I thought I’d try my hand at a short story challenge!
This challenge comes to you via Didi Oviatt’s lovely blog. Pay her a visit, she’d love to hear from you 🙂
For the month of October, I challenge you writers out there to take the characters from your WIP and plug them into frightening scene with the theme of “bump in the night”. Have fun with it, as it IS a practice writing challenge, meant to polish your skills and introduce your characters in a fun way, apart from their original plot.
This is from Skating on Thin Ice, the story of an injured hockey player and the therapist he doesn’t want. Or does he? 🙂
Now seems like a good time for a cover reveal!
Who goes there?
Sam jerked awake, gasping. Her heart beat an urgent fight or flight warning, hands clenching the down duvet into a hard ball around her neck. She lay there for a moment, trying to hear over the raspiness of her own breathing. Nothing. The house was silent except for that silly cuckoo clock ticking off the endless minutes of the night.
She never slept well in strange places anyway, and today had been particularly stressful. Mac, The Hammer, Wanowski wasn’t making her job easy. He’d made it more than clear what he thought of therapists. Too bad he didn’t have a choice, the team managers called the shots- whether he liked it or not.
There it was again.
An eerie moan accompanied by a scratch, scratch, bam. Scratch, scratch, bam.
If Wanowski thought he was going to get rid of her that easily, he better think again. Sam rolled out of bed and grabbed the first defensive thing she could find, the hard cover book she’d borrowed from the den earlier.
The door creaked like an old woman’s knees, instantly ending any element of surprise she might have had. The hall was dark, quiet. Too quiet.
“Hel… hello?” she asked, her voice little more than a squeak. The book remained clenched to her chest, ready for… who knows what. She wished she hadn’t skipped those self-defense classes her best friend, Grace, had taken.
The hair stood up and tried to run off her neck. Why hadn’t she just stayed in her warm, cozy bed hiding under the pillows like any other scaredy-cat would do?
Sam swallowed hard and stepped into the hall. “Not… not funny, Mac.” A set of glowing green eyes, halfway up the wall, turned her way. Sam screamed.
“What the hell?” Mac hollered from his room upstairs.
Not Mac then.
The clunk of crutches on hard wood floors heralded her host’s arrival. The lights flicked on and Sam got an eyeful of rumpled, annoyed man glaring at her from the head of the staircase. Boxers never looked so good. The random thought warmed her cheeks.
“Do you make a habit of freaking out in the middle of the night? Doc? Because, I gotta tell you, it sucks.”
Embarrassed, she dropped the weapon/book to her side, noticed his narrowed gaze on her chest, and brought it up again. Right, her nightshirt was soft and comfortable, but white, and threadbare in spots.
Sam pointed down the hall. “Something was staring at me out of the wall,” she accused as though it was his fault.
“Ookay.” He looked at her like she was crazy before slowly, carefully making his way down the stairs on that bum knee. She’d feel bad if she didn’t get the feeling he was mocking her.
Mac stopped by the elegant sofa table cleared of everything except for a silver filigree picture frame. He straightened it on the table, his fingers almost caressing.
“Who is that?” Sam asked. She remembered seeing a younger, softer version of Wanowski, a beautiful woman smiling into his eyes, and a little boy in a stroller. His family, maybe? Where were they then?
Mac ignored her to bend at the waist, his broad back glinting under the brass and glass ceiling light. When he rose a big, black cat rested over one muscular forearm.
“I think I found your ghost,” he murmured.
Sam smiled. “He’s gorgeous. Yours?” She moved hesitantly toward them. “Is he friendly?” She’d been bitten by a neighbor’s cat as a child and had never quite recovered from the experience.
Mac nodded, fondling the dark, silky-looking ears. “It’s a she. Cleo. And yes, she’s a pussycat.”
Sam giggled. The man was attractive when he wasn’t being a jerk. “When I heard those bumps in the night I wasn’t expecting a harmless feline. Or a badass hockey player to come to my rescue.”
His lips tilted in an almost smile. “How do you know the cat is harmless?”
Sam shrugged, her own lips flirting with a smile. She noticed he didn’t argue with his description. Badass, indeed. This was going to be an interesting two weeks.