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Saturday, June 4, 2011

SNEAK PEEK SATURDAY


Time for a sneak peek at the sequel to "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights" called "April's Kiss in the Moonlight":


Chapter One
As April McKenna rounded the bend in her small car before passing through a tiny town, a good looking, big man with short, reddish brown hair stepped into the street and stuck out his thumb.
            “Yeah, right, Mr. Serial Killer, like I’m going to give you a ride,” she said aloud to herself, speeding up to pass him quickly but unable to direct her gaze away from his.
            She averted her eyes quickly, trying to concentrate on sorting out her life. Driving the back roads from Willow Falls, NY to San Francisco gave April time to think. She finished her MBA and was heading back for an internship in her father’s company, prelude to a staid, boring, corporate life. She was restless…restlessness quickly turned to unhappiness. April didn’t want to go back…didn’t want to live her father’s life. She wanted to break out, but didn’t know how, always been the good girl, doing the right thing, what was expected of her.
With her mind occupied, she was driving on automatic pilot and didn’t see the glass scattered in the road. Her tire lasted another half mile before it blew. She pulled onto a muddy shoulder and got out of the car. She rummaged around in the car trunk having no idea where the spare tire or the jack were or how to use them if she found them. You're supposed to hang something white on the door handle when you need help. April returned to the car, took off her white panties, the only white object she had and hung them on the door handle to indicate she needed help, closed the door and waited.
            The lonely country road had few houses but acre after acre of green fields, bursting with ripe crops. In the distance she could barely make out a farmhouse. The tall corn stalks of late July blocked her car from view by the house. After half an hour with no car coming by, April worried she would be spending the night in her car. Then she saw him in the rear view mirror. It was Mr. Serial Killer, coming around the bend, heading straight for her car. She felt panic rise in her chest as she locked all the doors and hunkered down, forgetting her panties blowing in the gentle breeze on the door handle.
             He walked up to the car and knocked on the window, startling April, who jumped. When she turned to look at him, he was smiling at her.
            “Flat?” He asked.
            She nodded.
            “Pop the trunk,” he said.
            Can’t you get inside the car through the trunk? He could attack me…
            “Take it easy. I’m not a serial killer. Want to help you change your tire,” he called to her.
            April popped the trunk as she realized she had no choice.
            “Are these yours?” he asked, plucking her panties off the door handle and holding them up to the car window.
            April turned several shades of red, opened the car window and grabbed the panties from him. He laughed, shook his head and headed for the trunk, while she struggled to put the panties back on while remaining in the front seat.
            “Easier to jack up the car if you’re not sitting there,” he called to her.
She got out of the car and perched on a large rock nearby to watch him, hugging her knees to her chest.
            “Rusty,” he said, extending his hand after taking off his backpack.
            “April,” she said nodding to him, looking at his hand with distaste.
            “Oh, yeah, sorry, greasy,” he said, wiping his hand on his jeans.
            He worked for forty five minutes jacking up the car then changing the tire. April watched him with interest. As he began to sweat, he removed his tee shirt. April stared at his strong chest covered with reddish hair, feeling a desire to touch it. His arm muscles worked as he attached the jack and began to pump it up, moving the car higher and higher. He was tall, about six foot four inches, broad and strong.  He had an easy grin he shot at her from time to time.
            “What’s a beautiful woman like you doing stranded out here? Where you headed?” He asked, looking her over with appreciation.
            “San Francisco. You?” She said, blushing slightly under his gaze.
            “I’ve got a week to get to Allentown for a job. At the rate I’m going, it will take me a week to walk it,” he said working the jack on the tire lugs.
            She laughed.
            “Why kind of job?”
            “Driving a truck to New York City and back. It pays well.”
            “You going to live in Allentown?”
            “Of course. Where are you coming from?”
            “Got my MBA from Kensington State University. Heading home.”
            “Going back to a job?”
            “Uh…an internship. But I don’t want to. I’m not sure what I want to do.”
            “After all that time with college and graduate school and you still don’t know what you want to do? Heck…a lot of money down the drain.”
            “Education doesn’t always tell you what you want to do in life.”
            “True enough. Still going home, eh?”
            “It’s expected.”
“Car’s ready. You should replace the dead tire because if this one blows, you’re out of luck,” he pointed out, putting his shirt back on.
            “Thanks. Get in.”
            “You giving me a ride?”
            She nodded.
            “I promise not to strangle and murder you…but I might kiss you,” he said.
            “Thanks for fixing the tire. I’m taking you all the way to Allentown,” she said.
            “No way! You are? Fantastic.”
            “The least I can do…it’s not far out of my way and…I’m in no hurry.”
            “Up for a little adventure?” He asked her with a wicked grin on his face.
            “Maybe.”
            “Let’s get some dinner. There’s a diner down the road a ways and I’m buying,” he said, holding the door open for her.
            She smiled up at him as he closed the car door.
****
            April opened her eyes and sat up. She was in the backseat of a car. Terrible pain tore through her midsection as she sat up.
            “You’re up?” the woman driving the car said.
            “Where am I?”
            “Heading toward Pine Grove. I’m Sunny Foster, your mom’s friend. I picked you up at the hospital an hour ago?”
            April’s head was fuzzy. She lay back down on the seat and closed her eyes; her dreams began. She saw her car with Rusty behind the wheel. She was walking…no running toward the car. There was a click then an explosion. Debris was airborne, then a plastic garbage can came flying at her. She put up her arms to fend it off, but the force of the can slamming into her arms turned them into weapons, breaking one rib and bruising two more. The can knocked her on the ground where her head hit hard…she lost consciousness.
            Rusty! Rusty’s dead. Yeah, Rusty’s dead. April’s eyes fluttered open again for a few seconds then closed. 

(to be continued)

 A bit about "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights"
Caroline Davis White, famous artist, runaway wife flees her philandering husband, Brad. She hides out in the old cabin in the Catskills she inherited from her mother, hoping to build a new life on her own.
While she's there, she reconnects with an old friend from her childhood, Mike. Can Caroline escape Brad, who refuses to let her go? What about Mike? She hasn't told him all about herself, has he been up front with her? 

Buy the book here, only $3.99 as an ebook or $9.99 for paperback:










Friday, June 3, 2011

SPOTLIGHT ON: FIVE DAYS NOTICE

"I have wanted to kiss you for so long, but I never knew it would feel so good." - Five Days Notice.

There's a quote that will jumpstart your day! It's from a fantastic new romantic suspense book by Alex Sinclair called, Five Days Notice. Alex has been kind enough to visit us today and tell us about how he developed the characters and plot in this terrific book, Alex:


            I never know what characters are going to pop into existence when I start writing. I start each story with a question and I try to unlock the answer. 
            Five Days Notice is based around the simple question of…  How far are people willing to go to survive? I don’t mean in war, but if the world we lived in became dramatically more complicated and there were no new jobs. What if people were forced to work long hours for hardly any pay? If they are the lucky ones then what happens to the rest of society? You can guess from this the world of, Five Days Notice, is a dark and depressing place to live. So, I needed some brilliant characters to bring the story of passion, corruption, betrayal and love to life. All in all there are seven main characters Malcolm the manager, Michael, Kerry, Ariel, Hope, River and Alan.
            Once again I based each character on a question. What if your job was your only anchor to reality? What if you loved someone you were not supposed to? Could you really sell yourself and destroy your morals in order to keep your job? Could you murder someone that you have known for so many years? At what point is enough-enough? And so on. This meant that every character has a different question to answer and this meant drastically different back stories and different motivations as to why they should keep their jobs. It also meant certain characters could and would betray, deceive and manipulate and some couldn’t do that even though that had the means.
            There are two main love stories in, Five Days Notice; the most central one is between Ariel and River. Ariel is in her late thirties and River is in his early twenties. I wanted to show no matter what age, background or personal experiences people can fall in love. The two of them have great chemistry in the book. Writing the dialogue has never been so easy, as it flowed perfectly between them. It is a really sweet and gentle love story about two people that have been madly in love for so long, but never had the courage to take a leap of faith. 
             The other love story is completely opposite. It is purely physical and about a woman manipulating a weak willed married man so that she can keep her job. It is a very hot romance and that doesn’t mean it is wrong. It is a different form of love, as people need different things at certain points in their life and in this relationship both parties benefit.
            There are no good guys or bad guys in, Five Days Notice. Originally I picked one or two people to be the villains, but by the end of the novel you actually end up relating to the reasons why they did it. One man suffers physical abuse by his drunken wife and one of the women characters has a daughter that she would die for. I think that is the beauty of this story and why it is my personal favorite. It is a story about ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. They are pushed to their limits, as they don’t want to become one of the damned in society by losing their job.  The characters go to extreme lengths to make sure that by the end of the working week they still have a job to go to, but you can understand and sympathize with everything that they do. 
              From readers feedback I know many people actually connected with different characters. It meant some people had a happy ending, some had a sad ending, some had a rather unique ending, but from the reviews I am safe to stay that no one was left disappointed.
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Romanctic Suspense Novel, Five Days Notice, now only $0.99 on Kindle.

Buy it at Amazon

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WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT FIVE DAYS NOTICE:

A novel of intrigue, fear, love, betrayal, and root instinct...The reader is drawn into the chaotic world of the poor and damned, all while focusing on the desires and traumas of River and his love and his willingness to do anything to ensure Ariel does not loose her job in a world where jobs are even rarer than gold...

Thrilling and enticing, Five Days Notice is a fascinating and a must read for indie authors!!!

Julian Drury
Author of   Utopolis

*******************************************************************
Alex Sinclair has done it right again.
He weaves his tale taking the reader with him as he goes in and out of the personal
struggles and emotion roller coaster of her characters. He does not do it with one
chapter at a time dedicated to each one as many writers before him. He treats us with little snippets of intrigue as we learn to like, unlike and like again those he presents to us.

Before Alex is through we see rational people metamorphose into being: self-destructive, a murder, thief just to stay employed at a dead end job.

Read Five Day Notice and see if you agree who does and who does not deserve to have their lives forever affected by management.Five Days Notice

Thursday, June 2, 2011

WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING...

ABOUT "SUNNY DAYS, MOONLIT NIGHTS"


It's time to share some of the wonderful reviews "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights" has received from reviewers.

ONE TWIST - LEAVE A COMMENT AND BE ENTERED IN A DRAWING FOR A FREE COPY OF "SUNNY DAYS, MOONLIT NIGHTS".

To listen to the first two chapters, read by me on the radio yesterday, click on radio link at the end of this blog

The Pen and Muse Review: Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights by Jean Joachim

Joachim provides us with a sweet romance with a tale of powerful love that is once again found. Sunny Days, Moonlit Night follows the story of Caroline who leaves her controlling husband. Caroline finds herself with a Mike, a childhood crush. Together they have a wonderful tension. Together they rekindle something that they had a long time ago. Will that be enough to get rid of Caroline’s controlling husband, Brad who won’t let go? A man who is used to getting what he wants. Unfortunately he thinks he can step out on Caroline and have her sit and take it. Caroline leaves for this very reason although Brad’s trouble seems to find her again. Joachim enchants us with these lovable characters and bonds us to them. We will root for both Caroline and Mike. As an author she has a wonderful talent to put you right in the characters mind and their world. Be enchanted and enjoy the ride that Caroline takes on where love actually conquers all.
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REVIEW BY DR. J

What Are Friends For? "Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights" by Jean C. Joachim

Caroline Davis White is a well-known artist and married to a wealthy, controlling man. She has everything money could buy except one thing: love. Brad refuses to give her a divorce she so desperately wants. With no money, family, or friends, she flees to the Catskill Mountains where she spent her summers as a young adult.

Mike Foster has achieved success and made more money than he could have thought possible, but it destroyed his marriage and cost him his son. he is wary of every woman he meets, knowing his money may be more attractive than his good looks. Caroline reconnects with the life she had and friends from long ago. Mike stepped out of her teenage dreams into her life again, looking more handsome and tempting than ever. Caroline knew Mike back then, but is he still the man she fell in love with?

This is a very provocative love story about two hurting, disillusioned people who reconnect after many years but who now bring a sizeable load of baggage with them. Once they were young and carefree, spending their summers with friends, enjoying the mountains and swimming in the local lake, looking forwarrd to life's many possibilities. Now both have been hurt in significant ways and even though the old feelings seem to be alive in each of them, they both have secrets and along with those secrets come fears that revealing their true selves and the present dimensions of their lives, they could lose far more than they ever have before.

Caroline has been married for a number of years to a man who seemed to care for her in the early days of their marriage. Now, for the past two or three years, he has reverted back to his old ways and has been openly unfaithful to her, even to the point of discussing his affairs openly with her. He refuses her requests for divorce because in his mind, Caroline is a possession--a beautiful asset to his position as a wealthy man and a figure in New York society. Her fame as an artist has also become his "property" and no matter what she says to him, Brad takes delight in controlling every aspect of her life. Somehow she has amassed some funds and she is now walking out on him when he is out of town, hiding her location from him, and beginning divorce proceedings. With the help of a very good attorney who happens to be a good friend, Caroline tries to get her life back.

Her destination is the old summer cabin her family used for years in the Catskills. There she runs into the handyman who looks familiar--turns out he is her long-time friend and buddy Mike Foster. He is still doing odd jobs in the area and on several nights a week he appears at a local establishment with his rock band. Caroline is delighted to find her old friend who happens to be the man who made her heart sing so many years ago. He is now more handsome than ever, and while she is fully aware that she is still married, she knows that down deep she is still in love with him. Their old friendship is re-established and the old feelings re-emerge for them both. But Caroline and Mike are deeply fearful of being blunt honest--he is a multi-millionaire who has returned to his boyhood home, and she is a married lady in the midst of a messy divorce. This does not bode well for either of them or for their future together unless they can get past all these secrets.

This novel really digs into the heart of what it means to build trust between two people whose emotions become entangled. Obviously, withholding such basic facts about their individual situation is not a good foundation for building any semblance of relationship. While they are having fun reconnecting, their are others who are seeking to bring them both down publically. The media is seeking the "missing wife" of the wealthy New Yorker which places her ability to get her life away from Brad in danger, and any dirt they can dig up or manufacture on Mike is going to put his visitation rights with his son in difficulty. Lots of serious consequences for these two if all does not go well. Caroline has her art and Mike has his life and his music. Can they find a way past the fear and distrust and disappointment and find their way back to each other?

Both Caroline & Mike are like so many today who have become caught up in their lives, in their circumstances, and who have been injured deeply by persons in their lives they once loved and trusted. Those are the most painful kinds of wounds. There does come a time when the new and very vulnerable relationship between Mike and Caroline takes a beating--is really in danger of being destroyed, and how they get past that challenge with all its questions and sadness is a large part of the latter half of the novel. Their story reflects the kinds of challenges so many face when somehow they must find a way to rebuild what was once a good and emotionally satisfying love. Sometimes it works out, but for others the relationship cannot every be rebuilt.

I found this novel compelling and as is true in so much fiction, it combines true literary entertainment with some insight on living that can be helpful to many. Certainly it is instructive to think carefully about the values of honesty and open communication no matter what. In Caroline's case, would it have really hurt her chances with Mike if she had been upfront with him from the beginning? I don't think so. Perhaps his experience of going through a painful divorce could have been a helpful resource for her. Is there really any value in "going it alone" if there exists a friend whose judgment is trustworthy? Again, I don't think so. These were two critical errors Caroline made that came back to bite her in the backside. Reading this story was a very good experience and the book is one that I am sure I will be re-reading in the near future. I don't think this is a simplistic story--too many interesting characters and too much at stake for it to be simply a "girl meets boy" kind of romance. The situations in this story are messy because human life and relationships are messy. That is one of the things that makes for good fiction.

So I recommend this to romance fans and believe it will be a book well worth reading. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
Posted by Dr J at 11:35 AM

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8:52 AM | Posted by An Open Book | | Edit Post


Review By: Dawne Prochilo

Title: Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights
Author: Jean Joachim
Publisher
Astraea Press
Recommend? Yes

Review: Artist Carolina Davis White is stuck in a loveless marriage. After years of feeling trapped and stuck, she runs away from her cheating husband and his money, which he uses to benefit himself. She finds herself at the family cabin in the solitude of the Catskills and reconnects with old friends including Mike Foster. Finding peace, obtaining her divorce and falling for Mike are in Carolina's future. But alas, watch out for that selfish husband, Brad. If ever a man needed to be knocked down a notch, he is a prime suspect.



Mike is dealing with his own loss, his son years ago and all the money he's made over the years mean nothing to him without true love. Add in that he's wary of all women, who may be after his money.



If you're looking for a sweet, sensual side to romance, this is the book for you. Take the beautiful and charming Catskills, add in love, friendship and romance and this book will grab you in. I was drawn into the storyline immediately and Joachim's dynamic writing style, dialogue between Carolina and Mike is so remarkable. The love grows with each scene creating the love all women cherish and desire in life.
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 From WebbWeaver Book Review Blog
This is book is an awesome love story. I started reading and couldn't stop...my favorite kind of romance. It has all the makings of a good love story; a friendship/crush/love that is re-kindled after several years and then goes thru some drama to finally end in a 'forever' scenario. There are some twist and turns that will keep you turning pages and the characters seem real and not 'too' perfect. T.Lane
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Ms Joachim uses her writing talents to paint vivid characters that are real to anyone. Nothing about this romance seem false in the story's delivery or characters. It has a bit of spicy, but just enough to keep the reader interested.

The ending is tied up so nice and well. I find this book so charming and good. I cant rave enough about this novel


Now, Would I read this again? Yes, you better believe it..
I would wish some of these audio romance publishers like Brillance or Harper Collins) would record this piece to CD or download. It is made for spoken word. It sings off the pages as you read it!

Bennet Pomerantz

AUDIOWORLD


To listen to my reading of first two chapters, click radio 
This will take you to the site. You will have to fast forward through the interview part to get to the reading. Thank you for listening!
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Buy the book for only $3.99 at
Astraea Press(all formats)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TUESDAY TALES ON WEDNESDAY THIS WEEK

Confessions and Lies has been cancelled this week. Instead we have Tuesdays Tales. Some writers chose to continue with the ice cream prompt as they are into their stories. The prompt for this week is: the post office. 

I have posted intro sentences to the writers short stories with links to click on to get to the rest. My blog will follow at the end here. Click on the word "here" to read the rest of the story of each author.



FELICIA ROGERS (ICE CREAM & POST OFFICE):
Two weeks. Two weeks until Harrison’s Ice Cream Parlor reopened for business. The new counter tops shone beneath the incandescent bulbs. The coated walls carried an odor of fresh paint. The tiled floors gleamed after the extreme buffing.   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...


J. GUNNAR GREY (THE POST OFFICE):

“William.” Mum paused in the library doorway, keys in hand. She wore her best silk traveling suit and a twist of pearls, overdressed for a quick delivery of her younger son to the next town although I liked the color. Poised as she was on the balls of her strappy sandals, chin in the air and eyes alive, she seemed to hover on the verge of something long desired and all-too-long out of reach. “Charles is leaving for school.”   CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...


J. F. JENKINS (THE POST OFFICE):

Instantly, I recognize the handwriting and my stomach starts
to turn itself into knots. The significance of the jawbreaker and the bracelet clicking in my head.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...


KAY SPRINGSTEEN (ICE CREAM & THE POST OFFICE):
Kevin halted his steps at the gate, as intrigued by the nicely rounded rear end as he was by the fact that the woman was playing in the dirt behind her house.  CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...



JEAN JOACHIM (ICE CREAM & POST OFFICE):
The Post Office story follows Chapter Two of the ice cream story, "Mint Chip"


Ice Cream

Nina and Clint met when they collided at The Creamery and Clint's mint chip ice cream ended up on Nina's shirt. After cleaning herself up, Nina introduced herself to Clint and discovered they both like mint chip ice cream. Here is the last paragraph and chapter two of  "Mint Chip" :



“Can I at least buy you a cup of coffee to make up for the
shirt I wrecked?”

“Why don’t you come over and I’ll make us both
some  coffee. Some noise in my too quiet house would
make me feel better.”

“Great. Meet you there,” he said, finishing the last of his
cone.


Chapter Two

        Nina returned home before Clint arrived. She ducked into the bedroom to change. While she had her shirt off, she took a look in the full length mirror on the back of the closet door. Trying to be objective, she admitted she didn’t look too bad. Everything may have been a touch lower than it was ten years ago, but she still looked good.

        Rummaging through her drawer, she found a raspberry tee shirt, rather low cut and slipped it on.

        Don’t be ridiculous! He’s ten years younger than you! Grow up.

        But she brushed her hair, refreshed her make-up and inched the shirt a little lower, giving her cleavage some exposure. Nothing wrong with flirting. I need practice and he’s perfect since he’ll never be interested in me!

        She descended the stairs quickly, a new lightness to her step and got busy in the kitchen. While she was rummaging through the refrigerator for something more than coffee to serve, she heard the doorbell at the back door. It was Clint.

        “Coffee smells delicious,” he said, sniffing the air as he walked into her kitchen.

        He stopped and looked around.

        “My kitchen next door doesn’t look anything like this. This is awesome,” he said, running his hand over the granite counter top and looking at the pristine oak floor.

        “We renovated the kitchen last year.”

        “I love the light green on the walls,” Clint said, his gaze traveling from the recessed lighting to the country artwork, finally settling on her.

        He looked her up and down, unashamed to be sizing her up, his brown eyes lighting up when they met her big blues. She fidgeted with the hem of her tee shirt, her gaze dropping to the floor trying to remember why he was there, totally discomfited by his appraisal.

        “Coffee! Yes…it’s ready,” she said, glancing at the pot.

        “Can I help?” Clint offered.

        Nina shook her head as she took out two mugs with country prints on them and put them on the tray with the sugar bowl and a small pitcher of milk.

        “Sit over there,” she suggested, pointing to the snug booth carved into the alcove.

        Clint did as he was told. Nina poured the coffee into the mugs and took the tray over to the table, concentrating on keeping her hands steady and wondering why she was so nervous all of a sudden. This isn’t a date! He’s a neighbor. You’re being friendly, neighborly. It isn’t a date…is it?

        After moving the mugs, milk and sugar to the table, Nina slipped into the booth opposite Clint, raised her mug,looked up at him and asked,

        “At the risk of being mundane, what do you do, Clint?”

        “I teach English, high school English. But I’m here this summer to write a play,” he admitted, embarrassed.

        “A play! How fabulous!”

        He looked up at her, surprised.

        “That’s wonderful. I’m an actress. What are you writing about? Can I read it? Can I help by reading aloud? It would be good practice for me,” she babbled on.

        Clint’s smile seemed to reach from ear to ear.

        “I haven’t written it yet, but sure…I’d love to have you read…maybe even help me write?”
        “I’m no writer,” she said, looking down at her mug.

        “I don’t know if I am either,” he laughed.

        “Tell me what it’s about,” she said.

        “The story is about a man and woman getting a divorce. They have a child who is manipulating them, trying to get them back together by behaving badly…” he paused.

        “Is it working?”

        He nodded.

        “She’s making them work together to get her back on track and while they are, they fall in love again.”

        “What a lovely story…” she said.

        He looked down at his mug, raised it to his lips and drank. She watched his face carefully.

        “None of this is based on real life, is it?” she asked.

        He shook his head.

        “Six months ago, when I got the idea, I wished it was, but now I know it can’t be so…no, not based on real life.”

        “Can I play the wife or am I too old?”

        “Nothing old about you,” he said, sweeping his gaze down to her waist and back to her eyes, lingering on her chest for a moment.

His eyes connected with hers producing a spark of electricity in her, reddening her cheeks. While his gaze held hers, he slowly smiled as if seeing her for the first time. Feeling heat from him, she blushed deeply and her mouth went dry as his gaze settled on her lips.

“Ice cream?” she asked him, feebly.

“Mint chip. All because of mint chip,” he said, covering her hand with his.

(To be continued)


Post Office
PRIORITY MAIL
By
Jean Joachim

 Chapter One
             When Sandy agreed to come to Pine Grove for the summer to help out her Aunt Clarice who had her hip replaced, she never dreamed so much drama could be going on in a small town. Sandy was filling in for Clarice at the post office for the summer months until her aunt could get her bearings and come back to work. Sandy worked every summer in the post office during her school years in Portland, Oregon, where she lived with her parents until she graduated college.
            Last summer, Sandy set up housekeeping with Dennis, her college sweetheart, until she found him cheating on her this past April and moved back in with her parents. Sandy was still recovering from the break-up and her parents thought it a Godsend for Clarice to send for her. The young woman was looking forward to a change of scenery.
            On her first day, she met Bill Wilton, the man who picked up and dropped off packages. Bill was about thirty years old, handsome with brown hair and blue eyes and built like an athlete.
            “You’re Clary’s fill-in?”
            She nodded.
            “Nice,” he said, looking her over.
            Sandy blushed and continued to look around, getting familiar with where everything was.
            “I come in here twice a day, Sandy, once to pick up and once to deliver.  Which one will it be for you, sweetheart?”
            She stared at him as if he was speaking Chinese.
            “Just jokin’, babe. Calm down. Relax, you’re cute but I’m not going to attack you or anything.”
            She smiled as he tipped his hat and was out the door with a load of packages. Sandy opened the mailbag Bill brought with him and began to sort the letters and small packages. When she was done it was ten o’clock. People began to come by and check their post boxes for mail. Although Pine Grove was a small town, at least forty people had post boxes. Sandy watched them enter.  Cecelia Wright, a woman of fifty years, opened her box and squealed with delight as she pulled out a small package.
            “Grandkids!” she said to Sandy as she carefully ripped open the package and shared the photos from her daughter.
            Sandy smiled and cooed over each photo until someone needed service. She sold stamps and weighed several packages before Allison Gray came in. She had trouble getting her key in the lock as her hand was trembling.
            “Allison’s waiting for a letter from Rob. Her fiancĂ©,” Cecelia whispered to Sandy.
            Sandy cocked her head, giving Cecelia an inquisitive look.
            “He’s in Afghanistan. She hasn’t heard from him in over two weeks.”
            Allison opened the small door to the post box and didn’t see anything. She reached her hand into the box and moved it around to make sure there wasn’t something small in there she couldn’t see. By the time she pulled her hand out, tears had started. She gave Cecelia a small smile, wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and left quickly.
            Cecelia packed up her photos and smiled at Sandy.
            “Welcome to Pine Grove, honey. We’re small but you’ll be busier than you know.”             Sandy spent the rest of the day selling stamps, helping re-wrap packages and distributing the shopper to box holders. Late in the afternoon, the door opened and a young man came in.
            “Fifty priority mail stamps and envelopes, please,” he said.
            Sandy looked over the counter at him. He was blond, about six feet tall with bright blue eyes and maybe twenty-eight years old, she figured. He propped the door open as he hauled in box after box of small manila envelopes.
            He dropped the last box in front of the counter and looked up at Sandy. She couldn’t taker her eyes off him.
            “I’m Price Quincy,” he said, extending his hand.
            “Sandy Franklin,” she said, taking his warm, dry hand.
            “You’ll be seeing a lot of me. I have a mail order fishing business,” he said.
            “You sell fish through the mail?” Sandy asked, chuckling.
            “Fishing equipment. Particularly flies,” he said with a laugh.
            “Flies? Like the ones I kill with a fly swatter?”
            He shook his head and laughed heartily.
            “Hand-tied flies for fly fishermen. Stuff like that.”
            “Oh, oh, I see,” Sandy said when she clearly didn’t.
            “You’re Clary’s replacement? Where are you from?”
            “Portland, Oregon.”
            “Big city girl, eh?”
            “I suppose so,” she said, leveling her hazel eyes at his.
            She tossed her light brown shoulder-length hair at him and he smiled. His smile lit up his whole face, rivaling the reflected sun off the lake for brightness. Sandy almost lost her cool.
            “Welcome to Pine Grove, smallest town in the county,” he said.
            “Thanks,” she said, “now how many of these stamps did you want?”
            Sandy sold Price the stamps, gave him the envelopes and stayed after closing helping him to pack the merchandise.
            “Do you send out this many packages every week?”
            “Only in the fishing season and then, only in a good week.”
            Sandy turned away and smiled where Price couldn’t see her. She was happy he would be back every week. She had no intention of telling him Bill would pick up so many envelopes.
            “Do you mail these on the same day every week? I could have things ready for you if you do,” she offered.
            “It depends on the orders. You’ll know about my orders because you’ll be putting them in my box…box 52,” Price offered, looking her over when he thought she wasn’t looking.
            “How long does it take you to fulfill them?”
            “Depends on the order. I tie flies in advance but orders vary. I can’t always predict what will sell.”
            “You make a living ties and selling flies?”
            “That and taking people fishing. I’m also a writer, but that is an uphill battle.”
            “Have you been published?”
            “One book…a non-fiction on fly fishing,” he said.
            Sandy laughed.
            “That’s why you have so many orders, eh?”
            “I guess. I’m trying fiction now, though. I’ve been kicked to the curb by about ten agents so far. Summer is my big season for flies…my writing takes a backseat until winter sets in.”
            “But it’s always summer somewhere, right?”
            “Don’t you want me to write?”
            Sandy blushed.
            “Of course. Do whatever you want…just sayin’”             “I’m keeping you past closing,” Price said, looking at his watch.
            “I don’t mind.”
            “I’ll bet Clary’s wondering where you are. Can I give you a lift?”
            “Sure, thanks,” she said, taking her purse and locking up the stamps and money drawer.
            Sandy walked slightly ahead of Price, who watched the sway of her hips with interest. He opened the door for her, glancing at her legs as she got in and her skirt hiked up.
            “What are you going to do when Clary gets well enough to come back to work?”
            “Haven’t thought that far ahead yet.”
            “Maybe you’ll stay here then?”
            “Maybe, but why? I need to work and this job goes back to Clary in two months.”
            “Maybe you could do something else?”             “What?”
            “I…don’t know…but you never know.”
            “I won’t rule it out, but won’t count on it, either.”
            He dropped her at the door. Sandy saw Clary looking out the window as she thanked Price, got out of the car and started up the front steps.
            “Who was that drove you home?” Clarice demanded as soon as Sandy came through the door.
            “Price Quincy, why?”
            “No reason,” she said, smiling.
(To be continued)

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