Sunday 16 December 2018

A Story Inspired by a Song with Charlene Newcomb

guess the song
(Not an easy one to illustrate)
before we got there...?
Love in 140...

Christmas 2013
Emma glanced at the clock. 0600 hours. And she was on her second cup of coffee, black. What other fools were awake this hour—on Christmas morning—and tweeting? She attached a photo and hit the tweet button.

And almost immediately got a like.
Ah ha! Another kindred soul.

Smiling, she finished her drink and stretched. Still plenty of time to get her forty-five-year old body in gear. She could let Jenna sleep a couple more hours. Her brother Nick didn’t expect them until mid-afternoon.
A reply popped into her tweet notifications.

“Why, hello there,” she said. That name sounded familiar. “Who are you?”
Emma clicked on the tweeter’s name and looked at the profile. Actor. Hollywood, CA. “Cute, even with the hair, but don’t think I’ve seen your work, Matt Stewart.” Maybe she’d read his name on a tabloid cover.
Hollywood? Geez—it was only 0300 on the west coast.

What has you awake at this crazy hour? she asked.
You checkin’ my profile? : ) I’m in Baltimore for Christmas, he replied. Family time with Mom, Dad. Cinnamon rolls baking in the oven right now.
Big sis and her kids arrive around 9. Then the fun begins. You?

Headed to Charlottesville in a couple of hours. Brother and his family live there.
Great. Tell the world your Georgetown condo will be empty for a couple of days. Bad Emma—you know better! She’d worked in computer security since her days in the Navy.

Charlottesville, VA? You must be just down the road.

She hesitated, but not for long. Yeah.

I love being with family for the holidays.

Me, too. Emma looked at her coffee. Bet those cinnamon rolls smell good, she typed.

Like heaven. I’ll send you a pic later.

Now that’s plain cruel, and on xmas day, too!

Whoops! Sooorrrryyyyy.

I’ll just go get another cup of coffee and have my strawberry frosted pop tart.


Emma laughed, flipped back to Matt’s profile. “Damn, you are hot. And young.” Way too young. ‘Course, make-up did wonders and Hollywood types needed to look their best at all times. Didn’t want to have the paparazzi catch them on a bad day.

Still there? he piped. Great photos, by the way. You a photographer?

Still here. Thank you. And no, she replied.

Mountains, DC, Annapolis. Some of my favorite places.

Matt was checking out her profile. Maybe she should be creeped out, but she wasn’t. He seemed so down to earth. Normal, not the picture of the stereotypical actor she had in her mind. He was at his parents’ house. How normal was that?

OMG. Yoda slippers, Matt wrote. Are those yours?

Mine, all mine. MWAHAHAHAHAA. We’re big SW fans in my house. He would get that if he was perusing pics of her R2-D2 and Boba Fett collections, and the posters and still-in-the-box action figures that covered her home office.

Anyone who wears Yoda slippers is my soul mate. I am in love. Will you marry me?

She stared at the screen, then laughed. A little presumptuous, don’t you think? she wrote. This conversation was getting crazy.

OMG. You’re already married. He must be one lucky guy.

No guy here. Divorced, single mom. My daughter bought me the slippers.

What a great daughter.

:) I think so too. So much for privacy. This wouldn’t go into her portfolio.

How about we grab some coffee when you get back from C?

Emma stared at the computer screen. Well…answer him.
The online dating experience smacked her aside the head. Her twin sister Jo suggested she try it. And she had—ten years earlier. No serial killers. Promising emails, phone number exchanges, one lunch date, two coffee dates. But no one special. This one…cinnamon buns at mom and dad’s and he liked Star Wars. A guy who wouldn’t laugh at her, but would join in her obsession. And—she glanced at the clock again—after a six-minute twitter exchange, he wanted to meet her.
I must be insane.
He was young, but he wasn’t jail bait. Sure, why not?
Go ahead. Say yes.

Still, it would be three days before she’d return to DC. By that time, Hollywood Matt might change his mind.
She wanted to say yes. She wanted to talk to him…in person. Was Matt Stewart for real?
I’ll DM you when I’m back in town, she typed.

Matt went quiet for a few moments. His next words came as a private message and were accompanied by a photo of a huge gooey cinnamon roll. Mom & Dad say hi & Merry Christmas.

Emma laughed and returned his picture with one of her Christmas tree. Merry Christmas to the Stewarts.

SW ornaments on your tree?! You’re making me jealous @emmapc, Matt replied. LOL! You are awesome! Can’t wait for that coffee date.

Emma left for Charlottesville two hours later with Jenna, but not before a dozen more messages came from Matt.

“Are you alright, Mom?” Jenna asked as they headed west on the Virginia Sixty-Four in a car packed with presents and food for Nick, Anne, and their brood.
    “What do you mean?” Emma asked.
    “I know how you love Christmas, but you’re acting like me when I had a crush on Josh Lucas.”
    “I do not have a crush on Matt Stewart.”

Jenna laughed. “I see you looking at your phone, waiting for another message from Hollywood. Keep your eyes on the road, please.” She was dinking with her phone, probably wishing her own Facebook friends Merry Christmas.
    “I haven’t even met the guy. Besides, he’s too young.”
    “Whoa,” Jenna exclaimed. “He is gorgeous.”
    “You’re looking him up?” She strained to look at the photos on Jenna’s phone and keep her eyes on the road. Why hadn’t she thought of that before they’d left the house? “No fair.”
    “His IMDB page. He’s been acting since he was twelve.”
    “So that was what, about ten years ago?” Emma had no idea—he could be Jenna’s age for all she knew.
   “Twenty-one years in film and television. He’s thirty-two, no thirty-three. Born October first. Wait until I tell Uncle—”
    “Don’t you say a word to anyone. All we’ve done is trade Christmas photos and Star Wars trivia.” And I haven’t had this much fun talking to a man in…in more years than I can count. All she could think about was meeting him.
Emma blew out a breath as they drove through gently rolling hills. She tried to concentrate on the road.
    “And set up a coffee date,” Jenna was saying, making it impossible for Emma to get her mind off Matt Stewart.
    “He likes lattes,” Jenna added.
  “It’s just coffee. Not a date. He’s too young anyway.” Emma glanced sidelong at her daughter. “Does it really say that?”
   “Right after he mentions how his parents have been there for him. He’s a keeper.” Jenna tucked her phone into her pocket. “Have fun, Mom. You’re only twelve years older than Matt. Don’t let the age thing get in the way.”
Emma rolled her eyes. “Look, kiddo, if you were dating a thirty-year-old, I’d been damn worried.”
    “We’re talking about you, Mom. When was the last time you got la—”
   “Had a date?” Emma said before Jenna dove into a conversation she didn’t want to think about. Their honest relationship was fantastic, but talking about her sexual partners—or lack thereof—with her seventeen-year-old was beyond weird. “I went out twice with that accountant.” And there’d been the academic advisor from GU, a professor at GWU, a computer programmer, and the engineer. Eighteen years since she’d divorced Emma’s father and she’d dated five men, and hadn’t been laid in four years.
    “That was a year ago,” Jenna said.
    “It’s been busy at work, and with raising you.” Years of work, Jenna, eat, sleep. She did it, couldn’t complain. She settled for a world without a man in her life. It was good. And she had Jenna…though that was about to change. “You’ll be headed off to NYU next year. I won’t get to see you every day.”
    “You’re the best, Mom. Soon you can have some time to yourself. Just promise me one thing.”
    “What’s that?”
    “I want to meet Hollywood Matt. Even if you don’t fall in love with—”
    “Jenna!” Emma gasped.
    “…with him,” Emma said, finishing her thought. “Have your coffee date plus a second one with the three of us. I have to have a photo of us. Then you can dump him.”
     Emma laughed. “Make your girlfriends envious?”
    “That would be epic,” Jenna exclaimed.
    “What if he doesn’t want to meet up a second time?” Maybe I won’t want to see him again.
    “When you tell him I’m his biggest fan—”
    “You haven’t seen a thing he’s in.”
    “Yet. We have two days at Uncle Nick’s.”
     She wasn’t certain she liked that idea. Those were just parts Matt played, not the real guy.      “You’re a bad influence, kiddo.”
    “Best Christmas ever!” Jenna grinned.
   Emma shook her head and looked down the highway. She’d taken the curves in her life, faced challenges head on. Had she bypassed some to keep things easy, stable?

Live a little.
She thought she was living.
But maybe not.
Time to see what was around that next bend.

 © Charlene Newcomb

song: story inspired by “Before Your Love” by Kelly Clarkson
* Emma Peace is a character in:

about the author:
Charlene Newcomb. Char. That’s me.
Welcome to my worlds.
Navy vet.
Mom to 3 grown, amazing people.
I live in Kansas. Yes, Toto. Kansas.
Born & raised in South Carolina, I wanted a life of adventure and travel. I realized that dreams of hitting the big time with my all-girl rock band Liberation were just that – dreams. And becoming an astronaut wasn’t in the cards. So I joined the Navy to see the world and spent six years as a communications technician/voice language analyst. I fit college into my life (BA in History, and many years later an MA in Library Science). That desire to travel in space translated into writing science fiction: I published 10 short stories in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, many featuring a Rebel underground freedom fighter named Alex Winger. I have published 4 novels, one a contemporary family saga, Keeping the Family Peace; and 3 books in the Battle Scars series:  Men of the Cross, For King and Country, and Swords of the King. Battle Scars allows me to share my love of history with readers.
Travel remains a passion, with only time & money standing in the way. I enjoy quiet places in the mountains or on rocky coasts. But even in Kansas I can let my imagination soar.

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Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics but no copyright in names, titles or ideas
images via Pixabay accreditation not required

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The Full List of Authors

1st        Philip K. Allan     
 2nd      J J Toner         
 3rd       Catherine Kullman    
 4th       Helen Hollick              
 5th       Richard Tearle    
 6th       Barbara Gaskell Denvil
 7th       Nicky Galliers
 8th       Angela Macrae Shanks          
 9th       Katherine Pym  
10th      J G Harlond    
11th       Anna Belfrage
12th      Richard Dee
13th      Inge H. Borg
14th      Annie Whitehead
15th      Louise Adam
16th      Char Newcomb
17th      Alison Morton                         
18th      Kathryn Gauci
19th      Helen Hollick 
20th     M.J. Logue
21st       Helen Hollick 
22nd     Cryssa Bazos               
23rd      Jennifer Wilson                       
24th      Elizabeth St John  writing as Julia Darke                         
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  1. What a great story, just the kind of contemporary that I love. Is the rest of the story with Matt told in 'Keeping the Family Peace'?

    1. So thrilled you enjoyed this. I was looking for something light, airy, and fun to share and I'm a romantic at heart. #DDRevsStorySong gave me an opportunity to revisit Emma from Keeping the Family Peace. That novel takes place many years before this - Emma was in her 20s then (sister to the main character) and not a particularly likable person until near the end of novel! I won't spoil it in case you decide to read it.

  2. I don't know the song so I won't be earwormed all day. BUT, I will be wondering what happened on that first "date". But I'll never know, will I? Will they click? Will one or both look at the other and say 'Nah'? Is Hollywood Matt a conman? Oh Char - so many unanswered questions!! Well done!!!

    1. Thanks, Richard. I'll only say that Matt is not a con man :)

    2. Thank goodness. I was afraid he'd turn out to be my Edward's younger brother! But, since he's not, I say, Go For It, Emma.

    3. Thank goodness, he's no relation to your Edward, Inge. And I agree - Emma needs to take a chance on this one. :)

  3. What a sympathetic character Emma is! I'm so intrigued, I went onto Amazon and bought the book. Thank you for this, Char.

    1. Check my reply to Little Angelic Rose :) I think Emma will definitely grow on you as you get to the end of Keeping the Family Peace. Thanks for reading this story, and for buying the book.

  4. Perfect read while sipping my tea! loved how you brought social media into play. Made it very "real" - after all, so many of us interact that way these days.I'm assuming there will be latte and cinnamon buns aplenty in Emma's future!

    1. Thank you, Anna! Glad you enjoyed it. I know quite a few folks who met on social media and are now enjoying a HEA. I figured 'why not via Twitter?' and had been thinking about this when Twitter only allowed 140 characters, hence the setting in 2013 rather than 2018 (though because of her age, 5 years ago worked better too!). I'll be showing off a book cover I created for this on my blog soon.

  5. I have obviously read all the stories a they came in and when I scheduled them - but I am enjoying reading them all again as they 'go live'. This was lovely to read today with a cuppa and a mincepie!

    1. Thank you, Helen, but what - no latte or cinnamon buns? :)

    2. Not a latte person ...but Oh those cinnamon buns! Wish I had some!

  6. What happens next? Please, I can't stand the suspense :).

    1. I agree with you Lynn ... Char, you're going to have to write the book!

    2. I think there will be lattes and cinnamon buns in Emma's future, Lynn. She deserves an HEA. :) Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Helen - agh! A book? Perhaps another short story next year. :)

  7. So much fun to read. And as I head out to Pacific Coast Highway for my morning stroll on the beach, I'll look north and wave to Hollywood Matt ... or is he really on the East Coast? Loved it Char! :-)

    1. He'll be on the East Coast until New Year's, Elizabeth. So plan to wave at him next year! Thanks so much. I'm delighted to know you enjoyed the story (and I envy your morning stroll on the beach).

  8. Love to know what happened next, Char. I know a magician called Matt Hollywood. For a minute, I wondered if he had joined a dating site!!!

    1. How funny!! You'll have to ask him if he's a Star Wars fan ;) I didn't think to search that name on google, but at least at the time of the writing the twitter handles were unique.


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