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Cuddles and Purrs #3

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Today wraps up Cuddles and Purrs, the short romance written while Vintage Daze was busy with the A to Z Blog Challenge. Next week we’ll be back to the vintage short stories from the past. Thank you for joining us as we traveled to romanceland.

This week in Tuesday Tales, we’re writing to the prompt ‘rose.’

Be sure and check out the other Tuesday Tales snippets here.

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Our own little Puddles before she learned to eat like a big girl.

As the kittens meows got louder, Laurel’s attention was drawn back to the wriggly bundle in her arms. “Mind if I feed them here, before I take them home with me?”

“Not at all. Good idea, because I have no long it’s been since they’ve eaten.” He motioned towards the dogs at the slider. They’d calmed down and were sitting, noses glued up against the glass, curious about the activity taking place in their kitchen. “Obviously, I don’t have anything to feed kittens.”

“Not a problem. I brought my formula and bottles, just in case they were in need of an immediate meal.” Laurel placed the babies back in the box and slid a canvas bag off her shoulder. Soon it looked like a nursery spread out on the counter. She ran the tap until the water warmed up and measured and mixed formula. Soon the first little one was greedily slurping away on the tiny bottle.

Kevin watched intently. When she lifted the second one out, he asked, “Mind if I give it a try?”

“Not at all.” As Laurel handed him the baby, their hands brushed and she felt the warmth that rose from her neck to the top of her cheekbones.

Soon the babies were all fed, nestled back in the box and were sleeping away. Laurel started to pack up her supplies. She noticed that Kevin glanced at her left hand before speaking again.

“I’ve enjoyed this. Ummmm…are you up for dog activities too?”

“Dogs, cats…llamas…pretty much anything with four legs.”

“Would you like to join the dogs and I for a walk this weekend?”

One walk led to another, which led to dinner, and more dinners. Kevin soon became an expert at feeding young kittens. The dogs adored Laurel as much as they did their master. And when the two married a year later, no one was surprised when they asked for donations to their local shelter in lieu of wedding gifts.

 

Be sure and check out the other Tuesday Tales snippets here.

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Cuddles and Purrs #2

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At Vintage Daze I’m busy with the A to Z Blog Challenge this month. So we’re returning to Chrys N. Jay for a short romance. Join us for a new short story, Cuddles and Purrs. Each week for Tuesday Tales a group of authors write to a word, or picture, prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘wash.’

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“Oh, thank goodness! The cavalry has arrived. I don’t know what to do.” He stepped back and ushered her inside. “They’re in a box on a heating pad.”

A chorus of screaming, unhappy kittens assaulted Laurel’s ears as they entered the kitchen. As she stepped up to the box, their cries were drowned out by bellowing barks of two huge dogs pawing at the sliding glass door. Laurel eyed the loud duo warily before reaching in and picking up a tiny, furry bundle. “I take it you’re a dog person, not a cat person?”

Dimples deepened as he chuckled and dropped his head slightly. “Dogs for now. The bigger the better. They’re upset because we’re usually at the running trail at the edge of town by now. We got off schedule with this box of unexpected presents.”

“No clue who left them?”

“Nope. Probably a neighbor though, because I’ve joked with several about how I wished I could afford a farm so I could have all the animals I want.”

Laurel picked one of the little black fur balls and held the bedraggled munchkin up. “Needs a wash, doesn’t he?” She gathered the others, snuggled her armload of wriggly bodies to her chest and glanced at her host from the corner of her eyes. “You want more animals?”

“I’d have a zoo if I could. But mostly rescues. I’d love to be able to save some lives.” He gestured to the two bouncing hounds at the back. “Those two lugs…both rescues. One from a puppy mill. One was tied up in the backyard of an abandoned house with no food or water. Skin and bones. Almost at death’s door. Not that you could tell it now.”

Check out the other Tuesday Tales snippets here.

Cuddles and Purrs

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At Vintage Daze I’m busy with the A to Z Blog Challenge this month. So we’re returning to Chrys N. Jay for a short romance for the next three weeks. Join us for a new short story, Cuddles and Purrs. Each week for Tuesday Tales a group of authors write to a word, or picture, prompt. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘cart.’

Check out the other Tuesday Tales snippets here.

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Cuddles and Purrs

The cat pile on Laurel’s lap shifted and wiggled. She petted the furry bodies that attached to her whenever she sat down on the couch. The resounding purr from the group calmed and relaxed her after a difficult week at work.

Pipsqueak was a black runt of the litter that survived and grew out of his teensy weensy status. Stache, a black and white tux sporting white milk mustache, had been a black puddle in the back yard, trying to escape notice. Tinker was a gray tabby that was the newest member of Laurel’s family. He squirmed right in to the middle, trying to get his fair share of the pets. The old ladies of the bunch were off sequestered somewhere, trying to nap and stay out of the way of the youngsters.

“I don’t understand why you have so many cats,” Laurel’s mother often complained. “Get rid of the cats and get yourself a good man. I need some grandchildren.”

“Mom, that’s putting the cart before the horse,” Laurel used to retort. She didn’t argue back with her mother anymore. She simply changed the subject. It was easier.

And at this point in life, loving a houseful of cats was easier. Laurel had just about given up on finding love. Not for lack of trying. It’s just that nothing worked out. Sometimes they were the ones that gave up first, deciding they weren’t meant for each other. More often than not, it was Laurel making that decision. One was too needy. One was too cold and aloof. One couldn’t stay off of his phone when they were together.

The last one was the worst. He couldn’t stand cats. In fact, he didn’t like any animals at all. He was a great guy in every other aspect. But Laurel didn’t trust the heart of someone that couldn’t love an animal. She knew that would never last, so she’d ended that one fairly early on in the relationship.

Her cell phone sitting on the arm of the sofa rang. Laurel glanced over to see who was calling before she answered it. She saw it was her friend, Karen that worked at the local animal shelter.

Karen started babbling away as soon as she answered. “…he needs some help…six kittens…little ones…I knew you could help him out…”

“Whoa. Slow down, girlfriend. Who needs some help and what are you volunteering me for?”

“A man called the shelter. He came home and found a box on his porch with six young kittens. We need a foster for them and I thought you could take them.”

Thirty minutes later Laurel was ringing a stranger’s doorbell. When the owner answered with a set of broad shoulders and dancing hazel-green eyes, she almost forgot why she was there. After staring blankly at him for a moment, she finally uttered, “…kittens.”

Check out the other Tuesday Tales snippets here.

Just Kidding…Not! (Picture Prompt)

Hello romance readers! Today’s Tuesday Tales post is from a new April Fool’s Day romance, Just Kidding…Not! This short story is another holiday romance set in the small historic town of Oak Grove Square. In this story we meet Irene, the owner of the local bookstore, Pageturners. A healthy lady, striving to live a balanced life in mind, body and soul, her April Fool’s joke brings an unlikely and unlooked for love to her doorstep.

This week we’re writing to a picture prompt. Picture prompt snippets are short, only 300 words, so it will be quick reading this week.

After reading this snipped, return to TUESDAY TALES here to read more tales from a group of talented authors.

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We had four pictures to choose from. This is the picture I chose to use as my prompt for the latest addition to Just Kidding…Not!

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“I’ve got all day. There’s nowhere I have to rush off to. What’s your brainstorm?”

“I was thinking about having a party here. For the kids. An April Fool’s Day party.”

“You lost your mind, girl? Inviting kids in to play pranks?”

Irene threw her shoulders back and puffed up her chest. “No, I have not, Samuel Bateman…you old stick in the mud.” She swatted at his shoulder as she passed by, as if reassuring him that she was teasing. “I think it would be fun. Here, let me show you some ideas I had.”

Irene dug in her tote bag and pulled out a legal pad filled with scribbles. She looked up in time to see Sam rolling his eyes in exasperation. “What in the world do you have against kids?”

“Not a thing. Long as they behave themselves. Seems you’re setting them up for mischief with this party plan of yours.”

Running her finger down the page, looking at notes she’d furtively written while sitting in a merchant’s meeting that had droned on for longer than she’d liked, she began reading off a few of her ideas. “I thought we’d do two parties. A morning one for the younger ones. There’s lots of great books I can read them…”

“Wacky Wednesday. By Dr. Seuss. That’d be a great one for April Fools.” Sam interrupted and looked pleased with himself for his contribution. He smiled as he started to catch Irene’s enthusiasm.

“Good idea! I like it.” Irene grabbed a pencil and added the title to her notes before continuing. “Then an early afternoon party for the older kids. With food for their party. Like pancakes…but they’d be itty-bitty pancakes.” She circled her thumb and forefinger to make a circle no bigger than a quarter.

Just Kidding…Not!

Hello romance readers! Today’s Tuesday Tales post is from a new April Fool’s Day romance, Just Kidding…Not! This short story is another holiday romance set in the small historic town of Oak Grove Square. In this story we meet Irene, the owner of the local bookstore, Pageturners. A healthy lady, striving to live a balanced life in mind, body and soul, her April Fool’s joke brings an unlikely and unlooked for love to her doorstep.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘train.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here to read more story snippets.

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Just Kidding…Not!

Irene hurried into Pageturner’s, the bookstore she owned on Oak Grove Square. Letting the door bang shut behind her, she rushed over to the tiny heater sitting on the floor behind the counter. Holding her arms out, she rubbed her hands together briskly. “Brrrr! This February weather can go. I’m ready for summer.”

Pageturners.pngSam, the elderly gentleman that helped her out part time, sat on a stool next to the source of warmth. “And then you’ll be jawin’ on about it’s too blasted hot, or too muggy, or too something.”

“You know me too well.”

“Afraid so. You’re just like my daughter was. Always complaining about the weather.”

“You miss her.”

“Every day. With every breath. Same as my wife. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and wish they were still alive and sharing my life.”

A sly grin inched across Irene’s face. “And here I thought you had a thing for Bertie, down at the quilt store.”

Sam laughed and slapped his thigh. “Shore ‘nuff do. Doesn’t mean I love my Nellie any the less. I still love my wife with every fiber of my being. But I’m not dead too. I can love her and still hold a little flame for Bertie. Not that she’s given me any hope. I don’t think I’m ever going to make any progress with that stubborn gal.”

“Maybe you ought to give up on Bertie and find someone else.”

Sam shook his head in dispute. “Naw. I’ve set my cap for her. Giving her chase is enough for me. I don’t need to find anyone else. Besides, I doubt if I’m up for a new love at this late stage of my life. Too hard to train someone new.”

“Samuel Bateman! I can’t believe you just said that.”

“What? It’s the truth. Gotta train the little woman. ‘Pert near everyone knows that.” The lopsided grin and the twinkle in his eye hinted that he wasn’t serious about his words. “Speaking of loves, love, so when are you going to hitch up with a handsome young man?”

“Ha! Like that’s going to happen anytime soon.” Irene shrugged her jacket off and went and hung it on the coatrack just inside the bookstore’s front door. “There’s not a hint of romance headed my way. And I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m happy with my life the way it is, thank you very much. I have this bookstore that I adore. I’m blessed with good friends. I love my yoga classes and my gardening. My cats. And best of all…I have you, Sam.”

Sam gingerly stepped down from the stool and stretched his arms out, twisting from side to side. “These books aren’t going to keep you warm at night, girlie.”

“Nope. That’s what the cats are for.” Irene laughed. “Just kidding.”

Sam merely closed his eyes and shook his head in mock disbelief. He headed towards the coat rack to retrieve his jacket.

Irene stopped him as he lifted a hand to grab the black leather coat. “Hey, Sam. Real quick before you go. I wanted to run something past you. Something that came to mind while I was at the merchant’s association meeting.”

“I’ve got all day. There’s nowhere I have to rush off to. What’s your brainstorm?”

“I was thinking about having a party here. For the kids. An April Fool’s Day party.”

Love for the Barista #2

Hello romance readers! Today’s Tuesday Tales post is from a new Valentine’s Day romance, Love for the Barista. This short romance is almost finished, so there won’t be many snippets shared from this story. Join us as we take a peek into a Carmen’s new love. Carmen owns Java Time, a coffee shop situated on historic Oak Grove Square. Between running her business and being a single mother of two young children, she doesn’t have time for love in her life.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘coffee.’ (Hehehe, having a story set in a coffee shop made this weeks prompt a breeze.)

Return to TUESDAY TALES here to read more story snippets.

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“So how’d you go from that to Java Time?” Victoria looked behind her as if making sure that she wasn’t keeping another customer from being served.

“After ‘Lita was born, I started working part time at…” Carmen lowered her voice and looked around as if telling a big secret. “You know…that other place.”

Victoria joined in the conspiracy. “Oh, you mean the big ‘S’? The one that’s on just about every corner?”

coffee.jpg“Yep. That’s the one. I loved it. Turned out I had a knack for mixing the different concoctions and remembering what customers liked what. But, it turns out I didn’t have a knack for being bossed by someone else and having them set my schedule – which was different every single day of the week.”

“That’d be rough. That’s why I like my little antique shop. Ten to five. No nights. No Sundays. No holidays.”

“That’s what I like here. Although the early hours are a bear. But the kids are usually still in bed when I leave. And this way, when I close up at four, I go home and I have all evening to spend time with the babies.”

“That’s good. It’s important to spend a lot of time with them when they’re this young. How old are they now?”

A soft, loving expression filled Carmen’s face. “Mario is four. Or will be tomorrow. And ‘Lita’s two.”

“Those ages are rough. Especially when you’re working full time. Good thing you’re with your mom and she watches them during the day. I’ll bet that helps.”

Carmen started wiping the counter as the two business owners chatted. “It does. I don’t think I could make it if I had to get them up and dressed to drop them off somewhere so early.”

Victoria cocked her head and looked at her friend thoughtfully. “So…all you need now is a special someone in your life.”

“Special someone? As in a man? I. Don’t. Think. So.” Carmen coughed like she was choking. “Sorry. Been there. Done that. Don’t need to go there again.”

“But once the kids are in bed for the night, wouldn’t it be nice to have a fellow to curl up on the couch with? Watch movies? Drink a glass of wine? Snuggle a little?”

“Girl, you’re only talking like that because you’re still all out in love with Toby.”

Victoria flushed guiltily.

“See! There! Look at those red, rosy cheeks. You’ve got it bad, my friend. Which is good. I love watching you two together and seeing the joy he’s brought you.” Carmen wagged her finger in the air. “But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us single ladies need a new lover.”

“But Valentine’s Day is coming up. You won’t have anyone to spend the evening with.”

“Sure I will. The loves of my life. My kids.”

The bell over the door dinged as another customer walked in, followed by a gust of frosty air. Carmen looked up and didn’t recognize the man at first. Then he got closer to the counter and tipped the brim of his hat in a familiar gesture.

Carmen glared, a cutting look passing across the space between them.

If he calls me ma’am again…

He cleared his throat and looked down as he shuffled his worn boots on the floor. “That was the best coffee I’ve ever had. I reckon I could use another cup to ward off the cold.”

Victoria looked back and forth between the two of them and eased away. Giving a wave in the air, she turned to go open Serendipity, her beloved space on the other side of the square.

Love for the Barista

Hello romance readers! Today’s Tuesday Tales post is from a new Valentine’s Day romance, Love for the Barista. This short romance is almost finished, so there won’t be many snippets shared from this story. Join us as we take a peek into a Carmen’s new love. Carmen owns Java Time, a coffee shop situated on historic Oak Grove Square. Between running her business and being a single mother of two young children, she doesn’t have time for love in her life.

This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘point.’

Return to TUESDAY TALES here to read more story snippets.

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Love for the Barista

Wiping her brow with the back of her hand, Carmen fought back the fatigue and looked up to help the next customer.

“Howdy, little lady. You serve any regular joe in this fancified establishment of yours?”

Little lady? Really?

Carmen resisted the urge to smack the pearly whites that grinned in her direction. She pasted a smile on her face and pointed to the sign hanging over her head. “Right there, sir. Regular or decaf. A dollar fifty a cup.”

cowboy.jpgHe tipped the brim of his cowboy hat in her direction. “Sorry, ma’am. I reckon it would have helped if I’d read the sign better. I’ll take a cup of regular.”

Ma’am? Even though he has a good ten years on me? It just keeps getting better.

One thing about owning Java Time, the coffee shop she’d opened a year ago, was that it had taught Carmen a few lessons in customer service. The largest lesson, for her, had been how to keep her mouth shut and not give back the smart alec retorts that she’d been prone to throw back her whole life. As she filled the to-go cup with steaming – plain – coffee, the man across the counter kept a stream of prattle headed in her direction. She didn’t hear a large portion of it. She was in her smile-and-nod mode, the result of a sick two year old that kept her up most of the night.

Snapping the lid on the cup, she nodded in the direction of a counter against the side wall. “Cream and sugar’s over there.”

The cowboy – or farmer, hard to tell in this part of Texas – dug in his jeans pocket and retrieved a wad of crumbled dollar bills.

“You can pay Julie, at the register.” Carmen looked pointedly in the direction of the girl to her right standing behind an obvious cash register.

The man hesitated. He opened his mouth as if to say something, then clamped it shut. He tipped his hat again. “Thank ya’ ma’am. Y’all have a good day, now.” Heading to the register he stopped once and turned back.

Carmen was already busy with the next customer and he paid and left without another glance. She kept serving customer after customer and never gave the stranger another thought. Finally getting to the last person in line, she heaved a sigh of relief. “Victoria! My goodness. I thought this line would never stop.”

“Must be the cold weather sending us all in for something hot to warm us up.”

“I guess. It was nineteen degrees when I left this morning.”

“Brrrr!” Victoria shuddered at the mention of the temperature. “At least there’s no ice. I don’t like the cold, but I’d rather have that than streets you slip and slide on.”

“Your regular today?”

“Yes. Chai tea. But make it the biggest you’ve got.”

“So when are we going to convert you to coffee? You’ve been coming in her long enough. You should try one of my special drinks.”

“Never. I can’t abide the taste of it. Sorry.” Victoria grinned to take the sting out of her words and inhaled a deep breath. “I do love the aroma of it though. Odd, isn’t it?”

“Not as much as you think. Actually, a lot of people that don’t drink coffee enjoy the fragrance of it.”

Victoria took the cup of spiced tea from Carmen. “So how long have you been drinking coffee?”

Carmen chuckled. “When I was a teenager. I’d be out late at night, partying with my friends. I started drinking it to try and wake up and make it to school.”

“Did you always want your own shop?” Victoria was curious.

“Not really. I just wanted to get married and have babies. But…” she threw her hands up in the air. “You know how life is. The guys don’t always cooperate with the plans you dream up in your head. Daniel didn’t want to be a daddy. He only wanted to help make the babies.”

Come back next week for more!

Return to TUESDAY TALES here to read more story snippets.