Category Archives: Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: Noisy

We’re back this week with a new chapter and a new prompt!

Today’s selection comes from that perpetual contemporary romance WIP with no name.  Anna has just woken up from a nap and found that it’s time for dinner on the Homegrown Ranch. Let’s see what she’s up to, shall we?

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When she woke, it was to the sound of a dinner bell and the savory aroma of steak. It brought her downstairs and directly into Wesley, Sr.’s path.

“Come on, sweetheart,” he said and took her arm, “let’s get you a good seat for dinner.” He led her out the door onto the verandah where the crowd of ranch employees bubbled and roiled around the long picnic-style benches. The cloud of noise enveloping this rowdy bunch made her ears ring as their boss led her by the hand toward a wide gap on one of the benches. The hands took their seats one by one, still embroiled in loud conversation and didn’t seem to notice. She took her seat on Wes’ right side at his father’s request and immediately found herself boxed in on the other side by Cam.

“Hey, beautiful,” he said with one of his most dazzling smiles.

“Hey yourself,” she replied, then turned her strained smile on Wes.

Before she could speak, Linda appeared from the kitchen door followed by three of the cleaner looking hands. They carried trays loaded down with steaks and foil-wrapped potatoes, and the clanging sounds of voices melted into near silence. The occasional stomach grumbled, but the din was gone. The smell of cooked meat assaulted her and Anna realized she was starving. Until that minute she didn’t think anything could distract her from the virile, sexy, aggravating man sitting next to her.

“We weren’t sure how you take your beef, honey,” Linda said as she leaned over Cam to place the tray on the table, “so we did one extra of each temperature. And don’t worry about the extras…these boys always see that no food goes to waste.”

Anna smiled at the kindly little woman, “Medium-rare, please.” Several pairs of eyes snapped to attention. Linda smiled down at her as she dropped a large cut of meat onto the plate.

“It’s not every day we get new blood that knows how to eat a steak.” She leaned close to Anna. “I think you have a few fans now.”

Anna glanced up to find that the surprised stares had softened into something resembling admiration. Out of the corner of her eye, she even caught Wes looking at her.

“That’s enough, boys,” Linda said, patting Anna on the shoulder. “Eyes on your plates.” The men complied, albeit reluctantly, and plates of baked potatoes and roasted corn made their way around the table. Anna’s stomach rumbled in anticipation, but as she reached for the foil wrap on her potato, Wes caught her hand and pulled it back under the table.

“Not yet,” he whispered. She turned to question but his father chose that moment to rise and tap his glass against the heavy table. The chatter immediately ceased and every set of eyes turned to the head of the table.

“I’d like to introduce everyone to our guest, Anna Scott. She comes to us from Raleigh, North Carolina. Miss Scott will be with us for the next eight days, taking photographs for a new advertising campaign, so please make her feel at home.” Wesley, Sr. continued with his announcements, mercifully moving the attention away from her. She lowered her head to wait out the speech, inadvertently catching Wes’ eye. He winked slyly before turning his attention back to his father.

The announcements ended and Anna raised her hand only to have it stopped again by Wes. She turned to look at him and found his head bowed. He didn’t let go of her hand. On her other side, Cam took hold of her free hand. For the second time today, she sat and listened to a blessing. This, too, was a simple prayer, yet the words were filled with conviction. It touched her.

She sat motionless long after the rest of the crowd started to eat. This world was so vastly different from the one she knew, and every time she turned around, these wonderful people reinforced that thought.

“You okay, sweetie?” Cam asked, startling her from her thoughts. The warp bubble she’d entered popped and the sounds of ripping meat, hearty conversation and clanging silverware took the place of the earlier noise. Anna pasted a smile on her face as he turned to him.

“Just fine,” she replied a bit too brightly. “I just got lost in thought for a minute.” She reached for her potato, half expecting Wes to stop her, but he was too busy slicing into his steak.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For more wonderful stories to the prompt of “noisy”, check out the Tuesday Tales blog!

Tuesday Tales: Green

I finally got my head on straight and remembered to get my story posted!

This week’s selection comes from that still unfinished work in progress that has no name. It’s contemporary romance, and it involves cowboys. I think some of you have read parts of this in the past.

Anywho, where we pick up, Anna has just gotten off a plane in Georgia and she’s going to spend a week at Wes’ ranch so she can get her research in for the PR spread she’s doing. Let’s see what they’re up to, shall we?

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The anticipation of seeing Wes culminated in a heart-stopping view of his tight-jeaned butt leaning against a post near the baggage claim.  The sight was like a punch to the gut – it knocked the wind from her lungs while at the same time setting fire to her nerve endings.  Even from across a crowded airport his masculinity and rugged good looks were a potent cocktail.  The one night stand hadn’t been nearly enough to quell the insatiable hunger she felt for this man.

Her suitcase already stood on the floor at his feet, and he appeared wholly disinterested in everything around him.  Well, to her he appeared disinterested, but it could have had something to do with the sunglasses he wore. Indoors.  Such a bad-boy move, but she knew better.

“Wesley,” she called out, raising her arm to him when he turned at the sound of his name.  One corner of his mouth curled up into a half-smile, still heart-stopping, and he pushed his sunglasses up to the top of his head.  He wore no hat this time – his dirty-blond curls hanging in a shaggy halo around the top of his head.  Even clean shaven, there was no denying that hair.

“Fancy meeting you here,” he replied, opening his arms for a hug.  Anna went to him, a natural move considering their relationship.  The first thing she registered was that he smelled wonderful – like sawdust and water.  The second thing she registered was that being in his arms felt a little bit like coming home.  That disturbed her.

“Good to see you,” she said as he kissed her cheek.  The sudden awkwardness had her fidgeting like a nervous schoolgirl.  It was ridiculous – she’d seen every inch of him contorted in the most primal of ways, yet making small talk several weeks later was nearly excruciating.

“Welcome to God’s Country.” He shouldered her duffel bag and turned toward the door.  “You ready to see your home for the next week?”

“A week?” she said, the squeak at the end of the statement turning it into a question.  “The assignment only lists three days.” Even in her mixed state of shock and panic, Anna caught the slight downward curl of his lip – she’d already said the wrong thing.  “Not that I’m complaining, but Damon didn’t give me all of the specifics before he put me on the plane.”

“Dad set up three different appointments to send you around the ranch, and then a few more of the surrounding land – see, the ranches in Madison County all work together.  We breed cattle.  Our neighbor to the west breeds horses.  The others are mostly farmland and small livestock.”  As he talked, Anna realized one thing very clearly – Wes loved his job.  The passion rolled off him in waves, and despite her general distaste of rural areas the excitement infected her.  She couldn’t wait to see his home.

She followed him to the truck, watching his face as he wrinkled his nose under his dark sunglasses.  She pushed her own glasses over her eyes, which made it a thousand times easier to study him without getting caught, and accepted his hand as he opened the door and helped her up.  A gentleman to the end.

And sexy as hell.

As he pushed the cab door closed, she pushed her brain door closed.  She couldn’t keep thinking about him like that or she was in for a world of hurt.  Anna watched him in the side mirror as he stowed her things in the toolbox in the truck bed and disappeared around the back.  A moment later he climbed in beside her and started the engine.

Ten minutes later the city was quickly falling away behind them.  The dense, gray cloud of smog that hung over Atlanta dissipated, leaving nothing around them but neighborhoods and parks, which quickly melted away into green pastureland, bright sunshine, and a natural beauty she never realized existed in the world.

Anna felt the deceleration of the truck as they left the interstate, and once they were nestled safely onto the back roads of the country Wes downed the windows.  Immediately warm wind whipped around Anna’s head, sending her neatly pinned pixie-cut into a catawampus propeller-spin.  Her first reaction was to fling her hands up and hold it down but by the time she was able to grab hold it was too late.  Her city-chic look was ruined, and the wind biting at her face already had her eyes watering.

But she immediately noticed one thing – she could breathe.  Yes, she breathed quite well anyway, but out here in the middle of No Man’s Land, the air was lighter, cleaner, and sweeter.  Forgetting her appearance in favor of taking in the moment, Anna closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.  The sweet scents of wildflowers and pine filled the cab of the truck, and so did Wes’ light laughter.

“I told you it was God’s Country,” he said, and when Anna looked over at him she was surprised to find that he’d lifted his glasses and was looking straight at her.  “Even city girls like you have to appreciate the world as it was made.”

Anna bit the inside of her lip to keep from smiling.  No way was she going to give in and let him know that he’d one-upped her already.  She planned to play spoiled urban child as long as possible.

“It’s alright,” she said.  “But then again, anything is better than stale plane air.”

Wes’ grin widened.  “Keep telling yourself that, hun.  I saw you staring at the scenery.  Just admit that it’s beautiful out here.”

She turned away from him because she couldn’t keep the smile in check this time.  The dome of sky from horizon to horizon was clear and blue – not a single cloud to speak of.  The heat would likely be stifling once the truck stopped but with the rapid breeze the downed windows created she felt quite comfortable.  The grass in the hay fields was vibrant green, rolling and sloping lazily over lush, verdant hills that gradually darkened as they marched into the distance. The sight of such pristine, untouched earth nearly brought tears to her eyes. A city girl by heart, Anna had never in her life seen something more beautiful. She didn’t know green existed in so many shades because downtown Raleigh didn’t have them. Sure, there was green, but not this type of green.

But it wasn’t just the green. The sun was a blazing yellow-orange orb that nearly blinded her, and the sky… she’d never seen such a perfect shade of blue before in her life.

Well…

Anna turned her attention back to the man driving the truck.  She had seen that blue one time before.  His sunglasses were back over his eyes and his face was pointed toward the highway, which gave her time to study him.  It was those eyes that hooked her from the start…that immaculate color, so deep and rich she could feel her heart melting in her chest just thinking about the way he’d looked at her that night.

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Tuesday Tales: Giving Thanks

I’m back! Finally! Again… *sigh* I know, I should have kept going awhile ago, but let’s face it… I suck at keeping momentum up right now. For the first time in forever I feel like a writer again because I’m moving forward. But that’s neither here nor there. It’s Tuesday, and I have a story for you!

The Empty Table – Sweet Romance

The table was set, laid out with a beautiful spread interspersed with decorations that exploded with color. Tall, pillar candles flickered in even intervals down the length of the display, bringing warmth and comfort. The plates sat empty, waiting to be claimed and filled, and the bottle of wine leaned to one side in its bucket. Silverware stood in straight, marching lines along the sides of each setting, and the glasses were measured within a millimeter of perfection. The scene looked like a picture from a home and garden magazine.

Calliope stood back and admired her handiwork with a small smile. This would be her first Thanksgiving spread. A lot rode on this dinner – it would be her first time meeting her new husband’s parents – a pair of old-world folk from the German countryside. It would be her first time hosting a meal in their brand new home – the hundred-year-old ranch Dierk felt so compelled to buy.

They made it work somehow. For eight months now they were happy and healthy and Dierk’s parents and brother would soon be on their front doorstep.

Why was she so nervous now?

“You are thinking too hard.” The rich, heady accent washed over her and Dierk’s strong arms wound around her shoulders. He settled his chin atop her head and she felt the muscles in his jaw contract as he smiled.

Calliope took hold of his arms as they crossed over her throat. “A little. I’m just nervous.”

“Don’t be. They will love you.”

“I hope so. You don’t think this is too much, do you?”

“Never,” he said and moved to kiss her cheek. Calliope leaned back into his embrace and sighed. When the doorbell rang, her heart fluttered in anticipation. Her life was perfect, so why should today be any different?

***

For more wonderful Tuesday Tales, click the picture and check out the blog!

Tuesday Tales: Photo Prompt!

It’s another Tuesday, which means another edition of Tuesday Tales! This week’s flash story is centered around the picture below:

We’ve gone a little silly this week, so please bear with me.

Winston Julius Damascus, III and his wife Isobel stood on their porch and looked out at the gaudy, garish Halloween decorations adorning their neighbors’ houses. They both hated this time of year for this very reason…the decorations. When Winston chose this neighborhood so many years ago, he’d done so with the hope that it would be a normal, civilized place to live.

“Darling,” Isobel said with a sigh and curled into her husband’s side, “why is it that these dreadful people cannot show respect for the dead?”

“Because, mon Coeur” Winston replied, “they have never been dead before.”

The house across the street particularly annoyed him with its giant spiderwebs and pitifully comical mannequins. The worst part, however, was the cleverly hidden, motion-activated Dracula statue. The ridiculous Bela Lugosi imitation voice made his skin crawl every time the absurd thing spoke. From out of nowhere a child ran down the street past the house, and the ghastly thing went off. Winston huffed.

“I know, love. It is absolutely atrocious,” Isobel continued with a delicate shudder.

Winston laughed. “Don’t be too hard on the humans, my dear.”

“Why not?” she asked with the sweetest pout. Winston laid his arm across his wife’s shoulders and kissed her forehead tenderly. “You would think by the way they act that they have never seen a vampire before.”

“Sweetness,” Winston replied, picking up his glass from the porch rail and draining the thick, metallic-tasting fluid in one smooth sip. When he smiled, the blood dripping from the tips of his bright white fangs glinted in the sallow orange light issuing from across the street. “Most of the poor fools do not realize that they have.”

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Be sure to check out all the other great stories at the Tuesday Tales blog!

Tuesday Tales: Dog

The Resurrection! I’m finally back and at it again with yet another bit from the still untitled paranormal shapeshifter romance.  This time Sadie and Markus think they have the snitch cornered… let’s hope they can handle what happens.

TUESDAY TALES – Be sure to check out all of the other wonderful stories this week!

***

Pretend to be looking for birds.

Sadie tipped her chin up and slowed her pace.  She played well at distracted, even though she was anything but.  Beside her, Markus was a mass of nervous, roiling energy.  She could feel every muscle in his body coiled tight, ready to spring into action at a moment’s notice.

The sound of the waterfall was still deafening, even from the icy, snow-packed gravel leading toward the trees.  The dark sky still threatened to drop its load. Sadie hoped it would hold off for the time being.  The crackling of leaves and twigs echoed through the trees again.  She watched for any sign of wildlife rising from the tiny forest, but saw nothing.

They’re here.  She looked up at him to see if he’d heard her.

I know.  Let’s go.

With his arm still seated firmly around her shoulders, they moved out of the open and into the cover of the trees.  Their thick trunks helped to dull the noise of the river…

…just in time to hear the barking cry of a coyote.

What happened next took less than a minute, but when the dart came screaming through the trees, the world around Sadie slowed down.  Markus’ hands clutched at Sadie’s arms and she found herself hurled backwards, shoved behind him while he leapt to avoid the weapon.  She landed with a hard thump in the wet snow, her back hitting a tree hard enough to rattle her teeth.  The dart gouged deep into the wood above her head, and she glanced up at it with a glazed, distant stare.

The patch of forest erupted in a burst of sounds and movement – snarling, snapping, canine jaws, howls and birds’ cries, flapping wings and shredding clothing, all of it a muddled mess before her eyes.  The owner of that original cry appeared, zipping between the trees with lightning-fast reflexes, the mangy animal’s strong jaws closing around the ankle of the only animal she recognized – the large timber wolf.  Pain exploded along the nerves in her leg, causing her whole body to go rigid as she clutched at the muscle.  When Sadie looked down, she expected to find her hands covered in blood, but there was nothing.  Just the pain.

The wolf gave a screeching howl and turned, catching the coyote by the base of its tail and flinging it hard against a nearby tree.  The crackle and crunch of bone cut off a tiny, muted cry of pain, and the animal fell dead into the snow.

While she watched the furry body turn human again, the rest of the skirmish came to an end, wardens and council members alike shifting back to human form as they held down a vaguely familiar, dark-pelted wolf.  She picked up a few snarls and growls of disapproval, but she couldn’t be overly concerned with their captive’s identity…she was still too busy experiencing the excruciating pain of the coyote’s bite against Markus’ leg.  When everyone else had shifted back to human form, he remained as a wolf, dragging his big tongue across the wound and clearing away the blood.

She watched in horrified awe as he nursed the wound, watching it close a bit more with each broad, salivated stroke.  She could almost feel it brushing across her own skin.  It was oddly intimate, sensing his feelings in the middle of this chaos.  She couldn’t focus on what was happening around them, she was so locked into his emotions.  It took Evan’s hands on her shoulders to break the spell and jerk her back to the real world.

“Sadie,” he said, pinning her with a hard, knowing stare, “what are we to do with him?”

“Who?” she asked, still a bit dumbfounded by the mixture of pain and amazement.

“The hunter,” he replied, voice flat and accusatory.  “It’s worse than we thought, you know.”

Still staring over Evan’s shoulder, she watched as Markus shifted back to human form, his leg still covered in angry, red marks and streaks of blood.  At least the pain was starting to fade.  With that particular bit of discomfort disappearing, Sadie focused her attention on Evan.  “How is it worse?”

“One is dead…the other… the other is one of ours.”

Tuesday Tales Picture Prompt: The Fake

What a way to make my grand return!  With an image prompt!  This is actually the beginning of something longer and may one day make it into a real book.  We’ll see how it goes.  Enjoy!

Oh, and don’t forget to check out all of the other fabulous Tuesday Tales!

From a distance, Justin Marshall watched the papparazzi swarm the poor man in the suit and sunglasses as he made his way from the private jet to the open limousine door.  He never expected to have a body double.  And he certainly never expected his band, Caged Rose, to make the big time.

It wasn’t that he wanted to hide from the press and the spotlight…quite the opposite.  But the band’s staff made it very clear that after the last kidnapping attempt he should steer clear of all dangerous situations.  And this – the simple act of getting off a plane and into a car – was dangerous in their eyes.

The man in the sunglasses was good, too.  From a distance Justin would’ve sworn he was looking at himself.  The photographers and would-be interviewers scurried along, completely unaware that the person they tailed was just some poor schmuck who needed quick cash.

Sure, Caged Rose made him a multi-millionaire almost overnight, but having been through three managers and eight personal assistants in the last two years really put a damper on his feelings toward the band.  It almost seemed more trouble than it was worth.  Justin never wanted the planes and limousines.  He never wanted the great fanfare.  He just wanted to play his music and share that part of his soul with others.

A cold wind blew over him from the tarmac and he pulled his coat tighter around his shoulders.  The kid got into the car, and as it pulled of Justin turned the lapels of his coat up and went back inside.  He’d take a taxi to the arena and hope things turned out well.  Paddy had him scheduled for a post-show massage, but what he really wanted wasn’t some easily bought masseuse… He wanted a friend.

Tuesday Tales: Picture Perfect (Prompt: Night)

Week number three!  We’re on a roll now, even though I’m a bit out of range of normal conversation.  This Tuesday is a particularly hard day – my father is having surgery this afternoon, so I’m a wreck.

Good thing this is in early, huh?

So… we’re back visiting with Anna and Wes and their awkward post-one-night-stand situation.  With the prompt of “NIGHT”, let’s see what they’re up to, shall we?

***

The sun hung low in the sky – low enough that it could no longer be seen above the tree line along the edge of the ranch.   Anna’s rear end ached, but not in an unpleasant way.  The muscles in her hips and thighs received a great workout over the course of the afternoon, and still burned with residual movement even though they were stopped.  The camera still hung limply around her neck.  Anna and Wes had ridden for hours, and like a fool she hadn’t taken the first photo.  There had been opportunities, yes, but taking those opportunities would’ve meant breaking the moments.

She’d seen the entire ranch from horseback, and now understood completely the love Wes felt for the land.  The passion shown in his eyes every time he looked at her.  This ranch was magical, at least to the city girl who had never seen so much grass before.

As the sky dimmed, she began to notice tiny sparkles around them – small specks of light that barely appeared before they were gone.  That, coupled with the smooth plane of water before her now only intensified the dream world feeling.

“Fireflies,” Wes said distantly as he dismounted from Buckwheat’s back and tied his reins to the small hitching post by the dock.  His lips held a soft smile.  “I hoped they’d be out tonight.”

“Did you plan some sort of grand seduction?” Anna asked.  She couldn’t help it – she had to bait him.  They’d exchanged tense small talk and cheap shots all day.  And now this – this perfectly romantic setup seemed a little too good to be true.  Or a little too bad.

“Not exactly,” he said, though the sheepish look in his eyes told her he’d definitely planned parts of it.  “I was planning to spring this on you later in the week, after you were already settled in and more open to my advances.”

Anna paused, dumbfounded, then turned a blank stare on him.  “Did you really just say that?”

Wes laughed and ran his fingers through his hair.  “Yeah, I guess I did.”

“You do remember that we’ve already spent one night together, right?”

“Yeah, I remember.” The way his eyes glazed over as he said it told her he remembered it much more fondly than he was willing to admit.  “But I’m trying to be a gentleman.”

“Gentleman or not, you have two choices:  you can either pack up and take me back to the house before it gets too late so we can still be friends, or you can bring your well-wrapped ass over here and kiss me, because this place is too romantic and there’s entirely too much tension between us.”

Wes swallowed hard enough that she heard it.  She also heard the soft chirp of crickets and the susurrus of the grass in the breeze.  The air hanging between them, while heavy with anticipation, was also cool and moist, and smelled of grass and water.  Overhead, stars began to wink down at them and a wide, happy moon began to make its journey across the sky.

Wes turned and strode toward her, closing the space between them in four long strides.  Without hesitation he reached up and pulled her from the saddle, threaded his fingers through her hair, and devoured her mouth.

***

Thanks for reading… and please check out the rest of the wonderful stories on the Tuesday Tales blog!