Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Scavenger Heart

This is a ficbit to fulfill one of the prizes back in November. The winner requested something funny. I don't often write funny so I hope this fits the bill. I am a bit of a night owl so this is kind of late but I am pretty sure it's still Valentine's Day somewhere in the world. Enjoy!


"I refuse."

"You can't. You owe me." I groaned as Jeremy reminded me of my promise from mere days ago when he took care of my sister's dog when I forgot my new employee orientation was scheduled late.

He obviously heard my groan and sensed weakness. "Come on, Ari. I feel like I got hit by a truck. I might end up killing something if I am forced to run around doing stupid team bonding exercises all day."

"Fine." I capitulated. "You sound horrible. Drink some tea and sleep. Who's my partner supposed to be?"

There was a pregnant pause from the other end of the line. "Randy."

"I'm going to kill you..." Jeremy hung up before I got the sentence out. He knew I'd been crushing on Randy since I'd met him a few weeks ago when I'd met Jeremy for lunch at his office. If he hadn't sounded so horrible on the phone, I would have suspected a set up of some sort.

I contemplated throwing my phone across the room but then decided indulging in a fit of pique was not worth having to buy a new one. With one more groan for good measure, I rolled out of bed to take my best friend's place at his company's annual Valentine's Day scavenger hunt.

It didn't take long to track Randy down once I got to Mansfield Park. He was taller than most everyone else there. And, in this white wash of suburbia he was probably the only African American person there. Kind of like I was the only Jewish person there. At least this wasn't a barbeque where I had to worry about whether there would be kosher food available.

Randy caught sight of me almost at the same time I saw him. His wave was energetic and friendly. For how tall he was, he could have been pretty intimidating. However, as it was, he was just kind of cuddly. As he walked over to meet me, I was floored once again by his dark brown and sparkling eyes. I don't think I'd ever seen any eyes so beautiful in my entire life.

We clasped arms in greeting and Randy flashed a welcoming smile. "Hey Ari. Thanks for coming. The boss has these things planned weeks in advance, with partners picked and everything. I'd have been stuck as a third wheel if you hadn't agreed to come."

My annoyance at Jeremy seemed to evaporate with Randy's cheerful goodwill. I smiled back. "No problem. I've never done one of these before, though, so I don't know if I'll be any good."

Randy chuckled, and it sent shivers through me. "No worries. It's mainly and excuse to get hilarious and compromising pictures for the slide show at the annual company picnic."

I camped up looking horrified. "Oh no! All those strangers seeing me in compromising photographs. You must protect me."

Randy's previous chuckle escalated to a full blown belly laugh at my antics and I couldn't help but grin at him.

The moment was broken by a loud voice booming through the small park. "Hello Fellow Everly Accounting associates and employees. Happy Valentine's Day! As you know, your scavenger hunt lists are the envelopes that you have already received. You have four hours to fulfill as many of the photo opportunities as you can. Prizes will be given for most number achieved but also for best photo, most embarrassing photo, and most romantic photo." The voice on the loud speaker paused for effect. "ON YOUR MARK. GET SET. GO!"

Randy elbowed me excitedly. "Come on. Let's go grab a bench and make a plan."

Once we sat down, we leaned in close enough that our arms plastered against each other as we read the list. I couldn't help but snort at a few on the list and there were a few I wasn't even sure how to go about.

I waved generally towards the paper in Randy's hands. "So a few of those need other people and stores. You wanna jump in my care and drive down town to the shopping square?"

Randy agreed and ten minutes later saw us pulling into the parking spaces in front of vintage/hippy/thrift shop.

I was starting to get in the spirit of things and grabbed his hand to drag him inside. There was a counter near the door but off to one side. The woman standing behind it had on a name tag that read "Daisy" and was dressed to match the hippie moniker, her long blonde hair held out of her face with a tie died bandana and her round hips hugged by a long floral print skirt.

Daisy smiled at us as we burst through the doors. "It looks like you two might be on a mission today. What can I help you with?"

We looked at each other for a moment and laughter started to bubble out of both of us at the ridiculosity of the situation. After a moment, I pushed our scavenger list across the counter towards Daisy.

"Is there anything on that list that you could help us out with?"

She took her time and read it like she was reading scripture or something of great import. A smile broke across her face. "I think so."

She looked down at the list again. "Number three should be easy so let's start there."

Number three read, "Valentine's Day is often represented by pink and red. Take a picture where one partner is dressed all in red and one partner is dressed all in pink."

Daisy was a whirlwind and started throwing clothing at us faster than we could catch it. There was only a small corner that was blocked off with a large piece of fabric to act as dressing room. I had to stop myself from laughing and poking fun at Randy everytime an elbow or knee escaped it's confines and he looked perilously close to collapsing.

He finally exited, wearing a completely red, 90's era Chicago Bulls track suit. He shrugged, embarrassed, "It's the only thing that fit."

"Nah. You look great. It's way better than what she has picked out for me." I lifted my stack of clothes, which mainly consisted of women's clothing.

Randy smiled back. "I'm sure you will look beautiful."

I threw a hat at him.

It turned out I should not have been so hasty to judge Randy's elbows and knees. Before I was dressed all in pink, the whole curtain had fallen down, I had bruised my butt and I had learned I'd only thought I knew what a full belly laugh from Randy sounded like. It turns out the real version made my insides melt just a little.

By the time I was untangled and dressed in a pink sundress and cardigan, Randy had turned apologetic, even if it was slightly belied by the fact that he couldn't stop laughing.

I waved him off. "Yeah, yeah, laugh it up. You'll be in pink next time 'round." I turned back to Daisy, who had done her fair share of yukking it up. "Could you take our picture?"

We stood, slightly awkwardly, as she took Randy's phone and clicked a few shots of us in our red and pink get-ups. Thankfully, it didn't take nearly as long to get back into our regular clothes.

Daisy had already picked out our next task. "Let's do number five next"

Number five read, "Valentine's Day is a day when we often celebrate romance. Take a photo that imitates the movie poster of your favorite romantic movie."

Randy and I just looked at each other, then back at Daisy, slightly speechless. Finally, Randy spoke, "Umm, did you have a particular movie in mind?"

Daisy sighs. "Y'all are hopeless. Don't either of you have a favorite romantic movie?"

"Does Star Wars count?" I reply with smirk.

Daisy groans. "What about you?" she asks Randy.

"I'm more of a let's watch all four Pumkinheads in a row and get a sugar high off caramel corn kind of guy."

I almost swoon. Seriously, he couldn't get more pefect. "Oh my goodness. Blood Wings is my favorite. Seriously underrated but cinematic genious."

Randy turns slowly towards me. "Blood Wings, are you out of your mind? I don't think we can be friends any more. Everyone knows the original is best, followed closely by Ashes to Ashes."

Daisy looks at the both of us like we have sprouted second heads. I wink at Randy and turn to look innocently at Daisy. "Do you have a favorite romantic movie?"

She rolls her eyes. "Of course. And it's actually not that hard of a movie poster." She goes behind her counter and shuffles about for a few minutes before retrieving a largish piece of paper and a red marker. When she is finished she holds it up for our approval. It says, "P.S. I Love You."

I cheer a little on the inside. I've actually seen it and it wasn't horrible. I mean I cried my eyes out but no one but me and my cat ever need to know about that.

Randy is nodding too. "Can I be Gerard Butler? He's hot."

I agree without thinking, despite it meaning that I have to be Hilary Swank because Randy just admitted to finding men attractive. Which means I might actually have a shot. Maybe. And Hilary Swank is the bomb so that's not that big of deal anyway.

Daisy must have dreamed of being a photographer in another life because she begins directing us like a professional - or perhaps how an amatuer thinks a professional would direct someone.

Eventually, we get a photo with the title taped to the counter, my head lying on my hands while I face the camera and lean on the counter, and Randy's head hovering behind mine in a parody of spooning. It looks utterly ridiculous but doesn't stop me from daydreaming over what it would be like to actually spoon with Randy.

Unfortunately, there were no more items on the list that Daisy could help us with so said fond goodbyes and promised to come back later and show her all the other pictures we took. I looked at my watch and was slightly dismayed we had spent almost a quarter of our time and only gotten two photos from the list of fifteen items.

Thankfully, none of the rest of them required costume changes. Randy and I ran around downtown for the next two and half hours taking pictures of couples and families, ice cream, ducks, a little girl in a tiara, people holding hands, a statue draped in a feather boa and a vegetable in a compromising position.

We raced back to Mansfield Park with only five minutes to spare and giggling like we were teenaged idiots.

Someone had made a poster it indicated that the highest scorer so far was twelve of the fifteen photos from the list. I looked at Randy. We had twelve photos done as well. I scrambled for the list to see if there was anything we missed that we could cobble together in less than five minutes. We had no access to a newly engaged couple, someone who had recently adopted an animal or a pair kissing to celebrate a newly made connection.

I turned to Randy, about to smile and say, "oh well," but he cut me off before I could open my mouth. His lips pressed chastely against mine and I head his phone click as he took the picture. I was so stunned I couldn't respond. He glanced sheepishly at me and ran to turn in our photos before the time ran out.

A few moments later, his boss had pulled him on to the stage and lifted his arm, like he was a prize fighter and had just won the match. "And we have the winner for most number of items completed on the list: thirteen out of fifteen. Congratulations. Other winners will be announced next week via email."

I was still standing in shock at the edge of the crowd. Yes I had been crushing on him for weeks and it had just grown more intense as I got to know him throughout the day. But, the kiss felt kind of cheap, like maybe he had only done it for the win. He didn't know how I felt so I was pretty sure he hadn't taken advantage of my feelings on purpose but it still left me a little hollow, especially after how much fun we'd had.

I turned away to walk back to my car. I just wanted to leave as quickly as possible. I had just reached my car and was about to open the door when a heavy hand landed gently on my shoulder.

"Ari. Wait. Where are you going?"

I spun around to look at him. I stared for a moment, wondering if I could discern his motives just by looking at him harder. I couldn't. I took a deep breath. "Was that just for the win?"

Randy glanced away, appearing suddenly uncertain. He puffed out a deep breath before turning back to look me in the eyes. "Sorry. I shouldn't have done that without asking."

"No, you shouldn't have. But you still didn't answer my question. Why did you do it?"

"Well, umm... it said to get a picture of two people kissing to celebrate a new connection and the first thing I thought of And then I saw the clock counting down and I didn't think. I just did what I'd been wanting to do for a couple of hours. I didn't think how it would feel for you." He let out a deep breath and looked away again.

I reached out and turned his face towards mine again and pinned his gaze with my eyes. "So, it wasn't just to win?"

"No." he whispered.

"Then, why don't you try again and get it right this time." I said with a small smile.

Randy's exuberance returned with a single heartbeat and I could feel his smile when he pressed his lips to mine. It started as a simple press of lips against lips but quickly escalated as he stepped forward and pressed me back against my car. His hand cupped my face and I could feel him from my toes to the top of my head.

His tongue pressed into my mouth and the pleasure of the kiss escalated even more. I wrapped my arms around his torso and pulled his bulk even closer. We ended up making out like teenagers against my car until we were interrupted by a wolf whistle from nearby.

When we pulled apart, the grins we'd had before we started were firm on our faces once more. I turned to tell good-naturedly at whoever had whistled at us and saw Jeremy ducking behind his own car, just a few spots away.

I ran after him and tackled him to the ground. "I knew it was a setup! You are sick at all!"

"Uncle. Uncle." He yelled. I let him up, begrudgingly. "You can't complain, though. Look what came of it," he said and waved his hand towards Randy.

"Yeah. I guess it turned out to be a pretty good Valentine's Day after all."

"Yup." Randy agreed as he took hold of my hand.

The Beginning.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Howdy Folks

Howdy Y'all.
So, you probably know that my story, Light Perpetual Shines, came out last week. You can totally buy it right now at Less Than Three Press. They are having a 20% off Valentine's weekend sale so if you didn't get a pre-order discount, here's your chance to get it cheaper. I may have already spent $40 buying various books on sale. YOU SHOULD TOO (hopefully mine in there, but even if not, GO BUY BOOKS, CAUSE THEY ROCK)! :D

Additionally, if buying them is not your thing, I have TWO ways to get my story for free. Way number 1: Click here. LT3's giveaway is still going. All you have to do is comment on the thread and you are entered. Way number 2: If you are willing to write an in depth review (more than just a few sentences) and post your honest review on at least THREE sites (goodreads, amazon, barnes and noble, allromanceebooks, etc) I will give you a copy for FREE. This is limited (I am not giving away 20 copies or anything). If you are interested, email me at or message me on goodreads.

Finally, come back tomorrow. There will be a ficbit that fulfills one of my prizes from November. The other two will be posted during the week next as a fun Valentine's week celebration.

Hope you all have a happy weekend. Whether is it cuddling with your bae, vegging out with your friends or having some quality alone time - do whatever will make you feel good. :)