Flash Fiction

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Welcome to the Romance Writers of Australia Flash Fiction series! And our inaugural winner this month is Athena Law – congratulations Athena!

The Perfect Pairing – Athena Law

My earring was caught up in the blindfold. I was paused on the top step attempting to untangle it when a body bumped into me from behind. From the distinctive snort-giggles I could easily identify my friend Jules sight unseen.

‘Move it along, Becks! A room full of delectable men awaits!’

She pushed me through the doorway, feeling foolish as my hands groped the empty air in front of me.

‘They’re probably all horrid’, I hissed back, ‘I agreed to a blind date, but this is beyond ridiculous.’

She took my arm reassuringly. ‘Well, the food will be delectable, I promise.’

A silhouette loomed in front of us.

‘Welcome, let me escort you to our Sensual Singles Salon, please each put a hand on my shoulder.’

The said shoulder was solid and well-muscled. Jules whispered loudly: ‘Is this one on the menu?’

There was no response forthcoming, but his silent bulk was reassuring as he guided us through what felt like a labyrinth of tables, chairs, and other diners. Without sight my other senses were on overdrive, I could hear silverware scraping, crystal clinking, and smell the heady aromas of food.

Shoulders was depositing me brusquely into a chair. I reached out for Jules but she’d been escorted off to another table, not without incident though as I heard a glass smash and an accompanying snort-giggle.

Okay, so here I was. Finally freeing my earring from the blindfold I ridiculously considered touching up my lipstick. Instead, I used my hands to explore.

A linen tablecloth, a rough placemat, a wine glass and – another hand! I pulled my own back as if I’d been burned, and as I laughed at my reaction I heard an echoing sound from across the table.

‘Red or white?’ Shoulders had returned.

‘Red’. My dinner date, owner of the other hand, and I spoke at the same time.

The soft glug of the liquid hitting our glasses was very welcome, and as if we’d planned it, our waving glasses managed to clank together midair – ‘Cheers!’

An amplified voice crackled into life.

‘Welcome, Sensual Singles, to the newest sensation in Sydney, where serious sustenance leads to spectacular spouses! Where will it lead you? An hour of happiness? An evening of euphoria? A night of naughtiness?’

I was sinking into my chair, trying to escape the pretentiousness. This was turning into my worst nightmare. My idea of a good dinner out was just my friendly local Thai place.

I was feeling around for my glass again when my companion’s hand grabbed mine.

‘I’m cringing too much to eat. Want to do a runner with me?’ His voice sounded delectable. I peeked under my blindfold. Yes, he was.

‘Sorry, Jules’, I whispered into the air as I abandoned my blindfold (along with one of my earrings) and snuck out with my date; there was a Tom Yum Goong with my name on it, and perhaps if I was lucky, more than an hour of happiness.


Hot and Bothered – Kylie Maguire

Stupid piece of junk.

Connie slammed shut the door of her little hatchback. As she rounded the passenger side, she kicked the tyre hard. Her eyes drawn to the hissing steam spilling out from underneath the bonnet.

Just her luck. It really was. Why now?

Perspiration beaded across her forehead, and she wiped it away the back of her hand.  
What had the guy said at the service station? That she’d be on bitumen for about ten ks and the rest of the way was on dirt.  She was too far out of town now to walk and there wasn’t a damn farm house in sight.  

To the left was a rickety old wooden fence half hidden by dead looking buffalo grass. The paddocks were dry, filled sparsely with trees.  The place looked deserted.

Connie leaned back against her car. Sweat trickled down the back of her neck. Flies zipped back and forth, using her bare arms as a landing strip. Pesky buggers.

What was she supposed to do? Wait? What if nobody used this road again today? Walk? She had no idea where she was even going. Better to stay with the vehicle, someone would find her sooner or later. There were no bars on her phone either.

So much for starting over somewhere new.  Try moving to the country her father had suggested.  Friendly communities. New experiences. Yet nobody had mentioned the dry heat, or the pesky little black insects that refused to leave her alone. Or the crappy phone reception.

Why me? She cursed to the clear blue open sky.

Moving out here, in the middle of nowhere, to take on the nanny job wasn’t all that appealing right now.

Then she heard it, the low hum of an engine.

A vehicle. She sighed with relief as she watched a four wheel drive heading towards her, a cloud of dust in its wake.

It slowed then pulled up opposite her.  She sucked in a breath as the man leaned forward.  He was gorgeous.  Chiselled whiskered jaw, clear blue eyes.

“Run into some trouble did you?” He was saying.

She nodded, “Radiator died.”

“I’m here to rescue you Connie.”

“How do you know my name?”

He grinned, flashing her his pearly whites as he tipped his cowboy hat back a fraction.
“Billy from the servo rang through to tell them when you left, they figured you should have been at the homestead by now.”

She should be grateful for small town gossip.

“My names Johnno,” he shoved open his door and climbed out. He extended his hand, “I work here too, one of the jackaroos. Welcome to the bush.”

She slipped hers into his, noting the lack of rings. Single? Oh, she hoped so.
Things were indeed looking up.

Her new beginning might not be so bad after all.  

“Let’s get your things and load em up. We’ll sort the car out later, when it’s not so hot.”
Yes indeed, she’d follow him anywhere.


New Beginnings – Karen Pleskus

Mila tore her eyes from the ocean and checked the GPS. She bit her lip, unable to stop the grin. Nearly there. Her fingers tapped in time to her playlist.  

New beginnings.

She pushed a lock of dark brown hair off her face and shivered in anticipation. She pulled up outside a charming little antique store. The store’s sign had chipped and faded in the years since they’d passed through, but it was still legible.  

New Beginnings.  

The bell above the door jangled and an elderly man greeted her. A tray of charms on the counter as if he was expecting her. She grinned. He plucked a charm up with his tweezers, a miniature house.

Mila bit her lip and unfastened her charm bracelet, only two empty loops left. She watched wordlessly as the man fastened it on. “They make the best coffee at Daisy’s,” he said and busied himself locking the charms away.

Inside Daisy’s was an eclectic assortment of tables and chairs.  Most were occupied but no sign of Aiden. She frowned and slid into a chair by the window.  

“Good morning. What can I get you?” The waitress gave her a wide smile.  

“Just a flat white I think.”  

“That’s a beautiful charm bracelet. That one is an exact match for the cottage.”

“The cottage?”

The waitress pointed south. “Ten minutes along the beach. You can’t miss it.”

Ten minutes later, bag and sandals dangling in her hand, soft sand sliding between her toes, Mila paused. She soaked in the newly painted white cottage. It was the same one she’d spotted in the magazine and now here she was standing in front of it. If only Aiden was here. At the base of the steps, she closed her eyes and drew in a deep breath. Sun, sand, seagulls and the lapping tide. What could be a more perfect location.  

Her eyes flicked open, pulled out of her daydream by a click. She looked up. Aiden’s broad shoulders filled the doorway.  

“Aiden?” Her heart swelled.

“Hello.” He leaned against door jamb, handsome in suit pants and a white shirt, untucked and unbuttoned. Smooth tanned skin peeked out. His mocha brown eyes darkened and a smile spread slowly across his face.  

She was at the top in moments. Aiden swept her up in his arms, his mouth on hers, kicking the door shut behind them.  

He set her down on her feet among rose petals strewn across the floor. Along the mantelpiece were a string of lit candles. The air was thick with romance.

“This is —” Mila clapped a hand over her mouth.  

Perfect.

“Ours.” Aiden dropped down on one knee.

“Ours?” She echoed and he nodded, a small box in the palm of his hand.

A silver knot. Her perfect version of forever. The final charm.    


All My Heart – Emma Anstee

Alice hurried onto the platform; wiping her clammy hands on her coat as the train gradually approached. To calm herself she took the letter from her pocket. There were several smudges from her fingers but it was no matter, she knew it by heart.

“Now the war is over I begin the long journey back to you. It’s strange, knowing home is so close, time seems to move even slower, which seemed impossible just days ago.
I think only of you and having you in my arms, of the new beginning we’ll have. The life that was so cruelly put on hold is about to restart.
With all my heart,
James”

Alice held the letter to her chest. She was surrounded by others feeling similar nerves, one woman clutching the hand of a child Alice was sure would’ve still been in the womb when their father left. Finally, the train came to a standstill, smoke billowing onto the platform. The crowd seemed to surge forward and Alice was jolted as worried family members became increasingly impatient.

A figure appeared from the passenger door and everyone quietened. Alice’s heart leapt in her chest, for a split second she’d thought it was James until the uniformed officer turned his head, scanning the crowd, and she could see it wasn’t. There was no strong jawline she liked to trace with her finger, no brilliant blue eyes she could get lost in and no smile that made her knees go weak every time he flashed it without fail.

Alice couldn’t help but tear up at the reunions happening around her, and as more men exited the train, her heart leapt at each one, hoping for James. Soon the platform began to empty, reunited families eager to be home, and the flow of officers leaving the train sputtered and stopped. Alice walked down the platform to see if somehow James had disembarked at a different door but he was nowhere to be seen. She was trying to find a conductor when she heard her name being called, the voice familiar and sweet.

James was back where she’d first been standing, held up by a pair of crutches, his right leg in bandages. He must’ve waited for everyone else before getting off the train. She raced to him; a roaring sound in her ears at the sight of him.

‘Well aren’t you a sight for sore eyes,’ he beamed and Alice thought she might really collapse it sent her knees so weak.

‘Your leg, what happened?’ She hesitated before embracing him, worried she’d hurt him more but he manoeuvred the crutches so he could open out his arms for her. She fell into him, their lips finding each other as if no time had passed at all.

‘I’m sorry this isn’t the fresh start we wanted.’

Alice kissed him again and she thrilled in the knowledge she could kiss James whenever she wanted from now on.

‘You’re here, James, that’s all that matters.’ 


The Best New Year – Laura Amey

Sophie woke up on January 1st with a smile on her face and hope in her heart. This was going to be her year – she could feel it! She was going to get that promotion, get that fancy apartment, and get that man of her dreams.

The blankets behind her rustled, and a strong arm circled around her waist.

Okay, so she may have already started on her list.

‘Morning,’ murmured Damian Wilson, heir to the Wilson-Tech empire and, technically, Sophie’s boss. The wasn’t a direct link between their positions, him being far up the ladder and her… not, but whenever he visited her little corner of the company, all decisions went through him.

Sophie had admired Damian from the moment she’d laid eyes him, but then she’d gotten to know him, and admiration had turned into something deeper. Damian was driven, intelligent, and had a conscience that many businessmen lacked. To him, success was measured by what a company did, not by how much money it made.

He was also handsome, funny, and – as of last night – hers.

The New Year’s Eve party had been small, just the Graphic Design team catching up at Sophie’s apartment, but Damian had been visiting the department that day and she’d invited him without thinking. It had been a surprise to everyone when he’d shown up.

One look at him in her living room and Sophie had been a goner. It hadn’t mattered that she’d intended to go for the promotion before going for the CEO’s son, there had been no stopping the flirting and the dancing and the laughing. And when the clock had struck twelve, bringing in the new year and the new her, Sophie had kissed him, confessing her feelings soon after.

She’d almost kicked everyone out of her apartment when he’d confessed to harbouring the same feelings, so eager to take him to the bed they now lay in.

The hand around her waist travelled higher, and Damian’s thumb caressed the skin of her breast. ‘I think that was the best New Year’s party I’ve ever been to,’ he said against her ear.

Sophie let out a disbelieving chuckle and turned in his arms. His sandy coloured hair looked golden in the morning light. ‘I sincerely doubt that,’ she said, though she grinned from ear to ear. Part of her had worried that the whole glorious night had been a dream. But there he was, his head against her pillow like it belonged there.

She couldn’t have asked for a better sight to wake up to.

Damian leaned over and kissed her, a short meeting of mouths that was over far too soon. ‘None of the other parties had you,’ he said as if it explained everything.

Perhaps it did.

Sophie let out a contented sigh and nestled further into his embrace. She placed a kiss above his heart. ‘It was my best New Year’s, too.’

She hoped the next one would be the same.


New Beginnings – Karen Gangemi

New Beginnings

Violet pasted the last picture on her vision board, titled ‘New Beginnings’. She stared at it, eyes running over pictures that held her dreams.  She was a big believer in vision boards.  She made one every year.  Each year with a different title.  Some pictures changed, some stayed the same.  Violet believed in the power of manifestation with a bit of work on her part too.  All of her dreams were realised.  Well, most of them.  Except for one.  Love.  That continued to elude her.  She thought about her last relationship.  Dave.  Dave the dickhead. He turned out to be disappointment. Leaving her for a younger model.  What a cliché!

Right.  That’s enough maudlin.  Time to make the first vision happen.  A holiday in the beautiful tropics.  Just like the one on her vision board. That meant a road trip. Violet placed her board strategically in her home office.  Took a final look around her house, grabbed her luggage, locking the door.  

She selected her playlist, blue toothed her iPhone to the car’s speakers. Walking on Sunshine blared out.  She smiled. This song always lifted her spirits. She had one more stop.  To pick up her partner in crime and best friend, Sally.  

After a few hours of driving, they arrived at their destination. They checked into their accommodation, both racing into the room to claim the King-size bed.  “Dibs the bed is mine!” sang Sally.  Laughing and shoving each other, they plopped onto the bed at the same time. Sally was all over the bed, nudging Violet off. “Hey! Not fair!” protested Violet, she fell to the floor with a dull thud. “Sorry! Not sorry!” laughed Sally. Suddenly Sally sprang up.

 “We’re here now.  Let’s go and check things out.” Violet grinned.  

“Yes, let’s do that.”

Lounging by the pool, sipping an ice-cold margarita, Violet surreptitiously checked out the talent behind, large white-rimmed sunglasses. Sally whispering, “No. No. No. Mmm maybe.. Oh yeah baby”.  Violet smirked.  She knew who Sally was checking out. The young guy with rock hard abs. He was striding towards them. Beside him was another man. An older man, much closer to their age.  He wasn’t as ripped as his counterpart but arresting all the same.  Violet tracked him as they got closer, appreciating his olive-brown skin, treacle-coloured hair curling on the nape of his neck.  He was like an older version of Ryan Reynolds.

A pair of loud rambunctious boys were running around the pool, and without warning pushed Ryan Reynolds look alike aside, diving into the pool. He stumbled, tripping over his thongs, landing on Violet, her drink spilling everywhere.  His companion stood there stunned, then began laughing. “Way to go Dad.  Did you enjoy your trip?” Violet found herself staring into chocolate coloured eyes.

He was mortified. “I’m so sorry. You okay?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Just wet from my drink.” She could hear Sally snickering quietly.

“I’ll buy you another one. Is that okay?” Violet smiled shyly at him.

“Yes, it’s more than okay.”

Was this her new beginnings?


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