Deborah Armstrong

Family Photos

Deborah's Diary

No – this isn’t what you think. I’m not posting about family photographs or family stuff or Christmas for that matter. An idea for a story hit me this week and I’ve been toying with it. Work has come to a standstill. Laundry is piling up and the vacuum is asking to be let out from the closet. Thank goodness for frozen food and canned soup or else the natives would be banging at my office door. I’ve posted the first six chapters on my Authonomy Website. For those of you who don’t or can’t get to that site, here is the first chapter for you. If you’d like to read more, please register as a follower on my blog. I know you’re reading my posts. If I’m brave enough to post them, won’t you be brave enough to admit it publicly?

Tiegan wants this finished over the Christmas holidays. Don’t blame me if my work doesn’t get done. I write for her.

Chapter One
Molly sat at a table in the local coffee shop sipping at her double Americano as she watched the thunderstorm outside. Sheets of rain pelted down onto the street, soaking pedestrians and causing mini flash floods on the sidewalk.

The forecast hadn’t called for rain today. It was obvious since very few of the people outside were carrying umbrellas. Those who had the time to wait it out ducked into the coffee shop for refuge. Molly was lucky. She’d been sitting at her table for the last hour or so drinking coffee and thinking about nothing in particular. She liked days like these when she had no place in particular to be and no where she wanted to go.

“Is this seat taken?” a warm voice asked her, sending shivers up her spine.

Molly looked away from the window to find a rain soaked man standing by the empty chair at her table. Water dripped from his leather coat as he held his steaming cup of coffee in one hand and a guitar case in the other.

“No,” she answered quickly. “Please take it.”

“Thanks,” he said appreciatively as he leaned his guitar case against the window, took off his coat and sat down at the table. “I didn’t know they were calling for rain today,” he said, sounding slightly pissed off.

“It wasn’t called for, but this area is known for freak thunderstorms this time of year. Sorry,” Molly apologized as though the weather were her fault. “The locals don’t go anywhere without their umbrellas.” She nodded to one sticking out of her bag.

“So I guess you can tell who the tourists are by the ones who are soaked?” he smiled at her sheepishly.
Molly returned his smile, “Most of the time, yes.” She held out her hand to him, “Welcome to Ingledale. My name is Molly MacGuire.”

“Jack Thomas,” he said as he shook her hand.

Jack tried no to stare at the woman sitting across from him but her beauty was hard to ignore. Her long blonde hair fell in waves past her shoulders. Her eyes were pale blue, set perfectly in a face that was slightly round with unblemished snow white skin. It was her disarming smile that pulled him in instantly.

Maggie couldn’t help but take stock of the man looking at her. She was immediately drawn to his eyes. She had never seen grey eyes before. His face was chiselled with a boyish smile. His head was covered by a mop of dark hair. One ear had a gold stud in it.

“So you’re a tourist? “Molly asked as she realized they’d been staring at each other for too long.

“No touring. I’m here for a few days then moving on.” Jack looked out the window at the deluge. “I’m supposed to be somewhere right now.”

“Somewhere important?” Molly asked, almost disappointed that he should be anywhere but sitting across from her.

“Yes,” he said softly then shook his head and looked back at her. “But it can wait. They’ll call me when they realize I’m late.”

“They?” Molly asked with great interest.

“My band,” Jack nodded toward his guitar case. “I’m late for rehearsal.”

“So you’re a real musician?” she raised her eyebrow.

“I guess you could say that,” he chuckled. His mouth opened to elaborate then he stopped as he realized that she probably had no idea who he was.

“What about you? What do you do in Ingledale?”

“I own the local bar, MacGuire’s. It’s across the street from the theatre. If you’d kept walking you’d have walked right past it.”

“If you own your own place, what are you doing in here?” he asked, intrigued.

“Change of scenery,” Molly leaned in toward him as if confessing a secret. “It’s a different crowd in here. Sometimes I need the quiet.”

Molly didn’t explain that MacGuire’s was a busy and noisy hang out for the university crowd. The food was good and the beer was reasonably priced, a must for that crowd.

“I like a change of scenery, too,” Jack agreed. “That’s why I got caught in the rain.”

“Rain’s supposed to be good luck,” Molly said as though it were a matter of fact.

“Do you think so?” He agreed silently. What great luck it was to have opted to walk to the theatre instead of taking the limo.

“Yes, I do,” Molly drained her coffee cup. “It washes away the old and lets new things begin afresh. Have you ever watched the sun come out after a thunderstorm and marvelled at how everything is different? The air is cleaner, the temperature changes, even the birds sing a different tune.”

“Not to mention the beautiful rainbows,” Jack offered.

“And the rainbows,” Molly agreed.

He nodded to her empty cup. “Would you like another? My treat.”

Molly smiled at him, “Please. Double Americano. No sugar.”

“You like the strong stuff I see,” Jack chuckled. “My mom likes it strong, too.”

“It’s the only way to drink coffee.”
Molly watched Jack as he took their empty cups to the counter and ordered two Americanos. He was about six foot three inches with broad shoulders and a lean body. He wore a white shirt and baggy jeans.
What a waste, Molly thought, I bet he’s got a gorgeous ass.

Jack knew he was being ogled as he leaned into the counter to place his order. He was used to it. He’d learned from his dad that it came with the territory. But for some reason he hoped Molly liked what she saw.

“They’ll stare at you and undress you with their eyes, Jack,” he remembered his dad telling him, “Let them. As long as you have one woman who wants you for who you are inside, the rest won’t matter.”

Jack returned to the table with the coffee.

“It seems like you come here a lot,” he said to her as he placed her cup down in front of her. “You forgot to tell me you liked cream with it.”

Molly looked into her cup. “Thank you, “she said as she saw the cream coloured coffee.

“You’re welcome.” Jack caught himself staring at her. God, she was beautiful. She wore a bit of make-up just enough to highlight her eyes and add color to her full lips.

“Are you in a band?” Molly asked him.

“Like a bar band?” Jack answered casually.

“Yes. Like a bar band. Sometimes I hire a band for weekends. Is your band any good?”

“You wouldn’t want us,” Jack said to her, shaking his head.

“That bad?” she laughed.

“No. We’re just not playing in bars right now.”

“Still struggling to become famous?”

“Just struggling,” Jack said sadly.

He should have told her who he was. Jack Thomas, lead singer and guitarist of the Dragon Slayers, nominated best new group and album of this year. Their latest single, I’m Lonely had been released just this week and was already in the top ten on the Billboard chart. But the band was struggling to stay together.

“It will work out for you,” Molly said with conviction.

“How do you know that?” he asked her.

“The rain has stopped and there’s a double rainbow outside. Now that has to bring you good luck.”

“Have you always been so upbeat?’ Jack asked Molly, dying to touch her hand and feel her positive energy.
 He was sure she had it flowing through her.

“No,” she shook her head, “but eventually I realized that there was no use in seeing the bad in everything. I figured that if I saw the good in everything then maybe the good would stay with me.”

“You sound like my mom,” Jack said thoughtfully. “She’s the eternal optimist.”

“What about your dad?”

“My mom’s his world. As long as she’s happy, he’s happy.”

“Mmm, sounds romantic,” Molly said dreamily. “You must come from a happy family.”

Jack couldn’t believe his luck. Molly had no clue who he was or who his parents were. His father, Quinn Thomas, was a Hollywood movie star with four Academy Awards for best actor. Even now at age fifty, Quinn Thomas was still one of the top twenty- five sexiest men alive. His mother, Davina Stuart, was a well known author. Their marriage was a Hollywood anomaly. Not only had their marriage lasted twenty-five years, but there had never been one scandal or hint of scandal to hit the tabloids. His parents were hopelessly in love with each other. Jack wanted to find a love like that.

“I do,” he answered. “What about you?”

“My dad died when I was eight. My mom remarried last year and moved away with her new husband. I took over the running of the bar.”

“I’m sorry about your dad,” Jack said softly. “I can’t imagine not having mine around.”

“Oh, he’s around me every day,” Molly said without sadness. “When you come to my bar you’ll see his pictures everywhere. I’ll introduce you to him.”

Molly couldn’t believe the words as they left her mouth. She had never been so brazen in talking to men, unless of course she had the security of her oak bar standing between them.

“Cool,” Jack said eagerly. “I’m looking forward to it.”

His cell phone rang. Jack looked at the display then typed something into it.

“I have to go,” he said reluctantly.

“Drop by my bar and have a drink on the house,” Molly said cheerfully.”If you’ve got your guitar, maybe you can play for us.”

“Maybe I will.” Jack stared at her. He didn’t want to leave this woman. She was pulling him into her and he didn’t want to break the connection. “There’s a concert playing tonight, The Dragon Slayers. Have you heard of them?” He tried to look casual as he waited for her reply.

“I’ve heard of them but I’ve never seen them. Their new single is out this week. It’s something about being lonely I’m not sure what it’s called.”

Jack breathed out a sigh of relief. She was either an excellent liar or she really had no idea who he was.
“It’s called, ‘I’m Lonely’. I have to work at the theatre tonight. If I get you a pass, will you come to the concert? I won’t be able to sit with you, but I’ll see you there. We can go out for drinks or a late dinner afterwards. You can introduce me to your dad.”

Molly couldn’t resist his eyes. They were pleading with her to say yes.

“Yes. I’d love to go. Thank you.”

“Great,” he said, tamping down his excitement. “I’ll have a pass waiting for you at the box office.”

“Are you sure you can do that? I hear the concert’s been sold out.”

“Don’t worry. I can always get someone in.”

Jack stood up from the table and put on his damp coat. He reached for his guitar case. “I’ll see you later, Molly.”

“Bye, Jack. Later.” Molly smiled at him.

She watched him as he made his way along the sidewalk. He walked tall, holding his head high with his shoulders pushed back. Her mother had always told her that men should always walk that way, as though they were challenging the world to take them on. He was soon out of sight but not out of mind. Molly MacGuire had just found someone to occupy her thoughts for the rest of the afternoon.
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