Elizabeth: It Takes a Village

Happy Friday!  Today we’re continuing the 8LW 2021 Short Story Challenge.  Though it’s not a regular Friday Writing Sprint, feel free to give the challenge a try and post your results in the comments.  We’d love to read what you come up with.  So far we’ve had Jilly’s “Snow White and the Three Kisses” and Michaeline’s “A Christmas Dream.”

My entry isn’t a holiday story, but it is a tale about a brand new start, featuring almost all of the prompt words:  daisy, annoying, romantic, formula, country, careless, confidence, piano, fluent, guest, options, ivory, star, snow, blurry, and photograph.

Enjoy!

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It Takes a Village

What was I thinking?

Jenny stood by the gate that opened onto the pathway leading to the cottage and resisted the urge to run after Mr. Hendrick’s departing taxi and say she’d made a mistake and had the wrong address and could he take her to the train station instead.

Wouldn’t that have been a sight.

Jenny was normally quite confident and rarely second-guessed herself, but she hadn’t been prepared for the place to look so forlorn with its overgrown lawn, sagging gate, and peeling shutters.  It looked like something that had been cast aside and left unattended for too long, no longer the bright, welcoming haven of her childhood.

Jenny looked at her watch, then scanned the country lane in both directions.  Where was that estate agent? Continue reading

Michaeline: Four Questions for Harper Cross

Author Harper Cross, also known as Eight Lady Nancy Hunter, aka Nancy Yeager, author of the five-story series, Harrow’s Finest Five (Starting with novella “Too Clever by Half” and followed by four full-length Victorian historical romance novels) answered a few questions for me regarding her new book, Baby One Last Time, the first book in her series, The Agents of HEAT (published April 29, 2021).

The lighthearted romantic suspense book is a second-chance romance. Cynthia has been expelled from the secret spy agency, HEAT, and her only chance to redeem herself is by working with her “tall, dark and diabolical” ex, Derek Wilder. Harper calls it “a shot of action & adventure, a dash of snark, and a twist of fun.”

She’s got a lot of fun things to say about the process in her interview, too!

Hot guy in black v-neck t-shirt with bracelet and looking over squarish sunglasses at viewer. Tropical palms, fire/scorched earth imagery.
Baby One Last Time is the latest book from Nancy, writing as Harper Cross. and is a stand-alone novel with no cliffhangers from the Agents of HEAT series. Image from Harper Cross.
Continue reading

Jilly: Midnight Reflections – A Christmas Short Story

Happy Holidays, everyone!

It’s Christmas story time again, already! Check out Elizabeth’s post for this year’s challenge words. Click here for Kay’s deliciously feelgood snowy tale, and here for Michaeline’s steampunk treat.

As my posts fall on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve this year, I decided to write a two-parter covering both nights. I picked off the prompt words in Part One, below, but the Happy Ending will have to wait until next Sunday.

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Midnight Reflections

Bong!Bong! … Bong!

The unmistakable chimes of the Great Bell of London, commonly known as Big Ben, resonated across the moonlit, traffic-free city. A random snowflake drifted from the cloudless sky and settled on the roof of the Elizabeth Tower. It was officially Christmas.

Below the belfry, in the mechanism room, Sandy Sharp, the youngest horologist in the Palace of Westminster, waited until the last echo of the final chime faded. Then she threw the temporary switch that disconnected the hour train that caused the half-ton hammer to strike the fourteen-ton bell.

She wiped her hands on her jeans and traced the raised, gold-on-black inscription at the base of the legendary clock. Made in the Year of our Lord 1854 by Frederick Dent of the Strand and the Royal Exchange, Clockmaker to the Queen, from the Designs of Edmund Beckett Denison, QC. Fixed here 1859.

Officially the clock was shut down for refurbishment, but the powers that be had decreed the Great Bell should ring out to celebrate the start of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Keeper of the Clock had asked for volunteers to babysit the process, and the other mechanics, who had families to consider, had accepted with guilty relief when Sandy offered to cover both shifts.

The team thought they knew why she wanted to do it. They weren’t wrong exactly, they just didn’t know the half of it. The critical aspects of her plan were too unorthodox to share with her profoundly rational colleagues.

Her earliest memory was of being carried in her father’s arms, up, up and around endless stairs to this room. As a tenth birthday surprise, Dad had let her place an old copper penny on the pendulum stack to speed up the mechanism by two-fifths of a second per day. On her sixteenth, he’d signed her up as his apprentice. On her twentieth, she’d joined the team as a fully qualified mechanic.

And then a scant few weeks later, joy had turned to catastrophe. Some time between the beginning of his shift on New Year’s Eve, and the end of it the following day, Dad had simply disappeared. It was as though the Elizabeth Tower had swallowed him whole.

Sandy was almost sure she didn’t believe in ghosts, but Continue reading