Reflections

At the end of October I went to Paris, and though I took hundreds of photographs, the following is one of my favourite shots and the inspiration for the short story I wrote to capture the romance of the great city.

 

Reflections

Harry blinked against the glare of lights, dropping his gaze to catch the reflection in the surface of the fountain. But he didn’t notice their glow, or the building they caressed with their ambiance, he only saw the woman at his side.

The first glimpse of her took his breath away, a reaction he knew would never wane. She was like the pretty lights dancing around her reflection in the water. Her beauty was a beacon, illuminating his way on the darkest of nights and the brightest of days.

He felt his heart race as her gaze found his in the mirrored surface and he had to blink several times against a wave of emotion. It was hard to fathom that one so lovely could belong to him, but she did, the light shining back at him was proof of their connection.

Pausing in his tracks, he applied gentle pressure to her hand and she turned instantly, her pretty eyes alight with mischief, something he’d missed in the reflection, a poor facsimile of the power they held over him.

Bringing their joined hands to her lips, Lucy brushed a kiss against his skin, making him shiver. “What’s on your mind, mon chou? You’ve been stuck in your head for a while.”

“I…” He shook his head, trying to formulate the words circling his brain. “Marry me.”

Her smile was resplendent, the sight of it made him giddy. “I think I answered that well enough forty years ago.” She held up her left hand, wiggling her fingers so her rings glinted in the light. “Smartest thing I ever did, saying yes.”

He knew she felt that way, but it soothed his nerves, nevertheless. “Again. Marry me again. I want to celebrate the last forty years. I want to stand before witnesses and share the wonderful life we’ve had, while pledging the rest of eternity by your side.”

“This is why you brought me back to Paris,” she whispered, her eyes overflowing with tears. “This is almost the exact spot you proposed.”

Harry turned his head, following her gaze. As he did, he saw a young couple silhouetted in the spray of water and the years fell away. “God, I was so nervous! I had a whole speech prepared and I couldn’t remember a damn word of it.”

“I didn’t need to hear the words because I saw everything you wanted to say. I always have.”

He turned back to her, leaning down to steal a kiss as he had then. “I’m sorry I didn’t bring you back sooner.” They had travelled the world together, had returned to France many times, but never Paris.

She shook her head. “I’m not. This is perfect. Like everything else in our lives. It’s all about the timing.”

That made him laugh. God, but he loved her. Had loved her since the day she’d bounded into his life at eighteen, full of fire and female indignation as she declared her sister wasn’t going anywhere in his ugly, four-wheeled monstrosity. Harry had been so lost in her mesmerising beauty, that her words didn’t even register until her brother elbowed her aside and told her to stop embarrassing him. At witnessing that, Harry had felt a wave of anger so strong his hand had reached for the door handle before he registered that he wanted to pound on his friend. Not that Lucy needed him to rescue her. She’d simply wacked her brother at the back of the head and told him he did a good enough job of it without her help. Then she’d bounced back up the drive and disappeared around the side of the house.

“You’re thinking about the day I made a fool out of myself, aren’t you?” she said, her light laugh ending on a groan as she covered her face with her free hand.

“That’s not how I remember it.” It was the day he’d fallen completely under her spell. “I thought you were the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen.” He gripped her wrist and pulled her hand away from her face. “I still do.” Nobody compared to his Lucy.

She closed her eyes briefly, cherishing his words. “And I was crushed when I thought you were there to pick up Stella, because despite that contraption you rolled up in, I knew there was something special about you.”

“You love that contraption as much as I do,” he said, grinning.

Her eyes twinkled, hundreds of memories playing out for him to see. Harry had kissed her for the first time in that car. Had driven hundreds of miles to visit her at university. It formed part of their beginning and was the reason he lovingly maintained it.

She squeezed her thumb and index finger together, laughing lightly when he pulled on her hand and brought her flush against his body. “You still haven’t answered my question,” he said, enjoying the way her eyes had dilated.

“My answer hasn’t changed. I want nothing more than to spend an eternity with you.” She laid her head against his chest, right over his heart. “Yes. It will always be yes.” When she shifted again to meet his eyes, the mischief he loved so much was back. “As we’re taking a trip down memory lane, does that mean we’ll be celebrating in the same way we did-”

Stepping back, he took hold of her hand and resumed their walk across the square. Only this time he wasn’t thinking about anything but showing his wife exactly how he felt about spending the rest of his life with her. And like the first time, he planned to do that thoroughly.

The sound of her musical laughter was a perfect backdrop to the lights and magic of the city, and the love in his heart.


Thanks for stop by

Mel

Alphabetti Spaghetti – Word Game

This time, the story (based on a version of the 7x7x7 exercise) incorporates seven words beginning with B. They each have seven letters, but I broke the rules a little this week. I went over my 700 word limit by 27. It’s also based on a character from the Collective series, and I will be continuing the story, so my apologies for how it ends. You can find out what happens next week.

The incorporated words are; bargain, brother, battery, banquet, breathe, barrier and bathtub.

Warrior’s Embrace

Cody looked down at the pot on his leg, then the bannister, and shrugged. What the hell?  Planting his butt on the wooden rail, he handed his crutches to the first person he saw, leaned back and began his ride.

“Holy shit!” he shouted, less than halfway down the stairs. He was beginning to pick up some serious speed.

“What the-?”

The rest of the comment faded away as he shot past the gaping resident, towards the floor below. Okay, so he hadn’t really thought things through but, damn it, he was bored. There was nothing fun to do when you were grounded in a safe zone, except annoy his buddies, and that shit got old fast.

Breathe. You’ve got this.

As he approached the lower level, which held the cafeteria and communal zone, he spotted Tamaya stuffing her face. Perhaps it was his blurry vision, but she appeared to be sitting down to a banquet.

She was on her feet at the sound of his whistle, which would have made him smile if he hadn’t been shitting a brick at the thought of face planting at her feet. Luckily, their resident witch intervened a lot. It helped they were friends.

Cody hit a cushion of air and came to an abrupt stop. It tweaked his leg a little, but he couldn’t complain since Tamaya’s magical barrier was like colliding with a cloud.

“Please tell me you tripped and fell onto the bannister,” she said, her green eyes narrowing. “I swear, if I didn’t think of you as a brother, I’d drop you on your ass. On second thoughts, maybe I will.”

He looked down and realised he was hovering above the floor, caught it a witch’s grip. “Oh, come on, short-stuff. I’m going out of my mind here.”

Tamaya lowered her hands and his body followed suit, not as slowly as he would have liked, but he landed on his good leg gently enough. “You can’t pull that crap, Cody. For gods sake, you broke your leg in three places.”

“Yeah, and you say that like I had a skiing accident.” He’d been thrown against a wall. Again.

When you were in the middle of a war, and your enemies were of the supernatural variety, that kind of thing happened a lot. Though it could have been worse, the demon could have petrified his insides.

“Are you telling me you never broke a bone skiing?”

He grinned at that, because she had a point. He was accident prone. Earlier, he’d almost drowned himself in a makeshift bathtub trying to keep his leg dry. “Well, there was this one time-”

“Ahem.”

Cody barely had time to turn before his crutches were being thrust at him. The young man he’d caught unawares at the top of the stairs walked away without a word.

“Let me make you a deal before you upset anybody else,” Tamaya said, drawing his attention. “If you stay out of trouble for the next few days, I’ll find a workable solution to get you healed up and ready to roll.”

By workable she meant by non-magical means. He was being stubborn, he knew that. The elves had offered to do him a solid and speed up his recovery. But he couldn’t bring himself to go down that route. Not yet.

“Maybe I’ll make a bargain with the great and mighty Oz,” he joked, because seriously, what was a supernatural war without a god or two? He liked to joke Orion Reece was the god behind the curtain.

His wrist communicator bleeped, reminding him to take his medication. The thing ran on body heat or some shit, like he was a giant battery. If that were the case, he needed a little extra juice. “Listen, I need to hit the med centre, so I’ll let you get back to feeding your face.”

“That’s okay. I was just about done.” She bumped her shoulder against his arm. “Come on. I’ll walk with you.”

Cody didn’t argue. Things were never dull with Tamaya around, and he could use the distraction.

They had just reached the medical unit when a piercing scream echoed through the halls. Every cell in Cody’s body resonated with dread, and he shot towards the sound like a rocket. He didn’t even feel the pain when he dropped his crutches and began to run.


Don’t forget to let me know how you get on if you decide to take part, or if you would like me to incorporate words in the next installment.

Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Taste of home

I hadn’t intended to post anything today, but after reading a beautiful poem written by the Lonely Author, inspiration struck and I couldn’t get the emerging story out of my head. It followed me around until I had to pull out my trusty pad and get it down on paper. It’s a short one for me, only 400 words (I know, shocker, right?).

Taste of home

Joseph stared into the horizon, his eyes burning, not from the sun, but the tears that continued to fill his soul. He was drowning without his Sunita. Every second, every minute, every hour, he ached with the need to see her.

Though his gaze never wavered, he was aware of his luxurious surroundings, the kingdom he had built for her. The soft padded seat beneath his body, the fine thread of the blanket that did nothing to warm him. She was his centre, his heart, his life. It meant nothing without her.

A soft breeze brought with it the scent of apple blossoms, mixed with the fruit he was unable to eat. As it lifted his hair in a soft caress, he imagined it was her fingers, her voice whispering past his ears. What he wouldn’t give for the sweet taste of her lips.

Then, as the sun began to descend, he saw her. The dying embers cast a glow across her pretty face, her body shimmering with his tears so that the blooms in their garden shrouded her in the soft colours of their love.

All at once, time slipped away and Joseph remembered everything; their first kiss, their last. The moment he had made her his and all that came after.

With a sign of relief, he dropped to his knees before her, grateful for all his life had given him, and ready to join his Sunita again. She was his forever kiss.

***

Rebecca rushed across the garden, calling out her grandfather’s name. In her heart she knew what she would find. She’d known the moment she’d seen him fall forward from the chair. He had been waiting for days, his body growing frailer with each passing hour as he’d stared beyond the garden he’d built for her grandmother.

By the time she reached him, her mother was by her side, and together they eased him back into the chair. A chair her grandmother had made and upholstered as she’d joked about a king needing his throne.

She’d grown up with stories of her grandparents’ adventures, and as she looked in her grandfather’s peaceful, smiling face, she knew his wait was over. He was with his Sunita again, about to embark on an entirely different journey.

Bowing her head when her mother confirmed what she already knew, she let the tears fall and allowed her mother’s gentle hands to comfort her.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Alphabetti Spaghetti – A pasta free word game!

 

After reflecting on my A to Z challenge (I know, I know, I was supposed to provide evidence of those reflections…say in a post for example!). Ahem…anyway…

It occurred to me that I need to work on my writing muscles, since my exercise regime is somewhat lax at the moment (okay, fine…I’m not great at the whole exercise thing). So, with that in mind, I decided to get a little creative. It’s a writing game I can take part in each week, and invite others to play along, working through the alphabet and utilising a version of the 7x7x7 exercise. I will take a letter, choose seven random words (or readers can suggest them), each with seven letters, and a maximum word count of seven hundred words.

Since I’m starting with A, I used a random word generator to get the ball rolling. The results were interesting, since one of the words is obsolete, and another is questionable. Still, I went with it! If you decide to play, let me know how you get on.

The words used are; abandon, abdomen, abalone, abashed, abaser, abactor, and arrghh.

 

Abandoning Reality

“Abandon your post, Jefferson. That’s an order.”

Craig met the CO’s steely blues head on, communicating without words that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Amidst the sound of heavy artillery, the smell of gunpower and smoke, a pocket of silence closed in around them. The stubborn and the heroic. Craig held strong. He ignored the pain in his abdomen, the tension in his legs, and pretended he wasn’t swaying like a leaf in the breeze.

“You leave me no choice, son. I have-“

A loud explosion cut through whatever threat he intended to serve. It was followed by a visual Craig could live without – if he got to live – that being his CO’s body exploding into a cloud of matter so fine, the only blowback was akin to dust. The molecules brushed across his face, making him want to scrub at his flesh, abandon his post, and scream at the injustice simultaneously. He didn’t do any of those things.

No, he remained in position, staring now into a new set of eyes. These not human.

His enemy did not speak. Perhaps it couldn’t. The creature’s face was partially covered by a shell-like protrusion that started beneath its eyes and extended to a hooked chin. It was flat, with a slight spiral in the centre and holes along the outer edge. Bizarrely, it reminded Craig of an abalone. If only that was his strangest thought of the night. It wasn’t by a long shot. He’d been in a state of shock since the base came under attack by beasts who were impervious to their weapons.

“CJ. Heads up!”

Craig knew that voice, and his body acted on instinct. He dropped into a crouch, fighting off a wave of nausea when his brain caught up. It didn’t stop him from watching the show, this one worth seeing, as his buddy swung his kukri in a wide arc and cut their enemy down.

The bastard’s head made a satisfying thump, thump at his feet. One down, only about a dozen to go. They hadn’t been able to get close enough, until now. But they were learning.

“We need to fall back,” Jax said, twirling his blade as though the thing were hungry for more blood.

“No can do, buddy. Those things will have to go through me if they want to get into the bunker.” He realised how ridiculous he sounded. Their enemy didn’t need explosives to blow people up, and they didn’t leave a mess either.  Christ, but he missed home, where the only problem his family faced were castle rustlers, the avaricious abactors, as his grandfather liked to say.

“The bunker was evacuated twenty minutes ago. You need to stand down, soldier and fall the fuck back.”

Craig’s gut cramped at the words. He’d put his CO in harm’s way for nothing. Abashed, he hung his head. “Sorry, man. I thought-”

“Who gives a shit what you thought? You’re not paid to think, grunt.”

His head snapped back up. That wasn’t fair, nor was it right. Jax could be a prick, but he wasn’t an abaser. Besides, he fell beneath Craig on the food chain so, even in the height of battle, he’d show respect.

Don’t forget. They play to win, and they never play fair.

One of their allies had warned him about the tricks the enemy pulled, and the manpower they brought to a fight. That had to be it. He was being played.

“Aarrghh!” Anger exploded in his belly, obliterating the pain. He threw himself at whoever, or whatever was pretending to be Jax, and took him to the ground.

The instant they hit the dirt, the illusion dropped, and as he stared at the decapitated head of his CO, he feared nothing was as it seemed. He had no clue who to trust, or what to believe. The only thing he knew for sure was that he had a job to do. So, he would guard his post, and continue to do so until he was no longer standing.

 

Thanks for stopping by

Mel