Silly Stories

The stories here are written in response to writing prompts. You'll find a bit of silliness, and I hope you might even laugh a bit when you read them. These impromptu stories are always fun to write. Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Get Away

Welcome! Today our "Tuesday's Tales" group is doing something a little different. We're writing very short stories (maximum 300 words) from a picture prompt. Here's our picture:

The Get Away

"Montego Bay, baby. Seven days in the sun, seven nights in tropical heaven."

Elena sighed. Why did everything Bernie say sound so good and turn out so bad?

She’d trusted him too much, had believed his lies too many times.

“But, Bernie, I --“

“No, don’t say it.” He reached across the table and covered her hand with his. “You and me, baby. The two of us in Jamaican paradise. I won’t let you turn me down.” He stroked the back of her hand.

Her heart pounded. Her knees went weak. Bernie held too much power over her. She hated it. She hated him. He made her crazy. She had to break free.

“Think of it, baby,” he crooned. “Shimmering ocean, rum and Coca-Cola, and that reggae beat.”

His words lapped at her like soft waves rolling into shore, wearing away her resistance.

“Montego Bay,” she whispered. “A perfect place to get away.”

“Just the two of us.”

Elena nodded, and a smile played at the corners of her mouth. “What about your wife? Won’t she wonder why you’re away so long?”

“She knows better than to ask too many questions. I give her what she wants, baby. Money. Prestige. She’s happy. Don’t worry about her.”

Closing her eyes, Elena let his voice wash over and around her. It lifted her up, carried her into a deep, dream-like state.

She saw the ocean spreading out before her, felt herself getting lost between the sea and the sky. Her smile widened.

“We could go sailing.”

“Anything you want, baby.”

“Just the two of us.”

“That’s right.”

But Elena would return alone.

Yes, Montego Bay. The perfect place to get away...with murder.

- The End -

I hope you enjoyed this short-short. To read more "Pic Prompts" from other "Tuesday's Tales" authors... JUST CLICK HERE!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Love Spells - Chapter 2

Barefoot and dressed in a simple cotton gown, Ellie stood at the window on Friday evening, watching as the sun slowly slipped below the horizon. She had no idea, actually, what she should wear for spell-casting, so she’d chosen something simple, something natural, something comfortable. It felt right.

The time had come to begin. Earlier, she’d prepared a small altar, her own magical place where she would perform the ritual each night. She’d used a brilliantly-colored green and gold silk scarf for an altar cloth and had placed a small vase of fresh flowers at the edge.

According to the grimoire, spell-casting required careful thought and keen attention to detail. Each of the four natural elements -- earth, air, fire, and water -- must be represented.

The scarf, Ellie figured, could symbolize the earth and its beauty. The flowers drew life from water and released their sweet fragrance into the air. Fire, of course, would come from the candle she would light.

As she turned from the window, she caught sight of herself in a small mirror. A pair of dull brown eyes stared back at her. Ellie frowned. She felt different, but she still looked the same. It would never do. An ordinary woman like Ellie Crawford could never work magic. If she meant to change her life, she must first transform herself.

She grabbed the phone. “Miranda, I need your help,” she said as soon as her friend answered.

“Is this about David?”

“No, it’s about me.”

“What’s wrong?” The concern in Miranda’s voice was genuine. “What can I do?”

“I’m tired of being plain and ordinary, always fading into the background. I want to be the sort of woman who commands attention. I want to be more like you. Will you help me?”

“What brought this on?”

Ellie suspected the truth would not help her cause. She hedged. “I was just looking at myself in the mirror. I don’t like what I see.”

“I’ll come by tomorrow morning,” Miranda said. “We’ll go through your closets, get rid of all those dowdy dresses and those awful shoes you’ve got. Then we’ll go on a little shopping spree. We’ll schedule an appointment for you at the salon, and then we’ll...”

Fifteen minutes later, Ellie hung up the phone with a smile. Already she felt better, more powerful, more in control of her own destiny. She liked the feeling.

Night had settled in now and darkness shrouded Ellie’s tiny apartment. She moved slowly through the shadows toward her make-shift altar, ready to perform her first ritual. It might have little power behind it now, but with each passing day -- and with each change she made within herself -- the power behind her magic would grow.

Seated cross-legged before her altar, Ellie struck a match. The first tiny spark burst into brilliant flame, and a sudden warmth filled her heart.

Your life is about to change. You’re lighting a candle within yourself, illuminating the shadows and revealing truth. Are you prepared?

The voice came from within and from without, from above and below.

The match had nearly burned down to her fingers. She shook it out and dropped the charred matchstick. Her hand trembled as she struck a second match and held it to the candle’s wick. It caught and began to burn. The thin, pink taper glowed brightly, steadily.

Following the instructions she’d been given -- to the letter -- Ellie wrote David’s name upon a sheet of white paper. She wrote her name beneath it, then drew a heart around both, joining them together in a sign of love.

“Our fate is sealed and we are one. My heart has power. It is now done.”

As she watched the flame, she thought about David, about the love they’d shared in the past...and the love they would soon share again.

Finally, when the candle had burned down, and the flame had flickered and died, Ellie closed her eyes. A profound stillness surrounded her. She could not recall ever feeling so much at peace.

Moments later, the noisy jangling of the phone shattered the silence. Startled, Ellie jumped, knocking the vase of flowers from her magical altar. With one hand, she grabbed the vase; with the other she reached for the phone.


David’s voice crackled through the night.

Her pulse raced. “Yes, David.” Giddiness swept over her, and for a moment she couldn’t think, couldn’t speak.

But she felt something stirring deep inside.


For a moment, David remained silent. Ellie could hear his breath, could close her eyes and picture him holding the phone close. She exulted in this strange, new-found power she possessed.

“Was there something you wanted?” she asked. “Something you needed?”

“ No, not at all. I’m sorry about this. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

“It’s no bother.” The words came out as a raspy whisper. “I was hoping to hear from you.”

“Yeah, well, I wasn’t calling you, Ellie. I don’t know what happened. Guess I hit the wrong button on this damned phone. You know how that goes.”

“Right.” The vase of flowers slipped from her grasp. Cool water spilled over the hardwood floor and trickled across her bare toes. Ellie hung up the phone, hugged her knees, and let the tears come.

Hearing David’s voice had opened all the wounds again, had brought back all the bittersweet memories of their love. His betrayal cut her to the quick. It hurt as much now as on the day when he’d broken off their engagement.

But now, she had a glimmer of hope. She brushed away the tears and turned to gaze upon her altar. Already her feeble spell had begun to work.

David had called her. He had spoken to her.

Had it merely been a mistake?

Or had it been magic?

- To Be Continued -

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love Spells - Chapter 1

Thanks for visiting!

For this week's "Tuesday's Tales", I'm doing something a little different. Instead of a short-story based on the week's word prompt, I'm posting the first part of a novella, Love Spells. I hope it catches your attention and that you'll be back next week to read more of the story.

And...don't forget to read what others have written for this week's prompt.

Click here to return to Tuesday's Tales

Love Spells - Part 1

“You’ve got to be out of your mind. The man lied to you, cheated on you, dumped you, and ran off with another woman.” Miranda’s scowl deepened. “Why would you want him back?”

Ellie sighed. “When you put it that way, I know it sounds crazy, but there are two sides to every story.”

“Not this one.” Miranda got up, grabbed her jacket and headed for the door. “David Cameron is bad news. You want him back? You’re on your own. I want nothing to do with this.”


Miranda didn’t understand, of course. That was the problem. Yes, David was guilty as charged...except that it wasn’t really his fault. Not completely. He’d been bewitched, lured away by a potent spell cast by a beguiling sorceress.

But things were about to change.

With a knowing smile, Ellie opened the dusty old book she held in her hands. She now had a few spells of her own.

She’d found the weighty tome two afternoons before while browsing around at a neighborhood estate sale. A grimoire. Even the word sounded mystical and powerful. A tiny laugh slipped out. Never would she have guessed old Mrs. Parsons to be a witch.

Funny how little we know about people.

Just like David. When she’d first met him, she would never have thought him capable of lies and deceit, would never have believed he would willingly inflict emotional pain upon another’s heart.

It wasn’t his fault. It was witchcraft.

She knew that now. From the moment she’d first touched the old grimoire, an odd power had surged forth within her. At once, the truth had become clear. Sadly, that knowledge alone wasn’t enough to ease the pain he’d put her through, and if she had good sense, she’d find some terrible spell and cast it upon both of them -- David and Julianne, his new love.

Quickly she thumbed through the book. Something to cause boils, or a wart on one’s nose. Or maybe something to shrivel certain body parts...

Ellie sucked in a deep breath and shook the thoughts away. No, she would not become vindictive, would not stoop to cruel retaliation. Her spells would be rooted in love, not anger. Her magic would bring renewal, not revenge.


On Thursday, Ellie left work early. She strolled down 39th Street, enjoying the fresh spring air and the gentle warmth of the glorious, golden sunlight. Red bud trees were beginning to blossom, and all the world around her looked fresh, vibrant, and new.

A perfect time for magic, for new beginnings, for making dreams come true.

When she reached the little shop near Carlysle Street, she hesitated only a moment before climbing the old wooden steps. She pushed open the door and stepped inside. The smoky scents of frankincense and patchouli greeted her, luring her in to the dimly-lit store. Exotic, oriental-sounding music floated around her. She swayed to the haunting rhythms as she peered at the colorful displays of candles, crystals, cards, and stones.

The magic is strong here. I can feel it.

Ellie closed her eyes for a moment, letting the power flow through her. In the past, before she’d discovered that old grimoire, she had never believed in magic. Now, she had no doubts.

It was real. It was here. It was now.

With every breath she took, the feeling grew stronger.

Something magic was about to happen.

“Good afternoon. Is there something I can help you with?”

The deep, masculine voice seemed to come from someplace far away, almost as if it were part of a dream. Ellie smiled but kept her eyes closed. She liked the soothing sound of the man’s voice.

"Yes," she said. "I want to learn about magic...about love spells..." Her words drifted away in a sudden sea of embarrassment. Oh, dear, but she didn’t want to confess the awful truth to this kind man with the soft voice.

“There are a lot of different love spells. What did you have in mind?”

Ellie opened her eyes and stared down at the dark, plank flooring. No need to tell him the particulars. Like Miranda, he’d probably think her a fool if he knew the whole story. She shrugged.

“I don’t know,” she admitted. “Recently, I bought an old grimoire, and I’ve been reading different spells.” Aware of his keen gaze upon her, she shifted awkwardly. “But everything seems so complicated, and I’m not sure what I’m actually supposed to do to make them work.”

Finally, she lifted her chin and looked up into the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. Clear and luminous, they reminded Ellie of the crystals atop the shop’s counters. They were eyes that seemed to see straight through to her heart and soul. Eyes that held magic.

She studied the man, taking in the rough, craggy face, and the close-cropped blond hair, the tall, broad forehead and tapering cheekbones. Careless stubble covered his chin like the evening shadows that had now begun to fall.

“Are you wanting to find new love? Rekindle an old flame?”

For a moment, Ellie couldn’t remember what she wanted. She blinked, shook herself, and took in a deep breath. She forced her thoughts back to David and her broken heart. It hurt to speak the awful truth.

“The man I love left me. I want him back.” Her voice quavered only slightly.

“There’s a simple love spell for that. “

“Simple would be good.”

The man laughed. Like his voice, the laughter had a gentle, reassuring quality about it.

“You’d be surprised at how many people come in here looking for love spells of one sort or another.”

“Love does make the world go around, or so I’ve heard.” Ellie smiled.

“Not really.” The man grinned. “It just makes the ride more enjoyable.” He went to a shelf and began counting out seven pink candles. “Here’s how the spell works.”

She listened closely as he explained the ritual. “Every night for one week,” she repeated when he’d finished. As he rang up the purchase, Ellie closed her eyes again, imagining the happiness that would soon be hers.

“Remember, love spells should always begin on Friday.” The blue-eyed man placed the candles in a bag. “Good luck,” he added as he handed the bag to her.

“Thank you. I’ll begin tomorrow.”

Seven nights.

A lifetime of happiness.

All within her reach.

She took the bag, hugged it close, and hurried out into the gathering darkness.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Jared's Bouquet

The bell above the shop door jingled brightly. Putting a smile on her face, Angela Taylor set aside the bouquet she’d been working on and turned.

“May I help --"

She stopped short, blinked, and glanced at the bell.

No one stood before the tall, wooden counter.

Angela might have worried that she’d lost her mind if it hadn’t been for the chubby little hand reaching up. She smiled and leaned over the counter. A small boy with big blue eyes and a huge smile looked back at her.

“I want to buy some flowers.” He opened his hand to show her the gleaming copper pennies he held. “Lots of flowers.” His smile grew bigger and brighter. “For Valentine’s Day.” The boy turned his hand over and let the coins drop to the counter.

Angela’s heart ached. She recognized the child. Jared Manning. He lived with his father in the little house next door to the florist’s shop. A year before, on a cold January day, both Angela and the shop owner had stayed busy making floral arrangements for Suzanne Manning’s funeral. Only twenty-seven, Jared’s mother had lost control of her car on an icy hill.

Sadly missed by husband and son ...

Angela saw Jared almost every morning when she came to work. She made a point to smile and wave. He always returned her greeting with a smile of his own.

“Hi, sweetie. “ She peered down, barely able to see beyond the tears welling in her eyes. Maybe she could find a few less-than-perfect blooms -- ones destined for the trash bin -- and gather them up for the child. “Let’s see what we can do,” she suggested.

Jared nodded. “My mommy’s in heaven. Did you know that?” He didn’t wait for a reply. “My daddy says she’s still watching over us. He says she’s in our hearts.”

Angela cleared her throat, afraid her tears would spill down her cheeks. Touched by the thought of this brave little boy buying flowers for his mother in heaven, she silently vowed to create the perfect bouquet. No less-than-perfect blooms would do. No wilted stems or mis-shapen blossoms. Only the best for this cherubic little angel.

She stepped out from the behind the counter and held out her hand. “Let’s look around a bit. You can tell me which flowers you like best.”

He smiled and placed his hand in hers. “I think I like those.” He pointed toward the roses, then shook his head. “I don’t know. What do you like?” Big blue eyes looked up at her.

“Oh, I like roses,” Angela assured him. “I think every woman likes roses. What color?”

Jared shrugged. “I don’t know. What’s your favorite?”

She opened the display case and took out several yellow roses. “How about these?”

He grinned. “Yeah, I like those. And maybe some of those flowers over there?”

Angela winced when he pointed toward the orchids.

“Do I have enough money for them?” Jared asked.

“Yes, honey.” She would gladly cover the cost. Although she barely made enough money to pay her bills and put food on the table, her financial woes didn’t matter. She could pick up a few cans of tuna on sale next week. Live on ramen noodles and peanut butter sandwiches. Whatever it took, Jared would have the bouquet he wanted.

He scurried through the shop, pointing here, pointing there, and Angela followed along, plucking only the most perfect blooms for Jared's bouquet.

The bell above the door jangled again and a harried-looking older woman burst in.

“Jared Michael Manning! There you are! I’ve been looking everywhere for you.” She rushed across the shop and swept him into her arms.

“I told you I wanted to get some flowers, Granny. Didn’t you listen?”

She ignored Jared and turned toward Angela. “I’m sorry if he’s been bothering you."

“No, he hasn’t been a bother at all.”

“I look after him, you know, while his father is working.” the grandmother said. “Sometimes it’s a little hard for me to keep up with him.” She let out a long breath. “If he comes over here again, just send him back home, all right?”

Once again the bell jangled and through the door came Missy Cadwallader, the shop’s owner. She’d been out making deliveries all morning.

“Do you have the next round of orders finished?” she asked, glancing toward the unfinished bouquet on the worktable. “What are you doing with those flowers in your hands?”

Jared’s grandmother took that as her cue to leave. With Jared safely in her arms, she waved good-bye and hurried out.

Angela stared down at the roses, the orchid, and the crazy assortment of other colorful blossoms.

“Working on a special order,” she said, returning to her workstation.

Missy went to the receipt book. She frowned. “I don’t see any new order written up. And what about the arrangements you're supposed to have ready? You know this is going to be a busy day."

Angela nodded. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll get back to work right now.” She placed Jared’s special bouquet in a vase of water, then returned to her work table.

“Who’s the special order for?” Missy asked. She grabbed a pencil and jotted down a few notes. “It’s going to run $119.75. Did you get payment in advance?”

“It's mine." Angela lifted her chin. "I’m paying for it. Take it out of my check.”

Missy sighed. “What’s going on?”

While Angela worked, she told Missy about Jared’s visit. “He’s buying a bouquet for his mother. In heaven.” She brushed away a tear.

“No, he’s not. You’re buying a bouquet.”

“Well, you know what I mean.”

“You’re a real bleeding heart, I swear." Missy rolled her eyes. “It’s your money.” She began packing the boxes as Angela finished each Valentine arrangement. “Off for the next round of deliveries. I’ll be back in about an hour.”

Throughout the day, Angela continued working. From time to time she glanced toward Jared’s unfinished bouquet. She was a real bleeding heart, all right. She couldn’t afford to pay such an exorbitant price. And the sweet little boy next door had probably forgotten all about it. Maybe it would be best to put the roses back in the display, the orchid, too and the other flowers, as well.

Angela reached for the roses, then drew back her hand. She couldn't do it. It didn’t matter how much it cost. A child’s love was priceless. Jared would get his bouquet.

For the rest of the day, Angela smiled as she worked. She could hardly wait for quitting time. Once the shop closed, she turned her attention back to Jared’s bouquet. She added in a bit of baby’s breath, a few sprigs of ferns. She carefully arranged the flowers, tied a yellow ribbon around the vase, and re-figured the cost to include all she’d added.

Don't worry about how much it costs. It will be worth it.

Wrapping the bouquet carefully, she bid Missy good-night and stepped outside. She turned toward the little house next door and hurried toward it, anticipating the happiness she would see on Jared’s face when she handed him his bouquet.

She knocked at the door, expecting the boy’s grandmother to answer. Instead, when the door opened, a handsome, blond-haired man stood in front of her. He looked very much like an older version of Jared. His blue eyes held a touch of sadness.

“You must have the wrong house,” he explained, nodding toward the bouquet in her hands. “I didn’t order --“

“Daddy! My flowers! They’re here!” Jared dashed past his father and ran to Angela. He jumped up and down, shouting for his father to look. “See, Daddy! I bought all these flowers!”

Angela bent down and carefully handed the bouquet to the boy. Her heart felt as though it might burst with joy. She turned and walked back toward the store. Her car was parked in the lot behind the red-brick building.

“Hey! Miss! Wait a minute.” Jared’s father called after her. "I don’t know what this is all about," he said when she turned around, "but --“ He stopped and looked down. Jared was pulling on his sleeve. “What is it, son?”

He handed the bouquet to his father. “You’re supposed to give the flowers to her.” He pointed in Angela’s direction.

“Well, yes, that’s what I’m trying to do.” He came to her. “I have no idea why you brought these flowers over --“ He stopped again. As before, Jared stood at his side, tugging at his sleeve.

“Now, you ask to her be your valentine.”

“Jared, what --“

“She picked out all her favorite flowers.” His chubby face glowed. “I made sure she got just what she wanted.”

Angela’s mouth fell open. She looked at Jared. “I thought you wanted the flowers for your mother.”

“She’s in heaven,” Jared said, pointing toward the evening sky. “And in our hearts, too,” he added. “But since she’s in heaven, I don’t have any way to give her flowers.” He looked at Angela and then at his father. He pointed at Angela again. “But, she’s here, Daddy, and I think you’d like her. She always smiles and waves to me. And don’t you think she’s pretty?”

A deep blush heated Angela’s cheeks. She didn’t know what to say.

“Yes, Jared, I think she’s very pretty.” Jared’s father looked into her eyes.

“Give her the flowers, Daddy.”

“I don’t even know your name,” the man said, his voice soft and gentle. “But maybe we could get to know each other. I think I'd like that. I’m Robert, by the way. Robert Manning.”

Jared tugged again at his father’s sleeve. “The flowers.” He reached up, took the bouquet from his father’s hands and let out a very long, important-sounding breath. “Here’s how you do it, Daddy.” He held the flowers out toward Angela. “Will you be his valentine? Please? Ever since Mommy went to heaven, he’s been all alone. Well, except for me. But we’re both alone. So I just thought maybe --“

Robert stepped forward. “Jared, I think I can handle it from here.” He grinned at his son, then smiled at Angela. “This is a little awkward, but will you be my valentine, Miss --“

“Miss Taylor. Angela Taylor.” She lifted the bouquet and inhaled the sweet fragrances.

“I will pay for the flowers, Angela.”

“No need to do that.”

“I insist.”

“We can talk about it, I suppose.”

“Over dinner?”

She smiled. “I think I’d like that.”

“So, will you be my valentine, Miss Angela Taylor?"

She smiled again. “I think I’d like that, too.”

Angela and Robert exchanged glances. No one could know what the future might hold or where this impromptu meeting might lead. But it didn’t matter, did it? Life was short, and every moment deserved to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest.

That’s what really counted in life. Making the most of whatever life handed you.

Angela looked at Jared's bouquet and smiled once more.

~~~The End~~~

You can read MORE of "Tuesday's Tales" HERE.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lover Boy

Never again.

Mariah swore under her breath as she traipsed through the gloomy winter’s night, her footsteps crunching over the snow-covered earth. She bent low, ruffled the icy branches of a juniper bush and muttered once more.

No, never again would she let her sister -- or anyone, for that matter -- take advantage of her good nature. No more favors. No more “Oh, please, Mariah!” No more going out of her way to help other people and getting nothing in return. She had a problem, all right, just as Phil had told her.

Most of all, no more taking care of Lover Boy.

No matter how busy her sister was, no matter what the circumstances behind it, Mariah was making one hard and fast rule here and now: Never again would she let that huge old tomcat into her home. Not even for a minute.

Not that he ever stayed there. That was the problem. Lover Boy had been aptly named, and the minute Mariah’s back was turned, the big striped tabby always managed to find a way out to prowl around, looking for love.

She poked her head over the hedge that lined the walkway from one apartment building to the next. That cat had to be somewhere in the complex. But where?

“When I find you --“ she warned, then stopped short when she heard Phil’s heavy steps coming up behind her. She glanced back at him. “Did you see him anywhere?”

“Forget that stupid cat, will you!” He blew out a frosty breath and stamped his feet. “It’s freezing out here. I don’t know why you let Jessica bring that mangy critter over here.”

“He’s not mangy.” Mariah shook her head and clapped her gloved hands over her ears. She didn’t want to hear any more of Phil’s arguments. “And yes, it’s freezing out here, so that’s all the more reason why I have to find him. If anything happens to Lover Boy, my sister will never get over it. You know how attached she is to that cat.”

“So why isn’t she taking care of him? Why did she dump him off with you again?” Phil muttered a few unintelligible words and turned away. He headed straight for the entrance to Mariah’s building.

“You’re not going to help?”

“You want that cat, you find it.” He reached the doorway, stopped, and looked back over his shoulder. “I’m not waiting all night, Mariah. If you’re not back upstairs in ten minutes, I’m leaving.”

“Phil, don’t be so childish.” Mariah’s heart thumped against her chest. How many times must they repeat the same tiresome argument? She braced herself, knowing his next words before he even spoke them.

“I’m damned tired of this. If it’s not your sister and her cat, it’s Mrs. Wormsley and her plants. Or you’re looking after somebody’s kids because the babysitter didn’t show, or you’ve got to go in and work a few extra hours because somebody’s sick. What about me?” He jabbed his thick thumb toward himself. “Did it ever occur to you that I’d like a little of your time? No,” he rushed on, giving his head a shake. “You’re too busy helping everybody else out.” Phil finally sucked in a breath. “Damn it, Mariah. You’ve got to stop being so nice to people. You’ve got to learn how to say ‘no’ once in a while.” He jerked the entry door open and darted inside.

Mariah stared at the door for a moment, then resumed her frantic search. Phil was serious this time. She had to find Lover Boy -- fast. Otherwise Phil Stewart would be walking out of her life, and most likely he wouldn’t return.

“I’m only trying to help,” she said aloud.

Of course, Phil had a point. People did take advantage of her. She really should learn to be more assertive; she needed to stand up for herself more often.

But was it really wrong when she truly enjoyed helping others? Funny, but it never seemed to be a problem...before.

Before Phil came waltzing into her life and began demanding more and more of her time. Before Phil began counting how many favors she did for her friends and family. Before Phil started pointing out how little she received from others.

She didn’t ask anything in return. She didn’t expect people to pay her when she volunteered to help. Happiness wasn’t measured in dollars and cents, and life wasn’t a ledger where every hour had to be balanced by tangible gain.

In the long run, things did balance out. Kindness brought kindness in return. A helping hand brought smiles, friendships, and gratitude. Caring about others always brought happiness.

Mariah heard a shuffling noise and whirled around. “Oh, Mrs. Wormsley, good evening.” She smiled at the spindly, blue-haired older lady. “I didn’t hear you come out.”

“No, I don’t suppose you did. You were engaged in a rather lively discussion with that gentleman friend of yours.” She sighed. “So, Lover Boy on the loose again?” Without waiting for an answer, she began peeking through the hedges, too. “Here, Love! Come on, kitty.”

“I’m sorry if Phil disturbed you. He’s a little unhappy with me.”

Mrs. Wormsley drew herself up -- which wasn’t saying much. The top of her head barely reached Mariah’s chin. She tilted her head back. “Well, if he’s going to make such a fuss, maybe you should go inside.”

“But... Lover Boy! I have to find him.”

The woman shook her head. “Don’t worry about Lover Boy. Cats are clever creatures, my dear. They can look after themselves quite well, even in the snow and cold. I don’t doubt that he’s found himself a warm and cozy spot, and he’s probably curled up, having a lovely little cat-nap. Trust me, he’ll come home on his own. Now, you run along. Go spend a little time with your friend.” She smiled. Or maybe it was more of a grimace.

“Yes.” Mariah nodded. “I do need to spend a little time with Phil.”

She slipped inside and climbed slowly up the stairs to the second floor. With each step, her determination grew stronger. Phil was right: she needed to take charge. She needed to speak up when someone took advantage of her.

And right now, that someone was Phil Stewart.

“It’s over,” she told him as soon as she’d stepped inside. She didn’t even bother to close the door behind her. She gestured toward it. “You’re a selfish man, Phil. You never think of anyone but yourself. I don’t want to become like you.”

He opened his mouth, but Mariah shook her head. She pointed toward the door again.

“All right, fine. If that’s what you want. But you’ll regret it,” he told her, wagging a finger toward her. “You’ll be calling me and begging me to come back, mark my words.”

She slammed the door behind him. It felt good. Very good.

Letting out a long, satisfied breath, Mariah strolled to the window. She peered out into the night, watched the glittering snowflakes swirling through the air, and wondered again where Lover Boy might be. She hoped he had, indeed, found a warm and cozy spot.

A loud knock sounded, startling Mariah from her thoughts.

Damn you, Phil! Just go away!

If she hadn’t been so angry, she would have ignored him, but obviously he hadn’t taken her seriously. The self-centered, obnoxious man truly believed all he had to do was knock and she’d fall right into his arms again.

Mariah stomped across her living room and flung the door open.

She blinked in surprise. Her hand flew to her mouth. “Lover Boy!” She squealed with delight to see the old tomcat, snug and safe -- in the arms of a tall, handsome dark-haired young man.

The man laughed. “Well, thanks. I don’t think I’ve ever had a welcome quite like that before.” His broad grin revealed neat, even white teeth. He held the cat out toward her. “I think you've been looking for this fellow."

With her cheeks flaming, Mariah nodded. “Lover Boy,” she repeated, her voice low. “That’s him. The cat.”

“Oh, I see.” The tall young man grinned again as she took the tom into her arms. “I’m Matt Coughlin, by the way. I just moved in last week.” He pointed across the hall. “Haven’t had a chance yet to meet too many people. But I did make Lover Boy’s acquaintance earlier.” He reached out and scratched the cat’s furry head. Lover Boy purred. “Somehow, he got up on my balcony. I didn’t know where he came from, but, well, I’m a sucker for cats. I hated to think of him being out in the cold, so I let him come in." His dark brown eyes reminded Mariah of lumps of melting chocolate. "Earlier, I saw Mrs. Wormsley when I went out to the mailbox. She said you were looking for a cat, asked if I'd seen one prowling around. I hope I didn't cause you to worry too much. If I'd known where he belonged, I would have brought him back sooner."

“He’s been at your apartment?” Mariah stroked the cat’s fur, too. When her fingers brushed against Matt’s, a tingle shot through her.

“Yeah, curled up by the fireplace."


“Warm and cozy,” said Matt.

Mariah’s apartment suddenly felt warm and cozy, too.

“Would you care for a cup of cocoa,” she asked.

“I think I’d like that.”

She bent down and put Lover Boy on the floor. “Now, stay here, will you? It’s cold outside. This isn’t a night to be out prowling around, looking for love.”

No, indeed. It was a perfect night for staying inside and curling up in front of the fireplace. Mariah and Matt exchanged glances. They both smiled.

It might even turn out to be a perfect night for finding love.

“I’ll get that cocoa,” Mariah said.

"Can I help?" asked Matt.

Lover Boy rubbed against her legs, looked up at her, looked at Matt, then trotted across the room and jumped upon the hearth. He closed his eyes, and a soft purr filled the air.

~~~The End~~~

I hope you've enjoyed this "Tuesday Tale". To read more works from the Tuesday's Tales authors, please CLICK HERE.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Table for Two

"No good ever comes from meddling, and you know it. Don't say I didn't warn you." My best friend, Catherine, shook a finger at me and scowled. "Besides, how can you afford to do this? The last I heard, hiring a caterer for a private dinner costs a pretty penny."

"In the first place," I countered, "this is my sister we're talking about. I'm not meddling, I'm only trying to help. In the second place, Zachary Wakeman is going to cater --"

"Zachary?" Catherine blinked. "You mean your rotund little friend who lives over in the next building? He can cook?"



"I know what the word means. He's not fat," I protested, quickly coming to Zachary's defense. "But, yes, he loves to cook."

"Which is probably why he's fat."

No point in arguing, I decided, although I didn't consider Zachary fat. Meaty, maybe. He was big, but solid, and he wore his weight well.

"Here, take a look at the menu he's planned." I grabbed the notebook where I'd jotted down Zachary's suggestions. "Spinach salad with fresh strawberries, chilled vichyssoise, Cornish game hens served with parslied potatoes, and chocolate mousse for dessert. And champagne, of course." My mouth watered at the thought of so much delicious food. I had to remind myself it wasn't for me. "He wants to start a catering business, and I'm going to be his first job. He's giving me a special rate."

"He's giving you a special rate because he likes you." Catherine laughed. "I saw the way he looked at you that day when we were all out at the pool."

"Zachary's near-sighted. He looks that way at everybody."

Catherine remained silent for a moment, obviously deep in thought. "Do you really think you should do this?" she asked at last. "I know you mean well, Annie, but maybe your sister has good reason for breaking off her engagement."

"Julie and Tom belong together. Their break-up is all a misunderstanding, and once I get them back together over a romantic dinner, they'll realize they still love each other. Just picture it. Soft music playing in the background, candlelight, champagne, and delicious French cuisine. It will be perfect, and some day, they'll thank me for caring enough to do this."


On the appointed night, Julie arrived precisely at seven. I'd set the table earlier, put on the music, and now I poured us each a glass of champagne.

She sipped from her glass and smiled, then nodded toward the table with its two place-settings. "I'm glad to see this really is dinner for two. I was worried you might get some crazy idea about inviting Tom."

The doorbell chimed.

"You didn't." Julie set down her glass, folded her arms, and glared at me.

I shrugged and gave her my most endearing smile. "I did," I confessed, hurrying to answer the door. "Now, sit down!" I told my sister, who was already getting to her feet.

As soon as I opened the door and Tom stepped into my apartment, a thunderous silence descended. His eyes darkened.

"What's she doing here?" he bellowed, jerking his head in Julie's direction. "What's this all about, Annie? You said you needed me to come check your air conditioner."

"I lied." Another shrug. Another endearing smile. When he turned and headed for the door, I grabbed his arm. "Come on, Tom, just give it a chance, all right? The two of you need to talk, and I've gone to a lot of trouble to arrange this."

With a flourish, I gestured for them to be seated. "Your table is ready." I smiled as I struck a match and lit the candles in their gleaming silver candlesticks. Just then I heard the rattling at the back door of the apartment. I glanced toward the kitchen. "Dinner has arrived," I explained, motioning for Tom to sit down. Grudgingly he took a seat beside Julie. Each turned away from the other. Obviously they needed a little more time.

"I'll be right back." I kept smiling but sighed as I headed to let Zachary in at the kitchen door. I blinked in surprise at the sight of him.

He came dressed in white shirt and pants and even wore a lop-sided chef's toque on his head. Dark curly hair poked out at the sides.

"You certainly look the part," I assured him, taking the plates he handed me. "What's this?" I asked when I looked at the salad. "This isn't spinach and strawberries."

"Yeah, I know. I had a little problem, so I had to improvise."

"This is cottage cheese."

"Yeah, right."

Some improvisation, I thought. "Fine, we'll be ready for the soup in about twenty minutes." I pushed Zachary out the door, plastered yet another endearing smile upon my face, and returned to my guests. They were still staring at the walls in sullen silence.

"First course," I told them with a cheery voice, setting the plates before them.

"Cottage cheese?" Julie snorted in disgust. "You know I hate cottage cheese."

"It wasn't what I planned. There was a mix-up with the catering service. You don't have to eat it," I pointed out.

"Well, I'm not hungry either." Tom pushed his plate aside. "I seem to have lost my appetite when I walked through the door."

Julie finally looked at him. "You love cottage cheese."

I held my breath, certain that now the ice had been broken and their love for one another would soon begin to flow freely.

"Small curd," said Tom. "I only eat small curd. This is large." He pointed toward the offending dish.

"I swear, nothing pleases you!" Julie threw down her napkin and got to her feet. I rushed across the room, heading her off before she could reach the door.

"Just sit down. All right, so maybe the first course leaves a little to be desired. Just wait for the soup, please. Meanwhile, I'll see if I can rustle up a salad that's more to everyone's liking."

In my kitchen, I searched through the crisper, coming up with a reasonably fresh head of lettuce, a few tomatoes, and a radish. It would have to do. As I was cutting and chopping, the back door rattled. Knife in hand, I answered.

"Whoa, don't kill me!" Zachary jumped back. "I know I messed up with the salad, but I didn't think it was that bad, really."

"Never mind. You've got the soup?"

"Not soup. Vichyssoise," he reminded me, a playful glint in his eyes.

"Which is?" I honestly had no idea what it was, except that it sounded elegant when Zachary had suggested it.

"It's my specialty." He grinned, and carefully removed the lid from the large container he held in his arms. "Pureed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, chicken stock."

It smelled heavenly. Surely this would make up for the salad disaster.

"Put it on the counter, and I'll get the serving bowls."

Zachary's grin grew broader. He took a step, then somehow stumbled. How it happened, I had no idea. His poor eyesight, I reckoned, but that reckoning came later. At that moment, I shrieked as vichyssoise flew through the air, a good portion of it landing on me. Zachary still clutched the container in his large hands.

"Everything all right?" Tom's voice boomed out from the dining room.

"Fine! Sit down. I'll be right there."

Zachary, meanwhile, had grabbed a towel and was dabbing awkwardly at the front of my shirt.

"Just go, Zachary, all right? Give us another twenty minutes, then bring the main course." I snatched the towel out of his hand. Even the annoyance I felt couldn't stop the laughter bubbling up in my throat. Poor Zachary looked so pathetic, so mortified over what he'd done. I knew he was trying his best. "Don't worry, everything will be fine." I patted his plump cheek and pointed toward the door. "Go. Twenty minutes. OK?"

He nodded, and I breathed a sigh of relief when the door closed behind him.

As quickly as possible, I ladled the vichyssoise into soup bowls, and carried them to my guests. They both sat with arms folded, staring daggers at one another.

Julie's mouth dropped open when she saw me. "Annie, what happened?"

"Just a little problem getting off the lid," I lied. "Don't worry, there's plenty left." I placed the bowls before them.

"This is cold," Julie complained, spitting out the spoonful she'd tasted.

Tom's spoon clattered to the table. "You just spit in your soup. Do you know how disgusting that is? I'm glad we're not getting married. I'd hate to think my children would grow up without learning any manners."

"How dare you! After all the grunts and growls and offensive noises I've heard coming from you, you've got no room to talk. And if you're glad we're not getting married, well, I'm elated! How do you like that?"

"Actually," I interrupted, pointing to the soup, "it's vichyssoise, and it's supposed to be cold." I got up and hurried back to the kitchen for the salads I'd hastily made. Better late than never, I reasoned, and maybe munching fresh veggies would calm them both down a bit. I brought the salads to the table, dashed back for a bag of croutons and a bottle of Italian dressing. It didn't quite complement the vichyssoise, but it would have to do.

The insults had not abated in my absence.

"You're obnoxious, Tom, and I don't know why I ever accepted your proposal in the first place." Julie stabbed at a chunk of radish.

"I think it might have had something to do with the fact you were drunk out of your mind at the time," he countered.

"Only because you kept buying shots and insisting I drink them." She grabbed her wineglass. "Cheers, everyone! Down the hatch. Are we having fun yet?"

"I don't know why I ever proposed. You whine and complain about everything. No matter what anybody does, it never pleases you."

My already frayed nerves were fast approaching the breaking point. I glanced at the clock, willing the minutes away. Maybe when the main course arrived, Tom and Julie would shut up long enough to eat.

But twenty minutes soon passed. My sister and her former fiance continued to hurl insults at one another. They actually seemed to be enjoying this opportunity to vent and let out all their anger and frustration.

Ten more minutes passed and the insults grew more heated. I thought of slipping out and scurrying over to see what was keeping Zachary, but about the same time I got up from the chair, a plate of lettuce went flying through the air. I ducked.

"Take that, you beast!" Julie screamed, grabbing next for the silverware. "I never want to see you again, and as for you," she continued, wheeling around to face me, "if you ever come up with any hare-brained schemes like this again, I swear, I won't be responsible for my actions."

More food came soaring across the table, and even though the pickings were slim, in their fury Tom and Julie somehow managed to make it into a full-scale food fight.

Desperately, I crouched beneath the table and peered up at the clock. Another fifteen minutes had gone by. Still, no Zachary.

I stayed hidden beneath the table, then held my breath when the shouting finally stopped. The front door slammed once. It slammed again. I let out my breath and sank into a heap, glad it was over at last.

Even when I heard Zachary rattling the door in the kitchen, I didn't move. Instead, I burst into tears, lamenting my colossal failure. How had the night gone so wrong?


Zachary had let himself in. I listened to the sound of his heavy footsteps as he slowly made his way into the dining room. "Annie? Where are you?"

"Down here,"I called in a feeble voice, sticking a hand out to wave at him.

The edge of the tablecloth lifted up, and a cute, chubby face peeked in at me. "What happened, Annie? Are you all right?"

His concern touched me, and I nodded. "It was awful. Everything is ruined," I wailed.

"I guess you don't need the Cornish hens now, huh?" He grimaced. "It's a good thing. I overcooked them a bit."

I scrambled from under the table. Zachary held out his hand and helped me to my feet.

"Actually, I'm starving. Are the hens edible?" We walked together into the kitchen. There, on my counter, lay two charred lumps. "Oh, guess not," I commented, not even bothering to ask about the promised parslied potatoes. As for dessert, I didn't hold out much hope for anything resembling a chocolate mousse. From the refrigerator, I took out the champagne. "Glasses are in the cupboard behind you. Care to join me for a drink?"

"This is all my fault, Annie. I'm really sorry. I don't know how I managed to foul things up so bad. I don't expect you to pay me, you know." He took the champagne bottle from me and carefully filled two glasses. He handed one to me. "I guess I really spoiled your night for you."

"It doesn't matter about the food, Zachary."

"Well, it matters to me. I'd like a chance to make it up to you."

"That's sweet of you, but it's not necessary. Frankly, I doubt there's any way I could ever get Julie and Tom back together again, and I'm not sure I'd even want to try."

"Julie and Tom?" Zachary put down his champagne and gave me a puzzled look. "Who are they?"

"Julie's my sister. Tom's her boyfriend. Or, at least, he was before they broke up."

"Tonight?" His puzzled frown deepened.

"No, they broke off their engagement a couple weeks ago," I explained, leaning back in the chair. It felt good to relax. "I thought I could help them patch things up and get back together. That's why I planned this romantic little dinner party for them."


Something in those two syllables sent off a strange alarm in my head.

"Uh-oh ... what?"

"I guess I fouled things up more than I intended." Zachary's plump cheeks burned beet red.

"What are you talking about?" My eyes narrowed. "What do you mean, more than you intended? It sounds like you planned to ruin my dinner. Why would you do that?"

Zachary pulled off his chef's toque and gave me a sheepish grin. "When you told me you wanted a romantic dinner for two, I thought you meant for you and a boyfriend. I deliberately sabotaged the meal, in case you didn't notice."

"You did what?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Why, Zachary?"

"I didn't like to think about you enjoying a romantic dinner with somebody else, Annie. I figured if I ruined dinner your boyfriend would get mad and walk out."

"That's the most outrageous thing I've ever heard. And I don't have a boyfriend," I added for some reason. "Don't you know, Zachary, no good ever comes from meddling ..." I shook an accusing finger, then suddenly stopped, laughing at my own words. I'd learned a good lesson, I realized, and I promised myself I'd never meddle again in anybody's life.

Zachary's myopic blue eyes glistened and he boldly took my hand in his. "I had to do it. I've never had courage enough to tell you this, but I like you, Annie. I like you a lot."

"Really?" My heart pounded in my chest. "I like you a lot, too. But I never knew how to tell you. How funny to think that all this time, we've liked each other, and we neither one knew."

"So maybe our meddling didn't turn out quite so bad after all," he said, squeezing my hand.

"In a round-about way, I guess things turned out better than either of us expected, although my dining room's a mess."

"So are you." Zachary reached out and plucked a piece of lettuce from my hair. "You look good in green," he teased. "Come on, I'll help you clean up. And afterward, how about you come over to my place? Let me show you that I do know how to cook a decent meal."

"A table for two?" I asked.

"With delicious chocolate mousse for dessert. That's the one thing I didn't ruin. I was hoping maybe the two of us would be sharing it tonight."

"I can't believe you actually sabotaged my dinner," I told him as we headed for the dining room.

He grinned. "I can't believe it actually worked, but I'm glad it did."

I picked up a towel, threw it at Zachary, and somehow I knew we'd be sharing lots of chocolate mousse in weeks to come.

~~The End~~