O’Shea’s #4 – Hard To Be Brave

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fourth one using the enemies to lovers trope. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Jason Monroe angry was a sight to see.

“What the hell are we doing here, Emma?”

“Well, you said you needed a drink. So…” she said, trying to keep the smug out of her voice.

He unbuttoned his coat and yanked it off his broad shoulders. “I meant a coffee and you damn well know it.” Throwing it onto the seat, he slid into the booth and grabbed the beer menu. It was a relief not to have his eyes on her.

“Why don’t I surprise you?” She suggested, turning to walk towards the bar before he could complain again.

She blew out a breath, hard enough to lift her thick dark fringe, and jumped onto a stool at the bar while she waited for Ben to make his way down to her.

She was uncomfortably aware that she was winging things at the moment. The man with unlimited control had finally snapped. She couldn’t believe her luck. Jason had been lording it over her at work for months; then to top it off the job they both wanted had just been advertised.

Smiling at Ben, she ordered two pints of Guinness, needing a little more time to settle her thoughts before heading back to him. They actually worked well together when they weren’t fighting over who held the dominant position. Their skills balanced out: she took the lead on customer relations; he leaned more towards data and analysis.

Unfortunately, she’d been late to their meeting with a big client today after her mum’s doctor’s appointment had run over, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. She took a sip of the first glass of Guinness that Ben set on the bar and tried not to think about what lay ahead for her mother and herself. Rolling her shoulders, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the six foot two problem in the booth behind her.

The second pint glass landed in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded at Ben. “Start me a tab, will you? I think we’re going to need a few.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Like that is it?”

“Worse,” she deadpanned and walked away as Ben chuckled. She always wished she was attracted to him; he was such a great guy, but for some reason there were zero spark between them.

She really wished she could say the same about the guy in front of her. Unfortunately working with Jason Monroe ignited sparks in her mind and in her knickers. A double whammy which just pissed her off immensely.

Why was his intensity such a turn on  when she’d always gone for laid back types in her past? Why did she feel like her eyes were glued to his arse sometimes? Why did she feel like high-fiving herself whenever she made him smile or laugh? She felt like a beggar crawling around for scraps of food the way he doled those out.

“About bloody time,” he muttered, his head back, his eyes closed. “What were you doing, brewing it?”

“No, Jason, I wasn’t, but I’m more than happy to pour it over your head if you don’t stop moaning.” She threatened as she stood holding the drinks.

He opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at her. “Sit down forgodsake. I’m about to expire from dehydration.”

There was a weariness about him that disturbed Emma. She was so used to his rigid control, his strength, that seeing the cracks appear knocked her own precarious stability.

Sliding into the seat opposite him, she watched him take a long drink and lick away the creamy Guinness from his lips. Swallowing thickly, she dragged her eyes away from him and gave herself another good talking to. The problem was, these talks didn’t seem to work so well these days.

She felt his eyes on her and tried to plaster a convincing smile on her face.

“So…”

He raised his dark eyebrows. “So…”

“We need a new plan, don’t we?”

Jason shrugged. “All my current plans are shot to shit, so I’m currently re-evaluating.”

His intense gaze was making her want to fidget. Picking up a beer mat, she started turning it and took another drink. A truly awful thought flashed through her mind, making her sit up straight and smack the mat onto the table. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

The glass rested on his lips as he paused, he slowly took a drink and carefully placed it back on the table. “Would that be so bad?”

“Yes… I…” She stuttered to a halt, on the precipice and unsure which way was safety.

He sat forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Why?”

Staring at her hand on the beer mat, she realised the tips of his fingers were mere inches from her own. She watched his middle finger twitch and held her breath.

Do it! she thought, touch me.

The small distance stayed the same. It might as well have been the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Exhaling quietly, she let herself really look at him before she met his eyes again. She saw the strain around his eyes, the firm set of his mouth and wanted to kiss it away.

Was she brave enough? Could she handle his rejection? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, abject shame and humiliation, which was never good, but she thought she could survive it. It might mean a long distance move or plastic surgery but she’d deal with it. Right?

She looked back down to their hands and willed her own to move. God, it was hard to be brave sometimes. Her pads pressed down onto the table before she flexed her fingers and moved forward. They stopped as she felt the heat of the skin from the very tips of his fingers.

She wanted to look at his face and really see him, but she’d used up every ounce of bravery that she had. Her heart thudded hard in her chest and she felt the heat prickle across her chest, knowing she’d made a mistake.

She looked away and felt her fingers separate. She closed her eyes as he pushed his between hers, taking a shaky breath as his thumb stroked across the inside of her wrist.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

Advertisements

O’Shea’s #2 – The Blind Date

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the second one – The Blind Date. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Coming to an abrupt halt in front of the door to O’Shea’s, Sam’s hand hovered over the handle but he couldn’t bring himself to take hold of the damn thing.

“Shit!” he muttered.

He really didn’t want to go in there.

Stupid sodding dare! Stupid sodding so-called mates!

He stepped to the side of the doorway with some relief when his phone beeped with a text.

Matt: You there yet?

Sam: Maybe 😦

Matt: The rules clearly state that you need to be physically inside and sat down next to her to win.

Sam: I know what the bloody rules are!

Matt: LOL! Try not to be a complete dickhead. She’s actually really nice. Give her a chance, you might actually enjoy yourself 😉

The problem was, Matt didn’t know why he was allergic to dating. Admitting you’d had your heart ripped out by your ex-girlfriend wasn’t exactly Friday night in the pub conversation with your work-mates. So he hadn’t told them. Now, he was seriously thinking that might’ve been a mistake, because if he had told them, he wouldn’t be in this shitty situation now.

Closing his eyes, he tried to get his head together. He needed to just get in there, have a drink and get out. No harm, no foul.

Right. Come on!

Walking with purpose, he swung round, yanked the door open and walked into the busy warmth of O’Shea’s.

He’d arranged to meet her at the bar. It was busier than expected and part of him hoped they’d miss each other. Then he remembered the bet and he urged himself forward.

His eyes flicked over the crowd around the bar, but no-one immediately stood out. Breathing a little easier, he pulled his wallet from his back pocket and slid a ten pound note out. Seeing a gap at the bar, he side-stepped through until he felt the old oak against his middle.

“How you doing?” asked the bartender. They’d bonded months ago over their mutually painful support of Everton football club.  

“I’ve been better. A pint of Guinness, please.”

“Coming up.” Tilting the glass, Ben cocked his head and asked, “What’s the problem?”

Sam leaned forward, resting his arms on the bar. This was not a conversation he wanted to be overheard. “I’m here on a blind date.”

“What?!” Ben spluttered.

“It’s not funny, man!” he scowled.

“Why the hell did you agree to that?”

“All I’m saying is, there are football tickets on the line. FA cup final tickets. This may never happen again in my lifetime.”

“I hear you, mate.” Ben’s nod of understanding solidified their friendship. He understood the frequent agony and rare ecstasy that was the life of an Everton fan and this was the first cup final they’d been in since 2009. They hadn’t lifted a cup since 1995 when Sam was six years old.

Fond remembrances of that day were rudely interrupted by a voice brimming with amusement.

“The Toffees don’t stand a chance.”

He turned with a natural defence of his team on his lips only to be brought up short by the sight of a stunning, tall, brunette unwinding her scarf and starting on the buttons of her red wool coat. “Errr, that’s not necessarily true,” he managed to get out.

“Even if you do go to the game, it’ll just be ninety minutes of torture watching them get thrashed by Manchester United. Why would you want to do that to yourself?”

Sitting on the stool, she acknowledged Ben with a nod of her head and said, “Half a Guinness, please. Actually – no, make that a pint will you? My blind date’s here because of a dare and he supports Everton – I think I’m going to need it!”

Sam caught the sardonic edge to her words before their meaning sank in. What he didn’t miss was Ben’s snort of amusement at his double take.

Oh shit… she was his blind date!

He was going to kill Matt. Why hadn’t he warned him Ruby was gorgeous? That little shit was probably laughing his head off right this minute, knowing that he was royally cocking this up.

Ben put the pint down in front of her and they both watched her close her eyes and take a long drink, licking the creamy moustache from her lips in what he strongly suspected would be the most erotic moment of his life.

Surreptitiously shifting on his stool, he cleared his throat, trying desperately to find some way of salvaging the situation.

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “How many tickets are up for grabs if you win this dare, Sam?”

“Two,” he replied cautiously.

“Ok, here’s the deal – we have a few drinks, play some pool and we’ll call it a date. That should get you the tickets, right?”

“Right.” He really needed to form a complete sentence here or she was going to think he was a total moron.

She took another drink. He held his breath, waiting for her to lick those full, rosy lips again. His chest felt a little tight.

“Then, if we get on ok as friends, you can take me to the match.”

He choked on his drink. “Sorry, what?!”

“You heard me. I have no interest in dating right now. I got blackmailed into this by Matt’s girlfriend. Anyway, that doesn’t mean we can’t hang out sometimes. None of my girlfriends like football. So you can be my football friend.”

Ruby stepped off the stool and picked up her pint. “Come on, let’s play pool while the table’s free.”

Sam watched her walk across the pub. He watched the sway of her hips and the fall of her long, thick hair and wondered what the hell just happened.

“I’ll tell you what just happened, mate,” said Ben, with his forearms crossed on the bar while he watched Ruby lay her money on the pool table. “You just got friend zoned. That has got to hurt!”

That was the understatement of the century.

 


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

#amreading / #amwriting ~ No. 2

Welcome to my latest reading and writing exploits – including interesting blogs, books, news on social media, alongside my ongoing trials and tribulations as I attempt to write my first book.

#amreading

It was Mother’s Day recently and I got spoiled with Hotel Chocolat chocolates, a bottle of Prosecco and an Amazon voucher. Cue some serious time spent reading book blogs and reviews trying to find some new authors and books.

Here are some of the books I one-clicked:

  • Black Hills, by Nora Roberts – a really good romantic suspense story as well as a romance. Lil and Coop have history and she makes him work to get her back. She’s a strong, kick ass heroine and there’s some interesting stuff in there about cougars and big cats (Lil runs an animal refuge). Not one of Robert’s very best, but really enjoyable all the same.
  • How To Catch A Wild Viscount, by Tessa Dare (currently free on Amazon)  – my first novel by this author and I really enjoyed it. I don’t dip my toes into historical novels as much as I used to, but I really enjoyed her writing style in this novella. It reminded me a little of Lisa Kleypas – who I love. I’m going to check out Dare’s Spindle Cove series soon.
  • Almost Like Love, by Abigail Strom – I haven’t read anything by Strom in a while, but I LOVED this story; contemporary romance at it’s best. It’s funny and tender, sexy and geeky, with the best Dungeons and Dragons scene EVER! Honestly, it’s worth reading just for that. This book gave me the feels in all the right ways.

Around social media:

  • This great little post on The Pros and Cons of Plotters and Pantsers, from The Write Practice, gives the pros and cons around different planning approaches when writing.
  • This is a little out of date, but there is the sad news that Samhain Publishing are closing their doors. They have some great authors that they’ve worked with over the years. Potentially, this is a worrying reflection on the state of publishing today.
  • Stacey is SASSY, an excellent blog, reviewed Jill Shalvis’ latest Cedar Ridge novel – Nobody But You. I can’t wait for this book. I’m a die hard Jill Shalvis fan and Stacey’s fab review left me wanting more.
  • Follow Red Cheek Reads on Twitter – amongst other things, they tweet about free books and books on sale. I’ve picked up some great freebies over the last few weeks from their tweets.
  • A final treat, again from Twitter, is from @ForeverRomance – I love this quote!

 

  • #amreading #amwriting no 2 twitter quote forever romance

#amwriting

I wrote a piece of flash fiction this week. For those who don’t know, flash tends to be 1000 word or less. It’s a great way to exercise your writing muscles and it gives prospective readers a good idea what to expect from you. Ideally, I want to join an existing flash fiction meme, but I’m struggling to find one. I know there’s a hashtag on Twitter (#flashfiction) so maybe I’ll just do that or start my own. I’ll be posting soon, so if you’re interested look out for that.

I’m knee deep in my second draft of my romance novella and finding my way through the editing process. It started off well. I printed off my first draft and got out the old red pen to correct mistakes and move things around. I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to change. So I changed it, then realised that I needed to add quite a few more scenes and decided to develop a few ideas / characters. This rapidly devolved into an overwhelming feeling of it all getting out of control. This is a familiar feeling now so I kind of know how to handle it:

1) Panic 2) Sit with head in hands wondering what the hell I was thinking when I started this 3) Tell myself to get a grip 4) Make another cup of coffee 5) Pick up a pen and some paper and try and organise my scattered thoughts!

It took a few days, but I managed to come up with another plan (there’s that damn word again!) and I think I’m back on track now. I’m aiming to finish this second draft by the end of next week, before the kids break up for Easter and I lose my writing days to child care!

Wish me luck!

Kx

 

That Illusive First Draft

Some days, when I’m staring at my computer screen and the words are stuck behind a very large and annoying mental barrier, I think – ‘there’s no way I’m ever going to finish this bloody story’. I’ll admit it – the air may even go a little blue at times! In the past when this has happened, I’ve left that story and gone on to start something else. There’s always another idea germinating – why not go and start that and see if that comes more easily?

The bottom line is – this is a total cop out. I know it, even while I’m doing it. I have come to realise that the most important thing I need to do is FINISH THE FIRST DRAFT!!!

Yes, capitals and exclamation marks are necessary because, ultimately, if I don’t finish the first draft there won’t be a story. I can’t edit and redraft and FINISH a story if I haven’t got the skeleton of a first draft.

first draft quote

This all sounds really easy in theory, but let me outline the obstacles to finishing the first draft:

  1. I can get bogged down in editing as I write. Some writers fire through their first draft and don’t worry about spelling mistakes, holes in their plot, or other general problems. It’s all about finishing it. After that, you can address those problems in the following drafts. I can’t do this. I’ve tried, but no, I can’t do it. So I’m constantly trying to restrain myself from editing as I write. I’m getting better at it but it’s a struggle. Maybe it’s an OCD tendency, or maybe I should be an editor instead of a writer? Either way, it’s a barrier to finishing that precious first draft.
  2. My planning or lack of it. I am naturally a panster (for more on pansters v plotters see here). This means I find planning hard and often plan as I’m writing, rather than beforehand, but this can also mean that my writing can grind to a halt if I don’t know where the story is going.
  3. I’m over complicating things. For example, I can get all twisted up in the thought process of my characters, or what’s driving them, their back-story, or how I’m building the tension between the characters. In short – the minute details. I’m trying to suspend the need for every single detail until the later drafts when I can layer in emotion and add more of everything. If I get stuck now, I’m trying to move on to the next bit instead of feeling despondent and giving up.
  4. Having more than one project on the go. Admittedly, sometimes this works well for me. I can write two projects concurrently when my productivity is high, but sometimes one project overrides the other and I end up dropping one. More often than not, I don’t pick it up again. I have decided to focus on one project at a time from now on.

 

first draft Hemingway quote

Clearly, every writer has different methods and goals. I think a really important aspect of writing is finding good habits and routines that work for you. I have read so many blogs and articles about the writing habits of famous authors – most with gentler advice than Hemingway! Some facets strike a chord, but, ultimately, it’s all about finding your own path and part of that is picking out the information that grabs your attention and piecing it all together to create a plan that works for you.

If, like me, you are finding your path through trial and error then good luck and please feel free to share how you manage to finish your first drafts!

Happy writing!

Kx