Tag Archive | Texas

Thyme for Love #5

Tuesday TalesThere’s a new story for the new year. Thyme for Love takes place in Oak Grove Square, the tiny Texas town where Victoria and Toby met and fell in love last year. This time Cupid has another unsuspecting target in his sight. Sally, a devoted business woman and owner of Crafter’s Cottage, just met an organic farmer interested in being a vendor at the upcoming herb festival.

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

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“No. Just me, myself, and I. No helpers. No wife.” Izzy laughed and his eyes twinkled as he replied. “Why? You know anyone willing to apply?”

“Uh … no … for a wife? … I mean … or the helper? N-n-nooo … I …” Sally broke off before she embarrassed herself any more. A scarlet flush crept up her face. “Oh god,” she muttered more to herself than to him. “You must think I’m a moron, not able to speak a coherent sentence.”

CNJ_cowboy rearHe chuckled softly. “Naw. I think it’s kind of cute.” He handed her his completed forms and pulled a wallet out of his back pocket. “Is cash for the booth okay? Or do you need a check?”

“Cash is fine. Let me get a receipt for you.” Sally fumbled under the counter for a receipt pad.

Izzy stood holding a hundred dollar bill in his hand as she was writing. Glancing around the counter packed with gift items and small impulse buy temptations, he spied a card holder. He took a card and looked it over. “So,” he asked. “Is there a Mr. White that goes with Sally White?”

It was Sally’s turn to laugh. “No. No Mr. White. Just me, myself and I,” she tossed his prior statement right back to him.

A lopsided grin brightened his face. “So, Ms. by-yourself Sally White, how about if I treat you to some of Hank’s mouthwatering BBQ for lunch or dinner one day? You know, to go over where you want my space to be, and what kinds of herbs and plants you’d think would be best for the festival.” He hesitated. “Unless you eat there too often and are tired of it, being right here in town and all.”

“Oh no! I can never get enough of good BBQ. Hank’s pulled pork sandwiches are the best I’ve ever had. I’d love to join you.” She rushed to add, “To discuss the festival, of course.”

“Of course,” he replied. “Just a friendly business meeting. With the beautiful fair organizer.”

She swatted at his arm. “You smooth talker, you. You’re just trying to get the best booth space by flattering me.”

He looked her square in the eye, a dead serious look on his face. “No. No, ma’am. That’s one thing I do not do. I say what I mean and mean what I say. My daddy taught me that. Life is too short to have to cut through the bull shit. The only words that come out of my mouth are true ones. Believe me. I’ve met some snakes that don’t know how to speak a word of truth. They wouldn’t know the truth if it bit them in the rear. I don’t aim to be one of those fellows.”

Her opinion went up a notch. It wasn’t often that she heard a man speak so honestly. She found herself looking forward to getting to know the man standing before her – an odd mix of long haired hippie – farmer boy – cowboy hat wearing Texas boy. Maybe there was more to life than just work, work, and more work. “Dinner sounds delightful. At Hank’s. Any particular night?”

 

Thyme for Love #4

Tuesday TalesThere’s a new story for the new year. Thyme for Love takes place in Oak Grove Square, the tiny Texas town where Victoria and Toby met and fell in love last year. This time Cupid has another unsuspecting target in his sight. Sally, a devoted business woman and owner of Crafter’s Cottage, just met an organic farmer interested in being a vendor at the upcoming herb festival.

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

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Once inside Crafters Cottage, Sally headed behind the counter. Keeping her back turned on the hunk of masculinity that followed her in, she composed herself while she shuffled through a stack of papers. She turned and handed him an envelope. “Here’s the vendor packet for the herb festival. You can look it over and mail it back if you’re interested in being a vendor.”

“Oh, I want to be a vendor.”

She stifled a laugh. “You don’t even know what the entry fee is. That may put you off.”

CNJ_paperwork“It’d have to be pretty high to deter me. I don’t think Oak Grove Square’s first herb festival will be charging rates high enough to keep me home.”

“No. You’re right. It’s pretty reasonable, depending on the size space you want.”

“Mind if I look it over here and get it right back to you?” His caramel colored eyes gazed up at her, making her feel distinctly uncomfortable, in a pleasant unsettled kind of way.

As he leaned over the counter, scanning through the pages, Sally kept sneaking peeks. He’d absentmindedly tuck a strand of long hair behind his ear as he read. The unconscious gesture caused soft fluttery feelings in the pit of her stomach.

He finished looking through the pages and nodded. “Have a pen?”

As he started filling the form out, Sally’s curiosity got the best of her. Adept at reading upside down, after all the years of dealing with her craft vendors, she squinted to see his name. “Izzy?” she questioned.

He nodded and kept writing. “Yes ma’am. Izzy. A nick name I got in school. Short for Isaiah.” He kept filling out the form while Sally watched each pen stroke on the page.

Finally she couldn’t stand it any longer. “So, how’d you get into farming?” she blurted out. “You don’t look like what I picture a Texas farmer looking like.”

CNJ_austin tree“I was going to school down in Austin. I started out to be an accountant. But I couldn’t stand the thought of being locked into an office or a cubicle all day long. I got into organic foods when I was there and it took off from there. I decided I wanted to farm and work with nature and the outdoors, using organic and responsible methods. There’s so much we could … But don’t pay attention to me. I could get on a soapbox all day long about what we’re doing to our planet with our toxic practices and the chemicals and pesticides we’re using. And, don’t even get me going on the local fracking.”

Sally was taken back at first. He was so intense when he got going on a streak. Still, he was awfully cute though. She chuckled softly. “You could almost be a hippie if you weren’t wearing that good ole’ cowboy hat.”

He returned the laugh. “Yeah, I have an inner hippie I channel a lot. The herbs and vegetables seem to like it.”

“So … how’d you get from Austin to up here?”

“I wanted to stay down there. But land is more expensive and the organic competition is ruthless. I got a farm here three times the acreage than what I could have afforded in Austin or San Antonio. I just have to work a little harder to get my products out there. That’s why I was so excited to hear about the herb festival here. Nice and close; I like that.”

“Well, Oak Grove Square is excited that you’re excited. We’re happy that you’ll be one of our vendors in what we hope will be an annual event. So … for events like this … do you have helpers for the day … employees … or a wife?”

Thyme For Love #2

There’s a new story for the new year in Tuesday Tales. Thyme for Love takes place in Oak Grove Square, the tiny Texas town where Victoria and Toby met last year, fell in love and lived happily ever after. This time Cupid has another unsuspecting target in his sight. Join us to see what surprises are ahead for Sally, of Crafter’s Cottage.

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

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Thyme for Love
An Oak Grove Square romance

Episode #2

A storm entered from the west, coating north Texas with rain for three days in a row, unlike the usual thunderstorms that furiously blew in, boomed, dumped and blew out. It was several days before the ladies all had a chance to walk together without the chance of being drenched. The others almost couldn’t get a word in with Sally blabbering on … and on … about the upcoming herb festival.

“… and some of my vendors from Crafter’s Cottage already signed up for a booth space. The woman that makes the handmade soaps and bath salts will be there. The lady that makes jellies is already experimenting with a lavender jelly to sell. Another one found a fabric with herbs on it. She’s making up borders on dish towels. They’re just charming. Four more people called and left a message that I need to call back today. I need to decide how many vendors we can accommodate. And where they’ll be set up. And then …”

As she paused for a breath, Victoria jumped in before Sally kept on. “Is there going to be anything for the rest of us to do? Heading the committee doesn’t mean you need to do it all. There are other merchants in town you know.”

“Oh, I know,” Sally answered back. “It just gives me something to keep myself occupied. I can’t go home and just sit. I have to stay busy, so I’ve been making some calls. I’m trying to get ahead of the game, so the festival is a success for all of us.”

“That’s great,” Marie piped in. “Just make sure to leave some tasks for us.” She tipped her head and added, “If you had a man in your life, you’d have a place to use all that excess energy you have. Then you wouldn’t need to be looking for things to keep you busy.”

Sally’s chest heaved with a giant sigh. “Don’t I wish I had a man to … um … spend some energy on.” She winked to the others. “Yep. I have a few thoughts in that direction. But, finding a decent, hardworking man that I enjoy being around isn’t the easiest thing.”

“There’s lots of fine hardworking men around,” Victoria said.

OGS_john deere“Ha! If you want a farmer. I’ve seen some of these boys roll into Hank’s BBQ. Blue jeans or overalls and paunch hanging over. Riding a John Deere around all day doesn’t do wonders for some of those good ole’ boys.” She stopped mid stride and glanced at Victoria. “Now, if I could find a clone that looks like your hunk, Toby. And one with his work ethic, that doesn’t spend his time lazing around all day, now I could go for that.”

“Maybe you need to ease up a little, and do a little lazing around yourself,” Marie suggested.

“Nope. I’ve got to stay in motion. Especially on these gray, dreary days like this.”

Victoria took a swig from her water bottle. “That’s why you’re thin as a rail, all that constant moving.”

“Oh dear!” Sally took one look at her watch and started to take off. “I’ve got to go. Speaking of farmers – I’m meeting one at the shop … about five minutes ago! He’s an organic farmer outside of Justin and he grows herbs too. He’s picking up an application.”

Marie slapped her thigh and laughed. “Yeppers, there’s your ‘John Deere’ guy!”

The frosty glare Sally aimed in her direction only made her laugh harder.

“I’ll head back with you,” Victoria volunteered. “I need to make a few calls before I open up.”

OGS_truck and cowboyTwo scurried back towards town, leaving Marie to leisurely finish the walk at her own pace. As they rounded the corner where they’d split up, each going to their respective stores, they spied the pickup truck parked in front of Crafter’s Cottage. And the vision they each saw was not that of a tractor riding farm boy.

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.

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 #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 #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.”

Starting Over #5

Tuesday TalesWelcome to TUESDAY TALES.

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

The story of Victoria and her little shop in Oak Grove Square continues. This week we’re writing to the prompt ‘bloom’.

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_Jave Time interiorVictoria struggled to get her weary body in motion. A stop at Java Time was just what she needed today. It was ten o’clock. She should be at Serendipity opening up. She glanced out the front window to where her shop was, kitty corner from the coffee shop. There certainly wasn’t a line of people banging at the front door to let them in. If she arrived a few minutes late, no one would even know.

Dark haired Carmen stood behind the counter looking a lot perkier than Victoria certainly felt. “Honey, I think you’re going to have to break down and do the coffee bit this morning. I don’t think your Chai tea is going to touch that shade of drag ass you’re wearing this morning.”

“Ugh. No. No thanks.” Victoria stuck out her tongue in response to the coffee suggestion. “Not for me. I’ll stick to my Chai Tea.”

“I thought you liked coffee. You always take a deep breath when you walk in here.”

“I like the smell of coffee. I adore the aroma. It’s the taste I can’t abide.”

“Oh. You’re one of those.” Carmen filled a cup with a hot, frothy concoction and scooted it across the counter. Victoria clutched a handful of single dollars and was busy searching for change in the bottom of her purse. “Forget the change. You’re good. Besides, the sooner you get this in ya’ the sooner you’ll become human again.”

“Thanks.” Victoria started to take a sip of the steaming beverage and jerked her head back. “Ooops, still too hot. Guess my return to humanness will have to wait a few minutes longer.”

Carmen wiped the counter between them. “You worked late last night. When I closed up there were still lights on over there. How late did you stay?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Too late. I got caught up reading an old journal and lost track of time.”

“From those boxes that hunky guy carried in yesterday?”

“Ha! Blond and hunky maybe, but he was a cold and arrogant jerk. Looks are deceiving on that one. But yes, it was in one of his boxes. You sure don’t miss anything, do you?”

“Oh honey, if you only knew. I know everything that goes on in this square. Anything you want to know, you come ask me. Except for Marie, over at Three Tarts bakery. I don’t have any dirt on her, she’s too squeaky clean.”

“I’ll have to keep that in mind. Note to self … watch yourself around Carmen. She knows all.”

“Hey, it’s not hard to do. I watch. What they don’t tell me – and a lot of ‘em spill the beans right to me – I see. I just keep my eyes open and find out all kinds of delicious secrets.”

Victoria gave a wave and wandered off across the street, carefully carrying her caffeine fix. Her hands wrapped around the disposable container, glad for the warmth to counter the frigidness in the air. She wasn’t sure whether to be glad that people noticed what happened in this small little sphere, or to be annoyed that she’d apparently nestled right in the midst of a bunch of busy bodies. She stopped to look at the bedraggled planters in front of Serendipity, filled with dead, brown plants, a casualty from the ice storm a few weeks earlier. The square was prettier when she’d first looked at the space, with bright blooms gracing the planters spaced around the four sides.

As she unlocked the front door, a voice called out from across the street. “Helloooooo.” Victoria turned to see a woman carrying a folder headed her way, blond hair bouncing and a bright red scarf flying behind her.

“I’m Heather, from City Hall.” She stepped inside behind Victoria and gazed around the space crammed with antiques in every spare space. A smile filled her face. “This is just delightful. Look at all this loveliness,” she gushed.

“Am I missing a form, or late with something?” Victoria inquired.

“Oh no! Goodness no.” Every word from Heather’s mouth came out with a soft, breathless quality. She turned back towards Victoria and aimed her megawatt brilliant smile in her direction. “Not at all. I came over to introduce myself and ask about a little project we’re trying to get going. We’re forming an Oak Grove Merchants Association with the businesses, to join together as a coherent team to enhance the retail opportunities here. Kind of like a little Chamber of Commerce in a way, with monthly activities planned for the town square. I wanted to see if you’d like to join.”

“What’s involved with joining? It depends on the requirements. And the cost. I’m barely keeping my head above water right now.”

“That’s exactly why the City wants to take a more proactive step towards bringing business here. To help out our merchants.” More breathy commentary followed as brochures were eased into Victoria’s hands.

Too smooth, Victoria thought. She really does belong in City Hall. Heather had a way of focusing in on the subject of her conversation, making them feel as if they were the most important person on the planet at that moment, all the while silky utterances falling from her lips.

When they got to the one meeting each month and only $25 a month, Victoria readily agreed. After her guest left, she wasn’t sure if she complied because she really wanted to, or whether she just gave in to get Heather out and on her way. Victoria felt a little confused. She really wasn’t sure what had just happened.

She spent the rest of the morning dusting, sorting, and rearranging. The jingle of the bell interrupted her busyness two or three times, but the small purchases didn’t even begin to cover what she needed to bring in each day to pay the rent. Maybe it’s a good thing I did join the merchants group, she thought. We all need some extra business. Not that January was a blockbuster month for most businesses, with most customers spent out from the frenzied buying the month before.

oak grove_fiesta wareAnother jingle at the front door alerted her. She turned and opened her mouth to say ‘Good Afternoon’. Who stood centered in the open doorway surrounded by a gust of cold air? The man she hoped that she’d never see again. He stood there clutching a manila envelope.

She felt the sudden sting of irritation rush through her whole being. “You going to stand there all day letting all the warm air out?”

“Sorry.” He stepped inside and closed the door tightly behind him. He glanced back towards the corner display – filled with Fiesta Ware – with a distracted look. A softness filled his face, making Victoria’s heart unexpectedly flutter. Then the shutter came down, leaving a cold stony glare behind.

“I found these today during our demo. I thought you might want them.” He held the mysterious envelope out towards Victoria.

Starting Over #4

Welcome to TUESDAY TALES.

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

The story of Victoria and her little shop in Oak Grove Square continues. This week we’re writing to a photo prompt. Only 300 words!

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_July 2014 promptThe wagging tails at the front door almost dispelled her wrath. Almost.

It was when she walked out back with Cody and Cowboy that the brilliant calming light of the full moon fully soothed her. In its place a gentle wave of loneliness washed over her. It didn’t happen often. And when this feeling did drift into her life, it was usually only for a brief time. Generally Victoria was extremely happy with her life. It was full. It was satisfying. She did what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. And a life with an occasional moment of feeling alone was certainly better than having someone in your life that cheated on you whenever they got the chance. Or, in the words of the pilot she’d banished long ago, “… only when ‘the magic’ was gone.”

From now on, she was in charge of the magic in her life. She intended on flying solo for the rest of her days. Especially when the world was full of arrogant jerks like that Toby who’d entered Serendipity earlier that day.

Building cookie cutter houses where my cows used to roam. Really! The thought raised her ire once again.

“Come on boys,” she called to the two dogs roaming the back yard. “Let’s eat and go to bed.”

She was tired. That must explain her irritability. A good night’s sleep is what I need.

A good night’s sleep is not what she got. And it wasn’t visions of sugar plums dancing in her head as she tossed and turned. Although, I suppose some girls may consider the blond hunk that infiltrated her dozing thoughts a sugar plum