Heart 2 Heart (A Short Story Collection)
Ten (10) stories, flash fiction to long shorts in three sections:
and Flash Fiction
Assuming Love – While waiting tables, Shelly swears her customer is flirting with her, then suddenly he’s Mr. Stoic. What’s this guy’s problem?
Marinara Magic – Roni’s new apartment comes with a sexy chef one floor up, but is he man enough to accept what she does for a living?
Do Over – A second chance at love story where things may not be what they seem.*
Home for Christmas – A reunion story. A chance holiday reunion between college friends who ruined a good thing with a Christmas affair. Will this be a repeat, or are they smarter now?**
Mr. Dependable – Next door neighbors, Tyler and Sara Cho grew up together. They’re inseparable best buds until Tyler gives Sara a toe-curling kiss and a warning that their relationship has just changed forever. Yeah, right. He’ll come back around to being her same ol’ Tyler, won’t he?
The Best Man – Astra didn’t set out to fall in love with her fiancé’s best friend. She thought she’d already found love — or something close to it — before she met Pete.
Winter’s Bride – She’s not your typical bride. A melancholy tale.
An Early Memory – A memoir moment born of a writing prompt.
Cutest Thing In Jeans – A futuristic story with a twist.
Goodbye and Hello – A vibrant woman at a crossroads in her life.
* Do Over also included in Seasons and Seashells
Now you can have both of these and more in one collection!
EXCERPT from The Best Man:
Astra stood in line with a group of students at the regional university, trying to register for fall senior classes. In an attempt to cool off, she held her twisted hair atop her head with one hand and fanned her neck with the other. A sudden breeze had her turning to investigate, her gaze met by knowing blue eyes framed with long black lashes. Beneath that lurked an almost perfect nose, and full lips just soft enough to balance out a square jaw.
Yum. What’s not to like?
The guy smiled and lowered the pamphlet he’d been fanning her with. “That’s a good look on you.”
Astra practically swooned. She was pretty sure girls still did that, especially in the hot Atlanta sunshine. Her breeze-producing hottie was movie-star, too-good-to-be-true gorgeous. Yep, the type she’d never thought would even notice her.
She felt a full-body blush coming on and blurted out the first thing she thought of. “What, sweat?”
Smooth, Astra. Real, smooth.
His hearty laugh brought more mortification her way, as well as glares from several jealous females. “Well, it does give you a dewy look, but I was referring to your hair being up. You have nice skin. You should show it off.”
She mumbled her thanks, and faced forward, unused to receiving compliments.
Astra had a girl-next-door look going on. She didn’t stop traffic, but no one had ever asked her to put a bag over her head either. She considered herself average. Brown hair that tended to streak a little during the summer, green eyes, 5’7”, size eight shoe, and hips that only dreamed of fitting into … Okay, so she wasn’t one of those stick-thin types. Big deal.
Unfortunately, it was a big deal because the hot male behind her had thick dark hair with a cowlick in the front that would make most guys would look ridiculous. That cowlick threw one wavy strand onto his forehead. This made every woman within a half-mile radius want to tunnel her fingers through it. Astra was pretty sure of that.
She jolted when his voice continued from an intimate spot inches from her ear. “What do you say we grab some supper and a movie after this?”
Astra turned again and counted her lucky stars to find his smiling face almost too close to see properly. She pushed aside the nagging voice telling her he was a little too smooth and managed to find her tongue. “Sounds good, but shouldn’t we introduce ourselves first? I’m Astra.”
“Astra,” He drawled, making her name sound sensual and mysterious. Nothing at all like her. Then he grinned and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. “I’m Payton.”
He held her hand during a movie she couldn’t remember afterward, her concentration shot into outer Mongolia by his thumb caressing her fingers.
Much later, over pizza and sodas, they debated the wisdom of having waited until the last day to register. Payton hadn’t wanted to bother. She hadn’t been able to get off work. Astra shrugged off the thought that he’d been irresponsible and lazy.
Whatever their reasons for it, procrastination made their choices slim. They compared schedules and discovered common classes.
“Good.” He reached for her hand and took it in both of his. “That gives me more time to be with you.”
She smiled and squeezed his hand, her inner child squealing with glee, like a big goof.
Their first date passed quickly. She was surprised to discover it was full-on dark outside. He not only walked her to her dorm, but kissed her outside, lingered over it then came back for more. When voices filtered through the night, he pulled her away from the light over the door and under a large tree for more kisses.
Before long they were inseparable. Other than occasional bursts of anger directed her way, Payton was the perfect boyfriend, bringing flowers, picking nice restaurants for dates and buying her presents.
As their relationship continued, her confidence grew. The snarky comments she’d given free rein in her head during high school began to spew from her mouth on occasion, making Payton laugh. She kept them reined in when they concerned Payton’s behavior.
Mostly, she was content, but they saw college life very differently.
Payton was attending college because it meant his parents would support him, not because he really wanted an education. Since they were footing the bill for everything, including his rent and expenses in a nice off-campus apartment, he was grudgingly forced to at least pass the courses.
Astra wanted an education degree so she could one day realize her dream of teaching. She had to work, trying to fill the gap between school loans and actual survival.
Their first argument was over money.
“Come on, baby. We’ve been studying non-stop. Let’s take a break, go have some fun,” Payton coaxed, nuzzling her neck and kissing her earlobe.
Non-stop? He’d been restless all evening, hardly cracking his books open. Chills chased along Astra’s spine as a wet spot he’d left behind her ear cooled. His suggestion was tempting, but she really needed to study. “I want to, Payton. You know I do, but I’ve got a test tomorrow.”
“And work tomorrow night, followed by more tests to study for.” His upper lip curled. “You’re becoming a real drag, Astra.”
She wasn’t crazy about him dissing her like that, but held her tongue and reminded herself he was a great catch.
Her great catch stalked to the window, hands stuffed into the low-slung, too tight pants he’d told her his parents hated. According to him, they disliked a lot of things about his life. She’d seen a pattern there. He purposely surrounded himself with people and activities he knew they’d hate.
Was she just another part of his life they’d disapprove of? The moment the thought was fully formed, she felt a massive load of guilt. That was just her insecurities talking. “You know I have to work, Payton. What’s really bothering you?”
He didn’t respond for some time, staring out the window with a sullen expression. Finally, he turned to her and heaved a dramatic sigh. “Elizabeth and James are coming.”
“My parents!” he shouted at her, as if she’d irritated him beyond tolerable limits. “And so help me, if you dress to impress them tonight, I won’t take you to dinner.”
She processed the information before speaking, letting it sink in that he wanted her to meet his parents. More or less. This was big.“Tonight? Where are we going? I’ll need to dress appropriately for the restaurant.”
“Didn’t ask. Wherever it is, it’ll be as stuffy and boring as they are.”
“Seriously? How will we meet them if you don’t know where to go?”
He shot her a look so hate-filled it made her cringe.
“I gotta go. Be ready at seven.” He slammed the door on his way out, like a headstrong child.
Man, he confused her. One minute, he could be the best boyfriend ever, the next, scary angry and lashing out. But he really was a prince of a catch. She’d seen the other girls heads turn when he walked by.
Maybe he wasn’t Prince Charming all the time, but certainly the equivalent of the popular jock in high school every girl secretly wishes she were with at least once. That Astra’s Adonis had a dark side shouldn’t have surprised her. She’d had enough experience with the way most of the beautiful, popular kids in school operated to last a lifetime.
And okay, maybe she wasn’t the girl-next-door. Today the description fit, but three years ago … Geez, she hated remembering being that girl. The one in the hallway people avoid eye contact with. The chubby one with glasses, but with a cute hairdo, which just makes her look like she’s trying too hard.
Thirty-five pounds lighter, contacts, and a fully utilized gym membership had transformed her into someone a person like Payton Wesley Templeton III would be interested in. And she’d kept the weight off. As pitiful as it might seem, she was grateful to have a boyfriend to grouse about.
She couldn’t know that a simple dinner would begin to change that view and the course of her life forever.