It’s Writing Challenge time!

Writing Challenge BubbleHappy Friday everyone 🙂 It’s #WritingChallenge time! You know what to do…read, write, share and enjoy!

It’s the moment your character realizes they’re attracted to – and a little bit in love with – their best friend! What happens?

We can’t wait to read your scenes on Monday and are so excited to see which character’s perspective you write it from!

Happy writing 🙂

The Sold Editors x

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  1. Maggie Jones

    “Hello there, Handsome.”
    Nic Mulholland looked up, around the packed and arguing gallery, then back at the text that had just flashed up on his phone. Nope, absolutely no question who’d texted.
    His thumbs caressed the keys briefly, then quickly flashed into action.
    “Missing me?” he typed.
    Her reply was equally fast.
    “It’s been so long.”
    “Two hours, Cary.”
    “I felt so cold after breakfast when you left.”
    Risking sending his blood pressure soaring when he should have been concentrating, he sent, “That would be because of the tiny little nightie you were wearing.”
    “You no like?”
    “Even my toast incinerated…”
    “Maybe if you’d given me your pj top to coverup?”
    “Difficult. I don’t wear pjs, remember.”
    There was no reply to that, so after a minute he texted, “What’s on your mind? I thought we were both had an important meeting to go to this morning.”
    “Am just imagining you beside me.”
    “Beside you where, exactly?”
    “Well, since you ask…”
    He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and thanked god everyone’s attention was on his assistant, pen in hand, whiteboard before him, pointing out the statistics that mattered.
    “Don’t toy with a man’s emotions,” he bashed out.
    No reply again.
    Nic swigged his coffee and tried to pay attention to what the curator was saying. Then his phone vibrated again.
    “OK, since you ask, big boy, beside me walking me up the aisle.”
    Nic choked on his drink. The meeting came to a standstill. Someone patted him on the back. Someone else brought him a drink of water. Really nice of them. None of it helped.
    He signalled them to continue, and forced himself to keep his eyes off her. It wouldn’t be a good idea to look. To make eye contact. Something in him hurt like hell. And he had a nasty suspicion she’d see. She’d always seen what he was thinking, ever since kindergarten. His fingers flew over his keypad.
    “Run that by me again.”
    “Martin and I are getting married, Nic. Finally. In two weeks. I need my best guy to give me away. Will you do it?”
    He looked up then alright, right across the table at her, sitting there anxiously nibbling her lip. Not looking at him. He’d been away for six months. Away from the London house they’d shared for years. It had seemed like a good idea to him at the time. His ideas weren’t always that great.
    “Well?”
    He watched her send the text. He barely glanced at it. He couldn’t seem to take his eyes off her. And then she looked up. She was pale, those green eyes even bigger in her face and her efficient-as-all-hell hairstyle was hanging around her face where she’d been pulling down strands. He knew her nervy habits better than he knew himself.
    So he nodded.

  2. Maggie Jones

    TGIF! It’s playtime!
    This snippet might make more sense if I could have put italics on their texts. Sorry!
    Also, must say – lovely knowing who the Sold Team are! *waves to Team Sold, sends them happy weekend wishes (and virtual prosecco)*

  3. April Arrington

    It was a well-known fact that little Skinny Charlie Lee had a mouth on her.
    Ty Jacobs just never knew it could be as sexy as hell.
    “I’ve blen wanting to do that fo sho long,” she slurred softly against the shell of his ear after breaking the kiss.
    Ty attempted to peel his eyelids open and drag himself back into awareness. The act was a lot more difficult than it should’ve been on account of the tequila. And the whiskey. And, maybe the-
    What the hell was it they’d started with?
    He was drunk as a skunk. This had to be some sort of strange liquor induced hallucination. Little Skinny Charlie Lee would never sneak into his bed in the wee hours of the morning. Let alone, put the moves on him.
    Relaxing, he settled back against the sheets. His brain had just gotten mixed up in his sleep was all. That’s what a wedding rehearsal, bachelor party and passing out in a guest room did to a Best Man’s mind. It made it malfunction and put Charlie’s cute little noggin on some other fantasy’s body. He wasn’t altogether at ease with it but…so what? It was just a harmless little dream. He might as well enjoy it.
    “Have at it, baby,” he chuckled on a stretch.
    A smile spread across his face as the silky hair on the cute Charlie noggin brushed by, catching on the stubble of his cheek. Slim knees splayed across his hips and pressed him deeper into the bed. Her talented tongue made swift work of parting his lips.
    Watermelon… No. Sweet and sour apple. The soft sweep of her tongue shared a tantalizing hint of it each time it passed. Must’ve been that green concoction she’d tossed back repeatedly at the rehearsal dinner, eyeing him over the shot glass.
    He swallowed and put a hand to the back of her head, gaining a better angle to delve deeper into the flavor. Her soft moan entered his mouth and set his blood on fire. Something soft nestled into the roving cup of his palm.
    Ty managed to crack the corner of one eye open and admire the way her small breast fit so perfectly-
    Wait a minute! This was Charlie. In the flesh. The same Charlie he’d first sparred with over a water pistol when he was seven. The same Charlie that had written his essay for Mrs. Peters in eighth grade when he’d been too slack to do it. And the same Charlie that had kicked him in the nether regions when he’d-
    Aw, hell. He’d rather not think about his nether regions right now. Especially since she was having a different effect on them this time. A drastically different effect.
    He blinked, struggling to clear the fog from his pupils. “Charlie-”
    “Shhhhh…” Two fingertips fumbled over his face, drawing down his cheek to settle hard on his chin.
    He grinned. Damn, she was lit. But, then again, so was he.
    “You hafta be quiet,” she breathed. “Mark’s still up.”
    “What?” The strangled squeak that burst from him was decidedly feminine.
    Mark. Her older brother. His best friend. The one getting married tomorrow. And the one who’d designated him Best Man.
    Ty froze. If Mark knew he was feeling up his little sister, he’d touch his backside with the blast of a bullet.
    Touch… Ty groaned. Lord have mercy, what was she doing with her hands?
    He heaved his upper half to his elbows, half-regretting the impulse when the earth tilted and brought the top of her gleaming, brown-haired head into his blurry vision. She flung her bob back just as she finagled her nails into the gap of his dress shirt and yanked. Buttons popped, clanged and scattered across the bed and onto the floor, rolling and spinning in all directions.
    Charlie smiled down at him. Those little dimples of hers denting to brag their existence.
    “That was afwat louder than I thlought it’d be,” she twittered out on a giggle.

  4. Fallon De Mornay

    “Here,” Hunter strolled over, set down his empty on the counter beside her. Reached up. “Let me…I can—” Their fingers brushed and he almost swore the snap of electricity was more than just static, but a spark forged from his own sexual heat. Surprised, she’d jerked away from him, her bracelet catching the plastic wrapped around the cardboard and the box tumbled down the shelf to bean him across the head.
    “Oh!” She spun around, eyes wide and hands to her mouth. “Oh, Hunter, I’m so sorry.”
    “I’ll live.” He laughed, rubbing a hand to his brow; it hadn’t hurt, smarting only his pride. But she was pulling at his hand, brushing back his hair so she could inspect. Not such a bad deal, he thought, backed against the counter as her breath skimmed the side of his face, his skin warming under the touch of her fingers stroking over his temple.
    “How does it look?” He smiled. “Will I make it?” She answered him with a laugh, as he hoped she would. He’d always loved the sound of her voice, her laugh, and suddenly, he wanted to stretch out this rare moment with the two of them alone.
    Free of prying family eyes…
    When had they got this close, she wondered. Close enough for her to see the grain of stubble on his jaw, the texture of his lips…
    God, he’d done a lot of growing up over the years. A realization that struck her all the harder now that they were standing together. Alone. Without the blanket of predawn to shroud most of the details.
    His face, once rounded with the boyishness of youth, had leaned out, trimmed of its adolescence. And it certainly wasn’t boyish anymore. All angular and with an edge that would have seemed dangerous were it not for the smile he often carried in his eyes, more gold than the familial ‘Mercer’ green and almost the same tawny hue as his hair.
    Lynn swallowed hard. Those eyes weren’t smiling now. And the look in them wasn’t playful but searching…dangerous.
    “Not sure.” She eased away from him. “Might need three…maybe four invisible stitches. Could leave a scar.”
    “A scar? Jeez,” he clicked his tongue. “Can’t you just kiss it better?”
    She blinked at the request, eyes wide and bright as a startled puppy. “Excuse me?”
    “I’m injured.” Hunter tapped a finger to his brow, flashed a slow, easy grin that he’d learned to perfect during his time abroad. “And since you’re at fault, I figure a kiss will let you off the hook. Or I can always tell mama you beat up her favourite son.”
    Was he flirting? The firing senses of her startled nerves choked her ability to think rationally, coherently. No, you idiot, he’s just being Hunter. This is a game. A joke. Something for a laugh. Don’t be a moron, just…do something!
    “Oh, sure, big baby.” She laughed to mask the quiver of anticipation, rising to her toes, slid her arms around his shoulders, and struggled not to think about the feel of his hands as they found her waist. Deliberately, Lynn slowed down her movements, gentle, easy so that her racing heart steadied.
    But under the press of his hands, her skin warmed, those arms circled as he drew her closer and closed his eyes, savouring the sensations of her breath against his skin, followed by the soft, luscious texture of her lips brushing along his temple, for the briefest instant before easing away. The faint whisper of her delicate perfume swam in his head and made him almost giddy.
    Suddenly, and with an urgency he hadn’t expected to rise within him so aggressively, Hunter wanted to touch her. And not just touch, but possess. To feel the curve and contours of a body he’d only ever fantasized about, starting with those lovely breasts and down to stroke his hands over the length of Lynn’s endless legs, to know the wild and wicked excitement of wrapping them around him.
    A wild sort of need that boarded on the edge of irrational and insane.
    “There,” he managed in a voice far too serious to pass for teasing. “All better.”
    “Yes. Um.” Edging further away, she snatched up the large box of paper towel, hugged her arms around it, needing the distance and the shield.
    “I could take those for you.” Hunter offered, and when he took her arm, she made sure the smile she cast him was fast and impersonal. She needed to get out of there.
    Now.
    Another minute. Another second, anything longer would be dangerous. He was still watching her too carefully for her comfort. And Lynn was terrified of what he would see.
    “No, it’s alright. I’m heading back up to the kitchen, anyway. Thanks.”
    As she fled, leaning back against the counter, Hunter tucked his tongue in his cheek, folded his arms across his chest. She’d almost leapt out of her skin when he’d touched her arm, just as she had earlier from the brush of their hands, startled by the spark of static.
    Nothing to be skittish about, but then, he supposed, that was the sort of effect Lynn had on him for as long as he could remember. She was always sparking under his skin, jolting him with electric bursts of need.
    And now, he began to wonder if perhaps she wasn’t the only one doing the sparking.

  5. Yvonne R.

    “What do you mean you know what I am?” Shyla hissed over top of the deli case at Matt. His lunch combo had come to a dead stop.

    “Baby, I knew what you were the moment I laid hands on you.” Matt gave her that slow sexy smile that always made heat climb up Shyla’s body.

    Matt kept his voice low too, neither one of them wanted to gain the interest of any of the other customers.

    Shyla ran her tongue over dry lips, she would have to ask. “So what am I?”

    Matt took in her lifted eyebrow, her hand on one slim hip. He remembered sliding his hand over it very well, and lower.

    “Baby, you’re a shapeshifter.” Matt shrugged. “I’ve known almost as long as I’ve know you.”

    “How did you find out?” Shyla’s eyes flashed fear.

    Matt tapped his index finger to his broad chest. “Hello, witch.” Then he realized why she had fear in her eyes, not because he might expose her, but because she thought being a shapeshifter would change how he saw her.

    Matt stepped behind the deli counter, moving inside Shyla’s personal space, she placed her hands on his muscular chest as he grasped her upper arms. His looked down into her eyes.

    “Know this. You are the most important person in the world to me. You always have been.” Matt moved one hand up to brush his thumb across her dusky cheek. “You are my best friend and the woman I want to spend my life with.” Now he swallowed. “As long as you don’t have a problem with me being a witch.”

    Shyla’s fear melted and she leaned against his hard body. “Are crazy?” She said grinning at his reaction to the full contact. “Of course not, once you’ve had a witch you will never switch.”

  6. Elle Marlow

    Honey And the Law

    “Put your hands behind your back and I’ll ask the sheriff to go easy on you.”

    Honey Jacobs looked up to Billy and stuck her tongue out. “We grew up together. I was the only girl who would show you what petticoats look like under all these silly skirts when we were no older than ten. And now you’re just gonna stand there and arrest me Billy? When pigs fly!” She tried lifting a knee to kick backwards and hopefully connect her boot heel on his shin, but Billy was quick despite his size, easily side-stepped out of the way. Besides, he was the one who taught her how to do it.

    “Honey, settle down. I told you if you kept on trying to steal Mr. Jacob’s horse that I’d have to arrest you for rustling.” She spat. Her curls fell out of her bonnet as her eyes burned. Billy was dead serious.

    She calmed down then looked at him. “You ain’t serious, right Billy. I mean we promised to marry each other if no one else will have us.”

    Billy locked gazes with her and her tummy turned just like it does when they roll the wagons up and down the steep hills. She licked her lips. She kinda liked how it made her feel all warm and gushy.

    “If you keep actin’ like a boy, Honey Jacobs, I’ll be forced to marry you. Don’t you know that men want decent women, with soft skin and gentle manners?”

    “But not you, huh Billy? You like me how I am.” He wrapped a stray flaxen curl around his finger, then he let it slip slowly through his grasp. This time, instead of her tummy tickling, something else did and she gasped despite herself.

    “I don’t mind that you act like boy…” he whispered.
    She purposely batted her eyes at him. “You still gonna take me in to the sheriff?”

    “Nope, the judge.”
    “The judge!”
    “Uh huh, Cos I figure the only way to keep an eye on you, is to make you my wife.”

    The End. 🙂

  7. Will took the casserole dish off the counter and dunked it into the sudsy water. He had rinsed it already so the worse of the Italian chicken pasta sauce was already removed.

    He snuck a sideways glance at Hannah as she dried the lid. With her red roan hair pulled back in a pony she looked thirteen again.

    His hint of a laugh made Hannah look up at him with smokey green eyes. “What?” She asked with a slight smile. No, there was no mistaking the full grown woman for a young girl.

    “I was just thinking you look about thirteen right now.” Will raised one massive shoulder in a shrug.

    “Thanks, I think.” Hanna wrinkled her nose at him. “You don’t look at all thirteen years old.”

    Not with that body or that face. Will looked even better now than when they had been in their teens and she had had the biggest crush on her brother’s best friend.

    In the last few weeks, sharing a house with Will had reignited that crush and pushed it all the way to full blown infatuation. Maybe even beyond that, but without asking Will about his feelings, Hannah didn’t want to explore her emotions too much.

    “What? I look like an old guy?” Will lifted the dish into the double sink and ran the sprayer over it to remove the suds.

    “No, of course not, you are certifiably hunk material. No wonder Tiffany is mad I am sharing rent with you. She probably thinks I have designs on you. Besides you’re only three years older than me.” Hanna tried to keep it sounding casual. Dropping Will’s girlfriend’s name would divert his attention right?

    Will turned to look Hannah in the eye. “And do you?”

    “What?” She said, trying to sound innocent.

    “Do you want to take this friendship further than that awkward kiss we shared when we were teenagers?” Hanna could see Will was completely serious.

    “I, I don’t know.” The words stumbled out, but they weren’t the right words. What was wrong with her? The answer was obvious, fear.

    “Then let’s find out shall we?” Will moved, grasping Hannah around the waist and pulling her against his tall hard body then his mouth came down on her upturned lips.

    Will had learned a thing or two about kissing women during the ensuing twelve years since he had last kissed Hannah and he used none of it consciously. This was about raw emotion and need.

    Hannah responded to that emotion with her own need. Her lips clung to Will’s and she dropped the tea towel to bury her fingers in his thick,thick wavy auburn hair.

    It was such a relief to finally get to touch him as she wanted. To feel that strong mouth take her kiss, experience the texture of his skin against hers as ran her hands down his broad back and under his shirt to touch his hot skin.

    Will slid his own hands under her tank top and touched her pale skin. He could feel her respond, her nipples hardened under his touch, he devoured her mouth as his body responded too.

    They broke the kiss, both breathing hard but still touching.

    “I think the dishes can wait.” Hanna said huskily.

    For an answer Will took Hannah up in his arms and carried her to his bedroom, kicking the door shut with his foot.

  8. Toni D

    The time in the restaurant went by so fast to Danni, it was a like a blur. She listened intently to every word Oliver spoke. He had a way of describing things that make her feel like she was there with him while it happened. Some of the stories he told her about his work were so funny, she cried with laughter until her sides hurt. Danni watched in amazement, how easy it came to him to charm the waitress with his captivating and confident personality. By the end of the night he had them all, including the cook, eating out of his hands.
    When Oliver left the table to use the rest room, one of the older waitresses came over to her. “Is there anything else I can get you two?”
    “No thank you.” Danni looked up at her smiling.
    She placed the bill on the table and started to remove their empty plates then looked at Danni. “You got a great catch there with Officer Rizzo, you know. I’d treat him right if I were you. There’s line clear out the door of woman ready and willing to take your place if you won’t watch yourself. With me first on line, if I only younger.” Her smile narrowed.
    “Yes! I can see that!” Danni gave her half knowing smile, noticing Oliver was walking back to their table.
    “One thirty in the morning! Where the hell did the time go? She looked down at her watch and scooted out of her chair as Oliver approached the table. “It’s almost two in the morning. I have to get going.”
    “Time flies when you are having fun.” He smiled forming those adorable dimples on his face.
    “Hmm…yes it was fun.” She bit her bottom lip watching him lean over the table to place some money on the table for the bill. Her cheeks grew red when she seen the corners of his lips curl up catching her checking out his ass.
    “You ready?” He placed his hand on hers.
    The night ended with Oliver walking Danni to her car and kissing her passionately until her body turned into an inferno.
    “Can I see you tomorrow? Dinner at the beach” he whispered, moving his mouth away from her lips. “I know a quaint restaurant in Treasure Island that serves great food and every Sunday they have this event called The Drum Circle. It’s s bunch of people getting together and playing all different types of drums.”
    “Oh…I heard of that. Danni responded with interest.It’s supposed to be pretty cool.Have you’ve been there before?”
    “Yea…it’s really laid back. You almost feel like you went back in to the hippy era, very interesting. You might even smell a wave of weed.” He chuckled exposing those dimples again.
    “That sounds like a lot of fun.” She leaned against the car door. “Call me tomorrow with the plans. I’ve got to go before I fall asleep. I’m so sleepy”. She stretching her arms yawning.
    Oliver gazed his eyes down at her mouth and brushed his thumb across her lip capturing them with his. “You taste so sweet” he bit her bottom lip gently. “I’ll call you tomorrow to get your address.” then moved his lips away from hers.
    She stuck her hand out the window, waving goodbye and adjusted her mirror to look at him one more time before driving away. He waved back then jumped in his truck with a broad smile on his face.
    Yep…Danni sighed. She was in big trouble with Officer Rizzo and those adorable dimples. She fixed her mirror again then turned the music on heading home.

  9. Fiona Marsden

    Tony Fairweather was a beautiful woman. No two ways about it.
    Gray couldn’t take his eyes off her. He’d never seen her like this. She usually wore jeans and snug T-shirts that showed off her assets in a way that was a challenge for a guy in the friend zone. She’d been his best mate since her family moved onto the farm next door when she’d been eight and he’d been twelve. Enough of a difference to give him the advantage but she’d challenged it all the same.
    Looking at her now, her ginger hair somehow all burnished like copper under the halo of white flowers it was hard to recall the freckle faced carrot top with two plaits flying as she raced her pony down to the creek. The white gown flowed out behind her as she made her way down the aisle, following her sisters and the niece who was a flower girl. Her dad looked proud as punch, one arm hooked through hers as she carried a giant bouquet of white roses and lilies. Her eyes, with the impossibly long lashes were lowered to the rose strewn carpet immediately in front of her.
    It was perfect. Tony coming down the aisle to him. It was how it was meant to be.
    A restless movement beside him distracted Gray from the impossible vision. His brother was watching her too, his face impassive. Ben should be the happiest man in the world, marrying Tony today. He’d been the kind to appeal to Tony, stable, kind, responsible. That was why he’d left after he’d stuffed everything up with her six months ago. A lifelong friendship ruined by one stupid night when he’d given in to the urge to kiss her. His brother’s girlfriend. If only he’d stopped at that.
    She must have told Ben because his brother had been cold ever since. Even when he’d rung with the date of the wedding.
    “You’ll be my best man, Gray. People would talk if my only brother didn’t stand up with me at my wedding. I’m not upsetting our parents.”
    The music stopped as the bride reached the altar. Her father kissed her as he handed her over to Ben. The oldest bridesmaid took the bouquet and Gray stiffened as her eyes lifted to meet his. They glittered, bright as emeralds and he saw tears like dew on her lashes. Her hand, with the diamond engagement ring Ben had given her, rested on the mound of her stomach. He swallowed, the bow tie constricting his throat. Everyone was watching. Like they knew it was his fault. He opened his mouth, searching for the right words.
    “I object.”

    • Jacqueline Burrows

      Wow! Powerful stuff! Beautiful description of the bride and what a twist! Great writing Fiona. Lots of weddings in this challenge.

    • Calida Ally

      Oh my goodness, Fiona! Beautiful descriptive writing as always! Your writing has the power to really grab the reader’s attention and wow! What a great way to end the excerpt!!! 🙂

    • Chris Buono

      I would have liked to have seen more dialogue break up the finely-written description here, Fiona.

      That said, your description gives a good sense of looking in on an actual event. Nice lead up to the ending twist. Any ideas to continue?

    • Fiona Marsden

      I think there is a longer story in it Chris. I agree about the dialogue but it’s not really appropriate at a wedding 😉

    • Chris Buono

      Not everyone is always so obedient, Fiona. 😉

      –Could have some silent “rah-rah” words mouthed from the “sidelines” by key secondary char, as the Bride enters, and she acknowledges with a twisted face over the interruption or silently mouths a bark back?

      –A ringing cellphone that brings about a slight interruption, met with snide glances?

      –An overzealous guest taking pics out of line, being told not to do so in pantomime by another guest as the Bride continue along?

      All depends on what you’re going for and ultimately, your decision. 🙂

    • Fiona Marsden

      Considering there is about to be heaps of dialogue and action it doesn’t worry me too much. It’s a vignette so things happen before and after. In a book you probably wouldn’t notice a page without much dialogue in the midst of the action. Besides, if I turned it into a story I’d probably put a lot of the back-story from this somewhere else…like before he gets to the wedding so that would cut the length of his introspection back quite a bit.

    • Vicki Lane

      Fiona, this is a powerful scene. I love the emotions you’ve evoked through Gray and her eyes glittering like emeralds with her hand on her stomach filled us in on her emotions. Want to read more for sure!

    • Sold Editors

      What a cliffhanger! You sure know how to keep us wanting more, Fiona! We want to know more about what happened 6 months ago!

  10. Rebecca Laurence

    (This may be a little risky)

    “Air New Zealand Flight NZ1 from London via Los Angeles is due to arrive at 10.29pm at Gate 3.”

    Chloe heard the announcement she had been waiting for all week. She was so excited to be seeing her best friend again after 6 months. They had started their big OE together with a group of university friends, But Chloe had to come back home to Auckland after only 6 months abroad. They had kept in touch, Skyping at least once a week. It sounded like they had been having an awesome time and Chloe felt a little disappointed that she couldn’t stay on longer.

    Standing in the waiting area, watching as each passenger walked into view from customs clearance, she could feel the excitement pulsating through her veins. She felt like she wanted to literally jump for joy as she saw the sleek blonde hair of her friend round the corner. She knew she missed her friend immensely but didn’t realize until today just how much.

    “Chloe!”

    Chloe ran towards her best friend. “Bianca!” Chloe shouted back.

    Bianca dropped her hand luggage and stepped out from behind the trolley to greet Chloe. As they embraced Chloe felt a sudden surge in adrenaline and tried to stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. “God I have missed you.”

    As Chloe lifted her head to look at Biancas face she felt a rush of emotions that she had never felt towards anyone else before. Bianca was gorgeous and Chloe suddenly became very aware of how close they were to each other. Chloe had never had a really serious relationship before with anyone, male or female, and she felt a little confused. However looking into Bianca’s icy blue eyes she felt the need to place a tender kiss on her bee-stung pouty lips, but held back for fear of what Bianca’s reaction might be.

    “I’ve missed you too Chloe. It is so good to be back on kiwi soil.” Bianca lowered her head towards Chloe and as their lips lightly touched Chloe knew that she was never going let Bianca out of her sight again.

  11. Calida Ally

    Lyle’s office door flew open, making him look up from the documents he had been signing.
    Heather, who he considered to be more of a close friend than just his secretary of several years, burst into the room.
    Her wide set blue eyes were sparkling, more than usual and deep colour stained her smooth porcelain skin. Something must have happened to get her into such a state. She looked happy yet on the verge of tears. Swiftly placing his pen onto his desk, he rose to his feet, aware of how his muscular build of over six feet, towered over her five foot three, making her appear even more fragile.
    “You’ll never guess what has happened!” The words came out in a breathless rush as she came to stand in front of him, gazing up at him. Without giving him a chance to answer she continued. “He asked me to marry him!”
    Lyle felt his temperature and every drop of blood in his body plummet to his feet as her words hit him with the force of a wrecking ball.
    She frowned. “Why aren’t you saying anything, aren’t you happy for me?”
    His heart was thundering against his ribcage as he tried to say something, form some congratulatory words, but found himself unable to.
    Instead, the reality of his feelings for her, feelings which he had concealed even from himself in the guise of ‘friendship’ poleaxed him.
    The fact that she was in a relationship hadn’t affected the strong bond they shared, as friends… until now.
    His relationship with her suddenly felt threatened.
    Blinking furiously as if trying to keep her emotions in check, she tucked a strand of stray brunette hair behind her ear and looked at him anxiously. “I was wondering on the way to work, that since I have no one else, and you meaning so much to me, could… could give me away? Will you Lyle? Will you give me away?”
    He grey eyes stared straight into her. His mouth dry, “No.” ripped from him.

  12. Karen Macleod

    I hated her. I never believed I was the kind of person who could form a total, all encompassing hatred for someone based on one superficial glance. Normally I waited until I knew a person before forming a judgement. I had always liked to think of myself as a fair minded and accepting kind of a girl. Oh well, just goes to show… So yes, I totally hated her. In fact, if possible, as I watched her drape her perfect, flawless form all over Leon, I found that my hatred had even managed to grow a little more. I mean seriously, what did he see in her? Well besides her obvious, rather showy charms… where was the substance? The character? Leon had always had terrible taste in women but this time he had excelled himself with a new low. I slouched off to the bar, unable to stand the nauseating sight a moment longer.
    “Drink pet?” Asked Kit from behind the bar, furnishing me with a vodka before I even asked, he knew me well.
    “Have you seen her? Leon’s latest?” I said moodily.
    Kit nodded. “Sure, pretty girl”
    I scowled at him “yeah pretty but nothing else! Vacuous is the word that springs to mind” I said, my tone dripping venom.
    Kit paused in his work, looking at me, a slight smirk on his face.
    “What?!” I demanded.
    “You- for the past two years how many times have we been here, you brooding over a drink and spouting poison about Leon’s latest fling?”
    I thought for a moment, he was right. “Well maybe a few?”
    Kit snorted derisively, “and the rest!”
    “He has rubbish taste in women” I explained defensively.
    “Oh wake up girl! You just hate them because they aren’t you! You and Leon are made for each other but you are both just too blind to see it and until that changes there are gonna be a lot more girls for him and a lot more vodkas for you!”
    “No way!!!” I protested, me and Leon? “Not a chance! I don’t have feelings for him, he is my best mate, I mean yeah, he is handsome, funny, intelligent, caring and he looks really, really fine when he is working on cars and gets all dirty and disheveled…” I trailed off as I realized what I was saying and I groaned, leaning my head on the bar.
    “Told you” said Kit smugly.
    “Oh God” I moaned, reeling from this unexpected emotional epiphany. Kit was right. I wanted Leon, as in really wanted Leon and I was big time jealous.
    “Kit you have to help me! What am I going to do?” I asked desperately.
    “You want him? Well girl, you’re gonna have to fight for him.” Kit replied nodding towards the couple in question.
    Turning around on my stool I cast a glance at them. She was all over him like a parasite, all over my Leon.
    Scowling I turned back to Kit who was watching me with undisguised amusement.
    Swallowing my drink I smacked the glass down on the bar with a loud bang “Bring it on!” I muttered. This was a battle I was determined to win.

  13. Jan VanEngen

    Best friends or lovers, where did the concept come from? Maddy was beginning to wonder. Here she stood all smiles pretending to be happy that her best friend was getting engaged to her best friend as in male. They did everything together, Ben and her, laughed, watched movies, sighed and cried. There they stood together declaring their love to the world where did that leave her? Then was the fact she had told her she had an affair. How can she let Ben suffer with such lies? How can she stand by and let the man she finally realised she loved, not just as a friend, but as the man, who was going to marry a women who was a liar who had betrayed him? Her lips parted…..

  14. Jacqueline Burrows

    So, that was him. The man she couldn’t stop talking about. Richard lounged against the bar and watched Lori dancing with a tall muscle man. He had a good view as they were on the edge of the dance floor. He wondered what all the fuss was about. The guy didn’t look up to much from where he was standing. But Lori hadn’t shut up about him. He’d taken her out the previous Saturday for their usual pizza and beer night and he’d listened while she’d rabbited on about this man she’d met at the gym, who she was convinced was going to ask her out. She had looked younger that night as her eyes sparkled in anticipation. When she had told him she couldn’t wait to get into this guy’s pants, the pizza had turned to ash in his mouth. Not that he was jealous or anything. They were just friends. Had been since his best mate, Pete, had dumped Lori unceremoniously when he met another woman. Lori had been devastated and sobbed in his arms for hours. He had adopted the unfamiliar chivalrous role and been there for her offering comfort and support. When he’d got over feeling sorry for her, he had realized how much he enjoyed her company and they had become firm friends.
    Muscle man pulled Lori closer to him and Richard tensed, nearly spilling his champagne. Charity Balls weren’t really his thing but he had intended to take Lori as a treat. Mr Sleazeball had got in first. Richard couldn’t take his eyes off Lori, she looked stunning. He’d never seen her wearing a ball gown with her hair in an elaborate up-do, curls escaping and caressing her face. He’d only ever seen her wearing leggings and baggy sweatshirts. She didn’t wear much make-up when they were together either. But tonight, she looked like a model. Her skin was unblemished and silky smooth, her eyes were heavy-lidded and smoky and her lips were full and lush. Richard took a deep breath and dragged his gaze away. There were a few women around the bar trying to catch his eye but he ignored them.
    He looked back and caught Lori’s expression as she gazed up at her date. Richard knew that look well. Pete had been on the receiving end of it often. Usually as a prelude to them leaving together for an early night. Muscle man’s hands groped Lori’s butt and Richard couldn’t stand it any longer. He plonked his champagne glass on the bar and strode over to where they were dancing.
    ‘May I cut in?’ He didn’t wait for an answer but shouldered Mr Slimeball out of the way.
    Too surprised to react, the guy stepped back and Richard took the opportunity to whisk Lori into the middle of the crowd of dancers.
    ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ Lori looked angry and puzzled.
    ‘Dancing. What else?’
    ‘But that’s the guy I told you about, the one that fancies me.’
    ‘I know.’
    ‘So why did you ruin it for me? I thought you were my friend. We talked about him on Saturday, don’t you remember?’
    ‘I remember.’
    ‘We were getting on so well, I think he really liked me.’
    ‘Why wouldn’t he like you, you’re gorgeous.’
    Lori’s look changed from puzzled anger to speculation. She frowned and studied his face. ‘Rich?’
    ‘What?’
    ‘What’s going on?’
    ‘Nothing. We’re dancing. It’s a charity ball. People dance.’
    ‘What’s going on with you? Why don’t you want me to dance with him?’
    ‘He’s not good enough for you.’
    ‘How do you know? You don’t know anything about him…’
    ‘I know because nobody is good enough for you.’
    Lori’s expression softened and she leant in closer so he could smell her hair. It smelt delicious. ‘I think you should explain yourself because I need to –‘
    He kissed her, long and deep, their tongues dancing and their bodies close together. She must have felt his arousal for she pulled away and looked him in the eyes. ‘Ah, I think I understand.’
    ‘I knew you’d catch on. We’re on the same wave-length you and I, always have been, it’s just taken me a while to realise it. But you’ve always known it, haven’t you? That’s why you were trying to make me jealous wasn’t it? To get me to act?’
    Then she gave him a look he’d never seen before. Not simply lust like the look she’d given Pete and Mr Muscles. This look had warmth and promise. The promise not just of one night but a lifetime together. A look that was just for him.

  15. Kris R.

    “Weatherman said nothing about rain,” Stephen mentioned to no one in particular. It was just a way to break the silence. He flipped on the windshield wipers. “You could run into snow heading up the passes.”
    No response.
    At the stop light, he glanced over to Claire. She sat slumped in the seat, elbow resting on the door and her chin planted in the palm of her hand. He smiled and a quiet laugh tickled his throat. He remembered seeing her across the library at USC that rainy, cool day in November. She’d curled up in a window seat, her dark locks brushed behind her ear and her head leaning against the rain washed window. She’d pulled her knees against her chest and wrapped her arms around them. A 6.9 earthquake could have brought the walls around her down. Claire was so lost in thought, she’d never have known.
    They had worked in the same clinic. Claire was the front desk attendant and him as a veterinarian. Pleasantries were all they’d exchanged because she longed for her hometown boyfriend and he definitely did not want some small town, small minded girl.
    But, there had been something about Claire that day. Something he couldn’t name or even describe. The defined, yet feminine curve of her jaw, the graceful length of her neck, or the way her wavy, dark locks cascaded over her shoulder. Who knew— All he knew was how his heart panged with cupid’s direct hit. He’d panged ever since.
    “Hey,” He took the opportunity to caress her leg, just above the knee.
    Her hand fell onto his, stopping the motion. Claire flashed him a soft smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes. “I’m sorry, what?”
    He gripped her hand in his, her green eyes, even in the dim dash lights were heavy with thought. “Tomorrow, snow, mountain passes?”
    The light turned green and Stephen proceeded.
    “We’ll be fine.” She returned to her previous pose, removing her hand from his.
    “What’s on your mind?”
    “Nothing, just tired, I guess. Long drive tomorrow. Long week with parental units.” She readjusted herself in the seat so she faced forward. From the corner of his eye he watched her rake her slender fingers through her thick, ebony mane.
    “Claire,” he flipped on the blinker to turn into her Condo complex. “I could fly you, save the long drive. I haven’t had the plane out in a while.” He pulled into the empty spot next to Claire’s BMW. “Save you miles on your new car.”
    “Thank you, but I’ll drive.” She unfastened her seatbelt and her face scrunched up. “Oh this rain. Skye’s passed out.”
    Stephen peered into the rearview mirror. Skye sat strapped into her booster seat; her head plopped to the right, arms splayed out on both sides and Sammy Seagull dangling precariously by wingtip in her hand. Her full lips pushed into a pout. He chuckled quietly. “You go unlock the door, I’ll get Skye and Sammy in the house.”
    He watched Claire jog, how her bottom moved and the rhinestones on the pockets glistened in the lamp light. He dipped his chin to his chest and blew out a quiet breath. Eventually, he would just explode and she would be left wondering why—completely clueless that she drove the beats of his heart.
    “Come on, Sweetheart,” He unfastened Skye’s seatbelt and scooped her out of the booster seat and closed the door.

  16. Sasha Kohl

    Sophie waved to the other patrons in the bakery, tucked the goodies into her oversized purse while grabbing her half-full coffee, and headed out the door. She was deep in thought about what to wear tonight. Maybe the little black dress she kept in the back of her closet but never wore. Those were classic right? What better time to wear it than now? Jake had left too many options open by withholding information about where they were going. Maybe just nice jeans and a dressy top? You could never go wrong with that kind of outfit in Pioneer. She was still mulling over the idea when she smashed into a decidedly familiar male chest packaged in unmistakable dark brown.
    “Oof!” the aforementioned chest rumbled against her.
    Sophie was speechless as she watched what remained of her iced skinny mocha run down his chest in little mini rivers. Man I wish that chest was bare. I’d lick that coffee right off of him. I would start at the hollow of his throat, nip at the flat disks of his nipples and I would make sure to pay special attention to those washboard abs his shirt was now plastered to. I’d make sure I didn’t miss a drop as I worked my way down, biting and licking-
    “Sophie? Are you ok? You haven’t said anything?”
    She managed to drag her gaze up from his coffee adorned midsection to his face. He was looking down at her in concern and all she could think about was rubbing her lips over his and everything else on his delectable body.
    “If I told you I wasn’t ok, would you offer to kiss it and make it better?” Apparently knowing the man of her dreams had been harboring a secret crush gave her some newfound confidence. She watched the fire heat in his eyes at her words.
    “I could probably be convinced. In fact it would take very little convincing to kiss you anywhere you wanted me to Ms. Black.”
    Shivering at his words, Sophie suddenly remembered she’d just dumped half of a large cup of iced coffee on the poor man. “Oh jeez. I’m sorry. I mean about the coffee, not the kissing thing. The kissing thing is good. Coffee bad. Oh. Coffee isn’t bad, I mean spilling the coffee on you was bad.”
    “I knew what you meant babe. Don’t you get nervous on me again. You start to babble a bit when you get nervous.”
    “Right. No getting nervous. No babbling. I’ve got this.” Smiling shyly up at him she brushed away as many of the remaining coffee droplets as possible off his uniform shirt. Flicking them away, she let her hands return to rest on his warm and now slightly sticky chest. “Good thing I didn’t get any whipped cream.”
    “I think we can save the whipped cream for later.”

  17. Charlotte

    “Thanks for coming to pick me up,” Heroine grinned, pulling out of his arms and landing a quick punch on one bicep. “Toned as ever, I see”

    “Still able to play a mean game of touch football?” Hero challenged, trying to cover up the fact he hadn’t quite been ready for her move out of his embrace so quickly.

    “Let me guess, you’ve all planned a surprise game in the park and a BBQ?” she teased.

    He shrugged good-humouredly. She didn’t need to know that, for a while there, he’d contemplated talking the guys into ditching the BBQ, so that he could take her for a romantic welcome home meal- just the two of them – tonight.

    He’d stopped himself just in time. Heroine was meant to be his best friend. His go-to girl. His confidante.

    He wasn’t supposed to have fallen in love with her. He wasn’t supposed to fall in love, full stop. He was a player. Everyone knew it. And he’d seen first hand what happened when a player fell in love, got married, had a kid and then fell out of love. They made mistakes which hurt people. Hero wasn’t about to make the same mistakes as his father had.

    So, here he was, in love with his best friend and unable to do a darned thing about it.

    He’d only realised it yesterday morning, when he’d found himself washing his best date jeans and tee, cleaning his flat and…for good’s sake…valeting his battered old 4×4. All in preparation for picking her up from the airport after a year away with her work. Still, she might not notice.

    Heroine yanked open the door and flopped into the passenger seat. A moment later sitting back up, having a good look around and emitting a low whistle.

    “Who’s the girl?”

    “What girl?”

    She arched one knowing eyebrow at him.

    “Hero, you’ve cleaned your 4X4. You’ve got your lucky jeans on.”

    “Nah, I did that for you,” he answered truthfully.

    Her peal of laughter confirmed his suspicions. Heroine was never going to take him seriously.

    “So, how’s the high-flying career?”

    Did he detect a beat of hesitation before she answered him?

    “Still flying-high,” she laughed. “Thank goodness.”

    Picking up her suitcase and trying not to react to the comfortable feel of her arm sliding through his as they left the airport, he considered the stunning, intelligent, driven woman on his arm.

    “Are you pleased to be back?”

    She flashed him a sharp look.

    “You know I hate it.”

    “Only because you have this misplaced complex that you’re still the skinny, lanky nerdy geek and everyone else is a cool kid.”

    She shrugged, obviously not wanting to answer him. Hero sighed. It didn’t matter how many times he told her, she wouldn’t – or maybe couldn’t – believe him that she was now the proverbial stunning swan. He was going to have to find some other way to prove it to her, because until she loved herself, he was pretty sure she wasn’t about to believe anyone else could.

    And even if a player like him could never make her happy, she deserved to find it with someone.

    “This time home you’ll see,” he assured her.

    The silence pressed heavily on him. He felt like he was missing something. He turned to face her, resisting the impulse to fold his arms across his chest.

    Heroine licked her lips nervously.

    “I guess this is as good a time as any. They offered me the promotion I’ve been desperately after for years. I fly back out next week. For good.”

    • Chris Buono

      I would have liked the h/h to have had names, Charlotte, since you put so much else into this piece of good writing, with nice visuals, and likable characters.

    • Charlotte

      Hi Chris, thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the rest of it but I can see what you mean about the H/h not having names. I confess I’ve been guilty of this in every challenge since the start – sorry! Its not that I can’t be bothered, I promise. It might sound daft (and perhaps a little presumptuous) but since I got back into writing 10months ago I’m afraid it has been a quirk of mine that I name H/h as Hero/ Heroine (usually for about the first 20,000words). Then as I slowly get to know them and their personalities – the perfect names (for me) suddenly pop into my head. But if I pick names myself it seems to hamper my flow as I picture them a particular way.
      But I appreciate the comment and I’ll work on doing it sooner, I promise. 🙂

    • Chris Buono

      No apology necessary, Charlotte. 🙂 Wow! Just ten months? You go girl! You’re certainly wearing a writer’s cap!

      Sometimes, I believe, for certain reasons/individuals, book proposals are sub in such “name H/h” fashion. So, your style here is in good company. 😉

      The proof of the pie is always in the eating. If you write well enough for what Harlequin’s seeking, they’re not going to worry about something that’s so easily fixable–like missing character names.

      Plot, execution, and writing ability will ultimately help any work move to contract most, not character names only. 😉

      You seem to have a winning formula for penning great pros with holding the char names in check for a while. Always go with what works best for you. 🙂

    • Sold Editors

      Love his embarrassment over the steps he goes to for her – so believable and sweet! Also how she clearly doesn’t have a clue he’s into her…they’re going to have one hell of a fun week with him proving it 🙂

    • Jacqueline Burrows

      The reason I thought she might have guessed how he felt was the line ‘Heroine licked her lips nervously’. Why would she be nervous if they were just friends? Or am I completely off the mark with this?!

    • Charlotte

      Hi Jackie,
      Thanks for your comments, and to answer your question; You and the Editors are both right! – it depends whose POV you’re in… 😉

      In Hero’s POV, he takes the nervous licking of lips to imply that she’s suddenly on to him but feels awkward because she doesn’t return his feelings. He thinks she, like he, believes he would never be anything more than a player who would let her down.

      If you’re looking from her POV, it’s the hint that she is nervous and unsure about telling him her big news, because she likes him too. But although this although the promotion IS a great career opportunity for her, part of the reason for taking it is because she feels she needs to finally put some real distance between them. She has always had a crush on him but believes he is way above her league and he would never even consider dating anyone as geeky as her.

      I found this hard to convey in a short snippet, but that was what was in my head when I thought about the characters.

      Betcha wish you’d never asked, huh? 😉 LOL

    • Jacqueline Burrows

      Actually, Charlotte, I love your answer! It proves what I’ve always believed, that a good writer can pack so much meaning into a short scene and I think you’ve done exactly that. One of the things I love about these challenges is that you can really dig deep for motivation, inner conflict etc and it is all there. I think I might add stuff of my own though. Like the idea that she hates home (or does she really?) and he loves it so she might believe that it wouldn’t be fair to Hero to tell him how she really feels? Does she have a choice of her dream profession or her dream man? Can she have both? Does she see him as a player or is that just his interpretation of himself? I could go on all night (and would love to!) but I better stop here. Thanks for answering my question. Can’t wait for the next challenge!!

  18. Jacqueline Burrows

    OMG no, she can’t go! Loved the fact that they knew each other so well. Great tension in this scene and the subtle hints of how they really feel for each other. And the way you blended the backstory in with the action and dialogue. Stunning writing, Charlotte

    • karen christopherson

      I so feel sorry for the guy. He really seems to get her! How’s the babies? It was you who had the sick babies wasn’t it? Last time? Sorry if I’m wrong.

    • Charlotte

      Hi Karen,
      Ahh you’re so lovely! Yes it was me (not last challenge, but the one before) – they are VERY well, thanks so much for remembering! We have been in France for the last four weeks (my work, with Mum babysitting) – and they are having a ball on the beach and in paddling pool. I think the hot weather and fresh air has helped them clear the last of it out of their little bodies! Thanks again for asking! 🙂

  19. Carol Opalinski

    Glancing around his friends’ living room, Cal sat in his usual spot on the sofa in front of the big flat screen tv. “Where’s Skeet?”

    Andy sipped his long neck and shrugged. “She mentioned something about a date.”

    “A date? But it’s Friday night and the Sox are playing the Yankees.” Cal had looked forward to the baseball game all week. He, Andy, and Andy’s twin sister always spent Friday evenings together. Even on those Fridays when Andy was on duty at the fire station, Cal and Skeet hung out. They watched the Red Sox or the Bruins or old Seinfeld reruns in the off-season. Fridays were for him and Skeet. Oh yeah, and Andy, too.

    “Oh hey, Cal, I didn’t know you were here.”

    Cal turned at the sound of her voice. He sputtered and coughed on the sip of beer he’d just taken. What was Skeet’s voice doing on the knockout entering the room? He was used to seeing her in jeans, t-shirt, a pony tail and baseball cap. This version was wearing a short dress, her hair around her shoulders and lip gloss. His Skeet wearing lip gloss? And she had legs. Boy, did she ever! And that thick, shiny hair. Who knew?

    “Earth to Cal.” She wiggled her fingers in front of his face.

    “Huh?” What was he, fifteen and struck dumb by hormones? He’d known for years that his pal was a girl. He’d chosen to overlook it, valuing her friendship over anything else.

    She perched on the arm of the sofa and a subtle flowery scent hit him, making his heart thump faster. With a shake of her head, she grabbed his beer and took a sip. “Thanks. So, does Buckholz have his pitching mojo tonight?”

    Before Cal could make his thick tongue work, she’d handed him back the bottle. “I forgot something. Let Jeremy in when he gets here.”

    After she’d disappeared back upstairs, Cal brought the bottle to his lips. Strawberries. He bet that lip gloss tasted much better on her warm lips than the cold glass of his bottle. He shifted in his seat, setting the beer down with a thump.

    “What’s got into you tonight?” Andy grumbled.

    The doorbell chimed and Cal jumped up. “I’ll get it.”

    Cal swung the door open and gave the dude standing there his best glower. “What you want?”

    “Uh…is Mel here?”

    “There’s no Mel here.” Cal started to close the door.

    “Wait! I’m supposed to be meeting Mel…er, Amelia here.”

    Amelia? She hated that name, preferring instead the nickname he and Andy had given her as kids when she trailed after them. She’d been as annoying as a mosquito back then. Of course that was before Cal knew she had those legs. Those lips. That hair.

    Cal narrowed his eyes at the other guy. “What year was Carl Yastrzemski inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame?”

    “What?”

    “Wrong answer. 1989. How far was Ted Williams longest home run?”

    “I don’t see what—”

    “Wrong. 502 feet. Sorry, no Mel for you!” Cal shut the door in his face.

    “Calvin Donaldson,” Skeet snapped from behind him. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    Sucking in his breath, Cal turned and stepped forward. “Believe me, he wasn’t for you.”

    “And how would you know that?” She tapped her foot.

    “Because…” Cal advanced another step. “Because if you’re going out with anyone tonight, it’s going to be me.”

    “Is that so?” She took a step forward.

    Andy appeared in the doorway, a beer dangling between his fingers. “Look, I don’t know what’s got into you two, but some of us are trying to watch the game so I suggest you take it elsewhere.”

    Cal quickly tucked in his shirt, tossed aside his cap, ran his fingers through his hair and reached for Skeet’s hand. “Shall we?”

    Skeet took his hand and smiled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

  20. Harriet Hale

    Camden Bishop stood in the quiet hallway of the high rise apartment building, pushed the doorbell, and grimaced as the corresponding chime echoed. She was going to kill him for this.

    He counted to ten and rang the bell again.

    One … two … three … four … five … six … seven … eight. He hovered his finger over the button.

    The door swung open. “What?”

    Finn Page yawned the word as she rubbed one hand over her eyes and then scooped her tangled hair out of her face. Inky black waves matched the stripes in the Blackhawks jersey falling off one shoulder. She squinted up at him. “Cam? Is everything okay?”

    He lifted the bright red fabric to cover her collarbone. It was still warm from bed, which meant she was still soft and naked underneath it.

    The fabric slid off the other shoulder. He would not look at her cleavage, or her legs, or her bright pink toenails. He smothered a snarl. Why couldn’t she still sleep in flannel like she used to when she’d spent the night with his little sister?

    She shuffled out of the way, and he stepped inside. Her bedroom was in clear view, the messy sheets a temptation.

    “Yeah, yeah,” he muttered as he charged down the hall to the living room and looked out her windows as dawn lightened the sky. “Just … with all the racket last night I forgot to ask if you’ll check on my place while I’m gone.”

    For self-preservation, he stared at the photos scattered around the room. Most of them were her family and friends, some were his family. Some were formal occasions, most were casual. One was with him, taken after Gavin’s christening. He was holding the nephew they shared.

    This was why there wasn’t any flannel. She wasn’t the same quiet little bookworm who’d hung out with Evie. This was the woman who owned a successful business. She rubbed elbows with Chicago’s elite at every cultural event in town, but was still comfortable on the first base line or at center ice.

    Or last night, at his going away party. He’d danced with her and answered all her questions about his assignment, his safety, what he’d hoped to accomplish. And then her date had confessed the surprise he was planning.

    “You could have called me,” she yawned again.

    He pulled the key from his pocket and waggled it at her.

    Snatching it, she dropped it on the table. “You could have left it with the door man.”

    “I don’t have a door man.”

    “I do,” she grumbled. “So what? You wanted to torture me with sleep deprivation?”

    He took a deep breath. “Paul’s planning a vacation for the two of you to St. Bart’s.”

    Her eyes widened before she smacked him on the shoulder. “Wow. Thanks for ruining the-“

    “Don’t go.”

    “Why? You can’t possibly tell me he’s a jerk. You introduced us. ”

    “Have you slept with him?”

    She straightened her spine and tilted her chin to add to her height. “What the … who do you think you are?” She spun on her heel, exposing the curve of her hip and the angry tears in her eyes.

    He caught her as she reached entryway, clearly intending to kick him out. Pushing her against the door, he put his hands on her waist. She was still warm and she smelled like heaven. “Yes or no, Finn.”

    “No,” she gritted.

    Thank God. He pressed his lips to her stiff ones, flicking his tongue across them and nibbling until they softened. He teased her, luring her tongue from behind her teeth and then tangling with it until her arms wound around his neck and she softened against him.

    Sliding his hands down her body, he reached the end of the jersey and stroked her bare skin.

    Finn dragged free, and Cam stared into her eyes. The brown boundaries of her irises faded to maple, then gold, and finally exploded into a deep, smoky green. They were the eyes of a forest fairy. “That’s why, Sprite.”

    She pushed him away, shaking and breathless. Which made him feel better, because he wasn’t sure which way was up.

    “You’re leaving for a month, and you choose now to do this?” she asked. “You’re on your way to the airport, and you just stop by, leave me your spare key, and kiss me silly?”

    He shrugged. “Umm, yeah.” And he wanted to do it again. He closed the distance.

    “You want me to wait?”

    He nodded, looping his arms over her shoulders and lowering his head to hers.

    Ducking under his elbow, she danced away with a wicked grin. “Then you have to wait, too.”

  21. Savannah Sunrise

    Hidden in the shadows, she shudders uncontrollably as she wades through the three stages of shock.

    How could this have happened?

    As her heart drowns in pain her throat is constricted by the handful of pills that she just inhaled. Desperate and alone she reaches for her cellphone.

    Sobbing, she cries out to him in a whisper. “Logan, I need you.”

    “Natalya?”

    “Help me, please!”

    The noise of the crowd drives him onto the street, and fear takes root in his bones. “Natalya, where are you? What’s wrong babe?”

    “I can’t take it anymore. I’m so tired.”

    Racing to his car he hears nothing but the softness of her voice and the vicious whip of the wind.

    “WHERE ARE YOU?”

    With a brittle laugh, she sighs, “Where I always am. I’m at home.”

    “I’m just around the corner. I’m coming Natty.”

    Slurring, she replies, “No; I don’t want to interrupt your evening. I just…I want you to know how much you mean to me; how important you are and have been to my life.”

    “Natty, have you been drinking?”

    “Of course not.”

    “Let me in; I’m outside.”

    “I can’t. I can’t get up. Please, I don’t wanna go.”

    Rumbling through his pocket he finds his keys. Her scent and his instincts drives him straight to her. Crouching low he cups her face in his hands. Barley conscious, she mumbles nonsense to him.

    “What have you done Natty baby?”

    Patting her cheeks he reaches for the lamp plug. Casting a bright glow on the room the answer to his question lies beneath her left thigh. Reaching for the object he curses as he peers at the empty pill bottle.

    Collapsing alongside her, tears fill his eyes as he calls 911.

    The ambulance ride is filled with calls to her family and a few of their mutual friends. Anything to distract himself from the very real possibility that his best friend just may die tonight.

    ~ ~ ~

    The wait in the hospital waiting room is excruciating as family and friends file inside in a panic. And although he is surrounded by the familiar he has never felt so desperately alone. Each breath burns as it hits his lungs, threatening to drive him to his knees. This can’t be happening. They are a team; forever and always.

    A brief strike of anger overcomes him, and like a rabid dog he cannot sit still. He is too aggravated to be touched, yet hands continue to find their way onto his skin.

    “Logan honey, there you are. I’ve been trying to reach you for hours.”

    “Ashley, what are you doing here?”

    “I managed to reach your brother and he told me where you were.”

    “Please remind me to thank him later,” he mumbles.

    She laughs in that whiny way that she seems to have perfected.

    “You look tired honey, lets get you home.”

    “I’ll meet you there later. I want to wait until I can see her.”

    “That could be hours Logan. She doesn’t need you here. There is nothing that you can do for her now.”

    “She is my best friend, and I need to be here for her. It’s not like I’ll be able to rest anyway.”

    Clasping his hands, she pouts as she pleads with him.

    “Stop it Ashley. Go home. I will call you later.”

    “Logan, her mother and father are right over there; I think she can do without you for the night. I, however, need you now.”

    “Ashley!”

    “What Logan? I am so sick of this.”

    Pulling her to him, he growls into her ear, “Keep your voice down. This is not the place.”

    She hisses, “I am sick of you putting her before me. How long do you expect me to continue being number two in your life?”

    “We have been friends since we were ten. She has always been there for me and now she needs me, and there is nowhere else that I would rather be.”

    “You need to decide Logan, me or her. Which one of us do you love the most? Which one of us can you not live without?”

    His gut tightens as realization hits. Pressing his lips to hers he kisses her as gratitude washes over him.

    She lights up at the passion in his eyes.

    “Thank you Ashley.” Lifting her hands, he places a light kiss on each of her palms. “You just showed me my future, and I am in love with what I saw, with what could be. I’m in love with her.”

    Startled, Ashley looks at him as if he has just slapped her. Embarrassment heats up her cheeks, but fury drives her hand and she lands a heavy palm against his cheek.

    “How dare you,” she stutters. “You bastard!”

    “Ashley?”

    “Don’t say another word to me. Don’t you even look at me, and when your precious Natalya breaks you don’t look for me to repair the damage.”

    To her back, he calls out, “I am sorry Ashley; I wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

    Throwing up the back of her hand she disappears around the corner. Sighing and filled with new found wonder he turns, and nearly collides with the doctor.

    “She is awake sir, and she is asking for you. Would you like to see her?”

    “Is she going to be alright doc?”

    “She’ll recover, but I am going to have to report this incident.”

    “Take me to her. I need to see her.”

    “I understand sir, just follow me.”

    Walking him to the door, the doctor gestures for him to enter and his nerves cause him to break out into a sweat. Breathless he steps into the room and stares into the eyes of his destiny.

    Ashamed, she turns away.

    “Don’t do that. Natalya, baby, what were you thinking?”

    “It was stupid, I know.”

    “How would I live without you?”

    “I wasn’t thinking,” she declares. Caressing his knuckles she sighs in defeat. “I was being completely selfish.”

    “No, no; don’t beat yourself up. That is not what this is about. We are going to get through this together.”

    “Like we always do?”

    “Like we always do.”

    “I love you Logan.”

    “And I love you too. Unfortunately it took almost losing you for me to know just how much.”

    Closing her eyes, they flutter wide when he blows softly against them, and in their depths there lies a clear question.

    “No more hiding, for either of us. I promise to see you through this, but I need a promise from you too. I need you to promise me that you won’t ever try to leave me again.”

    “This was an impulsive mistake; I won’t make it again.”

    “We all make mistakes sweetheart.” Running his fingers through her locks, he reaches for her bag as he settles behind her.

    “What about Ashley?”

    As he pulls the hair brush through her tangled curls, he shakes his head from left to right. “She doesn’t matter, she never did. She’s gone.”

    “So it’s just you and me?”

    “Yep, just like it should be. Like it’s always been.”

    • Savannah Sunrise

      He finds that after 20 years of friendship that there is still more about her for him to learn. She is a woman with secrets, and he is a man that realizes that in order to claim his destiny he must unravel a web to find the source of her pain.

      Along the way they both discover that she is not the only one with issues. He has a thing or two in his past as well.

    • Chris Buono

      Quite compelling, Savannah. Heartfelt with danger on the edge, under the umbrella of good writing.

      Nice touches all around. Logan kissing both of Ashley’s palms is classic. But is she really going to leave Natalya and Logan alone?

    • Savannah Sunrise

      No, she’ll be back to spread her scorn.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s always nice to hear what others think.

    • Sold Editors

      A real rollercoaster ride of emotion! Natalya’s obviously been in a bad place, what a good job she has a hero as strong and protective as Logan to support her moving forward.

    • Karen Christopherson

      Wow! I really liked this! I kept wanting to know more. And really good writing too! Thanks for filling us in about the whole story!

  22. Vicki Lane

    Ezra’s drink stopped just shy of his mouth. “Wait, your new position is in Paris? As in France?”

    “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for the past month. I’ve been accepted at a culinary school.” Sarah uncrossed her ankles flipping tiny flecks of sand onto the blanket.

    “I think I’d remember my best friend telling me she was moving across the pond.”

    “Yeah, well if you actually looked at me instead of crunching numbers when I was talking to you maybe you would have heard the part about me flying out on Monday.”

    Standing, Sarah pulled her cover up over her head looked around and sighed. “I’ll miss this. Promise me you won’t bring anyone here. This will always be our place.”

    She leaned down and placed a soft kiss on his lips and walked towards the surf.

    Ezra swallowed and tried to breathe normal. The turquoises bikini showed the same curves and long legs he’d seen before but the kiss had his heart beating double time. Vision of some unknown French man capturing those lips sent sand flying as he jumped to his feet and ran after her.

    Diving into the ocean did little to cool down the emotions flowing through him. She couldn’t leave, not now. Not when he had realized he was falling I love with her. Hell, he hadn’t fallen, he’d already fell and fell deep.

    “Ezra?” Soft hands touched his back. “Are you okay?”

    He didn’t answer, instead turned and pulled her to him, capturing her mouth with his, gently at first until he felt the small shudder run through her. Holding her head, he deepened the kiss and prayed at the same time she’d miss him as much as the secluded beach.

  23. margie s

    Lead-in: When Violet dashes out of the church from her own wedding, her long time friend Danny just happens to be cruising by. He’s driving her back to his place and during the long journey she falls asleep. He’s angry at her but mostly angry with himself when he admits he’s falling for her knowing they have no future, other than friendship.

    His heart near thumped out of his chest when he saw her spill out of that church like a fallen angel. He couldn’t be mad at her, not for long. By the time she’d climbed in next to him and he locked on to her chestnut eyes full of defiance and spark, he forgave her every heart breaking moment he’d known her.
    He was glad he’d been there outside the church. Like he’d been there when he’d given her date the once over and there when Violet came flying home alone ten minutes later after her date had tried to kiss her.
    Now asleep, her soft body cocooned in white lace and pearls slumped against him, all he could hear was the sound of her breathing. A soft purr almost, threatening to send him into a flat spin of desire. Under a shield of bravado her vulnerableness nudged his protective gene, made him want to shake some sense into her yet tighten his imaginary hold on her.
    Violet mumbled, flailing one arm across his chest. He pulled her closer and her hand fisted, bunching his shirt tight.
    His chin lowered until his lips met her forehead. ‘You’re safe now. I promise.’
    Settling, she snuggled in. He knew this was as close as he dared. Instead of arrows, cupid shot warning missiles over his head reminding him he couldn’t overstep the line. The line he’d laid when he made her brother that battlefield promise to look after her, not lust after her.

    • Vicki Lane

      Oh wow, he’s going to have to break that promise. Love where her hand fisted, bunching his shirt tight. Lots of strong emotions here.

    • Chris Buono

      I like the premise, Margie. You have a poetic style with your prose, too. Fleshed out and tweaked, I think your story has promise.

      “…cocooned in white lace and pearls” — nice term of phrase.

      I liked the way you presented/unfolded Violet’s urgency and Danny’s indecision. Good ending statement, too. It left me wanting more.

  24. Chris Buono

    Wife Deal
    (The Love Brother Trilogy)

    “What do you mean, ‘you like me’?” Cassie Martindale challenged, backing away toward her office door, her six-inch stiletto heels lightly tapping the Italian-marbled floor.

    “I didn’t say ‘like.’ I said ‘love,’ Cassie. There’s a difference.”

    Cassie gulped, then reached for the highly-polished, brass lever of her office door. But could she really leave? After all, she needed this job more than…Winston (Wink) Love in her life, didn’t she?

    Winston (Wink) Love, stuffed-shirt esquire of The Love Law Firm, stood dismayed. He wasn’t accustomed to such personal challenge by a fleeing assistant. His Firm -— where his unique last name of “Love” always got potential clients in the door and his expertise protected the Firm from ever losing a case —- was now in jeopardy of losing something more precious to himself than his undefeated corporate trial record, and her name was Cassie Martindale.

    Cassie was a gal with an hour-glass figure, hot, cooking mouth, and long, solid-blonde hair —- just what The Firm boss needs to secure a wife in his future. Without her, The Firm would go belly up, because his name would be mud.

    Wink tossed the file in his hands to the desk’s top. Then inched toward Cassie with a calm coolness in his steps and a broad grin on his chiseled face.

    She sidestepped him and rushed to her solid oak desk. Pulling open the drawers in rapid succession, she finger-raked through their contents and said, “I need a cigarette!”

    “But you don’t smoke,” he said, turning, stupefied, watching Cassie making a mess of every drawer she ransacked. “Didn’t you tell me that, the day you interviewed for me?”

    She stopped suddenly to gape up at him from her bent position.

    “What’s the matter, break a nail?”

    “Yess!” she cried, picking up the fractured piece, stepping away from the desk.

    “Well,” he said, moving hastily to the drawers, closing them. “I never liked those things.”

    “What, cigarettes?” she said, looking at him, her rich, full lips cracking a smile.

    Wink arched back as he sunk his hands deep into the trouser pockets of his custom-made Italian suit, assessing the situation. Then, with words smooth as silk, he said, “Are you toying with me?”

    Cassie’s large, moss-green eyes shied away. Then she turned back in Wink’s direction, tossing her broken nail piece into the garbage pale beside her desk, as she plopped her ass down into her chair. “I don’t care what you never liked. You know how long it took me to put these on?” she asked, holding her spread fingers up for him to see.

    “No time at all,” he quipped, moving to her oversized office window, pointing through it. “You had them done at the Nails Plus Salon up the street.” He turned back to her. “The second day you worked here.”

    Piqued with curiosity she asked, “You had me followed?”

    “Not a bad idea —- but no, of course not,” he said through a wince of facial humor. “You had asked me for an extended lunch, so that you could go.”

    “Oh, yeah,” she smiled, in spite of herself, leaning back in her chair, putting her legs, ankles crossed, up onto her desk. “I forgot. Ha-ha! The jokes on me.”

    Wink stared at her long, fit legs. He’d surely welcome them wrapping around him at the neck, with his face nestled in her most intimate area, working it out with his tongue. Eyeing her stilettos, he thought about removing them, so that when she stood again he’d be more on par with her height, when he moved to kissed her lips. “See,” he said, pointing at her with charisma. “I’m growing on you already.”

    Cassie’s tender face crunched. She pulled her feet off the desk and dropped them down onto the floor. “Ow,” she griped, feeling the shockwave of her stiletto heels contacting the floor radiate up through her shins. How could she have forgotten that wearing spikes like these came with repercussions? she wondered, as she bent forward to massage her toned calves.

    “Those shoes. I don’t like them. They make you too tall,” Wink said, craning his neck, watching her massage her calves.

    “They wouldn’t, if you weren’t such a shrimp!”

    At five feet eight inches tall, Wink wasn’t that small. But Cassie’s barefoot five-foot ten-inch height in six-inch stiletto heels dwarfed him. Since his youth, he’d always been self-conscious about his height —-especially early on when he barely grew. But Cassie had never teased him about his shortness in the school yard, like the other kids had. He wondered what her doing so now meant.

    “Oh, touché, Mademoiselle,” he said, moving closer to her.

    She looked up at him, still massaging her calves and said, “Would you stop talking foreign, please? You know I don’t understand it.”

    “What foreign?” he asked outstretching his arms, pleading his case. “It’s just a couple of French words. You know that’s my extent of languages.”

    “Damn it!”

    “What now? A run in your stocking from your broken nail snagging it?”

    “Yess!” she blurted, standing in frustration.

    With an examining expression, he remarked, “Guess you should’ve gone bare legged today.”

    She glared at him, and with a deliberateness in her words asked, “Then if you don’t like the nails, why’d you let me go?”

    “Exactly!”

    Something in Wink’s response said that Cassie was supposed to have understood what “exactly” meant. But did she? Or, was it just that she didn’t want to understand what he meant, because of what it might mean to her? To them?

    “Don’t you see, Cassie? Everything about me is love. Even my last name.”

    “That’s not something you chose,” she said, investigating the tear in her stocking.

    “Then don’t you think I know what’s in my heart? I love you. We lived on the same block growing up -—”

    “Same neighborhood, not block —-”

    “We always played together -—”

    “You were six, I was four -—”

    “We went to dances together in high school -—”

    “Never as a couple, always as friends -—”

    “We now work together -—”

    “Yeah,” she said standing erect. “You’re the boss, I’m the employee. We hadn’t seen each other for five years, until I came in here three days ago, asking for a job. T…there’s something backward about what you’re telling me now.”

    “The only thing backward is your thinking, Cassie. So what if we’ve just reconnected and I’m your boss.”

    “S…so what?” she stammered. “Isn’t that…can’t that be considered sexual harassment?”

    “As a paralegal, Cassie,” he said, sitting in her chair, finger-locking his hands behind his thick-black hair. “You of all people should know that what I said isn’t sexual harassment.”

    “And why’s that…‘Counselor’?” she challenged.

    “Because it’s the truth.”

    “About the sexual harassment thing?” she asked sweetly, inching toward him.

    “You know what I mean, Ms. Cutesie Pants.”

    “Now ‘that’s’ sexual harassment,” she grinned as she tapped his chest once, then shied away.

    “Look, Cassie, you know that my parents got married after only knowing each other for seven days.”

    “Married,” she said, losing herself in a dreamlike thought of what something like that must feel like.

    “Yeah. For life. But that was a different time. Old world. I’m not asking you to marry me after only a week. That’s why I told you now that I love you.”

    She turned to him in a huff. “Would you stop saying that!”

    He stood, his eyes locked on hers. “Why?” he asked, dancing his brow at her. “Because you love me, too?”

    “Oh, don’t flatter yourself,” she spat, crossing her arms, moving clickitty, click to the other side of the room.

    “Then, you’re saying that you ‘don’t’ love me?”

    She huffed a beaten breath. “I’m saying that you’re confusing me.”

    Well, get unconfused, I’m a busy man.”

    “Then in that case, ‘Mr. Busy’—”

    “Yes?”

    “…I love you, too.”

    “Great!” he said, closing the distance between them and taking her in his arms. “We’ll get married in the morning.”

    “Tomorrow!?” she asked, leaning back in his hold.

    “Yes. Why? Something wrong?”

    “With no gown? No guests? No reception? Of course there’s something wrong! I mean…getting married. That’s all I ever dreamt about…I think.”

    “You think?” he asked as she broke from his hold.

    “What would I tell my best friend -— she’d be my Maid-of-Honor? And, oh my God, my parents! I’m their only daughter!”

    “Then you’re saying ‘no’?”

    “Not ‘no,’ ‘can’t.’ Not like this.” She picked up a tension squeeze ball from her desk and added, “Too many people would be disappointed, if they were left out.”

    “And what about your happiness, Cassie?”

    She shrugged. “Never mattered much. You of all people should know that.”

    Yes, Wink knew all about the reasons for Cassie’s uncertainties, reservations, and fears. Had he been foolish to believe that she’d have grown to accept them more as she matured?…

    “That was a long time ago, Cassie,” he said with feeling, as he encouraged the tension ball from her hand.

    “It never leaves me alone, Wink.” No one ever gave me anything.”

    “‘Gave you anything’?” he asked, tossing the ball back to the desk. “What about your parents?”

    “Okay, Mr. Exact Words, I misspoke. I meant, no one ever gave me a chance. Like this Firm of yours. You went to fancy-schmansie schools—- you were given an opportunity to make something of yourself. Me? I’m another story.”

    “That’s not fair, Cassie, to either yourself or to me.”

    “I didn’t know that we had a session today, ‘doctor.’”

    “But you said that you love me, too.”

    “I’m sorry,” she said, deadpan. “I was mistaken.”

    “Okay. If that’s the way you want it.”

    “That’s the way it is, Wink.”

    “Then, okay…we’ll switch roles.”

    “What?”

    He reached up and tapped her left shoulder, then moved his hand past her face and tapped her right shoulder as he said, “I knight thee, boss of The Love Law Firm.”

    She giggled, looking dwn at him. “You’re kidding.”

    “Afraid not, ‘Counselor.’ Your wish is my command. Now’s your chance, hot shot. Here’s someone giving you something. Run with it.”

    Her mouth fell open as he stepped by her.

    “I’ll be in your office, Cassie, if you need me.”

    • Chris Buono

      *Yvonne, my answer to “my Reply Button click” to your comment, on my “Wife Deal” sub above, for some reason, now appears under the SOLD Editors’ response to Karen Christopherson’s entry below.

      So, Yvonne, here’s my reply to you again, as it had been. Hope it displays/remains where it should this time:

      Chris Buono says:
      June 8, 2015 at 2:20 am

      Thanks for letting me know, Yvonne! Appreciated. 🙂

    • Calida Ally

      Love the relationship between Cassie and Wink and I also love the way you have written Cassie. You incorporated the backstory brilliantly! Great piece of writing, Chris, 🙂

    • Chris Buono

      Thanks, Calida, for taking time out to post your remarks — much appreciated! I was hoping that Cassie would translate well. 🙂

  25. Karen Christopherson

    I apologize for the length and for other things…but I got carried away. Hee! Hee!

    Drake Barister couldn’t get up from his chair. Actually that wasn’t a problem. He was up alright. Just not the up he wanted to be. His little man could probably bench press fifty pounds about now and was quickly exceeding his limit. He stared straight ahead trying to think of the worst things possible to make his mind go elsewhere. Somewhere other than his personal assistant’s legs!

    It was her first week back and he had never seen her like this. Normally, she was the kind of gal who he could call on a whim and ask her out to a football game, where she’d wear her jersey and match him beer for beer. But this week she was vibrant…almost girl-like. Gone were the oversized dress pants and baggy sweater and the ugliest pair of black flat dress shoes he’d ever seen. Now she was wearing platform heals, nothing covering her legs and a skirt short enough to stop the heart of a monk!

    “Are you alright, Drake?” Anna Dixon asked as she stopped in the entrance of his office.

    Damn! He was hoping she wouldn’t have returned so soon.

    “Are you sick,” she asked with concern as she came up beside him. She touched his forehead. “You’re not clammy. What’s wrong? We can cancel our lunch today. I can have my review when you’re feeling better,” she suggested.

    “No,” he said and cleared his throat, trying very hard not to look at her cleavage. When did she get breasts? “That won’t be necessary, Anna. My stomach is just acting up again,” he lied.

    “I’ve told you to go to the doctors about that. You never know what it could be.” She smiled at him the way she normally did and then casually retrieved the Tums from his upper desk drawer. She slid the drawer shut with a bang and Drake jumped. She gave him an odd look, unwrapped the little roll with her newly painted nails and popped one into his open mouth. “There, that should help. What would you do without me?” she asked and grinned at him as she leaned against his desk.

    He shrugged and smiled. Damn. He looked. Well, he really couldn’t help it could he? They were practically in his face…both of them. “Honestly, I don’t know…” he smiled, like a lovesick teenager and then straightened. “I mean, I’m sure I’d manage. I did while you were away on your sabbatical.”

    “Yeah…” she said and grinned like she just stole ten bucks from his wallet. “That reminds me. I know you’re always working so hard, but have you noticed anything different about me?”

    He swallowed. “Oh…now that you mention it…yeah,” he said. He looked for anything different other than her breasts and her legs. Breasts and legs. Damn. He made contact with her dancing green eyes and rolled his chair further under the desk. “You changed your hair.” He watched her sway her newly cropped, sandy brown hair.

    “Yes,” she said and grinned “…Among other things. Guess again.”

    “Oh…I don’t know…Hey!” he said and pointed to her feet. “You got new shoes! I told you those flat shoes were ugly. Good for you! Finally spending money on yourself!” He sounded like a complete dork.

    “Yyyyess,” she said slyly. “But that’s not all..” She did another twirl.

    Did she just thrust her breasts out? “New top?” he asked and swallowed again, smiling and wishing his tie would get caught in the paper shredder. Right now.

    “Oh, my God, Drake. We’ve known each other for how long?”

    “Ten years…” he said dryly.

    “I think I can safely say it. It’s not like
    I’m a new employee and I’ve seen you at your worst…remember? When you had the flu and you had no one to come over and help you?”

    “Yes…yes…” He blushed completely from head to toe. How could he forget? It was the worst memory ever. She found him buck naked on the floor in his apartment with his head in the toilet. He’d never been more mortified in his life! But his little personal assistant didn’t even bat an eye as she helped him up and put him straight to bed. She had stayed with him all day and he had been incredibly grateful.

    “So anyway…for your information I got a boob job.”

    “Oh!” God, someone please shoot me now, he thought as he tried desperately not to look at her boobs. What did he say to that? Did they even make a Hallmark card for that? “Hey! Congrats on your boob job! Get well soon!”

    “Sorry,” she said and bit her thumbnail. “But I had to tell someone. And I don’t really want to tell the girls in the office. They’ll notice soon enough, if they haven’t already…They’re not too big are they? I mean I could have went smaller and I almost went bigger.” She rolled her eyes and looked down at her large breasts. “Whew! So glad I didn’t!”

    “Well, they’re definitely bigger!” he said and shook his head. “When did you do this?” He said amazed that she would do such a thing. He kept flicking back and forth. Boobs, eyes. Boobs, eyes. She was usually such a quiet little thing and now she was so…What was the word he was looking for? Buoyant? Yup! That would be the word!

    “Well,” she giggled. “Remember my sabbatical? Well…” she bit her lip and grinned. “I was not really in Europe. I was visiting my mom and got it done there. She knew a good doctor.” Anna surveyed him carefully and then started pacing the office. “I was sick of being flat chested,” she suddenly explained. “All my life I had nothing…flat as a board…You could literally use me as a surf board! I would just glide across the water.” She turned to him. “And then one day I looked into the mirror and thought I’m going to do it! Heck! I’m thirty…It’s a good age, right?” Then suddenly her face fell. “Oh, my God, Drake? Did I make a mistake?” Oh, my God! What did I do?” She crossed her arms over her breasts and her face looked like the earth had dropped from beneath her. “You must think I’m so superficial!”

    Gone was the happy, confidant woman who walked into his office this morning. He frowned worriedly as he watched her plunk down onto his office couch. “I don’t think that at all,” he said getting up and walking over to sit beside her. He took her hands in his. “They are beautiful!…I mean you are beautiful. They look fine.” Dork just kicked it up a notch.

    “Do you really mean it?” she squeaked.

    “I mean you were fine before, but whatever makes you happy…”

    Her face fell again. “I shouldn’t have done it.”

    “No…I mean…yes! You should have,” he said and grimaced when she looked at him. “You look great…They look great.”

    She giggled. “You’re such a liar,” she said, pouting through a smile. “But I love you anyway.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “You’re the best boss ever, you know that.”

    Great. Now there was no way that he could ever ask her out. She’d suppose he only liked her for her gi-normous ta tas! “Well, you’re the best assistant ever.” He smiled tightly.

    “So…” she said and leaned into him, nudging him. “Do you want to touch them?” she whispered.

    “Excuse me?”

    “Well, they’re so wiggly and jiggly. I sometimes play with them at home…you know, because they’re new. It’s kind of like when you’re mom had her waterbed.”

    “My mom never had a waterbed.”

    “Mine did. She kept it in storage for years. She pulled it out to show me. It took us forever to fill and then we had a blast jumping and rolling all over it! Man did we have fun that day…” she said and smiled. “Until it burst. That part wasn’t fun. But go ahead. Touch them. These won’t burst. Come on. Be a brave boy.”

    “I don’t think that’s a good idea…Someone could come—“

    “Oh, come on…give them a feel.” She grabbed his hands and placed them on her breasts. “See…aren’t they squishy?”

    She rubbed his hands over her breasts and Drake sat there pressing his lips together straining to smile, while taming the wild thoughts in his head.

    “God, Drake have you never felt a woman’s breasts before? You’re so stiff! It’s like being touched by a mannequin!”

    “Fine,” he barked with embarrassment and felt his face flush fiercely. “It’s just a little strange hitting second base, when we haven’t even been to first base!”

    “I saw you naked. Now feel.” She closed her eyes and waited.

    This really wasn’t happening was it? I mean…this was a guy’s dream. His fingers slowly bent, squeezing into the softness. He pulled a curious face. “Soft.” He squeezed again. “And yet firm!”

    “I know aren’t they amazing!” she said and opened her eyes, grinning at him.

    “That’s so weird. They look real…and they feel real,” he said, really getting into it now. He cupped the heaviness and then squeezed again as his thumb grazed over her nipple.

    “Oh!”

    “What?” He quickly released her, worrying he had hurt her! He searched her face. He knew that look, but it wasn’t the kind of look he was used to seeing on Anna. And then he realized what he had done. “I’m sorry. I just…It’s natural…for me to…”

    “No…it’s fine…I was just shocked that’s all. It’s fine,” she repeated awkwardly and stood up. “I asked you to do it. It’s my fault.” Her green eyes fluttered down to her skirt and she straightened it. “I should go now. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

    “Right. So do I…” he stood up and headed for his desk as casually as he could muster. Limping would have been a better description.

    “Good…So I’ll see you later…Lunch?”

    “Oh…right. Yes. One?” he asked, feeling as if his eyebrows were permanently glued to his forehead.

    “Perfect. Okay, then,” she said awkwardly as she headed for the door. She turned, flushed scarlet then uttered a thank you as she left his office.

    “You’re welcome!” he called politely after her and then winced. He blinked his eyes and stared straight ahead. Lunch was going to be hell!

    • Karen Christopherson

      Thank you so much Calida! I know I was so late getting this in. And I still haven’t read everyone’s but I’m going to. Next time I start earlier! Thank you for taking the time to read mine, even when it was so late. I soooo appreciate it.

  26. Andrea McAlpine

    Before today, Jax’s love and admiration for her had been nothing but a budding childhood friendship. As he watched Casey meander down the crowded hallway of the airport terminal, Jax’s heart lurched and ached in his chest. She was leaving to start college. Going to college was something she had dreamed of for so long, and he felt that it was up to him to see that she accomplished it.

    His first thought, every day since they met, was of her. He taught her how to ride a bike. He bought her, her first rootbeer float. He walked with her in the pouring rain, holding an umbrella just over her head so she wouldn’t get sick. He asked her to Prom just so she could have the experience. He invited her to help him fix up his old car, so her summer wouldn’t be so long and monotonous. And now, he had brought her all the way to Atlanta to see her off to school. It was a three hour trip full of their last laughs, their last secrets, and their last smiles. The next morning, Jax would be leaving for boot camp and then for overseas.

    At the end of the seemingly endless hallway, before turning left toward her boarding gate, Casey paused. Jax’s heart raced and beat loudly in his ears. Hope burned like a blazing fire through every vein in his body. She turned to face him, but couldn’t bare to see his face. Seeing him would make me go back, she thought, I would never leave his arms. She turned left and continued down the corridor. As fast as hope came to Jax, it left him.
    Feeling emotionally exhausted, Jax shuffled toward the escalator, stepped on, and rode it to the ground level. It’s just as well, he decided, trying to make excuses for the despair he felt deep inside. Not like she could come with me. She needs to go to school. It’s what’s best. My life has already been made complete because of her very existence.
    He struggled to choke back tears, as he weaved between travelers and family members bidding a loving farewell to each other. His throat tightened. He clenched his eyes tightly together, to keep tears from streaming down his face. Breathless, and angry with himself for not confessing to her how he felt, Jax leaned on a planter near a bench and tried to catch his breath. He wanted to scream and yell. He wanted to go back and ask her to stay at last one more night. He wished like hell he hadn’t enlisted when he did. He wished he had realized what she meant to him, and had the nerve to tell her.

    Gaining control of his emotions, at least enough to get himself to the car and let it all out, Jax moved away from the bench, past the ticket counters, and out into the sunlight. He stopped, looked high into the sky, and breathed deeply through his nose. She will never know, he thought helplessly.

    Jax stepped lifelessly across the street to the parking garage. As he walked, Jax pulled his keys from his pocket, and glanced down at them. To anyone else it was just a set of keys, but to him they held two specific memories.

    The first memory was the day he and Casey had finished fixing up his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop Coupe. The day was exceptionally cold for late Spring, he recalled. He had just tightened the last of the bolts on the engine, and was eager to start the car. Turning to Casey, he chuckled heartily at the smudged of grease across her smooth cheek.

    “What?” she questioned, pushing a long strand of her flaxen colored hair out of her eyes, and smiling.

    He shook his head and grinned. “Nothing? Wanna go for a ride?”

    “Of course!” she exclaimed. “We haven’t been working on this just to look at it.”

    They climbed in and rode along the shoreline of their small coastal Georgia town. Windows down, music blaring, speed steadily increasing. They had stopped to walk the beach, watch the sunset dip beyond the blue-silver waters, and grab ice cream at ‘The Shack’. They talked vividly about their impending graduation and the future. That night, she told him about her plans to attend college. It had crushed him to think of losing his best-friend.

    Jax stepped up onto the sidewalk, at the airport, and turned the large, old key over and over in his hand. Approaching the elevator, Jax quickly decided against the urine stench he previously encountered in it, and began to climb the stairs to the third floor.

    The second memory Jax´s keys held was the morning he and Casey had, had an argument about him joining the Army, the evening before, without thinking about what it would entail or how his family would handle him possibly never returning from war. Casey had yelled and cried. She had begged him to go back, to change his mind. He was firm in his decision.

    “Hey,” Casey said, as she approached the garage where Jax was diligently washing his Coupe.

    “Hey,” he replied, not making eye contact with her.

    “I…I wanted to tell you that I was sorry. I shouldn´t have yelled at you like that. I just…” she said, stumbling over her words and biting her lip.

    “I know you´re sorry. So am I. After you left, I realized that I needed to talk to my folks, and to you about my choice to enlist,” he smiled.

    Her emerald green eyes met his deep brown-golden eyes. Casey´s heart skipped a beat and she moved closer to him. Before today, she hadn´t seen him as anyone other than the awkward boy she met when she moved here at eight years old. She hadn´t seen him as anything other than the shy teenager who asked her to Prom. And she hadn´t seen him as anyone other than her secret-keeper, the one person who could cheer her up in any situation, her partner-in-crime…Her best-friend.

    “I brought you this,” she said, handing him a royal-blue rabbit´s foot. “For luck.”

    “I´ll carry it with me everyday, Case.”

    “You better,” she answered, offering him a halfhearted smirk. A tear rolled down her cheek and she hoped deep in her heart that he´d return, if not for her, then for his family. Jax wiped the tear away and wrapped her in his comforting and loving embrace.

    Reaching the top of the steps, on the third floor, Jax felt the soft rabbit´s fur. It was silky like Casey´s golden hair. He wished again that he had told her.

    “I can´t go,” her voice spoke softly.

    Sitting on the trunk, of his Coupe, was his beloved Casey. “Why didn´t you get on the plane? Classes start on Monday!” He stepped in front of her.

    “Because I had to tell you…that I love you.” Casey wrapped her arms around Jax´s neck, and pressed her full, pink lips against his.

  27. Jan VanEngen

    Out of the blue liked been sucker punched Liza glass paused near her lips. She blinked and looked again and her heart did a little jump and raced. It was like she was seeing him for the first time. Really for the first time. How was that possible? Everyone had said how he looked like a Greek god with his golden hair and well toned tanned body and she had always laughed it off.
    Ross, a Greek god, when he was a true blue Aussie like her. How long had she known him? All her life as far as she could remember. Always doing everything together. Like now at a gathering of friends enjoying a barbecue under the moonlight. And didn’t the moonlight love her Ross. He had always been her Ross.
    He turned to her and gave his Ross killer smile. Straight through the heart. Oh, my, what had she been thinking? And there was that stunning redhead heading straight to him. The one who had being eyeing him off all night. She had even teased him telling him to go for it. He had laughed not his type. His rich deep laugh that always warmed her heart.
    Taking to her feet she deposited her glass on a table as she passed to join him just as the redhead had stopped at side all smile, eyelashes fluttering.
    “Liza honey,” he greeted warmly draping an arm around her shoulders. “About time.”
    She smiled confused. “For what Ross?” she asked.
    “Please excuse us,” he smiled at the redhead to guide her away to a quiet corner.
    “Ross?” she asked again because he was looking at her differently. Intensely. Did she dare to hope he also saw her more than just a friend, more than best buddies? She swallowed hard has he stepped closer eyes meshing as he captured her face into his hands and lowered his golden head blocking out the full moonlight as his sensual full lips slanted over hers to tease apart.
    Moaning she stepped closer into his body to clutch at his broad shoulders, closing her eyes to see fireworks as her body ignited into fire of desire.
    Eruptions of cheers and claps surrounded them.
    Everyone knew that Ross King had been madly in love with his best friend Liza Ryan for years and he was a patient man, always had been.
    “About time you saw the light Liza Ryan,” he whispered against her soften lips, both unaware what was going on around them, only having eyes for each other.
    “What is that Ross King,” she asked breathless, heart racing.
    “That you belonged to me.” Again he crushed her lips with his like a man thirsting after a long drought, drinking the fruits of heaven.

  28. Karen Christopherson

    I only got through half of these, but I’m going to read the rest later today when it’s just too hot to write and think. Good job everyone! I love reading everyone’s and like I promised I’m going to comment on everyone’s individually. I should have started earlier this weekend. But they’ll still be up! Have a good day and thanks Sold team. This is really getting all the juices flowing and I love the community feel! 🙂

    • Chris Buono

      Don’t feel pressure to do so, Karen. Do whatever you can. 🙂

      And just know, whether you comment on all stories individually or not, everybody here knows we’re supported and/or read by those who also submit to these Writing Challenges. That’s what the SOLD! Blog is all about — fun and support of any kind! 😉

    • Karen Christopherson

      Thanks. I was so tired yesterday, but I promised I would. my eyes were going cross-eyed and it was so hot. I guess I’ll just try and do what I can next time. Thanks Chris!