"I haven’t ridden a horse in years,” LaVerne announces to the other hostesses, patting her bay mount’s sturdy neck and swaying in time to its gentle gait. “I’d forgotten how much I loved it.”
Crushed under hooves, the long grass from the field releases their sweet scent of summer’s promise.
Mary closes her eyes and breathes deeply. “They should bottle that smell. Warm horse and nature. You can’t beat it.” The faint sound of a car on gravel ruins the effect and her eyes pop open.
“Nature?” Lilly twists around in her saddle, winces then rubs her bottom before glaring at Mac. “That’s the fifth car I’ve seen in as many minutes. I thought you said the party was being held in a remote cabin on the coastline and this was the only way in.”
“Yeah, well,” Mac hedges. “It seemed pretty isolated on Google maps. Anyway,” she winks at the other girls. “I thought with your extra padding you’d be fine.” Mac chuckles as Lilly tries to take a swipe at her and nearly falls off her horse in the process. She gestures at their surroundings. “You have to admit this is a great way to see the countryside.”
“My favourite kind of transport.” Lyn beams, as she stands in her stirrups and sniffs the air. “We can’t be far now. I can smell the sea!”
Their party tops a rise and Mary lets out a squeal, grabbing Debby’s arm. “And I can see it!” She expertly wheels her horse to a stop to admire the view.
“Just look at that!” Debby breathes. “No wonder Felicity and Marek fell in love here."
A rustic cabin that looks as if it were put together piecemeal sits back of a rocky outcrop which drops down to the sea. Sunlight bounces off the tide pools that dot the shore below.Lilly brings her horse to a halt beside them and sighs. “Oh, it is romantic. I’d be here all the time if it were mine.” She arches a brow at Mac as she spies a few parked cars to the side of the building. “But like the smart guests who’ve made it here before us, I’d be taking a car!”
“Come on, ladies.” Debby nudges her horse forward. “Enough dilly-dallying. I can’t wait to say hi to Arlene again. She has the best parties with the yummiest of guests—uh,I meant food! And I need to fix my hair. Lord knows what this helmet has done to it.”
Lyn snorts. “I don’t think you need to worry, Debby. That big hair of yours is something else. It’ll spring back to life in seconds.”
The horses’hooves clip-clop on the packed gravelly sand and they ride along the shoreline. As they approach the cabin, the front door opens. Arlene steps out, a wide smile of welcome lights her face. “Oh, you’re here! I heard horses and wondered who it could be. Of course it had to be the Roast ladies. You girls sure know how to make an entrance.”
LaVerne laughs. “That wasn’t quite the intention, but it sure was fun.”
She dismounts and pulls the reins over her horse’s head and the other hostesses follow suit, stifled groans of relief escaping everyone’s lips. Arlene shakes her head with a grin and with a ‘wait there’ signal, pops her head back through the door. Moments later, a group of pre-teen girls come out and excitedly relieve the hostesses of their mounts.Oliver greets them with a chilled glass of dry white wine which they all take gratefully. Moments later, he’s back with a cocktails, then a tray filled with a trio of mouth-watering vegetarian canapés. Mushroom and stilton tarts, feta bruschetta and a delicious Fig and olive tapenade on toasted baguettes.
A table groans with platters full of fresh fruit, asparagus rolls, spicy corn fritters and a wide assortment of salads. In a nod to the coastal setting, oysters in their shells sit on beds of ice along with mussels both smoked and plain.
Centre-stage of the room is the most gorgeous of cake creations. The cover of Felicity’s Power sits proudly atop it. Mary licks her lips. “I don’t know what looks more delicious. The cake or that cover!”
“Never,” Lilly affirms and raises her glass of chardonnay, waiting until she has everyone’s attention. “To J. Arlene Culiner and her latest book, Felicity’s Power Here’s to indulging in all good things!”
This week's skit was written by LaVerne Clark
Contemporary Romance from The Wild Rose Press
San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same again. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together.
Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as a foreign aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering him love, passion, and adventure. But why would Marek risk having his heart broken a second time? Now a well-known author, he loves his calm, solitary life in an isolated farmhouse. He and Felicity are just too different; their relationship could never work.
But Felicity is just as fascinating and joyful as ever, and that wonderful sexy magic is still there too. As for love, perhaps it’s even deeper and more delightful the second time around.
“Making a quick getaway?” Felicity stood in the doorway taking in the scene: the open but fully packed suitcase on the bed, Marek’s trench coat flung over the table. He was on his way out. No denying the evidence.
Marek sat in the armchair by the window, his face tight, his eyes haunted. “I’m sitting here, in a chair, right? Aren’t the words ‘a quick getaway’ somewhat of an exaggeration?” He drawled the words out slowly, mockingly.
“Okay then. A slow getaway.”
He stared at her, unable to pull his eyes away. Her face was pale, her expression wild. Loose tendrils of hair shadowed her neck, calling attention to the slow throb of veins under the delicate skin. She looked sexy as hell. Tempting and far too dangerous to think about.
“Not quick, not slow. Neither one of the above. No getaway.” His voice was icy, impersonal.
“That!” Her arm waved wildly, gesticulated in the direction of the suitcase. A sharp, searing feeling of betrayal mixed with humiliation kept her tense, unrelenting. “I mean, if you want me out of here, all you have to do is tell me. Since you’re obviously desperate to get rid of me.” She felt as if she’d been stabbed. She crossed the room slowly until she was standing beside him, staring down at him, her eyes flashing with determination and fury. “But let’s not forget you were the one who invited me up here. Remember? I didn’t ask to be put up in your hotel room.”
But you might have done so. If he hadn’t taken matters into his own hands. Well, never again. Never. Your time is up as far as I’m concerned, Marek Sumner!
He stood up, studied her for a minute, silently.
“God, you’re beautiful.” It was as if the words had been wrenched out of him, as if he would have given anything not to say them, but they made her heart stand still.
ISBN Digital: 978-1-62830-876-1
ISBN Print: 978-1-62830-875-4
Page Count: 226
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, J. Arlene Culiner has spent most of her life in England,Germany, Turkey, Greece, Hungary and the Sahara. She
now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no real interest. Much to everyone's dismay, she protects all living creatures -- especially spiders and snakes -- and her wild (or wildlife) garden is a classified butterfly and bird reserve.
In her perfectly realistic contemporary romances, heroines are funny, and heroes are dashingly lovable. All are proudly over the age of forty.
To win a copy of Arlene 's book, all you have to do is just leave a comment and your e-mail address.
Contest ends on Sunday and everyone who comments is eligible.(We reserve the right to waive the prize in any week when there are not enough contestants for a draw to be deemed fair and unbiased)