Excerpt taken from
“TIL DEATH DO US PART”
By the time she tossed her purse and keys onto the table, Luke stood beside her.
“Hi, Baby.” He inhaled the flowered scent of her hair.
“Hi, yourself.” She turned her face upward to receive his kiss. “You didn’t have to stop playing just because I came home. You know how I love to listen and how happy I am that you finally brought your guitar out of hiding.”
“For the life of me I can’t figure why, but for you I’ll keep playing.” Luke let his hands slide to her rounded bottom before letting go and walking from the den into the kitchen, arm-in-arm.
Back in his chair, he reached for the Martin, his eyes never leaving Darlina, as she opened the refrigerator and turned on the stove. He thought about how she’d believed in him when he could find no reason left to believe in himself. For the millionth time, he wished they’d met sooner. Maybe then he could have avoided wasting fifteen long years in Leavenworth prison.
She’d been a breath of fresh air when their paths crossed in Abiline, Texas in 1970. Barely nineteen, naive and trusting, she was entirely different from the women who hung around the bars and honkytonks where he played. But, it was too little, too late. The die had been cast.
He shook his head to clear the memories. That was then and this is now. Thirty years had changed him from the arrogant, rebellious King of the Honkeytonks to a man with purpose. He’d happily hung up his neon dreams to be a worthy husband to Darlina and father to two little blond-haired blue-eyed girls who were now successful and strong young women. Being given a new lease on life, on the music he loved and on the woman he adored far exceeded his wildest dreams. He damned well intended to take full advantage of it for every day for the rest of his time on earth.
Excerpt taken from
“HOME AT LAST”
When he spotted Darlina at the entrance of the bus station, he swallowed hard.
He maneuvered his lanky frame to the front of the bus and stepped off. He dropped his case and wrapped his arms tightly around her when she ran forward. They stood quietly, barely breathing.
His chest tightened when he saw big tears welling up in her blue eyes. He hated to see her cry, even if they were tears of joy.
“Oh Luke. You’re finally home,” her voice quivered.
He cleared his throat. “It’s damned time too. Let’s get out of here. All of these people make me a little more than nervous.” Luke picked up his small case.
“Sorry, the air conditioner in the car doesn’t work. It’s damned hot,” she chattered nervously.
Luke nestled his free hand in hers and let her guide him to the maroon Chevy.
“Honey, it wouldn’t matter to me if you had to pick me up with a wagon and team of mules. God, it’s good to be back in Texas. All the way here, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore’.”
FOOLISH OLD WOMAN
“Come sit with me.” He patted the leather bench beside him.
In silence, I sat while others at the table shifted to make room. Why was I so nervous? It wasn’t like I didn’t know these people. Although I have to admit, I didn’t know them well.
I tried hard to remember names that went with the faces.
But, in all honesty, it wasn’t the people who made me nervous. It was him.
Twenty years my junior, tall, slender and handsome with brown eyes that sparkled, I saw no reason for him to have any interest in me.
Oh, I was a looker in my day. I had a slender figure, pert breasts, and round ass, but time has taken its toll. At sixty-five, gravity has sagged my breasts, and my once flat stomach has a slight pooch.
He draped a casual arm around my shoulders.
I tried to engage in conversation, but the tingles his touch left on my shoulders, distracted me to the point of madness.
When he dropped his arm behind me and circled my waist, I panicked. I wriggled and sucked in my stomach.
“Let’s go out on the veranda,” he suggested.
Clumsy and flushed, I managed a reply. “Okay.”
I slid off the seat then waited for him. I followed with my heart pounding in my ears. I scolded myself. You’re carrying on like a schoolgirl with her first crush. For God’s sake, get a grip.
We strolled out into the cool night air. The moon and stars hung carefree in the black velvet sky, and a slight breeze blew the hair back from my face.
Silence wrapped around us like a velvet cloak.
I faced him. “What are you doing?”
“I like you.” He touched my cheek. “You’re not like the others.” He pulled me into the circle of his arms and kissed me.
It wasn’t a tongue-tangling kiss, but a warm and sincere kiss.
“I don’t even know what that means.” I took a step back and drew in a deep breath.
After a long eight years of solitude, I found it hard to believe this handsome forty-something man found me attractive.
“It means that you’re honest. You’re not trying to get anything from me.”
I grinned. “Don’t be too sure about that.”
He pulled me against him and kissed me again.
“Come with me to my place,” I said as I pulled away.
“No.” He ran a fingertip down my neck to my shoulder. “I’ve done that way too many times. I want it to be different with you.”
I spun and walked to the edge of the veranda.
He followed, slipped his arms around me from behind and nibbled on my neck. “You turn me on,” he whispered in my ear as he tightened his hold on me.
I turned around for another kiss only this time, he slipped in his tongue.
My eyes flew open, and I lay still barely breathing soaking up the glorious feeling of being wanted, of being desirable.
Then ever so slowly, a tear escaped and dripped onto my pillow. Then another and another followed.
“Foolish old woman,” I muttered to myself.
It’s uncanny how I can feel him before he walks into the room. My breath hitches in my throat, and my pulse quickens.
Then, I see him. He’s the center of attention, hugging the ladies, shaking hands with, and giving slaps on the back to the men. Everyone wants to touch him…to have him turn his golden-brown eyes and flashing smile their direction.
I wait. He will eventually see me. I will get my turn to touch the golden boy. His entourage follows in a flurry. They all know their jobs and routines, as they’ve practiced and honed over the years. The short man with long hair and glasses stays close to him, ever watchful. As if anyone would want to hurt this gorgeous being. Not in a million years. Not in this crowd.
He’s making his way around the room, flashing his pearly whites.
Then in front of me, there she is. The perfect specimen of a woman. Beautiful blonde hair falling around her slim shoulders, the perfect body, and perfect poise. Her spun silk tunic, rare jewels draped around her neck, and soft leather sandals leave no doubt she is a woman accustomed to money and the most refined things it can buy.
He sees her. Everyone else is forgotten. It’s all about her. I’m sitting behind her. I watch the exchange, and gnawing jealousy starts to grow in the pit of my stomach. I want to be that woman. I want to be the one who is grabbing his attention.
A part of me wants to run, but I am glued to my seat.
Here he comes!
He hugs this beautiful woman, and they chat for a minute. Then he turns to make his way to the stage.
There I am in his path.
He reaches out and hugs me. “How are you?”
“I’m well, thank you.”
He kisses me on the cheek. “It’s good to see you.” He continues on his way.
Inside, I scream. “Don’t you remember? Did it mean nothing to you?”
Outwardly, I smile and nod to the rest of the entourage.
What was that one night all about?
But, before I ask the question, I know the answer. For me, it was the chance to have this beautiful specimen of a man all to myself for a few hours.
For him, convenience.
I should be ashamed of my shallowness, but I’m not. I should be ashamed of his shallowness, but I’m not.
He picks up his Lute, and strums.
Everything else fades away. The music takes over.
He works the crowd like always. He smiles and points to individuals in the audience as he is performing. It’s a well-rehearsed show that he’s done hundreds of times before. Everyone feels like they are a part of him. Everyone is happy to bask in his glow.
I glance around the crowded room. All eyes are on the golden god. Women sit slack-mouthed. Men smile and chug their ale. The magical dance of entertainer and audience has begun. Shadows deepen around the stone walls as merriment rises to a crescendo.
Every woman grows wet fantasizing about one moment alone with him. The men wait, knowing their reward awaits―knowing they’ll be the ones to try and fulfill the ladies’ fantasies at the end of the night.
All understand their parts to play in the dance.
And me? I’m the observer. I can see it all unfold.
Disconnected, I sway to the sensual notes that flow from the golden one’s Lute, caught in his spell.
My breath hitches in my throat when he flashes a smile in my direction. But in an instant, that breath turns to a choking lump when I realize he isn’t smiling at me. It’s her.
I allow horrid scenarios to form in my mind. I could follow her and push her from a ledge. It would be easy enough to pretend it was an accident. I want, with all of my being, to destroy her.
I want him.
It’s never to be, foolish one. You are not worthy. You are not good enough, not perfect enough, not rich enough.
A tap on my shoulder jerks me out of my thoughts. I glance up to see a handsome young man extending his hand, asking for a dance. I smile and stand. Floating across the room in his arms, I watch the golden one. Will he notice? Will he care?
“You are the most beautiful woman here tonight,” the handsome young man whispers in my ear.
“Are you real, or an imagined angel?” I ask.
A smile turns up the corners of his full mouth. “That is for you to find out.”
I melt into his strong arms. Perhaps divine intervention has seen fit to soothe my ragged and worn soul, to boost my self-worth.
Whatever it is, I will take it. I cast one last glance at the golden one. In an instant, I see him for what he really is―a frightened, insecure man in a beautiful body with that being his only attribute. Now, I’m sad for him, for her, and all the ladies who are dreaming of him between their legs. I see it for the emptiness that it is.
I’m dancing. Jealousy has flown. I am beautiful. I am desirable. Thank you, my saving angel!
**I dedicate this short story to every woman in the world who has ever suffered insecurity or self-doubt. May a handsome angel always come to your rescue!**
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