Tag Archives: #AnneLange

A Mermaid’s Quest – Episode 2

By Anne Lange

 

Simon shoved his fists into the front pockets of his cargo shorts and strolled along the beach, gazing out over the endless blanket of blue. With every wave that broke the shoreline, his hair whipped around his head and a light, briny-scented spray of water coated him. His younger sister had joked he needed a haircut. His mother had told him a shave would make him not look so forlorn or scary.

With each step, he sunk heel first into the wet sand, cold and clammy against his bare feet. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath in—God, he loved the water—and let it out.

And he hated it just as much.

He opened his eyes and glanced over to where his family and closest friends had gathered on the beach after their day of playing in the sand and a picnic dinner. One of his cousins had brought his guitar, and Simon could hear the faint strums as Dean goofed around with some lively tunes. Most of them had switched to sweats or sat wrapped in camping blankets now that the sun had set. Even with the bonfire they were preparing, the cooler air coming in off the water warranted warmer clothing.

Simon didn’t feel the cold. He didn’t feel much of anything these days.

He appreciated that his family thought this little excursion would help. Though it was more like ripping off a Band-Aid in his opinion. They believed after all this time, it would bring him closure. Allow him to move on and finally fix what appeared to be broken.

But how did one fix a broken heart?

There had been a time that a trip to the beach or an outing on his boat would have done the trick. But not anymore. The boat was long gone. The trips to the beach… Well, this was the first since that day. Hell, he didn’t even own a bathing suit anymore. And if Dean hadn’t dragged him here, he’d be at home in his darkened living room, staring at photo albums.

Everyone around that fire probably thought his meandering along the edge of the water was his way of saying good-bye to the past. He snorted. Fuck. If they only knew. The only thing on his mind had nothing to do with the future.

It should have been him.

Simon trudged along, putting more distance between him and the others. The sounds of laughter, music, and crackling fire faded away until he couldn’t hear them at all.

When he looked up, he’d reached the outcropping of rocks at the end of the beach. If he felt so inclined, he could clamor over those boulders and truly be on his own. Few people bothered because they were wet and slimy, smooth from years of abuse from the sea, making them treacherous to navigate. But he knew from experience that the trip was worth it. After a handful of slips and scrapes, it felt like being on a totally isolated island on the other side.

The perfect place to fall in love.

To make love.

Too many memories reared up and pain sliced through him. Simon began to turn back, not ready to face them right now. They’d come soon enough when he finally closed his eyes.

From the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of something and paused. He stepped into cold water that swirled and frothed around his ankles and craned his neck to see as far around the rocks as he could. Bubbles rose from the other side of a particularly large boulder. As they popped, the scent of Sulphur hit his nose. What the hell?

“Ouch!”

Simon jerked and stumbled back. That was a female voice. There was only one way onto this beach, other than by boat of course. And his family had been the sole visitors today.

“Oh dear. Now what am I going to do?”

Simon stood there, speechless, while she grumbled and grunted somewhere out of his line of vision.

“How could I have been so stupid?”

He didn’t have an answer for that. He didn’t know how to respond to that voice at all. That soft, sweet, melodic voice.

“Elnora says go. We go. No questions. Just do as she bids. Again.”

Who was Elnora? And who belonged to that voice?

“Could have used a reminder to bring some shoes. And clothes.”

 

 

 

Ranger’s Reprieve, episode 5

By Anne Lange

 

Just his fucking luck. Could his day get any worse? Not only did her freakin’ dog keep horning in on his sleepless nights. Not only did he have to see her rescue said pooch in a cute, short shirt and not much else. Not only did he have to torture himself with fantasies of gripping that mass of glorious red hair in his remaining fist while he drove into her tight heat from behind. Not only did he have to salivate, wondering what her pert nipples tasted like. Now he’d have to spend the next few weeks horny as fucking hell while Ms. Marshall taught him how to work with his dog?

How the hell did she expect him to concentrate?

He dropped his gaze to the dog. A dog who, oh look, no big surprise, sat huddled next to his pretty neighbor’s thigh. Yup, another female to reject him. Great. Just fucking great. Jess rubbed his forehead, feeling another headache coming on. And his damn arm ached like a bitch.

“Shelby isn’t being trained as a therapy dog, Mr. Monroe.”

“Damn good thing, because she clearly doesn’t come when she’s called.” The ball of fur didn’t skedaddle when ordered to either.

“Java, however, has been fully trained, Mr. Monroe. We—“

“Jess.”

“Excuse me?”

“My name is Jess. My father is Mr. Monroe and he’s ….” Why the hell did he tell her that? He didn’t want to be on a first name basis with her.

“I’m sorry.” Delicate eyebrows dipped in a frown, and she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth.

He was such an ass. Jess took a deep breath and forced himself to calm down. He softened his tone. “Never mind.” He shuffled his feet and shoved his one hand into the front pocket of his jeans. His prosthetic hung at his other side like a flashing beacon to the two females sitting in front of him. The dog pitied him. He could see it in those soulful eyes of her. She blinked. Her ears were tucked close to her head. Her nose twitched as she studied him. “Look, maybe there’s somebody else who can help me with Java.”

Between the lack of sleep, panic attacks, and the headaches, he needed something to change. And he’d been hoping this dog would be the answer.

Lindsey rubbed the soft spot on the top of the Java’s head between her ears. The dog glanced up. Was that a plea in her expression? A plea for another wounded soldier to help instead of the broken one in front of her? Maybe one that at least had all his parts.

“Can we please start over?” Jess raised his head and captured Lindsey’s solemn gaze. “I am sorry,” she added. “About everything you’ve been through. I’m not…appalled by your injury, Jess. I’m curious about it, though.” She patted the dog absently.

Jess tore his eyes away from her. Those lips of hers were very distracting. But she wasn’t here to be his fantasy fuck buddy. She was here to work with him and his newly assigned dog.

Maybe if he kissed her and got it out of the way, they could move on. He could stop wondering, be able to focus more. Might take the edge off. God knows doing the one-handed dance to visions of her sugar plums wasn’t doing it for him.

Jess snapped his eyes closed. His mother would smack him upside the head. Since when did he objectify women like that? And when the hell did his pity party start rolling like a runaway train?

Oh yeah, when he lost his arm and got shipped home. What he needed was a big fucking rewind button. Chuck would still be alive. He’d have his arm. And he wouldn’t be thinking or saying the crap that he was thinking and saying. Though he wouldn’t be living next to the beautiful Ms. Lindsey Marshall either.

He tested out his smile. “Hey, you wouldn’t be interested in giving a guy a kiss, would you? You know, as a way to start over?”

 

 

Days Of Auld Lang Syne, Episode 12

By Anne Lange

Shawn rolled his shoulders, checked the time, and did a few neck rolls. Cold was beginning to seep beneath his coat.

He’d been standing outside Joanne’s door for ten minutes. He’d contemplated giving her a call more than once since he’d stammered out that invitation the other night. But every time he dialed her number and was about to hit send, a sixth sense warned him that if given the opportunity, she’d bail on him like her best friend and bailed on her that night.

And he wasn’t taking any chances. Not this time.

After he’d asked her out, and she’d actually said yes, he’d been racking his brain trying to come up with the perfect way to spend the evening. He’d searched out a few of the big parties in town, considering this was the night he’d wine and dine her in style. But tickets were, of course, sold out at all of the popular spots.

He’d considered taking her down to Times Square where they could watch the ball drop with the rest of the world. But the thought of spending a private, intimate moment with the woman he loved most and thousands upon thousands of other people, didn’t ring his bell.

He needed something better. Something meaningful. A place where she’d hear him when he repeated the words that mattered most. And hoped she’d be willing to say them back to him this time.

Shawn raised his hand and pressed the buzzer. And then he waited. When she didn’t answer, he tried again.

“Coming!”

It was muffled, but it was her. He smiled as his excitement built. There was a hum in the air. A current of electricity that if you were brave enough you could harness it and take advantage of it. Shawn planned to use every special trick in the book tonight. He’d walked away from her once, never telling her how he really felt about her. He’d tried a second time, but she hadn’t believed him.

Third time was a charm.

The door opened and there she stood, looking a little flustered as she smoothed her dress over her hips and juggled her coat in one arm.

“Wow, you do dress to impress,” he said. She looked beautiful. And amazing. And he loved this woman.

Shawn completed a very slow tour of her body, starting at the top of her sexy mass of curls that she’d thankfully left loose tonight, gliding over the same blue dress she’d had on the other night at the bar, and ending at a stunning pair of silver shoes that complemented the dress perfectly. They gave her a few extra inches of height that if he leaned in just so, she’d be at the right spot to meet, and match, his kiss.

Then he backtracked because the view was worth a second look.

A current worked its way through his body, but he saw her shiver.

“You look absolutely stunning, Jojo.” He cleared his throat, dislodging the frog that suddenly roosted there.

Joanne blinked back at him. She gave him a scorching look and he imagined steam rising off her naked her body as he drizzled Champaign down the column of her throat and watched it flow over her breasts to roll harmlessly into the hot bathwater they soaked in.

Fuck. He needed a cold dip in the snow or a nice big California King. The King sounded really good right now.

“Um. Thank you. You look nice, too.” She cocked her head. “Though I’m feeling a little overdressed.”

He could fix that problem. He shook his head to get his bearings and to escape the mental soak he currently engaged in. “Ah, maybe. You might be cold in that.”

“Where are we going?”

This was one of the most important nights of the year. A night to put the past behind and start over. Which was exactly what Shawn had in mind. And what better place to do that than to spend the evening at the same place they’d started this new journey.

“I thought we’d go to Rockefeller Center.”

 

 

 

Exes and Ohhs: A Thanksgiving Romance

Episode Four

By Kris Calvert

Sugar couldn’t contain her smile as the father of her little girl walked his finely tuned tight ass out the door. She’d convinced herself she didn’t care for him over the years, but deep in her soul she knew it was merely a self-preservation tactic. Only a fool would continue to pine for a man who clearly didn’t want to be with her, and Sugar told herself every day that she wasn’t that kind of fool.

She’d worked hard to pull herself up by her bootstraps, to be a good mother, the kind of mother Sophie deserved. The smile faded from Sugar’s face as Jax’s heavy presence faded from the bustling room.

“What the hell was that?” Honey asked, coming to her side.

“What do you mean?” Sugar nervously wiped her hands on her apron and immediately turned to Beau, looking for Table Three’s barnyard strangler breakfast special.

“What do you mean, what do you mean?” Honey repeated. “You’re being an ass.”

I’m being an ass?” Sugar asked as she picked up her order and walked it to the table, avoiding a rush of patrons moving in and out by spinning on her heels to stay ahead of the chaos. “Please dear sister, enlighten me.”

“I don’t think you’re an ass,” Frank interjected. “But I think you have a nice one.”

Sugar took a deep breath and faced the overzealous would-be suitor. “Get out of my face before I junk-punch you so hard, your man business will go from dangling between your legs to hanging from your badge. Do we understand each other Officer Millhouse?”

A roar of applause erupted from the female patrons while Frank’s fellow officers bowed their heads in embarrassment. Sugar, too mad to notice anything but the ringing in her own ears, stormed from the front of the diner to the back of the kitchen.

“Shit-fire, Shug,” Beau said, following his cousin into the storeroom. “You know I care about you, but you just can’t go around shaming police officers in the restaurant.”

“He deserved it and you know it.”

“Of course he did, but the decent officers help to keep the riffraff out of here. If you keep them all away, I can guaran-damn-tee we’ll get robbed.”

Sugar stopped her incessant pacing long enough to offer an apology. “I’m sorry, Beau,” she said as tears of frustration and shock from seeing Jax began to pool in her eyes. “I just…”

“I know,” he said, pulling her in for a hug.

“You smell like onions and peppers,” Sugar said as she laughed through the tears that now flowed freely.

“If you’d stop pushing the Mexican omelet, I wouldn’t smell like this.”

Honey stuck her head into the storeroom and let out a sigh, letting them both know there wasn’t time for a breakdown—at least not during the breakfast rush. “Guys, the grill is about to catch on fire, the dining room is a hot mess, I’ve got one pissed off officer paying for his breakfast and…”

“And what?” Sugar asked, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

“And one Marine standing in the parking lot—waiting.”

“What?” Sugar asked.

“Dry your tears, sister.”

“Are you kidding me? What’s he waiting for?”

Honey stared into the teary eyes of her sister, knowing the many nights she’d cried herself to sleep, and said one word. “You.”

 


 

Episode Five

By Anne Lange

Jax leaned against his old, held-together-with-rusty-wire-and-duct-tape pick-up truck. The last time he’d driven this poor girl was the afternoon he’d told Sugar about his orders to ship out. Then he’d held her while she cried and pounded his chest with her small, curled up fists. When she’d calmed, they’d driven down to the lake and made love until dawn.

That memory of laying her in the tall grass next to the softly rippling water, stripping her work uniform from her luscious body amongst a spray of wild flowers surrounding them, had kept him sane for the last three years.

He’d spent hours that night memorizing every inch of her with his hands, his mouth, and his tongue, scared shitless he’d never have the opportunity to touch or lick her sweet flesh or kiss her lips again. Thankful for the curtain of privacy the flora provided, he’d indulged in every wicked desire he could imagine.

As the sun began its ascent, he’d finally pushed his aching cock into her trembling body; then he’d simply held her close, inhaled the faint fragrance of her shampoo, fighting against his need to find release and wanting to prolong the inevitable for as long as he could. Knowing that when at last they looked into each other’s eyes as he moaned through his orgasm, and tears slipped down her cheeks, that this might be their last time together.

“What are you still doing here?” she asked as she crossed the parking lot, slowly making her way toward him.

All he could picture was her beautiful ass snug in the palm of his hands, her long lean legs wrapped around his hips, and those succulent brown nipples… Fuck, he could still remember their taste. His mouth watered.

Trying to act nonchalant, his sweaty palms fisted inside the pockets of his jeans, he glanced around them. A minivan pulled in and found a spot closer to the back of the lot. A teenage couple came out of the restaurant and ambled over to their bikes they’d left leaning against the old oak tree.

“Like I told the nice officer inside,” he replied, “our ending hasn’t been written yet.” He looked down at her, willing her to hop into his arms and kiss him with reckless abandon.

Just like she used to.

Before he left.

A strange light lit up her eyes, but she shuffled her feet, dropping her gaze to the pavement.

“Tell me about Sophie,” he said.

Her head jerked upright and her dark eyes narrowed. She hesitated a moment too long before she gave a weak shrug. “Nothing to tell.” She jabbed a toe into a crack in the asphalt.

“Aw, come on, Sugar, every mama likes to talk about their kids. And I haven’t been around in three long years.” Three achingly long—where he’d thought of her every one of those damn days—years. “I’d think you’d want to show her off.”

“Um…”

“Why Sophie?”

Surprise widened her eyes. She licked her lips. “I liked the name.”

He dragged his gaze away from her mouth and back up to see her reaction. “That was our name, Sugar. We’d picked that out long ago.”

She looked over to the family spilling out of the van, over to the young couple walking their bikes side-by-side down the street, but she wouldn’t land on him for a second.

“Got a picture of her?”

She swallowed heavily. And blinked rapidly. His heart raced, but all the sound and activity around him seemed to slow to an agonizing pace and become thunder in his ears. Her reluctance to say a word was as good as yanking out a photo album.

“I’m good at math, Sugar. And you were never a woman to sleep around.”

“Jax, please. Don’t do this.” She turned pleading eyes up to him. Her bottom lip trembled.

“Hey, Sugar, is he bothering you?” That asshole officer, the one who thought he had a claim on Sugar, strutted over and paused much too close to Sugar for Jax’s comfort.

But Jax didn’t even acknowledge him. He glared at Sugar, doing his best now to reign in his temper.

“I want to meet my daughter, Sugar.”

 

Episode Six

By Caroline Lee

She hadn’t said anything to his demand; just turned and walked back into the diner. It had taken every ounce of self-control—control that the Marines had taught him—not to follow her. Especially when the cop started to puff up. He started talking shit again, as if he were already dating Sugar or something, and Jax climbed into his rusty pick-up truck to turn over the engine. The guttural roar drowned out the cop’s angry words when the man got too close to the window.

The dude was still standing there in the parking lot like he owned the town when Jax pulled out.

The drive around the lake was always pretty this time of year. He didn’t want to go back to his parents’ house—not now when he had so much to think about. Mom would want to know why he was so distracted and not eating a third piece of pecan pie, and every other place in town was too crowded. But the lake, now—the lake was his special place. Where Dad had taught him and Darren to fish when they were kids, and where he’d taken his prom date to neck after the dance. But sitting there on the levy, with the reflection of the maples turning the water brilliant reds and yellows, Jax knew he’d always associate this place with her. She was the last one here with him, and as far as he was concerned, the most special.

Sugar Pie Dennison had a daughter. He pulled his hands from his jeans’ pockets and ran them across his starting-to-grow-out-again hair. A daughter. That fine-looking woman, who’d snagged him with her humor, her balls, her ingenuity and her loyalty, had gone through a pregnancy, birth, and raising a kid while he was on the other side of the world. She hadn’t been alone—there were more Dennisons around these parts than there were Brandons—but he hadn’t been here with her, and that was rough.

Not that she’d needed him. She’d made it real clear four years back that they were equals, and she could do anything that he could, and didn’t need him swooping into her life to take care of her. But partners supported each other, and it hurt to think that she’d gone through such a life change—it couldn’t have been easy—without him.

Hurt almost as much as thinking that he was the cause. Was Sophie his kid? Lord knew that he and Sugar had talked about kids, about maybe getting married and settling down in one of the white-picket-fenced craftsman homes along Main Street. But then he’d been deployed, and he knew that it was going to be a long time before he got home again, if at all. So many of his buddies hadn’t made it back, or had made it back in pieces, or had refused to go back. But he was lucky; he had the chance to see his family in time for Thanksgiving.

And maybe find a new family.

He started along the path that circled the lake, glad for his Dad’s old “My Son Is A Marine” sweatshirt. It’d been three long years since he’d seen maples this color, or felt the cool nip of an autumn breeze, or smelled this hint of wood smoke. Three long years since he’d held a woman’s dark hand, or thought of the future.

Jax inhaled, liking the way the cold air hit his lungs hard. Sugar had a daughter, and she might be his. He needed to know, to know if he had a future here with her. With them.

One thing’s for certain, they’d be at the Lion’s Club parade on Thursday morning. The whole damn town went, and no mother would deny that to her little one. Sugar and Sophie would be there, and what if the girl didn’t look like him? What if he wasn’t her father? Would it matter? He still wanted Sugar—had wanted her for years—and maybe he was ready to be a daddy.

A hawk circling overhead cried, and Jax sighed. He needed to know, needed to meet Sophie, but wasn’t sure it would change anything. Thanksgiving was only a few days away, and Mrs. Dennison was the best cook in town. But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t invite her daughter—and granddaughter—over for some of Mom’s pie Thursday evening. The parade, the turkey, the pie, the tree-lighting… Yeah, he was lucky to be home in time to celebrate.

And if he played his cards right, he might have more to be thankful for than he could’ve guessed.