Writing Challenge: Hey Mr. DJ, Put a Record On

by Evan Yeong

Writing this on a Tuesday, it’s hard not to have The Bachelor on the mind. That’s fortunate, however, as it’s the perfect show to emphasize the effect that musical ability can have on a relationship. Take, for example, Jed Wyatt, who “won” (see: beat out the 32 other contestants) Season 15 of The Bachelorette, only for it to be revealed that he was dating someone else back home. A definite factor in his success: the love songs he wrote and played for Bachelorette Hannah Brown.

That’s not even the first time a musician has sought to use the show’s exposure to promote their musical career. The original perpetrator was a decade ago in Season 5 (the first season I watched, before a five-year break), when Wes Hayden charmed Canadian Jillian Harris, all the while harboring the exact same secret.

But ABC isn’t writing me a cheque for this, so let me cut to the chase and state that music has a powerful, intangible impact on our emotions. Writing (and researching for) Monday’s blog post, as well as your incredible comments, was a strong reminder of the feelings a song or artist can bring up, and how they can serve as the basis for a character, scene, or even an entire book!

This writing challenge diverges pretty starkly from others I’ve made in the past, and is easily the most open-ended thus far. What I want is, in 450 words or less, for you to write a scene that draws inspiration from one song (please include the title and artist at the beginning or end). Now I don’t want to malign more independent musical tastes, but it will help the editors judging if they are able to immediately recognize the track in question. It’s not to say that you can’t use something like Caroline Polachek’s “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings,” but there’s something to be said for the benefits of familiarity.

And, yes, the scene should be from a romance! It doesn’t have to be from a romantic scene, per se, but we should be able to recognize it as being a snippet of a full work that revolves around a happily-ever-after. I’m not looking for both leads to be present, but at least one, please!

The cutoff for submissions is 11:59 PM EST on January 26th, Sunday. We’ll be reading over what you’ve written on Monday, and I’ll be back to update this post with our Editor’s Top 3 that afternoon (sometime before 4 PM, which is when I’m off for the day). 

I sincerely hope you enjoy scrolling through Spotify, YouTube, your iTunes library, or maybe even your record collection to find the perfect song, and can’t wait to read what you come up with!

UPDATE: First things first, if you were interested in listening to some of these songs while reading your fellow contestants’ submissions, I’ve got you. That’s a link to a Spotify playlist with every single bit of musical inspiration you drew from (and I even included both versions of “A New England”).

As for our Editors’ Choice Top 3:

Michelle in 1st Place, for managing to introduce not one, but two different engaging relationships (ex-lover and infuriating brother) in just under 450 words!  

2nd Place goes to Michael , who made us laugh with his clever descriptions, awkward reunion, and dedication to Alanis Morissette’s definition of the word.

In 3rd Place is Jodie DeMarco, whose submission was last but certainly not least. Another sweet and funny scene with the hero in an unexpected outfit!

Thank you so much for participating! I wasn’t sure what to expect after giving such a broad prompt, but you all delivered as always! Just as a heads-up, the next challenge likely will not have an Editors’ Choice Top 3, but will have a little something for every participant!

38 replies on “Writing Challenge: Hey Mr. DJ, Put a Record On”

 “You’re staring at her again.”

Isen turned toward the amused voice. Ashton smirked at him–his twin had practically been smirking at him from the moment they were old enough to torment each other. “I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. You’ve been staring at her every chance you can–from about the time you realized she was female.” Ash smirked again, then followed Isen’s gaze. His brother’s office looked out at the rest of the minions in the Port Hamer County prosecutor’s office. Lucky was just three desks down. “When are you going to do something about it?”

Lucky, short for Lucinda,  arranged her files in obsessively neat piles. Part of her morning routine. Each pile had the same number of files. And exactly half an inch spacing around them. He fought a smile as he watched her tug at her glasses as she sat down.

He loved her collection of little quirks. They were so uniquely Lucky. They’d grown up together; him, his four brothers, Lucky and her brother and sister, and Lucky’s best friend, Cadi. Right next door. She’d always just been the little girl next door. Until recently.

Isen didn’t know when his feelings for Lucky had changed. They just had.

He looked at her again, making no secret about it.

She wasn’t the kind of woman most men looked at immediately, but there was something about her that had his gut tightening every time she looked at him. Dark red hair sprung everywhere, in spite of the twist she’d tried so hard to get it into. She never had been able to fully tame it. 

When she’d been younger, she’d tried cutting it off. It had not gone well. He’d teased her about it himself a thousand times. She would get so angry and embarrassed at him back then. Now, he loved sinking his fingers into that hair. The thick glasses she had to wear made her green eyes seem huge. They widened when she saw him watching her.

He loved making those eyes go wide with surprise–and hunger. Lust. His gut tightened again, just thinking about her. The brown business suit she wore masked every curve she had. Not that she had much; just enough for him to hold her close. He loved holding her close.

She looked up. Her eyes met his. Green eyes widened; her cheeks reddened. Just like they had when he’d first kissed her. He loved seeing her with her hair falling down around naked shoulders, with love in her eyes. Exactly the way he had last night.

He turned back to his twin. “Soon. Very, very soon.”

“In a Different Light” Doug Stone 1990

How Does A Moment Last Forever by Celine Dion
Getting a text from Corin to meet him. To Dress Casual, it said in the text. I smile and run into my room and hit the shower. After showering and getting dressed and I head to the theater. Corin waiting for me went I get there. Can I ask what are we going to see or not? I was waiting for her at the door. Opening the door and she heads in and I tell her to get a box with the goodies. I close the door and I head to get some drinks. Before the movie starts. So excited to be here. I still wonder what movie we are going to see. Why Corin gets the drinks I get some goodies, M&M, Mike & ikes and popcorn with lots of butter. Ready Corin. Laughing, she had a handful of candy. I head back to her and with the drinks and we sit down. Then I give a shout to have the movie to start. I look over at her and she laughs. I figured this was a perfect movie for us. She starts to laugh hard. Looking at him teasing at which one are you.. *Trying to stop laughing so I can watch the movie with him. Do you want some candy or popcorn? Taking a drink of my pop. Which one am I? Laughing, of course, I am the princess. I almost worry that Arianna Mackeon will choke on her pop. I make sure that she is ok. So I take you as the beast? She laughs and says yes. I have never had this most fun. I have never laughed so much. I’m having a wonderful time with him. Oh yes, You’ll look so good in that blue dress not to mention the gold gown, Corin, I can’t breathe stop making me laugh. Laughing harder, yes it shows off my sexy legs. Lifting my leg up, feeling her push me and I laugh. Grabbing a bit of her popcorn and eating some and then tossing some at her.
The music starts and she throws some at me. Standing up and I smile holding out my hand. Honor me? Looking up at him, taking his hand, being pull into his arms. We dance to the song here in the middle of the theater. He is so sweet, charming, fearing, the tingling is back so strong. Smiling at him. Holding her in my arms, it’s hard not want to kiss her. But what the hell, I lean over and kiss her lips. Her lips are soft, my wolf growls and wants more. To claim and take her for our mate. But I have to tamp down those urges.
Laughing, as I remember… Will I be his girl? Hmmm, that a good question. Do I want to be his girl? Yes, Then I remembered my talk I had with Stephane to follow my heart and not to be scared to fall. I love it that he pushes me to do things that scare the hell out of me. “Yes, I would love to be your beast.” Would you be my “Beauty”, whispers in her ear “I will let you wear the blue dress.” Hearing her laugh in my ear. Holding her in my arms and we slow dance to music and the movie plays in the background. So I guess we are a couple now. So you’re my big bad wolf now? *giggling* Surprisingly, I feel good about this. Scared as hell. But I think it will be ok,” Laughs” Yes, I am your big bad wolf. I promise to take care of you and be here for you. Leaning over and I kiss your lips. blushing* I’m speechless, After the kiss I hiding my head in his shoulder. I now have another boyfriend. *giggling* so excited I can’t help myself, We are not even watching the movie anymore. It feels good to be in his arms for first I feel safe. ( How Does A Moment Last Forever by Celine Dion)

Hi, Frances. Unfortunately your submission exceeds the word count limit and will not be accepted. If you resubmit with a new one, however, I’ll simply delete this one and you’ll be good to go!

Poppy leaned against her kitchen counter with a cup of coffee in hand and stared off into space. What If I Never Get Over You by Lady Antebellum played on the radio reminding her of her own reason for performing that song. She’d never gotten over Trey. Fifteen years and hundreds of miles had done nothing to ease the pain of his absence. When she’d finally gotten what she had wished for so long, she’d thrown it away. In a few days’ time, they’d gone from business partners to friends to lovers to nothing and it was all her doing. It was her fears that had her keeping him at arm’s length while she decided whether or not he was innocent. When the tornado hit, it was she who crawled into his arms for comfort. It had been her who initiated that first kiss. She had been the one to initiate sex, she’d given him her virginity then, she’d slammed on the brakes. From start to finish, everything that had happened between them had been either initiated by or concluded by her with little to no input from him. She thought by walking away she was doing what was best for him. She thought she was protecting him but, what she’d actually done was build his hopes up then, smashed them into oblivion. He wasn’t going to settle for being friends. Not this time. He’d settled in high school out of fear, just as she had. It wouldn’t be good enough now. Not when both knew how the other felt. Especially not after losing so many years to someone else’s’ lies and manipulation. No. Friendship wasn’t going to be enough for him and if she were being honest with herself, it wasn’t going to be good enough for her. Being in his arms had been so incredible. She’d felt so safe, so loved, and so cherished. As she drove home from the gym that morning, she’d realized that she didn’t want to go through life never feeling that way again. So, she was going to have to figure out a way to fix what she’d broken. She would put herself out there and ask him for another chance, beg if necessary because she hadn’t gotten over him in fifteen years and she knew now that she never would.

Song: I Knew I Loved You by Savage Garden

“So, Jake.” Christian continued to antagonize. “Tell me about how you and Penelope decided to make it official.”
Jake choked on his beer and coughed to clear his throat as he muttered “excuse me?”
“I mean you’ve known each other for how long? And you’ve never gotten along in any of those years. She downright hated you when we were dating. There must have been a time where something changed, right?”
“Well,” Jake said slowly. “Penelope’s always been different. And though we might have butted heads throughout the years, there was never hate there.” He paused for a minute and Penelope watched as a small smile graced his face. “Did you know that she was my first kiss?”
Penelope’s smile faltered. Bringing the wine glass to her mouth she tried to hide it as she gazed around the table. Christian, as much as she was loathed to admit it, was a pretty good lawyer and he could always tell when someone was lying. He used to boast it was his super power. And now with Jake going rogue Christian would know something was up. It was only a matter of time until the entire family found out she’d had to bribe someone to pretend to be her boyfriend.
With a wave of her hand she tried to shush Jake, communicating with her eyes for him to shut the hell up. “Oh, they don’t want to hear about that.”
“Nonsense,” Jennifer said as she smiled at them and Christian answered, “Oh, no, I think we do.”
Her stomach dropped in fear as Jake grinned. “Well, it was Suzie Lowdon’s party and we were both caught in a game of spin the bottle, do you remember that?” He turned to her, his face bright.
All Penelope could do was nod. Of course she remembered that, she was just shocked that he did.
“Anyway,” Jake continued. “She was wearing this dress, blue or lilac I think.”
“Sky blue,” Penelope whispered, her voice thick.
“Yeah. Anyway, down in Suzie’s basement while Penny was looking like an angel she gave me my first kiss. All other woman have paled since then.”
Across the table her cousin gushed and her mother muttered about basement parties not being proper, but Penelope only had eyes for Jake. “Dance with me,” she demanded rather than asked.
“As you wish.” He smiled softly at her before turning to the table. “If you’ll excuse me, the lady wishes a dance.”
He whisked her onto the dance floor and wrapped his arms around her as Penelope reached up to gently and quickly claim his lips.
“What was that for?”
“You were my first kiss, too.” She grinned at him.

Brandt relaxed on the rug in front of the fireplace. He’d been here before—ten years ago. Capturing that moment again would be nothing short of a miracle as dead-set as Rose was to return to the city. But if he didn’t try tonight, he would never know if she would give him one more chance to prove he was the perfect man for her. He remembered all the things he’d said and wished he could take back. He’d been crushed by her decision to leave for college and cut him out of her future, one he’d hoped they would spend together.

Rose walked into the den carrying a tray. The smile on her face lit his heart and at that moment he knew he must do something to make it work this time. He didn’t like losing and this was one challenge he would make every effort to win. “Mmmm…smells great. Cocoa?”

“Yes, and I happened to make your favorite cookies this morning.”

“Chocolate chip? You made them for me?”

He loved the way her nose crinkled when she smiled. “I wasn’t thinking about you when I did. For all I knew, until you showed up on my doorstop earlier tonight, you were long gone from my life.”

Only because she’d pushed him away. “What if I’m back?”

Rose set the tray aside and kneeled before him. “I owe you an apology, Brandt.”

He was listening. All ears, in fact. She was going to apologize for breaking his heart?

She didn’t speak for so long he thought she’d changed her mind. “I had plans for a different life from this one here in Rivertown. I had big dreams. I wanted to see the city lights and experience everything I’d always read about.”

“I know all this, Rose. I was there for this speech the first time around.”


“There’s a but?”

Tears formed in her eyes. “I thought it would be different. Oh, there are nice people, but I don’t have anything in common with them. Except veterinary medicine, of course. Coming back here over the holidays was a test. I wanted to spend time with Dad and remember all the Christmases past.”

“And your father left you alone and took a Caribbean cruise.”

“Yeah. But it’s been good for me. It’s given me time to think.”

He took it all in, digested what she’d said and what she meant by it. “And then I came along.”

She scooted closer. “Yeah, then you came along. I’m sorry I hurt you.”

“Does this mean you’ll give me a second chance?”

She responded with a tender kiss. “Oh, I almost forgot. Merry Christmas, Brandt.”

The Second Time Around – Frank Sinatra

I could totally hear Frank Sinatra at the end, like it the scene were in a movie it would be playing low in the background. Love!

Channel surfing whilst stuck in traffic the car radio blasted out Rod Stewart “The rhythm of my heart is beating like a drum”. It felt like an electric jolt as Laurence Cantwell’ laughing hazel brown eyes twinkle once again in Evelyn’ memory.
Years melted away in seconds until she was once again seventeen and wrapped in his strong arms dancing in her parents kitchen, hoping nobody would walk in an ruin their time together. ” I wish you could have been at the club last night. I missed you. At least we can get a slow set in now”. “Sorry my (100) dad wouldn’t drive me. I hate living so far away and not having a driving licence or any form of public transport. You’re so lucky. ” ” Yeah a Honda 50 is the height of cool” Laughing he threw back his head hitting off the handle of the AGA toasting rack hanging from a nail on the thick wooden beam running the length of the kitchen ceiling. ” What is that metal hinged tennis racket?” ” Our toaster” ” What!!” ” For the AGA hotplate. It makes the best toast in the universe. I’ll make you some later”. She felt safe and loved in his arms. (200)He looked down holding her gaze “yummy” as his face came closer for a kiss. Her chest felt like a butterfly was trapped in the space near her heart. God he was a good kisser. He pulled her closer, warmth of his hands through her tee shirt . She closed her eyes remembering that unique smell of his. A mixture of blue stratus aftershave, cigarette smoke and a hint of engine oil. No matter what soap he used there was ingrained grease in the groves of his hands from his work as an apprentice car mechanic. Strange how after thirty years (300)had passed her memory of how good he smelled still was so strong.
A car horn broke into her reverie. Disoriented she saw the lights had changed and other cars had pulled away. She shifted gear and moved on ignoring the hand gestures of the business type in the range rover behind her. ( 353) A tear slid down her cheek at the memory of her first love and all that followed a few months later. “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd came on the radio next. It was a sign as she realised she wasn’t far away. She would pop (400) by for a visit
His cousin who had introduced them had broken the news to her of the accident that had taken him from her. Inconsolable they had clung to each other, 432
“Hello gorgeous fancy seeing you here ” his body and mind atrophied but his smile lit up the room.

The roadies pushed a piano out to centre stage. Logan stalked out, buttoning up a white, collared shirt. It clung to him, sticking to the sweat he’d already worked up, tattoos showing through. He had a mic on – but he was never mic’d during a show. Ellie straightened. Something was happening.
The crowd had silenced, surprised by Logan coming forward. He pulled a tie from his pocket and slid it under his collar.
“I haven’t tied one of these in years, but it’s in the muscle memory.” There were a couple of titters.
Logan finished the tie and sat at the piano. His fingers ran over the keys, sure and strong. “There’s a good reason I never have a mic on during a show.” A ripple of amusement shot through the crowd. Logan smirked. “Yeah, there’s that – not exactly PG-13. Also, I can’t sing.”
He continued to play, a soft, haunting melody. Not a Static song. Ellie recognized it: The Reason.
“I hope you’ll indulge me. I need to get a message out. I didn’t write it: someone had already put down what I needed to say.”
He turned his gaze back to the piano, though there were no sheets of music. The crowd was incredibly quiet for the number of bodies present. Ellie was hardly breathing. Was he trying to get a message to her?
Logan couldn’t sing. Ellie knew that – she’d never known him to even try in public. But the haunting words of the song filled the stadium. His voice was rough, flat, but still captivating. How did he do that?
His face was projected on the screens: his eyes closed, his face intent. He hit wrong notes, his voice cracked, but he ignored it all.
The words pierced her.
He stopped, raised his hands from the keys, dropping them in his lap. The last notes drifted away. His eyes opened, but his gaze remained on the piano keys. “Hey, Ms Post. We need to talk.”
Logan stood, and ripped off the mike. He headed backstage, pulling at the tie, and by the time he was back at the drums, the shirt was gone. He ignored the applause of the crowd. The rest of the band came back and the concert continued. People took a while to settle back down – there was a lot to take from that.
Ellie stood, frozen, deaf and blind. Her friend nudged her.
“Did he just do what I think he did?”
“What do you think he did?”
“I think he just cut his guts open and bled all over that stage for you.”
He had.
“What are you going to do?”
That was the million-dollar question.

The Reason by Hoobastank (though the duet by Calum Scott and Leona Lewis of You Are the Reason also fits)

We stand together in front of the mirror and our eyes meet. Another beautiful song by The Talking Heads is playing. “Oh, heaven, heaven is a place where nothing, nothing ever happens.” The music lifts my spirits onto another plane. My heart hammers in my chest because I know I’m on the verge of a wonderful adventure with the most exciting woman I’ve ever met. Rachel starts unbuttoning her shirt. I follow her slender fingers as she unzips her skirt and steps out of it. She wears black lace underwear and bra. She has a flat stomach. Her breasts are not big but not small either. I think they are perfect. “Mistress, I love your boobs.” My voice is now hoarse.
She smiles. “You’re absolutely delicious yourself David and you’re doing great.”
I swear if I had a tail, I would have wagged it in delight.
“Thank you, mistress.”
She beams. She really does like it when I use the M word.
“Kneel down, David”, she says in a different tone. Her voice touches something deep inside me that compels my obedience. I bend my legs and, our eyes still locked, I go down onto my knees, my hands dangling on my sides as my dick bobs in the air between us.
Our height difference is such that even kneeling I am not that much shorter and Rachel’s lovely breasts are right in front of my eyes. Her dark, pointy nipples show through the lace. She stands in front of me, just out of reach, and unclasps her bra. Her perfect tits spring out, her nipples contract. She lowers herself a bit and lays her hands on my bare shoulders. “You may suck me.” I open my mouth hungrily and grab the nearest tit, tasting her. I taste perfume, slight feminine sweat and I want more. I lick around her nipple, feeling it growing in my mouth. I switch to the other tit and Rachel leans further, puts more of her weight on me and squeezes my buttocks. I groan. Her moist tongue in my ear she whispers, “You’re my plaything, David, to do with as I like.”
I give her tit a small bite. Rachel jumps out of my mouth.
“You’re not to initiate anything, remember? I don’t like bites.”
“Sorry, Mistress.” I am scared she will stop our session.
Rachel sees my distress. She tilts my head backwards kisses me on my mouth. “It’s OK, you’re new at this, I know. But nevertheless, I need to punish you.”
I am again scared but in a good way.

The click of my stilettos on Joel & Elijah’s foyer gets their attention. Pausing the TV, Joel asks, “What are you doing here?”
I join them in the living room. “After dinner, he had his driver bring me back here,” I reply.
“That’s a very good sign,” Elijah says. “If you were just a one-nighter in his mind, he’d be all over you right now.”
Joel’s eyes widen as he sits up. “Wait a minute! What’s that dangling from your ears?” He bounds off the couch and holds me by the shoulders. “Holy shit Georgie!”
Elijah takes a closer look through his glasses. “The man has exquisite taste.”
“Wanna watch this movie with us?” Joel asks. “It’s The Women.”
“No thanks,” I reply, heading toward the hallway. “I’m going to bed.”
Lying in bed, the light from the moon casts shadows on pictures of Joel and me in class and in stage. But tonight, Matthew is front and center in my mind. I slip on my robe and head down the hall.
My friends are snuggled on the couch. “Couldn’t sleep? I bet I know why.” Pausing the movie, Joel says, “This is crazy; he’s at the hotel, and you’re here, unable to sleep.”
“I want to be with him,” I reply.
“Then tell him,” Elijah says.
Reaching for his phone, Joel adds, “I’m going to buy you an ITune. Look for it in your email.”
With a touch of my finger, the envelope icon opens. My gasp sends Joel into a fit of laughter.
“I knew you’d react like that! Now, send the same song to Matthew.”
“I don’t know about this, Joel.”
“Let’s ask Mr. Conservative what he thinks,” Joel says.
Glancing at the song, Elijah smiles. “He’s over the top at times, but this is a good one.”
“That’s because I’m brilliant,” Joel says.
“Just the title Go All the Way is enough,” Elijah adds, but when Matthew heads this song…”
“Well, how do I know he’ll even see it? He may be sleeping.”
“Are you serious, Georgie?” Joel replies. “He came to New York this weekend just to see you. Hands down, his phone is on. Even if he’s sleeping, he’ll be glad you woke him.”
Reaching for my phone, I text Matthew.
His reply is almost immediate. Georgie, U okay?
Can’t sleep, I send back
Me either. I wanted to text U but I thought U might be asleep. Today was one of the best days of my life.
I didn’t want the day to end. I send back.
It hasn’t, we’re still awake.
A flutter of excitement hits my stomach, as I type, Look at your email.
Song title: Go All the Way, by The Rasberries

While I’m finishing my makeup, “Shake it off” pops into my head out of nowhere. I haven’t heard that song in ages, but a good Taylor Swift anthem can cheer up anyone! Even when that song was overplayed on the radio, it didn’t stop me from dancing and singing at the top of my lungs every time it came on. It’s the “Let it go” replacement for the twenty-something female who’s too embarrassed to sing Disney.
Personally, I’m not embarrassed by either one. They remind me that whatever I’m worrying about is not the end of the world, that there is happiness out there even if it’s only a bouncing pop song. I needed that reminder this morning, the complications rolling around in my head were drowning me.
Despite Holden’s reassurances, last night proved what I already knew, I’m no good for him. I can’t hang with the high-class, smoozing wives of business associates about frivolous shopping and this year’s trends. I could care less about what wine is served with fish or who’s having what affair and who found out. It’s ridiculous.
I know I love Holden, though I would never admit that to him. It would make it harder to walk away… and I have to walk away. No matter how bad it crushes me. But it would be worse to stay and drag him down, drag his business down.
They all hated me, his family, friends, all of them. All those society snobs who look down on anyone without money. Every time I walked away, I heard laughter, saw whispering between the vipers, cutting eyes at me like I wouldn’t notice. They all expect better of him, he’s supposed to pick from the selective few, the pre-approved blue-blood wives.
Maybe Taylor Swift’s love ballads will make me forget. She’s got song after song about heartbreak and angst, but until I crush my own soul and say good-bye to the greatest man I’ve ever known, until I’m forced to quarantine myself to my couch with pints of ice-cream and tissues, I’ll continue to rock out to “Shake it off.” I will suck every bit of energy I can from those Taylor Swift lyrics and let my mind’s hip swinging, pop singing soundtrack give me the push to get moving.
I’m still damned if I do, damned if I don’t. But despite the tears burning behind my eyes, I will continue to shake and wiggle my ass in front of my oversized bathroom mirror, I will girl power through the toughest thing I’ve had to do in my entire life and try not to think about what happens after I finish my makeup.
Shake it off – Taylor Swift

“No Roots.” by Alice Merton

“Where’s Trenton?” Mr. Johnson asked popping his head into the front door of the small family diner.

“Wouldn’t I like to know.” Laurel responded without looking up from the table that she was bussing.

Her brother was always late, but he was pushing it today. It was nearly five o’clock and the dinner crowd was starting to trickle in which would soon become a pour-in.

Mr. Johnson continued to stand in the doorway looking at his watch.

“In or out.” Laurel ordered as she made her way back behind the counter. She didn’t have the patience today to be cordial with someone who refused to be served by her.

Mr. Johnson grumbled and let the door slam shut with him on the outside.

Lauryl rolled her eyes and pulled out her cell phone. Still no text from Trenton, so she took initiative and shot one off herself.


She put her phone back in her pocket and flicked on the small TV in the corner. It had been her parent’s tradition. Every night from 5-5:30pm, they use to stop all service, so they could eat dinner together while watching the nightly news.

Customers would come to the diner at this time just to bask in the warmth of her parents love for one another and see how true love was done right.

Laurel’s eyes glanced over to their empty booth. She could never stomach sitting anyone there.

A flash of familiar on the TV screen turned the sad pit growing in Laurel’s stomach to a tight flutter in her chest.

Avery Joy, America’s favorite popstar and Deerheads – and Laurels – little secret shimmered across the screen. She was all glitter, tan skin, and pink glossy lips.

Those lips… Laurel thought licking her own.

Tour dates scrolled beside Avery Joy. Deerhead was not on the list. Laurel couldn’t blame Avery.

It was a little-known fact that Deerhead was Avery Joy’s hometown. She didn’t publicize it and the residents of Deerhead would never admit it. Both were embarrassed by the relation.

Avery Joy was beautiful and brash – and outspokenly pansexual. Their little town couldn’t handle that conversation. And for Avery’s part, she probably didn’t want to publicly re-hash why her and Laurel use to have slumber parties just to plan escape routes to run away on.

“The girl that got away.” Trenton’s voice piped in behind Laurel.

“I bet she doesn’t even remember you.” Laurel said dismissively. Although, she wondered if the same were true for her. Did Avery remember Laurel?

She pushed the thought from her head, “Where have you been?”

“With another lady who probably won’t remember me.” Trenton chuckled.

Gage didn’t have to look to know their friends were eyeing them. He could feel their curious stares even from the middle of the hardwood dance floor. Of course, he couldn’t exactly blame them. In all honesty, he was every bit as curious as they were. Especially after Maggie shifted just a little bit nearer, her sweet arms tightening around his neck until they were close enough to breathe the same air.

Damn but she felt good. Maybe too good.

Years ago, the two of them had silently agreed not to pursue the sexual attraction between them. Yet for the past few months, the walls they constructed around their relationship had been coming down in boulders. All the lines were blurred, and he wasn’t sorry for it. Hell no. He welcomed it. For him, Maggie was the mountain top.

“This isn’t going to end well,” she whispered, inching back just enough to meet his gaze. “I keep telling myself that it’s just a dance. That it doesn’t mean anything. But the closer we get, the more I realize I think it does mean something.”

“You scared?” he asked, shifting them away as a nearby couple almost bumped into them. He waited a moment, then two, and finally allowed himself to meet her eyes again. “It’s okay if you are, you know. There’s no rulebook for this kind of thing.”

She gave a brief smile and his heart nearly stopped at the sad, almost haunted beauty of it. “I’m not scared of you, Gage,” she said, her voice soft, and a little bit uneasy. “But I do fear this… thing that keeps popping up. I don’t want to ruin things between us. You’re my best friend. If we explore this thing and it doesn’t work out, where would that leave us?”

Nowhere good, if it meant she would no longer be a part of his life. “I understand your fear, babe. Believe me, I do. But the thing is…if we ignore this, if we deny ourselves the chance to find out if we could make a go of it, are we cheating ourselves out of having something truly great?”

“You think we should risk it.”

“I do. But it’s your call, sweetheart. It always has been, and it always will be. What I want is never going to change.”

She swallowed, then bravely questioned, “What do you want?”

Gage stopped moving. Hell, maybe he even stopped breathing.

“You sure you’re ready for that answer, babe?”

She nodded. “I want to know. I need to know. What do you want?”

“You, Maggie. I want you.”

Song: “Rumor” by Lee Brice

Cadence leaned around the corner and peered downstairs. Grant rolled into view, and her pulse picked up its pace. Sweet mercy. With his mile-wide shoulders and dark good looks, the man was… well, a lot more man than she was used to. His biceps flexed, straining against the seams of his tailored tuxedo jacket as he pushed the wheels of his chair, propelling himself across the marble-tiled foyer.

With a groan, Cadence dropped her head back against the wall. Why had she agreed to this cockamamie scheme? Of course, her motivation didn’t matter anymore. She’d signed the contract, and she couldn’t back out, especially not now with two hundred guests waiting in the adjacent ballroom.

Her hands shaking, Cadence smoothed the snow-white silk of her gown. At least she’d managed to look her part for the day.

At the first click of her high heels on the steps, Grant pivoted. His gray eyes bore into her, and she gripped the banister, lest her wobbling knees give way and send her tumbling. His intense gaze followed her progress down the curve of the grand staircase until she stood right in front of him.

“Hi,” Cadence said, hoping her voice sounded more confident than she felt.

Grant circled her, and Cadence nearly jumped out of her skin when his fingers trailed over the small of her back as he made his way around her. His full lips quirked up at one corner, and he shook his head. “I’m already non-ambulatory, and now you aim to render my speechless too?”

Cadence’s eyes widened, and her face heated. “Sorry.”

The deep rumble of Grant’s chuckle shook Cadence to her core. He took her hand. “Don’t apologize for being the sexiest thing I’ve seen since returning stateside.”

Cadence frowned. What was she supposed to make of a comment like that? Their agreement didn’t clarify—

Suddenly, Grant tugged her hand, sending Cadence fumbling down onto his lap. Acting on instinct, she wrapped her hands around his neck. Good thing she did too. Between the heat emanating from his solid body and the intoxicating scent of his cologne, she felt dizzy enough to keel right over.

Grant reached up to rub his thumb over her bottom lip. “Turnabout is fair play, Cadence.” He brought his mouth to hers, kissing her the same way he lived: passionately, purposefully, prepotently. Against her better judgment, Cadence let herself get lost in his kiss.

All too soon, Grant lifted her, setting her upright. She swayed in her heels, and he smirked. “There, we’re even. Besides, I figured we ought to practice that at least once before our wedding.” He held out his hand. “You ready?”

Speechless, Cadence could only blink.

Speechless by Dan + Shay

Giving up on you
Lara Fabian

She played with the engagement ring in her hand. The gold shined in the early afternoon light, but it weighed her down more. The man she loved had left; packed his bags. She was partly responsible, perhaps. But she loved him, like a weakness and the cure. A phrase from a song she remembered came up to her like a sentinel, “if you cannot stand beside me.” He wouldn’t stand beside her. “Oh Mike, why would you!”

But her reverie was broken by a sound at the front door, a key. Mike walked in, seeing her agonized face. “I came back.”
“I see that, why?” He prepared and took an mammoth breath willing himself to keep going.
“I can’t seem to leave. My heart won’t allow that. Penny.” His words were deep and the tears welling up in him spoke more than any book would’ve.
“I’ve made an error, a stupid silly error. You are my light. My candle.”
“Well get over here and hug me.” His face burst into the wonderful smile that made her love him as much as she did. She laughed, like a child free from worry and held on like they would stay that way forever because she knew they would.

99 by Toto

How did it all go wrong?
Cassidy tried to understand how it was her fault. Staring out of the plane window wondering how she was going to take care of this growing life inside her on her own. Carter wasn’t interested in her, that was glaringly obvious. Another woman who had fallen for his charms, just one of many, that much she was sure of. The realisation that she was in love with him was a cruel slap in the face.
A storm of tears threatened to unleash themselves right there and then, Cassidy refused to give in to them at least until she was away from the public eye and she could console herself in private. Distraction was key. She was going to be a mother and she was looking forward to it despite the circumstances.
Cassidy rushed through the airport not caring about those who were around her. She had to get far away as possible from Carter as possible. She arrived home, opened the door and ran straight to her bedroom, flopped onto the bed and allowed herself to lose herself in her misery.
Carter paced the house. He knew that he overreacted to the news he was going to be a father. It felt like he was being hit by a sledgehammer, it was unexpected and he admitted to himself he felt scared. He did not have the best upbringing and never imagined being a father, having someone need him more than he could give.
Without thinking, Carter picked up his coat, wallet and keys and gets the next plane out. He let her go and it was a mistake, one that he had to make right. Rehearsing what he was going to say to her and none of it sounded right. All of his reasons felt feeble and plain wrong. He hoped that she would see him, even if it was for five minutes so that he could apologise.
Arriving at her house, all the lights were off and no sign she was there. He knocked on the door anyway in hope that she might be there. No answer. He tries again and calls her name as loud as he could muster, he wasn’t going to give up, not now. Carter was determined to knock on that door all night until somebody answered.
Lights came on.
“I’m glad you’re here.”
“You have five minutes. That’s it.”
“I don’t know where to start.”
“How about you’re sorry?”
“Please, let me get this out. I made a rule never to be sorry. Except this time. I was wrong to let you go. I realise now that I love you.”

The night air was warm and a slight summer breeze lifted Isla’s hair as she lay gazing up at the stars trying not to breathe. She could feel the warmth of Will’s body two inches away from her own and had to fight the impulse to shift her arm to touch his. Despite how her body and emotions were betraying her, Will was off limits.

He moved slightly and Isla felt the hairs on her forearm stand up as if they were reaching for him, “So, how often do you come out here?” he asked, his voice soft and low.
“Every night,” she answered, “it reminds me of what’s really important.”
He sighed heavily, “I know what you think of me Isla. There’s nothing I can do about the sale of your grandparents house. I’m sorry. It’s my fathers estate and I can’t change his mind.”
Isla felt hot tears sting the back of her eyes, “Did you even try? There must be something? I don’t know what they’ll do.”

How could he lie here beside her, in the place they both grew up, and not care? This was why, no matter what she felt, however much she wanted him, she could never be with Will.
He propped himself up on an elbow and looked at her. Isla’s heart clenched as his green eyes bored into hers, asking a question she couldn’t….wouldn’t answer.
Isla had always loved him but they had nothing in common any more. He was aristocracy and her family just tenants. In the years she had been away they had grown apart too much.

Tearing her eyes from his handsome face Isla looked back at the stars, “I saw two shooting stars last night, I wished on them but they were only satellites,” she whispered.
Will’s deep voice joined her own, “It’s wrong to wish on space hardware, I wish, I wish, I wish you’d care,” he finished the lyric with her and she was transported back in time.
Her eyes met his again, “Billy Bragg,” he smiled brushing a stray tendril of hair from her face sending hot sparks through her skin where he touched her.
“Kirsty MacColl,” she grinned recalling their childhood argument about the best version of the song.
“I care Isla, I really do care,” he breathed moving closer.
As his lips met hers, Isla couldn’t help herself, her arms went around his neck and it felt like coming home.

A New England – Kirsty MacColl/Billy Bragg

“Always On My Mind” by Willie Nelson

Jacob tugged at the passenger door of his old rusty pickup then reached in to turn up the radio. The second he heard those familiar first notes of Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind,” he knew that it would be just the sedative to finally help settle my nerves. From the moment we arrived here, which was somewhere on one of the secluded service roads circling the three thousand acres of soybeans where he worked as a farmhand, all I could do was stand near the tailgate and fidget, my hands jammed awkwardly into my front pockets.
“Come on over here, boy,” he said. “I ain’t gonna bite ya.”
Jacob hooked a gentle arm around my waist and pulled me in close, whispering next to my ear, “Ain’t no reason to be nervous,” he said. “You’re gonna enjoy this, I promise.”
I wanted to say something in response – anything – but I couldn’t. The song in the background was starting to take effect, and I soon became distracted by the subtle scent of hormones emanating from his warm breath.
“I’m gonna go in real slow at first,” he said, and then he tilted my head back so he could look me in the eyes. “Then once I get the head in, it’ll start feeling real good. Understand what I’m saying?”
I couldn’t speak. Just the sound of his voice, the uniqueness of his southern drawl, and the way he chose his words would only overrule anything I might say in protest.
“You trust me?” he asked.
I nodded a definitive “Yes.”
This was the first time I had ever been with a man, or a woman for that matter, so I was still a virgin in every respect. Jacob, on the other hand, had been married to a woman for five years until recently, so he had the experience and the confidence to lay claim to whatever he wanted, and in this case, he was clearly fighting off the desire to mount and breed me like he’d done to countless women over the years.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” I said, finally drumming up the courage to speak.
“Everybody’s nervous their first time,” he whispered. “But eventually, you got to give in and let a man take hold of you. Understand what I’m saying?”
I nodded a definitive yes, mostly out of instinct.
With the moon hiding behind a bank of clouds, I could only feel his fingers as they began unbuttoning my shirt. Then, as soon as his hands reached my oversized belt buckle, my heart locked in my chest, and I realized then that I had no power to stop him.

Song: Monsta Truck by Monsta X

Wes followed the music into a large open warehouse behind the store of the converted building. Sunlight and a cool morning breeze spilled in from the open bay door. The pulsing beat grew louder the closer he got.
“Hello?” He didn’t want to surprise anyone, especially the person he was looking for.
Bev, his new boss at Loose Lips Brewery, asked him to talk to someone named Fred about installing the large metal plaque she’d had made in homage to Ninkasi, the Summerian goddess of beer. The piece arrived in sections and needed to be welded together. According to Bev this Fred guy was the best welder in the area as well as the local blacksmith. She also wanted to see if he would drop by and give her an estimate for some hooks she wanted to place around the bar area for several large hanging plants.
Wes thought she would probably get a better deal from the nearest home improvement store. But what did he know? He wasn’t exactly a DIYer. He’d also never lived or worked in a place like this artisanal community where everyone supported each other.
Shaking his head, he called out again, “Hello?”
By the time he reached the door, he could hear someone singing along as well as the dull thuds of heavy objects being tossed into a dumpster. He rounded a brick half wall and stopped dead in his tracks.
A tall, Rubenesque model with shocking electric blue hair danced across the sand covered area. She wore a black tank top under a pair of heavy duty overalls and sturdy, thick soled work boots. Her hair was buzzed short around the back and sides, and the long bangs that would probably obscure her eyes were held back with hot pink smiley face clips. Her face was devoid of any artifice except a smoky smudge across her forehead. Riotous tattoos sleeved one arm while the opposite ear was ringed in silver. Stunning.
Wes blinked. Whoever she was, she was smirking at him like she’d caught him with his hand the cookie jar.
He took a deep breath, wood scented smoke filled him, and smiled. “Did they just say Monsta Truck?”
Her smirk transformed into a grin and raised eyebrow. “Can I help you?”
“Oh, sorry, umm…Bev sent me. I’m looking for Fred.”
“You found her.”
Wes felt his mouth drop open. “You’re Fred?”

(the song could be any performed by an angry female artist, post breakup, from Alanis Morisette to Taylor Swift, but in this case it was 911 by Ellise)

“Shooting starts in a week, you know.”

Trey ignored his agent’s frowny judgement by flopping into the too cushy armchair. It hugged him like a velvet octopus, reminding him how he hated hyphenated foods that sounded better than they tasted.

David’s job would be so much easier if Trey’d hit the gym more, set up a recurring meeting with a barber, and stop wearing everything like a two dollar t-shirt.

“Did you bring me to your favorite restaurant to lecture me about my grooming habits?” Trey hoped against all reason that the answer would ease his mind. But by the way David searched for his words, he knew his time was up. She was coming for him.

“She wants to talk. Once, that’s it,” the confirmation came.

“No,” Trey shook his head, words weren’t enough. Of course his agent thought it was a great idea for his biggest client and his dramatic ex to start a media storm again. David’s brain couldn’t stop selling stories, it was why Trey was paying him. “No talking. Not face to face, not on the phone. Ever.”

“I understand it was unfair, that album,” David’s professional voice stayed serious, helped by how he kept his eyes off his phone, abandoned to pulse silent notifications into the tablecloth. “Airing your dirty laundry.”

It made Trey fear the worst, “She can’t be apologising for that now.”

“The threat isn’t coming from her,” David leaned back without crumpling his shiny suit. Facing him, Trey was relieved once again that his career as Officer Murphy, That Big Funny Guy From That Detective Show, meant he could just wear black jeans and not bother with designer clothes or keeping his beard tamed. He could present himself in public looking like David’s bodyguard: one of the many perks of being a steadily employed actor who just signed a ten year contract extension.

“There’s some rumors in the industry,” David finally said. “That she’s planning a comeback. That she has some sex tapes that she’ll use to put a spotlight over herself. Tapes where she’s not the most famous person performing.”

“I don’t care,” Trey tried to sound like he meant it.

“We need to be prepared.”

“No need, I’m not on any.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“We never had sex.”

David’s mouth closed, his eyes investigating for signs of stroke on Trey’s face. He managed, “But… you were together for over a year… and her last album…?”

The one that turned his name into a synonym for ‘deviant’.

“It’s what I keep saying,” Trey kept his voice steady, he’d have to repeat the mantra that no one believed. He’d still get death threats and animal parts delivered to his home. The Messinas were an army that made up for its small numbers by being completely blood-thirsty, their time and focus dedicated to the man who silenced their idol.

“That album wasn’t about me.”

Hi J.! Very sorry to say, but we can’t consider your submission for our Editor’s Top 3 as it exceeds the word count limit. So sorry about that!

Hi, very sorry about that, I read around 450 words and not under. Happy to get an answer AND enthusiasm about a follow-up. Great stories won, so no worries, it was fun to write. Thank you!

Kristen Miller won the never-going-to-make-it-in-life superlative well before she hit rock bottom in Boston. Walking down Newbury Street, she memorized the speech she was going to spoon-feed the legal team at J.R. Bayer to announce her resignation. But her footing quit first, and WAAAP.

She got a literal taste of Boston, with her cheek kissing the faded sidewalk. Drenched in 100% arabica, she felt like good luck should be banished to the realm of fortune cookies and false promises. Already soaked in her vanilla latte, she noticed the sky turn darker as she lay splayed out.

“Why!” she moaned, not caring who walked by. “Is luck really too much to ask for?”

“Luck?” a voice answered from the far side of the street, cattycornered between a HOT pretzel cart and a park bench. “You know luck doesn’t just appear out of thin air, right Kristen?” The man pointed to his open umbrella and silently offered her shelter.

Kristen squinted her eyes and adjusted her cracked frames.


He rolled his fingers and waved her closer. Kristen knew those hands. She’d studied them all through high school, mostly from afar. Too far to be noticed. She never felt them. Kristen wasn’t the type of girl to land a Cade. “It’s been a while, huh?” he asked.

From five feet away he drew a coffee-stained shiver out of her. “I’d rather not do the math,” Kristen said. “Round it to even decade?” The small cut on her cheek screamed. She was stunned by the whiplash of her past.

“Things change, you know…people, they change too.”

Kristen walked closer and her heels slid on the muddy park grass. She glided into his frame.

“Whoa,” Cade said as he caught her.

Graceful…Kristen thought. She collected herself and pulled away from him. “Are you still playing football? The last thing I heard about Cade McKinley was that he signed a trillion-dollar deal with some hot shot team. What are you doing in Boston?”

“You keeping tabs on me, Kay?”

No one had used that nickname since the academy, and it was reserved for family and close friends at best. Cade wasn’t supposed to be here. “So?”

He ran a hand through his coarse brown hair, wet as if he’d just finished an NFL double header.

“You don’t even have a guess?”

“No,” she said, softly.

“Well, let’s think about it. I played for Oakland, Kansas City, and the Giants before Cincinnati. That say enough?”

Kristen laughed out loud. “So, you’ve been following me.”

“I never forgave myself for not telling you how I felt in the first place. Every place has felt worse than here.”

Alanis Morissette: Ironic

Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

So many things about this coastal town were familiar. The briny air that left a sticky sheen on his skin. The onslaught of summer tourists. The crunch of sand and shells on every sidewalk, and doorstep, as if the ocean breeze got a kick out of shoving as much sand off the beach as possible. Even SueZee’s Ice Cream Shop, with it’s rusty, rickety wrought iron tables and chairs was still on the corner of the main thoroughfare.

Behind tinted sunglasses his dark eyes were lasers. They roamed over the faces on the crowded street, hesitated briefly on a fall of curly blond hair, then moved on again. Surely if she was here every nerve ending in his body would know it? His heart galloped. He could turn a corner and she could be right there! Not a crazy thought-she still lived in this noisy tourist spot. He had begged her to leave with him five years ago. Seemed like yesterday. She would have gone, he knew it! But her family needed her to help run their souvenir shop. She had cried about it, but in the end she stayed here with them.

He told her he’d be back, that he’d never forget her. And he hadn’t. A lifetime of things had changed for him in five years. Only one thing was constant: she had never left his thoughts. Some days it was just a quick flash of a radiant smile. Other days the memories washed over him like rain, trickling into every moment of his day. He dropped down on a bench and shoved his fingers through his hair. She loved that he wore it long, so he had never changed it.

He hoped to take her to a special place they shared. It had been sweltering that day as well, but the light in her caramel eyes made him oblivious to it. She had grabbed his hand and told him they were taking a walk, a walk that turned into a couple hours and ended at a deserted inlet at the very end of the beach. It was her favorite spot. She said it was the place she came to dream, sitting on the warm sand and staring out at the sea. She shared her plans for the future and to his great delight they included him. They laughed. They snuggled. She brushed his dark hair off his face and kissed him as if her life depended on it. Her favorite place became their favorite place.

Three weeks later he was gone. Off on a new adventure that she wouldn’t agree to share.

How had he been so stupid? How could he make it right?

Goodnight spearnight my angel, time to close your eyes…
And save these questions for another day…”

Eve looked up from the patient chart she was reading and turned toward the sound of the warm baritone voice softly singing nearby. In the quiet that was the night shift in pediatrics ward 24, the melody hung in the air and tingled over her skin like the brush of a hand.

“I think I know what you’ve been asking me,
I think you know what I’ve been trying to say…”

Eve walked toward the sound, needing to find its source, and came to a stop at the door of room 519. The eyes of the young girl in the bed were closed, her right hand clutching a pink stuffed elephant and the left engulfed in the large hand of the man sitting beside her. Bree Warren, Eve recalled, remembering the briefing she received when she started her shift. The six year old was recovering well from an appendix removal the day before but according to the day nurse, came in with an “overbearing and bossy father who thought he could tell us how to do our job”.

“I promised I would never leave you,
Then you should always know…”

Eve watched him sing to his little girl, the lamp light behind him outlining his profile. She observed the long line of his jaw, dark brow and lips that curled at the corners in a slight smile as he sang. She saw nothing of the arrogant man described by the day nurse.

“Wherever you may go, no matter where you are, I never will be far away…”

As the last note faded away she saw the smile fade and the telltale lines of worry take its place. As if sensing her presence he turned his face to Eve and she felt a flutter spear her insides as his dark eyes met hers. She registered the raw pain in them at almost the same time it was shuttered away and replaced with a cool look that froze her to the floor.

-“Lullabye” by Billy Joel

As she exited the train, another text from Francesca scolding her for tossing out Mr. One Night Stand’s number made her phone ping. It was Thea’s first day at her new job, she needed to focus. There was no time for daydreaming about steamy sex with the dark haired Adonis she met on her weekend getaway to Montauk. Even as she shook her head to get the images of that night out of her head, a smile crossed her face. It was an amazing night, but after the messy breakup with Luke she had no intention of getting involved any time soon. Besides, this new job was going to take all her free time.
Thea straightened her skirt as she stepped off the elevator on the thirty seventh floor. She hung a left at the reception desk toward human resources where she was supposed to meet Darren who would show her to her office and make introductions to her coworkers. Darren had processed her paperwork when she was hired and they had hit it off immediately. Darren was the only type of guy she wanted in her life right now: smart, funny, impeccable fashion sense and clearly, not interested in women.
Darren gave her a big welcoming hug and nodded approvingly at her choice of outfit for the day. “Girl, you got some sun this weekend. You are simply glowing.’”
“I had an extremely relaxing weekend in Montauk,” she told him as a flash of Mr. One Night Stand’s hands on her hips had a flush come to her cheeks. Darren noticed, but didn’t comment. “Emory will be here to meet with you in about ten minutes. He is pretty decent as far as bosses go. A bit of a playboy, but when you look like he does, women must throw themselves at him, probably some men too.”
“Wait, Emory is a man? This is a woman’s magazine. I just assumed…”
And then she saw him walking towards her office: dark hair, tanned skin, broad shoulders and the images flashed through her mind like frames of an 8 mm film. His mouth crushing hers. Her hands pulling his shirt over his head. His voice whispering how beautiful she was as trailed kisses down her neck. She saw the muscles in his shoulders as he lifted her onto the bar in her hotel room. Realizing she was holding her breath, Thea snapped back to the present, Emory’s eyes locked on hers as he strode into her office, flipped a chair around backwards, straddled it and casually leaned on the back of it.
“You must be Thea. I’m Emory, your editor.

Layla Williams slowly inhales and exhales. She kicked her own butt many times leading up to her best friend’s wedding for saying that she would sing and to sing with the man she had long thought her heart had gotten over until they met again on a rainy night just months ago. Now they’ll be facing each other at their best friend’s wedding to sing as each had promised to do.
“You ok? Bobbi Raye Brown asked Layla as they were putting their make up on.
“I’m fine. Layla said
“You don’t have to lie to me. Bobbi replied, I know you’re more nervous than a bear inside s bee hive
Layla chuckled. “What? Ok. That makes no sense whatsoever.
“It don’t gotta make sense, Bobbi said, you know what I meant. When are you going to admit you’re still in love with this man and finally lose your virginity?
“Let’s not ruin your wedding with talks of Michael and the past. Ok?
Bobbi threw her hands up in defeat and readied herself to walk down the aisle to meet the love of her life. Before the song began to play Bobbi and Layla stepped out of the bathroom into the carpeted floor of the church entryway. The two friends hugged one another and Layla clears her throat before entering the sanctuary. With the microphone up to her lips she began to sing and as her gaze fell on Michael standing in the middle looking all handsome and he never took his eyes off her it was like he was really singing to him. Forget the crowd of spectators watching them. Michael had taken hold of her free hand and sparks flew as they sing Like I’m Gonna Lose You, by Meagan Trainor, and they moved closer to each other coming to the end of the song,
“So I’m gonna love you. Like I’m gonna lose you. I’m gonna hold you like I’m gonna lose you. They were an inch away from kissing when the crowd roared bring them back to reality. Layla and Micheal stare at each other not even realizing they were still holding hands.

Laughter erupted and applause filled the room as the last contestant of the 12th Annual Bachelor’s For Babies Auction hit the stage. Ditching his usual starch white doctors coat for a loose-fitting royal blue empire waist dress, Dr. Caleb Anderson grinned unapologetically as he made his way toward emcee Julia Bell. Enjoying the momentary shock of her silence he stopped beside her and playfully shook his dress at the still laughing crowd.
“Dr. Caleb, interesting look you have going on tonight.” Julia bit out as she forced a pleasant tone and smile. “Should we assume this is your normal look outside of your work at the Children’s Hospital?” Placing her hand on her hip she held out the microphone to catch what she hoped would be a witty comeback.
“What have you thought was under my lab coat all these years, dear?” He flashed that cocky grin again to the audience and she could see that the women fanning themselves with their numbers had no problem imagining anything under his lab coat.
“I haven’t thought about it all!” She quickly got out through clenched smiling teeth as she brought the mic back to her own face and let out a giggle. Pink stained her cheeks as she prayed no one had heard her snippy remark.
“Tell us, Dr. Caleb, what do you plan to do on your date with our lucky winner?” Steering the conversation back to their purpose for tonight she quickly thrust the microphone back into his face. His large hand closed over hers as he leaned in to answer. Tilting her head back to look up at him she realized how small she felt beside him. It was easy to forget how tall he was when she avoided standing this close to him at all costs. The sharp scent of his cologne filled her nose and for one unguarded moment she felt herself wanting to close her eyes and sink into his warmth. A smattering of applause broke her from her thoughts. Sweet brown eyes gazed down at her with the same intensity she remembered. This had been a bad idea, why in the world did she keep putting herself into situations like this. Raising her own paddle she kept her eyes locked on his.
“Let’s start the bidding.”

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