Here’s your Weekend #WritingChallenge!

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Hi everyone,

For your weekend #writingchallenge this week, we want to see that most important scene of all – the ‘I love you’ moment!

Give us your best, most unique declaration of love ever!

We can’t wait to read your answers!

The SYTYCW Editors x

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  1. Fiona Marsden

    “Don’t fall in love.”
    Cissie looked up from the tablet, her mind full of spreadsheet calculations. “Why would I do anything so illogical?”
    Da’ud leaned back, tilting dangerously over the balance point of the leather executive chair. His dark eyes glinted with a spark she recognised all too well as trouble. “Because you are a woman, and eventually all women want more.”
    “More than what?”
    The chair hovered on the brink. Cissie had a moment of hoping he would tip himself out onto the parquet floor. The man made irritating an art form. Instead, he straightened, one long elegant hand pointing in her direction. Like an accusation. “Deny it if you dare. You pretend to be wrapped up in your numbers but the only number you have an attachment to is the number two.”
    “Two as in binary code?”
    “Call it what you will. You want to be part of a duo.”
    She dropped her eyes back to the spreadsheet. It was asking for humiliation to let him see her gaze linger on the smiling lips, the hair roughened jawline, the tuft of black hair at the base of his warm brown throat. Those perceptive eyes saw too much. “It sounds like an invitation to Karaoke night at the pub.”
    “Would you accept?”
    “I have a voice like a frog. On my mother’s authority.”
    “A voice not even a mother could love.” He stood abruptly, sending the chair rolling gently toward the plate glass window. One thumb hooked in a pocket, he strolled around the desk to perch on the corner nearest to her position. Far. Too. Close. “What else is unlovable about you, my sweet?”
    She pretended to think about it, carefully painting a studious frown on her face, concentrating on controlling her expression. “I’m a know it all?”
    “A know it all? Really? I find that hard to believe.” His fingers curled around the edge of the timber desktop. “You are an expert in your field, but I suspect there are a number— see how I speak your language? There are a number of very important things of which you know very little.”
    She had always admired his hands. They were slender, yet strong, the fingers capable of holding fast when necessary, gentle at other times. Times she would do well to forget. “If this is your way of amusing yourself, I don’t find it very funny.”
    “How little you know me, Cecilia Thorne.”
    “Am I supposed to know you? Beyond what is necessary for an employee to know of her employer?”
    “Is that what we are?”
    She set her chin. “You are the Chairman of the Board. I am your PA.”
    “Are we not also lovers?”
    “Lovers? Surely that would imply love?”
    He leaned over her, taking the tablet and placing it carefully on the desk. “Would it surprise you?”
    “I’m not supposed to be surprised. I’m supposed to anticipate.”
    “An excellent quality in a PA. Also in a lover.” He pulled her up, into the loose cage of his arms.
    The air thickened, dense with the scent of his body. She sucked in the taste of coffee as his breath mingled with hers. She was anticipating, if the reaction of her insides were any indication, quite a lot. “This is not appropriate.”
    “I love you, Cecelia Thorne.” His lips brushed her mouth.
    The rest of her turned to mush, liquefying against his heat. Including her brain. “I … thought we were here to discuss the merger.”
    He chuckled, the vibrations shuddering through her. “I thought you would never ask.”

  2. Chrissie

    Diana held her breath, releasing it in relief as the men above worked her up and over the steep cliff onto stable ground. Strong arms wrapped around her, supporting her and hugging the new found breath right out of her aching chest.
    “Damn, if you aren’t a sight for sore eyes!” Doug held her away from him so he could look at her. “You’ve got some knack for trouble, lady. Remind me never to fall in love.”
    “What’s this?” Sam stepped up beside her as he slipped out of the last of his harness and began unbuckling hers. “Are you flirting with my woman?”
    Doug grinned. “Your woman? Are you gonna tell her, Sam?”
    Diana looked up at him. He was so close, she could feel his breath on her cheek as his hands deftly removed the harness from around her waist and shoulders. “Well, Sam?”
    She’d been through hell in the past week and, by nothing short of a miracle, managed to survive. She was in love with the man standing before her and she was pretty sure he loved her too. But, she had yet to hear him say the words. She wanted him tell her, to admit his love in front of his friends and co-workers.
    “This isn’t exactly where I wanted this to happen, but here we are.” He pulled her close and looked down into her eyes. “There’s bound to be rough days up ahead, but no more days like today. I will always protect you from danger and I hope to keep that promise 24/7, if you’ll be my wife. I love you, Diana.”
    The rescue crew broke into cheers, laughter, and loud applause, amidst backslapping and handshaking. She could have sworn she saw a dollar or two exchange hands too. But then, she’d just caught the best-looking, self-proclaimed bachelor in the whole state of Nevada—even if he was a Texan. He’d not only come through with flying colors and rescued her, he’d touched her heart and soul with his words of love.
    “Diana?” He was expecting an answer. “What do you say, darlin’?”
    “I love you too, Sam.” She stood on her toes and kissed his dirt-stained jaw. “And yes, I’ll marry you on one condition.”
    A sparkle danced in his eyes. “Anything, darlin’.”
    She giggled. “Can we get cleaned up first?”

  3. Adelina Jaden

    “Oh, fuck.” Bjorn looked on the table and I knew I was bleeding.
    I saw him taken over by his acute temper. I couldn’t hear Kate but I knew she had to be close. Bjorn knew that, too. I read the murderous intend in his eyes so I grabbed his arm firmly. My touch made him focus on me and I locked my eyes in his.
    “It’s OK.” I repeated “It’s a scratch. Easy to fix.”
    “There shouldn’t be anything to be fixed, baby.” he despaired, tore off his t-shirt and pressed my wound.
    The weight of all that has happened hit him hard and he knelt before the table I was laying on still pressing my wound. I ran my fingers over his face and smiled.
    “Getting shot for you? Totally worth it.” I chuckled and I cringed with pain.
    He smiled bitterly and shook his head. He hid his face in his hand and bit his lips.
    “Bjorn!” I demanded “Bjorn, look at me!”
    He turned to me swallowing hard and he was no longer holding back his tears. I was beaten, kicked and shot and yet that look was the most painful thing that had ever happened to me. How could I comfort him? Tell him that it was going to be alright? I closed my eyes and bit down my pain, trying to maintain my senses that were slipping away from me as I lost more blood. I then opened them and looked at Bjorn as if I was seeing him for the first time and as if I was looking upon him my whole life. My life was on the balance and yet I had only one thing on my mind.
    “I love you.” I said simply.
    As if those three words held some magic power, Bjorn’s face melted into a soft smile. He got on his feet and leaned over me. He breathed over my lips caressing me with the hand that wasn’t preventing me to bleed to death.
    “Other people?” he scoffed “They say I love you under the rain or against the sunset, under starry nights and candles. Us?”
    “With bullets flying and blood, baby.” I added.
    He leaned in and kissed me softly on the lips. For those seconds I felt no pain and nothing was more important than him, his warmth, his lips.
    “I love you, too, baby” he whispered.

  4. Calida Ally

    Lacey let herself into her chic New York apartment and closed the door behind her. Twenty-four, in the prime of her career as a ballet dancer and in a relationship with a sexy rancher, what more could she ask for? Something. There was something missing. She knew deep down what it was but acknowledging it would only bring on heartache so she opted for oblivion. It made things a lot easier.
    Lacey stifled a scream when she walked into the lounge and found Blake sat on one of the cream leather sofas.
    “Blake!” The sight of him always sent her heart rate soaring and her brain into meltdown. He was the epitome of sexiness. Pure male virility from his sun bleached hair, cobalt blue eyes, sculptured angular features, broad chest, right down to his powerful legs. With the grace of a panther he got to his feet and came towards her.
    Lacey remained pinned to the spot in the middle of the room. “I didn’t know you were here.” she said, feeling slightly short of breath as he took her into his arms and planted a kiss on her mouth.
    “I used the key you gave me to let myself in. I have a surprise for you.” he informed with a grin, placing an arm around her slender waist and leading her through the adjoining doors into the dining room.
    Lacey sucked in a breath. The table had been set with an array of oriental dishes. The delectable fragrance made her stomach growl.
    “Your favourite. Chinese.” Blake pulled out a chair for her then took the one opposite to hers.
    “This is lovely.” Lacey gave him a tentative smile. Their relationship was only three months old. She had just finished a show when his mother, a patron of the ballet company she danced for, introduced her to him. He had been relentless in his pursuit of her. Fearing that he would tire of her soon, she had eventually given in. The fears still existed. Her mother was an example of what happened to you if you gave yourself completely to a man. They ate you up and spat you out. She would leave before that happened to her. She wouldn’t wait to be dumped. Lacey watched him plate up the food.
    “This is a special occasion.” He placed a fortune cookie on a side plate for her.
    “Is it?” A feeling of dread washed over her. This was it. He was sweetening her up before telling her it was over between them. She was sure of it. Over the past few days she had sensed a difference in him. He had seemed preoccupied. Well, she was going to get there first.
    “Blake I want out.” There. She’d said the words. She had saved herself from humiliation. But why was she hurting so bad?
    His hand stilled on the duck spoon. “Out? Out of what?” He asked, fastening his gaze on her.
    “Us. Our relationship.” She noticed he had paled slightly.
    “Why?”
    “Just.” she lied.
    His features tightened and a pulse beat wildly at his jaw. “Darling,” there was no warmth or affection in the endearment. “You’re going to have to do better than that. You’re calling quits on our relationship and the only excuse you can give me is, ‘just’?”
    Her forest green eyes flashed at him. “Fine! The show I’m in is going on a world tour and my career…it means a lot to me…” she finished weakly.
    Blake snatched the napkin off his lap and threw it onto the table. “Say it, your career means more to you than us.”
    “I don’t have to. You’ve just said it for me.” Lacey hated herself for what she was doing. And why was he so angry? Was it a case of wounded pride because she had got in there first?
    Blake got to his feet. “I got you all wrong, Lacey. I thought despite you holding back emotionally, you wanted us to work.” His tall frame was held rigid. “Do you know what your problem is, Lacey? You’re so afraid of letting anyone get close to you that you’ve barricaded yourself in your own fortress and the sad thing is you’re the one who’s hurting you.” Something flickered in the depths of his eyes before he stormed out of the apartment.
    Lacey remained stock still, frozen to the bone.
    The truth hurt. Confused and angry at herself she brought her fist down on the fortune cookie. It split open and a piece of white paper stared up at her, willing her to read it. Picking it up her eyes skimmed the words. Her heart began to thunder against her ribcage as the words on the paper unleashed her repressed feelings for him. What had she done? She had driven away the man she loved, yes, loved, she now freely admitted to herself because of her stupid fears and insecurities. Jumping to her feet she ran to the front door, still clutching the piece of paper and ran out into the pouring rain. Her eyes sought out his car. A breath of relief escaped her as she spotted it parked a few feet away from where she stood. Like a woman possessed she ran to the car. Just as the headlights came on she ran in front of it. She wouldn’t let him go. She couldn’t.
    “What the hell!” He barked getting out and grabbing her by the shoulders. “Have you gone insane? What if I’d put the car into motion? You little fool…”
    Lacey held up the strip of paper. “This, what does this mean?” she blinked against the rain which was drenching them both.
    He glanced at it and frowned. “So you found it…”
    “Is it true? Are they your words?” Lacey held her breath.
    He let go of her and dragged his fingers through his damp hair. “Yes damn it. They’re mine. That’s why I surprised you with the meal. I wanted to tell you in a special way…”
    “That you love me.”
    “Yes.” He glared down at her. “I love you but it makes no difference now…”
    “It makes all the difference. You see you never said the actual words and I always felt that you didn’t because you didn’t care for me enough to do so.”
    “I fell in love with you the moment I set eyes on you.”
    “I’m an idiot! I never realised. Blake, earlier I was only acting out of fear…I thought you had tired of me…”
    “Why the hell would you think that?”
    “Because I don’t expect anyone to love me for a long period of time…” she averted her gaze as tears began to stream down her cheeks.
    “Lacey look at me.” Tenderly he lifted her face so he could look into her eyes. The rain had eased off. “I want to spend the rest of my life telling you how much I love you.”
    “I love you too, Blake, more than you’ll ever know.”
    Blake gathered her into his arms and claimed her mouth with his.
    The three words written on the fortune cookie was the ‘something’ that had been missing. The ‘something’ that had unshackled her heart.

  5. Jan VanEngen

    Coming to the Lamborghini, she leaned against it, crossing her arms, deep in thought, going back over the trip. At first, he could barely stand the sight of her, though, so protective of her over the peeping tom. So disapproving of her sock skid across the marble floor, nearly taking out a very valuable Ming vase to bring a smile to her lips. She would never pass as a princess.
    “I really do not see anything funny in this situation,” growled a deep voice of disapproval. Her eyes rose to the man at her side, looking far from amused. “Is this what you do now, go from one’s bed into another man’s arms,” he sneered. Jodie paled, and jerked away from the car, never feeling so insulted. Now she was some sort of tart. He clasped her arm as she tried to leave. “What the hell is going on Jodie? You have been moody all night, then all over that other man.”
    Shocked, she tried to pull away. “Let me go Xavier, you don’t own me,” she cried.
    He jerked her hard against him, and lowered his head. “That is where you are wrong Jodie Spencer, you do belong to me, and it is time you accepted that as the truth.”
    Shaking her head, she tried to pull away. “That is not true Xavier…” he edged her closer, lowering his dark head nearer.
    “Do I have to prove it to you, Jodie?” he asked huskily.
    Suddenly, light headed she leaned into him, hand pressed against her chest. His strong arms surrounded her like a protective cocoon. “I don’t know what to think any more Xavier or where I stand.” She peered up into his dark shrewd eyes. “Did you honestly refuse to marry Amanda? She’s very beautiful.”
    “She wasn’t you Jodie.” Her heart soared, and leaned in closer against his hard male frame that warmed her to her toes. “No more flirting with other men, Jodie I will not stand for it.”
    “I wasn’t, it’s just Scott’s way, and told him off.” She closed her eyes, breathing in his scent.
    “I am the only man you dance with. Do you understand?” she nodded. She didn’t want this distance between them anymore. She wanted the closeness they had shared in Marbella, before they headed to his home. She stiffened, knowing his father would never approve of her. His hold tightened, threading a hand through her hair, drawing her closer to kiss her passionately, leaving her breathless, and clinging. His hands slid down her back, moulding her into his frame to caress over her bottom. “Now explain to me what is going on?”
    “That is what I am trying to understand, Xavier,” she claimed his face in her hands and kissed him, “you have been so distant,” she whispered against his soften lips.
    “Habibti,” his hold tightened, “I have a lot on my mind at the moment, and you shouldn’t take it so personally.” His fingers traced over her back as she snuggled closer, resting her head on shoulder. “Is this, what has been bothering you, my silence?”
    “Have I overreacted Xavier?” She lovingly caressed his neck, tilting her face to kiss his other side. He lowered his head to place a kiss on her temple.
    “Probably,” she felt his smile on her skin. “Do not underestimate us, habibti, you do belong to me, and I have come to bring my bride home where she belongs.”
    She gasped to look at him with wide blue eyes. “Oh, Xavier,” she sighed to slide an arm around his neck, drawing him down, and for the longest time there was silence. A good silence.
    “How could you even think I loathed you, Jodie? I love you with all my heart, my beloved girl, you gave me freedom, and such joy,” he whispered against her swollen lips as he finally pulled away, needing to slow things down before he did her in the car. Her hand slid lower over his bottom to caress.
    “You looked straight through me when I went to see Amanda. There was such fury in your eyes, it pierced my heart. I couldn’t stay, and you were marrying Amanda, not me and…” her eyes began to water as she remembered. Xavier sucked in his breath at her pain, cradling her head in his hand, and lowered to kiss her forehead.
    “I wasn’t angry at you, habibti. Do you remember who was behind you?” She nodded. “Right, now you know who I wanted to…..” He shook his head to rake a hand through his hair, because he wanted to kill him for what he had done to Jodie. Then again, if she had known the truth from the beginning, they would never have happened. She would never have betrayed her cousin. He lovingly stroked her cheek. “No more guilt, Jodie Spencer. We did nothing wrong, only fell in love, and you do love me, do you not?”
    She looked up with such wonder. “Yes, Xavier, I do love you, and so much that is why it hurt so much, and thought of you marrying Amanda and…” She shook her head, not wanting to think about what she had gone through. She turned into him to slide both arms around his neck. And held on for dear life. “I didn’t dare hope for a baby, but yearned for yours, since that is all I would have, but see now it would have been so wrong.”
    “You lied to me?” She chewed her bottom lip guiltily, and nodded. His hold tightened around her. “I think habibti, we should wait until we are married, do you not?”
    She chuckled, kissing his neck. “Don’t you think it is a bit late for that already, baby?”
    “Oh, I don’t plan on going celibate, we are getting married tomorrow.”
    She stepped back, stunned. “We are? Where? How? We are!” She beamed at him.

    • Chrissie

      Too bad. I love to write the male POV. I already know how the woman feels, so it’s fun to get inside the guy’s head and see what he thinks and his actions, what makes him tick. 🙂

    • Kimber Li

      Thanks, ladies. My Male POV story happened quite organically. The hero falls for a new widow and it felt natural to portray his patient love while she gradually comes out of that dark place.

    • Fiona Marsden

      I think these days the male and female POV is shared pretty equally in most Harlquin category lines so there is no need for a male specific sub series. But they may well be interested. They are always looking for new twists and new ways of telling the story.

    • Hi Kimber,
      I’m not personally aware of any, but that’s not to say we wouldn’t consider one if it was truly fab! The challenge is that often, the best access point a reader has to a romance is via the heroine – we want to feel we can step into her shoes and be swept away! What series would you be interested in submitting to?
      Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

    • Kimber Li

      Thanks, Flo. I wasn’t sure which series at first, because it’s a slow burn of romantic tension. Yet, it’s not an Inspirational. Then, I stumbled onto Heartwarming Romance. I’ve already submitted the first chapter to the blitz.

  6. Jan VanEngen

    Night had fallen, and Zayyir never felt so miserable, not even the full moon that he usually enjoyed, did anything to uplift the ache in his heart of what he had lost. He should have given her time. He should have listened and now it was too late. Just like her when she had turned and gone home, she felt he wouldn’t believe she had come, because she loved him, not on the rebound of being left at the altar so to speak.
    He frowned, because she wasn’t going to go to the altar, was she. She was just giving David time to get over his loss and what did he do? He pushed so hard that David demanded she make a choice, him or David. When she ran from both of them, he should have seen the truth there and then. She couldn’t. Damn, he was a fool. It wasn’t like she was sleeping with both of them. Her attachment to David was about friendship and loyalty, not love. Not like their love and he blew it.
    Sighing, he dug his hands deep in the pockets of his jeans to leave the grounds bare footed and wandered out onto the beach to walk along the long beach of solitude. He needed to be alone so he could kick himself, over and over, for being such an idiot. Their kind of love only came once in a blue moon, and he let her slip through his fingers, because he refused to listen to her. Now she would never believe him that he had come to her, before he saw the email that proved she had travelled to him, breaking off the engagement, before David had eloped with Jessica. No one saw that coming.
    He paused to let the cool water lap over his bare feet making him feel something. Anything, but his heart breaking. Wearily, he ran a hand through his hair. He had to get her back. He had to find a way, but it wouldn’t be easy. He had broken her heart, the last thing he had ever wanted to do. What he wanted to do was go back to Spain, where they had been so happy and so in love to have her back in his arms, in his bed wearing his ring, not his. He frowned. She had been. Not once has she taken off his ring, the one he bought her in Spain. For infinity he had said and it was. Damn it all he would get her back.
    Determined, he turned around to stop still at the sight of her on the beach behind him, wearing a long chiffon, white dress and matching wrap, hanging loosely around her arms to drape behind her back. The breeze pressing the dress against her curvy frame, causing his heart stop at such a sight, then fell at the obvious tears she had been crying.
    He strode to her to take into his arms and kissed her with passion, to have arms wrap around his neck, and opened to him feeling her tears against his lips, and sunk into the sand, because actions spoke so much louder than words. They would talk later. They would sort it out, because they loved each other.

  7. Yvonne Rediger

    “Why did you put the box down here?” I asked as I crouched down beside Deke. The gentle ocean swell move between the pylons and over the gold sand. Even in the dim light of early evening I could make out the dark grey pelican box that had been the reason Oscar had threatened me and murdered Alan.

    “It’s hard sided plastic with a rubber gasket seal. Nothing will get wet and this is the last place anyone would look for seven million dollars in bearer bonds.” Deke edged further beneath the building and between the pylons.

    “You’re probably right,” I shrugged. “It doesn’t matter, it’s not our money. We have to give it to the authorities.”

    “Why?” Deke grunted, muscles bunching as he dragged the box over the sand.

    “Seriously? Rewind to when I said the money wasn’t ours.”

    “So who does it belong to then?” Deke looked back and his silver-grey eyes challenged me.

    “Well the brokerage Alan worked for of course.” I shook my head at him.

    “Right. Who complied the funds from selling shares short, after leaking insider information to make the same shares inflate in value first. Have I got right?”

    “Yes, true. I know where you’re going with this but honestly we can’t do this,” I hated the whiny note in my voice.

    “Was the other companies hurt by this? Not really. You were the only innocent party that was injured.” Deke had manhandled the case up on to the dry sand. Now he cracked it open, releasing the seal.

    The moonlight fell across the plastic wrapped bearer bond. We both stared at the wealth.

    “Look at all those zeros,” I breathed.

    Deke slipped his hand around mine and pulled me against him. I felt his lips brush mine and I automatically opened my mouth to deepen and hold the kiss.

    I forgot about the money and wrapped my arms around his neck. He pressed me against him and both our hearts were racing.

    He kissed his way up to my temple. “Think of the good we could due with this money,” he whispered.

    “Are you using your body to win me over and change my mind?” I squinted at him in the dim light.

    “Yes, is it working?”

    “Partly.”

    “How about if I tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me?”

    I opened my mouth to answer and he placed one salty finger against my lips.

    “Let me finish,” he said huskily. Then he swallowed and I could see this wasn’t easy for him to say. His eyes searched mine looking for the rejection he thought awaited him. “I know we haven’t known each other long, but I feel a deep connection with you. You get me and I think I understand you too. I want us to try and see where this goes. Maddie, do you think you can do that?”

    I licked the salt off my lip. “Yes, I love you an I want that too.” Then I was enveloped in a hug. I returned it just as much enthusiastically.

    Finally we separated and Deke reluctantly released me and closed the pelican box. “You’re right, we have to give it to the authorities.” He clasped my hand and I gave it a squeeze.

    “Could we use some of it to help the people on the island instead? Maybe set up an hospital?” I gave him a sideways glance.

    Deke’s eyebrows went up. “Yes we could.”

    “Then let’s do.” I nodded and leaned down to help him drag the box up right.

    “Good, with the left overs, I’m going to buy the airport.”

  8. Kisha Friday

    You sure you want to do this? I don’t believe for a minute that you’re happy.
    Huntress Vaughn stands in front of the mirror to admire her beautiful white wedding gown with blue trimming and sparkling jewels. The dress is quite lovely and blue is her favorite color. Her hands are sweaty and she needed to dry them. Grabbing some paper towels from the metal basket on the counter she dries her hands. She is getting married to one of the richest bachelors in town and her mother will not have to lose her the home she grew up in and later raised her own family in the same home since Huntress Vaughn agreed to marry Chase Leger on the condition that he not take her mother’s land and he pay for her to have a kidney transplant. Chase agreed but only if she agreed to be his wife and more importantly, be the mother of his children for he wanted heirs to the Leger throne. Huntress wasn’t so sure about having children but she wanted her mother to get better.
    You shouldn’t marry this man if you’re not happy.
    Huntress Vaughn’s mind kept replaying her mother’s words over and over again. Do not marry a man who does not make you happy. You are not happy so why keep lying to yourself?
    Mama, I’m doing this for you. For us. He loves me and in time I will love him back.
    Time? Baby, time doesn’t wait for no one. I don’t have time to wait and see if you’ve fallen in love with this man. But if this is what you want then I guess I can’t stop you.
    Tessa Vaughn wasn’t happy that her daughter Huntress is marrying just for the convience of marriage. If she isn’t happy then why enter a marriage without love?
    Mama is just talking out of her head. Huntress told herself. In due time, she’ll come to love Chase.
    Huntress makes her way down the aisle slowly towards her future husband. Everyone is staring at her. Flashes of light are all around the quests are taking pictures. Chase is the hottest actor there is and she’ll get to be in the spot light all the time and best of all, be his wife. How lucky could she be? Look at this handsome man waiting on her. What more could a girl want? Huntress looks at her mother who just stared at her. Not a single tear in her eyes and she looked like she’s not feeling well. The wedding might need to be sped up so her mother could get rest. Chase seemed to be anxious as well to get the wedding over with as he took her by the hands to lead her to the alter. Everyone is now seated and quiet as the pastor does the invocation and then the declaration of intent. The two couples say their vows and the pastor is about to declare them husband and wife when suddenly the doors to the church burst open and Bryon Shaw enters. Huntress gasps. What is he doing here. Chase said not too happy to see that Huntress’s ex fiancé has made an appearance.
    Stop! You can’t marry him. Bryon said, I won’t let you.
    Huntress laughs. You can’t stop me. We were through a long time ago. Its over.
    Is it really? Look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t love me and isn’t still in love with me.
    Bryon said.
    Huntress looks around and they are all looking at her. Chase is glaring at Bryon as if he could just kill him right there and he looks away from him to her. If she refuses to marry him the contract is over and Huntress’s mother will be out on the streets butt first. There was no way he was going to just give someone money without having something in return.
    Do you love this man?
    Bryon, I’m marrying him aren’t I?
    Huntress said nervous.
    Do you still love me?
    Bryon-
    Do you love me? he repeated. I love you and you will not marry this man. Not today.
    Bryon grabbed Huntress by the arm and ran down the aisle and out of the church leaving a bewildered fiancé at the altar.

  9. Roberta

    Hi. I’m new here. Just wanted to know if we have to post something new we’ve just come up with or it can be a short excerpt from something we’ve already published?
    Thanks. 🙂

    • HI Roberta – welcome to the #WritingChallenges, hope you enjoy them! Although people post both, our suggestion is that you see if you can come up with something new. The idea of the challenges is to give you opportunities to try new scenes/ tropes/ emotional scenarios that you might not have tried in your writing already – to experiment as a writer. Of course we’re happy to review previously written scenes, but I’d encourage you to be brave and try write something new each time 🙂
      Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

  10. Roberta

    Ryan cleared his throat a little, and smiled, as he looked her straight in the eye. “I’ve loved you as a sister and as a best friend, ever since the day we met; every time I’ve imagined my future since that day, you’ve always been one of the main characters in it. I knew, long before I realized you were my soul mate, that we would always be together, no matter where life would take us or whom we would end up marrying. Which sounds a little ironic now, as we stand here together at this altar.”
    Valerie smiled and he rubbed the back of her hands with his thumbs; as usual, the gesture gave her goosebumps.
    “It wasn’t until you held my heart in your hands that I realized you were the love of my life; now, I can’t even try to imagine living without you. You’re the missing piece in my heart that I’ve been looking for and now that you’re here, standing before me, looking like an angel, I finally understand the meaning of true bliss. With our families and God as our witnesses, I promise you eternal and unconditional love; I promise to be there for you, whenever you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen to your rants. I promise to lift you up whenever you fall, and to carry you in my arms whenever the road gets too bumpy; I promise to look after you and our children, and make sure you have everything you need. Most of all, I promise to love you until my very last breath and, even after I’m gone, I know my love will remain with you always, until the day we meet again to spend eternity together.” Valerie’s eyes filled with tears. She tried to swallow a sob that had crawled up her throat.
    Ryan smiled. “So, you see, it seems you’re stuck with me for a very long time, my love. You’d better not try to get rid of me ‘cause I’ll come back and haunt you even after I’m dead. Just so you know.”
    He winked and Valerie chuckled, along with most of the guests. Once again, just like every single time she’d been sad, nervous or on the verge of tears, Ryan had managed to bring the smile back to her face and she loved him for it. She would always love him for caring so much about her.

  11. Kimmie Ferrell

    “Did you know it was me the whole time, Cammie? Or is it shocking to see me standing here when you were expecting someone else?”

    Camille pulled her lower lip between her teeth and wrung her hands together before shrugging. “I don’t know. A part of me wants to strangle you for what you’ve put me through these past few weeks, and I guess a tiny part of me is relieved to see someone I know. I’m just,” she paused briefly before tossing her hands in the air, “baffled. I don’t know if I’m shaking like a leaf because I was so nervous, or if I’m shaking because I’m so angry with you.”

    Angry? Hadn’t Wendell mentioned that there was a possibility that Camille wouldn’t fawn over him? That she wouldn’t fall in his arms and admit that she too loved him. Maybe this was a bad idea, but there was no way he could go backward. He’d spent so much of his time trying to win Camille over that either he would tell her how he felt or go back to being the president and permanent resident of the friend zone.

    “Cam, you have every right to be angry with me, but please let me explain.”

    “Explain what? You lead me to believe that someone wanted me and this person doesn’t exist.” She shook her head, her voice trembled. “Was this a joke to you? You thought I was lonely, so you pretended to be my secret admirer for what? Laughs and giggles?”

    “Wait Cam, what are you talking about?” This was not the direction he thought the conversation would head. She was insinuating that he played her. Just like…

    The hard stab of a pointed fingernail to his chest brought him crashing back to reality. “How can you do this to me again?”

    “Camille listen to me. This is not some game. My intentions were never to hurt you. The only reason I pretended to be your secret admirer is because I couldn’t stomach the thought of you turning me down after I’ve loved you for so long.”

    He took a step forward. He needed to be as close to her as possible. Make her see the love he had for her brimming in his eyes and feel the love bursting from his heart.

    “So if you thought I would turn you down, what made you change your mind?” Camille breathlessly whispered.

    It was Ethan’s turn to contemplate the question. How did he go from a man who’d had a horrific experience with love and felt like there was no way in hell he could go through getting his heart broken again to falling in love and wanting to start a family of his own?

    It was seeing the smiles on Camille’s face each time she received the flowers and gifts he sent and wanting to be that man to make her smile for the rest of their life. It was waking up in the morning, next to her pliant body and hearing the quiet sound of her breathing in his ear. Camille knew him inside and out. She knew his dreams his aspirations and instead of believing he was crazy for being so ambitious or cringing at his thoughts, she supported him. She rooted for him and threw in her suggestions on how to make things better.

    She helped him build his empire. Camille was unlike any woman he’d ever dealt with. Of course, he was afraid of the very real possibility that they may not work out, but what scared him more than anything was not trying. He could no longer live the lie of only wanting to be Camille’s friend and he hoped like hell she felt the same way.

    “That’s simple, Cam.” He closed the gap between them and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “I would rather spend the rest of my life loving you like only I can than to pretend any longer that I’m not absolutely in love with you.”

  12. Amanda Shivrattan

    ‘Storms don’t last forever, sweetheart. I’ll always be by your side when it rains and when it shines. I am with you for the long haul…through the ups and downs, good and bad, through times of trial and error, through times of happiness and sadness. That is my promise to you for all of eternity. You are my world and I want you to know that.’
    Priscilla caressed his stubbled jaw with the back of her hand. Her heart swelled with emotions so raw she registered the burn of tears at the back of eyes. His words held the power to make her come undone. And she did. With the gentlest of touches, she reached for his mouth and brushed her lips against his.
    ‘You are good to me…treat me with respect. You care about my feelings, what I think. Why?’
    ‘I respect women…and you my dear queen is the most important woman in my life. It is my duty to be respectful to you at any given time.’
    A smile curved her lips upward. ‘And when we don’t see eye to eye?’
    He tilted his head to one side, brows furrowed as his dark eyes narrowed in on her with feigned concentration. ‘We’ll work things out the best way we can when that bumpy road crosses our path. OK?’
    Her eyes turned misty, her throat tight. ‘I love you, Zaheer. For taking me as I am…flawed and imperfect.’
    He let out a feral groan and without another word his head bowed forward and he caught her mouth and meld his lips to her in a kiss that tore at her soul that made her heart swell with emotion so raw tears burst free from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. With him, she can cry without being judged. She can voice her concerns without being brought down. She can be free to make her own choices, her own decisions without having someone belittle her and her flaws. With this man she felt at peace and loved and cared for. And she wanted to live her life no other way.
    ‘I love you,’ she mouthed again as his lips had her spinning in circles.
    ‘My queen, my heart, my soul…I love you too.’

  13. Fallon DeMornay

    My SYTYCW15 entry. Can’t help it. I love these two and this moment still makes me *swoon* 🙂
    #
    After the better part of a week, when Eva finally felt strong enough to get out of the bed and sit in a chair, her broken leg wrapped in a thick cast and propped on a stool for elevation, did she tell Lottie it was time.
    “Momma!” Lucy burst into the room first, arms out stretched. Eva caught her in a hug—bruising be damned, and held on tight. Releasing only long enough so she could take hold of each of daughters.
    “Oh, my babies. My girls.”
    “Mommy,” Payton whispered, brushing away tears from Eva’s cheeks. “Does it hurt?”
    Eva looked down to her leg, smiled. “Not really. The hospital is taking great care of me.”
    “Mom. I’m so sorry,” Hailey said, teeth worrying her lower lip, tears welling in her eyes. A bandage wrapped in gauze circled her neck, protecting her stitches. “I’ve been stupid and mean. That’s why I came home when I wasn’t supposed to because I wanted you to know I didn’t mean it, when I said I hated you and—”
    Eva quelled her harried words with another hug. Kissed her cheek.
    “It’s okay, baby. It’s all going to be okay. I promise you.”
    “I made you a picture.” Lucy announced, running back to Lottie who stood, weepy in the doorway, and returned with a large white page splattered in an abundance of colour and shapes and glitter.
    Surrounded by her family, Eva listened as Lucy told wild stories and Payton showed her the trophy her team won during the final game of the season and Hailey revealed that even though she couldn’t act in the play, Mrs. Singh let her volunteer as Assistant Director back stage which, apparently, was way cooler then she thought.
    Lottie showed Eva photos of everything she’d missed, including a little video of Hailey in action, working behind the scenes, her face alight with wonder and triumph.
    “Marshall,” Lucy tugged on his hand, swung it between them, “are you gonna ask her yet?”
    “I don’t know, Gummy Bear,” he replied in a stage whisper. “You think now is a good time?”
    Lucy nodded vigorously. Both Payton and Hailey exchanged smirking glances.
    Eva looked between them, utterly confused. “Ask me what?”
    Lucy scampered back to her, bounced on her feet. “Marshall has a really special, really important question he wants to ask you. I know cuz he asked us first and gave us these.” Lucy stuck a hand under the collar of her shirt and pulled out a necklace she’d failed to notice, and dangled a little heart pendant fashioned of pale gold. “We each have one. He said this means we’re special and he loves us.”
    Eva’s gaze flickered from that little piece of jewelry over to Marshall who was already on bended knee at her side, a glimmer in his eyes that was all joy and laughter and love.
    “Okay, I think I’ll take over from here.” He winked at Lucy, and then reached for Eva’s trembling hand.
    “I’ve thought about how to do this in a million different ways. How to ask you, when to ask you, and every time I come up short because there isn’t anything big enough, grand enough, to encompass how much I love you, Eva. How much I love these girls. I know you’re thinking I’m leaping into this, propelled by drastic events, but I’m not.” His fingers tightened on her hand as he shifted closer on his knee and swallowed a mass of nerves.
    “Marshall,” his name seeped out of her in a hoarse whisper. “I don’t think you know what you’re about to take on. We’re a handful, at best.”
    “Well, as it happens I’m good with my hands,” he countered, and the devious, suggestive sparkle in his eyes made her smile. “I told the girls that no matter what your answer, I will always be there for them, if you’ll let me. That’s what those necklaces represent. My vow, my promise to them. And now I’m making mine to you. I’ve got nothing to give you except this,” he said, sweeping a hand between them. “Me. All of me. Every breath and bone, every hope and prayer. I’ll stand for you Eva. I’ll love you. Today. Tomorrow. Always. Sometimes we’ll drive each other crazy, and it won’t always be easy. You’re complicated, I’m a mess. But together—we’re perfect in our imperfections. There’s no one else I would rather share all of this than with you. Marry me, Eva.”
    Beyond them, Lucy bounded and squealed, chanting, “Yes, Momma! Yes, Momma. Yes!”
    Eva laughed though tears and Marshall reached for the tissue box his mom offered—half-finished as she clutched a wad to mop up her own tears. Setting it on Eva’s lap, he re-gathered her hands.
    She looked to her girls, to their bright, incandescently happy faces, to those gorgeous little tokens dangling around their necks. A vow, he’d called it. A promise made and shared between them. Her gaze fell on Hailey last and had never seen her daughter look so…happy. Marshall brought that to their lives. A piece she’d never known was missing.
    And no matter what, she knew that he would take them. He would stand for them. Always.
    Eva released a slow, calming breath.
    “You and I,” she said. “We shouldn’t work. I never expected to love you. To need you. But I do. I can’t say I’ll make things simple, I have my moods and quirks—I’m still figuring out who I am in all of this chaos. But I want to find myself with you. Grow with you. I love you. My answer is yes.”
    Eyes glimmering Marshall laughed, gathered her in his arms, his embrace fierce and warm and strong, but gentle. Tender.
    “I don’t have a ring,” he said. “That is…I wanted to wait, so we could find one together.”
    “I don’t need a ring,” she said between kisses. “Just this. Just you.”
    Finally. At long last, Eva had found her Haven.
    She was home.

  14. Eileen James

    Rain pelted the windshield as Brand drove his truck toward the church in the middle of town. He plowed through a puddle that was deeper than he thought and the standing water from the road gushed up the sides of the vehicle.
    “Geez! Be careful.” The voice of the woman next to him, normally soft like honey, was sharp. Lily gripped the the handle hanging over the window as he whipped around a corner.
    Darn if she didn’t look sexy, dripping wet and pregnant with his baby. Why did she have to be so stubborn. If she’d just listen to him for one second he knew he’d be able to convince her to marry him. He slammed on the brakes in front of the church. He turned to her and grabbed her hand. “Lily, I lo–”
    She ripped her hand from his and threw it in front of his face. “No. Don’t say it.” She pulled on the door handle and slid out of the truck.
    He followed her around to the other side of the car. The wind whipped around them. He grabbed her arm as she headed for the concrete steps at the front of the building.
    “Brand, you’re crazy!” He knew by the look on her face that she was screaming the words but the storm pulled her voice away so that it sounded distant.
    “Lily, stop being so stubborn and let me say I lo–”
    “No!” She shook her head fervently. She tried to pull away again but he tugged her close and ducked under the awning of the brick building.
    “Why?” He wished he didn’t have to yell the words.
    He felt her resist the pull of his hands on her waist, but he noted that she didn’t try to terribly hard to pull away. The rain rolled in sheets off the metal overhang, but the wind had died down just a bit.
    “Because, you don’t. You just think you do.” Her voice caught as she hiccupped and for the first time Brand realized that not all the wet streaks on her face were from the rain.
    He brushed at her cheek. “What’s this?” he asked. “You mean to tell me that Lily St. James cries?” He said the words with a smile and it took everything in him not to cover her lips with his. To taste the combination of rain, tears and peppermint lip gloss.
    She eased up her struggle against his hands and he felt her body melt into his.
    “Lily.” He leaned her against the wall surrounding her with his arms. “I lo–”
    She shook her head and buried her face in his shoulder. The rain slowed to a steady but soft rhythm. He put a finger under her chin and lifted her face to his.
    “Darnit, Brand.” She sniffled. “Don’t say it if you don’t mean it.” She pleaded with him. “I couldn’t take it.” Her gray-blue eyes were moist and he knew her walls were finally falling.
    He cupped her face with his hands. “Lily.” He kissed her forehead, then the tip of her nose. “I love you.”
    She sucked in a deep breath. “How do you know?”
    He pulled her lips as close as he could without actually touching them. “I know, because my heart told me.” And then he took those lips and kissed her until his own knees felt weak and they both crumpled to the ground. Their legs tangled together in the wet grass. The rain was a soft patter now. Lily pulled back a little, but her face beamed up at him. “I love you too Brand.”

  15. Rebecca Laurence

    “Why do you keep doing this to me? I can’t guarantee that I’m always going to be there when you need me to rescue you. If you want to see me, there are better ways to get my attention.”
    Raith was seething. Sera knew that she had gone too far this time. As Raith pulled her from the icy cave that surrounded her, she looked longingly into his eyes. His glowing green stare of rage was softening. She could see fear flash across his face.
    “Why Sera?” He whispered into her ear as he pulled her close. Hugging her so tight she thought he was going to crush her ribs.
    “I’m so sorry Raith. I didn’t mean to scare you. I promise I won’t do anything extreme again.” Truth was, she also scared herself. Skiing the most dangerous slopes straight after a good dumping of fresh powder wasn’t her best decision. She knew as soon as she heard the roar that there would be no way she could escape. As it hit, she remembered to swim, flinging her arms and legs about to create an air pocket as the snow encapsulated her in an icy cold tomb. She was lucky. She had managed to remain close to the surface, but it still felt like an eternity before she saw Raith’s glowing emerald green eyes above a black scarf that was wrapped around his head.
    “I needed to see you again. I need to explain to you about what happened.”
    Raith stopped her by placing his lips on hers. “No you don’t Sera. I know everything. I spoke to your grandfather. He told me about your father and I don’t care anymore. I know that we are from two completely different worlds but I love you for who you are, not who your parents are. I know deep down that he is actually a good person.”
    “Hang on, back up the bus a minute. What did you say?” Sera wasn’t sure if she heard him right.
    “Yes Seraphine Mitchell. I love you. And I will do whatever it takes for us to be together.”
    Raith had cupped her head in his hands, tilting her head up towards him so she could see that he meant it. He really was prepared to give up who he was so that he could spend the rest of eternity with her. She could feel the tears of joy fill her eyes, and the biggest grin almost split her face as it fought to stretch her frozen cheeks. “I love you too Raith. I will do whatever it takes to make you the happiest man on earth.

  16. Kathryn Peterson

    Sleep would come. Not the restless sleep that dogged her through the homicide case, but a darkness that seeped into the recesses of her mind. She lay still. She could no longer hear her heart beating as it had when she chased a killer, or louder still when she fell into the trap he set for her. The place where he left her was cold; rain fell on her thin shirt and sharp stones pressed against her bones. Her head rolled into a pothole and the water rose closer to her mouth and nose making it hard to breathe. The pain that exploded in her body faded as she waited for release.
    The bird lighted near to her, a blur of blue and red feathers and squawking noise, a Stellar Jay perhaps. She wanted to tell it how grateful she was, not dying alone in this desolate place. The bird raised her up off the ground. She could hear it tell her over and over it told her that she would be alright. Perhaps it could help her find her partner before the killer found him.
    She woke up alone in a bed made of logs and she could smell coffee brewing. Angelique struggled to her feet and looked around. Her gun was nowhere to be found.
    “Whoa, easy there,” Mark’s frame came into sight. He was tall and rail thin, but there was no mistaking the impact his green eyes made on her. For a cop, a good partner means the difference between following rules and making things happen. He was the best.
    “Where are we?” Angelique asked him.
    He took her shoulders gently and led her back to bed.
    “A cabin on the mountain that I knew about, when you took off after Gagne, I followed you “Not that you made it simple, mind.”
    “You carried me, was that real or not real?”
    “Real,” he admitted.
    “I thought you were a bird.”
    He smiled. You said something about feathers. “
    “I didn’t get Gagne,” she looked at the ground. “He won, Mark, he got away.”
    “The FBI is looking, we’ll get him.”
    Mark stood tall above her, for a moment she wanted to throw her arms around him. As if in answer, he pulled her to him, smoothing her hair.
    Her eyes shut without her knowing. He shook her gently.
    “We need to get out alive.”
    He poured two cups of coffee and laced them with milk and sugar.
    “Move the table in front of the door,” she said. “In case Gagne finds us.”
    Mark tugged on her sleeve.
    “Angelique.” Her face was streaked with dirt, but he had never seen her look more beautiful.
    “There is something I need to tell you.”
    “What? What is it?
    “Je t’aime, Cherie.”
    “Do you, do you really love me detective?” she asked him.
    He went down on one knee in front of her. In his hand was a posy of blue flowers.
    “For you,” he faltered. “They‘re Forget Me Nots, the blue of your eyes is this color, and I adore it.”
    Like a knight in shining armor, he had not declared his love for her without bringing a tribute worthy of her. She brought them up to her bruised face and inhaled, they were perfect.
    She wanted to tell him that she loved him, but there was no time.
    The smile on her face told him what he needed to know. Outside, he could hear a bird singing. It told him that life would have complications, but looking at her, the advice meant nothing to him.

  17. Jax Burrows

    The log fire blazed merrily, the crackle of flame on wood adding to the ambience of the family room. Normally, his sanctuary would have worked its magic and he would have regained control of his world by now. Today, he felt as if Rosie had sent him into orbit and he couldn’t find his way back to earth.
    Jake paced up and down trying to subdue his erratic pulse. He was in turmoil. She was telling the truth; Rosie really loved him and wanted him. With or without children, she wanted him. It was too much to take in. His plans to withdraw and let her find someone more suitable were like dust in the wind. Rosie was in charge and she was taking no prisoners.
    He heard the door open and she entered. She put the bottle of wine and the glasses on the table and came over to him. He stopped pacing and stood waiting. He didn’t know what to do and couldn’t stop staring at her lovely face, serene and smiling in the fire light.
    ‘You said I could ask you one question.’
    ‘Only if you won – you lost.’ He amazed himself that his voice was steady. Inside he was trembling.
    ‘Well, I’m going to ask anyway.’
    The new assertive Rosie was starting to grow on him. The strength he had recognized the first time he had met her, was showing itself in her attitude. He had no weapons against this Rosie; he felt she could see straight through any dissemblance. He said nothing.
    ‘Why do you call this room the family room?’
    ‘What?’ Jake stared at her in shock. He wasn’t expecting that. He had braced himself for a different question entirely.
    ‘You say you have no intention of getting married, of having children; that you are planning on being single the rest of your life. So – why family room, Jake?’
    Jake sat down abruptly and put his head in his hands. How could he put it into words? ‘It was called that when I bought the house, it means nothing, it’s just a name.’
    ‘No, it’s more than just a name. You could call it anything – the lounge, the living room, whatever you like. But you don’t. It’s the family room. It’s everything you’ve never had and never will have, but you know what I think?’ He shook his head, too choked to speak. Rosie came and knelt on the floor in front of him and took his hands in hers. Her hands were firm and warm and he clung on to them as if he was a drowning man and she was a lifeline. ‘I think this room keeps the dream alive for you, a dream that you’ve had all your life and you can’t let go of.’
    ‘Don’t, Rosie…please…’
    ‘I think what you tell the world and what you feel inside are two totally different things. I think you have always longed for a family of your own and that longing just gets stronger doesn’t it?’
    He nodded, feeling his heart racing. Instead of the anger he would normally feel at being questioned, put on the spot, he felt exposed as if his carefully constructed defenses had started to crumble.
    ‘I have another question.’
    ‘I said only one.’ His voice was shaking and he couldn’t let go of her hands.
    ‘Yes, but I’m changing the rules tonight. Anyway it’s just one very simple question – do you love me?’
    He felt the world shift on its axis, turn ever so slightly so things once hidden were now in full view. The answer to this question would determine his whole future – and Rosie’s. Suddenly he was tired of lying, tired of fighting his feelings and trying to orchestrate the events in his life. He was thirty-three years old, he was sick of being alone. The woman he loved more than life itself, and who he now knew loved him too, was kneeling in front of him waiting patiently. Tell her, Matthias.
    ‘Yes, I love you.’
    He didn’t know how it happened but they were in each other’s arms, crying, laughing and kissing. Their tears mingled and soaked their clothes.
    ‘You’ve got sauce on your tee – we’d better take it off.’ She helped him pull it off and he threw it on the floor. Next came his jeans. Rosie also stripped and stood in front of the fire, the light playing across her skin. She was beautiful. He pulled her down onto the rug and kissed her again. They made love, slowly, passionately but with great tenderness, the heat from the fire mingling with the heat from their bodies, shadows dancing across the floor.
    When it was over, they lay together, wrapped in each other’s arms, Rosie’s head on his chest.
    ‘Can I tell you something?’ Her voice was quiet but determined. ‘You don’t need to say anything, but just listen, please.’
    ‘Okay.’ He listened and said nothing.
    ‘Love isn’t something you learn, Jake. It’s not like boxing, or running, or even how to use a treadmill. You don’t need to wait for someone to show you how. Love is something that is already in you. It’s always been there and always will. And children – well, every parent I know says they don’t come with an instruction manual. You learn as you go along. My mum said the three of us were so different it was like starting again with each one.’
    Jake couldn’t speak. He just lay on the floor with Rosie pressed tightly against him and listened to her destroy every argument he had ever constructed as to why he shouldn’t be a father. But there was one he had never voiced to anyone. Rarely even admitted it to himself.
    ‘I’m scared.’
    Once again, the new Rosie surprised him. ‘Of course you are, darling, we all are. I’m scared. I bet Farah and Adeel are scared right now. Be honest with me, Jake – when has being scared ever stopped you from doing something that means a lot to you?’
    ‘Never.’ The answer came spontaneously; he didn’t even have to think about it.
    ‘Right answer!’
    ‘When did you get to be so wise, Rosie Hayes?’
    She giggled and rubbed against him provocatively. ‘I’ve had a good teacher.’ Then she kissed him and his body responded as it always did, as he knew it always would. He made love to her slowly, languidly, as if they had all the time in the world. He watched her face as she reached her climax and knew he would never stop wanting her.
    She was truly the love of his life. He had set out to show her how strong she was inside and instead, she had given him a gift that he thought he would never receive. The gift of unconditional love.
    When she eventually fell asleep, he went upstairs and collected his duvet and two pillows. He returned and gently placed a pillow under her head and covered her with the duvet. After he had put another log on the fire, he lay down beside her and watched her sleep.

    Rosie woke slowly, wondering why she felt so hot. Then she heard the crackle of the log fire and Jake’s quiet breathing in her ear. They had made love on the rug and Jake had covered them with the duvet. He had told her he loved her. She still couldn’t take it in. The big question, though, remained unanswered. Had she convinced him to give their relationship a chance?
    She carefully took the duvet off them, then sat, gazing at Jake’s naked body. His face, in sleep, was relaxed, the hard lines blurred and his lashes thick and dark on his cheek. Her gaze traced the contours of his shoulders, the bulging biceps and veins that stood out like ropes. He was all dark shadows, hills and valleys with the firelight dancing over him. As if a sculptor was working on the perfect male body and had abandoned his project for the night.
    ‘Like what you see?’ Rosie smiled as Jake’s sleepy voice came out of the darkness.
    ‘Always.’
    He opened his eyes then and smiled at her. There was something different about that smile. It was no longer tentative, or teasing. It was open as if he had nothing to hide anymore.
    She moved closer to him and ran her hands over his chest, working her slow, methodical way over his stomach to the place that sprang to life at her touch. She took him in her hands and he groaned softly.
    ‘Do you like this?’ she whispered.
    ‘Do you really need to ask?’
    ‘I love you – so much…’ She kept caressing him until he moved restlessly.
    ‘Do you know, Ms Hayes, that you’re the first woman I have had sex with who made the first move? All the others waited for me to take control.’
    Not exactly the response she was hoping for but she tried not to show her disappointment.
    ‘Is that a problem?’
    ‘Far from it, I’m growing to like it. A lot. In fact I think I’m always going to let you make the first move in our lovemaking.’
    ‘You mean we’re going to do this again?’
    ‘Oh yes, Rosie, again and again and…’ She leant over and kissed him. He took her hand away and sat up.
    ‘I get it, Jake – you want us to have a casual fling after all?’ Well, at least that was an improvement.
    ‘Oh, no, there’s nothing casual about what I’ve got in mind. Far from it. This is very serious. Please forgive me if I don’t get it right, I’ve never done this before.’
    Rosie was intrigued. ‘Okay.’ She waited while he knelt on the rug and took her hands in his.
    ‘I used to believe that you can’t miss what you’ve never had. I thought I wouldn’t miss being loved completely or being part of a family because I had never experienced it. Now I know the opposite is true. Because those are the things I yearn for the most, dream about. And you are right, my family room is the place I allow myself to fantasize about belonging to someone. Until I met you, my darling girl, I never considered the possibility that someone could love me enough to want to spend the rest of their life with me. I daren’t let myself believe in that. Until now.
    I love you. I love you more than I thought I could love anyone. I want us to spend the rest of our lives together and – yes, I want us to have children. You’ve shown me what it is to be truly brave, not to give up and more than anything else, you’ve shown me the meaning of love. Rosie – will you marry me?’
    She couldn’t speak. Tears flowed down her cheeks and she dashed them away impatiently. She nodded in case he thought she wasn’t going to say yes.
    He peered at her intently and said with a nervous laugh, ‘Was that a yes?’
    ‘Oh Jake, of course it was! I love you so much…’
    They fell into each other’s arms and all their fears and uncertainties melted away. As long as they were together, to strengthen and love each other, they both knew they could face anything life had in store.

  18. VIJAYALAKSHMI SRIDHAR

    Sid could not think. There was a huge log that had landed in his brain and was refusing to budge. He freed himself from Arti’s grasp and edged towards the tip of the valley. How could they have missed Hamsini? Hadn’t they counted every time they had stopped the ten kids for rest and regrouped? They hadn’t reached the camping spot and now there was a problem. Was this weekend adventure trip a mistake? In the dim light that spilled from the top of the building they had stopped at, all he could see was a rough and winding terrain filled with tall forest trees. The deep valley beside had started narrowing three kilometers back where they had come across a smattering of settlements.

    He dug into his backpack for the map. As he felt for the roll of paper, a light flashed in his brain. Where was the jewel box? A sudden shot of panic seized him. Didn’t he take it out of his trouser pocket and kept it in Hamsini’s pack? Oh! How could he have been so forgetful about something so important? He felt angry at himself. What if? A chill breeze blew from the valley. Sid sat cross legged on the dew-topped wet grass, took a deep breath and kept the string of what-ifs that assaulted him at bay.

    Then, with the map spread out in front of him and Arti holding the flashlight to guide, he pulled out his cell and dialed Hamsini’s number.

    “You are going to be fine sweetheart. I am coming to get you. So you’re, let’s say, 300 metres away from the last rest stop. Tell me what you see ahead and behind you,” he asked.

    “I can’t see anything Sid. I have lost my glasses. But I will keep walking and call you once I reach the next landmark.” The brave kid was more than ready to co-operate.

    “Careful Sid. Bring her back safely.”

    The difficulty of the task pressed them both. Slinging the backpack on his shoulder, he took Arti’s hands in his and looked into her eyes. “I will. You be safe and take care of the kids.” A fresh hope filled Sid’s heart and he wanted to hang on to it.

    The downward climb was not hard. But identifying the right route was. With his flashlight and the shimmering moonlight as his beacon, he rushed down. Sid’s first call was when he had reached a landing. A well-trodden path branched off to his right.

    “No Sid. Nothing as yet.”Hamsini reported. He was glad the phone network was reachable.

    “Are you carrying your backpack?”

    “Yes, I am. But one of the side pouches opened and something might have fallen off. Of all, I cannot find my flashlight.”

    Sid’s aching heart skipped a beat.

    As the phone signal faltered on and off, they kept calling each other as Hamsini and Sid passed an abandoned cemetery, a cluster of serial-numbered pines and a shelter respectively.

    “Follow the straight path. Don’t turn anywhere.” Many a number of times, Sid had to repeat the warning to himself too.

    After fifteen minutes, “Do you see a tall tower to your left?” Sid climbed on the rock and asked in excitement.

    “No, all I can see is dense darkness. Besides without the glasses..it is near impossible to see,” Hamsini broke down. All he could imagine was Arti and himself lost in life, brought up in foster homes, without a single soul to claim as their own. But now they had found each other and the kids had them. Three years and he was ready to say what he wanted to say, with a ring, which of course was beyond his reach.

    “No, no; don’t lose heart. Keep walking.” He said hoping his words would mean something to her.

    The trail seemed endless. Suddenly he found himself walking into a thicket. All he could see ahead was a row of tree trunks. The moonlight was now a shadow. When he tried to make sense of the place, his phone rang.

    “Sid. Are you there yet?” It was Arti.

    “No. I think I am lost Arti. This place is so unfamiliar.” The feeling that now gnawed at his insides was the opposite of the hope he had felt before.

    “Sid, I have informed the forest guards. They are on the way. Stay put.” It was a relief to know that rescue was on the way.

    “Arti. Hamsini is still climbing up.” The signal began to drop.

    “Do you want us to come down too?”

    “No. Don’t. Then we could all be going in different directions. Just keep motivating her.”

    Will they all be together again? The thought sent a shiver down his spine. The old feeling of loneliness threatened to return. The realization that she was the only grown up soul he had in this world quickened his heartbeat.

    “Hey,” he said as his heart thundered and his eyes welled up in anticipation. “I love you sweetheart.”

    After a heartbeat, she replied, “I…”

    The line went dead. Sid stared into the darkness.

  19. Amanda Siegrist

    “Something simple. I didn’t come over here for you to feed me. We can order something.”
    He sat down after she pointed a finger to a chair that issued no arguments. He liked her like this. Demanding. Assertive. It was adorable.
    “It’s no problem. I have lasagna in the freezer. When I make a pan, it’s always too much for just me. I freeze a lot of it. I can heat that up.”
    “Sounds delicious.”
    He couldn’t help himself. His eyes roamed over her body as he said it. She wore loose black drawstring pants and a semi-tight pink cotton shirt. Nothing extravagant, but enough to get the blood flowing in his veins. He almost wanted to skip the food, and the talk, and head straight to the bedroom.
    “Ben?”
    He tore his eyes away from the temptation he had been staring at, gliding his eyes to her face.
    “Yeah?”
    “If you don’t stop looking at me like that, you’re not going to get any food.”
    His grin widened. “I can’t help it. You’re beautiful, Rina. I’ve had to hide how I felt for so long, I just can’t contain it any longer. If I want to look at you like I want to rip all your clothes off and love your body from morning ’til night, I’m going to. I want you. I could take you right here on this table.”
    The surprise in her eyes at his candid words didn’t stop him. He stood up, taking a step towards her. If he reached out, he could grab her hand and pull her into his arms. Instead, he stood frozen, wondering why he decided to skip the food and head straight to the talk.
    “Rina…”
    “Are you about to ask me if we can have sex on the table?” she whispered. Her voice sounded frightened, yet mixed with anticipation.
    He shook his head, biting his lip to keep his laugh from escaping. “No. I wouldn’t ask. I’d just grab you into my arms and have my way with you.”
    “Oh.” She took a step back, but her eyes glossed to the table with desire.
    “Rina,” he said with a chuckle, “I’m not going to grab you…yet.”
    Her eyes went round with shock. “Meaning…that…it’s a table…Ben…”
    “I love you.”
    His heart started to pound like a jackhammer. His hands, although hanging by his side, felt sweaty with fear. She stared at him, her eyes still wide with shock, maybe even wider than before. Her silence frightened him the most. He expected her to say something, even keep her stammering going on. Why wasn’t she saying anything?
    “I think I fell a little bit in love with you the first time I met you. You spoke so softly, yet fiercely to Zeke about leaving Zoe alone, it was impossible not to love the way you commanded the situation. Each new day, I find something new to love about you. You just make it so easy.”
    He sighed heavily. “I had a rough day. You told me your father would be relentless. He has been.”
    He put his hand up when he saw her mouth start to open. He didn’t want to hear anything. He only wanted to hear her speak if it had nothing to do with her father. Like, I love you. Yeah, he’d love to hear that back.
    “We never talked much about him. I found out he knows a lot of people. I’ve been told at work to be on my best behavior, or bye-bye job. You’re worth more to me than my job. Then, my sister, Erin, she had a problem with child services concerning her daughter. Isabella’s only four. They say they received a report that I left her alone while she was in my care. They said that reflects badly on Erin as a mother.”
    He ran a hand through his hair, piercing his lips together to keep the vulgar words from leaving. He wanted to curse to the heavens from the unfairness.
    “Nobody messes with my family like that. I would never leave Isabella alone like that. If your father wants to play dirty, I will. I don’t want to because I don’t want you to get hurt. I would never hurt you, Rina. I love you too much. I just want to make you happy.”
    Silence filled the room. Ben looked at Rina with his heart displayed for the world. If she chose to walk away, she would walk away with the full knowledge of his feelings. That’s the only way he wanted her to walk away. She looked back at him with confusion, shock, and something else he couldn’t decipher. He didn’t know what else to say. So he didn’t.
    “I’m sorry, Ben.” She took a step towards him.
    “Sorry?” He didn’t want to know what for.
    “For the trouble my father’s causing. Normally I don’t even know what he does. The guy always just disappears from my life with a lame excuse.”
    She took another step, placing a soft hand on his chest directly over his heart. She could feel the thumping, the pounding of his heart that told her how terrified he had been expressing his feelings. She stared at her hand, swearing she could see it move in rapid succession with his chest.
    “You’re the only man to not care, to keep pushing forward, to keep fighting for me. I don’t even know why my father does what he does. I’ve never been brave enough to ask.”
    She raised her head, meeting his eyes. “I love you, Ben. I have for a long time. And for the first time in my life, I’m willing to go against my father to keep what I want. And I want you. Do you still want me?”
    “That was never in question.” He claimed her lips in a searing passion, pulling her roughly against his hard body.

  20. Mary Fahey

    I love you. The flag on the cupcake spelt out the word in glittery stars.
    Jason placed my latte in front of me and took the seat opposite.
    I removed the flag slowly from the cupcake and looked around. Tourists crowded the food outlets in the Barack Obama plaza. Jason always stopped here for coffee on our journeys between Limerick and Dublin. This was the last one. “The graduation went well.”
    “She should be halfway across the Atlantic by now.”
    Our youngest daughter worked in a Wall Street firm since she qualified. Our other children were in Australia and Japan. Unlike their parents, they all decided to see the world before they settled down.
    He spread butter on his own bread roll before looking at me. “I know you said you didn’t want anything to eat but….. Is it okay?”
    “Perfect.” I quickly wiped the icing from the flag and handed it to him.
    He put it in his pocket. “After forty years, I know. We mightn’t be here again. Do you want to see the Obama ancestral home?”
    “No, but we could go and see his present home.” I picked up my walking stick. We both retired and, as they said, if you can’t beat them, join them. The bucket list started tomorrow.

  21. Dianne Brubaker

    Tristan gazed at her and watched her wheels turn. She could see he was just pushing buttons to see if he could get her ire up.
    “What are you thinking of, love?” He picked up her feet, while they sat on the couch, and set them in his lap. Taking them one at a time and massaging them.
    “Oh, how wonderful that feels…mmmm.”
    “And?”
    “And how glad I am that Drew didn’t dwell on the past. I am so happy for him and Helen.”
    “And?” She thought for a moment at his last question.
    “And I love you.”
    “Wait, what?” Tristan stopped rubbing her feet.
    “Oh, don’t stop that. I love you. I’ve been trying to figure out this feeling I have for you. I’ve had it for a while now, I’m pretty sure it’s love.” She smiled at him as he stared back at her with a deer in the headlights look. “It’s okay if you don’t love me back right now. Or ever. But I just wanted you to know that I love you. After losing my Dad, I told myself I wouldn’t let a day pass without telling how I feel, especially when it comes to love.”
    “I love you too.”
    “You don’t have to say it just because I said it. I know you probably don’t yet, and that’s alright.” She put her feet on the floor and stood up. “I think I need to go home for a while.”
    “No, you don’t.” He grabbed her and dragged her back down onto his lap. “You don’t get to declare your love for me and then run off before I get a chance to respond. You don’t get to decide that because I didn’t say it first or because I didn’t say it back fast enough that I don’t love you back, because I do. I do love you back. I love you more deeply than I’ve ever loved anyone. Ever.” His eyes burned like lasers as they looked into Josie’s.
    She was the first to blink.
    “You do? You love me back?” She started to tear up. “I can’t believe it. You actually do love me back? I mean, I was hoping and all, but I figured you would have said it before now if you did.”
    “I didn’t want to scare you away. We’ve only been together for a short while, and I’ve never fallen in love so hard as I have with you and it’s been so fast it kind of scared me.” He pulled her close and then kissed her as he wrapped his arms around her, rubbing her back with his strong hands, pressing her close to his chest. He could feel her heart beat in time with his own. He’d never felt so light and happy and scared and scattered all at once.

  22. Kimber Li

    And First Kiss
    ***
    “He said you were old…and incapable.”

    Jack laughed out loud all the way up from his toes.

    Robin finally looked into his eyes, after so many months.

    He lifted her hand to his mouth and kept her gaze and kissed each wounded knuckle, press, breathe, press again, smelling her skin, taking his time. “Better?”

    “Yes.” Big brown eyes now wide and fixed on his.

    He removed the icepack from her shoulder and lowered his mouth to her shoulder and kissed through fabric. Her skin trembled beneath. “And this? Is this better too?”

    “Uh-huh.”

    At long last he kissed her moist lips, her breath warm. She just let him. But, then, her breath quickened and she kissed him back, tasting his lips and losing herself in them, fingers through his hair.

    Letting go, Jack waited. He’d gotten rather good at waiting.

    Tears on eyelashes. “How did this happen?”

    “Very carefully.” Jack held her so snuggly to him and buried his face in her apple blossom hair. “You were in mourning.”

    “All this time?”

    “I love you.”

  23. Fallon DeMornay

    Another fave. *le sigh*
    ***
    “Why are you here?”
    Sighing, Tristan dropped his hand. “I guess it’s safe to assume you haven’t been paying much attention to the news of late?”
    Shrugging, I pulled down my shades so he could see my eyes. “Why would I? It’s the same old shit—war torn country over here, politicians cheating and lying over there, celebrities getting into messed up trouble only to bail themselves out, the stock market dipping and diving like yo-yo.” Bored with the tedium of it all, I sighed. “Why don’t you spare me the sales pitch and just spit it out already? What do you want, Tristan? Because last I remember, once you close a door you never reopen it.”
    A lump in his throat bobbed, uncertain fingers swiped through his hair. “I was an idiot, alright? I lashed out. I’m sorry.”
    “Nope,” I shook my head. “Not good enough. Not even close. Even if I could overlook the little snit-fit in your office where you shut me out, cold. I can’t so easily ignore that after the board meeting you just took off. Not concern. Nothing.”
    Silver glinted with a dangerous edge. “I care, Laura. I care a great deal that that animal put his hands on you. That you were assaulted.”
    “Funny way of showing it.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “Not good enough.”
    “I’m really sorry.”
    “Not f*cking good enough. You walked away from me. Cast me off.” Furious, seething, I paced, unable to sit still. “Have you any idea what I’ve been going through the last few days? How much pain you’ve put me through?”
    Crossing his arms, Tristan edged closer. “Ask where I went after the meeting.”
    “What does that—?”
    “Ask me.”
    Huffing out an angry breath, I tossed up my hands. “Fine. Have it your way, as always. Where did you go after the f*cking meeting?”
    “First, I went to see Martha.”
    That jerked the vertebrae in my spine, popping each one into a single, straight line. “You…did what?”
    “I went to see Martha. I wanted to see the place—where he attacked you, for myself. We spoke for a while, she made me tea. Earl Grey.” My belly clutched and I pressed a hand there.
    “Immediately after that, I followed up with the courts to make sure that Jim was going to be held to the full weight of the law regarding your assault. Not that I would have reason to be concerned on that note, because by then apparently your father had rolled over half the city, making calls to the attorney general and district attorneys.”
    Shaking his head, Tristan’s frustration eased. “Afterwards, I came back to my apartment. And I sat there for a while—drinking bourbon. I needed to think. To clear my head. I wanted to go to you—straight to you, Laura.”
    Reaching for me, he took my hand, squeezed hard, eyes blazing with such furious passion. “But I realized, because of my actions I was unworthy of you therefore any attempted apologies I could hope to make would be meaningless and flat unless I could think of a way to undo all the damage I caused. So I gave you time. Time to think, and more importantly, time I needed to resolve other areas of my life left unfinished.”
    Pulling out his phone, he scrolled to something, and then turned the screen so I could see. Emblazoned there, bold and black with an image of his wife split down the center.
    Shade divorced finalized in an unprecedented 450-million dollar settlement.
    Staggered, I could only blink.
    “That was two days ago.”
    “How…how…?”
    Tristan slid his phone back into his pocket. “I didn’t contest. I gave her whatever she wanted, no matter how ludicrous or insane. Apartment, cars, stocks and bonds, RRSP’s and savings…she cleaned me out of mostly everything,” he smiled at that, shook his head, “but I don’t care. None of that matters. The money is finite. I can earn it back if I really wanted to. I started with less, I can make it work, but what is important, Laura, is that life without you in it is nothing. Meaningless and empty. I can’t face the days or years to come without you.”
    Knees weakening, I lowered to a lawn chair and Tristan sank into the one next to me, his hands still gripping mine, thumbs sweeping over the backs.
    “That night after the film fest, I’d chastised you for not having enough faith in me, for not trusting me, and at the first test of that faith and trust I betrayed you by walking away. I will never be so blind and stupid again. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’m begging you for a second chance.”
    Drawing breath was a struggle, and the hot sting of tears blurred my vision. Shifting between us, Tristan lowered to his knees in front of me as I swiped at my eyes, struggling for composure.
    “Laura,” he whispered, and I pulled my hands away. Looked at him. Looked down.
    “Holy sh*t,” I gasped.
    There, cradled in his palm, was a ring. The cushion cut stone was simple and elegant. Perfect.
    “I held on to enough to ensure I could pay for this,” he said, lifting the little circlet between his fingers. “Laura Pierce, I love you with every breath in my body, with every facet of my soul. And I will endeavour every day to be worthy of you. With you I have known no greater joy, and have experienced a fulfilling passion unlike anything I thought possible. I want you to be my wife, the mother of my children.” At my weepy laugh, he smiled, stroking away fresh tears.
    “Marry me,” he said, drawing closer, his lips skimming over mine. “Give my life purpose and meaning and love. Marry me. I need you.”
    Emotion swelled, cresting inside of me like a summer storm, all vibrant and colour and intensity. Wild. Vital.
    “Yes.” The word broke from me in a sob and he drank in that simple sound, kissing me deeply, thoroughly. Holding me. With the joy came laughter and stunned, I watched as he slid the ring on to my finger. A perfect fit.
    Of course, I thought. Leave it to Tristan Shade to get it all just right.
    “Mo chroí. M’anam. Mo grá,” he whispered into another kiss. And my heart lifted, swelled.
    “What does that mean,” I asked, angling back to look at him. He’d said those words to me once before. The night we’d first kissed.
    “Haven’t you figured that out by now?” At the shake of my head, he sighed. Taking my hand to his lips, he kissed my palm, glanced at me bashfully. “It means my heart, my soul, my love.”
    And there it was, the words I had so longed to hear. Needed to hear. Now knowing he’d already said them, always said them, somehow changed everything.
    “I guess we’ll need to update our agreement,” I teased, threading my fingers through his hair. “Update the contract with new clauses and appendices and amendments and—”
    Gathering me to my feet, he hauled me into his arms and shut me up with another kiss. Pressed there. Held there, smiling against my lips.
    “To hell with the paperwork. The only document I’m interested in is the one that makes you my wife.”

  24. Karen Christopherson

    She swallowed and looked down. How could he stand there so long like that? His nudity didn’t even faze him.
    “Do you know why I don’t like her?” he asked, moving closer to the bed.
    “Why?” she asked, her heart hammering wildly. It had been awhile since they had made love and…well, one…he was naked, and two…he was naked. Her hands started to tremble in anticipation as he moved even closer. Devin was all cowboy even if the city had changed him. His blue eyes danced as he watched her intently, his musky scent sending her on pins and needles. She tried to avert her eyes or at least keep making eye contact with him. This was difficult under the circumstances.
    “Because…she’s not you. You and your sister are nothing alike, but you’ve taken the rap for her all these years. You stayed in town, got a job, lost your mom and still you stayed here knowing how you’d be treated. You’re strong and you have no idea how proud I am of you.”
    “I’m not strong…” she said as he sat on the bed. Finally he was at eye level and she didn’t have to keep wrenching her neck. She was getting perv whiplash.
    “Yes, you are…and I’m not finished. So keep quiet.”
    She blushed and looked down again.
    He tipped her chin with one thick finger and made her look at him. “You are beautiful inside and out. When I’m out until all hours making love to the town, you are stuck here looking after my friend and getting nothing in return. You have a friend who loves and cares for you and an employee that seems to adore you. I see the way you take care of your friends.”
    “So…anyone would do that…”
    “No…not everyone. Some people would tell me to go to hell and never take on Garret.” He grinned. “He’s a pain in the ass.”
    “He’s not that bad.”
    “I’m pretty sure I asked you to stop talking.”
    “Fine.” She bucked up. She wasn’t used to someone giving her compliments; it made her want to run away and hide. And she definitely wasn’t used to a naked man dishing out compliments when he sat on the edge of her bed! And one who was about to make love to her. Well…if he ever stopped talking that is.
    “I’m trying to tell you…Vannah…that you are sweet and loving and sexy as hell. And I know we haven’t had it easy recently…but god dammit I can’t help but love you.”
    “What?” she asked staring up into his face, her whole body blushing. “But how?”
    “Because you crazy kid. I’ve loved you forever, but our paths didn’t cross properly until now.”
    “Actually,” she smiled. “You showed up in my library with handcuffs. I’m not sure how proper that was.”
    “Well, yeah…I was an idiot. The last time I saw you…you were nineteen and batting your eyelids and making some serious demands.” His eyebrows arched in memory. “You were just trying to get me out of arresting you…I know that now, but I thought maybe we could pick up where we left off. But I should’ve waited until I knew you better again.”
    “You think?”
    “I know,” he said on a sigh. “…It was stupid.”
    “Not so stupid…” she said and blushed. “You know…I wouldn’t mind…if…”
    His eyes loomed large. “Don’t finish that thought,” he said standing up and backing away.
    She laughed as he grabbed her robe off the back of the door and headed out of the bedroom.
    Vannah lied back on the bed fully clothed and laughed. The image of Devin naked in her pink housecoat as he ran out the door would stay in her mind forever. But that image was soon Montana monsooned by a wave of emotions. Devin said he loved her. He loved her? She bit her bottom lip and squealed. Well, Garret did say he was smitten with her, but she was so busy fighting her own feelings that she couldn’t see clearly. She sat up on her elbows, the sound of Devin’s truck door opening with a squawk in the background followed by lots of loud rummaging and a curse from Devin. She smiled. Was she ready for this? Not the handcuffs…but to say she loved him back? She knew she did, but was she really ready to say it?

  25. Fab entries, everyone – I so enjoyed reading them all! And welcome to the new faces as well – hope you can join us for our next challenge, which will go live on Friday 6th May!
    Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x