Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
* 3rd Place Winner *
Do You Trust Me by Annette Robinson
Some people write characters with such heart and honest vulnerability, you can’t help but like the writing. I can’t anyway.
Annette puts in the emotion, but in a range: comedy, with the friend, and melancholy. I don’t like sad stories per se, but I like when a writer “goes there.”
It takes guts. Annette showed she has guts. The characters read real and true to me – and as Hemingway said, write the truest sentence you know. I don’t know what he meant but he shot himself in the head so I’m not sure you wanna follow all his advice anyway.
Annette will receive THIS prize package valued at over $50:
WriteMind author’s idea management and project organizing system ($19.99 Digital Printable Version) from Perry Elisabeth Design
$10 Amazon gift card, compliments of ME
Publication of their winning piece on this website
Signed copies of a multi-book package from several published authors who graciously donated their books to our contest.
A guest blog post or author profile to appear on this site
also bragging rights because why not, but try not to outbrag the first and second place winners, okay?
HERE are some of the AMAZING AUTHORS whose books will be in these prize packages
Allison Maruska, The Fourth Descendant, the Project Renovatio trilogy
With over 550 reviews on Amazon, a signed copy of Allison’s runaway bestseller The Fourth Descendant should be part of any book lover’s collection.
Allison’s amazing Project Renovatio trilogy has captivated audiences around the world. You want to win that, too.
Hugh Roberts, Glimpses
28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns. You REALLY wanna win that!
Is murder, sex, buried bank loot and legends of UFOs your cup of tea? Or maybe a clueless optimist who “ruins a perfectly good hell” Phillip T. Stephens offers crime, dark fantasy, young adult – and a good dose of humor.
Love letters are a nearly lost art form, but they are the easiest and least costly way to show your partner love and romance. Plus, it’s quick to do! I’m a fan of quick!
24 Romantic Date Night Ideas
Jennifer’s beautiful companion book is a terrific way to round out your romantic evening.
Come on, who doesn’t enjoy a fairy story? Plus, it’s set in Florida, a win-win. Then along comes a primeval nymph, who explains young Abby’s true destiny is to protect the nymphs from evil in an ever-changing modern world.
T. A. Henry, Scripting The Truth
Any story that takes place in post-WWII Britain and has the phrase “She’ll try to do it all while trying to keep the seams on her stockings straight” has to be read. You’ll agree.
and of course, ME
A few folks will be selected to receive a signed paperback of my hilarious sexy romp through Italy. It’s not available in stores yet, so these will be hot commodities. Probably.
A few other folks will win my amazing sci fi thriller The Navigators as a signed paperback or an eBook. Don’t even ask me if I’ll sign the eBook. Just. Don’t.
When I post their stories, I will tell you a little about why they won, and more about how tough the decision process was.
And now, the 3rd Place Winner in Dan Alatorre’s Word Weaver Writing Contest
Do You Trust Me
She ruined my anniversary, and not for the first time. Her various crises often coincided with dinners out, vacations, and now our weekend away. Step children. At twenty they were supposed to be able to run their own lives, but not her. She ran to her father whenever something went wrong, and he never refused her.
“What is it this time?” I asked him as I folded my clothes neatly into my small suitcase, trying hard to keep the high pitched tone out of my voice.
“She has to leave her apartment and… well…” He scratched his hairline in a familiar gesture denoting discomfort.
I turned to face him, fists on the curves of my waist. “No, don’t tell me. It will just make me more mad.”
Red imprints of my nails remained on my palms as I wadded up a nightgown and deposited it into the case with uncharacteristic carelessness. His daughter and his attitude toward her were not the only contributors to my anger. Our plans had already needed adjustment due to a work conference I couldn’t refuse. We had compromised and had decided to travel together and stay an extra night in the hotel to celebrate. It wasn’t ideal, or what I would have chosen, but I had gotten used to it, until my step daughter’s urgent plea. Step daughter turned out to be an accurate description. She always stepped in and messed up something.
“Isn’t your friend from work going to be there? You could make it a girl’s thing.” He handed me a skirt I had laid out on the bed.
My frown and narrowed eyes met with his quick, downward glance. “I don’t think you want to entrust me to Stephanie and her idea of a girl’s night out. If you want us to stay married, that is.”
“But I trust you.”
He was trying his hardest to make up, and because of it I softened the frown and unclenched my teeth. Trust. A word we had cultivated between us as meticulously as a precarious orchid, because the lack of it had brought us together. Ten years ago we were with other people who decided they loved each other better than they liked us. We were the cheated on partners who gravitated toward each other after the betrayal and recriminations and the depression wore off. In the end, it turned our to be a good decision for me. No, it was the best decision. But, the trust came slowly.
His warm fingers brushed my elbow. “I’m really sorry, but she sounded so desperate on the phone.”
I had picked up his cell phone and answered for him. The desperation he described must have happened after I handed it to him because her voice sounded normal to me, a fact I could have pointed out but decided not to.
I glanced at my watch. “I have to go.”
He helped me zip the suitcase. “Let me drive you.”
“Don’t bother. I’ll get a cab.”
“It’s no bother but okay.”
He shrugged and his eyes widened on purpose, the same way he knew I liked, even before we got together, when he was merely the fiancee of my best friend. It made him look like a lost sheep. He swallowed and tried to hug me but instead of helping I imagined it was like embracing a posed mannequin.
“I’ll see you Sunday.” His spoke next to my ear.
I waved behind my shoulder and didn’t look back. Even though my conscience pricked me in the center of my forehead, I couldn’t control my impatient, aggressive stride, hips swaying and heels clacking on the wood floor.
It had been raining all day and snow was predicted for the weekend. I pulled the collar of my coat around my neck, glad at least I would escape the winter for a few days. The weather report for Orlando promised mild temperatures and sunshine.
Stephanie met me at the airport in Newark, late as usual. Perspiration clung to her hairline despite the chilly air, and she had a run in one stocking.
“I can’t believe they wouldn’t let me mail my Swiss army knife. I forgot I had it in my pocketbook.” She lifted one hand, open palmed. “Security said there’s no mailboxes in the entire airport.”
“What did you do with it?”
She smiled in her crooked way due to her slightly misaligned front teeth. “I found a display of dusty packages of nuts in one of those kiosk things and hid it way in the back.”
I scrunched up my nose. Only Stephanie would think of that. “Someone might take it, right?”
“I doubt it.” She glanced behind her. “Where’s Brian?”
“He’s not coming,” I answered her, my voice flat. “His daughter called.”
She took out her mirror and examined her lips. “What? Again?”
I gave her a look that said don’t ask. She applied a layer of lipstick on her already glistening pink mouth. “And after you upgraded your room and everything.”
I nodded as she shrugged. “Oh well,” she said. “We can have a girl’s night tomorrow after the conference.”
“That’s what Brian said.”
She snapped the lid of her mirror closed. “Wow, he must trust you.”
We didn’t have our seats together, having waited too long to book the tickets, but the price outweighed the inconveniences. After settling our bags at the hotel we both decided we were starving and walked to a Hawaiian style hamburger restaurant where Stephanie promptly ordered a drink and complained about her seat companion who never stopped talking and took up the whole armrest.
I let her ramble on after we ordered salads. Her story only required an occasional noncommittal response by me at the few times she paused. My attention was drawn to the bar where several business types were engrossed in a sports game. They were probably attendees of the conference as well. As my interest waned, one of them sitting at the far end of my line of sight, turned his head. I stopped breathing. The way his hair curled over his collar and the curve of his hand around the martini glass was nearly identical to the mannerisms of my ex-husband. But it couldn’t be him. His job was in accounting, thanks to me who put him through school, so why would he be at a customer service seminar? I strained my eyes but he leaned toward the bar, obscuring my view.
“What’s the matter? Did you see a ghost?” Stephanie gripped my cold hand.
“No… just thought I recognized someone.”
I hesitated and bit the inside of my lip. “My ex.”
Stephanie’s nostrils flared as if she smelled something bad. “Is it him?”
By the time I looked back, the man had disappeared. Maybe I conjured him up in my imagination. “He’s gone.”
“Probably some other jerk.” She signaled the server for another drink. “What attracted you to him in the first place?”
“He smooth talked me.” I put down the fork. “You know, one of those that had a good line.”
She took such a deep drink from her glass I thought she might choke. “Don’t they all.”
The seminar proved to be as dry and boring as I predicted. At least they covered everything in one day and the bank paid for it all except a surcharge for the better room. It would have been nice to share it with Brian. He hadn’t contacted me except for a brief text message inquiring if I arrived safely, which I returned with a terse reply.
Stephanie wore a skirt and blouse a size too tight, but it attracted the man sitting next to her. She introduced me as her colleague, a thing I overlooked when we took business trips together. The fact I was a few rungs up in the ladder didn’t need to be mentioned and had never affected our friendship since her group wasn’t in my immediate supervision. We became close after the abandonment of my first husband with my best friend. Two loses instead of one. Stephanie reminded me so much of her, so spontaneous and exciting to be around. She had helped me recover from it all, but I held her at arm’s length from Brian. I had learned that lesson the hard way.
“Let’s get a drink.” Stephanie took my arm and led me away from the conference room. She dumped her agenda in the nearest trash bin.
“Is your friend coming?” I gestured toward the man who’s name I had forgotten.
“I said it loud enough for him to hear. There’s no need to be overanxious.” She smiled in a way that softened her features and showed off her perfect nose. “All part of my strategy.”
As all of us crowded into the two open doorways, I saw him again, the man from the restaurant. He stood a short distance and a few people in front of me, with the same men as before, but as he turned… it was him. It had been seven years, no eight, since I last saw him. The wrinkles had deepened and his cheeks were a darker shade of red from the drink, but the thick, golden blonde hair remained, as did his compact, confident gait. I gripped Stephanie’s hand.
“It’s him,” I hissed in a harsh whisper. “It’s Howard.”
“Are you sure?”
She steered me toward the other door. “Hurry up. You need a drink more than I do.”
I didn’t want to sit at the bar but Stephanie made me because she said her seat companion might be too intimidated to join us at a table. I gulped a glass of white wine too quickly and ordered another. Sure enough, the man she flirted with all afternoon came in to the overcrowded bar and she waved him over. As soon as she turned her back, I escaped into the ladies room.
A wave of nausea struck my stomach as the unanswered questions flooded my mind. What had brought Howard here, an accountant? Fate, design or accident? Maybe I flattered myself, thinking he followed me here. It had been so many years, he might just have a new position in finance. Whatever the reason, I had no intention of making my presence known or interest in even saying hello to him.
The splash of cold water on my face and deep breaths slowed the fast heartbeat. If we did come across each other, he might not even recognize me. Thirty pounds lighter since we had been together, due to my punishing workouts. I was plain Melissa now. His nickname for me no longer fit. Moo Lissa. I hadn’t realized how much the taunt hurt until he left me. Brian called it a form of abuse.
Brian. The anger had dissipated leaving only a heaviness in the back of my throat. I blotted the drips of water off my forehead and left the safety of the bathroom.
Stephanie’s friend stood beside her, his hand on the back of the barstool. She had two empty glasses in front of her and one full one. Unlike me, she drank vodka, straight up. I touched her shoulder, told her I was going to my room and walked out before she could reply.
The lobby contained a thin crowd of people and as far as my furtive glances could tell, Howard was not among them. A long bath and room service sounded wonderful.
Several people entered the elevator with me, some of them holding folders from the conference and talking about the theme of the program. I pushed the button to my floor thinking about taking off my shoes as soon as possible. After the tenth level, I was alone. It stopped on eleven. Howard walked in.
I fumbled in my pocketbook, avoiding eye contact. Don’t panic… don’t panic… don’t—.
Panic. Now’s your chance to look him straight in the eye and tell him he’s a bastard. “Hi,” I said to the wall.
The doors opened and I bolted like a horse from a burning stall.
“Wait.” He pursued me. I dropped the card to my room. He picked it up but held onto it. “You look fantastic.”
Obviously he hadn’t read the self help books that said the best revenge was living well. A thank you came to my lips but I bit it back.
“Can we talk in your room for a few minutes?”
I grabbed the card from his hand. “Absolutely not,” I almost shouted.
He took a few steps back, his hands outstretched. I put the card in the reader backward, my fingers unsteady. Before I could turn it around the familiar scent of him filled my nose.
“Look, I just want to say I’m sorry for the way I treated you.” He paused as I pushed the door open slightly.
His eyes were as blue as I remembered, but they no longer had the ability to cause that melting feeling that always used to hit me in the right places.
He blinked. “She left me two months ago.”
I breathed out hard. All the scenarios I had fantasized about evaporated, the laugh, the satisfying retorts, the slap to the face, the I told you so’s. “Get the hell away from me.”
The door opened from the inside, putting me off balance. Brian stood on the threshold wrapped in a towel, his reading glasses half way down his nose in the same way as when he gave a lecture to his students. “Can I help you, Howard?”
My ex-husband’s mouth dropped a little, and his swagger lost some of his self assurance as he backed away. He might have murmured something but in my shock, it didn’t register. The smell of roses wafted toward me from a huge arrangement on the dresser. I leaned against the closed door, kicked off my shoes and hugged him. “How?” The only word I managed.
His daughter? But…? I opened my mouth, then closed it. He pulled at my elbow, so I followed him and sat on the bed. One side was turned down with a book upended on the sheet. He continued in lecture mode, despite the towel.
“We had a long talk after I got there, mostly about how she needed to take more responsibility for her choices and not depend on me when the slightest problem comes up. This time it wasn’t an emergency at all.”
Big surprise there, but I stayed quiet. “She cried and promised to do better.” He blinked hard. “Then she mentioned she had spoken to, you know, my ex, and found out about her separation from Howard.” He purposely didn’t speak her name, a condition of our relationship we had set up shortly after getting together. “Apparently, she told Emily he had been following you on the bank’s employee Facebook page and knew about the conference, so I flew in this morning.”
Oh no, this looked bad. Even though the role of victim belonged to me, Howard was outside my hotel room door. A heavy feeling descended to the bottom of my stomach, like I had eaten a carb laden Italian meal. I tapped my teeth together in a nervous gesture from my childhood and faced him, allowing my skirt to ride up my thighs at the same time. A little leverage always helped.
“He followed me out of the elevator,” I blurted out. “He wanted to come in but I said no. I promise you, I had no intention of letting him in.”
He stopped pacing and sat down next to me. Never one to tease, especially at such a moment, he regarded me with the sheep eyes again. “I know.”
He came closer. I smelled shampoo and shaving cream. “Because I trust you.” His kissed my cheek. “After what happened with Howard, you told me you could never inflict that misery on another person, especially one you loved.” He squeezed my hand. “Besides…”
“I heard you shouting.”
I breathed out and a sense of well being filled my lungs with the next breath. We were no longer the discarded, left over remnants of an affair. We had a precious something between us Howard and my ex best friend never would—trust.
It has been my pleasure to showcase these amazing writers. Look for interviews and more on them in the upcoming weeks.
Why did it win? What spoke to me?
The opening line: she ruined my anniversary. Heck, you have to read a little bit just to see who did it and why – and next thing you know you’re hoping the little brat gets what’s coming to her.
Great characters. The friend was great. The MC was a bit sullen but she showed her pain and insecurity – as real as anything.
Emotion, gang. A reader identifying with a character and then suffering along with them, that makes for great stories. And it doesn’t have to be suffering, but in this case it was. (I loved the part about hiding the knife in a dusty box at the kiosk).
If you liked this story, please share it on StumbleUpon and other social media so our winners can get the recognition they deserve.
Tomorrow, the two 4th place winners in the Word Weaver Writing Contest:
Travelling Man by Adele Marie Park
High Desert Plateau by Richard Ewald
If you would like to sponsor our July 2017 Word Weaver Writing Contest and get this kind of exposure for your book or a product or service beneficial to authors, please contact me.