Three Babes in the Woods by Yawatta Hosby

Three Babes in the Woods

by Yawatta Hosby

Copyright 2016

Three Babes in the Woods

If I shut my eyes, maybe Mommy will forget about me. I only need her to forget about me for about ten seconds. Well, I’m not very good with math, maybe it’s an hour. I squeeze my eyes tighter and tighter. And, I hug my red fuzzy Elmo tighter and tighter.

Elmo. Yikes! I throw him away from me in the back seat. He hits the side of the door with a thud. Oh no, the thud may get Mommy’s attention. I can’t open my eyes, so I can’t tell if she sees me or not.

“Honey, what are you doing?”

“You can see me?”

“Of course, honey, are you playing a game?”

I wish it was a game, but I’m scared to dea—Wait I don’t want to say death. Oh no, I said it by mistake. I don’t want to die. Maybe if I don’t answer Mommy she’ll forget about me.

“Honey?”

I open a eyeball. Mommy’s looking at me through the rearview mirror. I can’t hide anymore. I may die.

“…I throwed Elmo.”

“Why? He’s your favorite toy.”

“He’s scary.”

Mommy laughs. She stops when she sees I’m not laughing too. “Why is he scary?”

I hide under my coat by pulling it up over my head. Then I point out the window, afraid to see the scary sign. We go on this road every day to get home, and I didn’t know it was scary until yesterday. Bennie, my older cousin, warned me about Elmo leaving his three daughters in the woods to die. That the scary blue and yellow–I mean gold, is it gold or is it yellow? I haven’t learned all my colors yet in school–sign near the road is proof that it happened. Bennie says if I become a burden on Mommy and Daddy, then they may leave me in the woods to die too.

“What are you pointing at? The woods? You love the woods, sweetheart. Tell me what’s going on.”

“Did we passed the sign?”

“The sign? You know what the sign means?”

I stop hiding under my coat. Mommy needs to see me shake my head yes.

“Oh, Samantha, you’re too young to understand. How in the world did you hear about what that sign means?”

“I know-I know that Elmo killed his three daughters because they were a burden. Mommy, how does Elmo have daughters? Did he get married?” I reach out for Elmo. The seat belt cuts into my chest, but I manage to get him. Mommy needs to see who I’m talking about. No more lies, Mommy.

“You don’t have to be afraid of Elmo. He’s just a toy.” Mommy frowns. Oh no, is she lying?  “I wish I could’ve explained things when you’re older, but let me try to now. I don’t want you afraid. Nothing bad will happen to you, honey.”

“But-but something bad happened to those girls. They died in the woods. Can I die in the woods too?”

“I’ll do everything in my power to protect you. Me and your daddy.”

“If Elmo’s just a toy, then who killed those girls?”

“Elmo Noakes was a man from California. He took a road trip with his three daughters and girlfriend. They ended up here in Pennsylvania.”

“Why did he kill them, Mommy?”

“In 1934, I want to say it was the Great Depression, but I’m not sure. I was never good in History class. I think… Mr. Noakes was a desperate man. He couldn’t afford to support his family…it was a tragedy, but you have to know me and your daddy love you very much. You never have to worry about us abandoning you.”

“Even if I’m a burden?”

“You’ll never be a burden to us, honey. Never.”

Did Elmo ever tell his daughters that? What if Mommy changes her mind? Bennie said it could happen at anytime. I never want to go camping again. I never want to drive on this road again. I never want any fur coats either.

And, I hate the color green. Green used to be my favorite color, but not anymore. Those three girls were found by a green blanket. Why couldn’t it have been a blue blanket? The awful scary color blue. Scary blue and scary yellow or scary gold. I really need to learn my colors.

My best friend in pre-school is scared of frogs. My cousin is scared of dogs. My little sister is scared of the boogeyman. I’m scared of Mommy and Daddy, thanks to my cousin Bennie. I’m scared to die. What if I become a burden and they decide to leave me in the woods to die? What if Mommy is lying about Elmo? I look at my red fuzzy toy. Is he going to kill me? Is he going to leave me in the woods to die if I become a burden?

What does burden even mean? I’m scared to ask Mommy. She may lie. Shutting my eyes tight doesn’t help me disappear. I’ll have to come up with something else. Only when we take this scary road that passes that scary blue and yellow—or is it gold?—sign. The sign that says On This Spot Were Found Three Babes in the Woods. Nov.-24-1934. The only reason I remember is because last night my cousin Bennie made me say it out loud a billion times until it stuck in my head.

How can I disappear? And what does burden mean? I’ll ask Bennie the next time I see him.

THE END

Check Out My Author Interview on Creative Barbwire’s Blog!

I’m so excited! I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the author Barbara G. Tarn. She also has a short story in When the Lights Go Out anthology (free by the way).

If you want to check out my interview, here’s the link–Sunday Surprise.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Short Story Challenges Help Creativity and Gives Insight to Writers

With writing, I’m always open to learning about new rules. I also love to experiment. If you don’t try, then you’ll never know.

In June, my writing buddies, Melissa and Zach, plus me gave ourselves a writing challenge.

I may be aging myself, but have you ever heard of the MASH game? It was a popular game for girls when I was in school. Basically, you created random categories, picked four options for each category, then selected your choices by counting your marks.

Our short story challenge was to come up with a “random” story. My picks were:

  • MAS(House)
  • Guy–Lucas, video game developer
  • Girl–Gretchen, caterer
  • Season–Fall
  • Place–Asheville, NC
  • Motivation–Failure, so need redemption
  • Object–Row Boat
  • Emotion–Guilty
  • Flaw–Sheltered/Naive
  • Plot Device–Big Deadly Storm

I had to present each category into my short story. What a challenge! Having fun, I didn’t take my story too seriously. The main goal was finding motivation to write, which it helped tremendously. I know for a fact that I’m not big on disaster stories. However, I found out that I wouldn’t mind writing more dramas. 

Here’s my “random MASH” story if you’re interested:

I Need Gretchen

by Yawatta Hosby

With a blanket draped over my shoulders, I’m still wearing the same shorts and t-shirt I had on three days ago. I can barely hold on to the cup of orange juice in my hand. I imagine that I look like one of those anorexic guys who lose weight for a movie role, except I’m not cute with my disheveled  hair, bad breath, stinky armpits, and caked mud on my wet clothes. This isn’t a movie. It’s my life.

A chubby older lady approaches me, a clipboard and pen in her hand. Sympathy in her voice, she asks, “Can I have your name please?”

“Lucas Grant.”

“Nice to meet you, Lucas. Are you with anyone else?”

I slam my eyes shut, holding back tears. “I’m all alone.”

* * * *

Walking up the long, gravel driveway, I passed hickory trees that had some squirrels fighting over acorns. The front yard was planted with perennials, dogwood, and Virginia creepers. With the Victorian house, I could tell the high-end party would probably take one stern look at me and realize I didn’t belong. Heaven forbid I came from a middle class family in Virginia instead of a rich family in Asheville, North Carolina.

It probably didn’t help that I was going to crash this party. I couldn’t help it; I needed to see my sister Gretchen.

In the gigantic backyard, I noticed her. I could point out my sister’s auburn Mohawk anywhere. She was kissing ass to one of the guests. She always tilted her head to the side and placed her hand over her heart with a loud laugh when she was kissing ass. It worked on our parents all the time.

I could see the lightning flash of recognition in her eyes as Gretchen caught sight of me in her peripheral vision. She had turned her head slowly like she was hoping I’d disappear. Wide-eyed, she motioned for me to leave. Standing still, I ignored her because that’s what little brothers were supposed to do. They were supposed to annoy their big sisters. I read it in a handbook somewhere.

Gliding her way through the crowd like a heavy wind, she finally stood in front of me. I leaned up against an oak tree, anticipating the third degree, knowing I had to charm my way out of a lecture.

“Lucas, what are you doing here?”

“I need your help.”

She glanced at me, concern in her eyes. “Please tell me you have a place to stay. Why haven’t you invited me to your dorm room yet?”

It wasn’t easy, but the words poured out of my mouth like a flash flood. I spilled the beans of flunking out of South College-Asheville my freshmen year. If mom and dad knew, then they wouldn’t have let me come back into town. I couldn’t stay a prisoner at home, being treated like a kid, seeing the disappointment in dad’s eyes every day. I wanted to stay with my sister because I knew she’d always protect me. She never judged; at least not harshly like parents tended to do.

“Do mom and dad know?”

I shook my head.

Without hesitation, she said, ” You can sleep on my couch, but I’m not lying to mom and dad. You better hope they don’t ask me anything.”

I wrapped my arms around her quickly, so she couldn’t protest. I squeezed her tightly. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

After I let go, Gretchen looked around the yard to see if anyone had been watching, which I found amusing. It must be exhausting caring what others think of you all of the time. She should try and be more of a free spirit like me.

“Maybe you can help me run my business until you get on your feet, dropout.”

“Ha-ha very funny. Don’t worry about me. I got things covered.”

She folded her arms across her chest. “How?”

“I applied to art school. You know I’ve never cared about business, but I’m into video games. I’ll go back to school, and…” I put a big emphasis on the word ‘and,’ knowing Gretchen would appreciate that I had a well thought out plan. “Next week, I intern for Mash Videos. They’re impressed that I developed video games in high school with Uncle Mike.”

“I’m proud of you. I wish dad would support your decision.”

“You know how he is. He thinks I’m just playing around.”

“Well, I got your back.”

* * * *

Babies cry around me. Parents hold their weeping children. I can’t ignore the loud noises. I can’t find silence. I can’t find a place where I can be alone. But, I’m alive…

Instead of staring at the basketball rim, I scan the room. Everyone looks worn out and emotionally drained like me, swollen red eyes from crying, bones sticking out from hunger. I wonder if my life would have been different if I had kept my basketball scholarship to Virginia Tech. I was a fool following my high school sweetheart to North Carolina. She ended up breaking my heart by the end of first semester. I failed every class because of depression. How embarrassing is that?

It doesn’t really matter, in the grand scheme of things, though.

A little girl in pigtails shivers in the cold. She won’t stop staring at me. Maybe I remind her of someone? I smile at her. If I squint my eyes hard enough, she resembles a younger version of Gretchen with doe-like hazel eyes and light caramel skin.

I slide across the bleachers until I’m sitting very close to the young girl and her mother. Before the mom can object, I take the blanket off of me and place it on top of them. The young girl smiles.

“Thank you, young man.”

It hurts to speak, so I just sit in silence. Who knows, we may all die in here. The rain hasn’t let up, sounding like gunshots whenever it hits the tin roof.

I sigh when I notice the chubby woman approach my side of the gym again, clipboard and pen still in hand. Yelling, she says, “We’re running low on supplies. Are there any volunteers who are willing to look for any trapped survivors in the city?”

The chubby woman stares at me like she’s hoping that I’ll raise my hand. Can I be a hero? Do I really have a choice? We can’t expect women or children to risk their lives. I wonder if they would look at me differently if they knew I was only nineteen. I can hear my dad’s voice: “Be a man, son.”

* * * *

Gretchen sequestered me in the kitchen with her staff. When she wasn’t paying attention, I hid on the third floor balcony. I looked down at the guests and decorated landscape, manmade lake included.

I was proud of my sister. She had managed to follow mom’s footsteps. They both attended a prestigious culinary school, worked for a famous chef in Dublin, then made names for themselves in the US. The only difference, mom worked in a restaurant, and Gretchen started her own catering service.

Hopefully, one day I’d become successful like them. Dad wouldn’t let me live it down if I didn’t. He was a circuit judge. The day I told him I had no desire to ever be a judge or lawyer was the day I broke him. Covering the resentment, he urged me to get a business degree. He wouldn’t even entertain the thought of his son becoming an artist. He said art was for wimps. A stubborn man, that one.

The wind swept colorful leaves up into the air like a baton ribbon. I glanced up at the sky. It was still sunny, no clouds in sight. It started to drizzle though. I stood against the wall of the house, protecting my dreads from the rain. I scanned the party one last time. No one seemed affected by the drizzle. I hid in a room and took a nap.

Hours later, I woke up to Gretchen screaming my name. Heavy winds shook the house. Finding my balance, I opened the balcony door and peaked over. The rough rain almost knocked me down. I held into the rail. 

“Lucas, we have to get outta here!”

I could barely hear her. I felt a sense of dread seeing her frightened expression. My eyes never left hers. “I’m coming down!”

The guy she spoke with earlier grabbed her arm and whispered something into her ear. He closed his eyes, waiting for something.

For what!

For what!

I couldn’t see behind the house unless I ran to the other side of the room.

Gretchen and the guy vanished. A gigantic wave forced them under water. Windows broke from the impact, the railing trapped me. It felt like I was under a waterfall. “Gretchen! Gretchen!” Once water filled my lungs, I began choking.

No! I had to save my sister! Please help me!

I had sat on that Victorian house roof for three days before a rescue team found me. My body was wrinkled and white like baby powder. I just kept rocking back and forth, glaring into the distance. They probably thought I was a mute because I wouldn’t answer their questions. For three days, I had watched Gretchen’s body, face down, dead in the lake. Just floating. Floating like a wilted flower in a puddle. It haunted me. I didn’t know what stopped me from stepping off the roof and drowning myself.

Maybe guilt? I should have protected my sister. I should be dead like her. I had planned on wasting away on that roof. I planned to starve myself. I would die a painful, slow death. I sobbed uncontrollably when help arrived. Not tears of joy, but tears of hopelessness. They had ruined my plan of joining my sister. How could I live without her?

* * * *

I’m in a rowboat with two other guys. I have no idea how we’re going to fit more people in our boat if we find survivors. The rain stings my skin like sleet. Water completely drowns the streets of Asheville. Roofs are the only visible parts on buildings. The gym was built on a mountain, but heaven forbid, there’s a mudslide.

I don’t even have the strength to paddle anymore. What’s the point? Dead bodies are everywhere. I’m not strong enough for this. I need my big sister. I need Gretchen.

THE END

I really pushed myself by experimenting with non-linear plot and creating a drama. It would’ve been too easy to stay in my comfort zone, creating a suspense. I’m happy with the end product because I learned a lot about my writer self.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

4-Star Review For Plenty of Fish!!!

Plenty of Fish OTHER SITESPlenty of Fish has been fortunate in getting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads (I was a little scared because it’s a short story). Now, I can happily say my new story has a review on a blog!!! 🙂 Thanks Meka for accepting a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I really appreciate it.

 

Having it short and sweet adds to the suspense, so yeah it worked as is.

 

To read the full review, please click on the link: Book Review-Plenty of Fish  http://twistedcornersofmymind.blogspot.com/2014/12/book-review-plenty-of-fish.html

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Plenty of Fish Is Finally Published!!!

Some people believe authors only have one story to tell. Well, I’m happy to prove them wrong. I’m beyond excited for publishing my third book on Amazon!

Since Plenty of Fish is a short story, it’s only 0.99 cents.

Plenty of Fish OTHER SITES

Local celebrity painter Mackenzie knows better than to talk to strangers. But, he seems to know so much about her already…

EXCERPT

He approached her, extending his hand. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

Hesitantly, she shook it. “Do I know you?”

He laughed. “You’re funny and pretty.” He held on a few moments longer than necessary before releasing Mackenzie’s hand.

She wrapped her arms around herself, scanning the area. Her bag was placed on the table against the back corner wall. She’d have to find an excuse to make her way over there to grab her cell phone.

Heart thumping, she faked a smile, wondering if he was looking for a hook-up. She wasn’t interested in finding out and just wanted him to leave.

She faced her canvas, keeping the guy in her peripheral vision. How should she play this out? Play along like she knew him? Ask for his name? He must be a commenter on her blog who happened to live in the area. On Mackenzie’s ‘About Me’ page, she revealed the city she was from. Maybe that was a mistake?

“I’m sorry.” He frowned. “I know I’m early, but I really wanted to meet you. You don’t have to be bashful with me.”

“I’m quiet with everyone until I know them.” She kept her voice steady even though he was creeping her out. She loaded her brush with more paint and dabbed the canvas.

“But you know me.”

She looked at him, and studied his face, but still didn’t recollect anything. “I’m sorry, but I don’t.”

TO BUY PLENTY OF FISH PLEASE CLICK ON THE BOOK COVER IMAGE ON THE SIDEBAR

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Plenty of Fish Cover Reveal!!!

If you don’t follow me on Twitter or on Facebook, then you probably haven’t heard my great news yet! My new suspenseful short story, Plenty of Fish, will be released this month! I shared my book cover on social media and would like to also reveal it to my awesomesauce blog followers 🙂

I’d like to thank my cover design artist, Melody Simmons, at eBookindiecovers. She creates custom and premade covers at a reasonable price.

Here’s my cover:

Plenty of Fish OTHER SITES

 

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Book Review: Christmas Shopping By Angel Gelique

A tale of Christmas mayhem…

All Jilly Carson wanted to do was get a little Christmas shopping done with her best friend, Peyton. But when Peyton can’t meet her at the mall, Jilly finds herself feeling anxious and alone as her mother’s cautionary words echo in her head:

“Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t put yourself in that position again. You remember what happened last time….”

When a tall blonde-haired stranger begins to stalk her, Jilly does everything she can to avoid him. Feeling scared and vulnerable, she finally decides to leave the mall.

But the blonde-haired man won’t let her flee quite so easily…

You can get this eBook for free (all formats) at Smashwords.com.

19500385I loved this short story. Jilly and Peyton were best friends. They were supposed to go shopping at the mall, but Peyton was stuck at home babysitting her little sister. A blond guy stalked Jilly in the mall because she wasn’t interested in him. He was persistent trying to win her over because he loved the challenge. Jerk.

My favorite lines: 1) “You okay? You don’t talk much do you?” 2) A simple “hello” turned into a night she would never be able to erase from her mind.

As a reader, you get an eerie sense throughout the book. Something had happened in Jilly’s past, so you wonder what’s wrong with her. Traumatized? Crazy?

The twist at the end was great. I didn’t see it coming.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

 

Book Review: The Manuscript By Micah Ackerman

A disgruntled writer tired of rejection after rejection of his manuscript takes a literary agent hostage in her hotel room. He forces her to read his book, which may describe her own fate in terrifying detail. Is he a vicious, sadistic killer? Or simply a writer with a vivid imagination pushed too far? This dark psychological horror story is reminiscent of early Stephen King or Clive Barker.

51qczeUTznL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I loved this book. Cassie, a literary agent, met a creepy writer, Morgan, in the elevator after a writer’s conference. Later, he kidnapped her in the suite room.

My favorite lines: 1) “Can I tell you a little about my book?” It was the dreaded words that Cassie had been praying wouldn’t slip from the stranger’s lips. 2) “I may have lost my freedom, but not my dignity.” 3) “It’s not horror. It’s instructional. Just keep reading.”

As a reader, I really respected Cassie. She could have given up when that lunatic broke into her room, but she was a fighter. She was a strong female in survivor mode. The author had a brilliant talent of slowly building up the suspense. I had chills down my spine from the psychological element. Crazy people exist in real life. What happened to Cassie could happen in real life. The author did great of keeping the terror going, just from conversation alone.

Eventually, the readers notice that Luke from the manuscript could possibly be Morgan. Luke was physically abused by his mom and was bit by a dog. Right away, I figured there was a twist to that. The more Cassie had to read the manuscript out loud, the more I knew Morgan was unhinged.

Bates Motel is one of my favorite TV shows, so I loved the shout-out. It added to the creepy factor.

This is one of the first books I’ve read by Micah Ackerman, and I’m definitely a fan.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Pit Stop By Yawatta Hosby

The short story Pit Stop is an excerpt from my novella Something’s Amiss.

COPYRIGHT 2014

Pit Stop By Yawatta Hosby

Silence lingered in the car even though it was packed with four people. Poe and Raven sat in the back. From the corner of her eye, Poe noticed Oliver looking at her in the mirror. She busied herself, fidgeting with the suitcase that lay near her feet. Raven told her about her favorite cartoons. Poe pretended to be interested.

She felt envy toward the little girl, who didn’t feel the tension in the car. It must be nice to be full of innocence and naivety. To not understand the emotional toll it took being near an ex and his new girlfriend, especially when the new girlfriend wanted to flaunt it in her face. How did Poe get in this predicament anyway? The plan was to stay in a hotel. Why had she let Oliver talk her out of that so easily?

She shook her head and looked out the window. Was it a good idea to leave Dominic alone in the house all by himself? Maybe she should have offered to stay at his place to look after his daughter. That way he would have someone to talk to.

Even though her stomach cramped from not eating all day, Poe was not motivated to enjoy a meal. All she wanted to do was curl up in the fetal position and cry herself to sleep. She had sobbed last night and then this morning in the shower, but she had plenty of tears left. Yet, she couldn’t cry in the car–not in front of Oliver and Kate. And what about Raven?

Poe sighed and looked at the little girl. She needed to snap out of her funk if she wanted to baby-sit her properly. She tried to clear her mind and absorb Raven’s descriptions of Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, and Care Bears.

“Honey, you’re dropping them off right? Then we can go to dinner,” Kate said in an annoyed tone, as if she was tired of their company in the back seat.

“Who’s them? My name–my name is Raven.”

“Kate was using a pronoun,” Poe said.

Raven placed her index finger on her lip. “Pronoun?”

Poe patted her shoulder. “Yes, I’ll teach you all about it later if you want.”

Kate must be ex-phobic; that could be the only explanation why she didn’t speak civilly at Dominic’s place, and now Kate was trying her best to get Oliver away from her.

“Honey?”

“Actually, I’m staying a little while. I want to see my mom.” He tapped the steering wheel. “Then we can go out to eat.”

Kate pouted, folding her arms across her chest. She stared out the window.

He sighed. “What’s the problem? I said we’ll go after I see my mom.”

“I’ve been waiting since last night for our date. Can’t you visit her tomorrow?”

“Please don’t throw that back in my face. It’s not like I stood you up on purpose.” Oliver gripped the steering wheel. “How can you sit there and ask me not to visit my mom after you know what happened?”

“Please. Like you really want to see her. You just want to be up under your ex, and I’m not allowing it!”

“You’re losing it, Kate. I’m not playing your game.”

If this was a game, Poe could only imagine when Kate was really angry. Jenna hadn’t been lying when she said Oliver had a handful. Raven perked up and stopped playing with her teddy bear. She must like witnessing drama as much as her mom did.

“If it makes you feel any better, Kate,” Poe said. “I have a boyfriend back home.”

“Like it matters.”

Raven hugged her teddy bear. “Leo is nice. He buyed–he buyed me a slice of pizza once, and we played Mario Kart.”

Like it matters. Kate must have heard the story of how Poe and Oliver ended up together. When they were twenty-two, Oliver was dating someone else and Poe had just moved in with Jenna after college graduation. She met Oliver through Jenna. Poe liked men who looked into her eyes and studied her. Oliver was like that. Many times, Poe had caught him staring at her. Eventually, they had their first date at Four Leaf Clover. Oliver was Poe’s first love, the one she lost her virginity to. The details were kind of blurry regarding whether or not he had broken up with the other girl first. They had followed their hearts. Poe could see why she’d be a girlfriend’s enemy. That one incident would forever brand her as the ‘relationship killer.’

Poe’s first time was in the back of Oliver’s Jetta; she observed the back seat and grinned. Reminiscing about that hot, passionate night made Poe forget her stomach cramps. She knew she shouldn’t be thinking about Oliver. It was wrong, yet it felt as if it was meant to be. Memories of him were a part of her life.

#

For a split second, Oliver peeked in the rearview mirror to look at his little cousin. He never knew Raven had met Leo; Jenna and Dominic had failed to mention that. Perhaps Leo and Poe were more romantically bonded than the impression he had. Images of his ex and her new man holding hands out in public rippled through his mind. He imagined them meeting with each others’ families as if they were in a serious relationship. Oliver gulped when he imagined Poe getting intimate with Leo. It had taken Poe a while to open up to him, to allow him to knock her wall down, so why did Leo get off easy? What was so special about him?

Oliver was tired of being the nice guy, the one who set his happiness aside for everyone else. Starting today, he would fight for what he wanted. The embrace at the airport and stolen glances of Poe wasn’t enough for him. Oliver needed to be close to her again–emotionally and physically. His stomach clenched. Why couldn’t Poe be his?

Oliver made a u-turn.

Raven gasped. “Ollie, this is the wrong way to Aunt Lily’s house.”

“I know. I have to make a pit stop first.” Oliver focused on the road, avoiding Kate’s icy glare. He stared at the taillights of the car in front of them. He swallowed a knot in his throat while looking the other way. He wanted to dodge the sidewalk at all costs. They passed the boutique where Jenna was killed. In his peripheral vision, he noticed the yellow caution tape, and frowned. His heart sank.

Did Poe see the scene of Jenna’s accident? What is she thinking about at this moment? She’s so quiet. I wish I had a paid subscription to read her mind all day.

Oliver’s destination was the Ruby Tuesday parking lot. Oliver parked the car and left the engine running. Everyone gave him a questioning look, yet Poe seemed the most curious. In the next minute, she would probably think he was an asshole, which he couldn’t bear, but hopefully Poe would let him show her that he was still the guy she had fallen in love with.

He pulled out his wallet from his back pocket. “You want a restaurant so badly, here you go.” He extended a hand filled with cash. “Here’s money for dinner, a tip, and cab fare.”

Kate’s hand was gripped on her knee. “Honey–“

“Here. Take it and get out of my car.” No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more Mr. Pushover.

“Honey–” Kate pouted, squeezing her eyes tightly. Fake crying wouldn’t work this time. She had fooled him when they first began dating, but once she revealed her dream was to win an Oscar, Oliver wised up, which wasn’t hard for him to do since Kate always went through the same routine before a tear fell from her eye.

“Take the money and get out. I want to grieve with people who cared about Jenna. I want to grieve with people who won’t make today about themselves.”

Like clockwork, tears fell down both sides of Kate’s cheeks. “I’m sorry, Honey.”

Oscar indeed. “It’s too late for half apologies. Bye, Kate.”

She caressed his cheek. “No, I’m not going anywhere.”

“If someone tells you to do something, you should do it so you don’t get a time out,” Raven lectured.

Kate snatched the bills out of Oliver’s hand, then got out of the passenger side, and slammed the door. He could see her in the rearview mirror as he drove off. Good thing she didn’t have a key to his apartment. Otherwise, all his clothes would be drenched in bleach. She had the audacity to do that to her ex. What did he see in her again? Maybe deep down, he was punishing himself for not fighting for Poe to stay in Rhode Island.

THE END