To keep his mother off his back, Fox struggles to live life as a straight man. Following his failed marriage, he thinks he’s found a piece of heaven when he meets Audrey, a sexy dark-haired beauty. When he’s introduced to her twin brother, his life turns upside down. Mrs. Jones, a regular shopper at Fox’s quaint neighborhood bookstore, steps in to referee the fall-out. Can Fox maintain relationships with both Audrey and her brother? Can a late night train chase bring Fox closer to the one he loves? How far will Fox’s mother go to keep her son tight in her clutches?
Fai was kind enough to write a little scene for us showing Tommie and his most prized possession. It’s both sweet and achingly heart breaking at the same time. I hope you love it as much as I did. Read and enjoy!
“Tommie! When did you get these?”
Even with the tiny size of my studio apartment, I couldn’t reach Trixie before she took the two teacups from the shelf above the sink. She turned the cups under the dim light and studied the delicate birds hand painted on thin ivory bone china. Small blue birds, their faces raised in song. My stomach turned when I saw her hands shake. She might actually drop them, and a wave of nausea shot through me. She turned one over and read the stamp, ‘Japan.’
“I found those at a thrift store last week.” I reached for the cups. I felt a thin coating of dust, so I rinsed them carefully over my sink filled with dirty dishes.
“My mother had a whole set of teacups just like these.” I couldn’t look at Trixie. I had never talked about my mother with her before, and I felt uneasy.
“I thought they would remind me of her. Like maybe when I used them it would be–“
“Like she was here?”
Concentrating on the task, I carefully dried the cups with my best towel until the glaze shone.
“And maybe someday there would be someone to share them with.”
Trixie clapped her hands. “We could have tea now!”
I set the teacups on a higher shelf. From there, the early morning sun would come through the cracked window and awaken the birds. Yes, that was a much safer place for them.
I filled the kettle, and busied myself with the ancient art of tea making. A mindless task, but one every culture reveres. I was ashamed how I had taken my mother’s ritual for granted.
“Those cups seem very important to you.”
When the kettle began whistling, I pulled it off the two-burner stove. My voice came out softly, “They are the possessions I prize the most.” I stifled a laugh that surprised me with the bitterness I heard in it. “But then, look at what all I own.”
She looked around the room, surveying my kingdom. A broken, stained sofa, the bed unmade, bathroom door open with a pile of dirty laundry on the floor, a vase, badly chipped in the center of a small table.
Carefully I poured the hot water into the teapot, adding two teabags of black tea. Steam rose into my face as I watched the tea steep. When I reached for cups, I chose the last two clean chipped mugs from the shelves.
My Japanese teacups reflected the light from the rainy day through the windows. They absorbed no warmth. The twin cups shone with the intensity of ice.
It was shortly after lunch on Friday that Mrs. Jones came in. Although she had shown such tenderness to Audrey, I was still in fear and awe of this woman. To me she was curt and demanding. I still dreaded Fridays on account of her. Today she barged through the door: middle aged, shaped like a tank, with a formidable purse that I suspected she could brandish as a weapon if she so chose. I shamefully admit that I hid, shaking, in the back room. I remained hidden behind the door as I watched through the space under the hinge.
She marched straight over to Tommie, who was innocently concentrating in his chair, bent over his laptop. He didn’t stand a chance.
Tommie looked up and scanned the shop. Not finding me, he sacrificed himself for the greater cause.
He said something I couldn’t hear then he looked around the shop again, I supposed in a vain hope that I might come rescue him. I saw him take a deep breath, preparing himself for the inevitable. Poor man didn’t have a clue what he was up against. I knew I should come out of hiding, but so help me, I didn’t have the strength. I had been dealing with her on my own every Friday for over a year, and my morbid curiosity wanted to see what she could do to someone else.
“What can I help you with, Ms. ––?
“Mrs. Jones.” She said it decisively and firmly. No question about it, she was Mrs. Jones. Like no other, she stood like a rock.
He nodded and snapped his laptop shut. “What can I help you with, Mrs. Jones?” When he stood, her eyes scanned down his body like a CT scan, slowly taking in and savoring every inch carefully.
He carried his laptop and set it on the shelf under the front counter. Mrs. Jones took in the view from behind, her head tilted thoughtfully.
I remained silent. This was getting interesting. I was seeing a side of Mrs. Jones I hadn’t known existed. I was anxious to see if Tommie could handle her.
“Well,” she said a bit breathlessly. “Tommie, your jeans are a bit tight.” He turned slowly, but her eyes settled on his midsection, centering on the zipper of his jeans.
“My eyes are up here, Mrs. Jones.”
“Totally inappropriate!” But her eyes still wandered appreciatively over Tommie’s landscape.
“Very well, Mrs. Jones,” I saw him smile pleasantly then ask, “But may I help you find something?”
I didn’t hear what she said, but to my dismay, he led her to the closet where my adult books were stashed. I almost came out to prevent the disaster that I anticipated, but instead of indignation, within moments they returned to the front desk, and I watched as he rang up her purchases. She had chosen several books.
“I hope you enjoy these, Mrs. Jones.”
“You’ve been most helpful, Tommie, not like that naughty Fox that you work for.”
She waved goodbye happily and blew him a kiss as she went out the door, her purchases held tightly to her ample chest.
“Coward!” I assumed he was talking to me, although he didn’t look up.
Fai Dawson lives in a small town thirty miles northeast of Seattle Washington in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with her beloved wife, Becky. Together, they work on restoring their 110-year-old Victorian home. She spends her days writing, blogging and walking Moxie, their Newfie-Chow through the rainy streets of town. Pepe, a brave and proud tuxedo cat is her muse, ever mindful of providing inspiration for her next project. Although she has filled countless journals in her life, she began writing seriously in 2009 as a way to deal with anxiety. She is currently working on her next manuscript.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/faimariedawson?fref=ts
Where To Buy:
MLR Press: http://www.mlrbooks.com/books.php
31-Aug: MM Good Book Reviews
1-Sep: Inked Rainbow Reads
2-Sep: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
3-Sep: Iyana Jenna
4-Sep: Molly Lolly
7-Sep: Jessie G. Books
8-Sep: Love Bytes
9-Sep: Mikky’s World of Books
10-Sep: Divine Magazine
14-Sep: Prism Book Alliance
15-Sep: LeAnn’s Book Reviews
16-Sep: BFD Book Blog, Two Chicks Obsessed With Books and Eye Candy
17-Sep: Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
18-Sep: My Fiction Nook
21-Sep: Kimi-Chan, Happily Ever Chapter
22-Sep: Bayou Book Junkie
23-Sep: Hearts on Fire
24-Sep: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
25-Sep: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews