Tag Archive | Denton

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.”

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.

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.”