April 2, 2017 by Valerie Ullmer
Writing Prompt and Short Story – April 2nd, 2017
Writing Prompt and Short Story
The one thing that pulls me into a story more than any other is the characters in the book. If I am drawn to them from the beginning, I am invested in what happens to them until the very end. There have been several books that I’ve read over the years with weak plot points (in which I mean that the story is told as a day in the life of the characters and nothing significant happens and there is no real conflict), but I will read the entire book because the characters and characterization is magnificent.
When I write, yes I do concentrate on my plot points and the conflict in the story, but it is the characters in my head that first spark the idea of the story.
For instance, when I came up with the Dark Assassins series, I hated the fact that vampires were portrayed as dead beings, only interested in blood and sex. They were either vicious (no holds barred when it came to feeding) or sensitive (which you know what YA book I’m talking about). When I developed the vampires in my world, instead of being dead, the venom left them in a form a stasis and while they need blood to survive, when they find their mate, the taste of their blood is addictive and when the human changes, mates can feed off each other. Because of the changes I made to the vampire mythos, Kai, while stand-offish and a killer, finds himself falling for a human.
When I first started writing, I found that while writing prompts gave me the starting point to a short story, I took my time choosing the names of my characters and while I didn’t write it down, gave them a backstory that stayed with me while I wrote. Each time I wrote a short story, I realized that the characters were different from the ones I had developed previously because I took the time to get to know them before I wrote about them. Here is another short story that I wrote where I fell in love with the characters and their story.
© 2017 Valerie Ullmer
When she opened the door, she wished she was anywhere else. The ballroom was extravagantly decorated for her brother’s wedding. Seth and Annabelle went all out for their wedding so there were flowers and decorations as well as the cake that was decorated in their wedding colors.
Zoe had always been the odd one out in her family. Her mom called her quirky and her dad just called her weird. Seth really didn’t speak with her so it was surprising that she was invited to his wedding. She always wanted to connect, to be loved, but her family found her to be a nuisance.
She moved toward the back table, farthest away from her family and the happy couple. She would stay for a little bit and say her goodbyes. She was looking at her parents, very staid, boring people. They hardly ever smiled and they found it hard to like anything other than money and Seth. She was an accident, in every way possible. She needed the courage to get up to speak to her parents and her brother so she could go home to her little cottage, her escape from the constraining life with her family.
“Hey, Zoey,” said a deep voice from beside her.
She closed her eyes when she immediately recognized that voice; Mac, her brother’s best friend. He had always been there to tease her because he was more a part of her family than she was. He was accepted when she wasn’t. She mentally shrugged; she was happy with her career and her independence and after tonight, she wouldn’t have to see her family again for a long, long time.
“Hi, Mac.” She opened her eyes.
“Having fun?” he asked.
“Sure.” She smiled at him to lessen the lie.
“Would you like to dance?”
She shook her head she wanted to get out of here as quickly as possible. She was just biding time until she could make a polite goodbye.
“Sorry, I’m not really in the mood, but thanks for asking.”
She thought the he would move on but instead he pulled up a chair next to her and propped his feet on the chair in front of them. He gave her a once over that made her feel a little warmer than the moment before.
She wore a soft blue and coral gauze dress that made her feel beautiful. It gave her the confidence to see her parents again. She wore her dark hair down and curly and she wore no makeup.
Mac was handsome; her ideal man when she was younger, but they never got along and she knew it was just a dream. He was tall, well over six feet with dark blond hair, piercing green eyes and an easy-going smile. He was even more beautiful in his tux.
His shoulder touched hers as he watched the wedding guests mingle.
“Waiting for the right time to meet with your parents and escape?”
She laughed. He knew her so well.
“I was, yeah, but they seem busy and it’s too early, anyway. I don’t think they even noticed that I attended the ceremony.” She controlled her voice so as not to give her true feelings away.
“I noticed,” he said.
His deep voice sent shivers down her spine. Oh, how she wished to hear him talk to her when he was touching her, better yet, when she was touching him.
She smiled at him but said nothing. She was always aware when he was in the room, any room.
“Your brother is glad you came.”
“I’m happy for him.”
“Are you happy, Zoey?” He was the only person to call her Zoey.
“Yes, I am happy. I have a career I love and my own place. I am happy. Are you?”
“I guess you could say I am. More content.” She glanced at him and noticed a sadness in his eyes but didn’t comment. “Are you going to get married next?”
He laughed. A deep, full laugh the sent a vibration up her spine. She shivered.
“I would have to find someone to put up with me,” he chided.
“There’s someone for everyone.”
“You?” he asked.
“Nope, I’m not really looking either. I’m just happy with my life as it is.”
She noticed his mouth turned down as she said this. That was curious? To be honest, she never had a real boyfriend. Her parents didn’t approve of her dating and she was so busy in college because she wanted to strike out on her own. She concentrated on graduating early instead of dating. She supposed that was odd for a twenty-five-year-old to be a virgin, but she wasn’t in a hurry. Plus, she had wanted Mac for so many years that she dismissed other men who asked her out. He would never know.
“So, if someone asks you out, what do you say?”
“I usually say no,” she said.
“I don’t really know. I haven’t found any man that made my heart race or made me think of him obsessively. Until I do, well, I guess there’s no point.”
He thought about that for a while.
“So, you’re telling me that no man has ever made you feel that way? You haven’t ever…been with a man?” he asked.
“Well, I felt that way, once, a long time ago but no, I haven’t ever ‘been with’ a man,” she admitted.
She looked up and his face was comical. He looked at her with lust and astonishment. She laughed. “What?”
“You…just…admitted,” he stuttered.
“Yeah, that’s always been my problem, I talk too much and most of it inappropriately.” Her honesty had gotten her in trouble more than once in her life, especially around her parents.
She looked at her watch, knowing she’d spent enough time so her parent’s friends wouldn’t talk. She got up and smiled at Mac.
“It was nice seeing you Mac and good luck with finding that special woman. I’m going to say hi and then head out.”
He stood up and hugged her. This was the first time she had touched him and he felt wonderfully strong; all muscle. She took a deep breath and almost melted when she smelled his rich cologne and a scent that was distinctly him. She had to force herself to move away from him.
Mac felt stupid. Why was he standing here against the wall waiting for a woman who was off limits? It was because he just didn’t care anymore. He had kept Zoey at a distance, not even asking about her when she left for college and even after the fact that she never came back to live with her parents. He was tired of trying to stay away from her. Seth was married now and he’d be damned if he couldn’t be with Zoey.
He saw her walking down the hall towards the front doors of the lavish hotel. Her head was down and she walked at a fast clip while her dress flowed behind her. She looked absolutely stunning, but then, she always did. He couldn’t wait to get her alone.
“Zoey.” His voice scratchy with lust.
She looked up and smiled at him.
“Mac, are you stalking single women in the hall?”
“Nah,” he said. “Where are you heading?”
“Um, I was going to head home. What are you doing?”
“Well, nothing, really.”
“Wanna come over for dinner?” she asked. “You haven’t seen my cottage, yet. What do you think?”
He stood straight and had thoughts of Zoey, sweet Zoey, in her house, naked and under him, over him, hell it didn’t matter. He just wanted her. He almost growled his response.
“Sure, that sounds great. Did you drive?”
“No, I took the bus.”
“How about I give you a ride? I just have to stop by my place and change.”
“Okay,” she said.
He offered his arm and she took it. They caught up with each other’s lives as they drove to his house and then to hers. She excused herself to change and he took a look around her place. She loved books; mysteries, horror, sci-fi, but mainly romance. That made him smile. Her small house was how he pictured it. Her living room held overstuffed chairs and a large, deep couch with fleece blankets in different colors that covered them. He was comfortable there.
“What would you like for dinner?” she asked, coming back into the room.
He almost lost his cool as he glanced over at her; she changed into a bright pink tank top and black pants. Her feet were bare and her beautiful hair was pulled up in a ponytail, leaving her luscious neck exposed. He had to take a few breaths and clench his fits from grabbing her. He had to take this slow.
“Whatever you were going to make is great. Let me help.” He rolled up the sleeves on his long sleeve T-shirt.
She smiled and walked toward the kitchen to get some vegetables and lettuce out of the refrigerator. She put them on a cutting board.
“Do you mind making a salad? I’ll make lasagna to go with it.”
She moved around the kitchen easily, humming to herself. She was happy here and he felt her contentment, feeling a little jealous. He hoped to change that by finally telling Zoey how he had felt about her all these years. Yeah, Seth was his best friend but Zoey was the person he wanted to see most when he came to visit. Zoey was the one he smelled as soon as he walked in the house and she was the one that made him smile every time he thought of her, and that was almost every second of the day.
It was almost torturous as they worked. She would brush up against him, touch his arm as she laughed and smiled at him, while she talked about why she loved her work as a restoration artist and he heard every word she said. Soon, they were ready to eat. He never wanted this night to end.
She threw open the French doors that were near the dining table and they could smell the light rain that had begun to fall.
“Can I make a confession?”
“You can tell me anything.”
“I had a crush on you when we were younger. I thought you were cute as a boy who turned into a very handsome man.”
His breath and heart stopped at her confession.
“You…never,” he started.
“Showed any signs that I liked you? Yeah, I know. You were my brother’s friend and my parents didn’t approve of you dating me because they thought you were so much better than me,” she said.
“What do you mean, I was better than you?” he growled.
“That’s what they always told me. It was like that my entire life.”
He felt angry, no furious, hell. He had never been as pissed as he was right at that moment.
She put her hand in his forearm, rubbing it up and down his arm to relax him.
“Don’t worry about it, Mac. That wasn’t your fault. I’ve always known I was a disappointment to my family. That’s why I moved out so quickly.”
“Zoey.” He couldn’t help but touch her now.
She glanced at him shyly and he had to calm down. He wasn’t mad at her.
“All those years…” he said cryptically.
She looked at him with confusion. He put his hands on her shoulders and pulled her closer. He looked at her mouth for a split second before he swooped in and captured her lips. She moved her hands up to his neck and pulled him closer as he deepened the kiss. His tongue explored her mouth and she tasted purely sinful. He broke the kiss to pull her onto his lap. He brought his head down again and gave her another deep, exploring kiss.
A few frantic minutes later, they sat there panting. He felt overwhelmed at finally being able to touch her and kiss her freely. God, he wasn’t going to let her go, ever.
“Mac, what did you mean?” she asked.
He took a deep breath. “I’ve wanted you, Zoey, since you were sixteen. You brightened my world just by being in it and being near you made me happy. If I had known what your parents were telling you, I would have gotten you out of there sooner. You have me now, though. I can’t let you go,” he said.
She sucked in a breath and her eyes were shiny with tears. He pulled her tight to his chest, hoping that she felt the same way. He rubbed a hand up and down her back, trying to soothe her.
“I’ve loved you, for as long as I can remember. You tried to include me when we were younger, and I felt that you were everything I would ever want in a man. You still are,” she whispered.
“Yes, I love you, Mac, more than my own life,” she said.
He kissed her hard for a second and pulled back.
“I love you, Zoey. God, how I love you.”