It’s #WritingChallenge time!

Writing Challenge BubbleThis weekend, we’ve got a writing challenge with a twist for you all. You’ve proved time and time again how brilliant you are at our more thematic challenges, so this weekend, we want you to demonstrate your writing technique!

Good writing is all about showing, not telling – it’s a much more subtle, complex yet powerful way of drawing us into your characters’ worlds, and minds. So, our challenge this week is…

Your hero has just discovered your heroine is pregnant – show, don’t tell, that this news triggers deep-rooted issues for him.

Answers below the line as usual, and we’ll check back in on Monday to give feedback.

Happy writing!
The SOLD Editors

177 replies on “It’s #WritingChallenge time!”

Jake stared at the lines on the test, his stomach sinking. Pregnant. Bile tainted the back of his throat.
He turned to face the mirror, seeking out the tell-tale signs. He rubbed one hand over his unshaven chin. She’d know as soon as she saw him if he went back into the bedroom with his jaw thrust out like he was heading for a bar room brawl. That wouldn’t do. He had to keep it cool.
A sharp crack and a stabbing pain in his fist. “Fricken’ hell.” He’d broken the test. If he knew Dani, she’d be planning to show her sisters. She’d ask questions. His gut knotted at the thought of what her probing might trigger.

I found it a bit too short and quick, Fiona. And I wondered about Jake reading the test first. Had he? Or, had Dani read it first, and left it for him to read, as she waited, smugly, in the other room? It’s a little unclear to me.

If Jake read it first, why? Is Dani so afraid that she might be pregnant, and couldn’t look at the test result herself? Or, is Dani not even there, and Jake just happen to see the result stick?…

And what would Dani showing her sisters have to do with the situation? Had Jake been with one of the sisters in a relationship? Is he in a relationship now, with one of the sisters? Why would it matter to Jake, if Dani showed her sisters that she was pregnant, if that’s indeed what you meant here?

I loved the “jaw thrust out…barroom brawl” line — could see it vividly. And your “Fricken hell” phrase — classic!

“Helly?” Will said cautiously.

“Mm?” I answered. I was warm and so relaxed lying next to Will. I could trail my fingertips across his chest as I lie on my back and enjoy the feeling of his warm large hands on my skin.

“You know if you go higher or lower, it would be more fun.” I pointed out.

“Why has your scent changed?” His dark eyes met mine and his tone made me frown slightly. “It’s become more complex and I can feel that your magic reserve has expanded.”

His eyes searched mine and I slowly placed my own hand on the slight curve of my belly. I relaxed and let my senses absorb the state of my body. Ah, yes, there you are.

I looked up at Will as he leaned over me, I could see the unasked question in his eyes.
I took his rough hand and placed it back where he had initially had it on my stomach, cradling the slight curve.

“It’s a girl.” I whispered and waited.

Will took in a slow shaky breath and I could see a myriad of emotions cross his face.

“I can’t be anyone’s father,” He shook his head.

I raised one eyebrow at him. “Why is that?”

“I don’t-.” He swallowed.

I realized I was seeing fear in his eyes for the first time, ever.

“Seriously?” I placed my hand over his, over our baby. “You can take on a rampaging werewolf with nothing but your bare hands, but you’re scared of being a father?”

“I know how to fight; I don’t know how to be a father. I never had one,” Will said desperately.

“You know we’ll be in this together, right?” I rolled toward him and slipped my arms around his hard torso. He drew me to him and I rested my cheek against his shoulder as I smiled, “Just like every other mission, we’re a team and I have your back.” I could see relief and acceptance wash over him.

Will kissed my temple and hugged me close. “And I have yours.”

Fab, Yvonne! Loved how you slipped in showing the pregnancy shock of sorts, and Will’s reason for hesitation.

There’s a fine fullness in the scene that has me wanting more.

What a fascinating heroine’s head to be inside of! The hero’s issues are resolved pretty quickly – scope here to set up more baggage for him to work through – but we enjoyed the writing voice here very much.

Thank you Sold Editors. I admit I cheated a bit. This is the ending of my current work. Book 2 of a paranormal with shapeshifters series. Book 1 is submitted.

The New Year’s fog threw his schedule out. Adam yawned and tossed a complimentary newspaper on the table in the overcrowded VIP airport lounge. A page fell onto the floor and he bent to retrieve it.
His heart stopped beating for an instant. A grainy picture showed the first baby of the New Year. A bilateral cleft lip and palate were rare. The single page shook in his hand. As curious eyes stared at him, he lurched to the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the airport shopping zone.

His breath issued in gasps like after running that marathon. That was his child. His son. His own eyes and pre surgery nose stared back at him. He ran his hands through his russet curls similar to the child in the photo.
The stunned woman holding the child, Lottie Carter didn’t look his type. But maybe she scrubbed up well. The article said father unknown.
He clung to the hand rail and his eyes hit on a shop selling helium balloons. He walked down the elevator. Father would be known before the birth records office opened on Monday. No matter how much this Lottie opposed him, his son needed him.

Nice inventive baby reveal, Mary!

I loved how you injected the bits of some backstory here (i.e., “…like after running that marathon.”; “…pre-surgery nose stared…”).

Fun, vivid scene!

Fantastic, Mary! LOVE the last couple of lines. I so love the way your hero becomes determined to make the father known! 🙂

How intriguing that he knows the son is his, but has no memory of the mother! Like the physical detail – the page shaking in his hand – that sets up his strong emotional response to the baby revelation.

Demetri notices something very different from his usual Sunday mornings of relaxing on the tiny terrace of their condo in the warm June sun while savoring his coffee. Deep, rich with just a little splash of milk. His head dips to see a cloudy but smooth reflection of the warm liquid in his mug. He takes another taste just to be sure. Nope, nothing wrong with his drink.
“Did you hear me Demetri? Are you even seeing what is in my hand?”
His beautiful girlfriend, Laura, and co-owner of the terrace they are currently occupying and the attached condo, with her silky black hair like something out of a shampoo commercial is waving a pink and white stick in the not yet humid air. She is flustered and he can’t help but love it when her cheeks flush and her bottom lip puckers out in a frown. She’s adorable when she’s mad.
He should really say something. Demetri knows how Laura hates it when he doesn’t respond to her questions immediately or ever. But, truth be told, she never asked a question to begin with, she just blurted out she was pregnant. In his defense he thought she was having a coughing attack. She does get those when she is getting over a cold, but now that he thinks about it she hasn’t had a cold in months.
Bang.
Laura slaps the stick on the black ironwork table causing the dog in the apartment next to them to start his yippy bark. Demetri tries to show her his emotions on his face but for some reason his lips won’t move. All he feels is hot, like he is now sitting in a sauna and not the perfect seventy degree air.
“Say something!”
She is shrieking now. His head is telling him danger but his heart is telling him joy. How can he be a father when he’s never known his own? Isn’t that something you learn from your dad or a father figure, none of which he ever had?
Demetri stops staring at the stick and stands a little too fast, knocking the matching black iron chair to the ground. The neighbor’s dog begins his barking song again. His eyes lock onto Laura’s stormy blue gaze and he grins. It’s a goofy smile, not one he is used to giving, probably because he hasn’t had many times in life to give it. Laura is the only one who has ever dug a smile out of him. Now, it’s their baby who caused his face to crack.
“So, I guess we have to buy decaf from now on, huh?”
Demetri gathers from Laura’s expression she did not expect that question from him. Despite the confused glare she gives him with a snort added to let him know she thinks he is being ridiculous, Demetri grabs her. His arms wrap around her petit frame and he kisses her completely. He may not be a poet or even someone who could write press releases if in a bind, but he understands how to show her the joy she brings to his life.
Picking her up in his arms he take her back into their condo and places her gently on their bed, curling up beside her. He nuzzles her neck, “I love you. I love us and I have already fallen in love with our baby.”

I loved the way that you captured/showed the whole scene here, Elizabeth!

And the “…hair like something out of a shampoo commercial,” — nice! Further, the “…slaps the stick on the black ironwork…” — could see and hear it! LOL the reference to the “dog and his yippy bark.”

Enjoyable. Good work!

This was a lovely read, Elizabeth. I too, could hear the sound of the stick landing on the table. 🙂

The detail about his goofy smile, that he hasn’t had many times in his life to give it, totally won us over! As does the decaf joke 🙂

Some nice emotion and writing here!

“What the…” Frank’s face stung from the force of a blow that seemingly came out of nowhere. He looked down to find Kate Whitlock staring up at him like an angry bull. “Kate? What the hell are you doing here?”
“I know it was you.” She looked like she was about to hit him again, her hands came up as if too pound his chest and he grabbed her wrists to stop the blow.
“What was me?” He could feel the air cracking with her anger. He was used to her yelling, but this went from mad to crazy.
“Maddy is pregnant.” She shouted at him. He dropped her wrists, and her fists began to pound his chest.
He remembered waking up next to Maddy three months ago, unsure what had happened, and a little confused. His brain buzzed, his ears rang. How could this have happened? This couldn’t be true. He didn’t have time for this. He didn’t have room for this in his life. He didn’t know how to be a father, he never had one. He never wanted this. Anger began to rise up in him now, as the words continued to ring in his head.
“Stop.” He shouted, once more grabbing Kate’s wrists. “I am no one’s father.”

Loved the right out-of-the-box action, Maggie! And as that segued into revelation, you kept me hooked.

Great boldness and fire in both Frank and Kate. I’m interested to know what happens next.

Nice work!

You show Frank’s bewilderment and fear well. You also show how he’s used to Kate’s abusive behaviour and hint at some foul play three months ago.

This little scene seems like it comes straight out of an ms. Lots of intrigue as to what comes next between Frank and Kate. 🙂

“What does it say?” Sky asked, bouncing in his seat like a rubber ball.
“Pregnant.” His eyes widened enough that every speckle of gold along his hazel eyes reflected back to her his unrestrained joy.
“We did. We finally did it,” he breathed out.
Too numb to even formulate a yes, Jessica nodded, unaware that she’d shed a tear until Sky wiped one from her cheek.
“You’re going to me an amazing mother.”
“D-do you think s-so?”
“If that baby loves you half as much as I do, then yes.”

Love this Elle! You know I love your writing though.

The emotion clearly comes through. What a sweet moment.

Hugs, Tambra

Sounds like this is a much wanted child and they love each other.You also show, subtly that they’ve been trying for a while for this.

Although a short scene, I liked the mood of it, Elle. But I didn’t get the sense that it triggered deep-rooted issues for Sky, as asked for by this Challenge — Jessica and Sky seemed to be on the same page, so to speak, the whole way through.

Loved the “…unaware that she shed a tear,…” line.

Steady read! 🙂

Very sweet – the ‘we finally did it’ hints powerfully at such a big, difficult story building up to this moment!

***From Linked***

“Do you want to talk about it?”

She looked up, met his gaze. “I seriously doubt you’ll believe it. I don’t even believe it, not entirely.”

“Tell me, Lana. I’ve believed everything you’ve told me so far, haven’t I?”

“Yes, but how can I expect you to believe a ghost…. I’m not even sure I do.” He raised his eyebrows, but said nothing. She let out a frustrated sigh. “Oh, all right. She-she said I’m pregnant.”

His hand froze mid-stroke on her back. “What?” he croaked.

She had a triumphant glint in her eyes that he found annoying. “See. I told you so.”

“But…we only-she can’t be right.”

“You try telling that to a ghost.”

He knew he paled. Felt the color as it rushed down his face. “Pregnant?” Slowly, he moved his hand over her hip, rested it apprehensively on her stomach.

She laughed at him. “That’s about how I’m feeling,” she said as she covered his hand with hers. After a moment’s silence, her smile fell. “I know it’s really fast and completely unexpected-but I don’t even know if it’s true, so we shouldn’t worry yet.”

“Why would the ghost of your mother lie to you?”

She sat up, pulled the covers up under her arms, even though the room wasn’t cold. “Maybe it wasn’t her.”

“It could have been Martians.”

“No. I’m thinking more along the lines of The Evil One.”

Cole shook his head, dismissing the idea. “I don’t see him playing a game like that. I’m not sure what types of games I’d see him playing, but that seems…I don’t know. A bit extreme and doesn’t seem like it’d help him.”

She bit her lip. “It could part us,” she said quietly, looking down at her hands.

Part them? “How could it do that?” She didn’t respond. He put his hand under her chin, made her look at him. “How could it part us?”

“It depends on what you think of the idea.”

“Are you worried I’m unhappy about the idea?”

“I don’t know. Are you?”

He knew he had to pick his words carefully. “I’m surprised, I admit, and caught off guard. But I wouldn’t say unhappy.”

“You don’t have to lie, Cole. This whole thing has moved faster than either of us is prepared for. We barely know each other, have barely been ‘together’ for two days and now this.”

How did he explain it to her? Her points were all valid-she knew that as well as he did. Things were moving fast and her being pregnant did add a new level to things. He hadn’t really given much thought to a family, at least not seriously, and now? “Lana, do you remember what I told you last night?”

“About what?”

He took her hand, covered it with both of his. “I told you I loved you. I meant it. If you’re pregnant, if you’re not pregnant…” he shrugged, “it doesn’t change how I feel about you at all.” And it didn’t. He hadn’t had much time to think about it, but enough to know he liked the idea.

Wow. He was going to be a father.

“How can it not? You said it-this wasn’t expected or in the plans. I don’t see how it cannot change things.”

The cloud of uncertainty in her blue eyes bothered him.

“I’m sure. We’re in this together; I promised you that. This just solidifies it and makes it damn near impossible for you to try wriggling your way out of it.”

A spark of hope shimmered in her eyes, though the doubt remained. “Are you sure?”

He shook his head, and a smile spread across his lips. God, he loved her. How could she think for even one second that her being pregnant could change that?
Well, he’d just have to prove her wrong then, wouldn’t he?

He moved quickly, pulled her down to the bed and rolled on top of her. As she glanced up at him, startled, he lowered his head and brushed his lips over the smooth skin of her neck. “Do you really need to be convinced?”

I love the way you use dialogue to show their acceptance of this maybe pregnancy. Also that they are still in the early stages of their relationship.There is also hints that they are in danger or have some task to complete.

A nicely emotional, in-depth pregnancy reveal. Your hero seems very well-adjusted and excited about the pregnancy – for the sake of this challenge, it would have been nice to have seen more hint that becoming a dad was problematic for him. But still a good scene!

Yes, I didn’t pick the best scene to meet the challenge criteria 🙂 But I do enjoy these challenges. (I didn’t want to post too long an excerpt, LOL)

The twin pink lines wavered as tremors rose from the scalding acid pit roiling in his gut. Sam winced at the high-ptched rattle of plastic against mahogany as he lay the thing down in front of him. His shoulders hunched as his head fell forward.
“You’re sure?” he asked.
“That’s test number three, Sam. I’m certain.”
Sam gripped the edge of the table, praying the solid wood could still the twitching muscles in his arms. Nothing helped, however, and he could feel the need to flee warring against his iron self-control. His hand lashed out, sending the harbinger of the end of life as he knew it spinning across the polished wood. He turned from the table, arms crossed over his chest.
“Well, what do you expect me to do about it?

I enjoyed the anguish/struggle, Shari, that you brought to the table here in Sam. And his inner desire to “want to be somewhere else, doing something else,” comes through.

I think that by you having Sam remain — despite his wrestling with the situation — nicely “shows” his character, and enhances the entire scene.

Good job!

You show from the first line Sam is upset.Three tests as well? In shock and denial. You hint that someone close to him died in childbirth. His last line sounds like he needs reassurance.

Phew – pregnancy raises some real issues for him!! Its a hard line to walk, showing a hero wanting to reject a pregnancy he helped cause, but the depth of emotion and fear he clearly feels at this news means he just gets away with it 🙂

Sully felt his muscles tighten like a cinch around his gut. He was near the point of retching himself, though he wasn’t sure if it was from the stench in the bucket he was swirling in the creek or the realization that he was going to be a father. It was clear he was going to have to deposit Lark at Fort Defiance regardless of her objections. This parched cattle trail was no place for a woman, let alone one in the family way, that much was for sure and for certain. He sucked in his breath as he picked at the last bits of what was once Lark’s breakfast from the bottom of the rusty bucket, then plunged it deep into the creek as he exhaled. The biggest question gnawed at his heart like a bear on salmon. Was he going to leave the drive himself, or give in to that long-held family tradition and ride off into the sunset alone?

You got in just enough detail that we know it’s a Western American historical. You show how confused Sully is. He wants her and the child but also thinks he should leave her behind for her own safety. You also hint at his history of abandonment as a child.

Sully’s tango with what now “is,” I found interesting, Sherrill. And I did “see” the scene. But some of it was a bit winding for me. Your post is quite short. I think shorter sentences might have worked better.

I liked the end. The windup to the setup here worked well.

Loved the “…bear on salmon.” phrase — nice!

Thanks Chris! It’s short because I wrote it right in the moment I came to this page, and I had never seen any of these before. The only one posted was Fiona’s and it was short. I wasn’t sure of the length limits! I realized after I hit “post” that I couldn’t edit or change anything, even though I wanted to, and by then a few others had posted so I had more to consider as examples. Next time I will know better!

If I was able to edit….this is what I would have done:

Sully felt his muscles tighten like a cinch around his gut. He was near the point of retching himself, though he wasn’t sure if it was from the stench in the bucket he was swirling in the creek or the realization that he was going to be a father. It was clear he was going to have to deposit Lark at Fort Defiance. Regardless of her objections, this parched cattle trail was no place for a woman, let alone one in the family way. That much was for sure and for certain. He sucked in his breath as he picked at the last bits of what was once Lark’s breakfast from the bottom of the rusty bucket. When his lungs began to sting, he plunged it deep into the frigid water and exhaled. The biggest question gnawed at his heart like a bear on salmon. Was he going to leave the drive himself, or give in to that long-held family tradition and ride off into the sunset alone?

Oh, I love the descriptions, and puts you right in the period. The reactions and internal thought tell a lot about him in a very short space—I love that.

Great job. This put me right in the moment. Perfect word choice and I love the idea of “Fort Defiance.” Your description gives a very clear image of who Sully is. 🙂

What a clever way to introduce the fact that Lark is pregnant! And love the idea of it being a family tradition to ride off into the sunset alone. We enjoyed this twist on the challenge!

A good time was being had by all, and Gary Martin couldn’t have been more pumped. It was “Throwback to the 70s” night at The Dance Shack — his favorite long-lost haunt — and the disco boogying was in full bloom.

Stepping down the club’s entranceway stairs, he snapped his thumbs under the large tab collars of his orange-colored polyester shirt.

Cool displayed on his face, mint looking in his bell-bottomed pants, and retro clogs, Gary nodded his head in greeting to strangers. They nodded back, then turned and got to bustin’ a move on the dancefloor themselves.

“Ain’t this groovy?” Gary shouted to Sheryl, over a boogying beat. Then he, hesitatingly, kissed the diamond ring on her finger, and bobbed forward, loosely, holding her hand.

The spinning ceiling globe shined an array of white, coin-sized, polka-dot light from above, and the dancing illumination whirled on both Gary and Sheryl’s face. It was an instant intoxication for them, and they both broke into a freaky, freestyle dance, in full rhythm to the music beat.

Wow, The Dance Shack hasn’t changed a bit, thought Gary.

The last time he’d been here had been six months ago — with Carol, a friend of a friend. Then, later that night, with a girl whose name he’d never remembered.

Still, there had been something about that unnamed woman that had struck him — other than her b***s smacking him in the face, that is, when they’d “danced” in the back room together. And oh, what fun he’d had with her that night. Had he, really, not known her name?…

But now, Gary’s “club” time was a little different. He was here to celebrate the anniversary of his engagement to Sheryl.

Six months ago, he’d met her here and had asked for her hand. That had been the day after his back-room thrill with the unnamed woman at the club.

Gary married? Rebound? Knee-jerk reaction to the woman with the forgotten name?

No. I’m just…growing up, he’d concluded.

So, Gary was here tonight to celebrate his engagement, just as much as to dance to forget…his gigolo days.

Until…

Mindy Rads strode across the floor toward him. And her formerly voluptuous, hot, hour-glass body was now…with a baby bump?

Suddenly, Gary’s swinging arms stopped. His legs froze. His formerly smiling face of dancing joy grew serious, as he mouthed the name Mindy Rads.

Sheryl eyed him oddly, as she herself slowed her dancing. Her look then followed his, and focused on the approaching pregnant woman.

Gary glanced at Sheryl with stunned eyes. Then he looked back at Mindy. Her face of determination said I’m about to drop a bomb on you.

Gary swallowed hard. He could sense those around him still dancing. He could hear the music still playing. He could see Sheryl saying something in anger, and pulling off her ring.

But all was muffled and happening for Gary in slow motion. And while nothing seemed real, it all made perfect sense to him. Mindy Rads had been the name of that woman of six months ago. How had he remembered it now? Why?…

A look at Mindy’s baby bump answered that question for Gary. And while he had the sudden urge to flee, he didn’t.

GREAT set-up, Chris! Such vivid descriptions! Could visualize the 70’s theme at The Dance Shack. Love the way you build up the scene. 🙂

I love how you show that Sheryl isn’t really the one he wants. I’m curious about why he got engaged to her and also about Mindy.

The whole time I am reading this, I hear in my mind The Gap Band’s “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” playing….very vivid, Chris!

(Did I just out my age?)

You hear that song…and I keep thinking “Could have been the whiskey, might have been the gin. Might have been the three, four, six pack, I don’t know but look at the mess I’m in.” Funny way for Gary to find out… and great premise for the story to come. 🙂

What a dramatic way to discover you’re going to be a dad! And love the intriguing hint about his gigolo days!

As we’re so inside Gary’s head here, the emphasis does fall more on telling us what happened and what he feels, rather than showing us how this bombshell is affecting him. But a fun scene nonetheless!

“I can’t believe she’s pregnant, our little Katie.” His dark head shot up and eyes narrowed to scan the crowded room to rest on the glowing dark headed woman talking to a group of delegates. Hands clenched, he spun on his feet and walked out to get some fresh air. The walls were closing in on him. History repeating itself. He wasn’t his father and wouldn’t fall for the entrapment. Stumbling, he clasped the brick wall of the palace drawing in short sharp breaths. Betrayal lay heavy on him, stomach churning as tried to regain control. His skin clammy. He gripped the balcony rail in his hands, his knuckles turning white as his grip tightened. How could she do this to him? Her, of all people. He had trusted her.
To drop his head, breathing rapid as his frantic heartbeat. He had to regain control. Head swimming, unable to focus properly as shock-wave after shock-wave bombarded with a force that took his breath away as it hit him. She had the gall to tell others.
“Shahid?” A soft voice of concern came from behind him.
He swung around with such force she stepped back in shock. Tenderly she raised a shaking hand towards him to drop at the wild bewildered look in his eyes.
“How could you?” He hissed, the muscle flinching in his jaw line as he struggled for control. He was losing it. Not once had he lost control, and then again he had never been so betrayed. He straightened and glared at her with hard, unforgiving eyes. “Who is it?” he hit out. It can’t be his, his frantic brain roared.
She blinked at him, frowning, confused. “Sorry, what are you talking about? Your guests were wondering where you had gone.” She pointed behind at the gathering in the great banquet hall.
Swallowing hard, he rubbed the back of his neck. So calm, and innocent. Had he got it wrong? Dropping his hand, he straightened to his full height of six three and glared down at her, his eyes darkening, searching. She looked at him, startled by his strange behaviour. Hands fiddling at her teal ball gown. “Stop taking me for the fool. Are you, or are you not, pregnant?”
Blood drained from her face and eyes widened. Shaking her head as tears welled in her eyes to turn, gathering up her dress and run as fast as her legs would carry her from his sight. His chest tightened with dread.
“Sire.” He swung around on the one who dared to interrupt. “The queen is demanding your presence.”
“I’ll be there when I’m ready,” he dismissed with a wave of his hand to go after her. He had to know one way or the other. They had been so careful. Taste of acid stuck in his throat.
Bursting into her rooms he went through to find her nowhere to be found. Going to the bathroom, he searched all the bins, cupboard for any evidence. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Panic had him rushing to the window to throw open the shutters to see a figure running down the entrance way. He reached for his phone to have her stopped from leaving and brought to him. Turning on his heels he headed towards his private office, urgency urging him thorough the palace, his robe rustling around him.
He stood to stand behind his desk as she was brought to him, the door closing behind her. She hugged her arms, skin waxy as the waning moon, eyes wary. “I asked you a question?” He snarled. “Are you pregnant?”
“No!”
Relief washed over him like a tidal wave to sink into his seat before his legs gave out running hands through his hair. He looked up, eyes narrowing. “Then why were those women saying you were?”
She sucked up in a sharp breath, stiffening and stormed over to him, slamming hands on the desk. “I know you have a hung up about being tricked into marriage. I would never marry you and bring up a child in such a hostile environment, your highness.” She ripped off her engagement ring and threw it at him. “I can’t do this anymore. This pretence is over.” She turned and stormed out, slamming the door.
“Katie!”
Bursting into her room, Katie covered her belly with her hand. Now she knew. She had to get out of here before it was too late. She pushed away from the door and went to pack and called for a car to be driven away in the dark of the night, carrying his child as tears rolled down ashen cheeks. Damn, how did they find out? She thought she had gotten rid of the test. To close her eyes, realising she hadn’t been alone in the shared bathroom when she rang her mother in a panic. She had hoped, once over the shock he would be accept their child but the relief on his face said it all.

Nice “panic-mode” revelation, Jan! Loved the gripping power of this scene. It started with a bang, never let up, and got better as it continued.

Nice showing of Shahid’s “shock,” “amazement,” and “Nooo!”

Fun, full read!

I love the way you show this takes place against an opulent state occasion. You hint at the history that motivates his distrust.Also it seems Katie and Shahid were engaged but never intended to marry. I’m curious.

Thanks everyone. I added the last part and thought what if is she was pregnant. Give me idea and I’ll run with it. Another story to work on.. 🙂 At first it was going to be a misunderstanding but as writing it hit me what if?

Very angsty and dramatic – which is always fun to read 🙂

You show his shocked response really clearly and left us wanting to know more about what happened with his father to leave such scars!

Rae stood before him, barefoot on the carpet, her pale pink satin robe tied loose at the waist. Sun streamed through the window behind her, the plastic cylinder clenched between her thumb and forefinger.

“Why are you back here, Braylen? I thought you’d left for the day.” She shoved her hand behind her back. Her attempt at secrecy didn’t matter. The box lay open on the bed, Pregnancy Test written in stark fluid capitals.

“I forgot my briefcase.” He pulled at the knot in his tie, the silk too tight for comfort. Like walking into a room where the conversation stops, tension gripped Braylen in a stranglehold. He moved to the chair, grasped the handle of the leather attache, and felt the case hit his leg as he straightened. He cleared his throat.

She stared at him, her hands still behind her back. Waiting for him to say something? Her lips trembled. Red tinged her cheeks. Her eyes wide as she searched his face for an answer. He had none.

None that mattered.

Rae lifted her chin, her satin robe fluttered as she crossed to the garbage can. The plastic cylinder banged the bottom of the ceramic container.

“Don’t worry, Braylen. The test was negative.”

She was lying. With her eyes lowered, she tried to shove the garbage can behind the dresser with the side of her foot. Out of sight.

Not out of mind.

She’d given him the opportunity to take her in his arms and reassure her.

He’d failed the test.

“Rae, if you’re worried about something, I can…” What? Help? Her lips set in a straight line and her brows puckered into a frown.

“You should get going, Braylen.” She opened the door to the bathroom and grabbed her towel from the back of the door. “You’ll be late.” She paused in the open doorway.

Waiting for him to leave, no doubt, so she could dispose of the test.

Couldn’t she see he had nothing to offer a child? He lived a selfish life. Work consumed him. Relationships meant little. His own father was a virtual stranger of hit and miss meetings over holidays. Was she imagining a romantic white picket fence with daddy home for dinner every night?

But still. If any woman could tempt him to try, Rae, with her trusting blue eyes and soft touch, could make him believe.

“Rae, I -”

“Go, Braylen. You’ll be late.”

Fine scene, Hanna! It appeared as though this was part of an ms already. If it’s not, perhaps that’s something you should consider adding to one.

Rae and Braylen are a good match. I loved the “secrecy” in her, and how you brought it out. I enjoyed his somewhat “inner decision making,” and how you showed it. 🙂

Great how you show she expects nothing from him and that annoys him. Also how tuned he is to her body language. I suspect he deliberately left that briefcase behind.

Nice! Like the detail about her blushing as she waits for him to come up with an adequate response, and he totally fails to. Also, his inability to finish his ‘if you’re worried about something’ sentence speaks volumes!

Show not tell – extended version. Because me.
Dani looked up from her iPhone. “Time is up.”
“I’ll get it.” Though there wasn’t much doubt, with Dani sitting in bed nibbling crackers as though her life depended on it. But Jake wanted to be alone when he saw the result.
His head spun as the feeling of déjà vu hit him in the chest. Different time, different place. Different woman. The butterflies in his stomach back then had been good ones. Now they beat against his ribs with a portent of doom.
At the door of the bathroom, he glanced back at Dani. It wasn’t her fault. She didn’t know. Warmth brushed against the chill in his bones. Could never know. He smiled at her, hoping it was reassuring, not a death grimace that made his face ache.
The test stick sat on the corner of the basin. He eyed it warily, as if it had teeth hidden in the innocuous plastic casing. He would have preferred that danger to the one that loomed. But Dani was waiting.
He stared at the lines on the test, his stomach sinking. Pregnant. Bile tainted the back of his throat.
He turned to face the mirror, seeking out the tell-tale signs. He rubbed one hand over his unshaven chin. She’d know as soon as she saw him if he went back into the bedroom with his jaw thrust out like he was heading for a bar room brawl. That wouldn’t do. He had to keep it cool.
A sharp crack and a stabbing pain in his fist. “Fricken’ hell.” He’d broken the test. If he knew Dani, she’d be planning to show her sisters. She’d ask questions. His gut knotted at the thought of what her probing might trigger.

You have a beautiful and captivating writing style, Fiona. You draw the reader in and keep them hooked. Loved it! 🙂

I agree with you, Sherrill! Fiona is awesomeness. Love her writing and yes I’m already a fangirl.

Hugs, Tambra

I love how you show Jake’s impatience,temper and secret past. You also show his respect for Dani. #SpyBaby looks set to be a page turner.

We enjoyed how you, very concisely, set up his conflict with the ‘different time, different place, different woman’ line! Great!

Blaize Forrester let himself into Peyton’s flat and awaited her return. Ramming his hands into the pockets of his tailored trousers he stood in the centre of the shabby chic living room, his tall lithe frame held rigid. The time had come for him to bow out of their relationship and for some incomprehensible he felt obligated to do it in person rather than via his secretary and a valuable parting gift to recompense for any hurt feelings which may be incurred. On this occasion there were no gifts, somehow it didn’t seem fitting, not with Peyton. Things were different with her and that was partly his reason for wanting out. Six months together was longer than he allowed any of his relationships to last. No, he told himself again, he was doing the right thing. It was better that he ended it now before things got complicated. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a tester kit in the waste paper basket by her antique writing desk. A slight smile lifted a corner of his sensuous mouth as he eyed the mahogany piece of furniture. Peyton was only twenty four, eight years his junior but she was an old soul, loving anything vintage. Apart from her outer beauty it was her inner glow which radiated from her that had captured him. Peering closely at the tester kit, his smile slipped. His hands whipped out of his pockets and he took hold of the stick which displayed a word which made ice trickle through his veins. “Positive.”
She was pregnant. Peyton was pregnant. The first words which rushed through his frazzled brain was, was it his? Instantly he brushed them away. Of course it was his. Could there be a mistake? How accurate were these things? He dropped the stick back into the basket as though it was a branding iron, burning through his skin.
His heart felt as though it was trying to pound its way out of his ribcage. How could this have happened? Blaize dragged an unsteady hand through his dark thick hair. Shock slowly turned into anger. Had she done this deliberately, to trap him?
Feeling his long muscular legs lose some of their strength, he sat down heavily onto the floral sofa.
Why was he getting so worked up about it? It wasn’t his problem. Peyton had allowed herself to get pregnant even though he had made clear to her that any relationship he entered was purely no-strings attached.
But what about the child? How would it feel knowing that its father didn’t want it? Rejection hurt. No matter how hard you tried to fill the void, the empty hollow still remained and the feeling of being incomplete eating away at you like acid on flesh.
Blaize stiffened when he heard the front door open.

I liked that the full focus was on Blaize the entire scene, Calida.

I also think that you did a fine job showing him being “uncomfortable” with the situation.

It was great to see you bring Blaize’s “uncomfortable” full circle, too (i.e., providing the reader with the revelation of how “the child would feel without a father.” I thought that was a really nice touch.

Good job! 🙂

Nicely done! I can see the rich tycoon being pulled into the next level of their relationship, all by that little item in the trash. 🙂

I love how you show his fear of commitment, reluctant need for Peyton and how his father rejected him. So much in a short paragraph. I suspect a Marriage Of Convenience is on the cards here.

Very intense! As we’re only inside Blaize’s POV here, the focus is actually falling on telling us about his reaction and his emotions, rather than showing. So do think about how to show us too! However, it certainly packs a punch as a scene!

Thank you so much for the very kind feedback, Sold Editors! 🙂 I am going to work really hard to improve on the technique of showing and not telling. 🙂

I haven’t done a challenge in a long time and thought I’d come and play. Thanks for the great writing prompt!

Harlequin Challenge
October 2015

Please don’t make coffee. Please!
The sound of whirring and the crunching of beans greet her ears. Tears burned and blurred her vision. She wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant.

Easing out of bed, a wave of nausea hit. Darcie grabbed the faded quilt and slid to the floor.
Damn. Now she’d have to crawl to the bathroom. Each movement made her stomach clench and roll. Bile started burning a hot, bitter pathway up her throat. Mama had morning sickness for nine months. Sweet Jesus in Heaven, I hope it isn’t hereditary.

It was coming faster this time. What if she didn’t make it?

Strong arms gently lifted her. Kyle sat on the edge of the tub and held her as she emptied the meager contents of her stomach.

Pulling her closer, he let out sigh. “Darcie, when were you going to tell me you were pregnant?” The rawness and hurt bled through every word.

Frustration and anger swirled in her chest. Stinging and tight. Her fluency in sarcasm flowed out in all its glory. “I thought I had the flu all this time, Kyle. I found out early this morning, just before you came in from work. This isn’t something you can hide for very long.” She wanted to jerk out of his arms but the action would start the whole process over again.

“I’m not letting you go until we talk this out.”

Darcie grabbed the edge of her Hello Kitty sleep shorts and didn’t let go. “You said you didn’t want kids, Kyle. I never lied to you when I said I thought I could never get pregnant. When we decided to commit to each other I clearly remember you saying you were walking if it ever happened.” She pulled in a deep breath, then released it. “When are you leaving?”
His hold loosened.

Lifting her like she was as fragile as a butterfly wing, Kyle carried her to bed. He stacked the pillows behind her and pulled the covers over her. Once he tucked her in, he kneeled and took her hand.

“I suspected you were pregnant and went to talk to Mama.” He kept his gaze on their entwined hands. “You should be happy she ripped me a new one. She revealed things I never knew about my sister and her situation. Mama didn’t realize how warped my views on kids were thanks to Chloe and my ex-wife.”
Kyle looked into her eyes. “Marry me, Darcie. I love you.”

She opened her mouth but no words came out.

“Bile started burning a hot, bitter pathway up her throat. Mama had morning sickness for nine months. Sweet Jesus in Heaven, I hope it isn’t hereditary.”

Haha.

A while ago I’d read somewhere that menstrual cramps, labor pains and morning sickness could all be hereditary, so I grilled my mom. Apparently I should expect some visits to the porcelain throne. It runs in the family. 😀

Great imagery here, Tambra. Glad you jumped in after your hiatus.

Marna R.,

Thank you so much! Your comments have helped me see I’m on the right track with my writing.

I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a note.

Hugs, Tambra

I could so relate to this! I spent TEN MONTHS pregnant as my son was 28 days overdue and weighed a whopping 10lbs 11 oz and was 23 inches long when he was born. I had “morning sickness” 24 hours a day for all ten months and for a week after he was born. I wasn’t prepared for that. Glad to see a fictional character facing the same!!!

(Of course, my son is now 6’7″ and a US Marine, so it was all worth it. Ha!)

Sherrill,

I remember my aunt telling me she had morning sickness all nine months. That scared me. With my first son, I had 3-3 1/2 months of being sick every day. After that I was okay most of the time.
My oldest is an Army Sgt. and yes, it was worth it!

Such vividness here,Tambra. And that’s, for sure, making the most of a bathroom scene, with Kyle and Darcie under such circumstances!

So, what’s next? Due to you having set this so specifically, and since Darcie doesn’t voice any verbal response to his proposal, I half expect something else to come out of her mouth in reply in the next scene.

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your comments, they were very helpful.

Since I wrote this scene specifically for the challenge, I’ll have to put this back and think more on the plot. What I posted is all I have for the story.

I think this might fit in with Blaze or possibly SE (but I’d have to recheck the guidelines to be sure.)

Right now, I see Darcie refusing his proposal. And Kyle’s ex-wife returning to cause trouble.

Thanks again!

Hugs,
Tambra

Love the opening line about the coffee – what a great, fun way to immediately set up the pregnancy theme! We learn that Kyle has issues about being a dad, so there’s scope here to bring out more of these on the page – perhaps he doesn’t resolve them so easily? – and really show us how he’s grappling with them. But you have a nicely engaging writing style!

I found a few errors, so I fixed them. (I hope I caught them all!) I added a bit more GMC to the scene too. *denotes internal thought*

Thanks in advance for understanding.

Hugs, Tambra

Tambra: Harlequin Challenge (Second try)
October 2015

*Please don’t make coffee. Please!*
The sound of whirring and the crunching of beans greeted her ears. Tears burned and blurred her vision. She wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. The chances were so small the doctor told her not to plan on having children. *I’ve got one fallopian tube, the other one is blocked and a pair of wonky ovaries. I stopped dreaming of having a family after my ex nearly beat me to death.*

Last week she signed contracts for four books and three digital art commissions. And all of these were due in the next eight months. Of course, she thought she had a virus and would be able to keep up her regular schedule. Darcie needed to create a plan and for that she needed food. (After she finished getting sick.)
Specifically, a plate of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and cream filling, a package of caramel Tim Tams and a Violet Crumble. Also a cheese enchilada dinner and a large order of guacamole. Thinking of her breakfast later gave her the motivation to move. Slowly.

Easing out of bed, the motion caused a wave of nausea to hit. Darcie grabbed the faded quilt as her legs started to give out. Hello, floor. We meet again.
Just fabulous. Now she’d have to crawl and pay homage to the porcelain god. Each movement made her stomach clench and roll. Bile began burning a hot, bitter pathway up her throat. The queasiness was coming faster this time.

The pile of the carpet bit into her palms. What if she didn’t make it in time? A worse thought shoved to the forefront. Mama had morning sickness for nine months. Nine months! Sweet Jesus in Heaven, I hope the condition isn’t hereditary.

Strong arms gently lifted her. “Kyle…” She swallowed. Talking right now was dangerous.

He settled on the edge of the tub and held her as she emptied the meager contents of her stomach. When she finished he pulled her closer.

Her hair fluttered when he let out sigh. “Darcie, when were you going to tell me you were pregnant?”

She flinched at the rawness and hurt bleeding through every word.
But the frustration, fear and anger swirling in her chest took over. Her fluency in sarcasm flowed out like a bayou overflowing its banks. “I thought I had the flu all this time, Kyle! I found out early this morning, just before you came in from work. I needed a chance to wrap my mind around the news before facing you. Give me a break, I’m still in shock.” She wanted to jerk out of his arms but the action would start the whole process over again.

“I’m not letting you go until we talk this out.” Soft from Kyle was dangerous. The tone of determination and stubbornness put Darcie on alert.

She expected yelling or the deadly, razor sharp precision of his cutting words. “You emphasized you didn’t want kids, Kyle. I never lied to you when I said I thought I could never get pregnant. When we decided to commit to each other I clearly remember you said you were walking if it ever happened.” She pulled in a deep breath, then released it. “So, when are you leaving?”

Shifting her in his arms he lifted her like she was as fragile as a butterfly wing. Her arms wound around his neck and she breathed in the scent that was Kyle. Desire warmed her but it cooled just as fast as it had flared. How she was going to live without him?

He stacked the pillows behind her and pulled the covers over her. Once he tucked her in, he kneeled and took her hand. “I suspected you were pregnant a few days ago, so I had a talk with Mum.” He kept his gaze on their entwined hands. “You should be happy she ripped up my arse. She revealed things I never knew about my sister’s date rape that ended in pregnancy. Mama didn’t realize how warped my views on kids were thanks to Chloe’s situation and my ex-wife’s lying.”

Kyle looked into her eyes. “Marry me, Darcie. I love you.”

She opened her mouth but no words came out.

This is an incredible emotional scene and I immediately felt for both Kyle and Darcie with the hints of their sad histories. Things can only get better for them. Right?

Hi Mary,

It will get better for Kyle and Darcie.

I’ve already planned to add this to my list of stories to write.

Many thanks for comments. Everyone’s posts about my scene have been so helpful. I appreciate each and every one.

Hugs, Tambra

I agree…..Kyle is a keeper. My favorite line is her internal thought, “Please don’t make coffee!” That smell made me lose it every time when I was preggers. Spot on!

Sherrill,

It was the same for me!
The smell of coffee, bacon and eggs was one of the worst smells for me when I was pregnant with my oldest. Also, I did think I had the flu at first. Writing from experience.

I got lucky with the second son: no morning sickness at all.

Oops – didn’t see this! It’s interesting to learn more about what’s motivating these two, although would encourage you to avoid spelling it out to readers with the internal POV, or having the characters confess all, too easily. Sometimes it can be more intriguing, believable and involving for readers to see how their pasts impact on them and their emotional scars only gradually to be revealed through their behavior, rather than spelling it out so clearly. This can make for more subtle, powerful storytelling.

Dear Sold Editors,

I’m making notes on your suggestions. Thank you so much for taking the time read my scene.

All the best,
Tambra

First stab at a Writing Challenge.

I’ve been passing up a lot of these opportunities. But the feedback on here is golden! This prompt was too fun to ignore. Here goes.

***

He had half an hour at best.

Half an hour to pretend his world wasn’t falling down around him.

Harry swiped a hand down his face, mopping up the sweat with a flick of his wrist. The drops hit the earth below and would have probably dried on contact, it was that sweltering. It had been like that all week; boots welding to the hot sandy floor and the sweat sticking to a man on the first step outside his house.

Turning from the pruned and watered garden, Harry tossed down the scissors and watering can into the barrow and wheeled everything to the new tack room. His nose curled at the greeting from the doorway: the manure pile that should have been long gone, its stench doubling through the afternoon, stopped him. He glanced at the stalls, his frown now a full-blown scowl.

He’d have to have another word with Cass the latest temp hand about the messes he was leaving around. What’s the point of his paying the kid if Harry was doing the work all on his own anyhow?

The on-again, off-again headache that followed him half the day was fully on. He pressed his fingers to the side of one temple, his other hand lifting the shovel Cass must have dropped in his wake.

A pang froze him right up, Harry’s eyes snapping close from the dull throbbing at the back of his head.

In the instant the world was blocked out, he saw the curlicues and distraught penmanship on the new, albeit wrinkled, page.

Opening his eyes wide, his fingers curled into his palm. Harry felt the ridges of where Ella dug her pencil in, breaking the lead and smearing the legibility of her cursive. What’s more he saw her sitting in the nook of her rented space in their attic, frantically sharing a secret with a…

“A book,” Harry brought the shovel head down, narrowly missing the toe of his boot in the process. “No, wait, that’d be a diary. A freaking diary.” His laughter harsh as he corrected himself.

His instinct had been to hurl the thing into the fireplace in the den. As if his problems could disappear in a puff of smoke. Instead he closed the journal and dragged his heavy limbs down the stairs, lying awake until she returned.

When Ella came in with his mother, she seemed the same shy thing. She put away the groceries, flitted about the kitchen as Ma’s cook assistant, and cleaned up for dinner to take her usual sit across from Harry.

Nothing out of the ordinary.

Nothing that screamed, ‘Hey, I’m pregnant with your kid so I’m acting weird around you’. Not that that would change his situation.

Darnit.

Why had he slipped up and acted on some primal instinct?

His half hour up he left the safety and smelly comfort of the barn. Even as he headed towards the house, evening chasing him in, Harry strung together a plan to corner her…and have the talk they should have had weeks ago.

He had thought of at least one good reason why he couldn’t be a father. And at least a dozen reasons why he should step and marry her, claim the kid, and start a farce at family life.

Like his old man.

Only he’d try to make it a whole heck lot more believable. And he wouldn’t just up and leave the first sign his unborn child hit eighteen – ‘old enough to take care of your Ma all by yourself, kid’.

Harry quickened his pace, closing in on the front of the three-story ranch house.

No. It would be until death did him and sweet, shy Ella apart. He would make sure she understood that from the get-go.

“Harry.” A soft voice stirred him to slow down at the porch steps.

Ella stood from the porch swing, the floral print on her dress dimmed in the dark.

“What are you doing out here?” His tone clipped, steps heavy on his climb to her level.

Though the setting sun brought relief from the noonday heat, the air remained stifling enough to make his toes curl in his boots. So it couldn’t be good for a baby, unborn or otherwise.

I love how you describe him going from denial to shock, to some type of reluctant acceptance.His attitude to the weather and garden reflect his mood. I suspect Ella mightn’t be as sweet and shy as he thinks.

Ha, Mary! You might have a point there about Ella.

Honestly I thought very little of her at this point. Harry doesn’t really know who she is, so I figured ‘why should I’?

Annnnd since I thought this would be a one-off, I didn’t get to her POV.

But I’m re-working this snippet and outlining for conflicts that can sustain a 45-50K count. You know, see if Harry x Ella could have a story of their own. 😉

Thanks, Fiona.
I was pushing it with the word count.

But I’ve no regrets entering, and I’m bouncing with anticipation waiting for the next Challenge.

And here are the motivations – teaches us not to read all the entries before commenting 🙂

You strike a really nice balance here between showing and telling – you tell us enough that we’re hooked, and show us more about your characters that reels us right in. Great writing! Hope to see you at another of our #WritingChallenges 🙂

I loved the time-lock setting from the get-go, Marna!

Just a thought. Perhaps you should readjust that early sentence: “The drops hit the earth below and would have probably dried on contact, it was that sweltering.”? If it was sweltering, the drops “…dried on contact…”; I didn’t see a reason why that sentence should have any indecision.

Still, I thought it quite creative for you to have shown Harry learning about Ella’s pregnancy via her diary.

Nice visual touches, too (e.g., “His nose curled at the greeting from…”; “…felt the ridges of where Ella dug her pencil in,…”).

I think that you’ve presented an interesting character in Harry here. And that you have set up what can be a compelling, compassionate confrontation of sorts with him, Ella, and his mother.

Nice submission. Welcome to the Writing Challenge! 🙂

Thanks for the suggestions, Chris!
I’ll keep them in mind now that I’m sketching out an outline for Harry and Ella’s story.

We like this! An intriguing scenario, and unique and believable characterisation. Would love to know what happens next – you set up Harry’s response so well that we couldn’t help but wonder what was at the root of it all!

Calida,
I loved Blaize’s reaction when he looks closer at the stick showing positive. I also liked how you added some of what attracted him to Peyton in the first place.
I agree with Fiona, this reads like a Presents.

Great job!

Hugs, Tambra

Marna,

Wonderful first entry to the challenge!
Love the tension and how it keeps building. Is this from a story you already have going or did you make this just for the challenge?

Hugs, Tambra

Marna,

I love the way you set the scene, Marna 🙂 And I love your descriptive style. A great entry. 🙂

Thank you, Tambra!

Just for the challenge, though I’m already re-working it so I’ll have to see how that goes. If anything I was more intrigued by Ella’s background… ^^

Looking at himself in the mirror, Dom ran his hand over his prickly jaw line, across his lips and down over his chin. Steam was slowly rising from the water in the basin in front of him and was casting a misty shadow over the mirror. He was running through the usual routine of getting his thoughts tuned into today’s big race. He had to be totally focused after his dismal effort in qualifying yesterday if he wanted a podium finish.

As he pumped the shaving foam onto his hand and ran a thick white layer over his face, he was visualizing each turn of the race track, but his mind kept flicking back to Jackie who was still asleep in the other room. He was concerned about how ill she was the day before and hadn’t had his head in the game.

Taking a new razor from it’s packet, he lazily flipped open the top of the rubbish bin to drop in the empty plastic wrapping. He noticed a small box inside the bin. He normally didn’t take notice of rubbish but the words on the package were screaming out to him. “Pregnancy Test?” Dom’s eyebrows closed together as confusion filled his mind, then anger started to fill his thoughts as he realized that Jackie wasn’t suffering from food poisoning and she knew it.

“Why didn’t you tell me!” Dom stormed out of the bathroom. His eyes flashed like lightning bolts and Jackie could tell he was mad. “When did you do the test?”

“Dom, please I didn’t know how to tell you, and I…..”

“I thought we could tell each other anything. I thought our relationship was strong enough that we didn’t keep secrets from each other.”

“I wanted to wait until after the race today. I needed to be able to think about what all this means.” Jackie’s heart felt like it was about to split in two.

“What do you even need to think about. Is the child even mine?” Dom was walking around the room running his hands through his wet hair as a new thought entered his mind every two seconds.

“Dom! Of course it is!”

“But we have been so careful, always taking precautions. You have been taking other precautions?”

“Yes I have, But Dom please tell me you want this?”

“Not right now Jackie. My racing career has just started to take off and things with my family…” The feelings that he had managed to suppress from his childhood all came flooding back. The way his heart was wrenched from his body each time he proudly told his father of the days achievements, only to be told ways he could have done better, the empty feeling of never being good enough to earn his father’s praise.

“Dom please I know the timing isn’t right.”

“Isn’t right! It couldn’t be worse timing. You know Dad’s going to think you’ve done this to trap me into marrying you. He’s always warned me about girls falling pregnant just to get me to marry them into the Tyrell fortunes. Oh Jackie. My family is going to trip when I tell them.” Dom sat down on the dining chair across the room from Jackie. His head was resting on his hands and his fingers were tangled through his hair. His heart was pounding in his chest and his short breaths were compounding the feeling that he was about to pass out. A vision of his father towering over him, waving his finger at him in disgust, flashed through his mind and the scared little boy that he had once been, had emerged from the little corner of Dom’s subconscious. What the heck was he going to do?

Jackie wanted to stand behind him with her arms around his shoulders and tell him everything would be okay, But she couldn’t physically raise herself up off the sofa. She was fighting back the nausea again this morning and not even the smell of the ginger tea she was sipping was helping now.

“I’m sorry Dom. I should have told you straight away.”

“I, I can’t deal with this right now. I need to get to the track.”

He manages to keep it together and finishes third. Things don’t turn out so good for Jackie though.

“And they’re off!…”

I thought there was such a fresh feel to this piece, Rebecca — right out of the gate! I don’t recall, lately, having read a “Horse-track Writing Challenge Submission.”

I think that Dom and Jackie play well off one another here. I also liked how you had Dom struggling to focus — because of the big race — and that he also now had to do so, because of Jackie’s pregnancy, and how that would divert/change/challenge things in his “wealthy” life.

Nice showing here.

Thanks Chris!
It’s V8 car racing and he’s the driver so he really does need to get into gear so to speak. Ha ha.

Lots of tension and angst here!

We see the physical responses Dom goes through in the face of this shocking news, and the way you use flashbacks to his unhappy childhood is nicely visual, which is good.

Do take care, however, that Dom remains sympathetic! Rejecting their baby is perhaps one of the least heroic things a romance hero can do, so the motivations need to be watertight and understandable to pull this off without alienating the reader! Perhaps Dom’s dad needs to have been more abusive to help us understand his responses here? Just a thought!

Thanks for the feed bock. Points taken and I will maybe reword a couple of responses so that it doesn’t sound so harsh. He doesn’t reject the child, just needed to focus on the upcoming race. And yeah His father is mentally abusive and VERY controlling which plays a part in Dom’s motivations.

The squeal and scratch of the windshield wipers rang in Dane Drummond’s ears. They frantically worked to push aside a driving rain, striking a rhythm against a back drop of distant sirens, crowing horns and idling engines. The air was crowded with the red hot hue of brake lights muted by the steam flying up as hot tires pushed through cool, pooling rain. Dane wrangled his focus from the sharp, darting glimpses flashing through his mind and fixed it on the road as he furiously sped and wove through the common commuters, desperate to claim his destiny. He tried to blink a burning fury away as he resisted the surrender to the revelation that his mysterious estrangement from Gretta, the cutting, complete rebuff from the woman who was his epiphany, who had shown him for the first time who he truly was by revealing to him his reflection in her eyes, was masterminded by Dolan, his twin brother, younger by minutes, who lived his life in the shadow of Dane’s birthright to their father’s publishing empire and his bitter resentment of his own flesh and blood. Dolan was helpless to change the generational, iron-clad passing of the reigns to the eldest child. In irony manifest, so was Dane, the less savvy and more sensitive of the sibs. So when Dolan discovered that Dane had fallen for the rather basic, bohemian, but undeniably beautiful young journalist he charged with writing the brothers’ story in the wake of their iconic father’s death, he was unable to resist the chance to inflict upon Dane the same desolation and despair he had felt incarcerated by his whole life. Without effort or desire, this generational media institution was granted to Dane like a wish — yet he had never wished for it. Dane did not enjoy the demanding and devouring nature of business. But the family’s legacy left no option to abdicate. What he really wished for was love and the warmth and wonder of a true, traditional family life; a wish that all the money and power in the world had no way to grant. Meanwhile, Dolan, younger barely by moments, possessed the cool, ruthless, gravitational force that destined him to pull women helplessly into his orbit, yet without intention or interest. He was born to brandish this keen and cunning indifference to claim a fabulous success in business; but he simply wasn’t born to claim the crown of his father’s business. Again, manifest in irony, that was all he ever longed to do. And so, born within moments, they lived within inches of each other, sharing bassinets, bathtubs, bedrooms, boarding schools, rituals, roofs, bread and water and birthrights — to the great source of family fortune, station, stature and pride … Drummond publishing. But for the helm of the iconic house, which was willed to the first born of the first born, a title non-transferable. So Dolan, who lived coveting the succession for which his brother was groomed since childhood, was immune to the breathless affection of any girl who ever entered their universe. And Dane, no more than puzzled by the preparation for his ascension, sadly suffered quiet crushes on the gorgeous young ladies whose hearts crashed against the cold, stone wall that was Dolan’s own, falling broken in pieces at his feet.

But Dane lacked something else that Dolan did not; vengeance. Dane swallowed hard on his heart each time he realized how invisible he was to a lovely, light young debutante who dashed by him in hopes of winning Dolan’s favor. But Dolan was never able to take that pill that was his brother’s designation to take control of the family’s company. Where Dane felt sorry for himself, but nothing but affection for his “baby” brother, Dolan had no time to indulge in self-pity, he aimed his energy at his brother like an arrow fixed on a target; filled with envy and bitterness, like a sniper he summoned the penetration and patience to wait for the perfect opportunity to reflect all those dark and dangerous emotions that threatened to drown him to death upon his unsuspecting “big” brother.

And he found it … the day that Gretta Devereaux, an innocent, somewhat awkward but determined young journalist, walked into his brother’s corner office — and his life. The most prestigious writers in the country volleyed for the prize, but Gretta won it, the sought-after exclusive, the inside story of the Drummond twins … the power in their family’s iconic publishing empire would defer, after the death of their enigmatic father, to the elder Dane, despite Dolan’s tireless work to bring the company into the 21st century international sphere with groundbreaking acquisitions in coding technology and digital media platforms.

She won it — and Dane’s heart — the moment he laid eyes on her.

Gretta Devereaux was a working class daughter from a New England factory town who rode a natural flare with words and and an inherited immigrant work ethic to a scholarship to Columbia’s journalism school and then an entry-level job at a progressive, unapologetic alternative news journal run out of a drafty loft in Greenwich Village.

She was invited to meet personally with Dane when she managed to sneak past his secretary by using the name of a far more prominent magazine editor. Dane was too instantly intoxicated by the sound of her voice when she instantly owned her crime and begged him not to hang up, but to instead please grant her this interview. Please … give her this chance.

He told himself that the face stood no chance of matching the voice, but he was delighted to be wrong. When Gretta was shown into his office, she titled her head slightly and smiled — just before she walked closer to him with her hand held out to his. How she looked in that moment, the angle of her face, how her deep auburn hair, loosely styled, lapped down over the nape of her neck and brushed her collar bone … the contrast of it against her creamy, light complexion. And her smile, how it warmed him, ignited him, how he experienced a palpable, physical heat when she walked into that room … into his life.

The brakes SQUEALED as Dane was ratcheted back to reality when the van in front of him stopped without warning. Water and light and steam filled his eyes and clouded the image he had conjured of Gretta that first day. He reached back for it. Desperately. He needed to hold fast to it as he hurried to reach her; to be sure she did not spend one more moment than she already had in the throes of deception and betrayal.

Dane hurled up to the curb in front of Gretta’s humble building in Brooklyn, where she had fortunately inherited her Grandfather’s rent control flat. One tire of his Mercedes sedan was bumped up onto the curb, the back fender jutted out into the street, his parking lights still on. He darted weightlessly up the three flights of stairs to Gretta’s floor and, abandoned all propriety, he pushed through the door…

… to stun Gretta, quite literally paralyze her in place, as he had interrupted her embrace with his brother, who was posing as him.

Dol … Da …? Gretta stuttered and stared. She turned to the man in whose arms she was wrested just an instant ago, only to find the passion he had strained to summon into his eyes had drained, leaving a black, cool, gaze behind.

“Dane,” She managed to barely utter?

“Indeed, Darling,” Dolan replied in a shamelessly taunting tone, “that would be Dane. It seems you didn’t know him quite as well as you thought you did?”

Gretta’s hands, which held in them a small white box, topped thoughtfully with a festive purple bow, began to tremble.

Dolan turned his attention to his brother, who never took his eyes off of Gretta.

“I was understandably curious, brother,” taunted Dolan, “after all, you were so insufferably smitten with her, and she seemed so common to me?”

Dane began to take one heavy step, then another, toward Dolan.

“I should have known it was just that your taste is as common as the girl,” Dolan smiled wanly, “but no worries, now I do.”

Gretta stood, still unable to speak, the gift shaking in her hands, as Dolan looked her up and down, as if with pity.

“I wish I could say it’s been fun, Darling,” said Dolan in a merciless droll, “but it really hasn’t been …”

Dolan turned to look at the rage roaring in his brother’s eyes …

“… till now.”

Dane erupted onto his brother, letting loose on him a fury he had no idea lay sleeping inside him. And as the twins became tangled, as if for their lives, Gretta was inadvertently thrown off balance, dropping the white box she was cradling in her hands to the floor.

The cover fell off of the box, trampled by the furious feet of the fighting brothers, tangling and tearing the purple bow…

…and out of it dropped something slender and sleek, peeking up from a ball of tissue paper.

As Gretta quickly caught control of her senses, she shrieked, “NOOoooo!”

But before she could do so herself, Dolan, reacting to the desperation in her eyes, ducked down and snatched up the contents of the box.

Dane rushed to Gretta, grabbing her completely into his arms, but she stood stiff and stoic as she stared at Dolan.

He tore away the tissue paper to find a home pregnancy test stick — with a window boasting two blue stripes.

Gretta began to shake in Dane’s arms. Breathless. Speechless. Tears began to escape from her helpless eyes.

Dolan erupted into loud, lavish laughter. And it seemed like it would never subside. It just grew longer, and louder.

“Ignore him,” Dane whispered to Gretta, as he desperately tried to caress will and warmth back into her body … her soul, “everything with be alright.”

Dolan looked past his brother directly at Gretta.

“But everything won’t be alright, will it, Darling,” feigned Dolan?

And as he handed the pregnancy test strip to Dane, reveling in the reflection of the secret it revealed in his brother’s eyes.

“And you,” he said sternly to Dane, “will either give her up now that we’ve both had our turn … or else you will never be able to ignore me again.”

Very intense!

The emphasis here really falls on the ‘telling’ – explaining to the reader what’s going on, and why the characters are feeling the way they are. This can sometimes be necessary signposting for the reader, especially if there’s a complex backstory like this! However, would really encourage you to think of other ways to convey some of this tension and emotion too – showing us, without explaining first, the emotional stakes at play, by using your characters’ behavior and reactions. This will help balance your writing and make it even more impactful!

‘Milan say something.’
Milan tried holding his breath long enough to slow his heartbeat. Instead of words, he drew Abby into his arms and hugged her tight.
The still raw picture of a small white box being lowered into the cold, damp earth flashed in his memory along with the shadow of his father who always deserted their family when the going got tough.
Abby needed his reassurance. Needed. Him.
‘What have we done, Milan? We were being so careful.’
‘I know, sweet pea.’ Easing her away so he could see her face, he lifted a hand and wiped away her tears. ‘We’re doing this together. I promise,’ he said hoping his stomach would stop churning…

Heartbreaking, Margie. It’s so beautiful the way Milan protects her by drawing her into his arms, giving her reassurance and support. This scene evokes so many emotions. A wonderful piece of writing, Margie. 🙂

Oh Margie, this is so sad!! The image Milan remembers conveys so much emotion, in just a few words. Lovely!

I cuddled closer to Matthew, I needed to stretch out the closeness just a little while longer, I knew he wouldn’t be happy when I told him, and truth be told I was a little frightened of how he would react to the bombshell I was going to drop.
‘Siobhan, what’s wrong?’
‘Noth…nothing,’ I stuttered and closed my eyes before taking a deep breath.
‘Yes there is, I can sense it and you’ve been fidgeting all night. Sweetheart tell me what it is.’ He laced his fingers through my hand and moved it to his lips. I moved out of his embrace. I had to see his face.
‘You’re right there is something; I just don’t know how to tell you.’
‘Tell me,’ his eyes were soft and his face etched with concern.
‘Okay, I’m pregnant; we’re going to have a baby.’ I watched his face expected it to show his anger. ‘Say something, anything.’
‘You’re sure? How?’ I couldn’t read his face it showed nothing, not the anger I had expected, it was a total blank.
‘Well I guess you know how, let’s face it rabbits have nothing on us.’
‘There’s no need for that,’ he snapped and stood. ‘I didn’t think I could.’ He turned and faced the window. ‘Never in all this time, did I ever think I would be a dad, I can’t, I don’t want to be like him.’
‘You’re not your dad Matthew, we can do this together.’
‘I don’t know.’ His shoulders slumped and wanted to pull him into my arms. ‘What if I am? What if I treat him like he treated me and Nathan? You know he would beat us for nothing…’
‘That was a long time ago, I know your scars run deep but you won’t be, I can feel it. I know this is a shock but if you want me to leave, give you time to get used to the idea.’
‘God no, I never want you to leave.’
‘Then talk to me.’ He turned and moved towards the sofa. The frown on his face and sadness in his eyes told me everything I needed to know, he was struggling with what I had told him, could I also see fear. Matthew was frightened, he was frightened of nothing this worried me.
‘You don’t know that Siobhan. How long have you known? Why couldn’t I sense it?’
‘I’ve had a feeling for a couple of weeks. I took the test this morning. Matthew you’ll be a wonderful dad, we can do this together.’
‘It’s not just us anymore sweetheart. We have decisions to make.’
‘I won’t get rid of my baby, I’m keeping my baby even if I have to do this on my own.’
‘That’s not what I’m saying sweetheart. We have decisions to make and it’s going to take some getting used to, I’m going to be a dad.’ The slightest smile crossed his lips and he raised his hand touching my cheek sending a jolt of electricity through my body.

His lack of response when she tells him the news works really well to convey his shock and troubled mind – sometimes less really is more 🙂

Nice writing!

Thanks for all these wonderful entries, everyone! It’s brilliant to see some new faces and voices on SOLD, as well as our lovely regulars. This more ‘technical’ challenge seemed to really inspire you all, so we’ll definitely look to do some more similar ones – check back in on Friday 6th November for the next #WritingChallenge!

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