Good morning. I hope your Christmas was everything you expected and more. If you are looking for a new book, consider one of the above.
Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog hop managed and created by author Jean Joachim. Those of us who participate in it use a weekly clue to continue a work in progress. Many of those stories go on to become books in their own right.
This week, for the last post of 2017, I give you more of Same Time Next Year, and a scene based on the word PITCH. Allow me to take a moment and wish you all a happy, healthy, and successful 2018.
Here is today’s tale:
Twyla pushed the hair off her face and turned back to the laptop to continue the story. She’d been so very young…
When we reached the store, Michael held the door open for me to precede him inside. As always, the jumble of regular grocery items and fishing gear amazed me. I couldn’t imagine opening the fridge door at the Mom and Pop store down the street in Hoboken and seeing worms in plastic cups next to milk, juice, and soda pop. If Mother ever came in here to buy her own cigarettes and saw this, she would probably pass out. But she wouldn’t. Somehow it was better that the staff here believe I was the smoker, not her. Besides, she’d promised Father she would quit. Hell might freeze over first, but eventually, she would.
Michael put his hand on the small of my back to lead me through the crowded, narrow aisles. Heat pulsed through me at his light touch and scenes from Lady Chatterley’s Lover filled my mind. How would his hand feel on my bare skin?
I pulled away suddenly, embarrassed that I could even harbor such traitorous thoughts, and terrified I might’ve somehow given away my response to his touch. Hadn’t mother claimed boys could read impure thoughts in a girl the same way dogs could sense fear? My cheeks heated and I swallowed, trying to clear my head of my mother’s nagging voice.
The owner had set up the back of the store to resemble an old-fashioned ice cream parlor with a counter and six tiny tables dotting the room. Michael pulled out one of the chairs for me, smiling as if I were a princess. I certainly felt like one. I sat, impressed with what Mother would’ve called his gentleman’s manners.
“Mike,” a female voice called from across the room. “I wasn’t expecting you for another half hour.” There was censure in her tone that destroyed my fairy tale. “I can’t take a break until then.”
The scowl on his face was formidable. “I forgot she was working today,” he mumbled before turning away. “I don’t expect you to.”
His tone surprised me. If that was the way he treated his girlfriend, then I’d better cut my losses and leave. But when the girl stepped over to the table, she blocked my escape.
“Well, I thought we could spend time together,” she said, her tone, now sickly sweet.
“Yeah, right. Like that’s ever happened.” Michael shook his head.
“Fine, what will you have?” she asked, her voice not hiding her annoyance. She stepped back surprised when she saw me sitting there, hidden initially by his body. “I didn’t know your family had company.”
“We don’t,” he answered as if there wasn’t a problem in the world. “Mavis Crowder, meet Twyla Lancaster. She’s a guest here. When I saw that hair, I couldn’t look away.”
Mavis snorted, gave my hair and the rest of me a glance that cooled me right down. If looks could kill, I wouldn’t have made it out of the store.
“Good grief. I can see why. If I had hair like that, I’d wear a hat and never take if off.”
I examined her long, straight,dark brown hair, Cher hair, the kind I’d always dreamed of having , and tried to shrink into the chair, wishing I were invisible.
Michael’s frown deepened. “Mavis, that was rude. What the hell’s wrong with you? Her hair’s gorgeous, and you know it. That artist who spends weeks here in the fall, the guy you bothered until he agreed to draw you, would love it.”
Mavis rolled her eyes. “Pa-lease. Don’t make me gag. I did not bother Gilles. Besides, he’s not that great an artist.”
“If you say so. Lydia tells a different story. With those curls and her coloring similar to the fall leaves on my grandfather’s sugar maple, your artist would probably want to use Twyla as a model for Mother Nature herself.”
“I doubt it,” Mavis mumbled, sneering at me.
But the frown on Michael’s face was impressive. I stifled a giggle. With a pitch like that, he could have any one of the girls I knew eating out of his hand. He certainly wasn’t trying to charm or impress Mavis, and who was Lydia?
He smiled at me and gently pushed a tendril off my face. “Don’t ever dye it. Mavis is just jealous because her hair’s that muskrat brown.” He winked and turned to the girl whose cheeks were redder than mine must be. “If anyone should dye their hair, maybe it’s you.”
“Do you want something or not?” she snapped, turning her back to me.
“Lighten up, Mavis, I’m joking. You look fine. Bring us a couple of root beer floats, will you?”
He dismissed her with a glance and focused his attention on me, the glint in his eye telling me he was enjoying Mavis’s annoyance. I should’ve gotten up and left, right then and there, but it was as if I were glued to the seat.
This was the last thing I needed. The most wonderful boy I’d ever met was acting like a jerk, already hooked up with a gal giving me the evil eye, a look any of Macbeth’s witches would’ve envied. Commonsense reared its ugly head, and I stood.
“I’m sorry. I should just go. Your girlfriend—”
He cut me off. “My girlfriend? Mavis? Hell, no!”
The stunned look on his face pleased me.
“Mavis is my sister Lydia’s friend, and that’s it. If she thinks we’ve got something else going on, she’s got another think coming. I’ve known her forever. She might as well be my sister, and that would just be too weird.”
Twyla pushed away from the keyboard. Had Michael really been that blind? That clueless? Why hadn’t she seen Mavis’s reactions and behavior towards her for what they were? The girl had been in love with him, hurt by his words and attitude. She shook her head. Who would ever believe she and Mavis had something in common? They’d been rivals for Michael’s attention, but in the end, his cavalier attitude had crushed them both. Too bad Mavis didn’t realize how lucky she’d been.
The cottage was quiet. The storm had played itself out, and it was well past three. Twyla needed sleep. As much as she would like to pretend she was as healthy as she’d been at seventeen, the truth was she was an old lady with an even older, tired heart. Writing this book was dredging up painful memories, but, because hindsight was twenty-twenty, it would also let her see things for what they’d really been. The truth might hurt, but it was cleansing, and that was what really mattered here.
That’s it for this week! Don’t forget to check out all the other posts on Tuesday Tales. See you in 2018!