And Now, For Something Completely Different…

I know, I know. Usually I post chapters of The Night Is a Harsh Mistress. I promise, I’m working on it. I even am doing so with the collaboration of my coauthor, Rachel! I think we’re going to come up with some good ideas for it that will interest you.

But for today, I want to share with you the results of a challenge from Romance Divas. For those of you that aren’t familiar, Romance Divas is an online forum of writers, authors, and readers. It consistently is listed as one of Writer’s Digest’s Top 101 Websites for Writers, and has received accolades from the writing community – and not just romance. Composed of authors writing in many genres besides romance, it is an excellent place to learn, grow, and network.

The challenges are great fun. Authors who are interested post that they would like to play, and challengers give them a scenario. The writer must respond within 48 hours with a flash that is under 750 words, meets all the points of the challenge, and that is PG-13. It’s a good way to practice writing quickly, and one can use an existing or new WIP (work-in-progress).

My challenge this go-round was from author Jason Linetsky. The particulars were:

  • Genre of choice.
  • Scenario: Your h/h has to travel over a great distance for a very important meeting. It must be a straight through trip as in no layovers/stopovers in a method of your choice.
  • Required elements: An old owners manual, a helium tank, a fake id, and a chihuahua … KIDDING! No chihuahua! … and a bottle of Grey Goose vodka.

Here is what I came up with. Enjoy!


Zeta woke to the lovely strains of Chihuahua in full bark, accompanied by the symphony of shrill hungover White trash. God damned trucker hotels. The barking cut off with a yelp and sympathy for the stupid animal burned through Zeta’s chest.


He rolled out of bed and took a piss, then set the coffee on to brew. He moved the owner’s manual for the ancient Helium tank back onto the bed. The tank itself sat there like a huge, half-rusted torpedo from the sixties. Here’s hoping the thing worked as well as a torpedo, or Monroe was gonna kill him.

Thank God that dump had water pressure.

Then again, heavy water pressure on bruises wasn’t the sort of thing a man wanted to wake up to…

He managed to grab the bottle of vodka from the counter next to the coffeemaker without dripping too much water everywhere. Some half-drunk yuppie kid gave it to him last night at the bar, wobbly with martinis and Zeta’s blowjob. Kid wasn’t half-bad at it himself, Zeta’s lower brain reminded him, but he swigged the vodka instead of focusing on his morning leftover reaction.

Didn’t taste nearly as good as it had the night before. The label read “Grey Goose Vodka” with a picture of a fjord and geese flying overhead against some mountains.


Hell, he tried everything else…

Then he heard it. The door rattled and jiggled, then the unmistakable turn of a key. He snatched his gun off the towels by the toilet and waited, heart pounding.

“Hey, gorgeous, I’m back!”

The aroma of eggs, bacon and coffee hit Zeta’s nose like a steam train and his stomach yowled like a starving cheetah. Christ. Why did his assailant have to bring food? He’d be a helluva lot easier to shoot if he’d been some snaggle-toothed asshat with body odor.

Of course not. It was the yuppie from the bar.

Christ. How the hell much Vodka did Zeta drink?

And what the hell was the kid’s name?

“I know you said you’re in a hurry to get to Oxnard, so I got breakfast for us. Oh, good. You’re almost done.” The yuppie set the food on the table by the window and grinned at Zeta. His large brown eyes crinkled at the corners, and smile lines just starting by his mouth gave him a friendly appearance.

Yup, he was as hot now as he was in the bar, vodka or no vodka.

And he was stripping… A steady pile of discarded clothing littered the floor behind him as he approached Zeta. “You just let ol’ Chico wash your back, hmm?”

Zeta stubbed his toe getting out of the shower. “No, I really can’t. Monroe will kill me if I’m late.” He paused, a towel in his hands. “You go by ‘Boy’ in Spanish?”

Chico shrugged, stepping into the water but not quite closing the curtain all the way. Man, he had a nice ass!

“My nickname is Chico, so that’s what I put on my fake I.D. You really go by the letter ‘Z’?”

Zeta flushed. “My name’s Alex.”

“’Xander’ begins with an ‘X’.” Chico winked. “And my name is Pedro.”

“To my best friend in grammar school, Xander sounds like a ‘Z’.”

“What was her name?” Chico finished in record time and joined Zeta on the mat to dry off. He pulled the towel out of Zeta’s hands and finished his back with quick movements that reawakened all of Zeta’s senses, then slapped his ass. “Go eat while I finish. We have to get on the road.”

“How do you know it was a girl?” Zeta dressed in jeans and his Elvis t-shirt, sandals and a belt. He stuffed the rest of his clothes into his duffel and then went to investigate the food.

“Because no dude would name you Zeta.” Chico bent and kissed his neck, then whispered in his ear. “So hurry up and eat, will ya? I want to see if you make as much noise driving when I go down on you as you did last night.”

Zeta’s heart started pounding. This was seventeen kinds of stupid, but damned if he wasn’t gonna do it. Monroe didn’t have to know about his new partner, and besides.

It would make the drive go a lot faster.

He grinned at Chico, chewing a bite of bacon and eggs, and the most gorgeous yuppie latino on two legs grinned back.

Damn fine truck stop.

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