Here’s your weekend #WritingChallenge!

WritingChallenge image

Hi everyone,

One of the most precious moments in a romance is when the hero and heroine first meet! But what happens when it’s two total strangers who are destined to marry? See below for your weekend #writingchallenge…

Your hero and heroine are about to get married, but they are total strangers! Give us their first meet!

We can’t wait to read your responses!

The SYTYCW Editors x


98 replies on “Here’s your weekend #WritingChallenge!”

How had it come to this? Marrying a complete stranger. Not going to happen. Twenty five years living a life that she thought as her own, only to find out she had been promised to some Sheikh from birth. The paper trembled in her hand. To sink down into a chair, legs shaking, threatening to give out.
Miranda Leigh stared across to the woman who was supposed to her mother. The one, who was supposed to protect her, “How could you?” Her voice trembled.
“I’m sorry Mindy, but it’s your blood.” Janet King now married to an American. “Your father’s blood.”
“Why did you have to go and marry a Sheikh?”
Janet chewed on her bottom lip. “We never really got married. A part of the deal of me leaving with you was that you were to come home, and became the princess that you are.”
“By marrying a Sheikh!” Miranda shook the paper at her. “How could you? Why marriage?”
“Because without me, your father’s country would be in ruins.”
Startled, Miranda swung around to face the tall, dark, bold stranger in the doorway, wearing a pinstriped suit, pristine white shirt. His presence took over the room. Sucking the air out of her lungs. “I’m supposed to marry you?” she gasped. He was so overpowering. The door closed behind him, closing her in. Dark shrew eyes run over her petite features, pale skin with jet black long, wavy hair, and honey eyes. Not golden or dark, but honey. Mixed blood.
Slowly she stood on unsteady feet and jutted out her chin. She might be small in size and stature, but she had always fought for herself. “And who might you be?” she challenged. He closed the distance like some big, black panther, looming down upon his prey. He towered over her, making her feel smaller than her five foot five. She had to crane her neck to look into dark and dangerous, almost black eyes. She stood her ground.
“Tarek Aziz Rashad Al-Sharif, your future husband, Princess Miranda.” The last words she wanted to hear. All she wanted to do was run. Run as hard and fast as she could.

I’d marry him in a heartbeat – he sounds gorgeous!! This is a fun set-up – lots of backstory to explain, but Miranda’s shock and horror are well-captured, as is Tarek’s immediate charisma!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

In less than twenty four hours it will be too late. Jasmine adjusted the ruby pendant. It didn’t look like a shackle, but it weighed heavily nevertheless. The first gift from her intended husband. A man she had never met. A barbarian from a desert kingdom she had not seen since her infancy.
Her gown was a deep blood red, a shade darker than the ruby. It clung to every curve, her last defiant statement of independence before the prison of this marriage she did not want. The long split gave a tantalising glimpse of leg. Prince Malek would not approve.
The disapproving glare from her father told her more than words her rebellion would not go unpunished. At least this time it would be at the hands of a stranger, not the man who professed to love his daughter, yet forced her into this union.
A stir rippled through the large room, echoing off the marble floors and the ornately tiled walls. The large double doors at the end were flung wide.
Jasmine could not resist turning to look at her groom. A tall man, towering over his attendants who scurried after him, swarthy skin half concealed by a neatly trimmed beard and hair that fell to his shoulders. A barbarian, as she expected.
His eyes, fierce golden irises framed in black lashes, stabbed at her across the length of the reception hall. His robes, heavily embroidered in metal thread that reflected the glow of his eyes, flowed over the lean length of him from broad shoulders to booted feet. Not the self-indulgent prince of her imaginings. This was a man far more dangerous.
She sucked in a shaky breath as he halted before her, his head inclined in a brief acknowledgement. His heat and virility radiated in waves, stirring her senses, sending a pulsing frisson down her spine and settling deep in her belly.

So this is the pampered bride chosen by the so wise advisors. Malek let his gaze drift over the tightly fitted dress. His ruby nestled in the deep cleavage, drawing attention to the way her breasts pushed up from the strapless bodice. Already she was trouble, doubtless refusing to wear the ceremonial garments given to her by his servants. Only the ruby. It should have been sapphires to match the blue of her eyes, inherited from her faithless mother. For the rest, her dark hair and clotted cream skin proclaimed her ancestry from a lesser branch of the Kemari Royal family. So distant now it was a matter of custom rather than blood.
It mattered little. She was attractive enough to bed and healthy enough to breed. He had no time or inclination to tame her. He studied the glint in her eyes and the uplift of the chin. It might be a pleasurable pastime. If only he didn’t have other issues to command his attention. He could not allow her to distract him.
Nudged by her father, she extended her hand and clasping the cool fingers, he bowed over it. “My Lady.” The feel of her skin disturbed him in a visceral way he could not remember happening for many years. Not since the death of his wife.
Her bow matched his for depth with an added grace.
“My Lord.”
Her gaze met his, a troubled awareness in the wide eyes. This was not what he intended for this marriage. Too late to draw back. Even if he wanted to.

Exquisite description, Fiona. Love the image of the ruby pendant that feels like a shackle….

As always, Fiona, such beautiful beautiful writing. The way you paint pictures with words is just incredible. From the very start when you describe the ruby pendant as not being a shackle, you grab and hook the readers attention. Fabulous, Fiona. 🙂

She’s a feisty one, isn’t she! Really enjoyed her show of defiance, even as she was being marched down the aisle – it’s really engaging. He is VERY all-powerful – this can sometimes make it challenging to keep readers’ sympathy with him, even knowing he’s lost a wife, so would be interested to see how you planned to explore the emotions he no doubt has firmly buried 🙂

I can’t imagine Ed’s hands all over me tomorrow. As soon as we say I Do, he’ll take me to his bed. If marriage were for two people who know and love each other, I wouldn’t be marrying tomorrow. Dad had promised me to a rancher in Sonoma named Ed Clifton. Dad saw no other way out of his financial difficulties other than to give my hand in marriage to a man I never met.
There wasn’t enough time to plan an elaborate wedding, so Ed and I are marrying at the Stonebrook courthouse in downtown Stonebrook. He insisted we marry right away since snow is coming and Judge Water’s is already in Stonebrook. Mom had taken her whiter than snow wedding dress and added beading on the train.
Earlier, it felt like elephants trampling on my heart. Now, my heart is numb.
I have yearned for her the minute I saw her picking grapes off vines at her father’s vineyard, a few autumns ago when she was eighteen, and I was twenty-four. Her fingers on the vine were delicate like she was strumming a guitar. She never noticed me and tomorrow, she’ll belong to me. Tomorrow she’ll be my wife.
All I could do is think about how sweet Sara would smell like.
“Do you take this man?” Judge Waters ask. Yes, gets blocked in my throat. I look up at Ed, he’s holding my hand, and squeezes them slightly. He doesn’t want to let me go. Dad is seated in the front row and at the edge of the chair. Mom kissed me goodbye this morning. Her nerves wouldn’t allow her to come to my morning wedding. I understand.
All I can think about is what saying yes meant. Saying yes means the end of freedom and Ed would usher me in his light blue pickup truck because we have to make it back to his ranch before dark. Winter is a guarantee that I won’t see my family for a while. Tears struggle to surface, but I fight the urge to cry. My family is all I know. I’ve never been out of Stonebrook. Until today.
He drinks me in as if he has wanted me his whole life. His blue eyes calm me, and somehow I believe that everything will be okay. Without hesitation, I say “ I Do.”
“You are now husband and wife.”

The present-tense, 1st person POV works really nicely to convey the emotional urgency, nerves and stress of this situation – we really feel for Sara! They obviously have a big journey to go on, but like how you set up that even though she doesn’t know him, she feels calm in his presence by the time she says ‘I do’…bodes well for their future 🙂
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Blame it on the Easter weekend. Here is a second story.
Hannah King stirred the soup one last time and pushed it to the back of the stove. The Shepherd’s Pie was heating in the side oven. The apple pie kept warm on the shelf. *Too much pie?* In her experience, looking after her *daed* for so many years, there was never too much pie for a man.
She went into the dining room to check the table setting and glanced at the clock. The engagement gift from Jacob Schwartz made a fine addition to the mantel shelf. It wasn’t new. The painted china had no chips but it had the mellow look of many years. It had been his mothers, but Hannah knew he had been an orphan since he was a young boy. She knew little else about Jacob Schwartz. Nothing about his dreams. She had given up on dreams. Some things she only hoped. The letter that accompanied the clock crackled in the pocket of her best Sunday dress. It told her of his past, in short uncommunicative phrases, but it was the future that concerned her
If she had been a boy, her *daed* would not have felt the need to arrange a marriage. “You’re far too choosy, Hannah May, like your *maemm*. Twenty-five and no sign of a suitor.”
So the choice had been made for her. Not a local boy but a man from Indiana. A widower without even a farm of his own. Of course he would not be interested in marrying a spinster of no great beauty if he had property to tie him. It was the farm that brought him across the country. In no great hurry, in no mood for courtship. Today her *daed* would publish the engagement and she would meet Jacob Schwartz.
A knock on the door startled her from her troubled thoughts. Her heart pounded inside her ribs. Now she would see him. So much counted on how this first meeting went.
Her first impression was how tall he was, taller than her even with him standing on the low stoop. The second, how fair. His trimmed hair gleamed pale and silvery in the sun. His beard held traces of real silver which surprised her, for he was only thirty-four and widowed for more than five years.
“Hannah May King?”
She could feel her cheeks heating. What he must think of her, staring like an Englischer tourist? “Welcome, Jacob Schwartz. Please come in.”
His felt hat was in one hand but he extended the other. Cautiously she placed hers into it. His long fingers were cool from the autumn air. The grip was strong, but somehow gentle. It warmed that cold place in her heart. His long bare upper lip curved into a smile. “It is good to meet you, Hannah May.”

Ooh, he’s intriguing! I love the details about the silver in his beard – indicates a man who’s really lived, with secrets she’s going to have to find out… A sweet set-up, and a nicely realistic first meet.
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Easter and something different ……

All her life she was destined for this to be his bride. Bred and born. All she was put on this earth for. The day had arrived, and she was ready. In her pristine, white wedding dress. Dior, of course. Only the best, for the daughter of a rich man. Michael Stone was the one of the most respected men in the world. Okay, he had a reputation of a bad boy. Even a playboy, but she would never forget the boy, who had been so kind to her. So tender, and loving, when the other kids had been so mean. He picked her up and carried her inside, and seen to her needs. He had kissed her knee better. She had been in love with him forever, and he was the one she was to marry
Now standing before him to be married, was not the man she knew. He was a complete stranger. Here stood before her, at the alter, was man she didn’t know. There was no way it he was Michael Stone, but his brother Jarrod. Because Michael was dead. and it was her fault.

This one raises more questions than it answers! Like the sense she’s felt destined to marry him, but now all I want to know is what happened to Michael, and more about Jarrod!!
Flo & the SYTYTCW Editors x

Jewel listened to her mother bicker about things that didn’t matter while they prepared for her father’s 60th birthday. She loved him dearly and wanted him to have the best day.
” Jewel Alexandria Roberts have you mailed your father’s invitation?” Her mother asked high pitched. She had stopped walking, and turned towards her knowing it could be forgotten. There was so much to do with only weeks away to go.
“Yes mother I have done them.” Jewel responded she watched as her mother walked off, and continue to shop she look into her purse and saw the envelopes. So far behind in work she never got to do it she had to get them out. Her mother was not found of her working now, and made it very clear every chance she got. Everything had to be a show something for the town to talk about. She looked down to put them in purse, she was immediately knocked over she looked up at a hard chest.
” I’m sorry I didn’t see you.” A deep voice said he took her hand and helped her up. He had to be at least 6 feet, clean shaved a gold teeth, and the prettiest set of brown eyes.
” It’s okay I wasn’t paying attention.” She found her voice and looked away.
” Let me help you with that.” He pushed the envelopes together and handed them to her. He could feel the spark and looking into her eyes he knew that she could too.
“Jewel I have been going on about the dress I’m going to get…….” stopping mid-sentence she saw the young man who was holding her daughter’s hand she snatched the invitations out of them.
” This wouldn’t be your cup of tea.”
“Mother.” Embarrassed Jewel shook her head and mouthed the word sorry as she walked away. Her mother’s pride, money and reputation was getting out of hand it was time to teach her a lesson.
He could still smell her sweet perfume he knew very well who they were and where they came from, he saw one of the invites up under the shelf. He placed it inside of his coat jacket.
“Let’s show Mother Dear some manners and that I she’ll have her daughter’s hand.”

Interesting! Would love to know a little more about him, to understand why he immediately offers his hand, especially in the face of his difficult potential mother-in-law! But we like the buzz you set up between them 🙂
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Hope I’m not too late in posting this!

Eira folded her hands in front of her as she watched the longboats glide soundlessly through the fjord. A breeze blew over the glacial water, stinging her cheeks despite the warmth of the sun overhead. If someone had asked her what she was feeling in that moment, the daughter of Jarl Halvar would have had no answer, as she had long since gone numb from the knowledge that her father was marrying her off to a man not of her choosing. A man she had only heard tales of, horror stories told around the fire in the great hall on long winter nights.
The sound of a familiar heavy tread on the wooden planks behind her had once brought Eira comfort, yet now only signified betrayal.
“I know you’re angry with me,” her father said in a quiet voice. “But I hope with time you’ll come to understand why I made this choice.”
“I will never understand, father.” Eira looked at him askance. “I’m a shield maiden, not a commodity to be traded away in your foolish quest for power.”
“Protecting my people is not foolish and I didn’t make this decision lightly. Without an alliance with Jarl Torvald, our enemies to the east will continue to savage our outlying lands.”
“We can protect our own lands!” she declared, turning to face him head on. “Just as we always have.”
“No, we cannot.” Her father’s hands came to rest on her shoulders and for a fleeting instant, she felt the full weight of his responsibilities as though they were her own. “And you know it well, Eira.”
“But why Jarl Torvald?” she whispered. “Father, why did you choose the one man in all the land that has haunted my nightmares since childhood?”
He placed Eira’s hand in the crook of his arm and gave it a loving pat. “Because he also haunts the dreams of our enemies, Eira, and who of them would dare to attack the family of the fiercest Viking of them all?”
She closed her eyes against the hopeful look in her father’s eyes and turned back to the sea. The boats had gotten closer. Eira could make out individual faces now and she searched among them, wondering which was her betrothed. He was said to be the largest of his people, with fierce eyes and a scarred countenance that mirrored the darkness within him.
As the first boat bumped against the dock and the unfamiliar Vikings began to set foot onto her father’s land, Eira felt a chill sweep through her, striking her down to the very marrow of her bones. There was one man that stood out above all the others, black hair flowing freely down his back, eyes regarding her with an intensity that she’d never encountered before. She felt stripped naked among her peers, branded by a man she’d yet to formally meet.
And it wasn’t an altogether unpleasant sensation.
He walked toward her, his pace slow, and Eira took the time to examine him thoroughly. Her gaze travelled the length of his body and she couldn’t help but be impressed by the strength and confidence Torvald exuded with every step he took. She’d been expecting a hideously disfigured brute of a man, but Eira found that the faded scar running the length of his jaw only served to emphasize his handsome features, leading one’s gaze up to a pair of eyes the color of the sea at midday.
Lips twitching in amusement, Torvald’s voice was low as he bent toward her. “Do I meet with your approval, Lady Eira?”
Realizing that her earlier misgivings had all but vanished now that Torvald had proved himself to be a man made of flesh and blood instead of the dark shadows Eira had feared, she moved her hand from her father’s arm to that of her betrothed.
Matching the heated look in his eyes with one of her own, Eira answered, “Yes, Jarl Torvald. You most certainly do.”

OMG Heather, we totally loved this – strong motivations, great characterisation and sexy Vikings are a winning combo! Don’t suppose you have more of this ms knocking around? Would love to see it if yes so let me know…!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Thanks everyone! I’ll admit to feeling a bit shocked at the moment, but also very excited to delve deeper into Eira and Torvald’s story.

“Marry me.” Lance tossed the impulsive proposition down before he had a chance to examine the consequences.
Steph’s hand fell from the doorknob and she spun towards him, her dark hair flying out around her face before settling on her shoulders. “Are you crazy? Why? You met me a couple of hours ago.” Her black loafers scuffed the fringes of the Persian carpet.
Sensible footwear.
“You need a job.”
“Mr. Baldwin. I’m a nurse. I can get a job anywhere.” She reached behind her for the brass door handle.
“Not with the kind of payout I can offer you.”
Her hand fell to her side. He’d got her attention.
“One year. That’s all I need. Then you can have your freedom.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Quickie divorce. And I’ll buy you a house at the end of it.”
Steph took a step towards him and fixed him with a cool gaze. Appraising. Much like his father had directed at him this morning. Cool, unflinching. No batting of the eyes, no looking away with nervousness.
If you think I’m going to let you blow my father’s hard earned money, you’re wrong. You get nothing until you’ve shown me some responsibility. Some sense that you’re growing up and thinking beyond your immediate pleasure. The thought of his father’s words made him cringe.
“Why, Mr. Baldwin? What do you get out of this?” Her eyes never left his.
He flashed his smile. The one that got him out of arriving late and leaving too early. The one women couldn’t resist.
Except this one.
He cleared his throat. “My grandfather passed away yesterday. You’re out of a job as his caretaker…and my father won’t release my inheritance unless I prove I’m more responsible.”
She raised an eyebrow at that. “And marrying me will convince him of that.”
“An instant family? Complete with a child? You’re the epitome of respectability.”
She continued to stare at him with that level gaze. Not the way that Sophie did, like the cat licking the last of the milk from the bowl.
More like a poker play, examining the odds before they played their hand.
“I would want a prenup.”
Perfect. He’d been afraid she’d balk at that.
“I would want certain…conditions…written in.”
“Of course. I would guarantee a house. We could decide on a modest payout to tide you over till you find another job. ”
“No sex.” She didn’t blink an eye.
Damn. He’d kind of looked forward to seeing what was under the floppy sweater she wore over her scrubs.
Still, a woman with a kid should be off limits.
Shouldn’t she?

This is fun! She seems like a real tough cookie – exactly the right kind of heroine to teach the hero how to be the man we all know he can be! Like that she’s a single mum too, as it opens up a whole other relationship he’ll need to learn to negotiate too.
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Jewel listened to her mother bicker about things that didn’t matter while they prepared for her father’s 60th birthday. She loved him dearly and wanted him to have the best day.
” Jewel Alexandria Roberts have you mailed your father’s invitation?” Her mother asked high pitched. She had stopped walking, and turned towards her knowing it could be forgotten. There was so much to do with only weeks away to go.
“Yes mother I have done them.” Jewel responded she watched as her mother walked off, and continue to shop she look into her purse and saw the envelopes. So far behind in work she never got to do it she had to get them out. Her mother was not found of her working now, and made it very clear every chance she got. Everything had to be a show something for the town to talk about. She looked down to put them in purse, she was immediately knocked over she looked up at a hard chest.
” I’m sorry I didn’t see you.” A deep voice said he took her hand and helped her up. He had to be at least 6 feet, clean shaved a gold teeth, and the prettiest set of brown eyes.
” It’s okay I wasn’t paying attention.” She found her voice and looked away.
” Let me help you with that.” He pushed the envelopes together and handed them to her. He could feel the spark and looking into her eyes he knew that she could too.
“Jewel I have been going on about the dress I’m going to get…….” stopping mid-sentence she saw the young man who was holding her daughter’s hand she snatched the invitations out of them.
” This wouldn’t be your cup of tea.”
“Mother.” Embarrassed Jewel shook her head and mouthed the word sorry as she walked away. Her mother’s pride, money and reputation was getting out of hand it was time to teach her a lesson.
He could still smell her sweet perfume he knew very well who they were and where they came from, he saw one of the invites up under the shelf. He placed it inside of his coat jacket. She was already his and had always been the love his life. Young and dumb at 19 and, very much in love and noone could tell them any different. He gave her a ring that he worked so hard for and he took her hand. Six years ago that promise for better or worse was taken when her family found out. He wasn’t going to let her go. Their world was going to be changed he never got their marriage annulled and he was coming for his wife.

Aaah – we like the extra info we get here to explain his behaviour! There’s going to be fireworks ahead…!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Just remembered this one I was fiddling around with one joking comment could led in deep trouble….

“Please wait,” he called as she turned and walked backwards.
“Can’t, have to go.”
“I owe you.”
“Find me and I’d marry you.” Playfully Ruth Davies blew a kiss, and then spun around to race after her friend to catch a train.
“Really, you are shameless,” she was scolded by her best friend, Penny.
Brushing back copper hair from her face Ruth went to answer the door with a smile on her lips, green eyes twinkling. “Hello,” she greeted the stranger at her door. Tall, so tall, and dark. Jet black crowing his chiselled features in a soft wave that curled at the ends. Hawkish nose, and dark piercing eyes that went straight through her, sending a shiver through her.
He was the most drop-dead gorgeous man she had ever seen. Dressed in a tailor made dark suit, going by the perfect fit that highlighted his broad shoulders, chest, tapping down to a slender waist. Not an ounce of extra weight on his well built body.
Obviously at the wrong door. Nervously she pulled down her sloppy joe top over worn jeans covered in paint. “Can I help you?”
“I have found you, so now we wed.” She blinked at the stranger at the door. Did she just hear right?
“Sorry you have lost me.” It wasn’t every day she a complete stranger appear on her doorstep saying that, to frown because a memory from many years ago began to niggle. Something she had said in jest. Her eyes widened. Surely not?
“You said find me and I’d marry you, so I found you.”
She gasped. “That was five years ago.” In France, on her gap year. She pointed at him as the memory came back. “And you’re not the man I said that to. He was much older.”
“That is true. My father and I have come to stand in his place.”
Colour flooded her cheeks. “I was only joking.”
“Which my father took very seriously,” he noted to see he was dead serious. Not a smile in place. Shrew dark eyes watched her, and taking in every detail of her. Messy red hair, paint splattered clothes and barefooted. Self conscience, she tucked hair back behind her ear. This couldn’t be happening for real. It had to be a joke.
“Then I release you.”
“Not how it works. I have to release you.”
Her eyes widened. There were rules? How could there be rules? “Then do so with my pleasure. I was only eighteen at the time.”
“Who saved my father’s life.”
She shrugged. “I was just there at the right time and place.”
“What’s going on Ruth?” A deep voice asked behind her.
Her answer to a difficult situation. “Oh, this is awkward,” she blushed grabbing Rob’s arm and pulled him closer. “Sorry, didn’t catch your name.”
“Khalid,” was given aggravatingly.
“Well, this is Rob, my fiancé.” His dark eyes drifted down to her ring less finger.
“Don’t tell me you left it on the sink again?” He shook his blond head. “All the time,” he growled for good measure. Ruth eyed him closely, then back to Khalid.
A dark brow rose. “You didn’t wait for me?”
“Didn’t expect you to turn up.” What was she saying. “And wrong man,” she pointed out to receive a frown.
“So you plan to marry my father?”
“No, of course not.”
“So you go around and proposing to lot of men, do you?”
This was getting out of control. “Yep,” Rob agreed with a grin. She could have thumped him there and then. He was not helping the situation at all. “That’s how she got me.” Mischief was dancing in his eyes. Yes, a good thumping was in order.

Ah Rob is only a ruse – no ring. I should have added the part when his wife joined the group Penny. Sprung! lol

That’s a love triangle and a half! It’s a fun idea – for the hero’s behaviour to be truly credible, would be good to see a bit more of the connection between them back in the past, so we fully understand why he’ll go to such lengths to track her down!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

A deal is a deal. If I had known that part of Martin Stout’s grand scheme to swindle us into 12 mil a piece, included having to marry a man unaware of the idea of punctuality, I would have told him to find another pretty shill.

I can tolerate some flaws in an accomplice. Give me a partner who can’t keep a fake back story straight, and I’ll annihilate a mark’s suspicion with an ad-libbed cover up, before the poor sucker has a fighting chance. Give me partner who thinks their contribution to the job deserves a bigger cut than was originally negotiated ,and I’ll have the dumb bastard begging me for mercy and forgiveness. But give me a partner who doesn’t show up when everything is on the god damn line and I may not be able to talk my way out of a bad situation.

I’m good at what I do;but, even us good cons have a few hashmarks in the fail column.

My patience was running thinner than the snag in my discount store pantyhose. I needed a valid marriage by 5:00 P.M. yet, I still hadn’t met the groom. The clock on the tiny Wapak County courthouse was growing closer to the top of the hour, with every sympathetic sigh of the bushy haired magistrate.

I attempted to stall the old man from giving me a probably much- deserved grandfatherly talk about looking at being left at the altar as a blessing in disguise, by lying about finding my groom’s habitual punctuality issue to be absolutely adorable.

Nope not a deal breaker , at all.

“ He’s the one” Martin had said forty eight hours earlier.

“ The two of you will make the most convincing pair of Bible belt newlyweds to ever come out of Las Vegas.” Martin had beamed as he tossed a beige pair of dollar store brand stockings on top of the perfectly humble floral dress he had already added to the shopping cart.

“ You know, he’s been in the game just about as long as you” Martin chuckled as he wheeled the wobbly cart through the aisles towards the checkout, with exquisitely manicured hands like a watch model.

“ There’s no way, Marty” I smirked. “ We both know my very own conception was part of a con”.

I watched Martin’s face turn white.

On some things, I know I can trust Marty. Not everything.

Two days later and I had yet to lay eyes on man. The only communication had been a plan to go over a simple back story to sell the court officials.

It was ten minutes to five when the magistrate’s throat clearing preparation for my gentle counseling was interrupted by a violent assult on the courtroom’s closed double doors. Part of me was hoping it was my faceless groom, ready to kick the con of the century off, with moments to spare. Part of me was ready to see the bad start as a red flag and get the hell out of Wapak County, Ohio.

I was not at all ready to ad lib for what came through the door. I had pictured a my matching bookend to the con to walk through the door. Perhaps a strapping farm boy type, dressed up what was supposed to be his best: crisp white shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots. Nothing to outshine my wedding dress from aisle nine of the local store. Instead, a figure better suited for the lead in a blockbuster spy movie walked through the door. His suit and shoes were rumpled and scuffed , but no doubt, clearly expensive Italian. His body tall and fiercely athletic. His eyes piercing cornflower blue. His face strikingly handsome and bleeding heavily from a gash on his right cheek.

I rushed to the man thinking I could still save this. My quick thinking in times of crisis failed me for moment. I was either running towards my husband for the next two weeks or a very hot injured stranger.

I felt a hot mix of relief and anger when I heard the man tell the magistrate : “ My name is Ezra Clay and need to marry Corinne, right now”.

So good! Love the unique heroine voice, and the whole set-up, especially when the groom shows up all bloody at the end. It had us dying to read on!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Arianna was willing her jelly legs to make the slow march down the aisle towards the groom that was as much an alien to her as her own father.
It was her mother that had convinced her that this is what she needed to do. For the sake of her family, she had to marry this man.
As she approached the alter at the end of the walkway, Arianna noticed that he wasn’t such a bad specimen to look at. He had dark chocolate hair that swung just above his eyes, framing the deep green windows into his soul. The chiselled features of his face seemed to portray the same feeling of utter despair at having to spend the rest of his life with a complete stranger.
“Hello, I’m Antonio.” It seemed such a bizarre thing to say at that moment. But the honey tones of his voice and the quirky look on his face made her smile.
“Hi, I’m Arianna.”
“Very nice to meet you Arianna,” Antonio held out his hand to take hers. As she placed her manicured fingers into his palm, he gently held her hand as they turned to face the minister. She wasn’t sure if it was a gesture of comfort for her or him.
Everyone turned to face the man that had just burst through the chapel doors.
“I can’t let you do this!”
The man rushed along the red carpet that split the line of wooden seats down the middle. Arianna’s mother dashed to the outsider and grabbed him by the shoulders. It was then that Arianna saw the gun.
“Dad! What are you doing?”
Arianna stepped in front of Antonio to shield him. “You know that this is the only way.”
“I can’t let you be the one that makes up for my mistakes. If I have to shoot him to stop this from happening I will.”
“Arianna, When I say, Run to the door at the side of the chapel.” Antonio whispered in her ear.
Arianna noticed a man wearing a black suit, that was sitting in the third row, stand and make his way quietly to the aisle.
“Dad please. I have to do this. Just put the gun down before anyone gets hurt.” Arianna could see the black suited man slowly inch closer to her father. As she pleaded with her father, Arianna felt Antonio behind her nod his head.
“Now Arianna!”
Antonio grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her with him towards the side entrance of the chapel as the black suited man tackled her father to the ground. As they ran through the door Antonio shoved her into the black limousine that was waiting for them.
“To the airport Tyson.” Antonio ordered the driver.

How dramatic! And how fun that the hero is the one who saves her from the gun – genuinely very heroic! With such an explosive start to their relationship, would love to know what happens next!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

I think we need some paranormal. It’s not like the editors are busy or anything.
Cassie blinked up at the clouds scurrying across the clearing sky from her prone position in the back of the pickup truck. The smell of wet fur reminded her of her dog, Rufus, dead now for many years. So did the intermittent howling of wolves but they had fallen silent some time ago.
“It is time.”
Rough hands were at the ropes binding her ankles, untying them. She held out her hands, hopeful of release but the brute only used the knot to pull her upright. He knew too much. Lifted from the truck, she had her first chance to look around.
The full moon painted stark shadows across the wide clearing. A bonfire licked bright colour over the trunks of tall oaks that loomed around the almost perfect circle. It flickered over the faces of men and women, gathered at one side of the fire. They watched her with bright eyes glinting oddly green and gold as they talked among themselves.
She sucked in a breath when the gag was removed. A bottle of water was shoved in her face and she drank greedily.
Before she slaked her thirst, it was taken away and two men bracketed her, pushing her across the open space with firm hands on her upper arms. They halted her in front of a tall man in black she hadn’t seen before. But she knew who he was. “Shifter.” She spat at his booted feet.
He laughed, his deep tones sending a shiver down her spine. “Witch.”
Thrusting her hands forward, she met his golden eyes, holding the look. “Release me.”
“Not until you swear not to harm my people.”
“Why would you trust my word?”
“I know of you, Cassiopeia Starfallen. Beautiful, vain, yet honest in your way.”
His words resonated deep in her chest. No-one had called her beautiful for a long time. Not since the man chosen for her had scarred her face in vengeance for her indifference. “First, tell me what you want of me.”
He indicated the priest, standing slightly behind and to one side of him. “Marriage. To unite our people. To end this feud.”
A good reason. It was draining both groups and making it almost impossible to fight the real enemy. “Why me?” There were other witches, younger, prettier. More amenable.
“You are respected. Even feared.” His mouth stretched in a grin that showed white teeth, the canines slightly longer than usual. He was attractive, in a rough, uncultured way, dark, silver streaked hair long and stubble darkening his jaw.
“You don’t fear me?”
He looked down at the silver rope binding her wrists, keeping her power trapped within her skin. “No, I don’t fear you.” His hands were gentle on hers as he unbound her, slipping the coil of rope into the pocket of his long coat, his other hand keeping hold of her fingers. Warmth flowed through her blood, tingling as the power stretched to fill her skin. His grip tightened as if he could feel the resonance as it gathered in her fingers, ready for her command. “Your word.”
She stared at him, seeing a promise in the feral eyes. A promise she ached for. “You have my word.”

LOVED this, Fiona! Your writing is amazing! I could feel the emotions, especially how she felt when he called her beautiful. You write in a way which makes the reader feel like they are in the scene, watching everything taking place. You portray emotions, surroundings and scents so wonderfully. Lovely piece of writing, Fiona. 🙂

Can’t beat a bit of paranormal! Love how you use the different worlds to create the motivation to marry, making it a powerful and credible reason. Plus the connection between them is lovely and simmering!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors (busy? Us??) x

Sorry it’s so long, but I had a lot of fun writing this one. I love Vikings!!!

Taming the Viking Beast!

He was a savage beast and she was a slave. She was dark haired, small breasted and as far as she could tell she had nothing to offer him, so why on earth had this stranger chosen her?

Genevieve looked nothing like the other women in the village. Their blond hair was long and wavy, their shoulders broad, and arms were strong enough to carry a sword to slash its enemies and then turn around and take down a tree or two. And the breasts on these women could pillow an entire army! And then there was Genevieve. Compared to them she felt a mere wisp of a thing, flesh on bone with nothing to hold it there but soft, pale skin.

This morning had been like any other freezing day in the village when her owner came and dragged her into the big house. She heard a commotion as she warmed her hands near the fire. The air was brittle and her breath almost froze in the air when she was made to take off her rags and put on a dress. It was plain, but better than what she had and was grateful for the newness and warmth. Now she stood beside a stranger shivering uncontrollably, as she waited to say her vows, or whatever it was they said in this God forsaken country.

She met his ice like eyes which eerily looked like a venomous snake as the fire reflected in them. She looked away, her lower lip trembling, as she crossed her arms over her chest protectively. She did not want to marry him. She wanted to stay in the village. At least here she knew her life. She had for two years now. Who knows what was in store for her when she left with him.

Grabbing her chin roughly, she scowled and pulled away. Weakness was a handicap in this country and one never showed it. It was right to stand firm and plain faced showing no emotion, but Genevieve was filled with emotion and couldn’t help herself. His lips curled in response, baring his teeth and then snapped like an angry dog snatching at a piece of meat. She jumped and the entire crowd behind them bellowed with laughter. She suddenly wanted to slap him, but instead bid her time, curled her fists and looked away.

Genevieve hated these people. She hated them because they drank, roared with laughter all night and then slept all day while she cleaned up their vomit. Before coming here, she had never seen such people. Her people were not height challenged by any means, nor were they frail or feeble, but they were not these colossal sized, savage beasts that sang war songs all night and drank until they fell where they stood.

Foreign words spilled angrily from his mouth and she was nudged hard in the back by the woman who owned her. She stumbled forward and he grabbed her hair and pulled her upright to stand before the old crone of a man who would marry them. But she fought him, trying to gain control of her head, pushing back against his hand while retrieving the bone knife hidden underneath her sleeve. He pushed harder as if to prove she was now his puppet to do with whatever he wanted.

“Just…go with it,” he whispered into her ear in broken English, and then suddenly nipped her earlobe with his teeth. The sharp unexpected pain made her wrench from his lips, and she turned on him, searching his eyes to understand his meaning. His eyes widened in disbelief as he wiped the blood from his mouth, then narrowed with humor as she stood before him with the bone knife in her hand.

Genevieve’s heart raced as she gripped the knife and thrust it at him in warning. His chest darted back, but he didn’t step away as he kept his intense gaze on her. Sounds of encouragement replaced the laughter and she felt inspired to hold her position, but at the same time she was shocked he had learned her language. But she couldn’t think of that now. She smiled smugly into his snakelike eyes and he tilted his head watching her with curiosity. Maybe he would change his mind and leave her, but something in his hooded gaze told her that would not be the case. Her hand started to shake and in mere seconds he grabbed the knife from her grip, reversing its hold and holding it against her neck!

He forced her to stand and face the old man again. Hot tears filled her eyes as her chin lifted, but she dared not spill them. She would not let one tear drop and let them have satisfaction knowing they had broken her. Soon enough, they would drink, sing songs and she would be made wife to this beast. But in the morning when he overslept from too much drink, she would leave… after she made sure he could never follow.

Very intense – you really feel for the heroine’s plight! A word of caution would be to watch the world you’re setting up – it sounds quite bleak, but if she ends up staying with him and his people, readers will want to feel she can be happy there! Although if they’re about to escape elsewhere, then obviously this feedback doesn’t apply!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Nicole Gardner sat outside the office building on a lone wooden bench, pushing the baby stroller back and forth. A worn and weathered sign hung above her that read: Justice of the Peace, Wild Flower, Montana. She shaded her eyes from the bright sun and peered up at the deep blue sky. The afternoon was warm and the heavenly scent of pine drifted in the air. Backed up against a rugged mountain, the small town held a special magic all its own. She loved it here.
Beyond the trees, the dead-end street opened into a lush green mountain meadow that was filled with every color of wildflower imaginable. She couldn’t wait to see the change of seasons. Being an artist, she appreciated the myriad of colors each season would bring, and the opportunity she would have to capture its beauty on canvas.
Her gaze wandered up and down the narrow, old-fashioned street. She’d been waiting for Brett for over a half an hour now. She glanced down at the baby. Alexis wouldn’t sleep much longer. They had to get this wedding over with and quick, or she would have a bawling, hungry baby on her hands.
She noticed a familiar blue pickup truck parked in front of Rusty’s Saloon. That’s where Brett went to drown his sorrows for agreeing to marry her. The jerk. The double swinging doors suddenly swung wide open and Brett stepped out with a big stretch of his arms. He looked both ways, and then turned reluctantly in her direction.
She studied his tall figure, walking with a slight limp as he came toward her along the boardwalk. His dark brown eyes sparkled with humor, his thick black hair protruded in wayward waves from beneath his tilted black cowboy hat. He wore a crisp white western shirt, blue jeans and a black ribbon bowtie. Long, lean, and hard-muscled, he bore a dimpled grin that could charm a mountain lion. His appearance brought a chill to her senses.
A marriage of conveniencewas she really doing the right thing? On a crazy impulse, she had proposed to this man, this tough and rowdy professional cowboy. But how else could she have stayed with Alexis? She fell in love with the baby from the first tearful moment she held her at the hospital. A protective instinct had slipped into place in her heart, almost as if Renée’s spirit was there asking her to watch over Alexis.
Brett stopped before her and reached down to run a rough finger along Alexis’ velvet cheek. The baby stirred in her sleep. He quickly slipped the pacifier into her puckering mouth.
“Don’t want to wake her now.” He winked across at Nicole. “Are we all ready? Did Roy and Dallas show up?”
“A long time ago.” She tried to cool her irritation at his tardiness. She wondered if he had ever cared about anyone in his entire life. Probably not. The whole world could end, but as long as there was still a rodeo to ride in Brett Beaumont wouldn’t care.
Brett’s foreman, Roy Cooper, and his top ranch hand, Dallas Hardin, would be the witness’ to their marriage vows. Just what she’d always hoped for at her wedding—a bunch of cowboys in worn out chaps and a bouquet of plastic flowers.
She reminded herself this was not a real marriage. There would be no affectionate kisses and no passionate love. She peeked up at Brett’s handsome face and flinched a little when he smiled back. And there would be no consummation. She released a uneasy cough. They had mutually agreed on that matter. She simply needed enough time to convince Brett to turn total custody of Alexis over to her. That’s what Renée would have wanted her to do and that’s why Nicole had asked for this mock wedding.
“We were waiting for you.” She stood and tugged the hem of her short black leather skirt into place. She glanced down at her white silk blouse, checking for signs of baby spit or formula and was relieved when the quick inspection proved futile.
Roy appeared from inside the building. “Yeah, where you been, boss?”
“Drinking himself silly in the bar down the street.” She glanced up to see if it even bothered him that she knew how reluctant he was to commit.
Brett turned and glared at her, then shrugged his broad shoulders and chuckled.
A noose tightened around her heart. He didn’t have to make it quite so obvious that he didn’t want this ceremony. This wasn’t exactly how she’d planned to enter the holy state of matrimony, but it was something she had to do.
She leaned over and sniffed his breath, then wrinkled her nose. “Don’t breathe too hard, or the Justice of the Peace will know you’re drunk.”
“I’m perfectly sober.” Brett held his arm straight out to his side and took the tip of his finger from that point to the tip of his nose, missing it by a few unsteady inches.
“Sure you are.” She knew he would rather turn tail and run than marry her. Drinking somehow gave him the courage to go through with it and that thought aggravated her to no end. “Don’t pick up the baby in your sober condition. You might stumble over your huge ego and drop her.” She pushed past him and marched up the steps, ignoring the amusement tickling Roy’s wrinkled face.

This is great! You set up the motivations quickly but convincingly, and your characters really leapt off the page – we want to read more!!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Damn! Cole rammed his hands into the trouser pockets of his grey tuxedo. He stood at the alter, his gaze fixed on the double doors at the top of the aisle through which his bride-to-be would be entering any minute now. Why the hell did he have to be the night in shining armor and rescue the scandalized supermodel. Just because her affair with a married man caused her aristocratic family a great deal of embarrassment didn’t mean he had to give up his bachelorhood to save their face.
If it wasn’t for his father’s use of emotional blackmail on him he would have told the spoilt little rich girl exactly where to go. He didn’t believe for one minute that she hadn’t masterminded this whole charade. Her taste for wealthy men was widely known. He could see the headlines ‘Wild high society heiress settles down with business tycoon.’ Yeah, he could picture it clearly. She got all the benefits whilst he…
His tall athletic frame became rigid as the bridal march began to play.
The doors opened. Cole felt his breath catch. His bride stood in the doorway, tall and elegant. She wasn’t wearing a veil, her ethereal beauty on display for all to see. Her eyes fixed on him as she advanced towards him.

Something tells us he’s going to regret his chivalrous impulse even more soon! Would have loved to see a bit more insight into his motivations to give it that extra weight of credibility, but it’s a fun set-up!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

Thanks for all the wonderful entries, guys – you just keep spoiling us more and more! And thanks for your patience whilst we got back to you on them too, much appreciated.
Hope you had fun with this challenge, and look forward to seeing you all online for the next!
Flo & the SYTYCW Editors x

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