Too Soon


( Vintage pitcher of lemonade )

It feels like summer here this weekend, and I am not happy about that. Not at all, especially since our spring so far has consisted mostly of rain, rain, and more rain, with some chilly days in between. I’m not surprised, this is, after all, Pennsylvania, but I am disappointed. And worried this year will be like last year, with record rain (we’re already ahead of last year in this neck of the woods with precipitation), and hot weather in between. None of us enjoyed last summer, except maybe the water birds that live around the pond near my day-job office. This weekend has been even more unbearable, because we’re waiting for a new motor for our central air conditioning unit, so the inside temp right now is 84 degrees (down from 86 earlier when it was 89 outside). It’s actually a few degrees cooler outside since clouds started bubbling up. I was hoping for a good, cooling thunderstorm, but it doesn’t seem like I’m getting that wish granted. Sleeping will be a challenge tonight.

The good news is that by the time it gets this warm again next weekend, the new a/c motor will be installed and I can stay comfortable while I write. Or, rather, I can stay comfortable while I write after getting home from some day-job OT. And I will definitely appreciate the a/c being functional. I don’t know how my sister puts up with the hot and humid weather down South where she lives.

Right now, I’m taking a short break from writing, but am getting ready to dive back in. Before I go, I have a little snippet of story to share with you from my fifth shifter manuscript.

_________________

Piper swallowed hard as she nodded. “Thank you,” she managed. She got to her feet and pretended not to notice the slight hesitation before the older woman shook her outstretched hand.

She walked out of the office, listening to the panicked beat of her pulse in her ears. No job, no rent, no food, no prospects. She ducked out of the cold, misty rain under the battered metal awning of a café and took a slow breath.

She’d be fine. She would find something. Soon. She took another deep breath and let it slowly out. Some of her panic dissipated. Or she could pretend it had. She tucked her coat tighter under her chin, then paused when the faded orange and black window sign caught her eye.

Help wanted. She looked inside the dusty window, into the dingy restaurant. She’d never waited tables before, but if it meant Keely had a roof over her head and food to eat, Piper could do anything.

Gathering her nerve, she pushed the door open. Pocked linoleum squeaked under her wet shoes, and she looked around. It was worse than it had appeared from outside–peeling vinyl stools at the old-fashioned counter and orange bench seats even more faded than the window sign bracketed the booths along the wall.

An older woman emerged from a dented silver swinging door, balancing two plates and a coffee pot. “Sit anywhere. I’ll be with you in a second,” she said as she hustled past.

Piper opened her mouth to speak, then shut it. Instead, she perched on the edge of the first stool at the counter, heart drumming against her ribs.

The other woman breezed to a stop beside her a few seconds later. “What can I get you?”

“I saw the sign in the window.”

The waitress’s eyebrows went up. “Really?” She studied Piper for a moment. “Well, Dave won’t be in till Friday. You’ll have to come back then.”

Two days. “Okay,” she said. “What time will he be in?”

The waitress’s mouth thinned a little. “Probably not till after the breakfast rush. You wait tables before?”

“No, but I learn fast.”

The other woman’s gaze slid over her again, slower, before landing on her face. “It’s part time, pay’s shit.” Sympathy softened her tone as she named a figure.

Piper tried to hide her dismay at the low number. “I need the job,” she whispered.

“Then come back Friday to see Dave.” She patted Piper’s arm and disappeared into the kitchen again.

Piper pushed to her feet and straightened her shoulders. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d had a job she didn’t like, but she’d do just about anything to keep food in her daughter’s belly and a roof over her head. Waiting tables in a crummy diner wasn’t the worst possibility.

“Hey, hon!”

She turned back from the door to face the waitress, who held out a brown paper lunch bag. “Oh, but–”

“Take it.” The older woman smiled a little. “I hope you find something better.”

Piper’s eyes burned as she took the warm bag. “Thank you.”

The waitress patted her arm again. “It’s nothin’. Eat it while it’s hot.” She bustled away to a table crowded with several old men.

Piper cradled the bag to her chest and went out into the chilly mist again, before she started to cry. She hadn’t done that in a long time, and she didn’t have time now for the indulgence. Instead she inhaled the scent of meatloaf and spices from the bag and straightened her spine. She had to find a job.

By the time she trudged up the cracked cement steps of her apartment building two hours later, the bag was cold, and so were her fingers and nose. No respectable shifter business would hire her, thanks to her stupid brother, and none of the human businesses she’d ventured into were interested in her either.

________________

Funny how that is story #5 when I started out planning only 3, and this one was supposed to be the third. Anyway, I’m back to my other project while I hope the thunder starting to rumble nearby is bringing a good breeze to cool things down. And, failing that, maybe have a little ice cream.


( Close up of ice cream – Depositphotos )

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