Friday, July 17, 2015

FREE Short Romance Story

Recently, in searching through my email archives for something, I happened to find the submission of a short story I'd made to a woman's magazine a few years ago. The editor had written back once to say they'd received the submission, then I never heard another word regarding the story. Ah, there was something that didn't happen often, LOL!

Anyway, it's very short, just a little over 1,000 words, a pleasant and light read you can enjoy while waiting to go into the doctor's office or with your morning coffee. It's called "Autumn Fireworks," and we're in July, but that's okay. Bringing a little autumn cool to this hot summer. Rated "G" for General Audiences, just FYI. The magazine was rather old-fashioned in nature, and so I tailored this read for them. Enjoy!

By Connie Keenan

            Laura Rosen had no time that morning for daydreaming, yet she couldn’t help herself. Through the shop’s window she could see the most gorgeous day, with playful autumn breezes sweeping leaves from the streets into mystical circles of red, brown, gold and burnt orange.
            You’re a little too old for daydreaming, she scolded herself, and a lot too busy.
            Talk about an understatement. A new shipment of greeting cards had come in and the stationery aisles needed tidying up. She loved the kids coming into the shop but dreaded the tornado-style mess they left in their wake following the mad search for school supplies. There were other chores on her To-Do list and no guarantee she’d get everything done before closing up her shop at the end of the day.
            Sunday—that would be her day. After church, it would be her time to reacquaint herself with that sweetly familiar old town. She’d grown up there, living on her parents’ dairy farm. That is, until she’d headed off for college and to see the world.
Well, she’d seen it. Then it had only been a matter of time before her heart had led the way back home, where she felt the strong sense of belonging.
            “Mary?” she called out, hearing the bell tinkle over the door, announcing someone had entered.
            Mary Simmons was a spry, little sparrow of a grandmother, a retiree who’d answered Laura’s ad for a part-timer to help her out in the shop. She couldn’t have asked for a better employee or friend, for that matter. But the visitor that morning definitely wasn’t Mary, being that he was definitely a guy. A tall, lanky guy. It took Laura a moment, but she finally recognized the blue-eyed police officer standing right in front of her.
            “Cal Becker?” she asked.
            “Yeah. Hey, Laura.” Her former classmate suddenly remembered his manners and removed his police hat. “Never thought I’d see you again. Where’ve you been?”
            “Trying to escape the big city. And I finally succeed,” she quipped, laughing with him.
            “Well, good. Glad to hear that.”
            Laura tilted her head, studying him. Since Cal was about three years older, he had to be about thirty-five now. There were lines on his plain but pleasant face that hadn’t been there before, as there were now on hers, as well. Still, he’d lost none of that boyish shyness of his that she recalled.
            “Married now? Have a family?” she asked.
            “Me? Oh, no. But as a matter of fact, I’m—I’ll be attending a wedding next week,” he explained. “Guy on the force is getting married. I’m here to pick up a card.” Turning to the display of greeting cards, Cal scanned them quickly before selecting one and dropping it. “That’s good enough—oops.”
            She bit her lower lip to keep from chuckling. “That is a nice card.”
            “Uh-huh. You know, they, uh, told me you bought this place.”
            “I did. Funny thing, huh?”
            “Yep. I remember we spent a lot of time here as kids. You worked here, and . . . ” Cal licked his lips as he pulled out some money to pay for his purchase. “ . . . I usually came in for stuff.”
            “Mmm-hmmm. Funny, too, that I worked here and now I own it.”
            “More than funny. It’s nice. Real nice.” He hesitated after she gave him his change. His badge, with BECKER in huge letters, caught the light. “You married some city guy, Laura?”
            “Almost. But it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. I’m still single, too.”
            “Oh, good! I mean—” Cal shook his head and frowned. “It’s good to see you again. I’m still here all the time. Some things never change.”
            The bell over the door tinkled again. This time it was Mary, wearing a delightful sweater the colors of autumn. She exchanged a greeting with the policeman. Laura caught her mischievous smirk when Cal wasn’t looking.
            “Some things shouldn’t change,” Laura told him. “It’ll be wonderful seeing you in here again.”
            “Thanks. ’Bye.” Those long legs carried him to the door. He paused and turned to say softly over his shoulder, “Laura, you were sorely missed.”
            Mary didn’t wait long after the door closed behind him. “Boy, a girl could get hurt with all that TNT flying between you two!” she exclaimed.
            Laura was confused. “TNT?”
            “Yes. As in, what puts the boom! in fireworks.”
            She laughed. “Very funny, Mary. Cal is just an old friend from school.”
            But now, all these years later, it dawned on her: As a teenager she had worked in the shop and Cal—gangly, shy Cal—had always found some excuse to come in. He’d buy pens or a fishing magazine, or a book from the rack. She remembered he liked mysteries.
            The fascinating thing was that he had never once made her heart skip an excited beat the way he had now. How different it was, now that he’d grown into a man and she’d become a woman. Laura knew she hadn’t imagined it: relief had sparked in his eyes when she’d told him she hadn’t married in all those years.
            She also knew she hadn’t imagined the tingle that had gone through her. Now, remembering back, it wasn’t for the first time since she’d known him, either. It had happened in their youth, too, sometimes when those eyes of electric blue had met hers.
            Again the bell sounded. Whirling around, she saw Cal in the doorway again. He stood, squaring his shoulders as he removed his hat again. Out of the corner of her eye she watched Mary discreetly step away.
            “Forgot something?” she asked him.
            “Well, Laura, about the wedding next week . . .” Cal took a deep breath. “Besides the card . . . I could also use a date. If you’re not doing anything, I’d really enjoy having you on my arm.”
            Laura’s smile grew wider, winning one from him. “Well, Officer Becker, I thought you’d never ask. . . . ”


Copyright 2015 by Connie Keenan