Sounds like the makings of a bumper sticker, right? Well, it is. I actually won a contest and got this puppy in the mail…and I absolutely love it.
I’ve had some strange things happen to me in my life. I’m an observer by nature, so I probably notice things others might not. That being said, I’ve got a couple examples to share with you that might just end up in one of my novels some day.
I work at a clinic that happens to be attached to a hospital. Those of you who are familiar with health care know just how weird things can get, but this one floored me. A few months ago, after a particularly hectic morning of phone calls and trying to slog through piles of paperwork, I went to lunch. The usually long line wasn’t that bad, so I was able to get my food and was on my way in a flash. An older couple walked by me, heads turning back to stare at something down the hall.
I’d never seen an actual warlock in person, but I was about to. Once I bypassed the gawking duo, I caught my first glimpse. He was huge, not only tall, but wide in a way that might have been fat, but might have been ten gun holsters slung across his back.
I say might because he wore a cloak. I’m talking pointy hat and draping fabric sewn in a funky patchwork pattern. The ensemble did nothing for his physique, but it did make my hair stand on end. Suffice it to say I bypassed the elevators Mr. Magic waited for and headed to the next set. No way was I getting in a four by four box with that guy.
On my way to escape, security passed me. I expected a shrill code silver to come across the loud speaker any moment alerting the staff that yes, indeed, an armed man was in our hospital, but thankfully none came.
I’m not sure what happened after that. For all I know he was a burn victim who was trying to hide his scars, but couldn’t he have at least picked the non pointy hat cloak, or I don’t know, a hoodie? It’s funny how certain moments have stayed with me throughout my life.
One of the weirdest came on vacation. My family mostly lived in Utah, USA growing up. I say mostly because we also lived in Arizona and California off and on.
We have a lot of relatives in Arizona and most summers were spent basking in the 120 degree desert heat without air conditioning, mind you. So suffice it to say we generally travelled from my home to Arizona at night.
One year, when I was much older, my brother and I took turns driving. I had made it all the way from Salt Lake City to Kanab, Utah. It was probably a six hour shift. My brother took over after that and we were on our way again. Unfortunately we followed an aunt’s advice to use a “short cut” to get to Page, Arizona. Well, the short cut ended up costing us two hours and we almost drove right into a river. Long story, but holy crow that was a scary dirt road to nowhere.
Anyway, we finally made it back onto pavement and past Page. My brother, making up for lost time, was driving about 90 miles per hour on a lone stretch of highway between Page and Flagstaff. It’s pretty barren country so, as you can expect, most of us were trying to sleep. I was crammed in the back seat of my little Ford Festiva with my three sisters, while my mom occupied the front passenger seat.
I’d just about drifted off when I heard a horrible string of curses. I jolted upright, only to see some dude standing in the middle of the road. His arms and legs were spread wide and his head was lifted toward the sky.
I’d barely had enough time to think what the heck when my brother swerved to miss the guy, who apparently had no intention of getting out of the way. He wasn’t trying to flag us down; he was more than likely trying to rob us if the three guys in the ditch were any indication.
Sound fun? We laughed about it later, but at the time the experience put us all on edge. We were a lot more careful through that stretch of desert on our way back. Thankfully, now when I go to Arizona, I fly.
My point here is that scene stuck with me for quite a few years now, and I actually used part of it in a novel I started but haven’t had time to finish yet. I thought it would be fun to share that with you today:
I heard the thud before his half naked body rolled across the hood toward me. The windshield buckled in a deafening crack on impact. I screamed, losing my grip on the steering wheel. The car skidded wildly, throwing him onto the pavement, before it jerked to a sudden stop.
My pulse thundered in my ears. What had I just done?
I covered my eyes with trembling hands, not wanting to see it: his body crumpled on the road, broken. No one survived that kind of impact. I sat there stunned for a few moments then snapped out of it. What if he wasn’t dead?
I reached for my cell, hoping it would work between nowhere and Phoenix. My fingers fumbled with the numbers until a shadow slid across my vision. I jerked away from the window.
He stood there watching me.
Heaving a relieved sigh, I let my mouth curve in a tremulous smile.
How could you adequately apologize for nearly killing someone?
He pressed his palms to the glass, his fingers spread wide. The muscles in his forearms flexed under flawless skin. He was shirtless, and I was quite certain now that it was a loincloth draped loosely around his hips. Not your average attire, but hey, I wasn’t the fashion police. I was just glad he was alive.
Thinking he was in shock, I scanned his body for damage. There was none. How was that possible? I gazed up at him bewildered.
A dark look flickered across his obsidian eyes. The smile he gave me offered no comfort.
My body moved before my brain processed what was happening. His hands slid along the glass until they reached the door frame. His muscles bunched and his veins popping as if he was trying to force the door out of the way.
Without warning a metallic groan rocked my senses. The window splintered into a web under the pressure. No way was I waiting to see what else he was going to do. I threw the gearshift into first and let off the clutch. The car lurched forward then stalled. The door groaned again before the glass shattered. Adrenaline pumped faster through my veins, making it impossible to control my shaking hands.
I revved the engine, trying again. Why wasn’t I moving? The acrid smell of burning rubber assaulted my nose. That was when I realized: He wasn’t alone.
They rose from the side of the road like wraiths in the night, swift and lithe. They circled my car, chanting. I had to be dreaming. Maybe I had fallen asleep at the wheel and crashed and this was my mind’s way of dealing with dying? Maybe I was still in bed and hadn’t left Great Falls yet? Maybe…
So what do you think? That’s where my mind took me when I recalled that fateful vacation night. What was your weirdest moment? Have you considered writing about it? You never know. You just might end up writing a novel because of it.
I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing now. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. We live in a quiet community under the Wellsville mountains in Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.
Excerpt Five (Elemental Enmity Book I) by Christie Rich
The view of the sunset reminded me of my favorite bluff back home. Nothing but sky was visible in the horizon. I might as well have been standing on the edge of the world gazing at the gilded gates of heaven.
“I will never tire of seeing that,” a melodic voice erupted behind me.
If I had gotten a bit more air, I would have landed on Mars. “Zach.” I put a hand against my pounding heart. “You scared me.” I hadn’t even heard him come up to me.
“I noticed.” He smirked. “I was trying my best not to disturb you. You looked so peaceful, but I am a selfish man.” He chuckled, moving closer.
My attraction to him was hard enough to handle when he had all his clothes on. My pulse raced with his approach for an entirely different reason. He had the sort of flawless body that belonged on the airbrushed pages of a magazine. His skin glowed golden in the blazing sunset that brought out rusty hues in his dark hair. My fingers itched to trace every angle of his sculpted abdomen and chest.
“Leave it to you to make this thing look good,” he said, running a finger under the strap on my shoulder. “By rights, it should be burned. Are you going to tell me why you insisted on wearing it?”
He traced my collarbone. “Really?” In one fluid motion, I was in his arms, and he was carrying me deeper into the water.
I hoped he couldn’t feel the thud of my heart beating against his chest. “What do you think you’re doing?” I asked more calmly than I felt.
“Changing your mind,” he said just as evenly.
I could see where he was going with this, and over the edge of a cliff wasn’t my idea of fun. “Don’t.”
He grinned. “Tell me.”
I stiffened in his arms. “If you do this, I will leave—without you.” His exaggerated exhale tickled my neck, sending goose-bumps down my body.
“Don’t you ever relax?”
I gritted my teeth, hating what I had become in the past few weeks. If he had tried this back home, I would have protested, giggled, and screamed but loved every minute of his antics.
Things were different now. I was on edge constantly. “I’m so not okay with heights. Let me down.”
The set of his jaw didn’t give me any comfort. He walked up a ramp between the two converging rivers that made the waterfall. On sure feet, he stepped to the edge. I honestly didn’t know how he was still standing with the water blasting against his knees. He leaned into my ear. “Tell me.”
I clung to his neck like grime to a barn cat. “I don’t want to.”
He looked over the edge and back at me. The humor in his gaze died. He sighed, stepping back a few paces. My heart found its way back into my chest. He carried me to a lounge chair, setting me down gently.
“You can’t possibly think that thing is pretty,” he commented after a while.
“Pretty isn’t everything,” I said.
He raised his brows, tucking his strong chin inward in mockery then looked at me sidelong. “It helps.” He smiled teasingly.
I shot him a dirty look before giving him my back. He placed a timid hand on my shoulder.
“Come, now. It can’t possibly be as bad as all that.”
Why couldn’t he just let it go? I wasn’t all up in his business, why did he feel the need to be in mine. “Drop it already.”
Zach sat beside me, coaxing my chin upward. His voice was soft. “Aren’t you having fun, lass?”
I wouldn’t look him in the eye. If I did he would see every insecurity I had. “I was before you decided to go all Tarzan on me.”
He thumped his chest, doing a great imitation of the call. I tried to smile, but I didn’t think it helped.
“You weren’t like this the other day.” He turned away as if in thought, glancing at me hastily. “Don’t you like swimming?”
The other day I didn’t have four terrifying men after me. I would have liked to give him an easy out, but I didn’t want to lie. “I usually love it.”
Cassie had an indoor pool back home. On the rare occasion I actually got to stay the night at her house, we would spend hours in the water. She taught me how to float first. I had progressively gotten better. I was an adequate swimmer now. The one thing I didn’t like was the high-dive.
He frowned. “Is it me?” His brows furrowed as though he was really worried. “Have I done something to offend you?”
I closed my eyes, inhaling sharply. “I’m sorry. I’ve had fun today, really. I just have other things on my mind right now.”
He grinned, tucking my hair behind my ear. “I’m a great listener.”
I didn’t like being such a disappointment, but I couldn’t snap myself out of it. I could just imagine how fast he’d be gone if I did tell him everything that was wrong with me at the moment. “I’d rather not talk about it right now.”
He knelt in front of me and took my hands in his. “You can’t expect me to not be curious.”
“It’s a free country,” I said. “Be curious all you like.” I was pushing him away when normally I would have been doing everything in my power to keep him interested in me.
The sun had made its final descent. The haze of twilight settled all around us with the stars spotting the barely glowing sky. In a few minutes, I would be able to relax a little.
Zach tugged my hand. “Do you wish to go join the others?” He sounded dejected.
Why was I acting like this? I needed to snap out of it. My mood wasn’t his fault. “If you don’t mind, I’d rather stay here for a while.”
He nodded then moved to a lounge chair opposite me, wasting no time in getting comfortable. “Why don’t you tell me of your home?”
The subject seemed safe enough. “Have you ever been to eastern Utah?”
He made an odd sound, sort of a half concealed groan. “It has been many years.”
He wasn’t old enough for it to have been that long ago. I leaned back and put my arms behind my head preparing to give him details.
“I see,” he said in a sympathetic tone, his eyes soft with compassion.
I followed his gaze down to my exposed torso. How could I have been so stupid? The bottom half of my scar poked out from beneath the fringe. I bolted up, pulling awkwardly at the fabric.
He shook his head. “Everyone has imperfections, Rayla.” In an instant he moved to the edge of my chair. Calloused fingers caressed my shoulder before skimming down my arm. “Some are just more visible than others.”
I turned away. Then I got mad. “Really, where’s yours?”
His face crinkled thoughtfully. His eyes held haunted shadows. “You’d be surprised.”
I gave him a look. “Enlighten me.”
“There are certain things I want to change so badly about myself that it consumes my life.” Unless he was a fantastic actor, he was being sincere.
He grimaced, only slightly, but it was enough to make me wonder. “I would rather not get into that with you yet.”
I cocked my jaw, clicking my tongue. “It’s okay for me, but not for you, huh?”
He leveled his gaze to mine seriously. “If a scar is all you have to hide, you should be thankful.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He shoved a hand through his hair. “Only that there are worse things to bear than a scar.”
The truth burned me like a solar flare. I should have been able to put on a pretty bikini without so much as a second thought, but I wasn’t there yet. I hoped I would be some day. I felt ridiculous being so shallow. “You didn’t answer my question,” I said after a moment of hesitation.
The lines of his face turned hard. “I know.”
“There you are,” Natalie yelled, cresting the hill in a sprint with Sam close behind her. “Help me, Rayla!” She crouched down between my chair and the stacked rock wall.
“They can’t save you,” Sam said coldly, standing by my feet. “You will pay.”
I turned back, whispering, “What did you do?”
She smiled proudly. “Put ice in his trunks.”
Zach narrowed his eyes at Natalie. His jaw tightened. “You deserve anything you get.” He grabbed my hand, pulling me to my feet.
Sam swept the chair sideways. Natalie squealed, trying to out-maneuver him. She didn’t make it.
Attempting to wrench away from him, she said desperately, “You can put ice in my suit. Rayla, do you have a drink?”
Sam smiled wickedly. He looked over at the edge of the falls. Did all male minds work the same? “I have something better in mind.”
She put her hands on his cheeks. “Please, Sam. I’m sorry. I won’t do anything like that again.”
He grabbed her wrists, pushing her into the river. She kicked at him and squealed the entire way.
“Not after this,” he said, grinning. Without another word, he pinned her arms to her sides in a bear hug. She smiled at him. I couldn’t see his expression, but her eyes flew wide just before he shouted, “Geronimo.”
Her “No” was squelched when they hit the water. Zach grinned down at me. My smile shriveled.
“Don’t even think about it,” I said when he came closer. Natalie’s laugh rang clear from below.
“Not that I don’t find the idea tempting once more, but I think I will pursue your affections another way.”