FREE SHORT STORY: An Overheard Conversation By Charlotte Howard #freestory #shortstory

An Overheard Conversation

By Charlotte Howard

Click. Click-click-click. Click.

Clack. Clack.

Bang!

“Graham?” Sally hung her coat on the rack by the front door. She dropped her keys onto the coffee table alongside her handbag. “Graham? Are you home?” The cat purred and rubbed itself against the soft satin of her tights. Sally bent down, scooping the creature into her arms, and pressed her nose into his furry head before letting him jump back to the ground. She kicked off her shoes, adding them to the pile that grew and blocked the cupboard under the stairs. Leaning on the wooden rail, she tilted her to the ceiling and strained to hear any sounds.

Tap-tap-tap-tap.

Sally smiled to herself, and tip-toed towards the spare room. She stood in the doorframe, and watched as her husband continued to work. A heavy thump came from beneath the headphones that were glued to his ears. Sally walked over, and removed one. Graham spun around, eyes wide.

“Jeez… Sorry love. I didn’t hear you come in.” He looked at his watch. “You’re home early.”

Sally grinned and pressed her lips to the scratchy stubble of his cheek. “Oh Greg sent me to a meeting and it finished early. How’s it going?” she asked, scanning over the screen and not understanding a single word.

“Not bad. A client wants their website updating before this evening, so…”

“So you’re hiding away in your cave, and I will be an HTML-widow for the rest of the day.” She said it with a slight laugh, used to her husband choosing work over her. “I suppose it could be worse.”

Graham turned back to the screen. “Hmm?”

“You could be at the pub all night, or watching football,” she said, walking into their bedroom.

“Sorry what was that?”

“Nothing, love,” she called back, as she drew the curtains against the dying sun and the harsh orange light that forced its way through the clouds. She stripped out of her white blouse and knee-length black skirt, dumping them in the laundry basket in the corner of the room.

“Greg sent you to a meeting?” Graham asked, sneaking up behind and placing a kiss on the bare skin of her shoulder. “That’s a good sign isn’t it?”

“He had one with a client at lunch and it ran over, so he asked me to cover the one with the supplier.” She twisted around to face him, lifting a hand and sweeping her fingers through his dark brown curls. “You need a haircut,” she murmured, and pressed her lips to his. “I did overhear something today.”

“Yeah?” He wrapped his arms around her waist and they swayed from side-to-side.

“The girls at work were talking.”

“Girls tend to do that.”

Sally batted at his chest. “You know what I mean.” She pulled away from his grip, and walked over to her set of chest of drawers. Bending to the bottom one, she opened it up and took out a baggy T-shirt, tugging it over her head. She stared in the mirror for a while, and ran her fingers through her shoulder-length blonde hair. “They said that Greg was looking for someone to promote as his assistant.” She bit her bottom lip and turned to face him. “Do you think I’m in with a chance?”

“Of course you are love.”

Sally sat on the edge of the bed. She rolled down her tights and flung them so that they landed in a ball, on top of the blouse and skirt. “Do you think?”

“Yeah…” He knelt behind her and pressed his thumbs into the knotted muscles of her shoulders, circling and rubbing until she was moaning with delight. “He sent you to that meeting didn’t he?”

“Uh huh.” Sally closed her eyes and tilted her head up, groaning as Graham continued the massage. “There’s rumours of a takeover.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. Greg’s being going to loads of lunch meetings just recently, and been really secretive. Head Office have been in too. Rachel thought that he was being fired, but he was in this morning, so Tamsin said it was probably a takeover or something.” She stopped and twisted to face him. “Do you think he might be getting a promotion and moving to HO? Perhaps… Oh don’t stop… Mmm… Perhaps they’re looking for someone to replace him. Oh wow. Can you imagine if I got Greg’s job?”

“That would be great.” He kissed each spot where his hands had been. “I need to finish work.”

“Sadist,” she teased, and stood up. Graham disappeared into the spare room. Sally breathed out a frustrated sigh. Ever since he’d left his job, he’d spent his whole time buried under a mass of wires and USB drives. It hadn’t been all that bad though. He’d picked up some freelance work as a web designer, and was much happier than he’d been working from someone else. And he wasn’t seeing her every single day anymore. But the regular paycheque had been sorely missed.

Sally opened her wardrobe doors and ran her fingers over the different fabrics until she found a pair of comfy yoga pants. “What do you want for dinner?” she called as she pulled the pants on. She scraped her hair into a messy bun, and checked out her reflection. Even dressed in what she referred to as ‘scruffs’, she was still looked pretty damn amazing.

“Oh I don’t mind…”

Sally leaned around the doorframe to watch her husband as he continued to work. “Takeaway?”

“Erm… yeah. Sure. Why not? Do you mind if I just…” He let his sentence trail, and gestured towards the screen.

“Yeah.” Sally exhaled a nasal breath. “Of course. Sorry.” She headed downstairs, and grabbed her phone, ready to text her best-friend about the frustrations of out-of-work husbands and overheard conversations. She sank onto the sofa.

Clatter. Bang. Clatter. 

“Everything okay?” she called up.

“Yeah,” Graham called back down. “Bloody cat sent everything flying.”

Sally frowned, and stroked the animal laying on her lap.

***

“Be quiet,” Graham hushed, peering out of the bedroom door. “She’ll bleeding well hear you. I’m sorry, okay, I didn’t know she would be home so soon. I thought she was working late again.” He pressed a finger to his lips.

“Are you sure?” Sally called.

“She’s in the living room. If you’re quiet, and quick, you can make it out the front door. I’ll… I’ll distract her.” Graham walked down the stairs and into the front room. “Cup of tea?” he asked his wife.

“Please.” Her forehead wrinkled, her eyes narrowed. “What was all that noise?”

“I told you,” he said. “The…” He looked down at the animal that she was stroking. “Cat… Shit. Sally, it’s not what you–”

“It’s her again, isn’t it?” The cat hissed as it was shoved to the ground. “Jeez… Graham, I thought we were over this. You promised. You said…” Sally pushed past Graham and stopped dead in the hallway.

“Sally, please. I can explain. I–”

Sally stared ahead. “Greg.”

THE END

Bio

 My career as a writer started when I was young, writing poetry and flash fiction for my friends and family. After a few minor successes of having pieces published in anthologies, and later on-line, I decided to have a go at writing a full-length novel. My first attempt was a bit of a disaster, but after years of practice, I finally got that coveted First Contract. Since then, I’ve written several more novels and short stories, and I don’t intend to retire for at least another 50 years.

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Italian Playboy by Holly J. Gill

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Title: Italian Playboy

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Author: Holly J. Gill
Genres: #Romantic #Erotica #BDSM  #adult #language #18+ #HollyJGill #Italianplayboy

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Can A Playboy Ever Be Tamed?

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I’m an arrogant, self-righteous Italian guy who only thinks through one thing… I never see the same woman twice – it’s my rule. I throw the most outrageously wicked and sexy parties for my own satisfaction and relish on women like I do my fine dining. I’m a playboy by day and a playboy by night. They call me the Italian Playboy and I love it! Only, all of that changed one night when a dark haired beauty stepped into one of my sex parties. From the moment I laid eyes on her, I had to have her. But no sooner than…

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Guest blog with Oleander Plume

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Hiya! It’s me, Gunner Wilkes, taking over the blog tour today. First, thanks to Charlotte Howard for having us, it’s super cool!

I had the chance to interview Snake Vinter – space pirate/vampire/captain of The Frances – and he had some funny stories about Horatio. Hope you enjoy!

Gunner: You first met Horatio when you shared the same jail cell. Can you tell us about that?

Snake: First of all, I was in jail on trumped up charges. Indecent exposure. Listen, there is nothing indecent about my ass. My ass is not only decent, it’s spectacular. Anyway, I was sitting on my fine ass, reading a nudie mag the guard tossed my way, when a flash from above caught my attention. The next thing I knew, a rather bulky bloke was falling into my cell. At first, I thought one of my enemies sent him to murder me, so I…

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His Laughing Girl by Ellen Whyte #BBW #Romance

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The heart is made from Zamak,Hypoallergenic Jewellery made from an alloy of zinc aluminium magnesium and
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Help get word out about His Laughing Girl and His Competent Woman by reviewing andposting

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His Laughing Girl A BBW- Billionaire Romance


By Ellen Whyte
30,000 words
Self Standing and Complete
$2.99

     “To being wicked.” His grey eyes were laughing at me. “Together.”

The pleasant thumping in my knickers became a vigorous pounding. Richard
Cummings was gorgeous. I could feel his charm wrapping around me like a
warm blanket.

Irresistible, right? I heard myself quip, “Are you Cumming onto me?”

He bounced right back, “Absolutely.”

Oh well, I told myself. It’s just…

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Out Now—On Her High Horse by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #romance #medical #cougar

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onherhighhorse.jpgBlurb:

Do first impressions always last?

When veterinarian Brett Coulson and stable owner Samantha Hanson-Bishop meet, it’s hate at first sight. He thinks she’s a snobby, stuck-up bitch who wouldn’t know nice if it bit her on the backside. She thinks he’s a blundering, inexperienced little boy who shouldn’t be within fifty miles of her prized horses. But it doesn’t matter much—they’ll never have to see each other again. Or will they?

When fate throws them into the same room together at a charity fundraiser, the resentment between them quickly resurfaces. But mixed in with that resentment is something they both tried to deny… attraction. Will the chemistry between them cancel out the animosity, or were their first impressions just too powerful to change?

Note: On Her High Horse was previously published in the Coming in Hot Boxed Set.

Buy links:

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/OHHH

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2ucGHKX

iBooks…

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Why I don’t do book signings, AKA: Social anxiety & me.

I get asked all the time: “Are you doing a book signing any time soon?” “Are you going to the RNA conference?” “Are you going to the **insert local town** festival?” And my answer is always “No”. Why? Because I suffer with social anxiety.

Hubby and I joke about me being anti-social. I distance myself from people all the time. I turn down coffee mornings, I make excuses so I can’t go to parties and events, I even avoid going into town if I can. Social anxiety sucks. But is it really that bad? Is talking to someone really going to kill me? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop me feeling like I am about to die. So what are the symptoms of social anxiety?

*Sweaty palms

*Feeling sick

*Chest feels tight

*Need to go to the toilet every five minutes

*Churning stomach

*Aching muscles in my neck

*Headache

*Panic attack (feeling faint, chest pains, can’t breathe properly, arms and legs start shaking)

*Feeling like everyone is looking at me

*Running over worst case scenarios in my mind

Imagine going through all of this at just the thought of having to talk to people. That’s social anxiety. You can read more about it here.

photo-4.jpg

At the Festival of Romance in 2014

Every time that I have done a book signing or gone to an event I have had to take someone with me; my mum, my husband, my two best-friends. I cannot do it on my own. And even then, when I stand up and do a reading, I feel like I’m going to pass out and rush through it so that it’s done.

I can’t help my social anxiety. I’ve had cognitive behavioural therapy, which has made it easier (I can go as long as someone I know and trust is with me, as opposed to just avoiding them all together), but I still struggle on a daily basis to meet new people.

I would love to organise a book signing, and get my face out there, but the prospect of being an utter failure (like the Festival of Romance where I sold 2 books and gave 1 away, and then came home with 50 books in a suitcase that I am STILL trying to shift) weighs on me. I don’t want to be that sad, lonely author sat in a bookshop begging people to buy a book – and yes it does happen, because I’ve had it happen to me. I was a reader, and an author literally cried because nobody would buy his books. I ran away and hid in the children’s section until I could sneak behind him without being grabbed again. I don’t want to be him.

I want to go to more events. I want to interact with other authors and readers. I want to sell my books. But even meeting people I’ve met before can be tricky. I feel like I’ll look like an idiot, because I’m very good with faces, but I’m convinced that nobody will remember me. That’s happened before too. Not in an author / reader setting, but I started chatting with someone I’d met a few times through Yeovil Creative Writers, and she ran away because she clearly had no idea who I was. Super embarrassing because it happened in front of a group of other people who saw it all. I wanted the ground to swallow me up, and I’ve avoided bumping into her since, in case it happens again, or she laughs about how she didn’t know who I was. Ha, ha, ha.

Equally, there are times when I don’t know who people are – for instance, authors who like their anonymity. I’ve never seen their faces (because we’re friends online), but spoken to them loads. I’m supposed to know them. I don’t want to be that person who runs away and feels awkward because I can’t put a name to the face. See, that’s another problem. Something that might be construed as “do you remember that funny time when I didn’t know who you were, and how we laughed…” for “normal” people, is an event that makes me want to curl up into a tight ball and cry.  So, I avoid group events where I could bump into people I’m supposed to know, or where they are supposed to know me. Just in case that awkward “who the hell are you?” moment happens.

So, I sit at home with my social anxiety, trying to convince people to buy my books online, because I can’t physically meet anyone.

It’s not you. It’s me. And my stupid anxieties.