Harlequin dreams are still calling!

Feel free to let me know what you think of my story.  I hope I am using the advice I am getting from the many helpful writers at Harlequin to improve my writing.  I am having a blast with these challenges.  I am finding the biggest challenge is finding time to sit at the computer.  If you look at the clock you will know when I have time to do that!  Enjoy!

 

Missing in Action

997 words by KarLynn Erickson

 

As Lexi sat on the park bench, her hands clenched at her sides, she tried to let the anger and frustration pass.  The counselor had told her the stages of grief were normal and everyone arrived at them differently, but that she should let them happen naturally.

 

Before she knew it her hands slid to her abdomen unconsciously and squeezed her eyes shut.  Jacob always said they should wait, that it wasn’t the right time.  Now she suspected there would never be a time.

 

Lexi grew more sullen as the thought of those surprise homecomings she saw online and on television entered her mind.  She knew with all certainty that her and Jax would never get that moment.

 

When uniformed officers crossed your threshold, it was never good news.  Jacob had promised he wasn’t going to sign up again and then he did it.  For some reason his need to be a soldier was greater than her desire to live a normal life, as a family.

 

It was true in her vows she promised to honor him, but that seemed a lifetime ago.  They had been madly in love at the time of their wedding.  Then when Jax came along Lexi knew she was meant to be a mother.  Nothing felt more right and she wanted more.

 

But Jacob couldn’t get enough of military life.  When he came back from Iraq the first time he told her he wanted to go back.

 

His third tour of duty in their short six year marriage and now no one knew where he was.  Not even the United States Army in all their glory.  She knew that it wasn’t their fault, however she had no one else to blame at the current moment.

 

She couldn’t believe he’d done it, he left them, again.  He told her not to worry.  He would be home in no time.  Now she was so angry with him for destroying the life they had planned she couldn’t see straight.

 

“Hey there, I thought I might find you here.”  A voice broke Lexi from her angry trance.

 

“Hey, Jules.” Lexi said without the need to look up.  She would know that voice anywhere and welcomed it more than sunshine.

 

Jules had been the one saving grace in Lexi’s crumbling life.  Jules knew what to say to bring Lexi out of the depressed state that had become her current existence.

 

“How’d you know where I’d be?”  Lexi had grown accustomed people checking in on her in the last few weeks, but the only one who brought relief was Jules.

 

“Oh you know, spies, cameras and I’ve been tailing you for days.”  Jules smart reply came quick and easy.

 

“Days huh?”

 

They both laughed lightly, but Lexi had to force it.   Jules took a seat beside her hurting best friend.

 

“Can you two come over for dinner tonight?  John polished up the grill and can’t wait to show off his mad skills, those are his words not mine.”

 

“Well, I’m not sure.”  Lexi ‘s reply as weak.

 

“He will be so disappointed if you don’t.  He even bought Jax a little chef’s hat to match his.”  Jules pleaded.  Her need to keep her friend above drowning level was deeper than anything she had felt in her life.  Lexi knew this and loved her all the more for it.

 

Lexi scolded herself, “How could she deny her son’s happiness to hang out in her own hollow existence.  She couldn’t of course.”

 

“You fight dirty lady!”  Lexi said with a small closed fist to Jules shoulder.

 

***

 

On the drive to Jules and John’s house Lexi was distracted.  But what else was new.  She tried to concentrate on the road, but the sky seemed so bright.

 

“Mommy look!”  Jax squealed.

 

She chanced a glance back at her five year old pride and joy snuggly buckled behind her.  He was wiggling with excitement.  He was also smiling from ear to ear.  He was always smiling.  A trait he inherited from his father.  A pang of sorrow hit her in the gut.

 

“What honey?”  She asked forcing some cheer into her voice.

 

“Did you see that shooting star, huh mommy, did you see it flash across the sky.  I get to make a wish now right?”  Jax said.

 

“That’s right honey.  How did you know that?”

 

“Meme told me all about the stars.  She knows a lot about stars, mommy.  She even told me about how the stars make pictures in the sky.  I can find the big and little dibber.  Do you know where they are mommy?”

 

Jax was so excited Lexi didn’t dare dampen the mood by correcting him.

 

She smiled at the reference to her mother in law.  Jacob’s mother had been Meme since Jax learned to speak.  Loraine tried over and over to get the child to call her Grandma, but he refused.  She was Meme.  The boy knew what he wanted and that was that.  Another trait he inherited from his father.

 

“Ok mommy, I made my wish!  Can you guess what it is?”

 

“Um, how about a new pony?”  Lexi tried to keep her tone light for Jax’s sake.

 

“No!  Guess again.”

 

“Let’s see, how about a monster truck?”

 

“No mommy, I don’t want any of those things.”

 

“Well then what did you wish for?”  Lexi asked as they pulled into Jules driveway.

 

“Maybe I won’t tell you.  Do you think it’s true if you tell a wish it won’t come true?”  Jax asked with much concern.

 

“I don’t think that’s true honey.  If you really believe then all your wishes will come true.”  She sounded convincing, but she didn’t really believe it herself.

 

She stood unbuckling his car seat belt when he pulled her close.

 

“I wish for daddy to come home to us really soon.  Mommy do you think that star can do that?”

 

Lexi felt like she was socked in the gut.  Suddenly all of the air was gone and she couldn’t breath.

The End

I am having so much fun with these writing challenges!  I forgot why I started this blog for awhile.  I went off on a little wild tangent.  I was transfixed by all the awesome mommy blogger sites that I thought maybe I wanted to try something new.  I now know that I am a boring mom and do not have anything fun and interesting to say when it comes to my day to day.  I will leave that to the experts, because I love reading there blogs.  You will just have to suffer through my imaginary lives.  Have a blessed day!

Here it is. My second submission for the Writing Challenge at Harlequin.

The second challenge:  Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.  And she wanted a scene with a wet bare chest.  There you have it.  Hope you enjoy!

Timing is everything

by KarLynn Erickson

Crashing waves were music to Sara’s tired ears. It was a far cry and needed break from the noise of the city she was more used to. Honking horns and busy traffic was all part of her life for such a long time, she just got used to it. When she first arrived the virtual silence was deafening. Now she was captivated by the way the waves crawled up the beach and were sucked back into the ocean in a swift motion. The picturesque scene finally beginning to relax her strained and stressed body.

Sara hadn’t ever indulged in a vacation. Her 80 hour weeks at the firm would not allow her to. She wanted to climb the proverbial ladder to advertising executive stardom instead.
So when her assistant Bob came bounding to her office that horrid day with a message from her boss, Jim, with an invitation to visit his office before she left, she assumed her hard work had paid off and he would announce her promotion.

“Ok, tell him I am on my way,” she told her eager messenger. He shot her his signature thumbs-up with a broad smile and was off to his next errand.
Oddly she remembered the rain pelting against the window as it had done that whole week. It had been miserable and would not let up.

She had walked over to the gold framed mirror hanging on her office wall, sucked in a deep breath and simultaneously thunder rumbled and a lightning strike cracked and she told herself to relax. She exhaled and rolled her shoulders back. She carried her 5’9 frame tall and straight, she knew it told most people she was a confident woman. However, Sara could beat herself up over minute mistakes with the best of them. She was a perfectionist after all and when it wasn’t perfect, she felt like falling apart. She had dabbed some color on her lips, slicked back her hair into the neat bun that sat at the back of her head and walked to Jim’s office.

The news of her demise hit her hard. She remembered feeling as though the air had been sucked out of the room and her mouth was so dry. She looked around for some water, but couldn’t find any and Jim had not offered to rescue her from her parchment. His only offer was a severance package and a recommendation.

She couldn’t even speak. She just nodded her head and marched down the hall with her head hanging low. She met no one’s eyes and didn’t look back when she entered her former office. She packed her things with-in the hour and was gone, wiped clean from a position she coveted in a company she treasured.

Now she sucked in a shaky breath as the memory threatened to consumer her. She refused to let it. She forced a smile as the warm water tickled her toes. She didn’t know what she was going to do or even why she was here, but her parents had insisted a vacation was just what she needed to bounce back better than ever.

She smiled at the thought of her parents. They knew her goals were ambitious, but had always been her biggest cheerleaders. She looked up and smiled at the sun that warmed her olive toned complexion. Her body already bronzed by the constant exposure of the last few days.

She scanned the area which had been her solace while she lazily soaked up the rays. Her eyes settled on the surf shop. She hadn’t even noticed it before, which confirmed the trance she had been in. After much internal wrestling she goaded herself into getting up and walking in that direction. Enough sitting around doing nothing, she thought to herself, I need to do something!

“Can I help you?” The words came before the person appeared. Then out of an opening in the straw hut came a shirtless man in Bermuda shorts. His wavy hair, bleached from many hours in the sun, blew across his face.

“Ah, yes I believe so, “Came her weak reply. She drew in a deep breath and then, “I think I might want a surf lesson or two. Can you help me with that?” Her heart skipped a beat as she waited in anticipation for his answer.

The deep voice with a slight rasp sent a quick tickle up her spine.

“I can do that.” He said with the whitest smile she had ever seen. His teeth seemed to glean when he opened his mouth.
“Today?” She let the word drag out trying to slow her speech. She hoped her voice took on a low and lazy tone, but knew better. She was not good at flirting, but something about this man left her feeling excited for the first time in a long time.

He turned and went back inside. Her heart dropped and she hoped she hadn’t over done it.

Several minutes passed when he finally emerged. The breath caught in her throat as she fought hard to compose herself.

Water dripped from every muscle that rippled down his bare chest.

“Can you go out now?” He asked as if the question wasn’t out of the ordinary.

Once again her tongue was so dry it stuck to the inside of her mouth. She opened it, but no words came out. She looked around for something to drink, but for the second time in a short while there was nothing to quench her overwhelming thirst.