Flash Fiction Friday: The Friendship Contract Part I

Isabel sat in the cafe, hands wrapped around her warm mug of tea, staring out the window at the rain. She struggled to get warm. She was chilled to the bone but supposed that was better than the numbness she’d felt for so long.

The raindrops were like the many tears she had shed. After so many failed relationships and so much heartache, she had become an empty shell.

“Would you mind if I sat here at your table?” A rich baritone voice interrupted her thoughts.

She looked up into the aqua colored eyes of a tall man with waves of black hair framing his ruggedly handsome face. Anxiety gripped her, and she looked around the cafe–not an empty table anywhere. That must be why he was asking to sit at her table. She turned her eyes to his once again. “Um, yes, sure, you can sit here. I was just leaving.” She reached for her raincoat.

The man took the seat across from her. “Please, don’t leave because of me. You haven’t even finished your tea.” His eyes moved from her mug back to her face.

“It’s okay. I really wasn’t thirsty anyway.” She finished putting her arm in her raincoat, slung her purse strap over her shoulder, and picked up her umbrella. Then she strode to the cafe door and out into the rain, her heart thumping like a big bass drum in her chest.

* * *

Two days later, Isabel, arms full of books, tried to open the door to the same cafe.

“Here, let me get that for you.” A rich baritone voice spoke as an arm reached and the hand grabbed the door handle and opened it.

Isabel looked up into the same aqua eyes from two days ago and mumbled, “Thank you.”

The man smiled, revealing straight white teeth and deep dimples. “How nice to see you again. May I help you with those books?”

He reached to take the books from her arms, but Isabel turned away.

“It’s all right. I’ve got them.” She moved to put the books on a table, and after she did, she turned to move to the counter to order her tea and walked into the man with the baritone voice.

He looked at the spines on the stack of books. He murmured a couple of the titles aloud, “How to be Happy Alone; Single and Happy Life Journal; How to Overcome Loneliness”. He turned his eyes back to her, one eyebrow raised.

Heat crept up Isabel’s neck and into her cheeks. She lowered her eyes and wished she could melt into the floor.

“My name’s Brett Hoover. Would you please allow me to join you at this table this afternoon?”

Isable straightened, pulled her shoulders back, and lifted her chin. “Look, Mr. Hoover, I don’t know what it is you want, but whatever it is, I’m not interested. I just want to be left alone.” She tried to step around him.

He moved to block her escape. “Please, miss, I don’t want anything other than to share a table and some conversation … maybe help you if I can.” His tone was soft and gentle.

Isabel was at a loss for words. Help her? He wanted to help her? Just what did he think he could do? Brett didn’t move. He was waiting for a response. Isabel resigned herself to the fact that there was no way to avoid this guy. She shrugged her shoulders. He could share her table and he could talk, but that didn’t mean she had to talk.

They went to the counter and placed their orders — something a bit more substantial than just coffee and tea. Then they returned to their table, and Isabel quickly whisked the stack of books from the table and placed them on the floor by her chair.

“I’ve introduced myself, but I didn’t catch your name?”

Isabel studied him for a minute. What did he want? But all she saw in his eyes was kindness. “My name is Isabel. Isabel Tomson.”

“Well, Isabel Tomson, you seem to be lonely and unhappy. Would you like a friend?”

“A friend?” She wrinkled her brow.

Brett raised a hand. “I swear … a friend. No strings attached, and if you don’t like talking with me or meeting me in public places, you can tell me to get lost at any time.”

“Why?”

Now it was Brett’s turn to wrinkle his brow. “What do you mean, ‘why'”?

She dropped her eyes to his hands that rested on the table. No wedding ring. “So, you’re single?”

He nodded.

“Why do you want to be my friend?”

“Because you need one.”

“That’s it? Because I need one?”

Again, he nodded. “What do you say, Isabel? Will you give it a try?”

“What’s in it for you?”

“Ah, I see. You’ve been hurt. A man, or maybe more than one.”

Isabel sat back in her chair and met Brett’s gaze. “More than one. Enough men to make me distrust all men because they’re not interested unless there’s something in it for them.” She held his gaze, and her eyes challenged him.

“I am so sorry you’ve been hurt and that it has caused you such distrust in men. But my offer is real and honest. I just want to be your friend … help you learn to trust again. If you like, I’ll put the offer on paper and we can both sign it.” He smiled.

His smile was genuine. “Like a contract?” Isabel quirked an eyebrow at him.

They were interrupted momentarily, when the barista brought their food and drinks. When the barista walked away, Brett nodded. “Like a contract.”

Isabel picked up her fork and stabbed some lettuce and a cherry tomato. She raised it but before putting it into her mouth, said, “I’ll take the contract.”

 

 

 

Tea and Poetry Tuesday

Today’s Tea tidbit: “That I survived the Holocaust and went on to love beautiful girls, to talk, to write, to have toast and tea and live my life — that is what is abnormal.”
— Elie Wiesel

I wrote a Diamante Poem for today:

Peace
Quiet, Still
Resting, Breathing, Meditating
Noise, Chaos, Crowds, Arguments
Yelling, Fighting, Shooting
Frightening, Heartbreaking
War

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker

The Girl behind the Red Rope by [Dekker, Ted, Dekker, Rachelle]

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker, father and daughter paired up to write this book. I haven’t read any of Rachelle Dekker’s  books, but after reading this book, I will be looking to read at least one of her books. I have read several books by Ted Dekker and because of his chosen genre, they’re always on the weird side, and they make me think. I have to really focus when reading a Ted Dekker book, which isn’t hard because they capture and hold my interest and pull me in to the story.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope did the same thing. In the beginning, I found it to be weird and my thoughts were engaged, and it kept me turning pages. The farther into the story I got, the less weird it became and the more realistic and thought-provoking it became.

It’s a story about a community that calls themselves a “Christian” community, but it’s quite clear it’s much more of a “cult like” community. They are steeped in legalism–having lots of rules to live a “pure” life.

One young man’s doubts and questions about the rules lead him to stray beyond the community’s perimeter looking for answers. This sets off lots of events that cause conflict in the community–conflict that builds until a final showdown near the end.

As I mentioned before, this book kept me turning pages. I usually go to sleep no later than 10 p.m. each night, but one night, I just couldn’t put this book down. I stayed up reading until 11 p.m. No, I didn’t reach the end that night, but I was close.

Two nights later, when I had the opportunity to pick up The Girl Behind the Red Rope  again, I finished it. In conclusion, I have to say this book reminded me of a movie I saw years ago, “The Village”. However, this book had a more powerful message.

The Girl Behind the Red Rope by Ted Dekker and Rachelle Dekker was well written and the characters were very well-developed. The story and its message will stay with me for a long time. The ending was well done, although it did leave me wondering about one thing that wasn’t really mentioned or resolved. That is the one thing that I didn’t like about the book. I am the kind of person who likes my story endings completely resolved and concluded.

I do recommend The Girl Behind the Red Rope to all Ted Dekker fans, fans of weird and/or suspenseful stories, and/or stories that are thought-provoking and worthy of discussion.

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love: A Western Historical Romance Novel by [Winters, Ava]

The Rancher’s Unexpected Love by Ava Winters, a recent release, is the story of Samantha Loche, who has survived a tragedy and wasn’t sure where to go, but she had to leave her hometown. She found shelter in a barn loft, planning to be gone early in the morning before anyone would know she’d been there. However, her tired body kept her asleep longer than planned, and Jensen Reaves found her.

What happens from there is an “unexpected love” that seems impossible to bring to a happy ending, more danger for Samantha just as she was beginning to find healing and a place to belong, and Jensen having to make some difficult decisions.

I give this book 5 stars, and honestly believe Ava Winters earned them.

Ava Winters did an excellent job of creating great characters in The Rancher’s Unexpected Love. Samantha captured my heart from the start and I wanted to see her find happiness and belonging. I also wanted to see Jensen work through his inner turmoil and come to the knowledge of the best decisions for his life.

The plot had great pacing and was laced with danger, as well as both internal and external conflict. It kept me turning pages from start to finish and tempted me to keep reading late into the night.

I read a previous book by Ava Winters, His Blessing in Disguise. You can read my review of that book, here. I have to say that, though I also enjoyed His Blessing in Disguise, I really enjoyed The Rancher’s Unexpected Love to a greater degree, and I was especially pleased to see how much better Ms. Winter’s writing is in this newest release. She also must’ve had a better or more in-depth edit done on this book because I found far less errors, which made the book more enjoyable to me as well. I am truly glad that I didn’t give up after reading just one book by Ava Winters, and I will look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you enjoy western romance stories that are clean and sweet, you’ll enjoy The Rancher’s Unexpected Love.

Tea and Poetry Tuesday

Today’s Tea Tidbit:

“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” — Ann Patchett, “Truth and Beauty”

About Blue
by Kelly F. Barr

Blue can be a feeling of loneliness and sadness.
Blue can be a song about that very feeling;
Or it can be the sky on a sunny day, warm and clear–
Such a day can touch deep and bring healing
Of the lonely, sad soul.

Blue is a shiny gemstone dug from the richness of the earth.
Blue can be one of two birds — a bluebird or a jay;
Or it can be the sweet, round, juicy berries
From which mother bakes a pie in the month following May.
Some foods are blue, like blue cheese.

Blue can be the color of water in a glassy sea.
Blue can be the waves crashing on a crystal beach
Bubbling upon the sand and rolling toward my toes.
I play with the stretching tendrils, keeping just out of reach
And chasing them back to the ocean as they recede.

Blue can be the dress I wear to a special party.
Blue can be the color of my brother’s hair,
The cover of my favorite book or teacup.
It may even be the color of a comfortable chair.
Blue is beautiful to me.