Stories

 

 

“My name is Misty Stevens.” I tried to catch my breath between words. “Is my mom… Are my mom and dad here? Karen and Paul Stevens?”

The receptionist pushed a button and said my name into the mouthpiece of her headset. She listened, nodding, then raised solemn eyes to mine. “Someone is coming for you, Misty. You can wait right here.”

I had the impression she’d been expecting me. I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad, and my faith that everything would be okay began to waiver. After a few minutes, a nurse appeared from around a corner and approached me with a practiced half-smile that fit every scenario I could imagine.

She said my name and I nodded, trying to interpret her expression. Before I could manage a question, she asked me to follow her. With brisk steps, she led me down a bright hospital corridor. She seemed kind. Why did it feel like there was a band around my heart, squeezing tighter and tighter?

We entered something like a small waiting room, only it had a door you could close, and no one else was waiting. The nurse said, “You can have a seat here,” as she scooped a pile of magazines off a stiff-looking sofa. “Your father’s on his way.”

I didn’t sit. I stood in the middle of that room as if I’d lost the will to move.

~ from The Ghost of Gold Creek

 

 

As the sun set behind the theater and the bidding continued to rise, he also knew he might very well be throwing away his entire inheritance for a woman who loved someone else.

 

The bidding was slowing down. The local bank CEO had finally thrown in the towel, and the only two bidders left were Lance and an art collector from out of town. Of course, the town was rooting for Lance to win over the outsider.

 

The bidding inched up, fifteen-one, fifteen-two. The collector matched Lance, bid for bid, sixteen thousand, sixteen-five. Lance sought out Gwen from across the room. She shook her head, a gesture he knew meant this was her burden, not his. Then she turned with another worried, longing look toward the empty theatre entrance.

 

Lance clenched his fists and felt the anger like liquid boiling in his chest.

 

The Hand of the Princess, Passageways

 

Michael asked, “How was she today?”

 

Alise drew a breath and released it. She’d been distracted all evening. He guessed she was still a little lost in the world her grandmother had created with her story during their daily visit. “Slow,” she finally responded, as if she’d just heard an echo of his words.

 

He let a beat pass. “Slow…how?”

 

She pressed her lips together. Michael watched his wife mentally remind herself for the millionth time that this was the reason she fell in love with him. He was the only man she’d ever met who actually wanted to know what was going on in her head. She’d told him this.

 

Over the course of their marriage, however, she’d become less willing to share her thoughts, as if she expected him to read her mind. The irony… Still, he was obsessed with her inner world, and he would expose it word by begrudging word if he had to.

 

He smiled as she literally shrugged off her irritation. Because she still loves me. Because she knows how many women would kill for a husband who actually listens.

 

 ~ Invisible Thread, Passageways

 On a Thursday afternoon, our town’s small library is empty except for my librarian and me, which is good because her expression is equal parts concern and annoyance. But that’s not the worst of it. I’m standing on the other side of the counter with obscenities about to burst from my lips like birds from a cage, and I’m wondering, how did I get here?

 

Somehow, I’ve ended up the leader of a women’s book club. When I told my sister, she laughed so loud I had to hold the phone away from my ear. “Why do you do these things to yourself?” I pictured her shaking her head at me. “People stress you out,” she said. “You should be living in a cabin on a mountain somewhere with no electricity and a phone you only have for emergencies. Instead, you end up with fifteen women and twice as many toddlers descending on your home once a week for scones, coffee and reassurance. Why do you let this happen to you?”

 

I didn’t mean to. Just like I didn’t plan to be standing here, staring at my librarian with some of the vilest words in the English language pounding in my brain to the rhythm of my ever-increasing heartbeat.

 

~Bad Girl, Passageways

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