Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Promises, Promises

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: demolish, resolution, transform

* * *

Promises, Promises

Milky blank pages of linen note paper stare back at me. After a moment’s pause, lips set in grim resolution, my Mont Blanc etches lines of promises.

Vow to decrease the numbers that have crept higher and higher on the scale. Pledge to explore my writing; finish the book—at least the first draft. Commit to leave work at a reasonable hour and reduce (if not eliminate) those retched twelve-hour days. Transform the tired, angry person I have become, into the content, peaceful woman I once was.

In a moment of clarity, the pen hovers above the expensive parchment, and I know what must be done. My hands curl around the paper and, in one violent motion, tear the pages into shreds, demolishing the words of promise.

Who am I kidding? The entire list will be moot by January third.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Small Town

Small Town

There is a paved road that runs east off the highway, winds its way around a small lake, then veers north. If you drive long enough, it becomes a dirt road. Further along, a two-lane path. Eventually, it’s nothing more than a rut in the dirt, camouflaged by tall grass.

It’s been years since anyone has driven through here. A shame really. It was a nice community. Corn grew higher than you could reach, everyone knew everyone, and the church was full every Sunday. The chug of tractors echoed across the fields, cows chewed lazily in the sun. Neighbours had a friendly wave when anyone drove by. The response was always a quick toot of the horn.

Prosperity died when the mine closed. One by one they left, moved to the Big City to start over. Or fail again.

Once a God-fearing community, it is now a desolate trail, reduced to a mosquito-infested swamp miles from any living being. It doesn’t appear on any map. No one talks about it.

It's perfect. This is where I’ll bury the body.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

More Time

More Time

Darkness drapes over me like a funeral pall. Wishes and dreams press down on my shoulders with surprising weight. They weren’t so heavy when they were filled with light and hope.

Voices call down the cavern, coax me from the mire. I ignore them, turn my face into my bent knees. Go away, I want to be alone.

I should crawl toward the light, drag myself up, but I don’t have the energy. Reaching for outstretched hands is exhausting. It’s easier to slap them away. Leave me here, wrapped in the darkness, pressed in the quiet. Just for a while.

I need a little more time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Where are you?

Today's muse: Carry on Tuesday

Today's prompt: Where are you?

* * *

Where are you?

They stayed up well after the moon was high; spent the night talking, laughing, crying.

“How did we get here?” Rhonda tucked a stray curl behind her ear. “We were in love once weren’t we?”

“Some part of us still is.” Jason took her hand. “And always will be. We just, I don’t know, took different paths.”  

Rhonda nodded. If she was honest, she’d admit that she wasn’t happy either; hadn’t been for quite some time. “We’ll still be friends, right?”

“Of course.” Jason brought his hand to her cheek. “We’ll always love each other, it’ll be different, that’s all.”

Rhonda forced a smile, flicked her tongue across her lips. “Maybe better.”

Jason leaned into her, his mouth hovering just above hers. “Much better.” He pulled the strap of her nightgown off her shoulder, ran moist kisses across it and up her neck. “Much, much better.”

She couldn’t think, couldn’t breathe. His mouth teased as he murmured promises, drew her higher until she flew.

In retrospect, he should have just held her after, cuddled a little. Even gone another round. Instead, the afterglow of sex had his mouth flapping like a teenaged girl; admitting to Rhonda that the reason he’d been late almost every night for the last three months was because he was banging his secretary. He hadn’t worded it exactly that way—he was much more eloquent—but it didn’t matter.

Jason was now hunched behind a tower of boxes in the basement. Sweat had his t-shirt pasted to his back; his breathing was harsh and fast.

He’d never seen Rhonda that pissed before. She had lunged at him, screaming and clawing at him with those sharp nails she kept perfectly manicured. Jason tried to reason with her but she had raged like a maniac.

“Emily means nothing,” he’d insisted. She did have a great ass, though.

It was all a little grey now, but Jason wondered if he’d admitted that last part out loud. He must have. It explained why he was crouched behind a pile of old boxes, the click of the Colt’s hammer bouncing off the basement walls.

Rhonda’s sing-song voice rang out, turned his bowels to mush.

“Jaaaason. Wheeere aaaare yooooou?”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Today's muse: One Minute Writer

Today's prompt: Name. Is there a name that would fit you better than the name you were given? Explain.

* * *


How well, I wonder, would the name “Mom” have fit?

I like to think it would have lifted my heart, made my face glow and my eyes dance in delight as my children called my name. Alas, that name was not meant for me.

Instead, the Fates chose another.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: figment, inclined, vulnerable

* * *


She thought the others exaggerated, embellished their tales of horror. He couldn’t possibly be that evil. Besides, she was no longer a vulnerable twenty year-old struggling with her first job. She was a strong woman with more than twenty years of experience behind her. She could handle a demanding boss.

Larissa snorted. Oh, how wrong she’d been.

Lucas Fitzgerald was nice at first, praised her often. She felt quite smug that she was better than all the others.

“Stupid twit,” she muttered. “You should have seen through the smoke and mirrors, paid attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Well, she thought, it’s over now. She tilted the bottle of scotch to her lips, took a long pull of courage.

Human Resources brushed her off when she spoke to them. Just a figment of her imagination, they said.

“But he shouts all the time. Surely everyone else has heard him,” she argued.

“No one else has said anything,” they countered.

Larissa tipped the bottle again. Well, they’ll be talking now, she thought. She grinned at the wall behind his desk. Every framed face that grinned back was now modified with permanent black marker. Wild, curling moustaches and enormous devil horns now adorned each dignitary photographed beside the CEO. Some had voluminous breasts. A few had engorged penises. She knew it was childish, but it had felt so damn good scrawling the Sharpie across those smug faces.

She twisted her wrist, checked the time. Mr. Fitgerald was inclined to stop by the office late at night, rifle through her desk.

“Checking up on me. Making sure I’m doing my job.” Larissa spun around in his leather executive chair. “Let’s see what you discover today.”

She toyed with the Christmas gift he gave her last year. Mr. Fitzgerald had called from the airport as he waited for his flight to Barbados.

“I left you something on your desk.” He said it as though he’d left her the keys to a new BMW. “I expect you’ll put it to good use.”

The other assistants had received cheques from their bosses; some with a comma in their figures. But not Larissa. Lucas Fitzgerald found it necessary to give her a practical gift.

A click echoed down the hall as the double oak doors opened and closed. Larissa recognized the brisk militant march of her boss. She was surprised how calm she felt. She thought she would be more nervous terminating her employment.

As the door swung open, Larissa was pleased to see the look of anger on Lucas Fitzgerald’s face, watch it shift from fury to fear. By far, she thought, the best expression was that of shock as she plunged the stainless steel letter opener into his chest over and over like a jack hammer.

Breathless, sweating and more than a little giddy, Larissa, wiped the letter opener on his Armani suit.

“Thank you for the present, sir.” She stood up, adjusted her skirt. “I put it to good use.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You are here

Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

Today's prompt: #289 You are here

* * *

You are here

It’s annoying when you state the obvious. I don’t need you to tell me where I am; I am well aware of my location. I am neck deep in this quicksand and at any moment it will pull me under, destroy the bit of spirit I have left.

What I need is help out of this stinking hell hole, and a little guidance. Don’t tell me I’m here. What I need is for you tell me how get there, help me get away from all of this.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: admire, follow, piece

* * *


Swishy skirt, crisp white blouse and pearls at her throat; the closest she can be to the June she admires.

One more look around the living room she vacuumed twice today. Polished furniture gleams in the fading daylight. He’ll be home soon, it must be perfect, nothing out of order, everything in its place.

The intoxicating aroma of prime rib floats throughout the main floor. Rearrange the flowers on the table, centre the chairs, re-fold the napkins, press them once more.

Trembling hands smooth away nonexistent wrinkles in her skirt, finger the pearls he gave her for their anniversary, the ones he said would remind her of him, that feel like his manicured hands around her throat.

She struggles to push aside fear. He’ll see it, use it, torment her with it, take away the one piece of her she has come to love. She won’t let him. She can’t.

“Coming sweetheart!” She follows newborn cries up the stairs. “There, there,” she croons, rocking away tears. He hates when you cry, just be quiet, please be quiet.

Baby tucked in one arm, she spins the tap, fills the tub with water, tests with an elbow. A gummed smile is her reward when she floats the cherub in the tepid pool. She laughs as chubby legs kick and splash.

Daddy’s pretty little girl, his perfect little angel, no more crying now, no more crying, no more, no.

Bathwater is still as glass now, except for the occasional tear that streaks down her cheek and ripples the water to blur precious blue eyes that stare back from beneath the surface.

All is quiet now. Quiet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Last Night

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: eject, impact, render

* * *

Last Night

The tile floor is cold against my bare ass. I don’t have the energy to pull the bathroom rug under me. It’s all I can do to hold my hair back, keep it from falling in the toilet.

My head rings like a kettle drum. What the hell happened last night?

I have a vague recollection of dinner. My stomach wants nothing more than to eject the tender prime rib. And the booze. The fucking booze just kept flowing, like Christ himself was standing at the bar and filling glasses with a wave of his hand. I can’t remember how many martinis I had before switching to rum and Coke.

I spew into the toilet. Obviously too many. I had pledged my undying faith to Jose Cuervo; we’re BFFs now. Arriba!

I spew again. Not much is coming out now. I’ve been at this for a while.

Last night comes back in snapshots. The managing partner’s speech after dinner; I remember now. He droned on about the financial impact of the merger, bonuses all around, yadda yadda yadda. Everyone clapped at the announcement, some wolf-whistled.

It was at that point that Martin put his hand on my leg, skimmed it beneath the short skirt. The journey up my thigh came to a halt when he reached the clasps of my garter.

“Jesus.” Martin angled his head, appeared to be listening to the speaker. He dropped his voice. “Meet me in the lobby. Bring your purse.”

He left as everyone applauded the final words of the speech. Chairs scraped, music blared and bodies swarmed onto the dance floor. I followed a few out of the ballroom, the handful who were going outside for a smoke. I didn’t want a smoke. I wanted to finish what Martin and I had started back at the office, before leaving for the staff banquet; when he’d pinned me against his desk, ravaged my mouth with his, squeezed one hungry nipple between thumb and forefinger.

It’s no wonder I drank so much. I should have known the drinks wouldn’t dampen the fire. Booze always makes me horny.

At a discreet distance, I followed Martin out the building, half a block up the street and into a taxi. He pressed me against the seat, pushed my knees apart.

“Go,” he said to the driver.


“I don’t care,” Martin snapped. “Just fucking drive.” His hand rushed up my leg, pushed thin silk aside and plunged.

Yes! Yes! My hands had a mind of their own at that point and craved to reciprocate. I don’t recall much after that, but I know only one of us was reflected in the cabbie’s rear-view mirror, rendered speechless, eyes closed, mouth curved in bliss. It wasn’t me.

I don’t remember dropping Martin off at his house, coming back home, getting into bed. I'm not even sure how I came to be crouched in front of the toilet, wearing nothing but a Bon Jovi t-shirt.

The scream of the telephone stabs like an ice pick. The answering machine kicks in. My cheerful voice rings through the apartment.

“Hi, it’s Charlotte! I can’t take your call right now, but leave a message and I’ll call you back soon. Have a great day!”

I dry heave. Am I really that fucking annoying?

“Hey, Charlotte.” Andrea’s voice floats through the speakers. “Why aren’t you at work? What happened last night? You left without saying goodbye. Some people are saying you left with Martin.” Her voice drops to a whisper. “And his wife called to find out where he is. His wife, Charlotte! She says he didn’t come home last night. Everyone’s talking about it. You HAVE to call me and tell me what happened!”

Andrea hisses the last sentence into the phone. Then the buzz of a dead line.

I press my forehead against the cool porcelain. Oh fuck.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Like Fire

Today's muse: Succinctly Yours by Grandma's Goulash

The rules: Using the picture and/or word (the word is optional), write a story under 140 characters OR 140 words.

Today's word: Pugnacious. Though I didn't use the word, it's implied.

Today's photo:

* * *

Like Fire

Love once burned white hot, their passion a Dali canvas. A decade later, it burns with fury, and their voices scream with the sirens.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plan B

Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

The prompt: Sometimes the best laid plans don't work out. What do you do then? Move to Plan B.

* * *

Plan B

Jennifer straddled the toilet, peed onto the narrow strip. Why the hell did they make these things so damn small?

It only takes about ten seconds, the pharmacist told her. Ten seconds and her life would change. One line or two, it didn’t matter. The result would be the same. Things would change.

They would travel the world or they would raise a family. Learn new cultures or learn to parent. Both lives seemed filled with wonder and challenge, love and laughter. Peace and fulfillment.

Mark had assured her that either life was worth living and he’d gladly spend it with her. So they made plans; frightening plans, exciting plans.

Jennifer glanced down, her eyes darting between both windows, searching for one or two blue lines.


Jennifer held up the test when he opened the bathroom door.

Mark met her eyes. “Plan B, then.”

She smiled. “Plan B.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lunch Date

Lunch Date

It was Tuesday. That meant today’s special was shepherds pie. And shepherds pie guaranteed he’d be in for lunch.

Amanda Fischer wrapped an apron around her waist, pinned her name badge on her uniform, checked her appearance in the reflection of the pastry case. She walked the length of the front counter, topping up coffee cups.

“How are you today, Mr. Wendel?”

“I’d be better if you’d marry me.” This was Roger Wendel’s usual response.

“After fifty years of marriage, your wife would hunt me down if I snatched you away from her.”

Roger Wendel laughed, a loud barking snort that made Amanda smile. “You have that right.”

“I’ll have to ask her what her secret was to catch such a wonderful man.”

The elderly man waved her off, his cheeks crimson.

She was aware the moment Jason Everette walked in the door. Every woman in town was aware of him. Intense eyes, so dark it was difficult to distinguish the pupils, watched as though they could see right through you. It made a girl feel needy, thought Amanda, and just a little reckless.

Jason sat down at the counter next to Roger Wendel and pulled a laminated menu from the metal rack, pretended to read. He knew what he wanted, the reason he came for lunch every Tuesday—and most other days. It wasn’t the shepherds pie.

“The usual?” Amanda set a cup in front of him, poured coffee. She moved the sugar out of the way, knowing he took it black.

Jason’s lopsided grin brought out the dimple in his left cheek. It always made her heart hitch. “Am I that predictable?”

“A little.” Wasn’t it cute how his ears went pink when he blushed? “You’ve been coming in here for three weeks now. It doesn’t take long to notice a pattern.”

“I don’t like cooking for myself. It’s…” he moved a shoulder, an agitated gestured “…lonely.”

Roger Wendel made a show of clearing his throat. “A smart man would ask a woman over for dinner.” He stared at a point above the pastry case, speaking, it appeared, to no one in particular. “A smarter man would ask her to bring her famous apple crumble.” Roger slapped a few bills on the counter before leaving. “Just sayin’.”

The hollow in Jason’s cheek deepened. “Well?”

Outside, Amanda was calm, elegant. “Is seven ok?” Inside, she did the first-date dance.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: erode, heart, observe
(I sure hope ThomG allows for conjugation.)

* * *


So flawless is the disguise, even the deceiver is fooled. Believing the lie. Living it. Embracing it.

It is true what they say, that such pretence only damages self. It is beyond repair; crushed into so many pieces, the stars cannot count them. Glue does not hold, and the toxic fumes cannot smother the pain.

Visitors ignore the ‘do not feed’ sign and offer sustenance. Day after day, they tug their bawling spawn past the cage. Tiny fists release bright helium orbs to the skies, but the cheerful globes cannot penetrate the fog above. Their suffocating taunts seep through the iron bars and render me wordless.

Despite constant rocking, the spirit has atrophied. The only muscle left thriving is the heart; but some have observed its erosion and predict apocalypse on a biblical scale.

The locusts cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today's muse: Succinctly Yours by Grandma's Goulash

The rules: Using the picture and/or word (the word is optional), write a story under 140 characters OR 140 words.

Today's word: Practice.

Today's photo:

* * *


The bell of a new day rings, shrill as nails on a chalkboard. Obedience is a lesson she never seems to learn, despite the discipline. Each day she cowers in the corner, her dunce cap too heavy to bear, weighing down her pride. Mocking jeers seep into her rocking, fetal body.

She hides her face in bent knees. Though she’s had years of practice, she never mastered the art of deceit. Not like him. And if he sees her eyes he’ll know. He’ll know she plans to graduate today.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sweet Dreams

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: drag, mumble, penetrate

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Sweet Dreams

She raced down a dark alley; mile-high walls of concrete speared up on either side. Behind her, heavy footsteps followed, unhurried, knowing there was no escape. There never was.

Over and over she ran down this narrow lane, came upon the same door that was always locked. As she struggled with the handle, willing it to open, the footsteps came closer until they were right behind her. Arms—dozens of them, it seemed—wrapped around her, groping and probing. Stale rum and cheap cigars filled her nostrils. Her stomach lurched.

“Miranda.” Craig’s voice penetrated the terror that suffocated her. “Miranda. It’s just a dream, baby. Open your eyes. That’s it.”

When she pushed away, he pulled her closer, wrapped his arms around her. He rocked her and crooned, as he would a frightened child, until she stopped trembling.

As the fog lifted and the nightmare faded away, Miranda was aware that she was being held, that Craig stroked her hair.

“I’m ok now,” she said, and rolled away from him. Embarrassed and ashamed, she sat on the edge of the bed. “I should go home.”

“What? No way.” Craig hooked an arm around her waist and dragged her back, coaxed her to lie down. He propped himself up on one arm. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Miranda closed her eyes. “No.”

“You need to.”

“No I don’t. And certainly not to you.”

“Why not me?”

Because, thought Miranda, I’m falling for you and I don’t want you to walk away like Gregg did. I can’t survive that again.

“Miranda, I probably understand a lot more than you give me credit for.” Her eyes shifted to his. He brushed the short fringe across her forehead. “He’ll keep winning if you keep it locked up inside of you.”

She crumbled then, covered her face with both hands and let the tears flow. It was too good to be real, she thought. He was setting her up so he could kick her down, she was certain of it. Once he knew how fucked up she was, he’d walk away, never looking back.

Craig said nothing. He simply wrapped himself around her, pulled her close and spooned behind her. “Close your eyes. I’ll be here when you wake up.”

That small promise, the certainty of it, made her turn and face him.

“I should have told you this before.”

“So tell me now.” He pressed his lips on her forehead.

And she did.

Craig listened in silence, his only reaction was to close his eyes at times. When he did, Miranda could see his jaw working as he struggled with his anger, but he let her finish. She waited for him to leap out of bed, tell her it was all her fault, say he couldn’t be with someone who had so much baggage.

“I have never met anyone as strong as you.”


“Most people would crawl into a dark cave and never come out.”

“I can’t do that.”

“I know. That’s what makes you strong.” He cupped her face, thumbed away the last tear. “Feel better?”

“Um. Yeah, actually, I do.” She felt light, like she was floating.

“Good. Think you can sleep now?”

Exhaustion hit her then. “Yeah.” She mumbled something incoherent as she snuggled into him.

He smiled as her eyes drooped. “Sweet dreams, Miranda.”

Craig was next to her when she woke, a protective arm around her. Miranda leaned into him. She was finally safe.

This is the end of Miranda's least here. Stories, such as these, never really end. The nightmares never go away, they just become bearable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Like a River

Today's muse: Carry on Tuesday

Today's prompt: Love is like a river. Use all or part of it within your poem or prose.

I only used part. And only in the title. I invoked my poetic license.

* * *

Like a River

For a time, it was heaven; what one imagines life is like if one’s back-split is located in the centre of a biblical sanctuary, landscaped by ethereal horticulturists.

Growth is now stagnant in the shadow of the eclipse; tulips and marigolds wilt in their beds, suffocated by choking weeds of Egyptian cotton. My own stem slumps beneath the weight of petals no longer stroked, their beauty long faded. The insect cares not to alight and I care not to self-pollinate.

I pray for a torrent to wash the ache, pray the old ship-builder will find me a mate. I covet the love I was meant to have; not this synthetic affection that dangles before me, only to be snatched away when my heart reaches.

It is fear that halts the quest for salvation, for I am certain of the journey's end. I shall remain alone in the raging current, my empty hands useless, unable to guide my vessel in the stinking mire.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

Prompt #282: Muse

* * *


She’d been gone a year, or so it seemed. In fact, it was less than a week. Five days. A fucking eternity.

“Back in a little while, baby.” She’d kissed him before leaving; a smoldering meeting of tongues that had left him needy.

Jake crushed out his cigarette, scrubbed his face with both hands. “Where the hell are you, Vera?”

He’d had nothing but Laphroaig and take-away Thai since she’d left. More of the former than the latter. It hadn’t helped. He needed Vera.

She’d always been there to guide him, help him push through his blocks to the next chapter. It was easy to have a female protagonist when Vera was there for him. She offered insight on the female psyche, suggesting language, tweaking nuances. And it was far easier to write a love scene when she was there beside him, whispering erotica in his ear, stroking him while he typed.

How could she abandon him at such a crucial point in his novel? What the hell was he going to tell his editor when he called?

Then the keys rattled in the front door. Like a loyal puppy, Jake’s head sprang up, his heart thundered in eager anticipation. Vera was home!

He sprang from the sofa, all but dumping his laptop on the floor. She’d hardly closed the door when he was upon her, pressing her against the wall, his mouth searching, tasting. She responded with greedy kisses, laughing at his impatience.

“Wait a minute, baby.” She held him back, cupped his face with her hands, pressed a light kiss on his cheek. “I can help you with your chapter now.”

It was then that he noticed the stains, the tears in her shirt.

“Jesus, Vera. Are you alright?” He took her hands in his. Always manicured, her nails were now crusted in dirt and…was that blood? “What the hell happened?”

“You needed help, baby.”

“What did you do?” Jake wondered if he really wanted to know the answer.

Vera pulled him toward the sofa, urged him to sit. She set his laptop on his knees, opened it up.

“I’ll tell you.” She set his fingers on the home keys and as she spoke, Jake typed his next bestseller.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Farmer Frank

Today's muse: Thursday Tales

Today's prompt: Tale #74, picture prompt below.

Rules include: Minimum 55 words. Maximum 777 words.

* * *

Farmer Frank

Frank Wilkinson’s chocolate lab, Buford, heard the rumble of the Ford’s engine long before it crunched the pebbles on his driveway. The dog lifted his head, slid his dark eyes over to Frank.

“Stay,” said Frank. Buford, dropped his head. “You just lay there. I’ll take care of this.”

Frank remained seated in his rocker as the car made it’s way up the long lane and stopped in front of the weathered porch. A man and woman stepped out.

The woman carried a fancy handbag, wore heeled shoes. Despite the heat, the man’s sleeves remained rolled down, buttoned at the cuff. He hadn’t yet loosened his tie.

City folk.

Too old, thought Frank, well into their thirties. It was better when they were teenagers.

“You lost?”

The man dropped his head a moment, his grin sheepish. “Yeah, I think we are.”

Frank got up from the rocker, took his time crossing the porch. “Where ya headin’?” He leaned against the weathered post at the top of the stairs, seemed to be settling in for a visit.

The man glanced back down the drive, pointing at nothing in particular. “We’re driving to Mason.”

“You visitin’ family there?”

“No,” said the man, “we’re looking at a house. My wife was transferred to the University. She’ll be teaching computer sciences. I’m teaching chemistry.”

Frank hesitated a moment while he processed that information. “I take it ya’ll don’t know much about milking cows.”

The man chuckled. “No, not much.”

“Too bad,” Frank muttered.

He gave them directions, waved off the man’s thanks. Made them promise to stop by for coffee another time, once they’d settled into their new home.

“Drive safe now.” Frank watched the car drive away, waited until it was nothing but a cloud of dust before he stepped off the porch to make his way to the old barn. Buford trotted beside him, his tongue lolling to one side, a stupid grin on his face.

As always, Buford took the lead at the barn door. The dog ambled through the barn, ignoring the indignant snorts of cows and goats. He glanced back when he arrived at the last stall.

“Right behind ya, boy.”

Frank followed the dog through the narrow space between the enormous stack of hay and the barn wall. Buford plopped down on his rump, his tail thumping in anticipation.

Frank waved his hand over a rusted nail hammered into the weathered board. The contented cluck of a hen could be heard in the distance, though no chickens were kept on the ranch. At Frank’s signal, Buford bounded through the narrow opening that appeared between the weathered boards of the barn, and raced down the concrete stairs, barking to announce his arrival.

Frank followed, his transformation already underway. Shoulders pulled back, spine straightened. Hands—once calloused and weathered, now smooth and manicured—ran through dishevelled locks, instantly grooming them into what his assistant called a Cowboy Banker look. She insisted it was sexy. By the time he reached the bottom of the stairs, Frank’s gait was no longer a meandering stroll, but rather a militant march. He strode about the cavernous room, barking out orders in a commanding voice.

Andrea, his assistant, approached him, pressed a mug of black coffee in his hand. “Good morning, sir.” He took a sip, all but wept with gratitude. Andrea made damn good coffee.

In his office, Frank sank into the leather chair behind his desk.

Andrea wasted no time. “You have a meeting with Security at noon. The President will call at two-fifty to be briefed before the Iranian Consulate calls at three.”

He cut her off. “I may have found a recruit for Intelligence.”

Understanding he needed to talk, Andrea dropped into one of the club chairs in front of his desk.


He told her about the couple he met. Andrea knew it wasn’t uncommon to recruit a half, as they called it, but it was a scenario the Company avoided. Statistics on failed relationships aside, the security risk was a logistical nightmare. Andrea could see that Frank wanted to recruit the woman. “You know, Harold has been grumbling about retiring.”


“Works with André in Chem.”

She watched Frank as he processed this information, could see the moment he came to the same conclusion. She gathered her notepad and walked over to the door. “I’ll call the White House, have them recruited as a couple, arrange for them to be briefed before training.”

Frank shook his head. “What would I do without you?”

“You’d go through your day drinking shitty coffee,” Andrea said, as she left the room.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Warning Signs

Today's muse: Succinctly Yours by Grandma's Goulash

The rules: Using the picture and/or word (the word is optional), write a story under 140 characters OR 140 words.

Today's word: Tepid. There is nothing tepid about the message in my story so, needless to say, I decided not to use it.

Today's photo:

* * *

Warning Signs

She didn’t expect the sign to bring help—it was too late for her. She only hoped to warn others; protect them from her life of bondage.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Town Crier

Today's muse: Friday Flash 55

The rules: Write a story in 55 words. No more. No less.

And I liked the picture prompt he used, so I used it as well.

* * *

Town Crier

“That lavender lace wrap.” Jeremy Wilkinson’s tone was bland, as though he asked for a dozen penny nails.

To her credit, Mrs. Shaefer remained stone-faced as she wrapped the silk in delicate tissue. She knew perfectly well he wasn’t buying it for his wife.

The door hadn’t yet closed before she was whispering the tale.


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: gasp, mute, viable

* * *


He questioned whether his skills were viable; then she gasped, and he smiled in triumph as his probing fingers rendered her mute.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Today's muse: Friday Flash 55

Write a story in 55 words. No more. No less.

* * *


“I have something special for you.”

Lips like butterflies brush her ear. Sara bites back a moan. She wants him. God she wants him.

He brushes a thumb against the nub that strains against her thin tee. “Wait here,” he whispers, stepping away.

Sara nods, keeps her eyes closed until the door closes behind him.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: appear, dose, pierce

* * *


It appears that love—doled out in stingy doses—only tears the heart, rather than heals.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mercy is Strained

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Wednesday's words: early, jiggle, quality

* * *

Mercy is Strained

Early light crept like fingers through veneer blinds, teased her awake. Cheryl surfaced from the fog of sleep, wet and hungry. Jeremy’s steady, heavy breathing next to her stirred something she seldom felt in the morning. Mornings were for showers and teeth brushing, not sex.

She couldn’t explain why she wanted him—needed him—at this precise moment. It’s not as though he’d expressed any interest in her. Hadn’t for quite some time now. Jeremy insisted it wasn’t the extra pounds she’d put on since they’d exchanged vows. And she believed him; at least she told herself she did.

Back in the day, Jeremy couldn’t keep his hands off her. He’d catch her gaze, glance at a closed door, and Cheryl would lead the way. The lock to the office utility closet would hardly engage before her skirt was around her waist, panties thrust aside.

Need flared with the memory. Cheryl pressed against him, bare skin next to bare skin. The moonstone pendant (the only thing she wore to bed) jiggled between her breasts as she reached over, skimmed a hand over his hip, dipped down to grip…limp, lifeless.

She closed her eyes, mortified. Not even in his dreams did he want her; her pound of flesh rejected once again.

Portia was wrong, Cheryl thought, the quality of mercy is strained and it showers down in biting hail.

Soundlessly, she pulled away, lay back on her side of the bed, pressed her face into the pillow. She lay motionless until he woke and stepped into the shower an hour later.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Today's muse: One Minute Writer

Today's prompt: Expiration. What do you wish had an expiration date?

Obviously, it took me longer than the alotted one minute (more like twelve) so I didn't post it on Mister Linky over at The One Minute Writer. I just really liked this prompt and wanted to use it.

* * *


She stood on the tiny three-legged stool reaching for the box on the top shelf.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Eric stood in the doorway of the walk-in closet. “I thought you were making dinner.”

“I just wanted to check something.”

Janice stepped down and walked past him, an antique hat box tucked under her arm.

Eric glanced at his watch. “Can’t you do it after dinner? I’m hungry.”

“It will only take a minute.” Janice opened the box, rummaged through the contents.

“What is so damned important that you have to check it now?”

Janice continued to sift through the hat box.

“Don’t ignore me, woman.”

“One minute. I think this is…yes!”

She snatched a piece of paper from the box, waved it in the air.

“What the hell is that?” Eric walked toward her, but Janice held out her hand.


Hands trembling, Janice unfolded the paper. Her lips moved in silence as she read the parchment; eyes darted back and forth, moved lower and lower. As she came to the bottom of the page, her lips twitched, then curved into a grin.

She held the page up so he could read it. She waited until the look of puzzlement passed and his eyes widened with understanding.

“There’s an expiry date,” she said, waving the page at him. She flicked her finger as though she swatted at an annoying mosquito.

“I’m outta here.” Tossing the paper at him, she stormed out of the bedroom.

He heard the front door slam before their marriage certificate floated to the floor.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Security Guard

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

Marc's prompt: Four lines of prose about 'the security guard'.

* * *

Security Guard

I have to take off my shoes and socks to count how many years we’ve been together, it’s been so damn long; an eternity some days. You’ve broken almost every promise we made before god and man, though I don’t think god was really listening that day, so maybe it doesn’t count. What pains me most is that you promised to take care of me, protect me, never hurt me.

You let your guard down.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Do List

Today's muse: The One Minute Writer

Today's prompt: Make a list (of whatever you want.)

* * *

To Do List

Sleep in.
Eat a breakfast of poached eggs on rye toast with strong black coffee.
Enjoy a quiet commute to work.
Arrive at work to find no emails awaiting my immediate attention.
Finish all my filing.
Indulge in a long lunch.
Return to work to find a note from the boss telling me to go home early.
Revel in a quiet commute home.
Walk into the house to discover elves have cleaned.
Sit down to a gourmet dinner.
Enjoy a steaming bubble bath and glass of wine.
Lay in bed and doze off, realizing the exact opposite happened.
Repeat tomorrow.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Slipping Through

Today's muse: Carry on Tuesday

Today's prompt: The title to ABBA's song, Slipping through my fingers.

* * *

Slipping Through

Back then, we walked side by side, our pace matched. We laughed and talked, finished each others sentences.

We held hands, fingers linked, palms pressed.

Lately, you walk ahead, leaving me behind, seldom looking back. I can’t laugh anymore; you don’t care enough to listen.

I’m trying to hold tight, but I feel you slipping through my fingers.

Monday, June 6, 2011

House of Cards

Wands, no longer shelter, but now an unsteady foundation, tremble from the weight above. The Pentacles insist it is not about money, but the Cups and Swords are all reversed and I cannot change the signs.

The Empress stands on her head, her wand dangling from her hand. Her smug look says she knows. Knows I have failed.


The Lovers remain apart. They don’t even attempt to link hands. The Moon, once my friend, now taunts me.

The Fool, blind to it all, brazenly walks off the cliff, beckoning like the pied piper. I yearn to follow him, to plunge into the unknown.

End it all.

Let the house crumble, I say, leave the Sun forever buried. The only card left to play is the Tower. And still, I cannot leap with the others.

Instead, I will let the inferno consume, until there is nothing but ash.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Dreams and Nightmares

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: grin, jumble, naked

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Dreams and Nightmares

Craig stood in the doorway wearing loose jeans and a snug, white t-shirt. One hand rested on his hip, the other held the door open. His face held no expression and he made no move to let her in. Miranda began to think this was a bad idea. Maybe she’d read the cues wrong.

“Are you…are you going to ask me in?”

“What? Oh. Sure.” Craig stepped aside.

She brushed by him, dropped her shoes inside the door that opened into the living space of the small, tidy apartment. Craig inhaled her scent; the woodsy, vanilla aroma he’d come to associate with her. Chocolate chip cookies baking on a campfire. Somehow, it was both comforting and erotic.

Miranda set the bottle of wine on the coffee table. “Should I have called first?”

“No. This is fine. How was the wedding?” He needed to make small talk. If he didn’t, he’d devour her.

“It was beautiful. Really beautiful.” Miranda wandered around the apartment, picking up photographs of his family. The fresh faces of his daughters smiled back at her.

“Were there a lot of people?”

“Too many.”

Craig shoved his hands in his pockets. “What happened when you saw him?”

Miranda turned to him, wrapped her arms around her waist. “Not what I expected.”

Craig pursed his lips, nodded, cursed himself for waiting. It was too late. He blew it.

“I was surprised, actually.” Miranda took a step toward him. “Maybe the marriage didn’t work, but there was all the time before that. When things were good. You know what I mean?”

He didn’t know where the pain came from, but he ached so much he could hardly breathe. “Yeah. I know.”

She was a whisper away from him now, peering up with those innocent eyes that teased, her fragrance swirling around him.

“And when I realized it, you were the first person I wanted to tell.”

He actually groaned. Why was she torturing him like this? “You wanted to tell me?”

Miranda nodded, a wicked grin playing on her lips. She moved in, pressed against him. “I wanted to tell you…” her lips moved against his as she spoke “…when I saw him, I only thought of you.” She traced her tongue across his jaw. The evening stubble was rough and made her skin hum. “I only thought of being with you. Like this.”

It took only a moment for those words to register, for Craig to realize she’d come here to seduce him and not to tell him she was going back with that idiot. He spun her around and pressed her against the wall. Words jumbled as they devoured, promised, pleaded, cursed.

In a practiced move, he lowered the zipper of her dress and let the fabric fall to the floor. Beneath was a lacy strapless bra and a tiny swatch of red lace at her crotch.

The thrill of power shot through Miranda when he sucked in his breath. She ran a manicured thumb across his lips. “You’re drooling,” she teased. “Let me get that.” She flicked her tongue at the corner of his mouth.

When he pulled her up, she wrapped her legs around him and he carried her to his bedroom, lay her down on the bed. As she scooted up towards the pillows, he crawled on all fours above her, his eyes following every movement, every curve.

It wasn’t the need ripping through her that made her heart stop. It was the look in his eyes; desire that promised and threatened. She couldn’t say which excited her more.

She reached for him, pulled him down so he stretched out on top of her. Miranda tried to flip him over so they would reverse positions, so she could take control—it was how she felt most comfortable. But Craig resisted. He pressed her back into the bed, cupped her face with his hands.

“Let me.”

His hands explored, softly, tenderly; his mouth teased. The roaring in her ears masked the mewling sounds she made as his tongue danced. Miranda floated higher and higher, her hips bucking, pleading, as she soared over the edge.

Craig skimmed his hands over her hips, trailed wet kisses up her belly, cupped his hands around her breasts, nuzzled her neck. He breathed promises into her ear, suckled on her lobe. Her breathing was heavy now, and the needy mewling sounds she made drove him wild. He skimmed his hands over her shoulders, down her arms and linked his fingers with hers, pulled them up over her head.

He felt her stiffen, saw her eyes go wide as saucers and the terror snap through them like lightening. Anger warred inside him as he fought against the need to maim the bastard who’d made a passionate woman cringe like a beaten child.

He held both of her hands in one of his, her fists angry bunches beneath his palm. She bucked her hips, not in passion as before, but in anger and fear.

“Please don’t do this, Craig.” Her voice broke as she pleaded. It tore him apart.

He cupped her face with his free hand. “I won’t hurt you.” His voice was barely a whisper. “Look at me, Miranda.” He held her, waited until her eyes locked onto his. “I promise I won’t hurt you. I’m not him, baby.”

She closed her eyes. Swallowed. Nodded. A singled tear leaked down her cheek and he kissed it away, flicked his tongue over the salty wetness. It pained him when she shuddered, but he pushed through it.

He brushed his lips along the softness below her ear, nipped at the delicate skin on her neck, one hand still restraining hers. As he nuzzled her throat, whispered her name over and over, her fingers unclenched, clasped with his. To test, he trailed his hands down her arms, over her breasts, then back up. It pleased him when she clutched them and pulled her arms higher with his, arched up in need. The climb was achingly sweet, and he dove with her when she plunged off the wall she’d begun to break down.

Afterwards, her head rose and fell with his breathing as it lay on his chest.

“Thank you for that.”

“The pleasure was mine.”

Miranda giggled. “That’s not what I meant.”

Craig brushed his hand across her hair. “I know what you meant.” He pressed a kiss on her head. “Will you stay?”

She lifted her head and tried to read the meaning behind the question. Just tonight, or longer? Forever, crossed her mind. She hesitated only a moment before she broke her own rule.

“I’ll stay.”

Later, when she woke naked and kicking, shoving at the terror that chased her each night in her dreams, she wondered if Craig regretted asking her.

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: damp, incensed, skid

* * *


Not visible to the casual observer, it is protected with a damp, crimson layer of silk-like fibre. Throbbing when excited—more so when pained—it has writhed in agony for quite some time now. Napoleon was only half right, she thought. There may only be two forces in the world, but this time, the sword had won. She just didn’t have enough left in her to fight.

Elbows on the table, face resting in cupped hands, hair curtains her rage in a mahogany waterfall. Still incensed by last night’s argument, her chest heaves as she tries to control her breathing.

“Are there more pickles in the basement pantry?”

She’d asked the simple question, waved the empty jar for emphasis, the brine sloshing perilously close to the opening. She’d used the last one for her tuna salad sandwich and asked because she knew he’d know if there was. Why go downstairs if there weren’t any? She’d just add it to the grocery list.

She watched the emotions flicker across his face. Annoyance followed by anger. Which somehow evolved to fury.

He slammed his drink down, the iced tea splashing over the side and onto the counter. She wondered the glass didn’t shatter.

“Fine. I’ll go down and see.”

“I didn’t ask you to go down to the pantry. I asked if you knew whether there were any more pickles.”

“No. Don’t worry about it.” Sarcasm, thick and hot, invaded the room, rolled off him in waves. “I’ll fucking stop everything and go down to see if there are goddamn pickles in the pantry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. Her voice was diminished, as though it cowered, but she wouldn’t let it waver. “I said I’d go down.”

If she’d been standing any closer, he would have shoved her away. Instead, his hand hit empty air and he stomped down the stairs, cussing the entire time.

She continued to make her tuna salad sandwich, adding mayonnaise, a diced kosher pickle (the last one) and Dijon mustard. She spread a thick layer of the tuna mixture on buttered eight-grain bread, topped it with a second slice, pressed down lightly to secure the sandwich.

He marched back into the kitchen, slammed the jar onto the counter.

“There’s your fucking pickles. Can I go and enjoy the rest of my evening now?”

Her face void of expression, she lifted her sandwich. “Sure.” She took a bite. Chewed.

As he stormed off, she was sure she heard him mutter: “Fucking bitch”.

All for a lousy jar of pickles. She’d been putting in ten- and twelve-hour days for months now. That tuna sandwich was her lunch. Eaten at ten o’clock at night. And he was bitching about her asking whether there was a goddamn jar of pickles in the pantry? She hadn’t asked him to go down and get the thing, she’d just asked if there were any.

She scrubbed her hands over her face, huffed out the air she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

The whole thing was falling apart like a fragile snow globe; only it was delicate egg shells that rained upon her, carpeting her diminished world, forcing her to pick her way across them day after day. Her feet were blistered and continued to bleed.

She wanted to tear out the one thing that had truly betrayed her, the one piece of her that she’d hoped would protect her core, her spirit. But once again, it had let her down.

She should yank it from her chest and skid it across the oak table; a dark—nearly black—smear in its wake. It would topple off the edge, land on the floor with a wet plop. She’d leave it there to putrefy, let the stink of decomp permeate the kitchen, the main floor, the whole fucking house.

Maybe the stench would drive him away. And he’d leave.

Oh, the things her heart yearned.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Today's muse: I went a little nuts today and used three of my favourite muses (musi?).

Three Word Wednesday.
Today's words: brandish, forbid, manage.

Carry on Tuesday.
This week's prompt: The opening lines from Phillida and Coridon.

One Word, So Little Time.
Today's (actually, yesterday's) word: console. And given the title role, so to speak.

* * *


Tangled in immoral haze,
Flesh and soul, lustful ways.
Wakeful nights and dreamy days;
To console, she bows and prays.

The mind and heart, each one vies,
Lusts for yon forbidden prize.
Spirit withers, passion dies;
Once the queen, no longer wise.

Brandished to the stormy skies,
Blackened soul weaves web of lies.
Releasing all that she denies,
Begs the gods to hear her cries.

In the merry month of May,
In a morn by break of day,
Water streams as body sways,
Manages to halt decay.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Today's muse: The One Minute Writer

Today's prompt: Overused.

* * *


He never told her.

“It’s cliché,” he said. “Everyone says it, but do they really mean it?”

“You would have meant it,” she murmured. The hollow thud of dirt on mahogany echoed throughout the cemetery.

“And I would have believed you. If only you’d said it. Just once.”

Friday, May 6, 2011


Today's muse: Sunday Scribblings

This week's prompt: Cake

* * *


Moist and sinfully rich, he cannot deny the greedy pleasure of consuming the heavenly sweetness. It’s not a matter of merely wanting—it is an all-consuming need that he cannot conquer. A raspy moan rolls out as his tongue emerges for the first taste; a tentative flick, like a question.

He wants to take his time, enjoy the flavour, savour the moment, but his hunger overrides all pretence at delicacy. He plunges to devour the salty syrup, crazed with the need to possess, to have and eat.

Panting, heart racing, he waits a few moments, then dips down to feast again.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Killing Time

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: grace, jitter, thin

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Killing Time

“When’s the last time you saw him?” Craig cupped some nut mix from the bowl on the counter, popped a few in his mouth. The crowded bar flowed around them as though they were in a cocoon.

“It’s been almost a year. But, lucky me, I get to see him again in a few weeks.” Miranda gestured with her cocktail sword of impaled olives as she spoke. “A friend is getting married and I’m one of the bridesmaids. He’s invited. Friend of the groom.”

“And you’re still going?”

“She’s my friend. I can’t let her down. Besides,” Miranda smiled, her lips curling in a slow, wicked grin, “I’ve been working out with my trainer and I look fucking hot! He’s going to be sorry.”

Craig laughed, raised his glass in a toast. “To looking fucking hot.”

He felt sorry for her ex. She’d be all dolled up for the wedding—professional hair and makeup—and wearing that dress she’d showed him last week. She had picked it up from the salon and brought it back to the office to show the girls. He’d walked into the staff lounge as she held it up to show it off. Small, black and low cut, his mouth watered at its limp form on the hanger. Miranda may only be a friend, but he’d spent several nights imagining what she’d look like in it.

The poor bastard was going to be sorry he let her go, Craig thought. Then again, he didn’t deserve her. Miranda hadn’t told him everything, but Craig could tell there was a lot more to it than she let on. It pained him the way she cringed when he made a sudden move, as though she expected him to hit her. Jesus, what had that bastard done to her?

“If you feel like talking after, give me a call. No matter how late it is.”

Miranda set down her martini. “You’d let me wake you up just to talk?”

Craig shrugged. “I’ll probably be awake anyway. It’s what friends do, right?”

Miranda looked away while he signalled the server for another round of drinks. Right. Friends. That is all they were. It didn’t matter that she wanted more. It couldn’t. He was still married, technically. And he had kids. She wouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether his marriage flourished or failed.

“I’m sure I’ll be fine, but thanks for the offer.”

“The offer stands. Any time.”

* * *

Miranda shook hands and air kissed more than a hundred people in the receiving line; her cheeks were numb from smiling. She wondered how politicians did it. While chatting with Wendy’s Great Aunt Olivia, Miranda heard a hiss next to her.

“He’s here!”

Her smile didn’t falter as she nudged the elderly woman down the line. But when Miranda’s eyes moved toward the hall entrance, the thin smile wavered. Gregg was handsome in a tailored suit, his hair, just a little too long, curled around his neck. She tried to gauge her feelings, whether she still cared for him, as the other bridesmaids had predicted.

“All those old feelings might come back,” they’d said.

It wasn’t a concept that Miranda dismissed. She admitted it was possible. So with an open mind, she watched Gregg greet the groomsmen, shake hands and clap shoulders. She waited while he had a shot of cognac with the groom, smiled when he hugged Wendy. He kissed the bridesmaid, Wendy’s sister, then shared a private joke with Sandra. When he took Miranda’s hand, she was the epitome of grace and poise, smiling as though she were greeting royalty. He kissed both cheeks, mumbled something incoherent, and moved on to the junior bridesmaid beside her.

That’s it? He’d walked by her as though she were a stranger. It was a moment before she realized that’s exactly what he’d thought. He turned back to her, his eyes wide in disbelief, as he took her hand.


She laughed. “Who did you think it was?”

“I didn’t recognize you. You look…” Gregg’s eyes raked up and down, took in the minimalist dress, her new cropped hair style, the toned body. “You look great.”

Yeah, I do, she thought. “Thanks.” The person next to Gregg cleared his throat. “You’re holding up the line,” said Miranda, and she withdrew her hand from his.

Something flickered in his eyes. Regret, shame, remorse. She didn’t know. And she didn’t care. In that moment, she had her answer. There was absolutely nothing left in her for Gregg.

When he’d moved on, and walked into the main hall away from the reception table, three heads turned to her.


Miranda smiled. “Not one little jitter.”

* * *

Elated, Miranda could think of only one person she wanted to share this news with. It was late when she arrived at Craig’s apartment unannounced. He had said he’d be up anyway. And wasn’t a visit better than a phone call?

Craig glanced at his watch when he heard the soft tap on the door. He expected to see Mrs. Fischer from 24D asking for help with something in her unit, though it occurred to him that it was a little late for handy work.

When he opened the door, the air rushed out of him and he was instantly hard.

Miranda stood in the doorway in the little black number. He wondered how she’d poured herself into it. Her short, spiky hair was teased with gold glitter and her eyes, painted up like a gypsy, still managed to have an air of innocence. Spiked heels dangled in one hand, a bottle of wine in the other.


All Craig could think was, “Melissa was right. Miranda is going to kill me.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Alright. I'm late. I mean REALLY late! This is from last week's prompt and ThomG has already posted this week's words. Ack!

Today's Last week's words: foolish, mercy, relish.

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *


The days were long, the work load stressful and she only seemed to socialize with co-workers—coffee in the café and late take-out dinners in the staff lounge.

Miranda was in heaven and relished every moment.

The Hamerston team was a close family, sharing their personal highs and lows, revelling in joyous occasions and grieving in others. She understood how tight the group was when she spent her first weekend at the office.

Armed with a lengthy agenda, and a loaded briefcase, Miranda walked into her office and settled in for the day. Her face void of makeup (except for a swipe of mascara), comfortable in a pair of snug yoga pants and a fitted T, she sat at her desk and pulled her hair back in a long tail. She spent the morning keying in numbers to the database she’d created, flipping through files to confirm the status of furniture orders, and reviewing resumes—flagging the few she thought Rob McBride should interview.

Needing a break, Miranda pushed back from her desk and stood up to pace her office, rolling her shoulders to work out the kinks. She did a few stretches, lunged into a warrior pose. More relaxed, she tossed her empty take-out coffee cup in the garbage and grabbed her Hamerston mug from her desk, made her way to the café. Her hips swayed to the dance tune stuck in her head, her long, dark ponytail swinging with the beat.

Her face reddened the moment she walked into the café.

“Hey, Miranda! Sit down. Join us. Have a bite.”

The oval table was littered with coffee cups, containers of apple and orange juice, and enormous platters of bagels, croissants, donuts and fresh fruit. Sitting around the feast were Steven Abrahms, Melissa Wilkinson, and Craig Matthews. Steve and Craig wore suits. Melissa was more casual in dark trousers and a crisp white blouse that still managed to look couture. No one was dressed like Miranda.

“I didn’t expect anyone to be here today. It is Saturday, isn’t it?”

“Oh, sure,” said Steve, around a mouthful of bagel.

Melissa handed him a napkin as she rolled her eyes at Miranda. “Jim and Steve have a meeting today. Jim’s upstairs,” she explained when Miranda scanned the room. “Eva—she’s upstairs as well—thought she’d drop in to see if they needed any help. Me, I don’t live far from here, so I came in for brunch. And Craig…” Eva looked over at him.

Craig shrugged. “I didn’t have anything else to do.”

Truth was, he’d overheard Miranda tell McBride that she was coming in and he’d hoped to have the chance to talk with her. Maybe finish the conversation they were having yesterday. It wasn’t about anything, really. Just general life matters: his kids, her parents, his ex, and hers. There was something about the way she danced around his questions that made him want to find out more. It wasn’t that she avoided answering, it was more that she managed to change the subject, deflect the queries like a boomerang. He wanted to know more. And why. Why those chocolate eyes went dark when she was flustered and why she wouldn’t open up to him.

“There’s also a few people over in marketing who took their food to go. There’s plenty still. Why don’t you sit down?” Craig pulled out a chair next to him. “Fill up your mug and join us.”

She didn’t get it. It was Saturday, for chrissake. What the hell were they all doing here? And most of them didn’t even need to be. She didn’t want to sit down with them. She just wanted to go back to her office and maybe crawl into the hole that she hoped would miraculously swallow her up when she got there. What had possessed her to dress like a bum? If she’d known Craig would be here, she would have taken a little more care in her wardrobe, put on some makeup. Did her hair for god’s sake!

As much as she wanted to slink out of the kitchen, she could hear her mother’s voice in her head lecturing that it was rude to decline such a thoughtful invitation. Resigned, Miranda filled her mug and sat next to Craig. Her stomach was jumpy and she was sure she wouldn’t keep any food down.

That was soon set aside by Steve’s question. “So, what colour was your first bicycle, Miranda?”

She stared at him, certain he was making fun of her. But when he met her gaze with honest, questioning eyes, she knew he wasn’t.

“Red.” Miranda took a sip of her coffee, let herself fall back to that birthday. “Red tricycle, white seat. And white streamers that fluttered in the wind when I pedalled really fast.”

Melissa nodded, leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, closed her eyes. “Mine was blue. With red and white streamers. Very patriotic.”

“My dad decorated mine with camouflage decals. I was going to war with my tryke.” Steve laughed at the memory.

Everyone shared childhood stories, besting each other with tales of broken bones and punishments meted out by strict parents. Miranda now understood the familial bond that held the team together. As voices talked over one another, she realized the tension she’d felt when she first joined the firm had lifted. She was accepted, considered part of the family.

“I hate to break up the party,” Miranda said, glancing at her watch, “but I really have to get some reports out for Rob.”

“We’re going out for drinks later. Want to join us?” Melissa began stacking plates and cups.

“Oh. Um, sure. Who’s going?” God, could she sound more high school?

“All of us. Eva bought a new outfit and she wants to show it off. And the gang from Finance is meeting us there.”

Despite willing them not to, Miranda’s eyes slid over to Craig’s. His stare was intense and she felt her cheeks burn. She pictured sitting next to him in a cramped bar, music pounding in the background, the smell of stale beer in the air mixed with the woodsy scent of his cologne.

“I’ll think about it. Thanks for inviting me.” She picked up her coffee mug and backed away from the table. “I gotta…” She made a vague gesture towards the door, spun around and walked out, cursing herself all the way to her office.

“Think she’ll come?” Melissa wrung out a dish cloth and wiped down the table.

“Who knows.” Steve pushed back from the table. “She keeps to herself a lot.”

“Not really. You just have to get her talking.” Craig regretted saying it before the sentence was complete.

Melissa stopped wiping the table. “What’s going on with you two?”

“Nothing.” Craig sipped his coffee to avoid their stares. “Nothing!”

“Son,” said Steve, “if you don’t put the moves on that girl, you’re more foolish than I thought.”

“She’ll kill him under thirty minutes,” said Melissa.


“Hey!” Craig threw his arms out. “Sitting right here!”

“You have to be blind not to see her.”

“I see her,” Craig mumbled.

“Well? Why aren’t you hitting on that? You get her under the sheets and you’ll be begging for mercy, I guarantee it. It’s always the quiet ones.” Steve nodded sagely, took a sip of his coffee.

Craig shot out of his chair. “Don’t talk about Miranda like that.”

Melissa reached out her hand, palm up. “Told ya.”

“Shit.” Steve reached into his pocket, pulled out a ten dollar bill and slapped it into Melissa’s open hand.

“Fuck you guys.” It was said with heat, but Craig was smiling. “I don’t know what it is about her.”

Melissa sank into a chair, cupped her chin in her hands. “She does have that abandoned kitten thing going.”

“That’s why I don’t get it.” Craig walked over to the sink, dumped his cold coffee. He flipped open the dishwasher and set his mug on the top rack. “Normally, I hate cats.”

“But this one,” he thought as he wandered out of the cafe, “this one, I want to follow me home.”

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Game Rules

Game Rules

It’s like being picked last for the team; not thin enough, not pretty enough, not loved enough.

I want so much to play, but you keep pushing me to the back of the line. It’s not fair to expect me to follow the rules when you won’t share the play book with me. I’ve tried to play like all the others—the ones you compare me to without saying it—but it doesn’t seem to make you happy. And it only makes me weep.

I don’t think I want to play anymore. The problem is, I don’t know how to quit you.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

This is an old prompt from TWW. The words then were: feign, imply, virtue

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

Patience is a Virtue

“When you have a moment, Miranda, come into my office.” Rob McBride flicked his head toward the door. Miranda knew he meant now, not when she actually had a moment.

He had already turned away before she nodded her consent. Miranda eyed the reports waiting to be typed out. “I guess I’m working late. Again.”

She walked into Rob’s office.

“Close the door.”

This was serious. Rob seldom closed his door.


Miranda dropped into the leather chair across from his desk, crossed her legs, folded her hands in her lap.

“I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’ve had several meetings with Hamerston.”

Miranda nodded. Hamerston was the competition. She assumed Rob was just telling them to stop poaching.

“They made me a pretty sweet offer. The hire bonus is more than enticing and I’m guaranteed a retirement package. I’m not getting any younger, Miranda, I have to think about the future.”

Miranda felt sick. Rob was leaving. One of the few men she could trust, and he was leaving her.

“I gave notice a few weeks ago, so head office could find a temporary replacement. No one at this branch knows yet. Management is sending out a notice on Monday. I’ll be at Hamerston when you come back from vacation.”

Miranda departed tomorrow to spend two weeks with her girlfriends in Mexico. Wendy had called on Monday to announce that Sarah could get last-minute tickets for Manzanillo at a good price. Despite the short notice, Rob had insisted she go. Now she knew why.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She wouldn’t cry. And to be sure, she clamped the inside of her bottom lip until she tasted rust. “Were you just going to leave without saying goodbye?”

“I’m telling you now, Miranda.”

She couldn’t look at him. She was angry and hurt. It was like being abandoned.

“It’s not going to be the same without you.”

“I was hoping you’d say that.”

“What else would I say? You taught me everything, took me into your home, treated me like family. Am I ever going to see you again?”

Rob cocked his lips in a crooked grin. “I prepared something for you.”

He pulled an envelope from his top drawer, slipped out a folded page. Miranda took it and read through the three short paragraphs, glanced down below the closing line.

“What the hell is this?”

“I need your signature.”

“This is a letter of resignation, Rob. My letter of resignation, to be specific.”

“Don’t make me fire you, Miranda.”

What the hell was going on? She was just finding her balance and now her world was being snatched out from under her.

“I thought you were happy with my work.”

Rob threw his head back and laughed his baritone bark.

“I’m taking you with me. Your vacation is your notice. I already talked to HR about it. They owe you at least three weeks—plus what you didn’t take last year—so I negotiated for you and they’re giving you your two weeks as vacation and paying you out the other weeks.”

Miranda stared at him, unaware her mouth had dropped open.

“And a good severance package, of course. The deposit will be in your account by the time you come back. Hamerston has agreed on your salary.” He named a figure that was much higher than her current salary. “Plus six weeks’ vacation.”


He waved his hand, cutting her off.

“Hamerston is opening a new division, under a different name. They want me to be President. I need my wing man.” Rob grinned as he corrected himself. “Wing girl . I was thinking VP.”

“Jesus, Rob.”

“You deserve it. You do all the reports now, it’ll mean you’ll have more control over what gets approved and not. I want you to decorate the new offices, too.”

Miranda’s smile was slow and wide as she chewed over the concept. The possibilities were endless. She knew at once it was the right choice.

“This is gonna be fun.” She jumped up and crossed his office, bent down and kissed his cheek. “Thanks, Rob. I won’t let you down.”

Rob blushed, waved his hand toward the door. “Get out of here. Go get tanned. I’ll see you when you get back.”

* * *

Miranda arrived at Hamerston on her first day wearing a wrap-around dress that snugged in at her waist; the dark Jersey clung, showing off more than her tan. When she'd glanced in the full-length mirror at home, she sent thanks to her trainer. Steve was a tyrant, but he was good. Oh, yeah, damn good.

As Miranda toured her new workplace, her smile was wide and easy, implying she was well-rested after vacation. Truth was, coming back from two glorious weeks of sun was not easy. She didn’t know how she was going to get through the day without several fruity drinks and a couple of siestas.

Alone in her office, cheeks numb, hands sore from shaking so many palms, she dropped into her chair. Congratulating herself for not passing out from exhaustion and withdrawal, she allowed a small air punch.

This was it. She could feel it.

Miranda tapped away on her computer, making notes on the ideas that had come to her while she’d wandered the building: protocol she wanted to implement, concepts she thought she’d like to change. She’d have to set up some time to sit down with Rob, show him her proposal.

Out of habit, Miranda reached out, but felt nothing but empty air.

“Right. No coffee.” She pushed back from her desk and wandered down the hall to where she thought she saw the café, the aroma of brewed beans guiding her.

She opened cupboards until she found the mugs; each one stamped with the gold Hamerston logo. She pulled the carafe from the coffee machine and sniffed.

“It’s fresh. I just made it.”

Miranda froze. She recognized that voice. The deep timber shot right through her.

“It smells fresh. And strong.” She didn’t turn around while she poured, needing the time to regroup.

He came up behind her, just to her left and leaned up to open the cupboard, pulled down a mug.

“Pardon me.” His voice rumbled in her ear. God he smelled good.

He bumped his shoulder against hers and coffee sloshed over Miranda’s cup. She snatched a cloth from the sink to mop up the spill. His hand covered hers, immobilizing it.

“It’s my fault. Let me do it.”

Miranda met the dark eyes that had haunted her dreams for months. They crinkled as he smiled.

“Remember me? Craig Matthews.”

Miranda feigned indifference as she pulled her hand away. If she left it there, it would incinerate.

“Oh sure. You met with McBride once.” You wore a dark blazer and tan pants and you made my mouth water.

“You remember.” Craig did, too. The sight of her wearing that snug skirt, swinging that tight ass, would be forever burned in his mind. And when she’d bent over to dial the phone, her blouse had hung open revealing lavender lace.

Craig rinsed the cloth, folded it neatly over the tap. He turned back and held those chocolate orbs, wide like a doe and just as skittish. He picked up his coffee and took a sip, never releasing her gaze. He reached up and tucked a stray curl behind her ear, reminding himself that patience was not only a virtue, but also a reward. Somehow, he knew this one would be worth the wait.

“Welcome to the team, Miranda. It’s good to have you on board.”

Miranda stood alone in the café, gripping the counter for balance. Blood pounded in her ears as she wandered back to her office, trailing her hand on the wall for support.

She sat in her chair for ten minutes before she realized she’d left her coffee back in the café.

* * *

Miranda's story continues.

Friday, April 22, 2011

As Fate Would Have It

As Fate Would Have It

Silver glided across the lawn, trees undulated in a soft breeze. In the pale light of the waning moon, she beckoned the Crone. Skyclad, she wore no makeup, no jewellery; only the pentagram tattooed above her left buttock.

She considered performing this ritual last week, but chose to call on the Mother’s energy instead. Asking for anything during a full moon was asking for trouble, as far as she was concerned. Rather than feeling invigorated (as she normally did, when she drew down the moon) she was left with a yearning need—a sexual craving—she couldn’t expel.

It was time to be rid of it.

Without a formal ritual prepared, she relied on her heart, opened it up, pleaded with Hecate to hear her.

“I don’t ask for what I don’t deserve,” she said. “I leave it to you to decide what should be done. I only ask for guidance and strength.”

Hair spilled down her bare back like a raven waterfall as she bowed back, tipped her head to the sky, spread her arms in submission. Afraid to acknowledge what she truly wanted, what she desired most—what might make her happy—she left it to the Fates to rule. She pushed her soul out to the Universe, bared it for the Goddess. The questions she was afraid to have answered, the intense desire she couldn’t control, the lust that raged like a balefire. It all pulsed from her, rolled out in waves.

Twined with it all was her wish. A craving she didn’t understand; desire that filled her, made her lifeblood pound through her, woke her in the night.

She closed her circle, released her spiritual guides with thanks. Her voice wavered as she chanted the words she’d said so many times before. Tears threatened, but she fought them back. This was different. She wasn’t in control this time. Was she ever?

“As…you will, so mote it be.”

She didn’t know what made her say it, to relinquish her will, but it was done.

In the silvered yard, she hung her head in shame, wrapped her arms around her bare breasts. She didn’t know what the outcome would be. She only hoped it would be right.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cookies and Cream

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: cleanse, knead, melt.
Well, there's only one thing to write about with those words. Not to mention I'm a little focused right now...I've hit a love scene in Madison's Avenue. First detailed one I've written and far too racy to publish on this blog.

* * *

Cookies and Cream

Lined along the counter like sentries were the ingredients for her prized oatmeal-raisin cookies; a family recipe passed from grandmother to daughter to granddaughter. A light dusting of flour covered the marble countertop. Cooling on the metal rack were five dozen cookies for Nathan’s pre-school bake sale. The last batch was in the oven.

Humming a little off-key, Emily washed mixing bowls, wooden spoons and measuring cups in scalding, sudsy water. Baking was cathartic. Energy coursed through her, spinning her into hyper-mode. While the cookies baked, she scrubbed the counter, cleaned out the refrigerator, and re-organized the cereal cupboard. Did she really have four different kinds of Cheerios?

Not only did the kitchen sparkle, but Emily was no longer angry with Sam. Well, not as much. She knew it was petty, but she wasn’t one to forgive easily. Sometimes she needed to stay mad for a while. The argument was ridiculous, but she wasn’t about to let it go. She’d spent hours preparing a romantic dinner for their five-year anniversary and he’d come home late. Hadn’t even called to tell her he was stuck in a meeting. How hard was it to pick up the damn phone and make a quick call? Or send a text?

Emily slammed a bamboo spoon into the sink, sending up a geyser of suds. Maybe she was still a little angry. She leaned against the counter and closed her eyes. She inhaled a deep, cleansing breath through her nose, pushed it out through her mouth. In again. Out again. Once more. In. Out.

The timer on the oven rang.

Emily wiped her hands on a dish towel, scooped up a pair of mitts. She pulled down the oven door, leaned back to avoid the rush of steam; made a mental note to call the spa and make an appointment for a facial. She leaned into the heat to pull the clay baking sheet from the oven.

This glorious sight is what greeted Sam when he came home. Cut-off jeans that revealed a firm heart-shaped bottom. God bless yoga. He let Emily set the hot tray on the counter before he crossed the kitchen, reaching her in three long strides.

Pressing against her back, he wrapped an arm around her waist, brought the other in front of her to present the flowers he bought.

“I’m sorry.” Thick with emotion, his voice caught and he pulled her closer.

Emily melted into him, forgiveness offered but unspoken.

Sam tossed the bouquet onto the counter as he swept her long curls off to one side. He kneaded her shoulders, pressed his thumbs into the hard knots, shamed with the knowledge they were his doing. Intimately familiar with her trigger points, he nuzzled into the back of her neck, whispered detailed promises. Her feral groan shot through him and he thrust against her.

“When is Nathan coming home from school?”

“What?” Her brain was fogged, blood pounded in her ears.

“Nathan.” Sam trailed his tongue behind her ear, suckled on the lobe. “Our son. Nathan. Home. When?”

“Oh. Um. He’s not.” A coherent word wasn’t possible while Sam’s hands explored, possessed. “Playdate. Until four.”

“Perfect.” Sam spun her around, cupped her ass and pulled her up so she could wrap her legs around him. “We’ve got an hour.” And he carried her up to the bedroom.

Forgotten on the counter, the bake sale cookies cooled next to the mercy flowers, while passion delivered forgiveness upstairs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Today's muse: The One Minute Writer

* * *


They all said the trek would be worth it; a journey to liberate her soul. There was no question the view was spectacular. She was sure she could touch the clouds. Emerald carpet sprawled beneath a cobalt sea. Serenity embraced her, washed away the burden she shouldered. Why, then, did she still want to jump?

Monday, April 4, 2011


Today's muse: The Dark Place

* * *


The pirouettes are feeble now, my delicate porcelain arms are chipped. Parasites have chewed my tutu, leaving me exposed.

It is bright and shrill when the cover is lifted. I want to dance again, but the music won’t play. Painted eyes streak down sallow cheeks, splash onto the pedestal below. Brackish waste wraps around the coils, halting movement, corroding life.

The blessed darkness is what I yearn, and I succumb to its will when the lid closes down on me.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Mirror

Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice

* * *

The Mirror

The angry slash of terror and pain,
is indistinct from the other crack.
It’s not the blood line that worries her,
but the hollow eyes that stare back.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The White Knight

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: breeze, mellow, tickle

Some stories need to be told. Miranda's begins here.

And now, it continues...

* * *

The White Knight

Miranda’s desk was always tidy. Beside the telephone sat a notepad stamped with the company logo, a Mont Blanc perched on top, angled corner to corner. Reference books along one side of the desk were lined up with military precision. A computer was centered on the desk return, the monitor angled at the perfect eye level to reduce neck strain.

The hectic week had put filing at a low priority. Three—very neat, very organized—piles of reports and correspondence were arranged in front of the row of books.

At the end of the day, Miranda logged off her computer, adjusted the notepad a fraction of an inch and removed her suit jacket, hanging it neatly on the back of her chair.

“It’s Friday, Miranda. Go home.” Robert McBride strolled down the hall toward his office, a coffee in one hand, a manila folder in the other. His peppered hair stuck out at odd angles which, Miranda knew, meant he’d been running his fingers through it all day.

“I want to tackle the filing. If I stay and do it now, I know I’ll sleep better tonight.”

Rob shook his head. Miranda was the first person in the office each morning and the last to leave at night. She had joined the team more than a year ago and Rob had forged an immediate bond with her. They worked in tandem, seldom needing more than a few words to express ideas, somehow anticipating the other’s needs. His own grown sons were long gone from home and he’d taken Miranda under his wing, like a surrogate daughter. Several times a month, she joined him and his wife for Sunday dinner.

“Go home and enjoy the weekend. Forget about the filing. It’ll be here on Monday.”

“That’s why I want to do it now.” Miranda turned up the cuffs of her silk blouse and eyed the filing. “The paper seems to breed overnight. There’s always twice as much in the morning.”

It wouldn’t take long; she estimated thirty minutes—forty, tops—to breeze through it. If she stayed late and got it done now, it wouldn’t be nagging at her the entire weekend and she could enjoy herself.

Rob knew it was futile to argue. “I just made a fresh pot of coffee if you want some.” He wandered back into his office, already absorbed in the contents of the folder.

Miranda played with the dial on the portable radio until she found a station playing mellow tunes. Her hips swayed with the music and she hummed off-key as she tackled the first pile. Each stack was organized according to client, making quick work of the filing. As she addressed the second pile, the front door of the office chirped, announcing a visitor. She glanced at her watch. It was well past closing and she knew, with the exception of Rob, everyone was gone for the day. By habit, she set a smile on her face and turned to greet the arrival. It was only ingrained professionalism that kept her lips turned up.

He wore a dark chocolate blazer, paired with a butter yellow shirt, the starched collar undone. Tan pants accentuated narrow hips and a trim waist. Dark, penetrating eyes smiled at her, even if his mouth didn’t.

“I’m here to see Rob McBride.”

She’d never seen him before, yet he looked familiar. No, it was more that he felt familiar.

“Do you have an appointment?” There was nothing noted in her calendar.

He nodded. “He’s expecting me. My name is Craig Matthews.”

“Please, have a seat.” She gestured toward a pair of wing chairs as she reached for the telephone. “I’ll let Mr. McBride know you’re here.”

Before she lifted the receiver, Rob came out of his office.

“Craig! How are you?”

Hands clasped in greeting, shoulders were clapped. Though Rob was much older, the mutual respect between the two was obvious.

“Come into my cell.” The two men disappeared into Rob’s office and the door closed with a soft click.

Miranda’s legs were shaking and there was an odd tickle in her stomach. She sank into her chair, dropped her head into her hands. Jesus, Rand, get a grip. He’s just a guy. And a stranger at that. OK, he was a cute stranger with an intense stare that seemed to look right into your soul, but she still didn’t know him. And yet, he felt familiar. She couldn’t remember meeting him, but somehow she knew she had.

The office door swung open and Rob strolled out. “Help me bring some coffee and cookies in.”

Miranda sprang out of her chair and followed him down the hall to the staff room. Rob poured coffee into an ornate carafe and set two cups with saucers on a silver tray while Miranda arranged cookies on a china plate.

“You didn’t tell me you had an appointment.” She hoped her voice sounded casual.

“Craig? I thought you’d be gone by now, so I didn’t mention it.” Rob arranged a sugar bowl and creamer on the tray, pulled napkins from a drawer and handed them to Miranda. “He’s interviewing me for his thesis.”

“Oh.” Miranda fanned the napkins on the tray, set spoons on the saucers.

“Why don’t you just ask?” Rob wasn’t quite successful at hiding his smirk.

Miranda fixed an expression of innocence on her face. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Rob laughed, a loud baritone bark that always made her smile. As was his habit, he ruffled the top of her head as though she were a toddler. She made an annoyed face, but the gesture always thrilled her.

“Forget it, kiddo. He’s married.”

Miranda’s heart sank. Figures.

Rob picked up the tray and pushed open the café door with his hip.

“But rumour has it that the marriage is on the rocks.” With an exaggerated look of disinterest, Rob swung out of the room with the coffee and cookies.

Well, thought Miranda, wasn’t that interesting.

* * *

Miranda's story continues...