I'm going to go this about 1000 words at a time... ( let me know if that is too much) today is pretty tame, just introducing the characters so heat level is pretty nil***
The black envelope sat amongst the junk mail and bills. It couldn't have been more obvious that it wasn't standard fare. Jez watched Brandon circle it like a curious fish; he flicked aside the flyer that kept him from seeing the addressee, then quickly turned and opened the fridge.
“Looks like you got some mail.” The words were muffled by the fact that the top half of his body was stuck in the refrigerator, hunting for something to eat.
“Yeah, I saw.”
“Looks important. Aren't you going to open it?” His head reappeared, his bright blue eyes sparkling with curiosity.
“Looks being the operative word. It's probably an invitation to some dumb time-share presentation.” Jez turned a cynical eye toward the envelope, then looked back at her dear husband, who looked as though he would die of curiosity. They had been married for six years. She knew better than anyone that the mystery of the black envelope would fascinate him. If she was honest with herself, she would admit that was the main reason she didn't open it as soon as she pulled it out of the mailbox.
Brandon dragged a hand through his curly blond hair and tried to suppress his grin. “Or it could be an awesome adventure and you'll miss it.”
Gathering her long black hair into a pony tail, she heaved a dramatic sigh and put on her best put-upon face. “I'll open it. After dinner.”
He closed the fridge, unpeeled a cheese stick and took a bite. “Fine. I'm going for a swim.”
“So soon after eating?” She gave him a hard look.
“You're right.” He tossed the cheese and pulled off his shirt, exposing rippling muscles and a small tattoo – the word Jez emblazoned over his heart. “Coming with me?”
Sudden visions of her plump, pasty-white thighs floating next to his deeply tanned and rock hard body haunted her. She hadn't been in the pool in months, all summer in fact. “No. I've got some writing to do.”
“This would be the writing that I'm not allowed to read?”
Jez did her best not to blush, but it didn't seem to be working. She covered her embarrassment with anger. “Yes, this is the writing you aren't allowed to read. There are some things that are just none of your business, Brandon.”
“I know, I know.” He turned and shuffled out the back door.
“A writer's retreat? Did you apply? How did they get your name and address?” Crystal was being her usual protective, some might say paranoid, self and Rena took it in stride.
“I dunno. Probably through that online writer's group.” She held the black envelope up and fished the invitation out of it. “It just says that they read some of my work and want me to come.”
Crystal's eyebrow arched up. “I'm sure they do.” She snatched the card out of Rena's hand and turned on her heel. “I'm going to do a little digging, make sure it is legit.”
Rena watched her girlfriend stomp out of the living room and into the office. Crystal was average height, but that didn't stop Rena from thinking of her as an Amazon. Not that she was anti-man. In fact, Rena was pretty sure that the lack of man was responsible for Crystal's grumpiness of late. Before the two of them had decided to be in a committed relationship, Crystal had been a sexual gourmand. She had sampled from every part of the sexual spectrum and her experience had fueled many of the kinkier stories that Rena had submitted to the writer's group.
A few minutes later Crystal came back in, looking more relaxed. “Well, no one on your group is talking about it, but the Summerland Estate checks out. I called them and the manager confirmed that a private writer's group has the whole place booked for the weekend. It seems legit, but if you are going, I'm going with you.” Crystal's wide set brown eyes were steady and her generous lips had a stubborn set to them.
I'm supposed to be the fiery Latina here, Rena thought, but she knew better than to argue. She threw her long dark brown hair over her shoulder and rolled her hazel eyes. “Call them then, mi amor. Tell them it's all or nothing .”
“It's a great honor, Mom. I can't believe I got the invite.” Melissa wasn't sure which part of this was worse. That she was lying to her mother about the prestige of a writer's workshop that she had never heard of, or that at twenty she still felt the need to get her mother's approval to go.
“What does Professor Macmillan say about it?”
“He's the one that recommended me.” Another lie. Melissa had no idea how she had won this prize, but she would be damned if she was going to lose out.
She'd done her best to look all grown up before she came to her parent's house. Her strawberry blonde hair was pulled back in a tight bun, and makeup covered the freckles that sprinkled her nose. She was even wearing what passed for a suit-- even if she did get it in the junior's department.
“Well, Professor Macmillan has been a friend to this family for years. If he recommended you for this, it would be foolish to pass it up.”
Luckily, her parents had lots of “friends” that they didn't talk to for years. Steve Macmillan was one of those friends. Now that Melissa was safely in college, the chances of them needing a favor from him were slim, so they only expended enough energy on him to send a card at Christmas. It was best to be safe, though. Melissa couldn't take the chance that her family ever found out what it was that she wrote.
“Please, let me write the thank you note and don't say anything if you see him. You know if you say something, someone is bound to overhear. I wouldn't want anyone to think I got this honor because of my family connections.”
“Of course! I won't even mention it.”