About Me

My photo
Welcome to Heartstrings.Thanks for stopping by. I am a mother, a grandmother, and an author of historical western romance and contemporary romantic fiction. Ethan's Heart, book one of The Blackwood Brothers' series won the 2017 Maggie Award for Excellence. Book two, Escorting Darby Bloom, features Blackwood brother Isaac and will be released in December 2017. Stay tuned for more books in this series. If contemporaries are more your thing, check out Carly's Rule and Dusty's Fate. They are both Amazon Best-Sellers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Previously published in Woman's World Magazine

The Power of Love 
A romantic short story by Vickie King

     Samantha listened to the voice on the answering machine, "Hi, this is Mac. I can't come to the phone right now, so leave a detailed message after the beep, and I'll get back with you."
     Her chest tightened. She missed him, yearned to hear his voice, but part of her, the stubborn part, hadn't even wanted to make the call. "Mac, it's me . . . Sam. We've got plumbing problems again. I got an estimate, and it's really high. We need to talk. Just need to know what you want me to do. Uh . . . I'm having a garage sale, so I'll be home all day today."
     She hit end and sank into the kitchen chair. We need to talk about our marriage. That's what she really wanted to say. Her gaze roamed the kitchen. She and Mac had papered and painted, leveled the floor and bumped out the window over the sink for her African violets.
     They'd bought the Victorian fixer-upper the second year of their marriage, never dreaming they'd separate less than three years later. If their relationship continued on the same path, they'd have to sell the house.
     She recalled arguments over trivial things that had gotten blown out of proportion. Words spoken in anger had chipped away at the foundation of their marriage. The last argument, the one that had driven the wedge between them was still fresh in her mind. They'd planned a weekend getaway to Seneca Caverns--away from work, away from the phone, away from any distraction.
     Mac had appeared in the bedroom doorway that Friday evening, a roll of blueprints under one arm and a hard hat in his hand. He looked at the half-packed suitcase on the bed, then at her. She'd seen that look before, and her spirits sank.
     "I'm sorry," he'd said. "I just found out I have to work tomorrow. It's the only day I can get a crane, and the job has to be done by Monday."
     She shook her head. "No. You promised me nothing would come up this time. I already paid for the lodge."
     He dropped the blueprints and hard hat onto the bed. "We'll go another weekend."
     "No, we won't, because next time you'll have another excuse." She yanked clothes from the suitcase, then stuffed them back into dresser drawers.
     "It takes time to get a business going," Mac said. "I'm working all these hours for us, for our future." 
     "Us? We're never together. There is no us anymore."
     "You know I've always wanted to own my own business. I've worked too hard to give up now."
     "We need to work hard at our marriage, too." Samantha didn't bother to hide her tears.
     Mac raised his hands in defeat. "Why are we always arguing? I can't live like this anymore."
     "Then maybe you should find someplace else to live." The words had rolled off Samantha's tongue before she'd even considered their consequences.
     "Maybe I should." His voice had been barely above a whisper.
     Two months had passed since that fight. Now Samantha sighed and carried a box of kitchen items outside into the crisp morning air. She set the box on a table piled with odds and ends.
     "Well, that's the last of it," she told her sister, Tara, who tossed an old shirt into a box labeled Free. "That's not for sale," Samantha said, protectively grabbing the shirt. She traced the faded white number 10 on it. She'd slept in it more times than she could count. Somehow it had found its way to the back of the closet. She'd discovered it along with some of Mac's other mementos, as she'd gathered up stuff for the garage sale. All morning she'd been plagued by bittersweet reminders of her marriage.
     Two cars stopped in front of the house. Mentally, Samantha readied herself for the day. A while later, she spotted a little boy hugging her teddy bear. "Oh, I'm sorry, but that bear isn't for sale," she told the child's mother.
     "But there's a price on it."
     "My sister put it out by mistake."
    The woman lips tightened, and she straightened her spine. "Tommy, give the lady her bear." Curtness edged the woman's voice.
     He turned away. "No. Mine."
     "Mommy will buy you something else." The woman held out her hand.
    The child clutched the stuffed animal. His lower lip quivered.
    His mom looked at Samantha. "I'll give you a dollar for the bear."
     "I'm sorry, but it's not for sale." Samantha eyed the bear's faded brown fur, and something tugged at her insides. "My husband won it for me at a carnival when we were dating."
     "Look what I've got," a man's voice called from behind her.
     Samantha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. There was no mistaking that voice. The smooth baritone sound warmed her, thawing the bitter cold that had crept into her heart. Her pulse quickened, and bracing herself, she turned around.
     Mac stood behind her holding a toy train that had belonged to Tara's son. "How about we make a trade, Sport?" Mac wound up the toy and set it on the concrete driveway. The train took off in a circle. It's bell clanged, and the child's eyes widened. He dropped the bear.
     Mac picked up the stuffed toy and pulled the sticker from its ear. Mac's brown eyes held a hint of challenge in them. "If I remember correctly, it took eight or nine tries to win this bear." He held it out to her.
     "Thanks." Samantha reached for the stuffed animal. As she took it from her husband, their fingers touched. His hands were callused from work, yet she remembered how gentle they could be.
     She looked up at the dark hair peeking from under his cap and remembered just how much she loved the smell of his freshly shampooed hair when he stepped from the shower. Some things could never be erased.
     Mac picked up her lucky fishing hat from the table. "You're selling this?" His brows furrowed, and the muscle in his jaw visibly tightened.
     He had given her the drab, olive hat the first time he'd taken her fishing. "Tara put some things out by mistake--that's one of them." She touched it and smiled.
     "Remember when I gave it to you?" he asked.
     How could she forget Cranberry River in April, budding trees edging the placid stream? "You said it would bring me luck."
     Mac chuckled. "I didn't get another bite that day, but you--"
     "Practically wore my fishing pole out catching fish." She remembered other things about that day, too.
     They'd spread a blanket on the ground, had eaten cold chicken for lunch and shared iced tea from a thermos. She'd also gotten her fishing line tangled in a patch of poison ivy. The next day, with her face and hands covered in pink lotion, he'd told her for the first time that he loved her. Was he remembering, too? "You can have it, Mac. You're the fisherman."
     "But you love to fish."
     How could she tell him it wasn't the fishing she loved? She didn't really want to part with the hat, but she wanted him to have something to remind him of what they'd shared. "No, you keep it." For a moment they just looked at each other.
     "Okay," he said finally, his voice softening.
     They stood there gazing into each other's eyes. Then Mac looked down at the old fishing hat. As he lifted his head, the look in his eyes told her all she needed to know. Their marriage had been threatened, but it could still be saved. She'd let Mac slip out of her life once. She couldn't risk it again.
     "Mac, why are we doing this? Her voice broke over the words.
     "I've been asking myself that same question since the day I walked out. I finally realized all those hours I'd worked building a business for our future didn't mean a thing without you." He reached for her hand, determination in his eyes. "You are my future."
     "Oh, Mac," Samantha whispered. Tears pooled in her eyes. "We belong together. I want to work things out."
     Mac pulled her to him. "Me, too." His strong arms wrapped around her.
     She rested her head in the curve of his neck, his familiar spicy scent flooding her senses. Then she looked up into his eyes. "You still love me, don't you?"
     "Always," Mac whispered. His warm lips touched hers. He kissed her then, a soft, sweet kiss of promise.
      "I love you, too," she said, as he buried his face in her hair and held her close. "Forever."

© Copyright by Vickie L. King