulled up in her driveway until Toby spoke.

“Victoria, please talk to me.”

“About what? You’re doing to do what you want to anyway. Build away…tear it down…destroy whatever atmosphere there is. You won’t listen to me. So why should I speak?”

“There’s a valid need for senior accommodations in the area.”

“I won’t argue that one. But at what cost?”

“Don’t the benefits outweigh the costs?”

Oak Grove_shady sidewalk“Not at the cost of Oak Grove Square’s ambiance. That’s exactly the reason people come to our town to shop. A towering three story building on the corner dwarfing the historic town will destroy what we have there.” The taut lines around her mouth were an indication that she wasn’t going to budge on her opinion.

Toby pleaded his case. “I know you love the past. But don’t you believe in progress at all?”

“Progress, yes. Decimation of heritage, no.”

He laughed derisively. “So what…you’d be happy if only corn fields surrounded Oak Grove Square?”

“No, it’s hardly that.” She opened the door and stuck a leg out before turning back with one last shot. “You are so busy running from a past you don’t want to remember that you’ve forgotten there’s some of us who do relish the pieces of our past and our history.”

Sadness filled her soul as she entered the house, not only for the possibility of an unwanted change to the bucolic town she loved, but also for the sense that the small flame that had started to flicker between the two of them was extinguished before it had the chance to flame into something more significant.

The next morning she stood at the doors of City Hall, waiting for them to open. A quick meeting with Heather confirmed that an application needed to be filed and approved before a project of that magnitude could be started.

“Being a merchant, you’ll be notified of any public hearings. You can speak in front of the commission to voice your arguments,” Heather reassured her.

Victoria couldn’t wait to walk around the square with her friends. She ranted the whole way about the development and the others became just as riled as she was, especially Sally, from Crafter’s Cottage.

In between customers that week, Victoria spent her time on the phone, researching and calling people to rally her allies. Toby tried calling her several times. When she saw his name appear on the screen, she laid the phone back down on the counter without answering.

He didn’t try Friday or Saturday and she thought he’d given up.

Saturday was so busy with customers that she didn’t have a moment to give the matter any thought. It seemed that as soon as one customer left Serendipity, another wandered in. The cash register sang a merry tune that day and Victoria hummed to herself, knowing that she’d be able to pay her rent easily this month.

The rush slowed to a trickle by late afternoon and by five thirty the flow had stopped. Victoria heaved a sigh of relief and scurried about, straightening merchandise and refilling displays. About ten minutes before the hour she turned to go lock up, just as Toby entered the shop.

“You won’t answer my calls.”

“No. I didn’t.”

“We need to talk.”

You need to talk. Are you trying to assuage your conscious? Trying to sway me to see things your way?”

“We need senior housing in this area. Don’t you think I’ve done the research? Do you think I’d build something just for the sake of building it?”

“No, I don’t,” she agreed. “You’re a smart businessman. I’ve seen that. And while I agree about the need for amenities for seniors, I think your idea of a three story complex is not taking the local environment into account.” She spoke slowly, forcing herself to remain calm. She looked away, knowing if she continued gazing at that face, she might feel herself weaken.

“Victoria,” he said softly. “Please look at me.”

She turned, eyes flashing. “It’s time to lock up now.”

“I know. That’s why I came now. I have an idea I’d like to run past you.”

Starting Over – TT ‘box’

Tuesday Tales

In Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.

Toby and Victoria are out in the country having lunch, after they stopped at the side of the road to see Toby’s grandparent’s old farmhouse. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘box’. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.

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“You are? What are you working on there?”

“Um…it’s a new project.” He kept his head lowered as he toyed with the vegetable chunks in his meat pie. “In the…um…well…”

Victoria laid her fork down on her plate and looked at him intently. His hem hawing behavior had her senses on high alert. “What kind of new project?”

“It’s…um…it’s a senior housing project.”

Relief washed over her, easing the dread that had started to tighten in her gut as she waited for what she thought was bad news. “That’s a great idea. I’m always behind something that will benefit seniors.” Her mind frantically ran through a mental check of the town, trying to figure out where such a facility could be built. “Where’s it going to be located?”

“mmmm…in the…square…”

“In the square?” She wasn’t sure she’d heard his mumble correctly. “Where in the square? There isn’t any place that would handle…” Her jaw dropped as the only possible spot dawned on her. “You can’t mean the empty corner?”

“Well…yes.” He still couldn’t look up and look her in the eye.

“That corner’s not big enough for a very large facility. It won’t house very many, will it?”

“Preliminary plans are for close to fifty units.”

“Fifty? How on earth are you going to fit that many units onto that small corner lot?” The once steamy delicacy in front of her grew cold as it lay forgotten in her unanticipated distress.

OGS_Boxy developmentToby cleared his throat before attempting to answer. “Well…it’s going to be…um…three stories…”

Three stories?”

Heads turned towards them in response to her raised voice.

“That’s totally inappropriate for our rural town atmosphere. I can’t believe you’re even harboring the possibility of that kind of development for the town square!”

“It’s not that bad. Think of the senior’s it would help.”

Not that bad? A towering three story box on the corner? It would destroy the whole ambiance of the town.” She threw her napkin down on the table and started to stand. “Please take me home.”

“Victoria…”

“Now!”

She grabbed her purse and headed towards the door without looking back to see if she were followed. Toby raised his arm in the air and signaled to their server for the check.

She was pacing back and forth in front of his car when he made his way outside. He unlocked her door and she climbed in without a word.

He tried talking on the way back. Her clenched jaw and silence was his only answer. “Victoria…please…” he pleaded. The miles passed in a frigid silence.

She finally turned her head slowly, her eyes shooting daggers in his direction. The words dripped from her lips like sluggish molasses falling into the chilliness between them. “I can’t believe you are even entertaining this type of project smack dab in the middle of the square.”

“Think of the older folks though. It’s close to shopping. The walk to the coffee shop, the restaurants, or the small market would be doable for them. Even in inclement weather. They wouldn’t need to drive to go shopping…or wait for a friend or relative to pick them up and take them.”

“I realize that. When you only state those benefits, I could totally get behind something like this.” She looked directly at him and enunciated her next words very clearly. “But a three story structure? Really? Oak Grove Square is a destination place for many visitors exactly because of the small town atmosphere we have. They come to take a step back in time, not to feel like they’re in the middle of a modern, developed city.”

Toby didn’t know how to answer without fueling her fury.

The sports car slowed to a stop in Victoria’s driveway. Putting her hand on the door handle, she turned with another question. “So, I’m just curious. Are you acting as the developer for someone else, or is this your project?”

He gulped before answering with barely audible words. “It’s…it’s my project.”

“It’s your project…” she repeated slowly. Her forehead creased as she ran through possible options. Something clicked and her face brightened. “This hasn’t gone through the public process yet, has it?”

“No, the plans are still in process. I haven’t submitted an application for approval yet.”

OGS_protestingA smile broke across her face and for Toby it was if the sun broke through a cloudy sky. Until he heard the clipped words she uttered next.

“Great! Just know that I will fight you every step of the way. I will speak to every business owner and resident of Oak Grove. I will fight. I will protest. I will be your biggest nightmare to make sure that this doesn’t happen.”

Starting Over – TT Picture prompt

Tuesday TalesSince A Second Chance is deep in edits, this week I’m returning to an incomplete story from last year. In Starting Over, Victoria met Toby in the antique store she owns in Oak Grove Square. The man is a frustrating mix of coldhearted developer, sweet and charming hunk, and a broken-hearted little boy still mourning his grandparents.

We left off in this tale with Toby and Victoria out in the country, where they sat at the side of the snowy road looking down at his grandparent’s old farmhouse. This week we’re writing to a picture prompt, so the reading is quick – only 300 words. Return to Tuesday Tales here, to read more snippets from the talented Tuesday Tales bunch.

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TT_October 2015 pic promptThe softness in Toby’s features abruptly changed. It was if a shutter had dropped, closing off the glimpse into his heart. Next to Victoria now sat a man with no apparent feeling or emotion. She shivered, feeling like the temperature had just dropped from warm to frigid. She briskly rubbed her hands together to ward off the chilliness.

Toby turned the key and the engine roared to life. “Want to go get something warm to eat?”

“Sure…” She was deep in thought, trying to figure out what moment made him put his guard back up.

“There’s a diner not far from here. If they’re still open that is.”

She didn’t answer. She sat, examining his face as if she could find the answer there.”

The diner was still in business. The filled parking lot, miles out in the middle of nowhere, attested to how popular the little hole in the wall was. Either that, or there’s nowhere else to go out here, Victoria thought.

When the server sat the steaming meat pie down in the middle of the table, she was glad that she’d agreed to Toby’s suggestion about sharing this dish. Even more so once he broke into the crust revealing moist beef chunks surrounded by potatoes, carrots and peas in a thick, mouth-watering gravy.

They didn’t talk much as they each dug into their meal. Victoria finally slowed down enough to ask a question. “So…what are you working on this week? Find any more fields to destroy?” She laughed to show she was joking, referencing the field by her home that she’d been so upset about a few weeks earlier.

His face turned red as he stammered his reply. “No…it’s a new project…in Oak Grove.”