A Short Story Collection
Five Stories By
Copyright © Erin Giove, 2016
All Rights Reserved
Book Cover Original Images/Illustrations designed by Kjpargeter – Freepik.com
First Shakespir Edition
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Table of Contents
“Here we are,” Dad said, slowing the boat to a stop at a pristine spot, perfect for snorkeling. The water off the Florida Keys glistened with a beautiful turquoise color in the sunlight.
Steve and his 13-year-old buddy donned their flippers and masks as if in a race to catch the ocean before it went away. They sat on the edge of the boat, flinging their legs over the side.
“Don’t go too far,” Dad said. “And look up often, OK?”
“OK,” the boys said, jumping off the edge, splashing into the clear brine.
“You guys gonna go in, too?” Dad asked Mom and daughter, Christine.
“Maybe in a bit,” Christine said.
“Yeah, I’m going,” said Mom, pulling on her gear. “How do we get back in?” She asked, looking around at the new, used boat the family had just purchased.
“There’s a rope ladder over here.”
Mom gently scooted off the side with Dad’s guidance into the cool water while the boys looked on, and the three buried their faces into the reef-y world below. Dad fumbled with the radio while Christine stared at something on the horizon.
“I see something out there,” Christine said, pointing in the opposite direction of where the family was snorkeling.
“Water?” he asked, distracted with the dashboard.
“I’m not kidding, I see something.”
Dad stood up and looked past where Christine was pointing. Several dark figures were just below the surface in the distance.
“Oh no, SHARKS!” She said. “And they’re coming right at us!”
Dad bolted to the other side of the boat, waving and screaming. “Get in the boat now! Sharks!”
The boys, about fifty feet away, swam for their lives, meeting Mom on the way to help her. Dad grabbed the raggedy rope ladder out of a musty storage well for the first time, hooked it on the side, and threw it in.
“Dad, They’re getting closer!”
“Hurry, they’re getting closer!” Dad said, relaying the message.
The boys helped Mom to the ladder.
“Grab here and here, and put your foot here, Mom,” Steve said.
“Come on, guys, we don’t have time for a lesson, get up here NOW!” Dad said, barking out his anxious fear.
Mom got one foot on and stood, reaching up to grab Dad’s hands, but slipped and straddled a rung on the ladder.
“She’s stuck!” Steve said.
“Hurry!” Christine said, her voice rising in pitch. “There are three of them!”
The boys helped Mom as best they could, grasping her legs and guiding her. Dad grabbed her wet body and pulled hard.
“PUSH…HER…ASS!” He said to the boys, shocking them into more urgency by the awkward statement.
“They’re under the surface about 10 feet away!” Christine said.
Dad pulled Mom up out of the water, dragging and scraping her over the side. Chris flew up after her, and Steve landed with a sloppy, wet thud on the deck right behind him.
“Are you OK? ” Dad asked Mom.
“I’m fine,” she said.
The boys met Christine at the side of the boat and watched the sharks pass underneath. The boat listed as the three lunged to the other side, just in time to see a fin break the surface.
“Oh no,” Christine said. “Dolphins.”
The boys let out audible groans.
“All that for dolphins?” Mom asked.
“That’s too much excitement for one day,” Dad said.
The family paused in grateful, quiet exhaustion, listening to the radio while the boat gently swayed.
Steve broke the silence. “You made us push Mom’s ass for dolphins,” he said, letting out a grin, giving the family a moment of laughter.
I pulled down the dirt road to the Butcher. Today is a bittersweet day. Today, I’d be picking up fresh chicken. Chicken I’d raised. More specifically, roosters – roosters I’d raised; roosters that drove my husband crazy.
“They’ll be the cause of my divorce,” I said to Butcher, who laughed at my desperation.
Out of thirty-eight chicks, twenty-four were strutting, obnoxious crowers; crowers that would start crowing long before the sun came up, or sometimes at any hour; crowers that were right next to our bedroom, to protect them from coyotes…but I missed one. He hid and escaped certain death, not once, but twice—the second time from Butcher. Today, I pick him and the others up perfectly packaged, ready for stew.
“You’re not going to believe this,” Butcher said to me. “If you don’t mind, can I keep the fella? I’ll pay ya for him,” he continued.
Bewildered, I grinned as I heard Fabio’s familiar crow in the distance. (Fabio, for his golden mane).
“I put him with hens and ducks who stopped layin’—all to be processed together. All them gals laid eggs today! He also saved my livestock from coyotes—his ruckus woke us up.”
I smiled. “You should rename him Lucky.”
Tick, tick, tick.
He jumped, startled at the fingernail tapping on the car’s passenger side window. A petite woman peered at him from under a blue raincoat hood, her features barely visible in the dim light of the streetlamp. He slid a little along the cold leather bench seat of his 67’ Ford Galaxy to reach the window crank, cracking the window just enough to talk.
“The Chief sent me to replace your partner.”
“Jeez, well hurry and get in before you blow us – and duck down,” he said, unlocking the door and sliding back to his warm spot on the seat. “You snuck up on me. Where did you come from?”
She took her raincoat off and hopped in, swinging the large door shut and slumping down in the seat in one swift movement. “I parked on the next block. I’m Jane Smith,” she said holding out her cold, damp hand”
“Joey Alessi,” he said, shaking it, her pretty eyes catching his attention.
“The Chief sent ya? He didn’t say anything to me.” He took out a pair of binoculars and looked through them down the street, balancing them between the top of the dashboard and the inside rim of the large steering wheel.
“I came in today on temporary assignment from the next precinct, and he asked if I could fill in for your partner. Something about a trip to the emergency room?”
“I dropped him off a little while ago,” he said, nodding. “Appendicitis, I think.”
“Sorry to hear that,” she said. “So fill me in on what we’re doing here.”
“Surveillance. The FBI kicked this over to us and told us to trail her.”
“A woman. I don’t know what she looks like, but that’s her house there,” he said, pointing diagonally across the street at the unlit, modest brick home. “They said she knew too much about recent murders – she tipped them off, but it looked suspicious.”
“They think she did it?”
“Who knows? They just want observation on her,” he said, offering her first dibs on a bag of donut holes.
“No thanks,” she said, putting her hands on her hips and crossing her legs, exposing her espadrilles. “Trying to watch my girlish figure.”
“Me too,” he said, laughing, putting his hands on his hips, mocking her. “I’ve downgraded from whole donuts.”
Joey threw one up in the air and opened his mouth, just as Jane grabbed it. “What? You don’t like my girlish figure?” he asked, giving her a wide Italian hand gesture, as if his Mother had just caught him grazing in the kitchen before supper was served.
“Those things aren’t good for you,” Jane said, laughing.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you only live once.”
“Exactly,” she said, chiding him as if they were old buddies, stuffing the bag away between her and the door. “So tell me more about these murders.”
“There’s no pattern yet, but they’re targeting law enforcement and high profile individuals. A real attention whore, if you ask me.”
“Oh, I remember hearing about this. How do you know they’re connected if there’s no pattern?”
“They leave a call sign,” he said, trying to look past her to see where she hid the bag.
“A serial killer? And this woman – how is she connected?” she asked, shifting sideways, hiding it from his view.
“The Bureau wouldn’t elaborate. When they questioned her, she knew details that no one else knew, but they had nothing on her to retain her. That’s all I know.”
“Well, it doesn’t look like we’re in for an exciting evening,” Jane said, looking at the dark house.
“It would be if you gave me my donut holes back.”
“Not on your life,” she said, smiling.
“There’s a reason why I’m not married, you know.”
“Maybe you should be.”
“You’re awfully gutsy for a girl.”
“You’re just not use to having someone be truthful with you.”
“I want my donut holes.”
“Don’t make me come and get them.”
“Wouldn’t I?” Joey smiled and lunged across the seat toward the bag just as Jane opened the door and dumped them out on the pavement.
“Oh, what the hell did you do that for?” he said, flopping back in his seat.
Jane handed him the empty bag.
“I can’t eat the damn bag,” he said, snatching it from her, wadding it up and throwing it back into her lap.
Jane un-crumpled and opened it. “Look inside,” she said, handing it back to him.
Joey snatched it away, and looked inside. His olive complexion turned pale, wiping the aggravation from his face as he stared into the bag at the familiar call sign written in black marker on the bottom.
“How did you know?” he asked, his fear palpable. “They weren’t even mine. Doug bought them and was eating them before – oh God, my partner,” he said in a panic.
“He’ll be OK, but we need to get these in for testing,” she said, soothing him.
He nodded, still in shock.
Jane paused, looking at the unlit house across the street. “Do you think she’s asleep?” she asked.
“Probably,” he said, putting away his binoculars and handing her the empty bag. “Would you mind picking them up?”
“Not at all.” Jane swung the large, heavy door open again, stepped out, and picked up the donut holes one by one. She folded the bag and leaned in, handing it to Joey. “It was wonderful meeting you,” she said, smiling at him from outside the car.
“Yeah, me too – great meeting you, I mean. And – thank you.” he said. “Aren’t you coming?”
“No, I need to get back.”
“At least let me take you to your car.”
“How about dinner tomorrow?”
“You know where I live,” she said, pointing to the unlit, modest brick house he had been observing. “I’m Mary,” she said, smiling again. “I hope you’ll forgive me. You wouldn’t have let me help you otherwise.”
This is ridiculous, Grace thought, as she traced the rim of her Port-filled wine glass with her elegant fingers, rolling her eyes at the inebriated laughter from couples dancing to 80’s party songs. The posh, upscale bar spared no expense in New Year’s decorations, which she kept shoving out of her space every time someone plopped a party favor in front of her.
“You OK, love?” the bartender asked.
“Peachy,” Grace said, looking at her watch and noticing midnight was ten minutes away.
“Friend isn’t coming?” he asked.
“She couldn’t make it. I only came here at her request,” she said, “I’ll be leaving before midnight.”
“A shame – you have an admirer,” he said, his Irish brogue distracting her from her irritation as he placed another glass of Port in front of her.
Surprised, she glared at the gift as if it were poison.
“Ya know, I’ve been waitin’ a long time to see who would make me open that bottle of Port,” he said, “You’re the first.”
“I can tell a lot about a person by their drinks,” he replied. “Port says you’re classy, and mysterious.”
Grace looked down to hide herself.
“Ya don’t strike me as a lass who’d date the likes of a beer drinker,” he continued, “No, he’d be too daft for ya.” He stepped squarely in front of Grace, and motioned for her to look directly behind him at the opposite end of the bar.
“Ya want a lad like the one behind me,” he said, “He’d appreciate a lady who drinks Port.”
Grace took a sip and peered behind him. Through the shadows, a handsome gentleman sat alone.
“Nice, but I’m divorced, haven’t dated in two years, and picking up men in a bar isn’t my style,” she said as she dismissed the thought, exchanging glances with the stranger.
He leaned toward her, resting his elbows and forearms on the counter, waiting for her to elaborate.
“He’s probably a playboy, just looking for sex,” she said, “that’s the only reason men come to bars, right? Or maybe he’s married.”
“His friend couldn’t make it either, and there’s no ring,” he countered, waiting for more excuses.
“He’s probably divorced with a long list of ex-wives and children.”
“How would you know?”
“The same way I know you’re divorced and haven’t dated for two years,” he said.
“Touche,” Grace admitted. “I bet he’s gay,” she said, releasing one last jabbing, death throe of defeat.
“He asked about you,” he said, “Does that sound gay?”
Grace shifted in an effort to stop the vibrating pulses emanating up through her bar stool from the thumping bass. Feeling vulnerable, she crossed her legs.
“The Irish have a saying,” he continued, “A friend’s eye is a good mirror. Ya may have more in common than ya think,” he said as he winked and walked away.
She raised the glass to her pink-glossed lips, observing the man sitting across from her as he stirred his drink. His blue topaz eyes caught hers, and he leaned forward into the light. His white dress shirt, unbuttoned at the top, glowed in the bar lighting as his quiet confidence radiated through his smooth, deliberate movements.
He does seem out of place here, she thought, feeling a wave of fluster move through her when he smiled.
She quickly looked away as the D.J. shouted into the microphone, “Are you ready to count down?”
The crowd whistled and cheered as the clock was set at 60 seconds.
I’ve got to get out of here, she thought, jolted out of her momentary lapse of control and panicked at the idea of being caught there alone at midnight. She waved goodbye to the bartender, hopped down from the barstool and slipped out the exit behind her into the dark, carpeted hallway. She rummaged through the myriad of coats on a rack that was tucked into a recessed portion of the wall, trying to pull each one into view.
“57…56…55,” the crowd shouted.
Oh God, I need air. Where is my coat?! she thought, as she imagined inhaling the cold, brisk air and letting it sting her lungs enough to keep away the tears waiting in her eyes—anything but having to watch happy couples kissing and singing. I really hate holidays, she thought, as she tried to recall a happy holiday memory. Only echoes of arguments and a husband who was never there were all that were left. Fifteen years I can never get back – alone is good. I like alone. I like it, I like it, I like….
A low voice close to her ear startled her.
“Leaving?” he asked.
Grace jumped as she spun around, losing her balance.
“Whoa,” he said, catching her before she fell into the coats. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”
The warm sensation from his embrace alarmed her.
“I’m Tony,” he said, smiling while she nervously fidgeted.
“Pleasure to meet you, Grace.”
His handsome smile, dimples, and fine laugh-lines at the corners of his expressive eyes drew her in like a tractor beam. There was something deeply, soulfully familiar about him.
Tony raised his hand between them and pointed at the ceiling. Grace looked up. Her safety net of control crumbled as she spied a clump of mistletoe hanging from a rafter.
He moved closer and hovered over her lips, exchanging breaths, giving her a moment to deny him. Her breath quickened, and her heart thumped hard with her brain in overdrive, exhausted from the battle. She felt her insides shake – a sensation she had forgotten about.
“Three…two…one,” he whispered along with the crowd, “Happy New Year.”
His words vibrated on her lips as they touched, the way lightning touches Earth. Grace tentatively let him in, electrifying her. He tasted of Cognac, Triple Sec and lemon—an exhilarating combination to the lingering, sweet richness of the Port. He softly took his time at first, building her trust, then deeper, like the best, most passionate kisses after a few drinks always go—heady and ethereal. She touched his smooth, freshly shaven face and let her hands trail down his neck over the top of his suede sports jacket. Her tension eased as she slid her hands under it and wrapped her arms around him.
He breathed in deeply, taking in the vanilla and floral overtones in her perfume, and she, the smell of suede and the hint of his spicy cologne. He caressed her jaw with his thumbs as her hair weaved between his fingers like ribbons of brown silk.
He released her lips, looked into her emerald eyes, and said, “David was right.”
“David?” she asked.
“The bartender,” he answered. “He said we’d have a lot in common. I came out to thank you for the drink.”
“Drink?” she asked, “You’re mistaken. I should be thanking you for mine.”
“You didn’t send me the drink?” he asked, perplexed.
They laughed at David’s coy antics as they walked back to the entrance to wave goodbye. David smiled, pulled back an invisible bow and shot an arrow at them as he winked.
“Coffee?” Tony asked Grace.
“I’d love to,” she answered, noticing for the first time, her reflection in his eyes in the lighting.
“I don’t understand it,” I said.
The diagrams floated before me, intersecting in massive, three-dimensional holograms, like gears moving together in perfect time.
“Everything is connected,” he explained.
“Yes, I see, but I don’t understand how.”
“It’s all you.”
“How can that be?”
“I’ll prove it to you.”
The room blackened. Vague consciousness roused my eyes enough to let in a sliver of vision. My little angel stirred. He shot his hand out from under the pillow, grabbed my hand and squeezed. I looked at his beautiful face in the afternoon light, pink from the summer heat, still breathing heavy from sound slumber.
“You are him, and he is you,” the voice said.
My son squeezed my hand once more, not as a child, but as something else much bigger connecting to the part of me I hadn’t met until that moment. The dream faded and lucidity disappeared as I watched my angel snoring next to me. I questioned if I had imagined it all, but one more squeeze from the tiny hand gripping mine reminded me from beyond that it was more than just a dream.
Perhaps I was awake then, and this is the dream.
Erin Giove is a transplanted writer from the music field, pursuing her Bachelor of Fine Art’s degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. She has a small contribution in a historical book soon to be released and has several novels, short stories, flash fiction pieces, screenplays, and a TV spec script in various stages of development. When not engaged in writing pursuits, she is active in her community playing her French horn with her family, who are also musicians, and occasionally lands a good paying gig to pay for the coffees she likes to drink while writing at local shops. Erin has lived on both coasts and overseas, and loves to travel and explore, which feeds the curiosity for life that she likes to weave into her stories. You can connect with her at .
A collection of five short stories of different lengths by Erin Giove.