And it’s flash picture Monday again, already. I can’t believe September is gone, that summer is officially over and there are only eighty days until Christmas. You all know there will be Christmas stuff in the stores. Hell, Costco already has wrapping paper and other items…
Anyway, I have to say I love the picture for this month, mostly because it lends to any type of story. A true cross-genre kind of image. For me, I looked at it and knew I wanted to write something different. So I’m going with a kind of odd one. It’s linked to my upcoming release Grave Measures. Not something that will be in the book, but… I think it will give a cool insight. So, without further delay here’s the pic and my tale.
Where is he? He should have caught me by now.
Isabel stopped along the trail, glancing back over her shoulder. Birds chirped in the trees, as the sun slowly headed toward the horizon. She caught a glimpse of the lake through the foliage—the waning light glinting off the smooth surface, making it look like diamonds dancing along the water.
She drew a deep breath, drinking in the scent of moss and pine. She couldn’t remember the last time her and Daniel had come here. Took time for them. He was always so busy—an endless pile of cases sitting on his desk, waiting to snatch away more of his time. Of him.
Isabel frowned. She hated his work. Hated that he put the lives of everyone else ahead of their life together. That there was always something—someone—more important. How she’d go to bed, waiting…knowing that the phone would ring and he’d been gone. Of course, they hadn’t been sharing a bed for months.
Her stomach flipped. This was crazy. What on earth had made her think one day removed from the rest of the world would change things? Change them? As long as Daniel coveted that silver shield in his pocket, a part of him would never belong to her. And believing anything else was simply foolish.
She looked back again. Nothing but swaying branches as the wind kicked up just a bit, lifting her hair off her shoulders. She closed her eyes, enjoying the way the gentle breeze cooled her skin as it fluttered her white dress against her body. She’d bought it just for today. A symbol of hope. A way of bringing back the girl he’d fallen in love with.
That annoying voice in her head snickered, taunting her with the fact that he’d never truly loved her. That what had started out as a string of passionate encounters had quickly ebbed into a mundane routine. One that didn’t seem to include each other, lately. She’d never really stopped to consider how easily they’d slipped out of each other’s lives. How she’d found ways to fill the void without really trying. Of course, Daniel had turned to his work, spending seemingly endless hours at the precinct. Doing everything he could to avoid her. Avoid being alone with her, not that she could really blame him. She hadn’t made living with her easy, and she knew the fact she despised his job was at the root of all of their problems.
She reached into a small pocket on the side of her dress, removing a folded photograph. It’d been taken just a few weeks prior—the first time they’d agreed to be together in months. Daniel’s best friend, Jacob, had bought them tickets, tagging along as a tangible buffer zone. The man had been patient, considerate, doing all he could to help them bridge the gap. And it’d worked—sort of. They’d talked and agreed to this date. To come to where it’d all started and give their future together one more try.
She hadn’t been convinced Daniel would actually take the time off, but he’d surprised her with flowers and a picnic basket. A soft blanket to spread on the edge of the lake. He’d wanted to come near sunset, so they could watch the sky bleed from yellows into reds—listen to the loons call to each other across the water. Recreate their perfect date.
She sighed at the thought. While she didn’t consider herself superstitious, even she realized that it was impossible to reclaim lost love. That it never resurrected close to what it’d once been. But she’d gone along, willing to try. Or was it just her fear of change? Of looking back and seeing their time together as wasted? Of having to admit it was her love that had died, not his. That no matter what he did—how much he gave—it’d never be enough. That he simply wasn’t enough.
She pushed aside the uncertainties, wondering if Daniel had decided to just walk away, when footsteps sounded behind her. She turned, gasping when a man stepped out from behind a tree, his brown eyes gleaming in a shaft of sunlight. She placed a hand over her chest, her rough breath sounding loud amidst the trees.
She tsked him. “Damn it, Jacob, you scared me half to death.”
Jacob’s gaze traveled the length of her body, pausing in places it shouldn’t have. An odd expression spread across his face as he looked behind him. “Where’s Daniel?”
She shrugged, shoving away the prickling feeling. She’d never felt uneasy around the man before. Seemed silly to start now. “He’s coming. He likes to let me have a head start. The whole ‘chase’ thing, I suppose. What are you doing here?”
“Just making sure you’re okay. I know Daniel, and to be honest…I wasn’t convinced he wouldn’t just bugger off. And the thought of you standing here, alone…”
She smiled, though something about the way he’d said, ‘alone,’ sent another shiver along her spine. She rolled her shoulders back, giving him a false smile. “I’m sure he’ll be along any second.”
Jacob sighed. “He’s not right for you, you know that, don’t you?”
“You heard me, Isabel. As much as I love Daniel, he’s not the kind of guy you need.” He walked toward her, brushing his fingers along the leaves as he walked, making the bushes bounce. “You need a man who’s going to put you first. Who worships you and treats you like the queen you are. You need someone who’ll always be there for you.”
“Daniel might not put me first, but he’s always been there when I really needed him.”
“Like now?” Jacob closed the distance, thumbing her jaw. “Where is he now, Isabel? How is it I reached to you before he did? ”
“I…I don’t know. But he’ll—”
“Be here any moment. Yes, you’ve said that. A few times.” He twirled a lock of her hair around his finger. “You deserve better than him. You deserve me.”
Her stomach dropped at his words, her heart racing wildly inside her chest. She tried to step back, but he matched her movement as his fingers slid into her hair, fisting it. She palmed his chest, trying to shove him away. “What the hell? Damn it, Jacob, you’re his best friend.”
A cruel smile twisted his lips as he backed her against a tree. “His best friend. What I am is the man who’s watched him squander away everything good in his life. Here you are, willing to give him yet another chance and he’s still standing in the damn clearing—thinking. Deciding if you’re worth it. But I’m not. I’m here. Ready. I’ve been ready for so long. Have tried to make you see that I’m so much more than him. That my love for you burns true.”
Fear slithered across her flesh, beading it with goose bumps. “I don’t understand. What are you trying to say? That you’re in love with me?”
“Forever. I’ve been in love with you for forever. And I know you love me, too.”
She shook her head, bouncing her hair about her shoulders. “I’m sorry, Jacob, but I don’t. In fact, I’m not sure I love Daniel, either, but…I need to find out. To see if he was the one.”
“He doesn’t love you. Not like me.”
“Jacob—” Her voice cut off as he crushed his mouth to hers, making her lips sting before pulling back.
Desire darkened his eyes as his smile widened. “Mine. You’re mine, Isabel.”
She held her breath, unsure whether to kick him or scream when more footsteps sounded farther up the path. Jacob glanced in the direct she’d come from, before turning back to her.
He sighed, tightening his hold. “I’m afraid I can’t let him find us. Not yet. Not until I’ve made you love me.”
She opened her mouth to scream when he covered her face with a cloth. A sickeningly sweet aroma filled her senses, turning the scenery into a swirl of gray. Strong arms enfolded her, a warm breath tickling her neck.
“You’ll never be free. And if I can’t have you, neither can Daniel.”
And that’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed my story. Please check out the other ladies joining in this week….