Tag Archives: 3TC

A New Life [flash 201]

When she was a child, she played in a magic garden with a sparkling unicorn and a rainbow of butterflies. One day, she jumped in a glittering aqua pool and was pulled out by rough hands. Scared, she stared into an unfamiliar face.

“Foolish girl,” the old man said. “That river is dirty. Don’t go in there again.”

“What about my white horse?” she cried.

He laughed but not unkindly and returned her to the orphanage, where they punished her for escaping again. A few years later, they sent her out to work for a wealthy family to earn her keep. She cleaned their floors and sometimes was allowed to help in the kitchen, where she might stir a pot of sauce or cut up vegetables.

One day, she was in the driveway helping the chauffeur wax the white limo when the old man appeared, the one who pulled her from the river. He didn’t seem to recognize her however.

But when he walked past he commented, “When you’re eighteen you can get your license and learn to drive my limo. Maybe a car can replace the white horse you left behind and you can create a new life for yourself.”

~*~

BrewNSpew Cafe

Image credit to lovethispic.com

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Glow [flash 341]

Golden glowing sunrise with a pink and lavender sky

“Let’s use the darker shades now to layer our sky,” Anita instructed. “We want to get a sense of the deep lavender hues of the waning night, and then we’ll put the bright light of the golden sun last.”

She stood back to admire her painting in progress–her best one yet. She was really nailing this Glow series. But then she glanced over at Michael, who seemed to be having quite a bit of difficulty. Poor guy. He didn’t seem to be focused. She walked over to help him.

“Hey, honey. That’s a really good start.” Anita swirled her own brush through his pink mixture. “Let’s just brighten up your sky a bit here and here, okay?”

He was so non-responsive. But that was the trouble with guys like Michael. You gave and you gave and they didn’t care at all. They acted like you should worship them or something. The hell with that!

“Now look, sweetie. You’ve got way too much chocolate brown there for the tree. For heaven’s sake!” Anita began painting over Michael’s tree with conviction. “I’ll fix it. It’s always my job to fix things, isn’t it?”

She stepped back to view his canvas. Much better. “What do you think?” She nudged his shoulder and he toppled off the chair and onto the floor.

“Dammit!” Anita was annoyed. Now she’d have to take time away from painting to get Michael situated properly in the chair again, which wasn’t easy given how stiff he’d become already. She bent down to pull him up and noticed that he’d begun to smell.

Painting class was officially over. Anita picked up her finished canvas and her unused paints and put them in her truck. She doused the studio with gasoline and tossed a flaming rag through the window before driving away. As she headed for the freeway, she saw the glow of the burning building bathe the early morning sky.

She really didn’t cope well with rejection. Hopefully the next man wouldn’t be such a jerk.

~*~

The Daily Echo

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Who Needs Drama? [fiction 725]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Kevin and Lexi took a romantic stroll and she told him about her past, after which they shared their first kiss.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother
Trust Issues
Something You Don’t Know
Moonlight]

Man in blue suit talking at meeting

Kevin had a busy morning, which was a good thing because he didn’t want to spend time thinking about Lexi. His afternoon passed similarly, in a crush of meetings and reports, since it was third quarter end, and he needed everyone in sync for a great year-end. Just because he’d downsized from Chicago to Otter Village didn’t mean he’d lost his drive to produce the bottom line results for his superiors. A hotel was a hotel after all.

But eventually he ran out of energy, even after copious amounts of coffee, and called it a day at 9pm. Now there was a difference between this sleepy town and the big city: he had pulled all nighters at quarter-end back there as general manager. Part of that could have been due to his ongoing anxiety to impress the Chairman of the Board, aka Dad, he finally admitted to himself as he headed out the door into the refreshing evening air.

“Hey, Kev.” The afternoon chef greeted him as he headed toward the beach. “Going for a run tonight?”

Kevin had changed into casual clothes a few hours ago. “Actually I’m headed home to zone out in front of the tube. I’m beat. Tomorrow?”

“Sure thing!”

Unfortunately, without work or exercise to direct his thoughts, they immediately wandered back to Lexi… and that kiss.

Kiss in the moonlight

What had happened to his plan to go a year without getting involved with anyone? It hadn’t even been four months since he’d relocated! He had thought he’d ended things sensibly and amicably with Emily, but she’d badmouthed him to family and friends, while he’d said nothing, trying to be a gentleman. They’d all relentlessly criticized him, telling him what a terrible mistake he was making. Yet, he stayed in Chicago, where he’d grown up, gone to school and college, knew everyone in the neighborhood.

But then Emily slept with his best friend, got pregnant, married him, had the baby. Kevin felt forced to attend the wedding and fake happiness, with his parents and sisters gloating “told you!” every chance they got. Spiraling into a black mood, Kevin began hitting the downtown bars every weekend and hooking up with whichever random woman caught his eye. One of the women was a employment recruiter, in Chicago for a convention, and had stuck her card in his pocket before they’d parted. Disgusted with his life, Kevin impulsively called her when he found the card. Not for a date, but to send her his resume.

She had a job for him–this one, 3,500 miles from Chicago. Perfect!

Kevin unlocked the front door of his rented condo. He liked it here. Liked his simple life consisting of work, exercise, friends, TV. Once every couple weeks, he called his mother to say hello and “liked” one of his sisters’ Facebook photos. If they texted, he’d give a short, cheery reply. No drama. That was the key.

Relationships were drama. And Lexi? Kevin laughed as he peered in the fridge. Lexi was the freaking epitome of drama. She escaped here, supposedly incognito, after being the victim of a violent crime, with her crazy husband as the perp. A cop killed her mister, and the dead dude’s brother blamed Lexi. Even though Lexi had been using a fake name (more drama), brother dearest, likely another psycho, found her, and he’d probably eventually hotfoot it up here for a dramatic showdown.

Kevin pulled out a container of leftover Chinese food and smelled it. Seemed fine. He dumped it in a bowl with the leftover rice and nuked it in the microwave. As the oven ticked away, Kevin stared out into the darkness of his patio. Just last night he had been with Lexi, in the warm kitchen of her rooming house, filled with the delicious scent of freshly baked cookies. It was nice having Lexi fluttering around him, making sure he was happy and fed. A man could get used to that. Not to mention her soft curves, fitting so well in his arms…

The microwave dinged. As Kevin ate dinner by himself, he thought maybe he could be a little bit flexible on that one year dating moratorium he’d given himself. It had been four months. What if he said six months, not a year, and took things really slowly for the next two? That could work…

Redhead with brown eyes

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Current Events

Mosaic fish

Swirling under a butter sun,
Languidly I become
One with the current,
Ever circling
This luminous pool,
Looping through my lazy reverie.
Vaguely aware I am losing
Some essential identity,
A separateness
That makes me, me;
I vow to forsake this place.
Yet the heady siren’s call
To blend into the cool blue thrall,
The glassy-eyed sameness,
Knowing a belonging
Even while longing
To stand alone and free,
Breathing, thinking, feeling…
Without worrying whom to please,
Recaptures my peace.

[Inspired by Rory’s sheeple post.]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon

Moonlight [695]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Kevin told Lexi he had discovered her true identity, and Lexi told Kevin she’d received disturbing news about Dan.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother
Trust Issues
Something You Don’t Know]

Cookies

Lexi took a deep breath. “Dan is my brother-in-law. Technically the brother of my deceased estranged husband. Not sure there’s a term for that.”

“Not sure either,” Kevin said. “Okay. I see. I’m sorry to have brought all that up again. Has he been contacting you?”

“He contacted my sister Vicky.” Lexi stepped closer to Kevin, and he embraced her again. She liked how easily the physical affection had materialized tonight… and also she needed to speak softly. “He found me on an internet newsfeed. He knows where I am. He, um, actually saw a photo of us together at the Otter Festival and is freaking out over the idea I’m having fun so soon. It was a nice photo of us. I’ll send it to you.”

“Great, but geez, I’m sorry. Now I feel even more like a jerk for stalking you online. I know! This isn’t about me.” Kevin hugged her. “But I’m a self-centered gorilla.”

She laughed. “No, you’re not! You’re very kind. Stop fishing for compliments. Dan is scary, especially now… after we know Jim cracked up. Maybe it’s genetic. Maybe Dan is about to lose touch with reality like his brother did.”

Kevin held her shoulders and gazed into her eyes. “This is a lot to deal with. Are you okay? Do you still feel comfortable here in this house? Maybe we could alert the local police–”

“Vicky’s husband Nick is a cop,” Lexi put in. “And he says Dan hasn’t done anything or made any threats. He wants to talk to me though. I have nothing to say. I already–”

One of the other tenants came into the kitchen and opened the fridge. “Help yourself to some cookies,” Lexi offered.

“Hey thanks!” After he extracted a Coke and put a dollar in the jar, he grabbed a cookie from the plate.

Lexi was about to explain to Kevin what she discussed with Dan at Jim’s funeral, but then another tenant came in and began to heat up a can of chicken noodle soup.

“Maybe we could take a little walk in the moonlight?” Kevin whispered in Lexi’s ear, and she shivered from his nearness and the romantic idea.

“I’ll get a jacket.” She dashed up to her room and back down again. Kevin waited by the front door. “Do you have your cookies?” she asked him.

“In my backpack,” he reassured her. “I’d never forget my care package.”

“Aww.” She held his hand as they stepped off the porch onto the sidewalk and then strolled down to the beach path. “I really like my landlady and all the tenants, but I avoid telling them anything too personal.”

“That’s smart,” Kevin said. “I also keep the personal discussions out of my workplace as well. In the hotel biz, it’s easy for things to get overshared, and I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable on the job.”

She nodded. “Makes sense. I haven’t really come up with a cover story other than a bad relationship I don’t want to talk about, and since I’m not great at lying, I figure it’s best just to avoid people.”

He squeezed her hand. “But eventually you have to make friends!”

“Yeah. I know.” Or more than friends. A warm glow surrounded her even though the wind off the water was chilly.

Beach at night

“What did you do about Facebook and all that stuff?” Kevin wrapped an arm around her, keeping her warmer, as they stepped onto the sand.

Lexi laughed. “Deleted all of it! And I don’t miss it either. Most of those friends are fake anyway. They don’t care about what you’re doing. I have Vicky to keep me up to date.”

“And to freak you out.” He pulled her close. “Kidding. I’m glad she warned you. I hope Dan doesn’t contact you in any way. You’ve been through enough.”

“Thank you.” The waves softly splashed against the sand as they continued their stroll. “You’re right though… I do need a friend up here. And thanks for being one.”

“Maybe we can be more… than friends,” he said. And as a billion stars glittered their approval, he kissed her in the moonlight.

Kiss under a full moon

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Something You Don’t Know [fiction 888]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Lexi and Kevin both have baggage and trust issues that will make a relationship challenging.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother
Trust Issues]

Welcome mat

Lexi felt so relieved to see Kevin at the door. She didn’t want to be alone tonight! Vicky had left several anxious voicemails, asking if Lexi had heard from Dan and to please call ASAP. They’d just gotten off the phone, and Vicky sounded totally freaked out by her encounter with Dan at the park. Nick was concerned too, jumping in at the end and warning Lexi to be extra careful, which was ominous coming from a cop.

“Hi!” Lexi greeted Kevin brightly with a quick hug. “I’m so happy to see you! Come on in. The first tray of cookies is ready!”

Kevin looked bemused. “Great, thanks. For a second there, you seemed upset.”

“Me? Ha ha. Not at all!” She motioned for him to follow her down the hall, past the great room where a couple other tenants were watching sports on TV, back to the kitchen/dining area. “Just making sure my cookies don’t get burnt. No one likes burnt cookies!”

Chocolate chip cookies

She fussed over him like a silly girl, trying to distract herself, making sure he had a plateful of perfect cookies and exactly what he wanted to drink. “Are you sure you don’t want coffee? It’s no trouble to make a pot.”

Kevin smiled. “I’m sure. This iced tea is fine, thanks. But you’re acting like you swallowed a few caffeine pills yourself. Sit down and relax!”

“I guess I am a bit wired,” she admitted, trying for some honesty. “I was talking to my sister right before you got here and we always get each other’s energy levels up.”

She noticed that Kevin’s smile faded when she mentioned Vicky, and she wondered if he could tell she wasn’t being straight. Though they hadn’t known each long, she had a sense he was trustworthy; besides that, she needed to confide in someone after Vicky had made her feel so nervous for her safety again. She didn’t know anyone else in Otter Village well enough to tell her secrets to.

“This crazy thing happened last spring,” Lexi whispered across the table. “I try not to talk about it. I came here to escape from it really. But today I found out that–”

“I can barely hear you over the fan,” Kevin said. “But… if you’re trying to tell me that you’re Alexandra Mitchell, I already know.”

Full moon in night sky

Feeling a confusing mixture of relief, anger, and fear, Lexi arose from her seat at the table and walked over to the patio doors. She stared out at the darkness, wondering if Dan was going to storm up here, as Vicky feared, and continue harassing her about how she was responsible for Jim’s death.

But how did Kevin know her real name? Stalking her on the internet probably. She felt betrayed that she wasn’t allowed to keep anything private. Couldn’t start over. Couldn’t stay anonymous. Coming up here was all for nothing. Except…

“Full moon,” Kevin remarked, coming up behind her.

Lexi shrugged.

“Look, I’m sorry I didn’t wait until you told me.” Kevin touched her shoulder. “But I was curious if my mind was playing tricks on me. I could have sworn I saw you before and–”

She held up a hand to stop him. “I get it. My face was everywhere. It was a huge story. And now Dan can’t let it go.”

“Dan?” Kevin frowned. “Who’s Dan?”

“Oh, so there’s something you don’t know,” she snapped at him.

“I guess I should go,” he said, stepping away from the patio doors. “Thank you for the cookies, Lexi. They were really delicious.”

“Stop!” she said as he reached the doorway, and he turned around abruptly. “You have to take some with you.”

“Okay,” he said and leaned against the doorframe.

“I don’t have any Tupperware,” she said as tears formed in her eyes. “These are all Carolyn’s. I should get some…” sniffle… “Tupperware. But I have some baggies and you can rinse them out and reuse them.” She wiped her eyes on a napkin. “You really should, Kevin. Else it’s so wasteful.” Her shoulders shook as she tried not to cry.

He came over and hugged her. “If it means this much to you, I promise to wash and reuse the damn baggies. I’ll take pics.”

Silhouette couple

“Thank you,” she said into his chest. He was solidly warm. “I’m sorry for snapping at you. It’s okay to know things.”

Kevin continued to hug her and stroke her hair, which felt absurdly comforting after being alone this whole month with no one to talk to except Vicky on the phone, since she’d deleted all her social media and was trying to be nobody. Also, Kevin was so cute and yummy, so there was that…

“Here’s something you don’t know,” he said, “which might make it easier to talk to me from now on, if you want to.”

She lifted her head and stared at him. “Are you a cop too? That would be convenient!”

“Sorry to disappoint you.” He laughed. “But no. I’m just totally smitten with you, is what I was going to say. But I can see how having an armed guard might be more helpful.”

She wrapped her arms around him. “I’m good with this.”

He gazed into her eyes, and just when she thought he was going to kiss her, he said, “Now, who’s Dan?”

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Miko’s Plan [fiction 610]

[This is a multi-part story. We previously read that Liana had been declared a guest of the island Queen. She’d been spending her days in luxury after a harrowing ordeal at sea. But now a ship has been captured and she must pretend to celebrate with the others.

If you’d like to read the chapters in order, please follow this list. Thanks!

The Murmuration
Liana’s Journey Continues
Captured
The Shark’s Tooth
An Honored Guest]

Shark

Miko stood in the shadows of the royal hall and watched Liana delicately nibble on fruit from a tray held by her servant girl Sura. He remembered carrying Liana when she’d fainted on the sand, months ago, after the storm, after she’d killed his men. She’d been skinny as a stick back then. Ugly as a lizard.

But look at her now. She glowed; her long black hair was silky and lustrous. Her body was as plump as a sweet summer berry. And somehow, she was with child, halfway along. The Queen had declared it was another gift from the gods, but Miko didn’t believe that. He figured Liana had become pregnant the usual way and then gotten lost at sea. Though how she’d managed to kill his men, seasoned warriors both, was a a mystery.

“You said you know that girl?” he said to the man beside him.

Terrified, his hands bound with rope, and his body bruised and bleeding, the prisoner managed a nod.

Miko pushed him forward to the center of the room. Everyone grew quiet as Miko announced, “My men captured a second ship fishing in our territory, near the southern coast. Unfortunately most died except this one. He says he recognizes Liana.”

There was a collective gasp. A low murmur began. “Silence!” shouted the Queen. “What is the meaning of this, Commander Miko? How dare you offend our honored guest, a gift from the Storm God himself?”

Miko watched Liana shrink back in fear and knew he was right about her. She wasn’t special, just an ordinary girl, though a beautiful one now. And he meant to have her. It was the least the Queen could do after Liana had killed his men.

“I am but your humble servant.” Miko bowed deeply to the Queen in the fawning manner that he knew she liked. “But this wretched prisoner insists he knows your guest. He gives me no peace. I beg your pardon to allow him to speak.”

The Queen turned her wrath on the trembling man. “Speak, fool! What do you know of our Liana? She came to us from the storm, after the murmuration and the rainbow, as was foretold. We have had great fortune since!”

Treasure

The prisoner cleared his throat. “Liana is from our sister island, dear Queen. We traded with them before the great volcano destroyed them all. She is the daughter of Benji, who was their blind oracle. Twenty-one years ago, a trading party visited and one of our daughters stayed behind for a summer to learn from him. She returned home with much knowledge and a baby.”

Miko kept his eyes on Liana as the prisoner rattled on. The others were enraptured by his story, but Miko was more interested in Liana’s reactions. Tears glistened in her eyes, but then she caught him staring at her and smiled. She whispered to her maid and they giggled. She then gazed at the fruit tray, seemingly bored with the story. As she selected a piece of mango, her gaze flicked back to his and she began to play with her shark’s tooth necklace.

“…fever. Then Liana came to live with a family on Benji’s island. She was still so small she probably never remembered her real mother.” The prisoner sagged as he finished speaking. No one offered him food or drink.

“Liana,” the Queen said. “Is there any truth to this idiot’s babbling? Have you ever met a blind oracle?”

Liana smiled. “No.”

“Kill him and then roast him,” the Queen commanded, and her warriors dragged the prisoner away as he began shrieking. “Where are my royal musicians?”

Fire

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Trust Issues [fiction 801]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. In our last episode, we read that Dan, the brother of Lexi’s deceased husband, has discovered where Lexi lives and is raging angry about what he believes has transpired.

Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies
The Angry Brother]

Chocolate chip cookies

Lexi didn’t hear her phone buzz with Vicky’s message warning her about Dan because she was in the middle of a Very Serious Task and had her favorite Taylor Swift CD blasting.

Yep, Lexi was baking her famous peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, and she wanted the first tray done and cooled by the time Kevin was due here in about an hour. She creamed the butter and sugar, smiling at the memory of how kind he’d been to her last week at the festival. She’d put the cute otter beanie baby on her dresser upstairs, right next to her jewelry box.

Maybe once they got to know each other a little better she could confide in him. Tell him about what happened in the city, Jim’s depression, their separation, his crazy anger. That horrible day. It would be nice to have a strong, comforting shoulder to lean on. But not yet. She needed more time. Attraction happened in a second, but trust had to bake. Like these delicious cookies, it couldn’t be rushed.

*

Kevin left the hotel early, deciding he needed a beach run before showering and going over to Lexi’s place. So many thoughts whirled through his head. He wanted them to settle down before he saw her again. He knew who she was now, and he understood why she hadn’t said anything.

Being a curious guy with a good memory, Kevin knew he’d seen Lexi’s face before. Spending time with her at the otter festival had made him even more certain of it. Yet, he was sure they hadn’t met before the day he’d helped her after she’d fallen off her bike. He wouldn’t have forgotten a woman as pretty as Lexi Brown. He must have seen her online. So, he did a search. It didn’t take long to find her picture, since the news orgs had uploaded so many versions of it last spring. Wow. He felt so bad for her when he read the story of her crazy ex coming into her store and threatening people. She could have been killed!

The idea of Lexi lying on the floor in a pool of blood left Kevin shaken. He pounded his way down the packed sand in hopes of dislodging the awful mental image. It didn’t happen; she was safe! Her brother-in-law had negotiated her rescue, along with her coworker, and then another cop had shot and killed her ex. Kevin wondered if Lexi blamed herself for that.

Kevin’s ex-girlfriend Emily had been tangled up in guilt over her parents’ death in a car accident she thought she caused, and it had affected their relationship to the point that Kevin had broken off their engagement. He’d felt terrible about it, but when Emily had repeatedly declared she’d never have children because something bad might happen to them, he couldn’t deal with her any longer. She’d refused to see a counselor, telling him there was nothing wrong with not wanting kids. There wasn’t. But he wanted them.

He had also escaped, like Lexi, taking this job in a remote town to avoid the censuring eyes of all their mutual friends, along with his own family. Everyone thought he’d been “mean” and should have given Emily more time. And, ironically, she was now married to someone else… and had a baby. Oh life!

Kevin kept running, then abruptly turned around. He loved how deserted this place was. The sun was setting ~ it was a perfect evening for a jog ~ and yet he was alone on this stretch of sand. He slowed to cool down. Took deep breaths of the fresh, salty air. Even though it had been a couple years since Emily, he still felt a bit raw. And Lexi was certainly still grieving. Much too soon for either of them to get involved.

But… she was so pretty. And she had such wonderful sparkling brown eyes. It was so sweet of her to invite him over for dessert tonight when he’d stopped by her gift shop yesterday. He didn’t even know why he went in there… he never went to souvenir row. But he had convinced himself he was hungry for a vegan sandwich from the place next door to her. Yeah right.

They could just be good friends though. Kindred spirits. Have smoothies together. Pick each other up when they fell off their bikes. And if they weren’t doing anything special for Thanksgiving, maybe they could spend the day together. No biggie.

Kevin showered, changed, walked over to Lexi’s place. Knocked three times.

She opened the door and the scrumptious odor of something baking wafted out. “Hi, Kevin. Come in.”

“Hey.” He immediately noticed that her eyes weren’t sparkling and her face was paler than the dusting of flour across her chin. “What’s wrong?”

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

The Angry Brother [fiction 780]

[This is a multi-part story. Lexi Brown is trying to escape her past and create a new life for herself in Otter Village, 500 miles from where a traumatic event occurred 6 months ago. Her sister Vicky still lives back in the city. Here are the posts in order so far:

Falling
Sisterly Chat
Smoothies]

Man staring at computer screen

Dan opened his news app as he nursed his third cup of coffee. It had been another sleepless night and he couldn’t focus on work. He hadn’t been able to focus on much of anything lately since Jim had been killed six months ago by that trigger-happy cop. They should have known his brother wasn’t going to hurt anyone; he was sick, and he’d needed help. His wife had run out on him instead of trying to help, but that was women for ya. Dan shook his head and clicked from one article to the next.

He found himself scrolling in the event section. Bunch of crap. Ren faires. Concerts. Festivals up and down the coast. Dan was about to close the app when a photo caught his eye. Happy couple, heads close together, smiling… wait a damn minute!

“That’s Alexandra!”

He scanned the article, but she wasn’t named. It was about a project way up in Otter Village to benefit the animals. Whatever. He’d know his sister-in-law anywhere, even if she’d chopped off her long brunette locks and dyed them red. Those eyes! That smile! And she was with a new man already, just six months after her husband had died? Women, right.

Pacing back and forth in the office hallway, Dan cursed under his breath. He wanted justice! He wanted his brother back! It wasn’t fair! That cop who killed Jim didn’t even have charges filed against him. So what if Jim had a gun? He only fired it because he was scared. Nick had already talked him into setting the women free, and the only reason Nick got wounded was because the other cop was a hothead. Now Jim was dead, Dan had no family, and Alexandra had a new guy plus her all the love and support of her big, happy family.

Well, she might be 500 miles away in some remote village, but Vicky wasn’t…

*

Puppy in the grass

“Leave it, Ginger,” Vicky said to her puppy, who was trying to sniff something gross. It was a beautiful afternoon and Vicky was thankful for her lack of appointments so she could enjoy the cooler weather. So nice to have the park almost all to herself on a weekday. She’d make up the work later.

“Vicky,” a male voice behind her. “I need to speak to you.”

She whirled around, suddenly nervous. Oh, it was only Dan, Lexi’s brother-in-law. “Hi, Dan. How are you?”

“Not good.” He raked a hand through his hair. “Not good.”

“Sorry to hear that. It’s understandable.”

“Don’t patronize me!” he shouted. “You still have your whole family!”

Ginger woofed, but she was just a little puppy. Vicky backed up. “Okay. Right. I see you’re pretty upset. Maybe we should talk about this later. Did you follow me here?”

Dan shrugged. “I’m sure not gonna come knocking on your door when you’ve got a cop in the house.”

Vicky backed up another step. “I see. Well, maybe we can chat more tonight. I have a few errands I need to–”

Man and woman arguing outdoors

Dan shook his head and stepped in front of her. “It’s always later with you people, isn’t it? You and your sister. Always avoiding problems. Never able to deal with reality when it’s not pretty and prefect.”

“Dan, hey. I’m really sorry about Jim. But it’s not my fault. Or Lexi’s. You know she tried really hard to save that marriage, to save him. But he wouldn’t go to a doctor. He refused counseling. He–”

“Lexi!” Dan laughed. “So, that’s what she’s calling herself now? Typical. Run away and change your name. God forbid you deal with your responsibilities.”

Vicky took a deep breath. She saw that Dan was in a rage, out of control, unable to listen to reason. Just like his brother.

“I found her, you know.” Dan gave Vicky a smug smile. “Yep. Otter Village? I tracked her down, and I have a thing or two to say to her. You bet.”

“Leave her alone!” Vicky yelled, pulling her phone out of her pocket to call Nick. “Just stay away from my sister! She’s been through enough.”

“Put your phone away, you coward.” Dan stepped back. “I’m not doing anything but talking to you in a public park. I haven’t threatened anyone.”

Vicky watched him storm away, knowing this wasn’t the last she’d be hearing from him. After she picked up Ginger’s latest offering and put it in the doggy trash, she pulled out her phone again.

“Lexi, it’s Vic. Sorry to leave a bummer of a message but Dan just confronted me in the park and apparently knows where you are. Stay alert. He seems really upset.”

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.

Smoothies [fiction 745]

[This is a multi-part story about Lexi Brown adjusting to her new life in Otter Village. Here are the chapters in order.

Falling
Sisterly Chat]

Fruit smoothies in glass jars

Lexi hadn’t realized how much work was involved in helping to organize the juice bar for her landlord at the Otter Days Festival. She’d assumed it would be a simple lemonade stand, but nope! Carolyn had decided she wanted a fancy smoothie bar with colorful fruit selections, and she’d roped the tenants into contributing time. She’d given Lexi and two others money for shopping, while a couple of the guys had been tasked to persuade a big box store to donate glassware and straws.

The week passed in a blur of work for Lexi. Between her new job at the souvenir shop and helping Carolyn, she didn’t have much time to worry about Kevin. She was bound to run into him again sooner or later in a town this small, but hopefully by then he’d have forgotten that he’d seen her picture before. Lexi’s photo had been splashed in the news six months earlier when her estranged husband, in a drug-fueled frenzy, had robbed the store Lexi had managed. He’d taken Lexi and a coworker hostage, and Nick, her brother-in-law had rescued them. But now she’d moved 500 miles north of all that…

Impulsively, Friday night after work, Lexi dashed into the salon on the way home and had her long hair cut short. She wanted more of a change, plus she hoped it would further distance her new self from her old one.

Sexy redhead

Suits you!” Carolyn said as they set up the smoothie stand at dawn Saturday morning. “Super chic and sets off your pretty eyes.”

Lexi blushed. “Thanks so much.”

She covered her eyes with large sunglasses though and stuck a baseball cap on her head, feeling more secure with an extra “disguise.” This was a big charity cause for otter rehabilitation and already people were clicking away with their phone cameras. Lexi took a few as the high school band marched past followed by creatively costumed characters. She forwarded them to Vicky and got a thumbs-up in reply.

The first customers began trickling in at 8:30 in the morning, after they finished the 5K race. After that, business stayed constant throughout the morning. They were raking in the dough and Carolyn was thrilled. “Maybe I’ll get honored at the Chamber of Commerce dinner!” she said to her helpers. “I’ve been contributing for years, but I’ve never received a plaque.”

Lexi took a break mid-afternoon to use the restroom and get a sandwich. She took the opportunity to wander around and check out the other concession stands. A man was playing a mini-basketball game trying to win an otter. Lexi removed her sunglasses and stood in the shade, watching him hand over five more bucks. She smirked as she finished her sandwich, sure the game was rigged, but then he won. As the vendor gave him the otter and he turned around, she saw it was Kevin.

Seaweed the otter beanie baby

Crap, it was too late to leave. Lexi was trapped right in his line of sight. All she could do was smile and act like it was cool. “Hey,” she said. “Congrats!”

“Lexi?” Kevin grinned. “Great to see you again! How are your injuries?”

“Oh, no biggie,” she said. “I’m fine. Thanks again for your help that day.”

Kevin handed her the otter he had won. “For you. Obviously your presence here brought me luck.”

She took the soft little toy. “Oh, a beanie baby. It’s adorable! Thank you. How much did you actually spend to win this?”

“Don’t ask.” He laughed. “I like your new haircut, by the way, but I hardly recognized you there in the shadows. Trying to stay incognito?”

“Something like that.” Lexi smiled mysteriously. “A girl can’t be too careful.”

“Well, it’s nice to see you enjoying the beautiful day anyway.” He gazed at her. “Look, if you’re running away from some trouble, or an ex, I totally understand. You don’t have to worry about me–”

“Yes, it’s a gorgeous day!” she cut him off, not wanting to get into that discussion. “I’m actually helping at a smoothie stand. Are you hungry? I should get back.”

Kevin walked with her. “Can you make me a banana split?”

“I can make you a banana smoothie with frozen yogurt and strawberries and blueberries and coconut, topped with chocolate sprinkles.”

“Close enough!”

As they chatted and smiled, a reporter for the local newspaper snapped their photo and uploaded it with a story about the Otter Village Festival.

[to be continued]

~*~

©️2019 Paula Light and Light Motifs II. No unauthorized use permitted. Please check out Paula’s books for sale on Amazon.