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Archive Monthly Archives: November 2019

All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 3

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short Love & Found Story is a gift to YOU, my beloved reader. It hasn’t yet been formally edited yet, so please excuse any typos or errors. Happy reading and Happy Holidays, my friend!

Did you miss the beginning? Click HERE to start from Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Lacey

“Well, what do you think?” Tatiana Lopez asked as she closed and locked the apartment behind her, then turned to give me a dazzling smile. 

I licked my lips and took a deep breath.  The apartment wasn’t bad, a little small but within the budget I’d set for myself.  I didn’t have much furniture anyway, so size wasn’t an issue.  Nothing was an issue, really, except the fact that I was apartment shopping by myself. 

“It’s nice.  Yeah, I think this one might work,” I nodded.

“Great!” Tatiana exclaimed. “Let’s go on over to the leasing office and we can start the paperwork…”

“I think it might work,” I interrupted, holding my purse in front of me like I carried a bag of priceless jewels inside it or something.  No jewels.  Just a checkbook with all the paltry savings I’d worked hard to amass for the last few years. Savings that would pay the deposit, first month’s rent and then a little left over for Christmas shopping, “But I want to double-check a few things before signing a lease.”

Tatiana’s grin didn’t falter.  She inclined her head in understanding, “Absolutely.  You need to be sure its right for you.  Like we discussed, they are offering a six-month lease instead of one year.  But there are only two apartments of this size available at this complex and we can’t hold one for you, so be sure you let me know as soon as you’re sure.”

“I will.  I’ll let you know by tomorrow afternoon at the latest.”

“Perfect. We’ll go on down and grab some paperwork and information about this one so that you can go over that when you’re making your decision.  M’kay?”

“Sure.”

A few minutes later I tossed the folder of documents onto the passenger seat of my little car then dropped my forehead onto the steering wheel. I’d imagined what being here would be like for weeks as I waited to get word about the job that would allow me to move here closer to Luke.  But this certainly wasn’t what I’d thought it would be.  I expected him to shop for apartments with me as we worked towards the next step in our relationship.

I told myself it was just my imagination that Luke wasn’t exactly ecstatic about my arrival.  Maybe it was what his Aunt Betty had joked, that he just didn’t like surprises.  But I couldn’t help but worry it was something more. 

I’d been here for three days, and I’d only seen him in the evenings, sometimes so late that I was already in bed at the little cabin Aunt Betty was renting to me.  He said that it was a busy time of year for him, but Betty was just as annoyed by his constant absence as I was becoming. 

Refusing to give in to despondency, I turned on the ignition and headed for the mall to get a bite to eat and do a little holiday shopping.  While I drove I decided to mentally go over the apartment selections I’d seen the last two days.

The final place was clearly the best.  It was clean, new and had a decent monthly rent.  Plus, I could lease for half a year instead of a full twelve months.  Luke had suggested that, saying that I shouldn’t tie myself into a long term unless I was sure. 

I had to confess that bothered me as much as anything.  Maybe he didn’t want me to be here close to him.  Maybe a long-distance relationship was good for him, the kind where he didn’t feel pinned down.  He hadn’t ever said that, in fact always seemed to hate to see me leave.  But maybe that was just an act for my sake.

“Stop being stupid,” I told myself as I rolled the dial to find something to listen to on the radio.  I was stuck choosing between Last Christmas and Feliz Navidad since Christmas music was hard to avoid with just three days to go before the big holiday. 

A holiday I was beginning to feel glum about.  Shaking my head as I pulled into the parking lot, I rolled my shoulders back to force some confidence.  I still needed to get my mom something for Christmas.  My brother was flying her to Florida for a few days so we wouldn’t celebrate as a family until the weekend after Christmas, so I had plenty of time, but I preferred to finish off my shopping list now so I could get out of the rush.

The rush, however, was already in full swing.  It was hard to find a parking spot in the crowded mall lot and when I finally did I had to walk a good distance to the nearest entrance.

Everyone was in a hurry, pushing and shoving past one another, each person focused on their own personal mission to find the best gift, the newest toy, the cleverest gadget.  Still, my mom had taught me a smile and politeness was the best way to spread the holiday spirit so I turned up my lips and murmured Merry Christmas to anyone passing close enough to hear.

My attitude started to brighten a bit as I made my way towards the electronics store where I thought I might find something for my technology-minded brother. 

“Happy holi…” I started to say to a little old man heading the opposite direction as me, but familiar laughter caught my attention behind me.

When I’d asked Luke to come with me this afternoon to look at the last set of apartments, he’d insisted he was too busy at work and would be on his current job all day if he had any hope of making it to the beach Christmas party that night. 

But there he was, standing outside a crowded mall store, a huge grin on his face and blue eyes sparkling… laughing at something a very beautiful red-head was saying.  I halted in my tracks, eyes open wide as I watched them.  I was too far away to hear the conversation, but the way the girl reached over and placed her hand on Luke’s arm in an incredibly intimate gesture sent a stabbing pain right through my chest. 

Suddenly it all became clear.  I now knew exactly why Luke hadn’t been around to spend time with me and why he seemed so stunned by my announcement that I was moving to Port Arthur.  He didn’t want to be tied down to me because he’d found someone else.I choked down the tears threatening to spill, turning on my heel and heading for the exit as quickly as I could get through the crowd.  My dignity was all I had at that moment and I wasn’t going to break down into a blubbering mess in front of God and everyone.  No, I’d hold my tears until I was back at my cabin in Simoneaux Bayou, so that I could pack up my things to leave.

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All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 2

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short Love & Found Story is a gift to YOU, my beloved reader. It hasn’t yet been formally edited yet, so please excuse any typos or errors. Happy reading and Happy Holidays, my friend!

Did you miss Chapter 1? Click HERE to start from the beginning.

Chapter 2

Luke

I had two screws between my lips, one more in my hand and I was lying flat on my back in the bed of Dennis Thompson’s pickup.  My phone started ringing in my back pocket, but I was determined to get the last of the fasteners set so that I could get the hell out of this damn truck before my back broke.  First ring… one screw set… second ring… next screw… third ring and I dropped the screw, but in between expletives I caught it before it fell into the bed and got lost.

As soon as I had the last screw tightened, I put the battery-operated driver aside and fished the phone out of my Dickies before it rolled into voice mail, “Yeah!”

“Lukey!  Lukey, where are you dear?”

I rolled my eyes and grimaced as I scooted to the tailgate of the truck and onto my feet.  The weather was starting to turn slightly cooler in the evenings, but I was still sweating like a pig, so I grabbed my rag from my pocket and rubbed at the back of my neck.

“I’m on a job, Aunt Betty.  I’ll try to get to the bayou before long.”

“Lukey, you’re working entirely too hard as it is.  Now shut down and come this way.  I refuse to let them serve until you…”

I shook my head, “I still have to tighten up the…”

“… no, no no, don’t you argue with me, young man.  I want you here within half an hour.”

“No, Aunt Betty, I can’t.  I promised Thompson I’d fix the steps…” my voice trailed off when I realized she’d hung up on me.  A string of foul words passed my lips and I grabbed a water from my cooler.  Chugging the entire thing in one long draw, I tossed the empty bottle into my trash bag.

“Getting dark out.  Tomorrow’s good enough to finish this job,” Dennis told me as he stepped out of his workshop and approached, walking around puddles to get to me.  It had been raining for a few hours and his yard looked like a swamp. 

“Nah,” I shook my head, “I have a flashlight if I need it.  Shouldn’t take me long to tighten up those steps for you.”

Dennis chuckled and folded his arms over his chest.  He had a belly that stuck out so far it looked like his arms were supported entirely by his stomach.  His girth was the reason he said he liked to hire me for jobs like these.  It was getting harder and harder for him to get around, much less lay down under a pickup truck.  Eyeing him, I realized he probably wouldn’t be able to fit under there even if he wanted to try it.

“Appreciate it, Luke.  I really do.  Especially when I know that was probably Miss Betty on the phone demanding you get on over to the beach.  I wouldn’t want to disappoint her, no sir-ee.”

I snorted a laugh as I crawled down beside the driver’s side of his truck and inspected the loose step.  The bolts had reamed out a little so I sat up and pulled the toolbox over to find a size larger.

“Well, Aunt Betty won’t like me being late, but I figure she’ll get glad in the same pants she got mad in.”

Mr. Thompson hooted a laugh, slapping his knee as he leaned against the truck to watch me work.  I listened to him blather about how he’d almost broken his leg when he fell out of his truck a few weeks ago and how that was when he decided to have me fix the steps and then how he’d found a great deal on the truck toolbox, so wanted to kill two birds by having me do both.

Finally, about an hour later, he counted out the agreed-upon bills, surprising me with an extra fifty.  “Everyone can use a little extra for Christmas,” was his excuse and I gladly took the offering.  I could use it.  I could use every penny I’d get my hands on.  I was still about a thousand dollars short of my goal and time was running out.

I was bone-tired when I jumped into my diesel and started for Simoneaux Bayou.  I’d been working virtually seven days a week for the last month or so, only taking time off for a quick trip to see my girl Lacey in Santa Fe.  I knew she was missing me and didn’t like the fact that I hadn’t been available for lunchtime calls and evening chats as often.  But for now I just couldn’t help that.

It was still a marvel to me how fast I’d fallen for that girl.  I’d been living on my own for years, enjoying my freedom and being able to come and go as I pleased.  I’d had month-long spates when some of my guy friends moved in and lived up the bachelor life.  But I was tired of that. 

My best times now were when Lacey could spend a long weekend with me.  Comfortable dinners at home and hours in bed together.  Beer and laughter with the bayou family while we exchanged glimpses at each other across the patio.  Hell, I even enjoyed the red splotches on her face when she got mad at me during our few arguments. 

I was so caught up in thoughts of her, that I almost didn’t recognize her vehicle parked beside all the others near Percy Davis’ patio.  My mouth twitched into a wide grin and I wiped a hand over my mouth.  I was scruffy, having not shaved in a few days.  Aunt Betty kidded that it made me look old. 

I briefly wondered if I should run over to her place and shave real quick, but I was too late for that.  I felt her eyes on me even when I looked over and saw Lacey glancing over towards me.  She looked unbelievably cute in matching pink top and bottom sweats, the cuffs of the legs and arms contrasting purple.  She reached up to put her hand on one of the cabin piers and when she did her top inched up and I got a delectable peek at her midriff. 

“Did I screw up?” I asked as I jumped out of the truck and started towards her.  She shook her head and met me halfway, looping a hand around my neck and reaching up to kiss me.  I pulled her in close, enjoying the easy way our bodies melted together.

“Surprise,” she said a hint of shyness in her expression, “I hope a good one.  Aunt Betty says you don’t like surprises.”

I laughed, nibbling her neck and enjoying the scent of her.  She squealed and I remembered too late my beard.  Her hand reached up to run the spot where I’d scratched her, but there was an amused smile on her face, “When did you decide to grow that?”

I shrugged, “Just been working too hard to worry about shaving.  I’ll cut it off in the morning.”

Her head quirked to the side and she studied me, “I don’t know.  I might like it.”

With a playful growl I bit at her neck and stroked my stubble down her tender flesh towards her chest and she giggled and pulled back but not entirely away.

“So how long do I have you for?  Leaving Monday?” that had been the norm.  She’d arrange to go into work later in the day on Monday so that we would have a full Saturday and Sunday together.

“Well… “ she hesitated to answer, slipping her fingers down to the pockets of my Dickies and looping them so that she could slink in closer to me, “The bigger surprise is… I’m here through Christmas.”

“Christmas?”

“Yep,” she laughed, “And then I have to go back home and finish up a few things for my replacement before… before I start my new job in Beaumont.”

“You’re moving here?”

“I am!  Can you believe it?”

My mouth dropped open, and I wasn’t sure what to say.  She looked so excited.  So hopeful.  So filled with happiness.

All I could feel was panic. 

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Caring for Me: 43 & Feeling Great

I made a decision about ten years ago to stop coloring my hair. From about my teens my sisters and I had often toyed with hair color, usually trying to change our color to blonde or auburn. Back then it was fun, but as I got older I got tired of all the fuss. And I made a decision to stop coloring… and not to color when I went gray. I didn’t want to HAVE to color my hair or face the prospect of turning entirely gray overnight. So, I’m gradually (and the process has sped up in the last year or so) been going gray.

The truth is, I kind of like the gray, though I’m not really sure why. A few weeks ago I was picking up a new med at the pharmacy and commented to the girl behind the counter (I didn’t ask her age, but I’m ninety-five percent sure she’s younger than me, probably in her thirties) if her hair color was natural. It was an absolutely gorgeous multi-tonal silver. We chatted a while about it and I asked her about shampoos, conditioners etc.

But on a deeper level, maybe my love affair with grey and my refusal to color my hair is my own personal banner for how I mean to handle aging. I mean, its going to happen. I can either worry over my wrinkles, my expanding middle, the extra aches and pains, the trials of menopause, on and on and on… or I can just say, “I’ve got way too much life to live to worry about all of that.”

via GIPHY

What I do have time for, is feeling better… I’ve been dealing with the affects of perimenopause for a few years, mostly with weird periods and near-deadly mood swings. But recently I started having hot flashes that were uncomfortable during the day, but also combined with anxiety to keep me from getting a good night’s sleep. It was taking its toll and I was beginning to be miserable.

Thankfully I have found an amazing doctor who has proved to me time and time again that one should never, ever settle for medical care from someone they aren’t comfortable with. Dr. Z and her staff have been amazing about listening and talking with me about my healthcare options. My favorite thing about her is that she recommends a plan of action and then asks me if I agree. She lets ME, the patient, have an active role in my own treatment… its a whole new world to me.

So thanks to Dr. Z I’ve started a mild antidepressant to help with my symptoms. It was originally intended to treat the hot flashes but I’ve been so pleasantly happy with the fact that its improved my mood swings and anxiety. And when I complained about side effect of reduced libido, Dr. Z suggested we try just half the dosage… and wow! I feel like for the first time in about five years that I’m not half a crazy person… and man does that feel good.

So, in a few days I’ll be 43 and I can honestly say that I feel really good about it. What does aging have in store for me in the future? Who knows. All I can say is, bring it … I’m ready!

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All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short Love & Found Story is a gift to YOU, my beloved reader. It hasn’t yet been formally edited yet, so please excuse any typos or errors. Happy reading and Happy Holidays, my friend!

Chapter 1

Lacey

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be fine.”

It was raining like cats and dogs and the last thing I really want to be doing was arguing with my mother.  Again.  But she was so upset by my sudden decision and I was feeling so guilty about making her cry, that I couldn’t bring myself to end the call.

“But this might not work out.  What if you don’t like it?  They might not be as gratuitous with their raises as you had at your old job.  And he’s nice, but there might be others out there…”

“Maaaaa,” I said it in a long, drawn-out whine, pausing to be sure she’d stopped talking and hadn’t just gone silent to get a breath of air, “Ma, I need you to trust me on this.  I don’t do crazy things.  I’ve thought this through and I believe, I know this is right for me.  Okay?”

“Baby…” she sniffed and my belly clenched when I realized she might be crying. Again, “I do trust you.  You’re a smart girl.  I’m so proud of you for that.  But moms worry, you know?”

A grin spread across my lips, partly because of her words and partly because I saw the Pleasure Island Bridge on the horizon. Thankfully it had all but stopped raining. In less than an hour I’d be back in Simoneaux Bayou.  I couldn’t wait to see the look on Luke’s face.

“I know you worry mom.  And I appreciate it.  But I got this, okay?”

We finally said our “I love yous” and I hit the button the hang up the phone, grateful I could devote all of my attention to getting across the enormous bridge on the rain-slicked streets. As soon as I got back onto the straight highway towards the bayou, I mentally replayed our conversation.

My confidence in my decision was mostly bravado.  I was secretly terrified I was making a horrible mistake.  There were so many reasons this could all go wrong.  It was entirely possible this new job I’d just taken with the Michener Brothers Grocery chain in Southeast Texas would be a disaster.  It was a step up, career-wise and the pay was better than I was making at Genevere’s Department Store.  But it was still frightening and intimidating to venture into a new career as the human resources manager of a very large corporation.

More than that was the move itself.  I was jubilant at the idea of being closer to Luke, but I was starting to regret the bright idea to make my transition a surprise.  We’d been dating for over six months and had said the I love yous and made the promises a committed couple would.  We’d worked through issues of the long- distance between us and I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life…

… but he’d never said a word about that.  Nothing about marriage.  About living together.  About so much as moving closer to each other. 

It was Sunday afternoon and the normal crowd was gathering for the weekly cook-out at Porpoise Beach.  Aunt Betty (she’d insisted I call her that the second time I came to the bayou for a weekend visit) recognized my vehicle and her face split into a humongous smile as she set her drink down and headed my direction. 

“What  surprise!” she announced as she grabbed me into a bear hug, “That nephew of mine didn’t even tell me you were coming.”

Hugging her back I laughed to cover my nerves, “Well, that’s because he didn’t know.  I thought I’d just do something spontaneous and pop in on him.”

“Oh, my dear, he’s not one for surprises, but I think he’ll like this one,” then she hooked her arm into mine and tugged me towards the center of activity.

“Hey, Lacey,” Mary waved at me as she reached into a cooler, “Want a drink?” her hand emerged with a beer and knowing she was too young to drink I wasn’t surprised when she placed it into Pas Bon’s waiting hands.

“I think I’ll wait,” I told her, “Thanks.”

“It’s a typical mild night on the beach,” Clara Broussard, Mary’s mother said, “But we’re pretending its cold and having hot chocolate with Kahlua.”

She motioned to the setup and I could tell it was an invitation, so I nodded, “Well in that case, sure.  I mean who can turn down spiked hot chocolate?”

The sea breeze made it chilly enough for light jackets, but not much more than that.  Still, the allure of chocolate was more than I could rebuff.  I hadn’t spotted his truck, but I still let my eyes scan the area just to be sure he wasn’t there.  My disappointment was palpable, as was my increasing nervousness.  He’s not one for surprises…  I was really starting to get concerned about my brash decision.

Clara handed me a mug and I blew a few times on the steaming, dark liquid to cool it while I found an empty chair and sat down beside her. 

Just as I was taking my first sip I heard Aunt Betty’s voice, “Lukey!  Lukey, where are you dear?”

My eyes widened and I coughed as the hot drink went down wrong, then I flew to my feet and waved at her as I whispered, “Aunt Betty, don’t…” she only put her hand to the receiver and shushed me.

“Lukey, you’re working entirely too hard as it is.  Now shut down and come this way.  I refuse to let them serve until you… no, no no, don’t you argue with me, young man.  I want you here within half an hour.”

She pressed the end button on the phone and winked at me.

Pas Bon shook his head and chuckled, “Dat boy dere in trouble fa sure now…”

Aunt Betty lovingly smacked her dear friend on the back of his head and as raucous laughter rose up from the rest of the crowd, she leaned down to kiss his scarred forehead.

Aunt Betty put her arm around me and hugged me painfully.   “Trouble, bah,” she muttered, “He’s never been in better trouble than Lacey.

I chuckled to cover the nerves churning back up in my belly.  I certainly hoped Luke wouldn’t see me as trouble and that my big news would be good news to him. 

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