Worth Finishing?
 
 

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Worth Finishing?

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        01-15-2010, 04:28 PM
      #1
    Super Moderator
    Worth Finishing?

    Sometimes I get going on story and then I start wondering if it's worth finishing... It's non-horse related... :(

    Grace Sutton adjusted her car stereo as she waited for the school bus in front of her to unload its precious cargo. She stared at the bright yellow flashing lights on the back of the bus and bit back a grin as two tiny passengers made silly faces against the window of the bus. She had no children of her own and since she was the very definition of single, she saw no little tykes in her near future, but she promised herself that someday there would be, until then she loved to watch their antics, from a distance. She followed the bus several blocks before turning into her grandmothers’ driveway. She shoved her keys into her purse and tried to situate her brief case, jacket, dry cleaning, and groceries so that she could carry everything into the house in one trip. She climbed from the car none to gracefully slamming the door with her hip. The lower portion of the clear plastic dry-cleaning bag got caught in the bottom of the car door and she had to yank it free, leaving a chunk of plastic hanging from the silver Volvo. Only then did she glance towards the front porch. She almost dropped her baggage when she noticed two little girls sitting on the top step with their hands shoved deep into there coat pockets.
    “Hello.” She called to them, as she shifted her groceries and dug for her keys asking herself why she even bothered to put them in her purse in the first place.
    “Are you…waiting for someone?” She asked as she pushed her way past the children when it became apparent that they were not going to move. She unlocked the heavy wooden door and shoved it open.
    “Hello?” She asked again, dragging the word into three syllables when she got no response. The children hadn’t budged. They were still sitting on the top step bundled in their heavy winter coats sending out tiny little puffs of frozen air with each breath, staring at her with matching sets of crystal blue eyes. Neither made any attempt to verbally acknowledge her so after a long moment she turned and headed to the kitchen dropping her coat and purse on the floor near the couch as she went. “Brats.” She mumbled shoving groceries into the refrigerator. She glanced at the clock above the stove and immediately felt bad for her earlier comment. It was nearly five o’clock. Why were those children sitting on the front porch of her grandmothers’ home? Were they lost?
    Grace had a small townhouse in a neighboring community. She lived only fifteen minutes away but because Sarah Sutton was independent and full of life it was easy to replace visits with phone calls. It was even easier to forget she was a seventy-year old woman so when Sarah had taken ill the day before it had been a cold dash of reality for Grace. When the doctors informed her that she was to spend some time in the hospital Sarah had been very concerned about her newly acquired stray cat’s wellbeing so Grace had offered to stay at her house while she was in the hospital. It really was no inconvenience at all since she taught at a nearby high school. It would actually shave fifteen minutes off her daily commute and it gave her sanctuary from a sloppy break up from a tired relationship that should have ended long ago.
    It had been quite some time since Grace had been to the cozy little house on Crabtree lane so she wasn’t in the least bit surprised when she didn’t recognize the children. Still it worried her that they were sitting out there. She finished with the groceries and peaked out the living room window, the girls sat so still that they reminded her of those models at the uptown shopping malls, the ones that get paid for standing in the windows pretending to be mannequins. A butterfly soared through her chest as she considered several different scenarios. What if they got off at the wrong bus stop? She could easily picture a desperate mother racing around searching for her little girls when they didn’t come home at their usual time. The poor woman was probably in hysterics by now. Grace sighed and ran her fingers through her shoulder length auburn curls. She opened the door again. “Are you waiting for someone?” She asked trying to sound friendly without reverting to that special high-pitched sing song voice that so many adults tend to use on small children. “Listen to me girls, it’s very important that you answer me. Your parents are probably worried sick about you.” The smaller girls’ head shot up, her bright blue eyes widening, she pursed her lips as if she were about to say something but suddenly thought better of it. The older girl gave her sister a not to gentle nudge with her elbow. She wrinkled her freckled nose and crossed her arms in a stubborn pose.
    “We’re not ‘sposed to talk to strangers.” Light brown pigtails smacked against rosy cheeks as she shook her head. The little girl gasped when she realized she’d said that aloud and slapped both hands over her mouth. No amount of coaxing earned another word from the stubborn heathen. Grace glared at the little girls. She glanced at her watch, twenty minutes had passed and it was getting colder by the minute. She couldn’t leave them outside much longer. She had just picked up the cordless telephone, contemplating a call to the local sheriffs department when a deep blue Chevy with the words Morgan Masonry stamped on the doors in bright yellow letters pulled into the neighboring driveway.
         
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        01-15-2010, 04:29 PM
      #2
    Super Moderator
    “Daddy!” The girls cried in unison as they ran to greet the man behind the wheel. He stepped from the vehicle and Grace gasped, even from a distance she could tell that he was a good looking man, tall and lean, with the build of a working man. He was also filthy, covered with dirt from head to toe. He ran a hand through his dark hair as he crossed the yard to meet her. She stomped down the steps planning to give him hell for leaving his children unattended. She opened her mouth to begin her assault and then stopped when her heart leapt wildly out of control. He looked tired, really tired. He was focusing on something beyond her right shoulder with his hand slightly outstretched as if he were going to shake her hand. That brief glance at his tired eyes had affected her in a way that had her normally dormant sexuality shifting into overdrive. For a moment she was totally and completely awestruck. She turned and followed his gaze to the front door. Recovering she stood as tall as her five foot two inches would allow her and waved a menacing finger under his nose.
    “What kind of a parent are you?”
    “Huh?” He grunted, side passing her and following the walkway leading to the front porch steps of the Sutton house.
    “Negligent!” She raised her voice, irritated that her nervousness radiated through her voice.
    That comment caught his attention. He swung around to face her and for just a second Grace couldn’t breathe. His face was smudged with Virginia red clay and shadowed with a days growth of beard. His eyes were the most amazing shade of blue she had ever seen, she was captivated by the way they blended with a wash of green reminding her of the ocean depths. He was wearing a flannel shirt that was too thin for the recent cold weather, un-tucked and unbuttoned thrown over a filthy white T-shirt, his cheeks were rosy and chapped from the wind and although his dark hair was short, it was long enough to be unruly in the breeze. Grace shivered and crossed her arms knowing that the steady drop in temperature had nothing to do with her sudden chill.
    “What?” Chance Morgan was confused. He stared at the angry women standing before him, fire-streaked hair dancing in the wind, full glossy lips pursed, evergreen colored eyes glowing with disapproval. He was sure he had never met her, yet he recognized her voice, or maybe it was the hint of old south lacing her words that seemed familiar. He silently cursed himself unable to keep his eyes from roaming. She was a small woman with petite curves and a tiny little waste. A thin gold charm bracelet dangled from a wrist that was attached to a hand that was waving an index finger with nails painted a pale shade of peach under his nose. She had a light smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose that reminded him of... someone. He glared at the face of an angel. It had been a very long day, long week for that matter and it was only Tuesday. Between working six days a week, evening accounting classes, coaching T-ball, and caring for his two young daughters he’d had little time for relaxation, much less sleep so the last thing he wanted was to come home to accusations of poor parenting skills. Skills that he knew were lacking, but with their mother living overseas with her new husband, trying to make a go of a life she’d always dreamed of, there was nothing he could do about it.
    “You heard me, I said you are a negligent parent.” She uttered an unsophisticated phrase that had his already rosy checks burning a darker shade of red. Those tired eyes brightened and widened for an instant but she was undaunted. “What kind of man would leave two little girls unattended in this kind of weather for so long?” She motioned to the ominous dark clouds filling the evening sky.
    ”Miss Sarah watches the girls.” He answered gruffly. He knew he didn’t owe this woman any explanations, yet he felt compelled to change her opinion of himself, which was obviously pretty low at this moment. He glared at her. She was no beauty queen, too short and not curvaceous enough to turn heads, but there was something special about her girl next door features that left him burning from within.
    “Miss Sarah?” Grace was shocked. When her grandmother had asked her to tend to her responsibilities she’d never mentioned babysitting, of course if he were her neighbor and she regularly cared for his children, he would already know that she was in the hospital. Wouldn’t he? “Miss Sarah had a diabetic emergency yesterday. She passed out in the front yard, some kids called an ambulance. She’s in the hospital until they can get her blood sugars under control.” She informed him.
         
        01-15-2010, 04:29 PM
      #3
    Super Moderator
    “What?” He was completely caught off guard. His stomach suddenly felt sick. Sarah Sutton had taken him and his family under her wing the day they moved into the house next door nearly three years ago. She had earned a place for herself deep within his heart quickly and efficiently, treating him like her own son. How long had she lain on the cold ground before help had arrived? Had she hurt herself when she’d fallen? Why hadn’t she called him?
    “Where is she?” His voice sounded strange, distant. When she didn’t respond immediately he grabbed her arm. “Where?” He raised his voice.
    “Calverton Memorial.” She answered feeling as if she’d suddenly lost control of the situation. The fatigue had faded from his suddenly pale face and was replaced with distress. He dropped her arm and let out a loud curse as he jogged across the yard into his house, two bewildered little girls following in his wake. Leaving her staring and feeling just as confused as he had looked when she’d called him…”Negligent.” She gasped. She had called him negligent! She’d seen the hurt that had flitted across his face the moment she’d said the word. How could she have been so cruel! How could her grandmother have forgotten such an enormous detail as the wickedly handsome man next door and his little girls! She was suddenly very angry with her sweet Grandma Sutton. She never would have gone shopping after work had she known that two little girls were waiting in the cold. Of course, that man probably never would have left them alone in the first place had he known what had happened to Sarah.
    She turned and stomped into the house. She would have a few words with his precious Miss Sarah tonight!

    After a hurried dinner Grace had rushed to the hospital. She was worried that man might decide to pay her grandmother a visit and she wanted to get a hold of her first. He had looked truly concerned when she had told him about Sarah’s condition. She wondered if he took advantage of her grandmother’s services because she was convenient and because she was a little old lady easily conned. Of course her grandmother wasn’t exactly the kind of person that one might push around, she was more likely the one that would do the pushing.
    “I met the neighbor today.” She said. Her fingers danced as she wove the older women’s silver hair into intricate braids. “And his little girls. What are their names?” She asked. Sarah handed her a blue ribbon to tie the end off with. She smiled fondly.
    “The seven year old is Allison and the five year old is Annette.” She said it with so much pride that Grace had to bite her tongue to keep from saying something smart about their angelic attitudes. “They are wonderful children aren’t they?” Sarah continued.
    “I came home from work and found them sitting on the porch, they refused to talk to me.” She told her grandmother. She climbed onto the hospital bed next to the older women and leaned her head on the pillow, her legs hanging of the edge of the bed.
    “They aren’t aloud to speak to strangers.” Sarah informed her and then gasped. “Oh my word! I never called Chance. They came home to nobody! Were they upset? Did you tell them where I am? They aren’t worried are they?” She held her hand over her mouth. “Those poor dears.”
    Poor dears? Grace made a funny face and rolled her eyes. She hadn’t realized how lonely her grandmother must be these days. To think that those little children were little dears. Disrespectful little monsters. Grant it, she hadn’t been by to visit in quite some time, but that was because her grandmother drove to her house three times a month so they could go shopping together. Maybe she should get her a dog or a fish or something. Anything to fill the obvious void in her grandmothers life.
    “Miss Sarah!” Came excited squeals as two familiar bundles raced into the room and danced beside the bed. Grace scooted off the bed, careful not to jiggle the mattress, and moved to a vacant chair by the window. Chance stood solemnly in the doorway for a few moments before entering. “You ok?” He asked before leaning down to plant a soft kiss on Sarah Suttons forehead.
         
        01-15-2010, 04:30 PM
      #4
    Super Moderator
    “I’m fine Chance.” She patted his hand before turning her full attention to the girls, who were excitedly going over the days events. Grace felt a funny twinge deep down in her stomach when she saw the way her grandmother looked at the girls. The smile she wore was so full of love and pride that Grace was jealous, she was actually jealous! She glanced at the tired man standing across from her and realized that he too was a recipient of her affection. She turned her attention to the girls. The scowls that they had worn across their pudgy little faces just that afternoon had been replaced with bright little smiles that revealed tiny little perfectly spaced teeth. The early afternoon code of silence had been broken, they filled the sterile hospital room with a sound that had to resemble pixie music as their stories collided and bounced onto separate paths. Grace found herself smiling as she listened to two very different versions of why the picture they had drawn for Miss Sarah had gotten so crinkled and how a red crayon, the most important color for drawing hearts, had gotten broken. She had to bite her tongue to keep from laughing when, in the end, Chance was blamed for the mishap because he had gone to get a cup of coffee. If he had been helping them, like they’d asked, the crayon would not have been broken because Allie would have shared. Even though Chance looked absolutely exhausted his eyes were dancing as he listened to the conversation in amused silence. Grace could have kicked herself when she caught herself thinking that he really was a good looking man.
    Grace sighed. She did not want to like this man, but there was something lurking behind the quiet that masked his blue green eyes. She could see it every now and then, a gleam that threatened to escape if he dared to allow a smile to shatter his chiseled features. She stood rubbing her sweaty palms on her white jeans. “I owe you an apology.” She offered her hand across the bed and was surprised when she felt grateful that he took it. “For the negligent parent comment.” She added almost inaudibly. Hoping that her grandmother wasn’t following the conversation. She wasn’t. She was busily chatting with the girls.
    His expression remained somber when he nodded in response but Grace thought she caught a glimpse of humor in the depths of his tired blue eyes.
    “Chance Morgan.” He placed a hand on the older daughters head and then the other. “This is Allie and this one is Annie. They’re my girls and I love them.” She couldn’t read his expression. He didn’t smile but he held her gaze for several seconds before letting his hand drop. She didn’t miss the statement. “I love them”. He had accepted her apology out of politeness but the comment she had made earlier that day would not be forgotten. She couldn’t blame him, she’d seen the hurt in his eyes, the burn in his cheeks and the tightening of his fists the moment the words had escaped her lips. Not being a parent herself, Grace couldn’t even imagine how devastating a comment like that could be; especially to a single parent. After just a few years of teaching high school students, she was normally very good at refraining from blurting out statements before at least taking a few seconds to ponder the consequences. She wished she had never said it.
    She started to apologize again but he had already turned his attention to her grandmother. “You should have called me.” He told Sarah taking her hand in his. He tried to look angry but even Grace could see the concern clouding his rugged features.
    “You needn’t worry Chance. I’m fine.” She smiled sweetly, her eyes beamed devilishly when she added. “Grace is here to help with the girls.”
    “I want to.” Grace joined in quickly when she saw him fighting to hold his first reaction, which did not look like a pleasant one. “I do.” She added quietly trying to force eye contact with him. His gaze remained on Sarah. Grace leaned her body to the right and cocked her head at a silly angle. “I really do want to help.” She hated that he was ignoring her like that, it was driving her crazy, not only because it was rude, because she wanted him look at her. She wanted to see those eyes and that handsome face. Especially now that he was showered and clean-shaven. When he shifted his weight she caught a whiff of his after-shave and could have kicked herself when she realized that she was imagining what it would be like to have those arms around her, to press her head against his chest, to feel his lips against hers...
    “The girls and I will manage.” He glared at Grace “On our own.” He added coldly before turning his attention back to the older women. “Don’t worry about us. Just get better pretty lady.”
    He motioned for the girls to say their good-byes, ignoring Sarah’s protests regarding her granddaughters assistance and left the room with a mumbled curse. Getting the girls up and dressed in the mornings without help was going to cost him precious time on a job that was already several days behind due to severe rain. Leaving early each day to ensure he was able to get the girls off the bus was really going to put him behind schedule on his work. He really should swallow his pride and accept her help but something was stopping him and it angered him because he knew it was that warm ache that spread throughout his groin area every time he looked into that woman’s green eyes.

         
        01-15-2010, 04:30 PM
      #5
    Super Moderator
    “Daddy wait!” Allie raced back to grab a hot pink scarf that she had dropped. She ran towards the elevator where her father stood holding the doors to the elevator only to drop her mittens. She fell to her knees as she scooped them up and tripped over her snow boots in her hurry to reach her family.
    “Slow down Tiger, we aren’t going anywhere.” Chance chuckled. Allie leapt across the threshold of the elevator and sighed. “I didn’t want you to forget me.” She told her father. She was his melodramatic child.
    “Never.” He took her scarf and wrapped it around her neck, covering her face and ears. Before they reached the lobby he had managed to coax both of her unwilling hands into mittens that were a size to small. He grabbed the girls each by a hand, led them through the crowded parking lot and loaded them into his pickup truck.
    “Is that lady going to sit with us tomorrow daddy?” Annie asked, she was fumbling with her seatbelt. Chance took it from her and jammed it into place before shifting the truck into first gear. “No.” He told her, “I’ll be home before you get off the school bus.” The last thing he wanted to do was let that women watch his children. That’s what he kept telling himself anyway, especially after she had so openly expressed her opinion of him. They rode the rest of the way home in silence and by the time they pulled into the driveway his oldest daughter had fallen asleep. He helped Annie climb out of the truck on his side before making his way to the passengers’ side. He slid his hand underneath his older daughters armpit and lifted her one handed, laying her against his shoulder. The child could sleep through anything so he didn’t have to worry about being extra gentle because he knew she’d mold to whatever position he held her in. Annie slammed the truck door and followed her daddy to the house. He handed her the keys and waited patiently while she sorted through each key until she found the one with the tiny peace of silver tape. He sighed when it took her three tries to get it into the keyhole and tapped the floor mat with the toe of his hiking boot while she pulled her mittens off so that she could get both hands on the knob before turning it and forcing the door open.
    “She’s pretty.” Annie announced as she struggled to get her boots off.
    “Who’s that?” Chance flipped the hall light on before heading up the stairs to Allies bedroom.
    “The lady.” Annie called. She set her boots neatly against the wall before shrugging out of her jacket. She hung it on a red hook that had been placed level with the top of her head just behind the front door. Allies hook was empty, daddy would have to hang her coat up after he changed her into her pajama’s. She tossed her mittens and scarf into a red basket next to her boots and raced up the stairs, stumbling about every third step.
    She stood outside Allies door watching as her daddy finished tucking her into bed. He kissed her older sister on the forehead then he sat on the side of the bed for a long time before standing. He did that sometimes, at night, just sat on the edge of the bed and stared at the floor. It made him look sad. Allie always fell asleep before Annie did but that was ok because sometimes daddy let her come downstairs for milk and cookies. He would sit at the table while she ate and tell her about the houses that he was building and what color the bricks were. Sometimes he would tell her about his school and how hard the homework was and other times he would tell her about the people he met, like one time when he met a really nice girl. He had promised he would bring her home someday so that she could meet her, but then later, when she asked about her, he said it didn’t work out. After they finished their cookies she’d help him rinse the dishes and then promise that the late night snack was their little secret. It didn’t look like he was going to let her do that tonight though. He was sleepy again.
    “Did you hear me daddy? When I said the lady was pretty?” Annie whispered when he joined her in the hall. He raised an eyebrow.
    “You think so?” He didn’t want to admit it, but he thought so too. She wasn’t the type of women that he typically dated but if he had to guess her age, he’d put her at two, maybe three years younger than himself and he was thirty-two, although he felt more like forty-something. She was more cute then pretty, with her small features, that smattering of freckles across her nose and those unruly rust colored curls. It worked for her, and for him too apparently, from the reaction he’d add when he’d seen the sparkle in her angry eyes. She was wrong for him and he knew it. What surprised him was that Annie seemed so taken by her. Annie was usually a very good judge of character, and for some reason that scared the hell out of him.
         
        01-15-2010, 04:30 PM
      #6
    Super Moderator
    “She has freckles on her nose.” Chance said as he tossed Annie onto her pink bedspread. She giggled while he yanked her sweatshirt off. “So does mommy.” She argued. He chuckled, “Yeah well, she’s really short.” He tossed her discarded clothes into a hamper and handed her a pink nightgown. When her head popped through the collar he loosened her pigtails and ran his fingers through her baby fine curls to make sure there weren’t any tangles.
    “I like her voice.” Annie informed him. He groaned inwardly when he found himself secretly agreeing with his five-year-old daughter. Grace’s voice wasn’t soft or musical, but it had a thick ambiance that definitely had feminine qualities. He imagined what her laugh would sound like. Once again, the word cute came to mind.
    “And her eyes sparkle too, like Tinkerbells.” She pursed her lips in one of her most serious facial expressions. “Did you ever see eyes like hers before?”
    “I love you baby.” He brushed the bangs from her small forehead. Annie placed her hands on either side of his cheeks and planted a sloppy kiss on his temple. “I love you too daddy.” He kissed her forehead and left the room flipping the light off as he went.

    Three days later Grace raced around the house dusting and polishing, sweeping and mopping, vacuuming and straightening in preparation for her grandmothers release from the hospital. Her grandma had always teased her about her lack of home making skills and at the ease at which she dialed the phone for take out, something she did often. Silly as it may seem, for some strange reason it bothered her. So the refrigerator was overflowing with evidence to attest to the fact that she had spent the last few days practicing her cooking skills. After the cleaning supplies were shoved into a closet she stood in the center of the living room surveying her accomplishment. There were several pictures of her and her older brother, Tom displayed through out the house, but not nearly as many as those two little sprites from the house next door. The best she could guess was that they had moved in right around three years before. The fact that she had not known that represented the lack of effort she had put forth in maintaining an active role in her grandmothers life and that shamed her. She wondered if their mother had been in the picture when they’d moved here or if she had already left the scene by then. She shoved the sleeve of her gray knit sweater past her wrist to check the time. She had twenty minutes to get to the hospital.
    She grabbed her purse and keys before jogging across the lawn to the Morgans house. She hadn’t spoken to Chance since their last encounter at the hospital. Every afternoon she had rushed home to be there just in case he was caught in traffic or detained for some reason. Each day his big blue truck had pulled into the driveway just minutes before the yellow school bus made its stop at the corner. She had stood in the picture window watching as the girls bounded across the street and threw themselves into his open arms. They laughed as he twirled them around the yard for several minutes before gathering their book bags and disappearing into the house. She had felt an inexplicable yearning while she watched them. She was furious with herself when she had to wipe tears from her eyes. She couldn’t understand why she was experiencing that weird gut clenching feeling. It made her feel so tight inside, and so completely out of control. It was almost as if she were in love. Lust more likely.
    She caught herself wondering if it was her biological clock that had her so squirrelly, she was nearly thirty after all and no doubt he was a good looking man. He had a modest home with a big back yard, two beautiful children and a ball-chasing, flop-eared pile of black fur that might possibly pass for a dog if it had a bath and a good grooming. The best she could tell, he was a hard working man, no doubt a loving man, he did after all, have custody of the children. She caught herself once again imagining what it would be like to press her lips against his, to rest her head against his firm chest, to feel his hands against her skin. She groaned, she was reading way too many romance novels these days.
    She darted across the lawn to her neighbor’s house and shoved a handwritten dinner invitation in the crease of the door, then hurried to her car.
         
        09-14-2011, 04:32 PM
      #7
    Super Moderator
    I can't figure out where I saved this!
         

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