Originally a religious celebration, it was in 18th century England that February 14th became associated with romance, and eventually evolved into Valentine’s Day, that special day of the year when couples express their love for each other and exchange gifts which may include flowers, chocolates, cards and sparkly things like diamonds.
It seems fitting for us to post our best romantic stories and poems on this day for your reading pleasure.
Across the field of my vision, for a moment she is there;
then, as if dissolved in mist, her beauty disappears.
She floated on the breeze of love and on desire’s wind.
Did the god who shaped such beauty also fashion sin?
Temptation, I shall name and follow thee until the end
of time and world. Until my lonely heart shall bend
my knees to worship at thy feet. My heart already there
praying for you, my love, to once again appear.
I hear the fairies’ laughter in the dew that softly lights
upon the waking flowers at the gentle end of night.
I smell the jasmine and the lavender of desire
in that sweetest love which sets my soul on fire.
Yet, you mock me with your disappearance
and leave me spouting trite, rhyming incoherence.
Love, cruel mistress to us all. Temptation, you
to whose sweet memory I never bid adieu.
Sometimes Ken Weene writes to exorcise demons. Sometimes he writes because the characters in his head demand to be heard. Sometimes he writes because he thinks what he have to say might amuse or even on occasion inform. Mostly, however, he writes because it is a cheaper addiction than drugs, an easier exercise than going to the gym, and a more sociable outlet than sitting at McDonald’s drinking coffee with other old farts: in brief because it keeps him just a bit younger and more alive.
Ken’s newest book Broody New Englander has recently been published by Red Chameleon Press. It can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Broody-New-Englander-Kenneth-Weene/dp/1502759284
“Check it out. He’s staring at you,” Rachel nudged me hard with her elbow and giggled.
He was the cutest guy in the whole school. All my friends said so, and I agreed.
“Ouch!” I said. “Don’t let him see us looking at him.” I turned and headed away from him as fast as I could, thankful that my friends were following me.
Jenny pulled my shoulder. “Now you’ve messed up all your chances,” she said. “He’ll think you’re not interested.”
I put my hands up to block my ears. “Cut it out,” I said. “Stop talking about him. You guys are making me crazy.”
We sank down side-by-side on our favorite bench. I couldn’t help it. I had to sneak a glance at him. My gaze locked with his, held for a second, two seconds. I jerked my head away. My heart was pounding so hard I was scared the others would hear it.
“Did you guys understand that math problem Catterall gave us yesterday?” I wondered if he was still watching me but I couldn’t risk another look.
I don’t remember much of the rest of that day at school. I’ll never forget what happened after the final bell, though, when all of a sudden he was beside me.
“Walk you home?” he said.
“Y—yes. Thanks,” I stammered. My legs were shaking and I was finding it hard to breathe.
“You know what day it is today,” he said. “Right?”
“Yes. V– valentine’s day.” Why couldn’t I speak properly?
His hand reached out and he laced his fingers with mine. It made me feel warm all the way down to my toes. I never wanted to get to my house, but we did get there.
He released my hand. “Happy valentine’s day,” he said, and then he leaned into me and kissed me on my lips. “See you at school tomorrow.”
And he left. And just like that, I understood about the magic of romance. I felt like I was floating above the clouds and nothing in the world could ever make me come down.
Trish Jackson writes emotive romantic suspense focusing on small towns, country folk and their animals. Although her most recently released romantic comedy, Backwoods Boogie, is funny and entertaining, it carries a serious message about dog fighting and illegal puppy mills. Her newest book, Aquarius Addiction, is a romantic suspense thriller, with some paranormal events.
Soul-stirring, passionate, thrilling – and fun.
Abridged Excerpt from FRONT ROW CENTER – IPPY Award Winner
Cynthia B. Ainsworthe
Taylor’s head reeled, making sleep elusive. She picked up a towel. The full moon illuminated the flagstone path. Reflected light danced across the pool’s water in random patterns. The soft sound of rippling alerted her.
It’s Larry taking a leisurely swim. Interesting! She stood very still, enjoying the sight of his bare buttocks.
He swam to the edge. “How long have you been standing there?” His eyes traveled up her body, from her long, shapely legs, to her firm, full breasts, and finally resting his gaze on her blue-green eyes.
“Long enough to know I like what I see.” Taylor ran her tongue suggestively along her lips.
“Be serious,” Larry said.
“I am serious … you’re a very attractive man. I bet I’m the only fan who’s seen you naked.”
“You certainly are. This goes no further—I can’t be advertising all my secrets.”
“Willing to share some of those ‘secrets’ with me, Larry?”
“You’ve seen enough of my ‘secrets’ tonight. Please hand me that towel.”
She dangled the towel just out of his reach. “Why don’t you climb out of the pool and get it yourself?”
“Taylor! This isn’t funny! Give me the damn towel!”
“I’m sorry, Lar … I was just having some fun. Really, I had no idea you’d be here at this hour.”
She handed him the towel and he climbed out of the pool.
“It’s okay. But you should come with a warning sign. You have a body that drives a man wild.”
Their kiss spoke of deep hunger. His mouth traveled down her neck, and to the base of her throat. “Your skin feels like silk,” he murmured.
“Larry,” she said breathlessly. “We can’t do this. I’m married.”
Her words shook him. “Taylor, I thought you wanted me, as much as I want you. Are you purposely teasing me?”
“No. I didn’t plan to seduce you.”
“But that’s exactly what you did!” His hand touched her cheek. “And beautifully, too, I might add.”
Tears came to her eyes. “We stopped in time. It won’t happen again. I trust you.”
“Can I trust myself? That’s the question.”
“Blame it on the romance of the moonlight,” she added, with a flirtatious smile.
Larry looked in her eyes, as if trying to read her thoughts. “You’re still going to stay a few days?”
“I’ll think about it … ,” she answered.
She strutted away with a seductive gait that again aroused Larry’s natural instincts.
As a retired cardiac RN turned-author, Cynthia enjoys her retirement in Florida, caring for her husband and their five poodle-children. Her first novel. Front Row Center, is being adapted to screen by her and Hollywood screenwriter, producer, director, Scott C Brown. She has won several awards for her writing including the coveted IPPY award, and has been a guest on several talk radio shows. She holds life-time VIP membership in Cambridge Who’s Who, Empire Who’s Who, and Manchester Who’s Who—all in recognition of professional career persons for achievement and excellence.
THE GREATEST GIFT
Dare I say it seems absurd, this sentimental gift
of roses rich in crimson hue, to fade and die far too soon.
For love itself is meant to last, to grow, to live, to thrive.
A faded flower cannot portray nuance or emotion deep
What better gift would purpose serve, expressing tender intimacy?
Surely tradition of bestowals bought, from card to sweets divine,
lack worth to signify sentiment or feelings raw, passions intense.
Loves’ essence lost. It has no cost purchased easily.
Instead the greatest gift of all lies hidden in the soul.
Dormant as it seeks escape through voice or written word.
To show gratitude to one whose loved, each and every day
Far exceeds a fading rose in its validity.
Monica M. Brinkman
Monica M Brinkman believes in ‘giving it forward’; reflected by her writing and radio show. A firm believer open communication is the most powerful tool to make positive change in the world; she expresses this in her book, The Turn of the Karmic Wheel and It Matters Radio. Look for her book, The Wheels Final Turn, to be release in 2015.
Monica resides in the Midwest with her husband, two dogs and five cats.
Visit her web sites:
“I got me an idea,” Chuck Dugan said as they huddled around the student-lounge table. “It just came to me.”
Bill Henderson shook his head. Chuck’s ideas were like short circuits in the brain that sizzled, fizzled, and finally petered out.
“See the wiz kid over there?” asked Chuck. “The skinny guy with the wide tie and the yellow sweater?” They all nodded. “The guy with the blond hair falling out of his head?” Again they nodded.
“Get to the point,” Flannery said.
“You think he’s ever gone on a date? I mean a real one. Why don’t we fix him up on a blind date?”
“With who?” asked Tony G. “A blind chick?”
They put their heads together.
Finally Chuck jotted a name and an address in his pocket pad. “Who’s she?” the guys wanted to know. Chuck simply smiled. Then he stood up, walked over to the table where Wiz Kid sat eating French fries alone. He wore a large napkin under his chin and one in his lap.
“Name’s Dugan,” Chuck said in his John Wayne voice. “I told a gal about ya and she’s dyin’ to meet ya. A pretty gal. In West Orange. Not so far at all. You game?”
“Meetin’ her. A blind date.”
Wiz Kid furrowed his thin blond eyebrows. “Blind?”
Chuck looked back at the hell boys and laughed. “The date, not her.”
He took the pad sheet.
“By the way,” Chuck said, “what’s your name?”
“Matt. Matt Matthews. My friends call me M & M.”
That Saturday the hell boys hid in the shadows close enough to Nadine’s house to see M & M melt in their hands.
Matt knocked a few times. Finally an old woman about 80 years old slowly opened the door.
Her grandmother, figured Matt.
“I’m Nadine’s blind date. I’m taking her to the movies. West Side Story.”
“Nadine? Are you sure?” Matt nodded.
Then the old woman touched Matt’s hand, smiled, twinkled her eyes, and said, “Come in. Let me get my coat. I’m Nadine.”
Sal Buttaci is the author of two flash-fiction collections Flashing My Shorts and 200 Shorts, both published by All Things That Matter Press and available at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Salvatore%20Buttaci
His book A Family of Sicilians… which critics called “the best book written about Sicilians” is available at www.lulu.com/spotlight/ButtaciPublishing2008
He lives in West Virginia with Sharon the love of his life.
On my first day at college, before classes really began, my dorm had an exchange with a boys’ dorm to go to a football rally. To support my dorm, I went down to our parking lot to meet the freshman guys. They came in a hoard, hundreds of freshman guys looking for girls. They found about twenty-five of us. As my luck goes, the first boy to ask me to attend the rally with him wasn’t my type, but if my brothers taught me anything, I learned I must not embarrass a guy by rejecting him in front of a hundred others. I decided that despite being too pale and blond, maybe he would be interesting and off we went to the rally.
Things quickly went downhill with the silent, pale, blond boy and me. About halfway between the dorm and the football stadium, I started looking over the hoard of unattached young men and thinking that perhaps I should attract a fan club. At this moment, someone behind me said to his male companion, “You know, all these guys just met these girls. We should just go up and start walking with them.” I turned to see who was thinking my thoughts, but couldn’t pick out the mental giant from the hoard of unattached men. I found him within the next minute when an absolutely gorgeous guy appeared on my right side. I smiled and fluttered my eyelashes. The silent pale blond boy scowled at my new escort.
Pale Blond Boy executed a maneuver in the stadium to separate my new companion from me by insisting I enter the row of bleachers first. My new hero climbed over several people in order to sit next to me in the stands. Pale Blond Boy scowled more fiercely. Loren asked me to the dance following the rally. I nodded and Pale Blond Boy scowled.
Pale Blond Boy scowled at Loren and me for the next two years. Finally, Loren and I got married.
Pale Blond Boy still scowled at us.
I got pregnant.
Pale Blond Boy saw my huge belly, breathed a sigh of relief and stopped scowling.
Delinda McCann is a mostly-retired social psychologist. During her professional career she worked with at risk youth and individuals with disabilities. Her research in the field of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome led her to become an advisor to several governments. To ease the stress created by working in the disabilities field, she took up gardening. Never one to do things in a small way, Delinda now runs a small farm and sells cut flowers. She writes general fiction based on her experience as a social psychologist. She has published five novels. She expresses her sense of humor in many of her short stories. She’s also published numerous professional articles on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Youth At-Risk. The professional articles are rather academic and dry, but Delinda pulls what she knows about human behavior, disabilities and youth into her fiction.
You may purchase her books at: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Delinda+McCann
The mid-January day was sunny, and Heather stared out through the kitchen window – completely oblivious to the world around her. Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching – much quicker than she’d realized, and she still had no idea what she was going to give to the love-of-her-life, Jarrod.
Years ago, she’d gone to see the movie Jerry Maguire with a girlfriend. Silent tears had streaked her cheeks when, at the end, Jerry returned to tell Dorothy: “You complete me.” For months afterward, Heather had struggled with the knowledge that there was no one in her life with whom she could share that amazing connection. But then, out of the blue, Jarrod had appeared and her life changed forever.
Still lost in thought, Heather smiled wistfully. Hallmark doesn’t necessarily carry a “You complete me” card, but even if it did, so simple a statement could never properly explain to him what he meant to her.
Pictures from her previous life – the one before Jarrod, flitted through her mind. A kaleidoscope of fragmented images; none of them pleasant and all of them centering around one specific person: her ex, Thomas.
With Heather’s thoughts focused on Thomas, the unwanted whirlwind of mental pictures ceased – only to be replaced by a close-up of his face. Cold, calculating eyes, a harsh mouth that always seemed to be in perpetual sneer, sharp aquiline nose, and lank, greasy hair caused Heather to once again question what she had seen in him. Thomas was abusive in every aspect of his personality and no one was safe from his self-righteous temper and condescension. He was so much different than Jarrod…
Thinking of Jarrod caused the image in her mind’s eye to change. Even without him physically present, he was once again banishing the darkness of her earlier years. Except that now she was right back to where she started – what to give him on Valentine’s Day? What item can accurately express the love and gratitude she has for him? What card can actually showcase the emotions traversed between where she had been versus where she is now? What gift can accurately express her wonderment at, and thanks for, this man’s tenacity and love?
Heather’s mind drifted off again. She involuntarily shivered when she contemplated where she would be today, right now, had she not met Jarrod. She’d certainly never have been able to walk away from her job to pursue her dream of becoming a writer either.
“Oh, my gosh, that’s it!” she triumphantly exclaimed.
She had only just finished a Creative Writing course, and now she had use for what she’d learned. After all, there was no one who could explain the ‘everything’ that he meant to her – no one except her. And that’s just what she intended to do.
Charline Ratcliff is an author of historical fiction. Her stories are themselves inspired by her own vivid, real-to-life dreams; each one providing her with glimpses of times long ago passed.
Never too Late
John B. Rosenman
Andrew Delane hadn’t heard her voice in fifty-nine years, but he recognized it in a heartbeat. He paused with his hand on the door of the assisted living facility before leaving and then turned, blinking with surprise.
Surely he was mistaken. It was his imagination.
Then he heard the voice again and shuddered with wonder. Hale, hearty, and at seventy-seven years of age self-sufficient as the broken friend he’d just visited wasn’t, he made his way across the day room until he discovered the voice’s source.
Six decades had ravaged and wilted the once fresh, flirtatious girl who sat alone at a table, her face a mass of wrinkles. While others might not have recognized her, Andrew had no trouble at all. To him, she was as lovely as ever.
“Hello, Evvie,” he said.
She blinked and looked up. “Have we met?”
“Yes, long ago. I’m Andy… Andrew Delane.” Before he lost his nerve, he sat down at the table.
“What are you doing?”
Her knobby fingers turned something over—a Valentine’s Day card. “To Grandmother with Love,” it said.
“My grandchildren sent it to me,” she said. “My husband used to give me flowers and presents. He never forgot.” She sighed. “But he’s been gone now seven years.”
So she was alone, just like him. He licked his lips. “I…once sent you a Valentine’s Day card.”
Yes, and you liked me once, too. Liked me a lot. Then you met the boy who became your husband and forgot all about me.
Evvie was looking at him. “Excuse me, I don’t mean to stare. It’s just my memory isn’t so good anymore and I forget things. What did you say your name is?”
He held out his hand, his heart pounding. “Andrew Delane.”
She raised her own and placed it trembling in his. Parkinson’s perhaps.
“I’m Eveline Timmons.”
She gazed at him, and for a moment sixty years passed away, and he could almost believe she was the girl who had briefly liked him.
“You’re nice, Andrew. If I can call you that.”
“You most certainly may, Eveline.” For the first time, he noticed other cards on the table as well as envelopes. “What are those?”
“These? Just some Valentine cards I’ve meant to fill out and mail.” A flutter of embarrassment.
“I’m a bit late.”
I guess we both are. He smiled and moved his chair closer. “Tell you what. Suppose I help you a little.”
John has published twenty books and three hundred short stories, most of them science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance. He’s the former editor of Horror MAGAZINE and Chairman of the Board of the Horror Writers Association. Recently, he’s focused on his Inspector of the Cross series which features a 4000-year-old hero fighting to save the human race from seemingly invincible aliens. The Merry-Go-Round Man, a coming-of-age novel featuring three boys in the fifties, can be found on Amazon and elsewhere.
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E
The Robe of Noble Hearts
No job was so irksome as this. No. Irksome was not the right word. Not even odious quite captured his feelings. No. Quite simply, for Antonio this assignment was painful. But there it was. There was nothing for it. Never before had he let his Sire down. His pride and his sense of responsibility, his loyalty, demanded he repress his true feelings and carry out his duties, like it or not. Blind loyalty will do that to you: make you forget yourself. Blind loyalty allows you to ignore other possibilities. Abrogating responsibility is never an easy choice. Nor is it without consequences, often enough unexpected.
It wasn’t as if this were the first time he had been sent bearing gifts and a marriage proposal. Antonio had been sent with his Master’s bid for a maiden’s hand five times before. In this instance, correspondence had already begun with letters of polite, flowery courtly love on two or three occasions. None was as fearful as this particular possibility of acceptance, for the Lady Mechtilde was loved by Antonio himself. More the pain–it was Antonio’s own telling of the woman of his heart that inflamed his Lord’s passion.
What a heartless twist of Fate.
* * *
Antonio was received with open arms by King Friedrich, Mechtilde’s father. He was treated like a long lost son. Antonio was hurt even more by this. He harbored wishes of Mechtilde’s love and passion deep in his own breast, yet had to forego desire and suppress the pain of his squeezing heart. Breaking inside, Antonio must present the appropriate knightly face. Duty ever required a mask.
The sought-after and the messenger’s first meeting was uncomfortable for both. Mechtilde as she had not dealt with a go-between before and she found this one attractive and had since their first knowledge of each other months before. Antonio had made his love and devotion known at that time, promising to return to make her his. Yet he could not now make his suit to Mechtilde’s father. A King’s want holds sway over any other. Mechtilde, being a woman, had no say in the matter. A King was a good match. Both, therefore, repressed their true feelings, refusing to look at each other when both were required to appear together before Kind Friedrich.
One afternoon, shortly after Antonio’s arrival, Mechtilde sat in the garden awaiting the go-between’s presence. The ash tree behind her offered ample shade from the sun. Floating shadows from leaves fluttering in the light breeze dappled her face. Her skin was white as milk, the creamy complexion emphasized the emerald green of her mantle and gown. Her bosoms rose, pressing insistently against the restraining bodice, then subsided, never fully hiding their roundness.
Antonio paused as he entered the garden. His heart leapt into his throat at this sight of his love sighing for his coming. So demure. So pristine. Tears welled up in his eyes. Could he possibly continue his assigned duty come now in her presence?
Antonio nodded to Mechtilde’s maid who stood to one side. He approached Mechtilde and bowed, proffering the gift that his master had sent.
“From his Lordship,” he murmured, trying not to look at her.
“I thank your Lord for his kindness,” Mechtilde whispered as she accepted the present, using the moment to touch his hand perhaps longer than was necessary.
She held the box demurely in her lap not attempting to open it and fawn over the King’s magnanimous show of affection. The messenger stood quietly before her, red-cheeked and perhaps breathing harder than he ought. Antonio stood in silence. Finally, Mechtilde motioned for Antonio to sit on the stone bench beside her. He hesitated.
Jimsecor is a playwright, storyteller and writer of tanka who got caught up in comparative literature, especially the love stories across cultures. He has lived in Japan and China for some time, writing women’s roles in Japanese theatre, award winning tanka and publishing poetry in Chinese and producing several plays, including an all female Lysistrata. All the while, he delved into the everlasting love in the face of adversity, even visiting the historical site of one such love in China. This is, perhaps, the balancing act for his otherwise social criticism/activism. He is at www.thewriteroomblog.com, http://labelleotero.wordpress.com and at Linkedin.
You drew down the moon, but I didn’t see;
No Jim Stewart and Donna Reed are we.
Pain and love can blind the searching soul
from what might be a most fitting role.
Now, layered clothing keeps my embers low.
Was it on purpose? I’m sure I don’t know.
Yet nothing can hide the face or the eyes:
Your calm exterior gives up its lies.
The pain of love suppressed is there,
Eddied smoke those dark orbs do wear.
So, my passion still released strives for the smile–
A flash here, a moment there, makes all worthwhile.
For in the eyes your smile reflects
More than one such as I expects.
A day, then two, three and part of four,
Our weekend ends on a marble floor.
You turn away to hide the tears,
Walking forward through all the years.
Time, the beast, is now again,
Set right with a flash of pain.
No looking back, no warm smile,
Your shoulders braced all the while.
But we have our joy, the days we shared,
Those secret moments our hearts were paired.
Clayton Clifford Bye
Clayton Bye is a writer, editor and publisher. The author of 11 books and a varied collection of short stories, poems, articles and reviews, he has also published 4 books under the imprint Chase Enterprises Publishing. The books published for others include 3 award winning anthologies and a stunning memoir about what it’s like to live with and die from anorexia.
Visit his e-store at http://shop.claytonbye.com.
Mr. Bye also offers a wide range of writing related services, including small business management for writers.