Author, Kelli Evans is here today with the story she saw in this photo. What story does your muse tell you about this picture?
Nora Dumay sat there slowly rolling down the middle of the birch lined lane. The trees mocked her, repeating their black and white markings one after the other leading into what appeared, at first, to be a never ending road to nowhere. She knew better. This was not a road to nowhere. It was a road to her past. It was the road to where she used to call home – and somewhere in her heart of hearts part of her still considered it hers.
She wasn’t going home – not even close. Although she knew that’s what he would think – that’s what AJ would hope was going on. She’d hated to give him that false hope but today it was unavoidable. She had bills and employees to pay. To pay them she needed to get paid herself. To get paid she had to deliver this custom wedding band. To deliver the band she needed to get to Ananke Island. To get to the island she needed a boat and that meant she needed AJ.
Pulling up in front of the house they used to share Nora threw her car in park and turned the ignition off. With one deep breath for luck she climbed out of the car and up the stairs. She skipped the middle step to avoid the groan it would make underfoot.
Then she came face to knocker with the red door. She raised her fist a few times to knock but shied away from it. “There has got to be somebody else.” Nora shook her head and turned around to head back down the steps.
The door creaked open behind her. She cringed and her feet stalled. She couldn’t very well change her mind now. Honestly, she couldn’t afford to change her mind at all. She really didn’t want to do this and if she had any other choice she would surely have taken it – but she didn’t. This was it. He was her only option.
“You always skip the middle step.”
Nora sighed. She hated playing “you always” with him. She didn’t always do anything. To prove her point she turned around and walked back up the steps purposefully stepping on the middle one. But he saw right through that. She could tell by the slight shake of his head and the smirk tugging up the corner of his mouth.
“So what is this, Nora? Is Hell freezing over?”
This was such a bad idea. “Nevermind.” She turned around but stopped this time before she even walked down the steps. This wasn’t just going to burn herself. She was really counting on the sale of this ring and just because she no longer believed in her happily-ever-after didn’t mean that she thought other people didn’t deserve their shot at it.
“I hate it, AJ but I need you.”
He unfolded his arms and all the smirkiness left his face. “Need me, how?”
“I need you to take me to Ananke Island. I wouldn’t ask but I have to get there or I’m not going to be able to get by this month.” And because she knew that AJ was a little bit of a closet romantic she added, “I have to deliver a wedding ring. I’ve asked everyone else with a boat I could think of but no one will take me.”
AJ looked up at the sky, probably trying to gauge how close the severe weather was. Lake Superior was a cold hard bitch and even colder and harder and bitchier during a storm. A graveyard of ships had been laid to rest under her icy waves. Nora did not relish the idea of venturing out on her in potentially dangerous weather but she knew that if she had to, that she would be safer with AJ than anyone else. He was good – he was the best and even if he wasn’t she knew that he would never let anything happen to her.
“Could have done without telling me I was your last pick.”
“I’m serious, AJ. I could really use you right now. “
He narrowed his eyes in thought and looked her as if he were sizing her up. “What do I get out of this?”
Exasperated beyond belief Nora tipped her head back in vexation. Her long curly brown hair trailed down her back behind her. “I don’t know AJ.” She shook her head and looked at him again. “How about just the satisfaction of helping me do something good?”
He came closer to her and she hated the damn thing but her heart kicked. She couldn’t deny he was sexy. He was, with that short buzzed cut honey brown hair, the ever present shadow lining his square jaw line, and those arms … and those green eyes … and that smile… There was definitely sparks here and there always had been but sparks, apparently, just weren’t always enough.
“Yeah.” AJ laughed. “I don’t think so.”
“What do you want?” Nora’s breath held because she knew what he wanted and maybe sometimes really late at night when everything was quiet and dark, a small part of her admitted she wanted it too. It was just never going to happen.
“Quit badgering me about the divorce papers.”
“Fine. Done. If you’ll just promise to eventually sign them.”
He smiled at her in that way she knew was meant to placate her. “And you have to let me take you out-“
“That sounds counterproductive.” Nora gave a derisive snort.
“One last time.” The finality in those words and in his tone felt like a sinking stone. It was what she wanted, to be done and over with, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to sting a little. It must be a little like removing a Band-Aid. The wound might be healed but it still hurt to rip the bandage off.
“Fine,” Nora reluctantly caved. “How soon can you be ready?”
“I’ll meet you at the docks in twenty minutes.”
“Don’t be late.” She’d said it but so had he, at the exact same time, right over top of each other. He smiled at her but the whole thing unnerved her. “I’ll see you.”
Nora walked back down the steps to the driveway. She closed her eyes tightly when she realized she’d skipped over that middle step again. She couldn’t help herself she peeked over her shoulder at AJ who was watching her walk away with a wide grin on his face. She rolled her eyes at him before climbing in her car and starting it back up.
AJ watched her pull out, still smiling and shaking his head at her a little. She hated how sometimes he made her feel cornered. Now she was feeling like even though he was the one doing her this favor that she was doing him one too. She felt as if she was exactly where he wanted her – like she’d walked right into his trap.
Her anxious belly pulled tightly as she drove back down the birch lined lane. There was no doubt in her mind that this was going to be one bumpy ride.
Want more from Kelli? Check out One Lucky Deal.
Now it’s time for you to join in the fun. What does this birch-lined street bring to mind for you?