The Cafe

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This is a rough draft for CleverFiction Short Story Contest.  I completely ran out of time.

Ros was late. Will glanced at his fitness band to check the time then glanced around for an empty table. Obliviously cafe customers with computers hogged several, empty cups and plates crowded next to their elbows. The line inched slightly forward, and he almost groaned. Where was Ros, and what the hell was she doing?

A woman with a heart-shaped face, enormous blue eyes, and a Cupid’s bow mouth smiled at him as she made an espresso.

I still have it.

Can still flirt with foxy girls.

“Love your silver hair. Looks just like my grandpa’s.”

His face fell, and he glanced away. That’s when he spotted the woman sitting at the back of the cafe. At age seventy plus he racked his brain for a clue. A pleasant looking face. Silver hair, freckled, slightly lined face. Maybe she’d worked in Houston with him decades ago. Two younger men sat with her, one blond, one auburn haired with a bushy beard. They were laughing when she turned slightly and glimpsed Will. Her eyes widened, and she came close to smiling before turned turning back.

It couldn’t be. He felt as if someone had hit him over the head with a frying pan.

“Sir, you’re next.” The tiny woman behind him sounded annoyed. The line had disappeared, and he was standing too far away from the register. He placed his order, handed over cash, and watched as the barrister made change. Still no Ros

A table opened up, and he pounced. A server scurried forward with a small tub and gathered up dirty dishes. She gave the table a quick wipe, missing most of the sticky spots and crumbs. He’d just put their things on the table when a tall, large-boned woman appeared and grabbed a chair. She piled her purse and a couple of cloth shopping bags on another chair and leaned forward to kiss Will.

Her face was a mass of wrinkles from a life outdoors and had a leathery looking texture. Even at sixty-five she still had auburn hair, although the sun had faded the color. She smiled, showing as much gum as tooth. Ros.

She leaned over and pulled her cup closer. “Thanks for ordering. It took longer than I thought and I’m starving.” From one of the sacks, she produced some brochures and fanned them out on the table. “What do you think?” She tasted her coffee and grabbed a little cream pitcher.

“I think it looks great, but we can’t afford it.” He touched one glossy pamphlet covered in pictures of sailboats. “We talked about this, didn’t we? No more expensive vacations, no more sailing. All of our friends just want to spend time with their grandchildren.”
Ros’ face clouded. The children and grandchildren bit still hurt, but he had to say it. They’d been together for thirty years, childless. He hadn’t wanted them, and she didn’t push it even though she was made to be a mother. Volunteering and helping out with friend’s kids helped, but the yearning in her eyes never left. Sometimes it leaked out when she held a newborn, kissing and coveting it like a priceless treasure.

Someone had told him many years ago she should just “slip up” and get pregnant. He found she’d repeatedly tried when he found her sobbing over a negative pregnancy test.

That month she’d gone into the edge of menopause. She got depressed and went into therapy and antidepressants. Had brought up adoption, but he’d refused. Repeated what he’d told her from the first. No children, ever.

Over the chattering, he glanced over at the other woman, and memories shoved in. Natalie. His breath caught like a punch in the gut and Ros blinked at him.

“Are you okay?”

“Fine.” He managed.

Natalie. The long red hair was gone, her slender fine-boned figure fled, but it was her. The red-haired man next to her was obviously her son; the other he wasn’t so sure. There was a resemblance.

Ros started sorting out things from her tiny messenger bag, still talking, her words were almost a hum in his ears.

“Oh my gosh, is that Natalie? Where’d she come from? Who are those men with her?” She started to rise but Will gently caught her wrist.

“No. Just stay here. We’ll interrupt them.”

“But we haven’t seen her in years…”

“We’ll say hello when they get up to leave.”

Will’s ice blue eyes bored into her. She sat and scooped her belongings away as the food came. They ate in silence; Will took huge bites while Ros ate slowly and efficiently. He pushed his plate away before she’d eaten half her food, then glanced at his fitness band again.

“We’d better hurry if we’re making the matinee’.” His generous mouth curved down as he took a last sip of water.

“I’m hurrying, but I don’t want to choke, Will. Eating so fast is bad for digestion.”

He turned his snow-white topped head towards her, tipped down his prominent chin, and a pained expression flit across his ruddy, wind burned face.

“Okay.” He pushed his dishes away little too forcefully, and a hand shot out to catch as it went off the table.

“Will, Ros, wow, great to see you after all these years.”

Will let out an almost imperceptible sigh then smiled slowly.

“Natalie, good to see you.” He stood and exchanged kisses on her cheek. A familiar perfume. Her skin felt soft.

“How have you been? Are these your boys?”

The lines at her eyes deepened, and she smiled. “Aug and Phil. Mark and I are showing them around our old haunts. How have you two been?”

Ros stood and put out her hands.

“Oh, I’ve got a cold, Ros. Better not hug.” There was an alarmed expression on Natalie’s face as she folded her arms.

Ros stepped back looking pained and Will shot her a sympathetic look.

“Well, happy to see you have a great day.” Natalie smiled and patted one of her sons.

“Let’s go, boys.” Outside the three talked and Natalie animatedly gestured with her hands before laughing.

Will’s gaze followed.

“She still hasn’t forgiven me.” It was more of a statement than a question. Ros’ eyes widened as Natalie came back in, headed towards their table once more.

“Ros, I just want to say thank you. You too, Will.” Natalie had a shy smile on her face as she leaned forward.

Will had stood, tossing his napkin down and pushed his chair back. Ros was frozen.
“Ah, okay, Natalie.” Will’s eyes narrowed. “You’re welcome, for whatever.” He bit out the words.

“If you hadn’t cheated on me with Ros, I wouldn’t have the life I’ve had.” She pointed towards the window. “I wouldn’t have two wonderful sons and a husband I adore completely. So thank you. Ros, thanks for taking Will off my hands. If you hadn’t been willing to sleep with another woman’s boyfriend, I wouldn’t have moved on. I would’ve missed out on the fantastic life I’ve had.” She grinned, but there was no malice in it.

“That’s all. Have a great life, you two.” She leaned forward and planted another kiss on Will’s cheek and leaned away once more from Ros’ second attempt at a hug. She slightly waved and all but skipped out of the restaurant.

Will shoved his chair against the cafe table, the legs scraping horribly against the tile floor. The noise in the cafe stopped for a second as all eyes turned to them. “Let’s get going before we’re late for the movie.”

Ros gazed towards the window, her mouth slightly open.

“Don’t pay any attention to her. She was always crazy, Ros. Let’s go.” Will led her out of the cafe after tossing a tip on the table. They stepped out into the shade of the wrought iron balcony above them, shielding them from the blistering New Orleans sky. Ros had a bewildered expression on her face, and her eyes were teared up and promised to spill. “I love you. We’ve had a great life, and there’s plenty of it ahead of us. Don’t let someone ruin it, ruin this day because they’re crazy.

Ros gawked down the block where three figures wandered into a crowded pedestrian street. They disappeared into clusters of tourists, and she turned to Will. “I love you too. Let’s go.” She took his hand and gave it a squeeze, then gave him a kiss that left him almost breathless. Her phone began to buzz in her bag, and she went to answer it.

Will waited, a look of love and patience on his face. Natalie had left him, but he’d been the better for it. For a moment when he saw her sons, he’d wondered what might have been, if they had been his, but there was no going back. Ros had worshiped for decades, and after all, that was what he deserved and needed.

Comments About This Story Can Be Posted At Clever Fiction Short Story Challenge: 6/16 – 6/22

 

Guest Host Lee Piper Talks About Rock My Body, Book Two in the Mondez Series

Welcome Lea Piper! Tell us about your latest installment of the Mondez series.

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Thundering drum beats? Check. Swoon-worthy vocals? Check. Panty-obliterating lead guitarist? Check. Looks like you’re all set for Rock My Body, Book Two in the Mondez series by Lee Piper!

 Blurb:

Riley Sears promises herself never to fall in love unless it’s going to end in an engagement ring and a white picket fence—her medically diagnosed anxiety skyrockets otherwise.

Enter Dominic Mondez, the hottest guy ever to grace pecs and abs. He propositions Riley with a cocky yet tempting offer of the best sex of her life—his words. However, after learning he’s a manwhore who never sleeps with the same woman twice, Riley’s decision becomes remarkably simple.

No. Way. In. Hell.

He is a commitment phobe; she needs commitment. End of story.

Sadly, traversing the murky waters of friends without benefits isn’t simple, especially when he’s lead guitarist of local rock band, Mondez. Riley is also cautious of his tempestuous nature, womanising ways and—even worse—inexplicable jealousy. He is bad for her in every possible way.

Bad, bad, bad.

If only her body would listen.

Excerpt:

He was watching me, I could feel it. My body sensed him long before my head did and started tingling. Everywhere.

Oh, holy mother.

Just the thought of him made my heart pound. Traitorous thing. It merrily rammed against my ribcage as soon as I pictured his tall, muscular body and dishevelled, russet hair. My fingers itched to reach out and delve through the soft strands—they remembered what it felt like to tug down on them as he groaned into my open mouth—but I shifted in my seat and sat on them instead. I wasn’t going down that road again, hell no. I was done. D.O.N.E.

A low chuckle cut through the muted sounds of heavy rock music emanating from inside, its gravely sound resonating with my downstairs department, causing a deep blush to stain my cheeks.

Clearly, I wasn’t fooling anyone.

What in the name of sweet baby Jesus is he even doing here?

I tried so hard to focus on what Sebastian was saying. Thankfully, he held up his end of the conversation despite my unexpected inability to formulate any words. We’d been sitting together for a while without a single awkward pause so I nodded, smiled, and even laughed when required. To be fair, it was a pretty decent pick-up attempt. Well, until he showed up.

Blue eyes burned my skin.

You don’t own me, you don’t own me, you don’t—

I swallowed, steeled myself and then glanced across the beer garden.

Own me.

Dominic was leaning against the wall, his black, button-down shirt almost bursting at the seams. I blamed those insanely strong pecs and biceps. Honestly, they were huge. And the way his dark blue jeans hung enticingly low off narrow hips… Well. It should be illegal. He was going to give someone—aka me—a cardiac arrest if he wasn’t careful.

I shook my head. With a bottle of beer in one hand and a buxom blonde in the other— this one looked nastier than most—the guy was the physical embodiment of everything I despised. Truly.

If only my body would listen.

Raising the drink to full, kissable lips, he tipped his head back, piercing gaze still locked on me. He then wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, a flicker of emotions I couldn’t identify crossing his face when he noticed my breath catch.

The girl must have registered his distraction too because she started rubbing herself up against him like an overly aroused limpet. Gross. He broke contact with me and looked down at her, a dark smile tugging his lips. After murmuring something in her ear and slapping her on the behind, she giggled. I looked away, that familiar painful knot forming in my stomach once more.

Damn you, Dominic Mondez. Damn you to hell.

 

Readers are raving about the Mondez series! Check this out:

I loved this story. I couldn’t put it down! –Rabid Readers Book Blog on Rock My World

From start to finish I could not put this book down! I highly recommend reading it, a truly amazing writer!!! –Kindle Customer on Rock My World

Lee Piper showed us the strength it takes to love someone who is broken and the mental struggle a person battles to just let it all go and live again. Not an easy task, as a real person or as an author writing about imaginary people. To have a reader actually feel a character’s emotions, feel their pain as your own is a challenging feat BUT Lee conquered this task. –Kameron Brook on Rock My World

This book had me from start to finish. Cannot wait for the next one in the series!!! –Kindle Customer on Rock My World

Get ready for it:

Rock Me, book three in the Mondez series is written from lead vocalist, Katrina’s perspective and will be available soon. Here’s a taste of what’s to come:

Hours later, I am lying awake in bed when it hits me. It’s like a punch to the gut with a drop-kick to the heart thrown in for the hell of it. Groaning, I roll over and cover my head with my pillow, only it does nothing to erase the three unhelpful truths which bombard me.

One: I’ve still got feelings for Finn Mondez.

Two: He hates my stinking guts.

And three: We’re going on tour together. For a month. An entire month.

This is gonna be interesting.

(ROCK MY BODY: Book Two in the Mondez Series video. Very sexy and beautiful!  – Tabitha)

 

Connect with Lee Piper:

Website: http://www.leepiperauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leepiperauthor/

Blog: http://www.leepiperauthor.com/blog

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Piper/e/B01NAS0IBO/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16304661.Lee_Piper

Author Bio

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Lee Piper is a lover of books. She often juggles reading seven novels at a time for the sheer joy of it. At the grand old age of five, Lee Piper decided to become an author, however found a limited market for her unicorn stories. So, high school English teacher it was.

At thirty-two, and grieving the loss of her second miscarriage, Lee Piper turned to novels—Kylie Scott, to be precise—to escape the pain. This then inspired her to write Rock My World, the first in a four-part contemporary romance series, and her debut novel became an Evernight Publishing bestseller within the first two weeks of publication.

Lee Piper lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her drummer husband, cheeky daughters, and one very crazy dog.

Growing Where We Find Ourselves

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I’m a lazy gardener. Part of the reason is that I live in the devil’s armpit heat-wise in Texas and weeding has no attraction. My family produced some amazing gardeners like my grandfather and mother. They could merely touch something and it would grow luxuriantly and bloom. Potted plants given as hospital gifts turned into things that outgrew the glass ceilings of greenhouses.

Me, well let’s just say if it doesn’t die from heat, drought or frost, it’s welcome. You’d be surprised how well that works most of the time.

The sunflower above was a volunteer from my birdfeeder. Its sunny face and determined stalk cheered me every time I saw it. Another volunteer is a Mexican palm which wants to grab and devour anything within its reach. My gardener swears it’ll take my fence down if it’s not moved.

We could all learn from that sunflower and palm. Often we have no control of where life puts us, whether it’s good health, employment, or love. Learning to love where we are if it’s a healthy, good place where we’re appreciated and admired is a gift. A gift I hope you have.

Hugs to all who are down today, who are struggling, who need a hug even if it’s a virtual one. May the place you find yourself be filled with love and good things.

Tabitha