Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 45: Clash


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Kimmydon's Choice: both


Dino’s wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d been expecting. True, it could use some repairs, but it lacked the dark aura that accompanied some of the smaller restaurants and pubs I’d been to. It was like the majority of the tiny restaurants I’d frequented, cozy. Three men and one woman were in the bar. The woman wore a small apron, naming her a waitress. One of the men smelled like a cook, greasy. Of the other two men, one rose to greet Dan and the band, while the other didn’t move from his stool, sipping his beer.

I was surprised such a small place had a kitchen, but it wasn’t impressive, catering to a menu consisting of chicken wings or burger and fries. We had passed through it, each member of Sonic Wave carrying a part of the drum kit.

“You’re here. Wasn’t expecting you for a couple hours yet. Hello,” he said looking me over. “New vocalist?” he asked Dan.

He snorted. “No. Just a friend. Jenn, meet Dino.”

I shifted the cymbal - I think Eric had called it the high hat - so I could shake his hand. Dan took it from me with another snort.

“Pretty friend,” Dino murmured. He was tall and round in the middle. His hair was gray in places, but still full on the top of his head. “You going to sit at the bar?” he asked grinning.

I had no answer. I’d never been used to being hit on. Keeping my nose in my notebook tended to avoid such advances. “Uh... I... thought I’d...”

“Give over, Dino. She’s half your age,” Dan said with another chuckle. “You like the older ones, don’t you?”

Dino’s face softened and his blue eyes blurred slightly. “Yeah, with breasts pushed up far higher than they can possibly sit normally any more, strutting for a young peacock and happy for any cock at the end of the night.” He trailed off, lost in his daydream.

“Let’s get out of here,” Dan whispered, pushing me out the front door. “Eric and John have the rest,” he explained once on the sidewalk. “I couldn’t leave you alone with him. Why don’t you get all gooey like that for me?” he asked, indignant.

“Because you never talk nicely,” I snapped back.

“I can talk nice,” he said, his voice dropping and becoming mellow. “I can tell you all sorts of things you’d like to hear.” A shiver ran down my spine as his lips approached my ear. “Seriously?” he asked, voice normal again. “That’s all it takes? Well, damn, I figured you for a harder catch than that.”

Shaking myself, I tried to steady my legs. “I can swoon without completely falling,” I complained.

“Oh?” He leaned in again. “I can melt those panties right off you,” he said in voice oozing sin. I jabbed my elbow into his ribs hard enough to make him double over. “Shit, okay. No panty melting. Got it.” For some reason, that made me laugh. Groaning a few more times, he straightened, taking my hand. I almost pulled it away, but his grip was loose, more guiding me than holding me.

“Let’s find food,” he said. “You like curry?”

I shrugged. “Depends. I don’t like it really spicy.”

“Why am I not surprised,” Dan muttered. “John and Eric will know where to find me,” he said a little more loudly. He pulled me into a small restaurant a little more than a block from Dino’s. The dark colours made it seem dim despite the good lighting. Dan nudged me and I looked at the cushions and low table. Slipping off my shoes, I sat, lounging slightly.

Dan leaned on his elbow behind me, his face around my hip. What was he doing there? His hand rose to hover over my bare leg. I bent my knee to aim a foot at his crotch. He smirked and I smiled.

“I like you, Chase,” he said, sitting up a little more.

I blushed a little and wondered why.

“Marla’s right, you don’t let me get away with shit.”

My grin broadened. “If I let you start, you’d never stop,” I pointed out.

He chuckled. “True.” The rest of Sonic Wave came in just as a woman in a sari approached to take our order.

So, full of curry and rice, I sat on a stool at the bar with Dino hovering a little too closely. I had my notebook out, scribbling away in it.

The knight sneered at the prince who was attempting to attract his princess. She was too clever to be caught up by such an obvious suit, but she was blushing and laughing far more than he expected.

He waited for the prince to go before stepping behind the woman he’d sworn to protect. “Are you so easily blind by jewels and favours? I have brought you some,” he murmured, reaching around her to touch the jewel hanging from her neck.

She stepped away, turning and laughing. “You thought he won over? Good, I want him to think so as well. And how dare you put your hands on me?!” she asked in a fury.

My head whipped up at the lyrics I was hearing.

“Luz Maria Diaz
Luchador extraordinare
Don the tights of justice
wear the cape of everyday man!
Luz Maria Diaz
Take that dog down...
That dog down there!”

I nearly fell off my stool. I was laughing hard enough that people were staring. Most them were chuckling at the ludicrous song, but only I laughed openly. Dan found me and smiled broadly. He was playing an intricate sequence on the strings of his guitar, not singing. He winked.

A couple songs later, they broke for ten minutes. He came to me and asked what I thought.

“They didn’t think it was ready?” I asked rather than answer.

He chuckled and nodded. “I think it’s fine, don’t you?”

“Perfect. Did you find any other words of inspiration in here?” I asked, tapping my notebook.

“Not yet. I noticed you writing again though. We that boring?”

Looking away, I felt embarrassed. “Not that. Just a good idea I needed to write down. The music is very nice.”

He rolled his eyes. “You really don’t like it?” There was a tightness to his eyes, his mouth. Had I insulted him?

“I really, just don’t... music is background to me.”

He sighed but nodded. “I guess I knew but had to see it for myself. It would have been easier if you just didn’t like it. You know you’re the first person I’ve met who actually doesn’t care for music?”

I pressed my lips, feeling affronted.

“Well, I should get back up there.” He looked to the stage before turning back and kissing her cheek very quickly. “Only another hour.”

I didn’t have a chance to say anything but could feel eyes on me that hadn’t been before. I sat a little straighter and didn’t open my notebook again. I listened to more of the lyrics and appreciated the poetry of them. I wondered how many Dan had written. I’d never thought of him as a writer before today. Were there other things we had in common? I doubted it.

When they started packing up a man in the bar approached me. “Hey, baby. You got a ride home?”

“Yes, thank you.” I looked pointedly away, toward Dan and the others.

“Ah, groupie. You know, they won’t mind if I steal you for the night.” His hand stroked my bare leg.

“Do not touch me,” I hissed in a low growl.

“Why not, sweet thing? You look like you could use some touching.” He brought his hand to my face and I turned away. “I’ll treat you nice.” His leering was truly repulsive, even more than the stench of stale beer coming off him.

“You will,” I said sweetly, smiling and putting my hand over his. Then I dug my nails into his wrist. “You will treat me very nicely and leave me alone.”

“I like them feisty,” he said, causing bile to rise in my throat.

“Back off,” Dan said, clapping the man on his shoulder. “She’s with me. With us,” he said, glancing behind him to Eric and John.

“Buck,” Dino groaned. “How many times do I have to kick you out of here before you listen when a woman tells you no. Get outta my bar.” He came around the bar to seize the man by the shoulders and hustle him out.

Dan held my hands gently in his, stroking the backs with his thumbs. “It’s all right. There’s only one load left. We can get out of here.”

I took a breath and grabbed my notebook and bag one-handed, not quite ready to let go. “Thank you,” I murmured as he put an arm around my shoulders.

“No problem. I’ll take you home.” It didn’t occur to me until we were in the van and on the road that he hadn’t raised my ire or made me uncomfortable.

“Thank you,” I said again into the quiet of the van. Eric was snoring, but John was still awake, tapping out rhythms to the music on his iPod.

“I don’t like guys doing that to you. I didn’t like Dino doing it, and he was harmless. Do you even know how pretty you are?” He took his eyes from the dark road long enough to look at me. “Do you?”

“N-no.” I didn’t. I mean, I knew I wasn’t hard on the eyes, but I had never been one to put a lot of attention into my appearance. I usually took any compliments I received as pure flattery.

“I didn’t think so,” he muttered, watching the road again. “I’ll make sure you don’t come alone to a show again. Even Marla with you probably would have kept that guy off.” His voice was gruffer than I’d heard it before.

“I think you’re right. That’s a good idea. I know she likes your band, at least a little.” She had bought their shirt after all.

He chuckled. “Yeah, she doesn’t hate us.” We drove in silence for a while. It was too dark to write in the van and I didn’t really want to, anyway.

“Practice,” I murmured, thinking to ask him something. “You said you could palm things by practice. Who taught you that?”

Dan smiled, looking at me from the corner of his eye. “Grandpa Danny. Yeah, I’m named after him. He loved to make coins appear from no where and cards disappear. He showed me how. Then, when Dad passed, it was handy on the street.”

I was stunned for a moment. That was more than I had expected. Certainly more direct than I
would have delivered such information. “On the street?” I murmured in disbelief.

“Yeah. It was tough. We moved between shelters a lot. Luckily the state never found out. They probably would have tried to take me away. Missed some school in there. Mom hated that part, but she didn’t always have the bus money. When I figured out how badly she wanted me to go, I started nicking change where I could. It’s actually pretty easy. Especially coins, no one pays attention to their quarters anymore. I bought myself lunch some days.” The headlights of an on-coming semi truck lit up his face for a moment, showing me his dazzling smile. “What, you mean to tell me your life has been nothing but roses?” he asked in response to my dumbfounded expression.

“Compared to that, yes.” I shook myself. “Dad lost his job when the market crashed, but Mom had something part-time. We almost lost the house, but didn’t.” I laughed suddenly. “They actually bought an RV last month, that’s how much better they’re doing. I don’t think me moving out hurt that.” I smirked and Dan chuckled quietly.

“Never hurts to have one less mouth to feed. Gotta feed your family; gotta feed yourself.” He said it like I should have heard it before, but I hadn’t.

One of the guys behind started talking in his sleep. “No, Ma, I don’t wanna haircut.”

Dan and I both erupted in laughter, waking John and Eric. We never learned which one it had been.

Dawn was on horizon when Dan dropped me off. “I’m really glad you came,” he said, holding the door open and offering a hand to help me down. The guys were asleep again already.

“I’m glad I did, too.”

He leaned toward me and I raised a hand to his lips.

“Let’s not ruin my impression of the night,” I teased.

“Whatever you say,” he whispered, breath curling in my ear and making me shiver. “You’ll wish you’d come with me. My wings really can take you to heaven.”

It was so cheesy and yet delivered so well, all I did was smile in reply. “I could break those wings...” I muttered.

He laughed. “I await that day. I’ll finish that song for you.” My notebook was in his hands again, but this time I wasn’t surprised. He tore out the page with his lyrics. “I’m glad you liked it. I’m going to actually borrow this one weekend, or maybe when you’ve filled it. Luchador Extraordinaire can’t be the only song hiding in there.” His grin was big again as he handed me the notebook.

“Here,” I pushed it at him. “I’ll start a new one.”

“Thanks,” he murmured and kissed my cheek quickly before walking back around the van.

Flopping down on my bed, I’m surprised at how light it has gotten. I could see the map clearly, all the places I’d never been, places I could go. With Dan? Would Dan ever fit properly into my life? Probably not.

”Princess,” the knight called. “I’ve learned of another dragon that needs slaying. Besides, it doesn’t do either of us any good to have me sitting around here.” He lifted a gauntlet covered hand, either in salute or simple greeting, the princess wasn’t sure, but she had to agree. Whether his absence made his presence more bearable, or simply because his reputation was vital to her protection, she was never sad to see him go.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Destynee Week 44: Love or Lust?

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 2

Love or Lust?

Ryder was laying in bed waiting for her phone to vibrate in her palm. Her friends Marisol and Lara were taking her to the party at the abandoned paper mill. The best thing was that Maddox was going to be there. She hoped.

She’d only known Maddox for a month or so, but they’d been getting together a lot lately, and he said he’d meet her at the party. She couldn’t say that she didn’t have some type of feelings for the bad boy. But what she didn’t know was if they were feelings of love or lust.

Ryder jumped as the phone vibrated in her hand. She quickly recovered, threw her sheets off her body, and headed for her window. As she climbed out of the window and down the tree, her friends were parked on the curb with the headlights off.

“Ryder hurry your ass up!” Lara stage whispered from the front seat. “I need to find a decent guy. Mari and I don’t have a sexy guy waiting for us there.”

Ryder rolled her eyes and jumped from the last branch almost breaking her ankle. “Shut your mouth before you wake the parents.” Lara shot her a hard look as she walked towards the car.

“I thought you’d be in a rush to get to Maddox.” Lara and Marisol laughed.

Ryder groaned, “Jealous bitches.” They laughed even harder as Marisol sped out of the quiet housing development.

Once the were on the road to the paper mill, Lara cranked up the radio as Rihanna’s S&M came blasting out of the speakers. A grin flashed across their faces and they started singing along.

“I may be bad, but I’m perfectly good at it! Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it!”

They laughed together as they turned on to a dirt road. After a few more minutes more of singing along to the radio, they came to a barbed wire fence and sighed.

“Again with climbing fences? Why can’t they be gentlemen and cut us a hole in the damn fence?” Lara pouted as they slammed the doors closed and measured the fence.

“Marisol, you first. Then you help me and Ryder over.”

Marisol snickered as she looked at Lara. Her face was twisted with fear. “Fine, but next time I’ll bring you a step ladder.”

Before Lara could punch her, Marisol dug her shoes into the links of the fence and jumped to the other side. “Lara, I’ll go next so we can both help you down.” When she didn’t say anything, Ryder jumped on the fence and tried to copy what Mari did but her foot slipped and she fell back on the dirt floor.

“My shoes - no scratch that - my outfit wasn’t made for this.” She shook her body trying to get the dirt out of places it should never be.

“Come on just throw your feet over and I’ll help you down.” Marisol laughed.

Ryder did as Mari told her and she made it over without more dirt up her very short shorts. Surprisingly Lara made it over with minimum complaining and only a few scrapes on her knees.

“I can hear the music behind the mill, lets go before all the hot guys are gone.”

Ryder and Marisol rolled their eyes as Lara took the lead and raced behind the mill. There was a huge bonfire and music pulsing around the twenty or thirty so people.

There were cars parked around the fire and Lara shot them a dirty look as if they knew there was a back entrance to the mill. Ryder and Marisol shrugged and walked toward the coolers to get something to drink.

“So,” Mari said as she popped a top to a beer. “When do I get to meet this famous Maddox?”

Ryder took a swig of hers before she answered. “Soon, hopefully. He said he’d be here, but I don’t see him.”

“He’ll show. He would be stupid not to meet up with a hot chick like you.” Ryder smiled but it didn’t reach her eyes. “Thanks Mari. You know you don’t have to baby me, you can go find Mr. Right Now.” Mari laughed and looked around catching the eye of a blonde, who smiled an invitation.

Ryder punched her. “You go to him or I’m going to go back to your car and slashing your tires so you have to get a ride home with him.”

She narrowed her eyes. “You wouldn’t dare.”

Ryder grinned and pulled a small knife out of her bra. “Oh, I wouldn’t?” Marisol gave her a hard look then walked over to Mr. Blondie.

An hour and three beers in, there was still no sign of Maddox. As a matter of fact, there was no sign of Mari or Lara, either. Guessing they are having fun tonight, she sighed and leaned against the tail of a truck and stared into the fire.

Out of nowhere there were red and blue lights flashing and sirens sounding. For a split second everyone was shocked into frozen statues, then they scrambled like cockroaches.

Shit, she didn’t know where Lara and Marisol were. She looked around but couldn’t find anyone she recognized. Suddenly someone grabbed her waist and lifted her into the bed of the truck right before it zoomed away from the paper mill.

Ryder shot up from the hard metal of the bed. Her hair was whipping around her face stinging her cheeks and eyes. She looked back and saw the police lights getting dimmer as the truck sped away. She whipped her head to the side, looking for the person who had thrown her into the truck.

She met his eyes and his half smile made her insides melt. “Maddox?” she whispered. She wasn’t sure that he could hear her over the roar of the truck’s engine, but he smiled wider and nodded his head.

“How…I thought you weren’t going to show?” She saw him flip his lighter lid open then closed it. Open, close. Open, close.

“I was looking for you for about two hours before I crashed on the back of my friends truck looking at the stars, waiting for this really hot chick to text me back.”

Ryder felt around back pockets and then in her bra not finding the slim black phone she always had glued to her hand. “My phone. Shit, I must have dropped it when I was climbing the fence to get to the paper mill.”

He smiled and slipped his lighter into his jacket pocket. “Good to know you weren’t just ignoring me.” He crawled closer to her and cupped her cheek. “I have feelings for you, but I don’t know if it’s just lust.”

He brought his lips dangerously close to her lips and she could feel his body heat all over her removing the chill from the wind. “I think we should find out.” Ryder whispered before he brought his lips to hers. She threaded her fingers in his thick hair, pulling him tighter against her.

He moaned as she pushed him down and straddled his hips. His body was hard in all the right places and she rubbed against him as he took her mouth roughly.

The wind was cold and stinging her cheeks as she straightened and rolled her hips atop of Maddox making him growl with pleasure. Maddox shifted her weight and took her underneath his delicious body. Before she knew it, her shorts were gone and were replaced with his hips.

She raked her nails down his back as the pressure began building. Her moans were captured by his mouth, he was whispering things in her ear. Not just sex speak, but how beautiful she was to him. How he loved the way the stars shone in her eyes. A well burst inside her and pleasure consumed her.

Maddox climbed off of her and laid next to her, breathing heavily. Ryder glanced at him and he had a satisfied look on his face. He grabbed her shorts and handed them to her.

She looked at them, thinking she found out what she felt for him. But had he come to the same conclusion as she had?

“I don’t want my friend to see you naked.” He said softly, releasing her short shorts. She put them on and not sure what to do when he grabbed her waist and pulled her down with him. She fit perfectly against his chest, and he kissed her nape smiling against her skin.

“I came to my conclusion, Ryder.”

She stiffened, scared of what he might say. He kissed her shoulder and down her arm until he got down to her hand which he took into his hand.

“I want to be with you. I think this is something more than lust between us.” He brought her hand to his lips kissing it so softly she felt tears prickling wanting to come out.

He looked into her eyes, waiting for a answer, but she couldn’t speak. Instead she nodded her head and placed her hands on his cheeks, pulling his lips to hers.

Friday, March 25, 2011

SwedenSara Week 44: Reflections on Love


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SwedenSara’s Choice: both

Reflections on Love

The young lovers neither see nor hear me as I step out on the mossy track behind them. They are too wrapped up in their own little world to pay any attention to random woman in an otherwise deserted forest. I’m envious of their budding love, of how they can hold hands in public without anyone gossiping or spreading snide rumours. I could never do that when I was young. It was a different time back then. The fumbling efforts to be noticed by someone special, the hopeful flirting, the thrill of realizing your feelings are mutual, the hesitant search for the other one’s hand... I never got to experience that. Sure, there was excitement when my family’s efforts to make Royce notice me paid off, but that wasn’t because I was in love with him. I was in love with the idea of a large society wedding, a mansion and a staff of housemaids and servants. By marrying Royce, I would get all of that. So silly - as if being served by a lot of people in a large house was more important than being loved by only one. I knew very little of love back then. I know more now.

It took me a long time to move past the cruelty I was a subjected to by Royce and his friends. My revenge gave me some relief, I can admit that, but I was convinced I would never be intimate with a man again - not by my own free will, anyway. Being as strong as I was gave me a sense of security that was crucial to my recovery. The fact that Edward wasn’t interested in me was quite a relief, even though it also hurt my self-confidence. I was used to being coveted, and even though I would have rejected him, I still wanted to him to want me. So shallow. The bitterness of never getting to experience the love and longing I saw between Carlisle and Esme permeated my entire being. I watched their loving embraces and affectionate touches during the days, and heard their passionate lovemaking at night. The possibilitity of ever being able to share that with someone had been taken away along with my virginity - or so I thought. When I found Emmett, I found not only love, but also lust. It took time, but with his fierce love and patient affection, I could finally enjoy a man’s touch again. Being with him hasn’t changed what happened to me, but it has made the scars easier to bear. Every moment of Emmett’s love fades them a little bit more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 44: Road Trip


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Kimmydon's Choice: both

Road Trip

Mounting his steed, he turned to his princess.

“Are you sure you won’t join me? The tournament is sure to be entertaining. I plan to massacre the competition.” The knight’s teeth gleamed in a ferocious grin.

“I will go no where with you. Go, come back with a prize. I may even let you in the gate.”

Her sharp tongue availed her none as he leaned from the saddle. “If you came, I would give you the best prize of all.”

She took several steps back, astounded by his temerity, appalled, and yet intrigued. This knight would be the death of her.

“What do you mean you want me to go with you?” I asked, adjusting my glasses on my nose, again. I was going to get surgery, dammit.

“I mean, Chase, I want you to see me play.” Dan, as always, took well over half the bench, all but forcing me to lean into him.

Shaking my head, I continued to doodle in my notebook. Not drawings, words. God, I hoped he wasn’t reading. Chocolate, mocha, burnt sienna. I was trying to pin down his skin tone. I needed mental help.

“Come on. I mean, do you even have plans this weekend?” I nearly ground my teeth. He’d been meeting me here for lunch since our run-in at the lake. He seemed to think it meant he should take me under those tattooed wings or something.

“No, I don’t have plans. That’s not the point. I don’t do concerts,” I glared at him and he pushed my glasses up my nose. Goddamn the things. I pulled them off and stuffed them in my bag harshly.

“Whoa. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. We’ll have a gig in town again soon. I just thought you might like to get away. It’s only an hour out, but it’s into the mountains.” He’d moved so that arm on the back of the bench was now around my shoulder and his hand gripped my bicep.

“Why?” I must have asked him a dozen times. He knew why what. Why me? Why not give up? He still gave me the same annoying answer.


“Shut up!” I yelled, not for the first time. He infuriated me. He made me want to scream and pull that dark hair out by the roots. That thick, black hair that reflected the light... No! Gah, he’d fried my brain so completely, I couldn’t even write properly anymore.

Marla had a solution to that. After I’d thrown a pencil at the wall, she’d delivered it dead-panned. “Fuck him. Get it out of your system and his.” She’d scooped another spoonful of Rocky Road in her mouth to punctuate the thought.

At the time, nothing could have been more appalling. Now, with his arm around me, his eyes locked on mine... it didn’t seem as crazy. Maybe it was all in the chase for him. Maybe if I just gave over, I’d have a night to remember and he’d finally leave me alone.

Nope. Not happening. I had standards, and if he couldn’t meet them, he wasn’t getting past the door. I grabbed my bag and rose to my feet.

“You’re leaving already?” he asked, disappointed. “You usually stay until one.”

“Projects, deadlines, things your band doesn’t have.” It was a pinprick, but I’d only managed to land a few barbs.

“Wait. Think about it?” He was clutching my hand now, holding it in both of his. “Please?”

This was new. He’d badgered, whined and needled -- he’d even tried blackmail once. He’d never pleaded. His voice was soft, something I’d never heard before.

“Um. Yeah. I’ll think about it.”

His smile nearly knocked me over. Then it turned cocky again, making it easier to go.

One night wouldn’t be so bad, right?

It turned out he, and two of the guys with him at the lake that day, were Sound Wave, the band on the shirts Marla and Dan had been wearing. They were indie and alternative, and although the recordings sounded good, I wasn’t a music connoisseur, so I couldn’t have said much one way or the other. I was being honest about not liking concerts. They were loud, crowded and the lighting drove me nuts. I’d been to exactly two in my life -- and one was a children’s entertainer.

I wasn’t off the hook, though. He called that night.

“So? Thought about it?”

I sighed heavily. “Please tell me it’s not in some dive.” I hung my head and Marla laughed from the other room.

“Well, it’s a bit of a dive,” he answered honestly. “But we’re going acoustic because it’s such a small place.” That was a plus, not screaming loud. “It’s quaint. You can write all about the bartender and his habit of hitting on Cougars.” I could hear his grin.

“What time?” I asked.

Marla’s head poked around the corner, brow raised.

“I’ll pick you up at three. We’ll have some time to look around and get food before we lug our stuff into Dino’s.”

I cringed. “Dino’s? Is he the one that hits on Cougars?”

Dan laughed. “Yep. You’ll like him. He’s creepy.”

“Great,” I muttered. “And how long do you expect this... gig to last?”

“You mean what time will I bring you home?”

“Yes.” The word was flat, cold. I’d get that idea out of his and Marla’s head. She snickered and left.

“It’ll be early morning, but if you really want me to, I’ll take you home. Fuck off, John.” That was one of his band mates. “So, was the address on you licence current?”

“Yes,” I said through clenched teeth. He would remember.

“That’s good. Sadly I didn’t get to write it down.”

I laughed.

“Please?” he asked. “Don’t make me call Marla and ask her.”

He would, too. He had gotten her number that weekend at the lake, just by asking. I gave him the information.

“Wow, that was easier than I expected. You aren’t going soft on me, are you, Chase?”

I slunk lower into the couch. “No,” I said sullenly.

“Good! I’ll see you Saturday.” I hit the call end and threw my phone across the room.

“I’ll give him 42... 42 bruises!”

Marla laughed again. “You are so silly. Give him 27.”

I furrowed my brow. What was she getting at? She didn’t tell me, just left the room again. She was going to start driving me as crazy as Dan did.

Still, I needed her help. “Marla?” I leaned in her doorway. “Help me pick something to wear?”

She laughed but obliged. Her fashion sense, while not haute couture still kicked the ass of mine. I took the long sleeved shirt happily. The skirt though...

“Where did I get this?” I asked, staring at it.

She shrugged. “It’s in your closet.”

I held the tiny black scrap up to myself, noting it covered me decently, if only just. Marla rolled her eyes and dug in a drawer. “They’re no worse than these.” She held out my favourite pair of cut-off jeans. They were as short as the skirt, I supposed. “Wear them. You can change before the show,” she suggested. “You aren’t expecting make-up help or anything, are you?”

“No, I can manage,” I grumbled, tossing both on the bed before falling there myself and looking up at the map I had pinned on my wall. I didn’t travel a lot, but it gave great ideas for exotic locations. I looked over at the ridges that represented the Himalayas.

The knight stumbled, his armor rusting where the frost had eaten away at it. He threw a wrapped bundle down. “There. There is your jewel. Told you I’d get it.”

The princess unwrapped it carefully. There was blood on the cloth. “What happened to it?”

The knight was divesting himself of armour in a series of clangs. His feet, now free, were obviously bandaged, and he flopped in a chair, sighing. Many pieces of shiny metal still covered him. “Nothing happened to it,” he said snidely. “Something terrible happened to the sorcerer who had it though. Tried to bring a mountain down on me. Like that would work.” He scoffed and threw another chunk of armour to the floor. “Think you could get someone to stoke this?” His gauntlet was pointed at the hearth before being dropped to the ground.

“Perhaps. Are you cold?” she asked, eyeing the pile in distaste.

“It was a snow covered mountain,” he grumbled.

I woke with the sun bright in my eyes, groaning. The story had been coming so well, I’d stayed up into the wee hours typing it into my computer. Of course I was nothing like the snooty frigid princess and he was even more insufferable than her knight, but it was fun to write.

Rolling, I checked the clock. Crap, it was one already. I sprang up and hit the shower, nearly running into Marla.

“I was starting to worry,” she said dryly.

I didn’t answer, but started the shower, pulling out my loose tail of hair while peeing. Under the stream of water, I took a few deep breaths. He wasn’t coming for two hours. Granted, I also hadn’t eaten anything yet, but I could do this. Food was the next thing I took care of, with a bowl of Cheerios and the last of Marla’s coffee.

“How do you drink this?” I asked, choking it back.

“It’s better fresh,” she answered.

I scowled, knowing better than to touch that remark. It was true after all. How long had this sat in the decanter? I peered into the mug and tried not to think about it.

An hour later, my hair was dry and straightened. I didn’t have time to touch up my roots, but I didn’t think they were too bad. Why had I decided bleaching was a good idea, anyway? It did set off my eyes... Those were not behind glasses now. I’d put in my contacts after the coffee, as soon as I could open my eyes wide enough to get the damnable things in. Surgery -- it was the only answer. Still blinking more often than I normally would, I was putting on mascara; the rest of the make-up, sans lipstick, was already in place.

A knock at the door almost made me poke out my eye.

“You expecting someone?” I asked Marla, who couldn’t hear me over her music. Sighing, I trotted to the door.

Dan stood there, dark tinted glasses reflecting me in my torn button down and tiny cutoffs. Oh fuck. I slammed the door and ran for my room.

“Chase!” he yelled, but I didn’t come out again until I was dressed, and that didn’t mean tiny skirt or cutoffs. They were comfy as hell, but showed way too much leg for how he looked at me. He was standing in the doorway still, but his glasses were gone. No, they were in his hand, one lens shattered.

“Oops,” I said sheepishly.

“Really. You couldn’t just invite me to sit and wait for you? I wouldn’t have minded. I can occupy myself for a minute or two. It’s not like you were naked or anything.” He stepped in and flounced into one of my chairs. His arrogant attitude took care of any guilt I might have had. “I liked the shorts, by the way. Why’d you change?” His eyes seemed to dare me to put them back on.

“Seemed too cool out.”

He barked a laugh. “Scared I’d try to feel them up? Or you forgot to shave?”

Marla came out then. “The first. She was going to wear them. You opting for the skirt now?”

I cringed, remembering the tiny black skirt. “Right... I’ll change back.”

Waiting for laughter behind me, I was surprised when there wasn’t any. Instead, there was quiet chatter.

“Is she always like that? I mean, I know I come off strong, but she doesn’t bend for anything.”

“That’s Jenn. She doesn’t take anything she can’t give just as well. Especially bullshit.” I could hear Marla’s satisfied grin as I pulled the shorts back on. The skirt went into the bag with my other shoes. I would wear Adidas for the afternoon.

I tried not to flinch as Dan’s eyes stared at my painted toes. At least I’d gotten a pedicure last weekend. Obviously there hadn’t been time to get one today.

“Aren’t you a little early?” I asked, tapping a toe.

“A little,” he shrugged. “Hoped to get lucky.”

Marla barked a laugh. “Keep hoping.”

That made me grin. “I have a little more time then?” I hadn’t gotten to my lips or brushed my teeth yet.

“A little,” he said, not taking his eyes off me.

Keeping my head high, I turned for the bathroom, sure I could feel his eyes on my ass. Knowing he was waiting, I took my time, lining my lips carefully after scouring my teeth. When I finally poked my head out, I ran to him. He had a pen and was writing. He was writing in my notebook!

“Excuse me!” I roared in indignation, thinking he was editing my work. Snatching the paper away left a dark scar on the lines. It was a fresh page. “Oh, sorry.” I handed it back to him, recognizing the lyric nature of the short lines. It wasn’t anything I would write.

He laughed at me. “No sweat. You ready?” he asked looking at the bag I had put on my shoulder.

“Um, yeah. You want that page?” I asked, planning to pop the notebook in the bag.

He shrugged, handing it to me. “I know where to find it.”

Trying not to grind my teeth, I put the book away.

He held the door for me, something I hadn’t expected and then opened the passenger door of the van. This was because he had to unlock it, I realized as I got in.

“I’m glad you were nearly ready,” he said pulling away from my place. “I forgot I have to pick the others up.” He stopped in front of a dilapidated house and tooted his horn. He left me staring after him as he exited the van. I caught on quick once he opened the back doors. John’s head poked in, setting a drum down.

“Hey, Jenn,” he said smiling. He was replaced by Eric, who also nodded in greeting, setting several smaller items - cymbals? - next to the drum. The procession continued until the back of the van was quite full.

“I thought you were playing acoustic?” I asked Dan as he hopped back into the driver’s seat.

“We are. That’s why you have a seat. The amps go there.” He pointed to Eric who smirked.

“And I go there.” He pointed to my seat.

“Oh,” I managed to mutter.

John snorted. “Like you wouldn’t have just picked her up in your car.”

I’d worried a little about the hour drive, but no one seemed surprised that I pulled out my notepad once they started discussing the set list for the show.

Not only had Dan started a new page, it wasn’t the next page. Opening to where I’d left off, I could just keep on going. That was good. The princess needed to teach her champion some manners. He had some, those chivalry dictated, but he pressed even those as far as the rule of honour would allow.

“Chase,” Dan said, causing me to lift my head suddenly from my book.

“I have a first name,” I said irritably.

“Yeah, but you don’t answer to it. We’re here.”

I looked up and saw the mountain rising in the distance. “Where is here?” I asked, confused. We were in the middle of empty highway, but he was pulling over.

“Trust me,” he said with another smile. “I have all the answers, remember?”

Biting my tongue, I did get out. “You know it’s not every man that can take me out of the city on a first date,” I muttered, stomping after him through brush, scratching up my legs in a few places.

“I don’t mind being the exception,” he replied with another grin. I sometimes wondered if he had any other expressions. Well, he had scowled after I broke his glasses, and his leer was definitely a different grin. John and Eric disappeared on the other side of the Highway.

“Where are they going?” I asked.

Dan glanced over his shoulder. “To take a piss.”

That was my hero. “So where are we going then? I don’t need to pee yet,” I answered snidely.

He chuckled. “Don’t want to bare that pale bottom to me?” His laughter wasn’t malicious, only slightly infectious. I huffed a small chuckle. “We are going to that little clearing there. I wanted to read something to you.”

He pulled my notebook from his back pocket.

“How do you do that?!” I cried indignantly. He’d palmed my licence, my phone, my bracelet, now my notebook. I didn’t even remember putting it down. Of course, now I knew that was because I never had set it down.

“Practice,” he said coolly. “Sit with me?” he opened his arms and splayed his legs as though expecting me to sit in the V they made. I sat beside him, crossing my arms. The grass tickled my legs and I wasn’t positive ants weren’t crawling on me. I didn’t really like being on the ground much. Picnic tables and park benches were much better.

He opened my book to his writing and began to read. He described someone aloof, someone scared, someone solitary. He wasn’t singing, but as he got further into the poem, the words seemed to pick up a natural cadence. I hummed to it.

He grinned. “You have a nice voice, Jennifer.”

I blushed a little. “No wonder you call me Chase. My friends call me Jenn.”

“And am I one of your friends, Jenn?” he asked leaning over the arm that separated us, his nose very close to mine.

“No, but you can call me Jenn anyway. You can be the exception,” I teased.

“I swear to God, Chase, you push one more button...” Suddenly I was atop him, not in his arms and prostrate against him -- that might have killed me with shame and shock -- but on his feet, in the air, dangling. I started to kick my legs, trying to get down, and he caught my flailing arms and wiggled his toes, which were jammed into my ribs.

“No! I’m tick...” The word was lost in the peals of giggles erupting from me. They were echoed by his own as I tipped even further forward, our foreheads colliding in an audible thump. He rolled to his side then, letting me fall in the grass. I rubbed the spot that would probably bruise, still laughing.

“I push your buttons? I have never had anyone drive me to violence like you do.” For good measure, I punched his bicep twice. He cupped a hand over it, wincing between chuckles.

“Yes, you push my buttons. Every time you flip your head, look up your nose, god, push up your glasses - nice contacts by the way - it makes me want put a pin to the balloon of your head.”

My mouth opened and closed indignantly. “I do not have a swelled head!” I argued, sitting up.

“Well, you have a high opinion of yourself,” he retorted.

Did I? I didn’t think so. I usually thought I was average, or less than average.

“I mean, what’s so wrong with me?” He sat up beside me, a slight pinching to his eyes I didn’t recognize. “Really? Am I that bad?” His voice pained me slightly.

“No,” I whispered. “You just...” He just drove me crazy.

A caterpillar started crawling on my bare leg. Tiny legs tickling like fine hairs, moving slowly up. “Ack!” I screamed and jumped, shaking my leg. “Get it off! Get it off!”

Dan was startled at first, jumping up himself. Then he started to laugh at me. “Hold still! I can’t get it if you don’t hold still.” His hand kept brushing my leg and making me jump again. “It’s gone, Jenn. It’s not there. Settle down.” His arms were around me as I convulsed, fighting the urge to vomit.

“Go-good,” I stammered, shivering. “I HATE bugs.”

“I would have never guessed,” he said dryly.

It occurred to me then that I was hugging his neck and practically climbing onto him. Snapping back, I apologized.

He chuckled again, shrugging. “No problem. There’s another song, they guys don’t think it’s ready, but I’m squeezing it in tonight anyway. You’re going to love it.” He nudged my arm with his, starting us back for the van. John and Eric were just hopping in the sliding door.

“I guess I never thought of you as a writer. I don’t know why. Lyrics and poetry are different from prose, but difficult, too.”

Dan grinned. “Does that mean you liked it?”

Shrugging I said, “I’m not much of a music buff. I don’t really know what’s good. The words struck me. Who was he?”

“Who?” he asked, leaning on the side of the van while I wrenched open the door.

“The person in the song. Could be a she, I suppose.” It hadn’t been definitive.

He snorted and rounded the front of the vehicle.

“What?” I asked indignantly.

He just shook his head, continuing to chuckle to himself.

I read over the lyric again.

Eyes dart away
hover, avert
feel like dirt
Pierce like pins
when they strike
Can’t help but wonder
what it’d be like
If you could see me.

It continued, but there wasn’t any indication of sex or relationship, maybe a desire for one. Instead, I flipped back to my story and continued.

The knight stood before the charging beast, hand out. The princess peered around him, sure they were both about to be ground into the dirt. Instead, the knight pushed up and out, the winged creature folding and rolling at the odd gesture. The princess stared at the pale underside.

“Go on,” he urged. “It won’t hurt you.” His smile was kinder than she’d seen before.

“How?” she asked, running a finger along the belly. The beast let out a growling mewl, definitely of satisfaction.

“Sometimes it’s possible to push the right buttons.”

In case you also missed it: 42+27 = 69 Marla's wicked. :D

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 43: Go Back Where You Came From

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: both

Go Back Where You Came From!

“You don’t even belong here! Go back to where you came from!” I remembered their harsh voices so clearly. “Stupid Asian! Go back to China!” And then I remembered Amber’s voice, so soft and sweet. “Kyoya just leave…” Even as she told me words that stabbed my heart, I didn’t hate her for saying it. I didn’t know what I thought of her anymore, but hate wasn’t it.

“Hey everyone check out the new kid! He’s from Korea!”

I felt butterflies in my gut as all eyes fell on me as soon as I entered the room and headed straight to a seat.

“He’s dressed funny, like a waiter…” someone whispered.

“Are all Asians dressed like that?”

“Don’t be so stereotypical. Haven’t you seen the miniskirts and knee-high socks the girls wear?”

“Um, yeah, dude, you’ve seen too many pornos…”

I kept my head down and tried not to listen to all the voices. Did they think I was deaf?

“He’s kinda cute though,” a girl whispered really low.

I looked up automatically and laid eyes on the beautiful girl smiling at me. She stood up and walked over to me. “Hi, I’m Amber. Welcome to America.”

I smiled back, but before I could talk a tall boy with a letterman jacket on wrapped his arm around her neck and kissed her. “Babe, he don’t speak English.”

I straightened up taking offense. She laughed, shoving him off. “You’re not exactly an English major yourself.”

Everyone laughed and he glared, looking back at me. “I’m Dean, the quarterback for our football team,” the boy stuck his hand out.

I shook it. “Kyoya.”

Dean looked around and laughed. “Is that hello in Chinese or something?”

Amber slapped his stomach. “It’s his name, genius.”

I could tell I already didn’t like him. My brother warned me about people like Dean; the type of guy that focused more on sports and chasing miniskirts than on education, the type of guy that thought he could do whatever he wanted to girls.

“Alright class, settle down. You’ve all met Kyoya so let’s get right to work.” The teacher wrote her name on the board and started on her lesson.

I took notes and listened intently. Halfway through the class I felt something hit the back of my head. It was a paper airplane with letters on it with a sloppy handwriting. Stay away from my girl. I looked up at Dean and he was glaring at me. I glanced at Amber who smiled at me and waved.

School went by quickly with no more interruptions or encounters with the exception of Dean and his distant threats. At the end of school, I grabbed my shoulder bag and headed on my way to my house.
“Hey, Kyoya!” I heard someone yell. I turned around and saw Amber running up to me. I couldn’t help the smile on my face. “Hey, I just wanted to talk to you. Wanna grab a smoothie?”

I nodded and she took the lead as we headed to a local hang out place. “So you’re from Korea?” She asked once we got our drinks.

I nodded, sipping my blueberry blast smoothie.

She rolled her eyes. “I know you can speak English so knock it off.”

I laughed. “Yeah, I speak very good English, but no one wants to listen.”

She grimaced. “Dean’s just an asshole. Ignore him.”

I chuckled. “And you love him?”

She shrugged nonchalantly. “He’s my boyfriend. Of course I like him.”

I didn’t believe her for a second. Americans were terrible liars, all emotions could be read in their eyes. I think everyone was like that though, not just the Americans I’d met.

“So you’re in America for good?”

I shook my head. “Just for the semester.”

“How do you like it so fa—“ Suddenly her cell phone rang and she apologized answering it. “Hey Dean. No, I just grabbed a smoothie. I’ll be right there.” She hung up and frowned. “Sorry I have to go. It was nice to meet you, Kyoya.” I waved as she fled the place to get back to Dean in time.

The rest of my days in the American school were very similar. Dean would shove me around every now and then, when he thought I was looking at Amber…and he was right. Amber was an angel, I was falling for her and I think she was falling for me too. I didn’t understand why she stayed with him. We’d hang out after school while Dean played football. I knew he was getting suspicious by the way he was treating Amber. It made me mad how he disrespected her, but she insisted he was just stressed for the big game coming up. Apparently he was really sweet and kind when they were alone because I never saw the side she talked about.

“Kyoya, we’re having a huge party at my house for homecoming tonight. My parents are gone for the weekend, so it’ll be great. I want you to come,” she tucked her hair behind her ears and smiled.

“Yeah, of course I’ll be there,” I smiled back.

She squealed, hugging me. “Great, I can’t wait! See you there!” She ran off to meet up with Dean, who was glaring at me.

I glared back and walked away. I was getting tired of him. That night I rode my bike to Amber’s house. Music could be heard thumping through the walls, cars were parked on the yard and around the back of the house. Red cups scattered the lawn, leading up to the house. I went to knock, but it was already open. Hesitantly, I walked into the house filled with tightly pressed bodies. Everyone was dancing with cups in their hands, drunk. Neon sticks were being waved in my face as they danced around with them. I couldn’t find Amber anywhere, so I made my way through the house looking for her.

“Kyoya, you made it!” I heard someone yell over the music. I turned around to look and bumped into someone. I looked and saw I had spilled Dean’s drink all over him. A girl in a blue wig—who I now recognized as Amber—busted up laughing next to him.

Dean was furious and he wiped himself off, taking his shirt off. He looked like he was ready to kill me. Amber pushed against his chest, holding him back. “Go clean up, Dean. you know it was an accident.”

He walked off to the bathroom and Amber took my hand, leading me out of the house, she was still laughing. “I’m so sorry about that,” she laughed.

I laughed with her. “Did you see the look on his face?”

She nodded, walking towards the big oak tree in the front yard by the road. “That was priceless.” She leaned against the tree and finished her drink with a smile.

I stood in front of her, watching her adoringly. Tonight was the night I decided I’d tell her how I felt. I didn’t care about Dean and I knew she didn’t either. I was better than Dean anyway. I took in a deep breath and exhaled.

“Amber, I…like you.”

She smiled. “I like you too.”

I chuckled, moving closer. “No, no…I like like you. A lot.” I made myself clearer.

She grinned, “I know…I like you, too.”

I smiled. “Really?”

She nodded. “Yeah.”

“So will you dump Dean and finally give me a chance?” I begged, finally having hope.

Amber frowned. “Kyoya…I may like you but…I love Dean. I can’t choose between like and love. It’s…hard to explain.”

Her words stabbed me. “Amber…”

She shook her head. “Look I really like you and maybe one day…who knows.”

I leaned against the tree, trapping her between my arms. “Please give me a chance.” I leaned in to kiss her.

“What the fuck are you doing with my girlfriend?” Dean yelled from the porch. He ran towards us and I raised my hands. Before I could stop him, he punched me in the face.

I fell backwards, wiping my nose.

“You think you can cheat on me, you whore?” He was yelling at Amber. He shoved her against the tree, and all the fury that I had for him exploded in flash of red.

I got up and tackled him to the ground, throwing punches left and right. I knew he was a quarterback, but he was also drunk. All the built up anger was unleashed and he couldn’t even fight back. His face was completely bloody and he was too weak to hold his head up anymore.

“Kyoya, what are you doing?! Stop! You’re hurting him!” Amber was screaming at me, trying to pull me off of him.

I stood up and wiped my bloody nose again, anger left my body as fast as it came. All the kids in the house came out to see what the screaming was about and saw Dean on the ground. They looked at me and then at Amber crying. Everyone started yelling profanities at me and I backed up. I looked at Amber, her mascara running from her tears.

“Just go…” she whispered, holding Dean.

I tried to speak but no words came out. I didn’t know what just happened. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t regret what I had done to Dean, but I regretted coming to this place. All the time I had spent with Amber meant nothing to her. She still loved the asshole, Dean. What more could I do? Sirens could be heard in the distance and I backed away, running into the woods. When the sirens faded in the distance, I lay down and rested, thinking back on all that had happened. I didn’t belong here. They were right…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 43: Colorful


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Kimmydon's Choice: both


What was that ground squirrel doing? I'd seen them eat all sorts of crazy things, but sipping from a straw? It was ludicrous. Still, he looked happy. He was getting whatever he was looking for from the bottom of the clear glass bottle. I'd tried to find my answer at the bottom of a bottle - long ago, and I didn't remember much of it.

I did remember waking up on my bed - head at the foot, feet on my pillow - with no idea how I had gotten there. I did remember waking up in strange rooms, strange houses, with strange people. All very friendly, luckily, all ready and willing to help me if I needed it.

I suppose, in a way, I did find what I was looking for in a bottle, or near one.

A shadow moved and the squirrel bolted. “How long you going to sit out here?” Deidre asked, putting her arm around my shoulders.

I turned to her, kissing her lips. “Just long enough for you to find me.”

Nothing had shocked me as much as waking up in bed with another woman, the taste of her still on my tongue. I still couldn’t remember the first night we spent together, but brunch the next morning, and dinner that night, and breakfast the day after that were all clear as day. She hadn’t let me crawl as far into the bottle again, and she’d kept me talking until all of the past ten years dripped from my lips and streamed with the tears from my eyes. She held me, stroked me, and showed me that a woman’s touch could be just what I needed, perhaps what I’d been missing in failed relationship after failed marriage after failed relationship. It was months before we made love a second time, but I was fully aware and fully participating.

No longer lost and alone, I had discovered what was missing in me. Not Deidre, she was a dear friend and partner - an addition to myself, not a substitute. I’d found the part I kept giving to men, the part I kept relinquishing, the part that had been smothered so long ago. Deidre and I nourished it, brought it back to life, until I was complete, on my own. I could be me again, without her. But I was so much more with her.

Hugging her tightly, I tucked my head under her chin, smiling. “Thank you.”

“Thank you, Penny. I’m so glad I found you.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome SwedenSara!

We have a new author for Fridays. You may have noticed her icon appear over the weekend. SwedenSara participated in the Twilight Twenty-Five for the fourth round and was hoping to find more prompts that fit Rosalie. Hopefully our photos will help!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Destynee Week 42: Don't Talk to Strangers

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 1

Don’t Talk to Strangers

Paige was sitting in her back yard with her dog Toby. Lost in thought, she didn’t notice that the sun was almost setting. Thunder sounded behind her and she broke out of her trance.

She sighed and looked at Toby as he laid his head in on her lap. “I guess that’s our cue to go inside.” She scratched behind his ears and he licked her bare thigh in gratitude.

“Come on, Toby.” She stood up and jumped from the bench but Toby didn’t follow he just made himself comfy and stared at her.

“Lets go, Toby.” She gave him a stern look but another round of thunder sounded and she shrugged. “Whatever, when it starts pouring, I’m not letting you inside.”

Paige avoided the rocks as she followed the path to the house. Her mom and dad were leaving for their 17th anniversary and she didn’t want them to miss their reservations because they needed to go over how to reach them at the hotel five million times.

“Paige? Paige are you in the house?” Her mothers voice echoed as she closed the back door and padded through the kitchen.

“Yeah, Mom, I’m here. Are you guys ready to go?” She entered the living room and saw her mom dressed in a fancy red dress and had to admit she looked good for being forty-nine.

“Yes, your father is just getting his jacket from upstairs. You know the rules, Paige: no boys, no partying, and don’t answer the door.”

Paige rolled her eyes. “We live on a dirt road and have no neighbors for eight miles. Who is going to knock at the door?“

Her mom put her hands on her hips. “Don’t give me that look. You know the rules, and your father and I will be home in the morning. And don’t forget to bring Toby in. You know how he gets in thunderstorms.”

“I will. Now you two have a great time, your seventeen - almost eighteen - year old daughter can spend one night alone.”

Her father came down and smiled at her. “Have a good night sweetie.” He looked down at Paige’s mom, smiled wide, and led her to the door. “Ready to go, love?”

Once they were out on the porch, Paige closed the door. She didn’t want to know what they were going to do in the hotel; she stifled a shudder. Ever since she caught them on their 14th anniversary they had started to spend the night at hotels.

Time passed quickly as Paige cleaned up the kitchen. She decided to watch ‘Beauty and The Beast’ before the thunderstorm kicked the lights off.

After singing her lungs out with the movie, she went upstairs to take a shower, blasting more music to fill up the quiet house. Too soon, she was done with her shower and headed back downstairs to watch another Disney movie she could sing along to.

She turned off her music and suddenly heard rain bashing against the house. “Oh shit! Toby!” As if on cue a huge roll of thunder rang through the house.

Paige ran outside and the huge rain drops assaulted her body. “Toby! Where are you? Toby! Come here, boy!” The rain was soaking her clothes and stinging her eyes. No sign of Toby and she had to go back inside before she got sick.

Man, her parents were going to be pissed. Toby freaked out during thunderstorms when he was outside. The flashing of the lightning and the sound of the thunder had made him run away more than once when she left him outside.

“Shit,” she muttered as she went up stairs to change into dry clothes. “This is turning out to be the best night ever.” She was digging through her drawers to get something to wear when the room went completely dark.

“Yup, perfect night. So much for my Disney marathon.” She stripped off her clothes and grabbed random replacements out of the dresser, threw her blonde hair into a messy bun and cautiously headed downstairs for candles.

After several hits to her shins, she made it into the kitchen and got enough candles lit that the living room and dining area had a soft relaxing glow.

After pulling out a paperback and stretching her abused legs on the couch, there was a pounding on the door even louder than the banging of the storm. Paige narrowed her eyes at the door. It was probably her parents testing her so she shrugged and went back to reading.

Bang, bang, bang!

“Gah! Can’t a girl get a break?” She threw down her book, grabbed a candle and headed for the door. “What?!” she snapped at the person as she threw open the door. A flash of blonde ran past her and into the kitchen. “Toby?” She furrowed her eye brows as he barked from the kitchen.

She turned back towards the door and saw a tall figure leaning against the door jam. “Um, can I help you?” she said as lifted the candle to see their face, but they were standing to far away for the glow to penetrate.

“I’m so glad you asked.” A deep cocky voice answered and Paige narrowed her eyes. “I need to use a phone, my car broke down about three miles up the dirt road and this is the only house I’ve seen.”

“I’m sorry, but as you can see, the lights are out and so are the phones. So you’ll have to walk another eight miles to the Smith house. I’m sure by then the phones will be on and you can call for help,” she said flatly, ready to shut the door.

“Yeah, I could do that or I could just wait here until the lights and phones come back on.”

Paige scoffed, “And why would I want to let you, a stranger, into my house?”

He laughed. “Because I brought your frightened puppy home. Wouldn’t you want to thank me for bringing him home before he was lost forever? I’m Ian by the way.” He stepped closer and the light finally caught his smirk.

“Well, I’m sorry, Ian, you’re going to have to find help somewhere else.” Paige said, trying to will herself to stop staring at his face.

His eyes were a shocking gray and his hair jet black and clinging to his face. Her gaze traveled down his body and he was wearing a t-shirt and dark jeans that were hanging low on his hips.

He cleared his throat and her eyes snapped back to his. His smirk slid back into place and he pushed his hair out of his eyes. “Please? I’m going to catch a cold out here. If I can’t stay until the lights come back on, can I stay until the storm blows over?”

Was Paige really thinking of letting him inside? She wasn’t very outgoing and Lord knew she wasn’t a person that strayed to the wild side. Was she crazy? She stepped aside and let him in, closing the door behind him and resting her forehead against the wood. Yes, she was officially crazy.

“You’re only going to stay until either the lights and phones come back on, or until the storm passes over. That’s it. Then you’re out.”

She turned around and he had his dripping shirt in his hand. “Do you have any towels? I’m going to mess up your hardwood floor.” She couldn’t stop staring at his chest -- his abs were perfection. Where the hell did this guy come from? She decided he came from the cover of Men’s Heath or maybe some teen dream magazine.

“Miss? Are you with me?” He waved his hand in front of her face and she shook herself.

“Uh, yeah. I’ll go get you some from upstairs.”

“Thank you.“ He grinned showing off perfect white teeth and Paige had to rip herself away from the sight. She took the candle and hurried upstairs.

After grabbing an armful of towels, she found Ian in the living room looking at the pictures and awards on the tables and walls. Paige cleared her throat, “Here you go, I got you a few towels. I didn’t know how many you needed.”

Her eyes traced up his stomach and down his defined arms, then back up to his smiling face. His gray eyes were bright in the candle light as he nodded in thanks.

Then he started to take his pants off. Paige’s eyes bugged and she slapped her hands over her eyes. “What the hell do you think you are doing?!”

All she could hear was his deep laughter and the sound of the slick clothes he peeling off his skin. “If I didn’t take off my wet clothes it would be the same as being out in the storm. I’d still get sick.”

His voice had that cockiness and matter of fact tone that made her want to slap him. But she also wanted to spread her fingers and get a glimpse of what had to be a sinuous, drop dead gorgeous body. Paige somehow had the restraint to refrain from gazing upon his naked body.

“I’ll go try to find you some clothes to wear. I can’t have you running around the house naked.” She turned and headed up the stairs again, but before she disappeared, she yelled at him “Put your clothes in the dryer. The laundry room is right next to the kitchen!”

Lord, she was going to die. A sexy stranger was in the house, the lights were off, and there was a huge summer storm outside. She pushed open her parents’ walk -n closet and caught sight how she looked in her mom’s mirror.

Her blonde hair was a bird’s nest on the top of her head; she was wearing bright orange shorts and had an old Power Rangers t-shirt on that she’d had forever. She hit her head against the mirror.

“I couldn’t have been wearing a sexy tank top with short shorts? Nooo, I have to wear this with a sexy guy downstairs.”

“I happen to like Power Rangers.”

Her head snapped at his voice, and she saw him leaning against the door jam. He had a towel wrapped around his waist and from the slit she could tell that he didn’t have his underwear on.

She looked back into his eyes and they were full of humor. “But before they turned into ninjas and tigers. I liked the Might Morphing Power Rangers. They were the shit.”

He took the towel that he had bunched in his hands and ran it through his hair to dry it. “I told you to stay downstairs,” Paige mumbled.

“No, you just said to put my clothes in the dryer, which I did. And then I came to find you.” His lips slid into that comfortable smirk once again.

Paige couldn’t help but stare at his full lips as they peeled back from his teeth. Damn it ,she almost sighed like a damn teenager when they see Justin Bieber! She turned sharply and dug into her dad’s ‘Goodwill’ stash and found Ian a old shirt and sweatpants.

“Here you go.” She threw them at him and he caught them easily. He jumped into the sweat pants up, then looked from the shirt back at Paige. “Is this your attempt to cover me up?”

Paige just turned around to shut the door while mumbling under her breath, “Yeah, like anyone would want to do that.”

“I’ll just keep it off for now it’s kind of hot in here. Must be the two of us.“

He started laughing and Paige slammed the closet shut. Annoyed she headed back down stairs. When she noticed that Ian wasn’t following her, she ran back up upstairs.

“I swear, if you are stealing something, I will get my baseball bat and beat you with it!” She went into her room to grab her bat, ready to back up her threat, when she saw Ian next to her dresser looking at her pictures.

“What are you doing in here?!”

“Just admiring your pictures and collection of books. Shakespeare and Austen, but then over here we have Kresley Cole and Gena Showalter. I think it is safe to say you like romance.”

He picked up a thin paperback that had her name on it. “Did you write a book?” he asked.

“Yes. Now give it to me and let’s go downstairs.” Please don’t flip through it, please don’t read it, she thought to herself. As if he read her mind, he smiled at her. “Brenda and Marcus‘s First Night by Paige Monroe?” He looked at her to explain but shrugged when she didn’t offer anything and flipped through the pages.

His eyes bugged then a sly smile replaced the shock. He cleared his throat. “Marcus placed his hand on Brenda’s inner thigh and relished the moan that came from her mouth. He put his mouth back to good use-”

Paige lunged for the book but he was quick and snatched it away. She tried repeatedly to grab it away from him but he was too tall.

“Give it back!”

He put it behind his back, and Paige smacked her chest into his trying to get the book. When she dropped the candle, it went pitch black.

She was suddenly aware of all the muscles in his body and the feel of his soft skin. The urge to jump back from him was strong, but he felt so warm and smelt so good.

Paige felt Ian’s warm hand on the side of her neck then softly working up to her chin to lift her gaze to his eyes. They were soft and seemed to be boring into her; she felt herself getting lost into his stare wonder what his lips would feel like…taste like. He leaned down to capture her lips in a kiss when she heard the thunk of her book on the floor and snapped out of the lust cloud she was trapped in.

She pulled away and quickly picked up her book, giving him a hard look. “Lets go downstairs.” He looked dazed but followed her out of her room and down the stairs.

They settled on the couch. Ian was looking at her and she was avoiding his eyes. “So you don’t have a cell phone?” Paige blurted out.

“Do you have a cell phone,” he asked. She narrowed her eyes at him.

“My job doesn’t pay me enought to afford one.”

He nodded. “I have the same problem. So you’re stuck with me until the storm blows over. And it sounds like it might be an all nighter.”

Paige scoffed. “The lights will be on by then and you can call your girlfriend or whoever to come and pick you up.”

He chuckled. “My girlfriend? Tell me this Paige. Why didn’t you let me kiss you?”

“I didn’t let you kiss me because I don’t know you. I don’t know if you have herpes or mono. That stays with you forever.” She shifted her gaze away from his eyes, not able to hold his stare.

“That’s it? You think I have a STD?” Paige crossed her arms in shock. “As if that isn’t enough!” He laughed the muscles in the stomach contracting and grabbing her attention. The pants hung low on his hips and she could see the V of his hips. A little lower and she was sure she would get a glimpse of Little Ian.

He cleared his throat to get her attention and she blushed as she met his knowing stare. “I assure you that I have no STDs Paige. And before you demand that I have a girlfriend I don’t. So answer me one more question please.”

He leaned in closer so he could whisper in her ear. “If I tried to kiss you again, would you stop me?” His breath tickled and she was getting lost in that lusty haze.

He brought his hands on her neck like last time and tilted her head up so she had to look at him. “What’s the worst that can happen?” He smirked, and it promised wicked things.

He brought his lips to hers and it was like instant fire. His kiss was hot and sensuous.

He leaned her back on the couch and fit between her thighs perfectly. Ian pulled the hair tie from her hair letting it fan out and smiled as he kissed down her neck. His hands roamed all over her body, his body rubbing in all the right places.

Paige wiggled underneath him as he kissed and sucked at her neck. She pulled him closer as he ground his hips against hers. Their panting and soft moans drowned out the pattering of the rain and crashing sounds of thunder.

He hissed as she moved her hips against him. “If you keep that up I’m going to need a new pair of pants,” he groaned as if in pain. Paige laughed as she did it again.

Suddenly the lights came on and there was a pounding at the door. They shot up from the couch and righted their clothes as the pounding continued. Paige was quicker than Ian and went to answer the door.

“Hello, ma’am, I’m Dave from the electric company I just wanted to tell you your lights are on and working. It shouldn’t give you anymore problems during the storm.” He nodded at her then took off into the rain towards his truck.

She closed the door and turned to go back to the living room when Ian was right behind her. “The lights are back on,” she said dumbly. He nodded but just looked at her. “The phone is over here. You can call whoever you need to.” She led him to the phone and started to walk away when he grabbed her arm and pulled her into another searing kiss.

When she pulled back his cocky grin was back in place. “Thank you.” He picked up the phone and Paige walked back into the living room to give him privacy.

She saw the pillows all over the floor and picked them up, thinking about what they had been doing not five minutes before. She blew out the candles and cleaned up the living room. Ian came in smiling.

“Thanks a lot, Paige. I called my brother and he said he’d meet me at my car.” He walked up to her and put something in her palm. “I have a feeling you’re going to need this.” He gave her one last look at his sexy smirk and headed out the door and lost into the storm.

She closed the door behind her and opened her palm. It was a small piece of paper with his number on it. Just as she smiled, she heard the drier timer go off. He’d need his clothes, right? Her lips curled into a grin. She’d be calling him in the morning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 42: Swallow Me Down

SnappleApple 450

Picture 1

Picture 2

SnappleApple 450's Choice: Picture 1

Swallow Me Down

You fill your cup half empty or full,

Does it matter the view you have to drink it all

You push and twist the childlock

The top comes off with a pop

Tap the bottle against your palm

Take a deep breath and remain calm

Truth, joy, dreams, and beauty

Hope, relief, perfection, sanity

All these things, the water will follow

Life is one tough pill to swallow

author note: Destynee did such a great poem last week it inspired me to do one too :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burntcore Week 42: Picture Perfect


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2

Picture Perfect

It was picture perfect: a couple’s first kiss while picking berries. A photographer couldn’t have asked for a better setting. The sun was just right, the mountains in the background were vibrant and clear. What was lacking? Faithfulness. Trust. Loyalty.


Because that man in the picture was my fiance... and the woman he was kissing was not me.

How I came across this photo was strictly accidental. See, I had a photographer friend, a relatively new friend who hadn’t met my fiance yet, and I was visiting at her studio. I was considering hiring her to do our wedding photography. Some of her work had been featured in the local paper and I liked her grasp of color and texture in photographs. It wasn’t a mere image, a moment frozen in time, but a work of art. So I made plans to stop by and look at some more of her work, especially from the weddings she had done, so I could get a better idea of her abilities.

As we were chatting over coffee, I flipped through some of the pictures she had in a spiral-bound book. The pictures were amazing, just like her work in the paper. Not all of them were of weddings, some were just of everyday life or posed portraits. She and I had built up a good rapport very quickly and she was jotting down a few notes on some of the things I wanted in our wedding package.

She didn’t even ask where my fiance was. Perhaps she was used to the men not really being involved in the majority of the wedding plans. Sean certainly was one of those. He wanted input on the cake, some of the music, and the tuxes. He said he trusted my judgement and taste with the photography and the flowers and the other decorations. I knew he would be happy with Julie. She was truly gifted with the lens.

I had just finished going through the first book of pictures when she brought her laptop over to the table. She explained that she wanted to show me some fo the more recent work she had done and some of the neat digital manipulations she could do to really make my wedding photos pop.

She clicked through a couple of photo albums on her computer, talking all the while, until I froze and my blood ran cold. Trying not think the worst of things, I asked her to stop on a particular picture, the picture perfect photo.

“Julie, where was this taken?” I asked, trying to sound a normal as possible while my heart was beating a mile a minute.

“Oh, at the Honeydale Berry Farm down Route 20. I was there taking photos of the farm for the owners when I came across this couple. I caught them right as they were leaning in for the kiss. It was such a sweet moment.”

I tried to fight the bile that was threatening to come up. As gently as I could, I pushed my coffee cup away from me.

“I thought I recognized that place. That was definitely a very sweet moment. Did you catch the name of the couple?”

Julie thought for a moment before answering. “I think he said his name was Sean and his girlfriend’s name was Rachel.”

Rachel? Didn’t Sean tell me he worked with a Rachel?

“Um, how recent is this picture?”

Julie seemed surprised by my interest in this particular picture but shrugged and checked which day she had been at Honeydale Berry Farm.

“Looks like I was there about three weeks ago. I knew it was fairly recently but couldn't remember exactly when.”

“This may sound like a strange request, but may I have a copy of this picture?”

Julie looked me strangely. “May I ask why?”

“Sure,” I replied as the fire in my belly started to spread. “I need to show it to my fiance, Sean, and ask him when he was going to tell me he was cheating on me.”

I spoke very matter-of-factly, when I really wanted to scream and shout. I wanted to find where that lying snake was and rip him a new one. However, I wasn’t going to sink to that level. I was better than that. Taking a deep breath, I buried those feelings of hurt, anger, and betrayal until I could deal with them later on.

Julie’s face drained of color as she looked back and forth between myself and the picture on the screen.

“Oh my God, are you serious?”

“As a heart attack.” I pulled my phone out of my purse and flipped through one of the picture galleries I had stored there. Picture after picture of Sean and I in various points of our relationship through the years.

“Anna, I had no idea,” Julie whispered.

“I know you didn’t. So, as much as I would love for you to take our wedding photographs, I don’t think there is going to be a wedding, at least not between Sean and I,” I said softly.

Julie nodded quietly and quickly printed a copy of the photo. I looked at the paper image in front of me coolly. The detail wasn’t as good as on the computer screen, but it had only been printed on regular paper and not photo paper. I didn’t mind. I could still tell who it was in the picture and I certainly wouldn’t want Julie to use up her expensive photo paper on something that was probably going to go in the trash by the end of the day.

“Anna, I don’t know what to say.”

“There really isn’t much you can say. You’ve helped me more than you can possibly realize. I will always be thankful for that.”

I folded up the picture and placed it in my purse. I gently caressed the two carat engagement ring that rested on my left ring finger. I couldn’t wait to rip it off and shove it so far down his cheating throat that he
choked on it.

Julie walked me out of the studio, her face still shocked. I stood tall and proud, not willing to let some man, some lying cheating douche-bag, bring me down. I was above this. I was above his games.

The day in question from the picture, he had told me he was working some overtime, trying to save up some extra money for the wedding. When he came home, he carried a couple of pints of fresh berries that he said he picked up at the store on the way home. I was touched by his sweet gesture, as strawberries were my favorite fruit. I used them that night for dessert.

When I got home to our apartment --well, my apartment since he moved in with me and the place was in my name—I started packing up all of his crap. I had some cardboard boxes laying around in a closet and started filling them up. I wasn’t going to stoop to his level. I wasn’t going to be one of those women who torched their cheating man’s stuff or just throw it in the box willy-nilly. No, I was still civil. I carefully boxed everything up, making the most of the space in each box. Taking my time meant I was less likely to miss something, which meant one less time I’d have to see him again

I had just finished packing up the third box when the man of the hour finally graced me with his presence. His eyes narrowed as he noticed a few things were missing in the living room, a few things that were his. He walked slowly through the house, his footfalls muffled by the carpeting in the hallway.

“Anna? Are you home?”

“Sure am,” I called cheerily, as I taped up the box.

Sean’s tall frame paused in the doorway, his eyes wide as he took in the scene before him.

“What’s going on? What are you packing?”

“Oh I think you know what is going on, Sean,” I replied sweetly. “And, I’m packing your stuff so you can get the hell out of my apartment.”


He had the gall to sound surprised by all of this.

“Do you have a hearing problem? Because I know you have another problem. Perhaps they are related.”

“Anna, what the hell are you talking about?”

I calmly stopped what I was doing, walked over to the dresser and grabbed the photo. I laid it on top of the box I had just finished taping and placed my engagement ring on top of it.

“That’s what I’m talking about. Now get the hell out. I’ll call you later when you can pick up your stuff. Oh, and leave your key.”

Sean’s face drained of color, similar to how Julie’s had, but the guilty look in his eyes was all Sean.

“Where did you get this picture?”

“Does it matter? The fact is I found it. Enough said. Now get out.”

“I can explain,” he insisted, with a pouty face that used to get him out of trouble before. Not anymore.

“I don’t really care what excuses you have, Sean. You lied to me. You betrayed me. You told me you were working that day. I guess you were working on something or someone else. So it’s over. I’m done. Take your fucking ring and get the hell out before I call the cops.”

Sean backed up a few steps but didn’t leave the room. “Anna, honey-“

“You really DO have a hearing problem!” I said, my voice raising. “Now get the fuck out of my apartment!”

The bastard still stood there, like there was anything he could say to justify what he did. Taking a deep breathe to calm myself, I grabbed my phone from my bed, dialed 911, and hit the speakerphone button.

“911, what is your emergency?”

“Hi, my name is Anna Rodriguez and I have a trespasser in my apartment who refuses to leave. I need him to be escorted from the premises.”

Sean’s eyes grew as big as saucers. He took a step back into the hallway, shaking his head from side to side.

“Okay, ma’am, I have already dispatched a unit to your location. Are you in any danger?”

“I’m not, but I can’t say the same for my intruder if he doesn’t leave.”

“Okay, ma’am, just remain calm. Police are on their way.”

“Thank you,” I said firmly and disconnected the call.

I stared at Sean with an arched eyebrow, daring him to do something, anything, as long as it involved vacating my apartment.

“Anna, what are you doing?” he whispered.

“I am moving on with my life. Now, unless you want to be arrested, I suggest you leave.”

“Won’t you let me explain?” he pleaded.

I had tried to be patient. I had tried to be nice, but this asshole was really pushing my buttons. I grabbed my engagement ring, rushed over and pushed him hard into the wall of the hallway. He was much bigger than I was, but I caught him off guard.

“There is nothing to explain,” I seethed. “Now get the fuck out!”

I put all my energy into shoving him down the hallway. As we approached the door, I could hear sirens getting closer. I let him go only long enough to open my front door.


“Anna, baby-“

Completely infuriated, I heaved, pushed, and shoved him through my front door. He stood there on the other side of the threshold completely dumbfounded. Two police officers were coming up the stairs and watched with interest.

“And stay out, you lousy piece of shit!” I hollered and threw my engagement ring at him. He ducked, like a pussy, earning a snicker from one of the officers standing behind him.

“Ma’am, are you okay?” the other officer asked.

“I’ll be fine once this unfaithful, lying piece of garbage leaves, Officer. Thank you for coming so quickly.”

Sean stepped towards me again, reaching out to me.

“Ah, I don’t think so, mister,” one of the officer said as they grabbed Sean’s arms from behind him and roughly pulled him back.

The officer continued to escort Sean out of the building while his partner asked me a few questions about the disturbance. About fifteen minutes later, they left, making sure Sean was off the property. I told the police that Sean could call me later in the week to pick up his stuff.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 42: Life, the Universe and Everything


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Picture 2

Kimmydon's Choice: both

Life, the Universe and Everything

Notebook in hand, I took my usual lunchtime post on the bench in front of City Hall. My glasses had slid down my nose, again, and I pushed them back into place. Honestly, even with a hundred adjustments, they’d never fit properly. I just had too pointed a nose, a slope too steep for anything but tape or glue to ignore.

Who would be my subject today? I spent every lunch hour watching one person, usually also outside, enjoying their lunch, and inventing some glorious past or present for them. Some were hilariously inglorious. One time, I wrote that the round bald man buying a hot dog on the corner was actually a former Luchador, Mexican wrestler, who had cheated on his wife and been forced to go into hiding. That was a good one. Where did I put his story?

I flipped back through pages covered in scrawling cursive. Someone blocked my light for a moment and I twisted a little until he passed.

“What ya writing?” someone asked beside me. I slipped right off the edge of the bench onto my ass. My glasses slipped to the tip of my nose as I did, and the traitor pen rolled under the bench, right behind one scuffed up sneaker. Who wore sneakers with those nice pants? My eyes lifted to see a younger man sitting on the bench. He had dark sunglasses and clean cut black hair. His burgundy tie was hanging loose on his blue shirt, unbuttoned halfway to reveal a band T-shirt. My roommate would probably know the group, but I didn’t.

“Nothing,” I muttered, moving to my hands and knees to retrieve the errant pen. He shifted his foot to cover it. I scowled up at him. “Can I have my pen, please?”

“Only if you tell me what had you grinning and flipping pages a moment ago. You’ve got something good in that notebook.” He grinned, white teeth standing out against tanned skin.

Grumbling I brushed off my knees and settled back on the bench beside him. It couldn’t have been a moment, but now his arm stretched across the back of it. Someone thought highly of himself. Pushing my glasses up, I resumed my flipping. I kept darting my eye to the hot dog stand. That guy came every couple of days. Opening to the right page, I handed him the book and pointed to the hot dog stand. As if on cue, Luz Maria Diaz de Leon de Vaca came out of the building across the street.

“This is his story.”

As the nameless, intrusive, and way too stealthy guy skimmed the page, I retrieved my pen from under his foot. I resumed scanning the block for my latest subject. He started to chuckle and I looked at him again.

“That’s good. You do this often, then?” He put his arm on the back of the bench again, making me uncomfortable.

“Most days, yes. I like to write in my spare time. Sometimes I’ll plot out whole stories from these.” I turned to a clean page before setting my chin on my hand, not wanting to lean back.

His elbows came to his knees as he struck a similar pose. “What are we looking for?”
At this angle I could see though the side of his glasses to his eyes. They were a still shaded, but seem to gleam with mirth.

“You’re very pushy, you know that? A subject. Someone I haven’t written.” I took the opportunity to lean back. I noticed his line of sight stayed on my knee for a moment before turning to the street again.

“I’ve been told. I figure, you’re not going to get what you want by stepping around it.” He leaned back putting his arm around me again. “Her,” he said, nodding his head. “The one in the heels. Done her?”

The woman wore a knee length black skirt and sheer black blouse over camisole. Her honey coloured curls fell to her shoulders and were pinned up on one side.

“Nope.” Narrowing my eyes on those heels, I put pen to paper.

Grateful to finally be out from under his thumb, she donned the one thing she knew he couldn’t resist. She was walking over his heart, stabbing it with one sharp heel as she departed. He had no control over her anymore. His contract, and hers, was finished. She would be a free agent from now on, finding her own clients, deciding what she charged, proving she was worth every penny.

“She’s a whore?” he asked.

I started, scrapping a long inked furrow down the page. “No! She’s a consultant.” I shook my head at his implication and started making notes in the margin while they were fresh. 10 yr term, ad business, jr intern makes big, lands deal he only dreamed of

“Oh. Just.. y’know, under his thumb, controlling...”

“Who are you?” I asked, unable to bear it any longer.

“Dan. You?”

I didn’t answer, bending over my page again. I heard a rustle and peeked at him out of the corner of my eye. He had my purse!

“What are you doing?!” I grabbed for it, but he held my licence and let me have the purse.

“Jennifer Chase. Oooh, Chase, I like that.”

“Give me that.” I snatched it back.

“You’re only a year older than me. Shame I didn’t grow up here, I could have been your prom date.” His smile was huge, and I had the unusual urge to slap it. I wasn’t a violent person, and without siblings, there were few people who had aggravated me as much as Dan did.

“Excuse me,” I said, slipping my notebook and pen back in the purse and rising.

“Oh, you’re going to want this, too,” he said passing over my phone. My jaw dropped. Recovering slowly, I narrowed my eyes.

“Enjoy your weekend,” I said icily, taking it from his hand. I could feel his eyes on me the whole way back to my office. Honestly, who was he?!

“Come on, Jenn. You can bring your notebook and be boring, just come with us.” My roommate was tugging on my arm as I fought her pull.

“No, Marla. I don’t want to go,” I whined. I was so comfy in my sweats. I didn’t want to get dressed.

“You don’t have to change much, just a different shirt. You’ll have fun, I promise. Lots to see. You need to get out of this house!”

I couldn’t argue with her there. I’d stay glued to the couch for the whole weekend if she brought food.

With a loud sigh, I relented and she yanked me right off the sofa. “Okay. Let me brush my hair.”

“Take your time. Denise won’t be here for another fifteen to pick us up. It’s just the lake, not a club or anything.” She followed me into the bathroom and cleaned my glasses while I fixed my ponytail.

“Thanks,” I said, peeling off my sweatshirt and taking them back. Hands on hips, I faced my closet. The lake. What to wear to the lake? I yanked a blue button down off its hanger.

“That’s nice,” Marla said, appraising. Then she giggled. “Cottontails have to stay home.”

I laughed too, swapping for a pair of sneakers. “You’re sure this is okay?” I was used to dressing for the office, but didn’t really go out with Marla and her friends much.

She smiled. “Yep. I mean, I’m not dressed up, am I?” She wasn’t in faded jeans and a t-shirt.

“Which band is that?” I asked, pointing. “I saw someone wearing one of their shirts yesterday.”

“Really? They’re local,” she said pulling it down and looking at it. “I only bought it because the logo was great.” It was an office tower with all the windows breaking, bursting out. “They’re the Sonic Wave. Get it, blowing out the windows?”

I nodded. We both turned at the door buzzer. Marla ran to the keypad first, pressing the button and calling, “We’re on our way.”

Grabbing my purse I followed her out.

The day was gorgeous. The sun was bright and high, warm enough that I wished I hadn’t worn sweatpants. Sitting on picnic bench, I soaked rays while injecting my own little tidbits into the girls’ conversation.

“Hello, ladies.” The male voice made me open my eyes and sit up. There was a group of five young men approaching. The other girls seemed to shift, trying to get a better look, but I just cringed and reached for my purse. I wasn’t going to be of any interest to these guys, I might as well do something productive.

“Seems I’m done chasing,” one of them said, and my head whipped back to the group. There was Dan, shirtless, approaching. I groaned and covered my face with my hand.

“What?” Marla whispered.

“Remember me telling you who ‘42’ was?” The jerk had put his number in my phone.

Marla snickered. “That’s him,” she said still quietly. “Hubba hubba.” She couldn’t tease me more as he was quickly drawing closer.

“I’m starting to think you’re following me,” I complained, crossing my arms.

He laughed loudly. “With that pale skin? I’m here all the time. It’s you following me, I think.” He put a hand to my arm below my sleeve and it was hard not to flinch.

“Who are your friends, Dan?” one of the others asked.

When he turned we all got a look at the wings tattooed on his back. They were very nicely done. I wondered if they’d hurt. “Don’t know the others, but the very literate Jennifer Chase is here.”

There were a couple of chuckles, so he must have mentioned me to them. He really had some nerve. Rather than respond, I continued what I had been doing and pulled out my notepad and pen.

“Look out! She’s armed!” one of the other men teased. I ignored him.

Dan piped up, “Hey, don’t joke about that. She’s deadly with that thing. Next thing you know, you’ll be the mail room boy who can’t get his shit together and never has a girlfriend.”

I couldn’t help it, I laughed at that.

“Hi, I’m Denise, this is Marla...” The other girls started introducing themselves, but Dan took their vacated seats to lounge beside me, reading over my shoulder again.

“You want something, 42?” I asked. “What is that anyway? A jersey number?”

He put a hand to his chest. “I’m appalled. You don’t know what 42 is?”

I scoffed, “A way to make sure you’re at the top of my call list?”

“No, Miss Priss,” he said, smirking. “I am the answer to life, the universe and everything.”

I’d been had. “Douglas Adams. Well played. So you’re not only pushy, you’re full of yourself, too.” He still rubbed me in every kind of wrong way, but damn if he wasn’t starting to grow on me.

“Yeah, well, I was going to take you to heaven with me. One day you’ll know what you missed,” he said holding the back of his cap and walking out on the dock.

The knight, having driven the princess to the point of exiling him from her kingdom, returned as the last of her guard fell to give her the ingredient she needed to cast her protective spell.

“How did you know where to find it?” she asked.

“I’m good like that.”