Back in June, at a writing retreat, we had a brief discussions about words. No big surprise there. But this was a words-of-the-year type discussion which I took to heart and decided to write a romance flash fiction (sort of) piece that included 10 pre-detemined words, I looked up the Top 10 Words of 2018 according to Merriam Webster and gave it my best shot.
The Top Ten Words of 2018
Sin City Escapades
It was justice, Laurel supposed, that she was forced to spend their one night away in Vegas at a cheesy motel named the Excelsior. There was nothing upward or onward about it. Payback she was sure for her last year’s insistence they immerse themselves in the wonders of 19th England and take in the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, where the famous author had written Persuasion, Laurel’s favourite book, as well as Northranger Abbey.
With its Roman baths, the quaint city had charmed them both, or so she’d assumed. Now she was forced to re-evaluate. Because this excursion was either payback for dragging him to Bath, or her husband had lost his mind. She had neither the time nor the energy for either of those possibilities. She tightened the belt of her ridiculously short trench coat.
Good grief, could there be an anymore back of the pack motel than this soggy excuse for a building. But Maverick, because she and her husband were all about the code names suddenly, had warned her not to judge the book by its cover.
She knocked on the door of number six, per his instructions while rolling her eyes. Then she pressed her ear to the door when she heard no reply praying he hadn’t gotten himself murdered. She knocked again and thought she heard a faint bid to enter.
Inside the room, her apprehensions eased. A quick glance around proved it was clean, the bed was a decent size and Jason – pardon her, Maverick – was lying in the middle of it wearing a tux and sipping a drink and completely intact.
“What are you drinking?” she asked because she needed a companion to whatever was in his glass. Like pronto.
He swirled his drink and winked. “Martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
Because, of course it was. She wasn’t sure she had the energy for all this secret assignment business, but then he gave her his usual rueful smile and it somewhat made up for his insistence they take separate cabs from the airport. Like their budget could support the extravagance.
She dug her phone out and before she knew it he was off the bed and wrestling it from her hand while managing not to spill his drink. Which was kind of impressive, actually.
She frowned at him when he tossed her phone onto the zebra print bed cover. “What are you doing?”
“No phones.” He ran a finger down her cheek.
“But the kids-”
He pressed a finger against her lips. “Remember, darling, Project Lodestar is high security. No one can know where we are.”
“Okay, you have got to stop it with the fake British accent.” She waved a hand at the drink in his hand. “With all the rest of it, it’s too much, honestly.”
Jason waggled his brows, then set his drink down and reached for her. “We’ll work on your sense of nationalism later.”
“I don’t understand why we can’t be plain, ordinary Canadians. I mean respect to the British and all, but…”
Jason tugged her closer and pushed an escaping strand of hair behind her ear. “Can we just stick to the script? Okay? You said anything I wanted for my birthday.”
She had said that, but in her defence she hadn’t expected him to request they act out some trashy Bond-style fantasy. In Vegas.
“Did you wear it?” he asked.
She was so making him go to Prince Edward Island to visit the Anne of Green Gables museum next summer. They were going to spend hours strolling down Lovers Lane and holding hands by the Lake of Shining Waters and drinking raspberry cordial until they puked.
At his hopeful, pleading look, she sighed. “Yes, I wore it.”
And if the reaction of the feckless little pissant outside the airport bathroom where she’d changed clothes was any indication, she didn’t look half bad. Still, she’d purchased a very over-priced trench coat to cover it up.
“Let me see it.”
Damn it, he knew she loved his growly voice. He untied the belt of her coat then slowly slipped it free of the belt loops and let it drop to the floor. Undoing one over-large button at a time, the low cut, thigh-length, body hugging, red dress was revealed and the coat slipped from her shoulders.
“You look beautiful.” He pressed a kiss to her lips, slipped his hands around her waist.
“Same.” It seemed churlish not to return the compliment, because he did look good in a tux.
And, okay, maybe it had been awhile since they’d taken their time with each other. That epiphany gave her the courage to push his own jacket from his shoulders and run her hands over the white crisp linen of his shirt. She breathed in hints of citrus and sandalwood and felt his smile against the skin of her neck.
Laurel forgot about needing to make arrangements for the kids’ activities next week, or the report due at work. But not the fact that her mother was dying. Pancreatic cancer, stage IV.
Jason took her face in his hands. “We’re going to get through this.”
She nodded as she blinked back tears.
He rested his forehead against hers. “I promise.”
“I believe you,” she whispered while trying to smile. “That’s why I agreed to meet a stranger named Maverick in a dive motel in Vegas.”
His hands reached around her shoulders to the top of the zipper. “As much as I love this dress, I think you should take it off.”
The fake British accent was back but the encouraging smile was all Jason. A little of the weight lifted as the dress fell from her shoulders.
She grinned up at him. “Does the bed vibrate?”
Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year!