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No Redheads Allowed

He’d left her house just in time, recognizing how close he’d been to allowing his passions to take control. She’d seemed willing. But his voice of reason told him that she wasn’t that kind of woman. She was the put a ring on it first kind.

Why was he even thinking of what kind of woman she was? She wasn’t his type. Period. He buried the idea of rings beneath a mountain of logic and the images of flour footprints on the floor and a rusty car named Alice.

He sat at his desk, gazing unseeingly at the bowed heads of his students as they concentrated on an impromptu writing assignment. They knew better than to bother him with questions. He’d been morose and grumpy all day. He’d scolded Ben Howard for losing his homework without the usual wink to lighten the reprimand. And Ellie Winslow had barely escaped his ire. He scowled at her bent head, the sight of her frizzy copper hair—almost the same color as her aunt’s—only making him more irritable. He should transfer her to Ms. Lowenstein’s class. Ellie was the root cause of all his trouble, the little sneak. Lying to him about her grandmother. He wondered if Polly had given her niece a lecture yet. The girl had been even quieter than usual today, so maybe Polly had.

Twice now he’d been hoodwinked by a redhead in his classroom. First Ellie, with her mischievous lies, then Polly, employing her infectious smile and pretty, twinkling brown eyes to lure him into agreeing to read her book. He was going to establish a new school policy: No Redheads Allowed in Joe Matthews’s Classroom.

From Her Ordinary Joe
Copyright © 2014 Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Infect

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The tree fort

He tugged her hand.

She followed.

He said nothing as he led her out of the pasture, keeping to the shadows beneath the trees as they walked at a brisk pace down the main drive. She was very aware of the gravel beneath her feet, the tiny, hard pebbles digging into the soles of her high heels.

It was late afternoon. The sun was low on the horizon. The warm breeze was scented with eucalyptus and fresh-cut hay. Familiar smells. She wanted to stop for a moment. She wanted to drown in the scents surrounding her.

The party music grew fainter as Jake veered off the drive and strode down a familiar dirt path that wound its way through an old apple orchard. The narrow path forced her to walk behind him, but he didn’t release her hand. His grip tightened when she tripped a little, but he didn’t shorten his stride.

She was out of breath when he stopped at the foot of the oak tree. Their favorite oak tree. The tree that held in its noble, strong branches the fort they’d built together when they were children.

“Take off your shoes.”

She guessed his intent. She eyed the rope ladder. “I’m not going up there.”

“Yes. You are.” Still holding her hand, he bent down and took her right foot in his free hand. Agile fingers undid the ankle strap and removed her shoe. He tossed it aside with a careless gesture.

She was forced to hold onto his shoulder for balance as he swiftly removed her other shoe. She couldn’t find her voice. She couldn’t find the strength to protest when he rose to his full height, grabbed her by the waist and lifted her onto the second wooden rung of the sturdy ladder.

“Climb,” he ordered, his hard chest pressing against her back as he put action to words and stepped onto the rung below her.

She had no choice but to climb the ladder, clutching the thick rope as the ladder swayed a little. His breath was warm against the back of her neck as he followed her with effortless movements. When she reached the trapdoor, his arm brushed against her head as he pushed the door open. Then, setting his hands on her hips, he hoisted her into the tree fort.

She scooted across the smooth, planked floor and sat down, her limbs shaking a little from exertion. She sat with her legs tucked beneath her, her back pressed against the wall. She watched as he followed her into the one-room fort, his broad shoulders barely squeezing through the opening. He hunkered down across from her.

The thud of the trapdoor closing behind him echoed in the sturdy wooden structure.

For a few moments, the only sound was their breathing, hers fast and agitated, his harsh but steady.

Sunlight filtered through the thin gaps between the wood wall slats, casting a pattern of leaves and branches upon everything inside.

Annie’s eyes were captured by the band of light that cut across Jake’s angular face. His features stood out more sharply than usual. His cheekbones were prominent, the skin stretching across them was ruddy. His tense, square jaw emphasized the severe line of his firm mouth.

She still couldn’t meet his eyes. Those beautiful silvery blue eyes that saw too much.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in here together,” he spoke at last, his voice low and sandpaper rough.

An excerpt from  Annie and Jake
Copyright © 2018 Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Thin

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Don’t marry him, Annie.

“Those were his dreams, Annie. Not yours. Why can’t you see that? You persist in being so damn obstinate that you can’t even see what you’ve turned into.”

Somewhere deep inside of her a tiny voice whispered that he was right. She knew that she’d changed. She knew that she was holding on to her stubborn pride. Diminished as it now was, it was the only thing that she had left.

When she continued to stare at him mutely, not allowing that voice to speak, something softened in his expression. He caught her close to his chest, wrapping his arms tightly around her. He buried his face in her hair, his mouth grazing her ear as he entreated quietly, “Don’t marry him, Annie. Don’t marry him. I’m selfish too. I’ve always wanted you for myself. But don’t think that’s why I’m begging this of you. Listen to me as the man who’s been your best friend for most of your life. Maxwell Fischer is bad for you. He’ll never keep his promises. Please. Trust me on this. Don’t go back to New York. Stay here. Come back to the things you seem to have forgotten. Be the Annie I know again.”

She couldn’t. She couldn’t. To do that would be to give up completely. She heard Maxwell’s voice in her head, his stern advice, his words that came from experience, power and influence. He’d helped her so much already. Jake was wrong. Maxwell would keep his promises. Maxwell would help her realize her dream.

“I can’t,” she whispered.

“You can,” he persisted. He pulled back slightly and cupped her face in his hands. “You can.” He pressed his mouth to her forehead, her eyelashes, her cheeks. “Please, Annie. Stay.” Then he took her mouth, kissing her roughly, urgently at first, then sweetly as he continued to whisper pleas against her lips.

An excerpt from  Annie and Jake
Copyright © 2018 Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Slight

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A load of malarkey

He thought she was crying. Polly lifted her head from the table, took one look at his befuddled expression, and threw her head back, gales of laughter pealing forth. She felt her face turning bright red. She was laughing so hard, she really did start to cry.

Joe, biting his lip in halfhearted irritation, presented her with his handkerchief for the second time of their acquaintance. This made her laugh even more. She buried her face in the handkerchief, inhaling the faint scent of sandalwood. From the corner of her eye she watched him sit down across from her.

She held his handkerchief to her face for a while longer, knowing her cheeks were as red as a beet. “That girl,” she finally managed to say from behind the cotton screen. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she b-becomes an actress someday. To make you fall for a load of m-malarkey like that!”

Another peal of laughter followed. Joe wasn’t laughing, but she could see that he was amused. Finally, she calmed down. She wiped a residual tear from her eye with one corner of the handkerchief before tucking it into her pocket. “I bet you think we really are crazy now,” she said.

“At the moment I’m just relieved that your mother isn’t dying after all. I like her.”

Polly gave a small hiccup of laughter. “I don’t know why you would. Unless you enjoy being manipulated. Watch out, Joe. She’s going to take over where Ellie left off, unless I’m able to drum it into her skull that you’re not the type of man I’d even remotely consider marrying. If I ever marry.”

From Her Ordinary Joe
Copyright © 2014 Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Laughter

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An amusing misapprehension

Jessica sat down at the table. “How old is he?” she asked Anna, indicating the baby.

“Eight weeks.”

“He’s adorable.”

Anna beamed. “Gracias. Yes, he will be as handsome as his father. Do you have children?”

“No. I’m not married.” Jessica took a sip of iced tea.

“You have known Señor Ethan for a long time?” Rita inquired with more than polite interest. “You are his friend from San Francisco?”EB

“Um, no. Actually, I only met him, uh, Ethan, yesterday. My car broke down, you see, and Mrs. McAllister was kind enough to ask me to stay.”

Rita dissolved in mirth. She clapped her hands over her mouth, chortling through her fingers. “Oh, I said the wrong thing.” She said something in rapid Spanish to her sister who let out a hoot of laughter. Jessica looked at them both with increasing confusion until Rita at last was able to explain her amusement. “I thought you were his girlfriend, the one he was to marry. I never met her. I said to him—” She chortled again. “I said the two of you would make beautiful babies together!”

From Ethan’s Bride
Copyright © 2013 by Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Rapid

A conversation in the garden

“How’s that new student of yours doing?” her neighbor asked too casually as he shook out the dirt from a head of lettuce.

“He’s amazing,” she enthused. “Sam has wonderful musical expression. He’s a special little boy.”

“I haven’t seen that guardian of his around,” the old man fished.

Lindy turned her head away, pretending interest in a butterfly that fluttered amidst the late-blooming roses. She hadn’t seen Devin either. Not since two Sundays ago when she’d met his girlfriend. Or, was she his fiancée? Janelle had implied as much, although Devin had introduced her only as a “friend.” If she really was his fiancée, then Lindy wished him luck. It’d taken less than five minutes of conversation with the other woman for Lindy to figure out that Janelle was the type who was only interested in a man’s wealth and the expensive things that he could buy for her. And if Lindy could see that so quickly, why couldn’t he? Men, she thought, were so blind, especially when caught in the web of a pretty woman who knew how to flaunt her feminine assets.

From The Return of Devin Wakefield
Copyright © 2018 Margaret Desmond

This post is in response to the Daily Prompt: Flaunt

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Isochronic Tones

I’ve just completed my latest book. It’s 68,000 words long, and it took me twenty days to write. Now I’m in the process of editing. I’m not boasting. I’m sharing a tip with my fellow writers. Actually, a tip for anyone who wants to stimulate their brain and achieve a higher state of mental alertness whether it be while writing or studying. I bet a lot of you have already discovered this amazing tool for yourself. But it’s new to me, and I’m excited to pass it on to anyone who hasn’t heard of it yet.

Isochronic Tones.

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The example above shows a 1-second snapshot of a 10Hz isochronic tone. If you count the waveforms you’ll see they are repeated 10 times over this 1 second time period. Source: https://www.mindamend.com/brainwave-entrainment/isochronic-tones/

I highly recommend the Mind Amend series on YouTube. Personally, I begin my writing session listening to the Cognition Enhancer for Clearer and Faster Thinking. This 30-minute session wakes up my brain and gets the creative juices flowing. You need to listen to it with headphones and keep hydrated.  Next, I listen to one of the 3-hour tracks, like the Study Focus Extended ‘Pulsating Synth’ or the Study Music to Increase Focus: Cognition Enhancer Extended, Orchestral 2 with Isochronic Tones  Headphones aren’t required with all of these. Read the notes below each video for recommendations. I wear headphones all the time, at a volume loud enough to hear the tones but not so loud that I can’t hear my dog asking me to take her for a walk. Also, I only listen to them for the first part of the day (or writing session) before switching to classical music. Otherwise, my brain is too wound up to let me sleep. This is my caffeine.

There are also tracks to help with memorization, meditation and sleep.

You can read more about Isochronic Tones here.

Happy writing, reading, studying, etc.,