March 5, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Writing Prompt and Short Story – March 5th, 2017
Writing Prompt and Short Story
The first thing I learned about writing is how to hook your reader. I am as guilty as most readers are. If I am not interested in the story by the end of the first page, I will stop reading the book. I have been wrong, on occasion, and picked up a book I disregarded at a later date and absolutely loved it. But a great first line, first paragraph, goes a long way into getting readers to keep reading your book.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. –Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
There is something perfect about the sentence and why the book has been loved for over 200 years.
Writing prompts are a great way to practice writing a reader-catching hook. You are provided with a line, a picture, a concept and you have to create a story from scratch that jumps into the action from the start. It’s a wonderful way to teach yourself the concept while writing.
Below is another of my short stories from a writing prompt.
© 2017 Valerie Ullmer
As she stopped to catch her breath, she looked back to see if he was still chasing her; she couldn’t see him or sense him near but she knew he could be waiting right around the corner waiting to attack her. Nola knew she should have left him a long time ago but she thought that she loved him. She should have realized that he was always teetering on the edge of hurting her and she left when he tried to raise his hand to her, but she knew now that if he got her hands on her, he was going to kill her.
After several months of being stuck in a relationship where he limited her interactions with her friends, she had no one to turn to and she couldn’t ask for help from a long-ago friend because it was unfair to them, she could also put their lives in danger and she would never do that.
She turned the corner, wading in with the crowd, when she felt someone grasp her arm hard and yank her back, almost dislocating her shoulder. She looked up to see Ted’s furious face and she glanced in time to see a knife in his right hand. But before she could scream, a large shadow came out of nowhere and knocked the knife out of his hand before pinning him against the wall, the larger man’s forearm placed firmly on his throat.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” the large man growled. His voice was so ferocious that she took a step away from him as her mind screamed for her to stay close to him.
“It’s none of your business, she belongs to me and she’s not getting away,” Ted choked.
The large man’s face grew even fiercer as he stared Ted down. “You’re going to leave her alone. She’s dead to you, as far as you know. If you don’t, I’ll kill you, you understand?”
Ted realized that this man who as taller than him by at least five inches, muscular and fit, and had the means to back up what he was said so he nodded in agreement. “I’ll leave her alone,” he squeaked.
The large man let him down and watched him as he ran down the street and around the corner.
Nola put her hand on her throat, trying to keep her body from shaking as the fear left her. She tensed again when she realized that Ted would never give up, she needed to get out of town and make a new life. What if he never stopped trying to get to her?
She looked up at the tall man ready to thank him and run, but he gently grabbed her hand and walked her down the street silently and into an opulent hotel lobby. He kept her hand in his as he walked toward the elevator, in the elevator to the penthouse, and then into his hotel room. He sat her down on the couch and opened a bottle of water, handing it to her, before joining her on the couch.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Nola,” she whispered.
She froze. She wondered why he wanted to know but she didn’t know if it mattered or not so she decided to tell him. “My name is Nola Ford.”
“I’m Rider Hamilton. What happened out there Nola?”
She looked down, ashamed to be admitting this but he’d saved her life so the least she could do was tell him the truth.
“I started dating Ted about eight months ago and we slowly became more and more serious until he moved in with me last month. That’s when he started to become abusive, emotional at first but tonight he, well, he took a swing at me and I knew that I needed to get out. You saw the rest,” she said.
“He never hit you?” he asked.
“No, I wouldn’t have stayed. He was angry at me tonight for something I refused to do,” she said.
“What?” he asked.
She blushed and was reluctant to tell him the reason but she already admitted the worst of it so she shrugged and told him. “He wanted to have sex with me and I said no.”
He swallowed, hard, before asking, “Have you ever had sex?”
“No,” she told him honestly. “It just never felt right with him. I think that I knew it was a problem, but I was stupid. He was the first man who paid any attention to me and I was so lonely that I grabbed on to him before I questioned whether I should.”
She sipped on her water and looked at Rider, wondering why he would get involved with a nobody like her. He was a very handsome man; he had beautiful light blue eyes that were in contrast to his black hair that was styled short, but messy. She could tell he was all muscle from his wide shoulders, his flat stomach and long legs. He was every woman’s fantasy and she was confused by why he saved her, but she knew it was time to go. She needed to make a plan to get her life in order; at least she grabbed her laptop and her latest manuscript before she left, the rest meant nothing to her.
She stood up. “Thanks for your help but I have to go.” She walked toward the door.
He was quicker than she was and when she reached the door, he blocked her way out by putting himself between her and the door, his hands resting lightly on her shoulders, sending sparks throughout her body and she shivered.
“I think you should stay here, at least for tonight, and we’ll figure out everything else in the morning,” he said.
“I…I don’t know you and you don’t need me invading your space. I’ll find somewhere else to stay tonight…” started to say but he cut her off when he cupped his hand around her neck and she sucked in a startled breath. Her eyes darted around, not knowing what to say or do so she just stood there, shocked that this man’s warm, gentle hand was on her neck.
His other arm wrapped around her waist and he pulled her into a hug, sending electrical pulses running through her body as she flushed. This was intimate and she wasn’t used to a gentle touch so her brain short circuited.
“You’ll be safe here with me. You won’t have to worry that that asshole will find you and break down your door and even if he does, I’ll be here to protect you, I promise.”
He sounded so sincere that her body became limp with relief and he easily took her weight, scooping her up and carrying her to the bedroom.
“The bathroom is through there,” he pointed. “There’s a new toothbrush and towels for a shower. Take your time and call me when you’re through.”
She nodded and walked slowly towards the bathroom, relieved that she had a little distance from Rider and her sudden need to crawl on his lap and forget the last year of her life. She sighed after she brushed her teeth longer than was absolutely necessary before hopping into the shower and letting the warm water cascade down her body. After she cleaned herself, she felt more relaxed and quickly dressed, forgoing her underwear; she threw that in a pocket of her messenger.
She opened the door and was about to call Rider when she noticed him lying on the bed, his arms behind his head, staring at her. He patted the bed on the other side of where he was and she walked around the foot of the bed to her side. He pulled down the covers and she sank into the warm, comfortable bed and curled into a ball, loving the surrounding warmth from the bed. He covered her but stayed above the covers as he reached to turn off the light.
“Sleep, Nola, you’ll be okay.” His deep voice reverberated throughout her body.
“Thank you,” she mumbled. She fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
Rider was wide awake as a sense of relief washed over him. Nola had trusted him enough to sleep next to him and judging by the dark circles under her beautiful brown eyes, she hadn’t slept much lately.
His eyes had immediately found her in the crowd as he was walking back to the hotel from meeting friends for dinner. She was beautiful, her long curly brown hair swayed near her curvy hips and her body was lush, soft and he felt a strong desire to bury himself deep inside of her and claim her as his. Then, she glanced behind her and the fear in her eyes had him charging forward, needing to understand what she was afraid of and banish any danger from her life. The glint of the knife from the man glaring daggers at her had scared the shit out of him and it was his natural instinct to protect her.
Once he brought her back to his hotel and he sent her in to get ready for bed, his knees gave out, thinking about how close her ex was to killing her on the street. He would’ve never gotten to know her, to touch her. His entire body was on fire for her, but he needed to take it slow, make her trust him more than he needed his next breath. She had come to mean much more to him in a short period of time than he ever thought possible. Before he drifted off to sleep, he got under the covers and pulled her to his side, her head resting on his chest.
Sunlight filtered through the curtains of his hotel room and Rider stirred, feeling comfortably warm with a weight on his chest. That’s when everything from the night before came to him in a rush. Nola.
She curled further into him with a moan before she realized that her hand was caressing his naked chest and she lurched backward, almost completely off of the bed. But he had one arm wrapped around her back and he easily caught her.
He noticed that the dark circles under her eyes were now gone and she had color back in her beautiful face before her cheeks turned red.
“Sorry, sorry Rider, I didn’t mean to maul you in your sleep.” She tried to detach herself from his embrace. As far as he was concerned, she was exactly where she needed to be.
He pulled her head back in his chest and she tentatively put her hand on his chest, balancing herself but not pushing back. He smiled.
“I should go,” she whispered.
“Do you have to go to work?” His words were to stall her. He wasn’t ready to let her go.
“No, I can work from anywhere. I brought my laptop with me last night when I fled,” she said.
He nodded at her comment but his brain was working on something that to him was a perfect solution to her problem. He was heading back home to California tonight; he was only in New Orleans for a class reunion and now she needed to get away from that asshole from last night, it was the perfect solution for her to go home with him.
“I have an idea.” He rubbed her back, trying to relax her into accepting his embrace.
She looked up, curious, but said nothing. Her eyes told him that she was enjoying his hand on her body but she didn’t want to admit it.
“I’m leaving tonight to go back home, you could come with me,” he said.
She shook her head and she got out of bed before he could reach her. He sat up, stunned when she refused to go with him. He wasn’t going to get to know her like he’d planned and disappointment tightened his chest.
“I can’t do that,” she shook her head, “invade your life like that. I appreciate all you’ve done for me but I have to go now.” She searched around for her messenger bag but before she found it, he had wrapped his arms around her, his chest to her back and tried to get his breathing back to normal after the panic he felt when she got out of bed.
He couldn’t explain the need to have her in his life and his need to protect her from her ex. He had never been possessive about any woman, serious relationship or casual acquaintance, but now, he felt exactly that. He needed to possess her but also keep her safe, as if her happiness was tied directly to his own.
He turned her around so he could see her reaction. She was tempted by his offer but also scared. He needed to find a way to convince her it was for the right reasons. Hell, he needed to get to know this woman.
“You will be safe with me. We’ll go back to your place and pack a suitcase and everything else you might need. We’ll ship things if we need to. You can stay with me until things cool down here and then we can make decisions later. After what I saw last night, I don’t think he’s going to let you go without a fight and with this plan you’ll be in California with me and out of harm’s way. It’s not an invasion, I want you to come home with me.” The sincerity in his voice gave her pause.
“Why?” she asked.
He could have lied, telling her that it was for unselfish reasons but his reasons were for his sanity, to know that this beautiful woman who didn’t have an ounce of conceit was near so he could protect her, keep her safe.
“I need to know that you’re okay. I don’t know if he has the resources to find you but I could protect you, I could keep you safe,” he said.
She looked as though she wanted to accept, to finally feel safe after the hell that her ex put her through but the logical side of her stopped her impulsive need to accept his offer. Her brows drew down, confusion radiating from her, trying to decide what to do.
“It’s not forever.” His mind screamed at him that he wouldn’t be able to let her go.
She looked up at him and made up her mind. “Okay. Then I’m in charge of grocery shopping and cooking every meal as well as cleaning once a week and whatever chores you have to get done until I find somewhere else to stay. I’ll pay rent for the length of time I stay. Deal?” she asked.
“Deal for everything but the rent and the chores. I have a cleaning crew that comes in once a week and they need their salaries,” he said.
She looked uncertain but held her hand out for him to shake. “Not forever, right,” she said.
He grabbed her hand but said nothing.
“Okay, let’s go get your stuff,” he said.
Nola pulled out the ingredients to start dinner in Rider’s huge, modern kitchen, three weeks after she had packed up her life in Louisiana and moved to Del Mar, California, and wondered how to broach the subject of moving out on her own.
She had been surprised when he pulled into the driveway of a very beautiful and secluded house in the hills, surrounded by lush greenery. The smell of the ocean hit her as she got out of the car and she immediately fell in love with the area.
She balked at staying with him; how could he trust her, a complete stranger, in his beautiful home. She wanted to protest, but he caught her elbow and showed her around his house before showing her to her room, putting down the suitcases they had packed quickly from her one bedroom tiny apartment. Ted had been at work so she had left without a fuss.
Now, she felt safe. She had changed her cell phone number, cancelled the lease on her apartment and practically disappeared from the life she’d known in New Orleans. It was time to move on, maybe get a small place somewhere around here where she could possibly run into Rider from time to time.
He had been nothing but a gentleman toward her while she had wound fantasies around becoming more to him than a responsibility. She would never inspire lust from a man as gorgeous as Rider, but her dreams told her differently. She knew that she needed to get away, to stop pining for a man who would only see her as broken.
“Rider, dinner,” she called as she set the plates on the table.
She found out that he worked from home; he was a talented independent computer programmer who contracted out his work and made a lot of money at it. He worked most of the time but when they were together, he would look as though he wanted to tell her a secret but he’d never let anything slip.
Sometimes she would catch him watching her as she cooked or worked on her latest book, but she could never interpret what his look had meant. They had talked as though they’ve known each other most of their lives, but she could also tell he was pulling away from her. Realization had dawned on her that he worked hard at avoiding her and that’s when she had made the decision to move out. She didn’t want to overstay her welcome.
She heard his footsteps on the stairs as she went to get the pitcher of tea and two glasses filled with ice. She brought everything back to the table and waited until he was eating to broach the subject of moving out.
“I found a really nice apartment near the beach and I was wondering if you could look at it and tell me what you think?” she asked.
He stopped eating and put down his fork. He didn’t say anything before he put his hands to his temples and rubbed as if he was trying to get rid of a headache.
“You know the area so I was thinking you could give me your opinion. You don’t have to go and see it, I have it bookmarked online.”
He shook his head as if he debated with himself over what he should tell her and when he looked into her eyes, his face was fierce and his eyes sparked.
“Fuck it, I’ve been patient,” he said.
She was confused by his statement and sat, shocked by his reaction to her question. That was when he reached for her, pulling her onto his lap. His breath brushed her face as he lowered his lips to hers, slowly at first but when his lips touched hers, he deepened the kiss until she moaned into his mouth.
He stood up and picked her up in his arms. He ran up the stairs into his bedroom and before he slid his warm hands underneath her shirt, lifting it up and over her head.
“I was trying to give you time.” He kissed her while his hands unhooked her bra, slowly sliding it off her body before he cupped her breasts, causing her to moan.
“But I can’t wait any longer, I need to be inside of you,” he growled.
He removed the rest of her clothing and his before picking her up and gently laying her down on the bed. He kissed her with all the passion she had dreamed about and she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down on top of her.
“God, yes,” she hissed.
He kissed down her neck, pausing to pay attention to her nipples before traveling down to the center of her core.
“Open up for me,” he groaned.
His hands parted her thighs and his large finger brushed against her and came away with her wetness that he promptly sucked into his mouth. His face in ecstasy at her taste had made her body shake, anticipation of what was to come pushing her to the ragged edge.
“Rider, I need you,” she moaned.
His eyes held hers as he leaned forward for more than a taste; he sucked her clit into his mouth and her hips shot off of the bed before he put his large hands on her hips and pressed her down into the mattress as he feasted on her. Her untried body quickly shivered, close to the precipice of her first ever orgasm as she moaned his name, over and over again, until her body snapped, shaking in an orgasm so powerful that she lost consciousness for a few seconds, coming back when he kissed up her body.
He covered her mouth with his own and when she tasted herself on his lips, her hips rose of their own accord, wanting him to ease the ache that had returned with a vengeance. She felt his large erection on her thigh and with little patience she wrapped her legs around his waist and ripped her mouth from his.
“Now, Rider, please.”
His fingers ran through her hair, holding her head still as he looked into her eyes.
“You’re mine, Nola, forever. I was trying to be patient until you got over your asshole of an ex but you’re not moving out.” he growled.
She was shocked at his words but the realization that she loved him sent shivers down her body. Any life with Rider would be heaven.
“Okay, Rider,” she whispered and lifted her head to kiss him.
He wasn’t finished. He shifted his hips, making her moan when she felt his hardness brush against her.
“And you’re going to marry me,” he stated emphatically.
She gasped at his statement. “Yes.”
He kissed her then but wouldn’t take her as she wanted.
“Please, Rider, I need you inside of me. Now,” she begged.
He teased her with light kisses on her neck, her cheeks before lightly brushing his mouth against hers.
“I love you, Nola.”
“Oh, God.” She started crying. She held onto him, wrapping her arms around him and burying her face in his neck while she crushed him to her. She sobbed into his shoulder and repeated his name over and over.
“I love you too Rider, so much.”
He pulled back to look at her face and brushed away the tears.
“Why did you want to move out?”
“I knew that I loved you but I thought you took me in because you felt sorry for me,” she said.
“I fell in love with you the first morning you woke up in my arms and I knew then I could never let you go. It scared me when you could’ve been taken away from me before I had a chance to get to know you,” he groaned as he again brushed against her.
“Please, please, I need you inside of me,” she moaned.
He reached for the drawer but she shook her head, “I’m on the pill but it’s your choice,” she said.
His body vibrated at her statement. “I want to be tied to you in every way possible and for a second, I wanted to make you pregnant.”
Her breath caught at the vision she had of carrying his baby. “I would love to have your baby.”
He growled before he reached down to grasp his erection in his hands and placed the head near her entrance. She was so wet that he went in a few centimeters before pulling back, causing her to moan in frustration. He teased her until she wrapped her legs tightly around his waist and pulled him all the way inside of her. They both froze, Nola feeling wonderfully full and needing him to move and Rider closed his eyes, memorizing the feeling of their first time.
He pulled out slowly before slamming back down into her, causing both of them to moan as he continued his motion, in and out, in and out, until she splintered apart in his arms, his mouth slamming back onto hers, swallowing her moan. He completely lost it and brought his hips flush with hers as he released into her.
“Oh, fuck, Nola.”
She held him tight until their bodies had stopped quivering and he rolled to his side, pulling her to lie on top of his chest. She felt a tear slip down her cheek, happy to be in Rider’s arms.
“Are you okay, sweetheart?”
“I’m happy,” she replied as she hugged him closer.
He kissed her, hard. “You have to marry me, soon.”
“I would love to marry you. Whenever you want to.”