I woke up with this story running through my head and I spent the next couple hours developing where it would go while I ran a few errands this morning. I finally got a chance to sit down at my computer and got the first few hundred words banged out. Ok, the first nine hundred words.
Is it possible to have a sweet werewolf romance?
Here’s the first bit of the (tentatively titled) Mates by Design:
Melissa Harris was hanging the sign for the yearbook pick-up at Mountain High Academy when the reminder that the edges were sharp became suddenly relevant. Large and plastic, the sign had to be at least twenty years old, bought as a gift to the school by a well-meaning if not overly thoughtful benefactor. There were hooks designed to hang it from the ceiling but they were difficult to attach and too unwieldy to do with everything on the ground. Thus, the hooks had to be hung first and the sign attached by someone standing on a ladder.
The ladder, of course, had been commandeered by one of the other booths at the end of year festival so Melissa had been forced to find the steadiest chair she could. It wasn’t steady enough or tall enough to be considered safe but she was certain she could put the sign up fast enough to not worry about it. She had one side of the sign attached and was trying to wrangle the other side up when she lost her grip, causing the bottom of the sign to skip down the inside of her left arm and the main body of it to smack her in the face, knocking her off the chair.
In the portion of her mind that wasn’t cursing the school’s long-ago benefactor, she was waiting for the impact of the long table behind her on her back. When instead she felt a wide chest and strong arms wrapping around her waist, she was surprised and it took a moment to realize her rescuer was asking her a question.
“Are you okay?” He repeated, his chest rumbling against her back as he asked.
“Um, yes?” She said then looked down at her stinging left arm. “Well, maybe no.”
He made sure her feet were under her then looked down at the blood running down her arm. “That doesn’t look good. Why don’t you go wash it off and I’ll see what I can do about your sign.”
“Yeah, thanks,” she said and hurried out of the gym to the girl’s locker room. Running water over her arm made everything sting but it also showed that it wasn’t as bad as she’d originally thought. Scrapes and shallow paper cuts marched down the inside of her left fore-arm and they stopped bleeding shortly after she dried them off.
The first aid kit in the locker room had gauze and anti-bacterial cleanser but no band-aids. Judging the cuts to be too small to bother with the gauze, she decided to run out to her car and get a few band-aids out of her glove box. First, though, she should thank the person who had saved her from a much more painful fall onto the side of a table.
Ducking into the gym, she found the sign up but the rest of the gym devoid of people. She sighed at the apparent ease with which he’d gotten the sign up then shrugged and started the walk to her car.
The end of year festival was always popular, especially for those parents who hadn’t put in a lot of volunteer time during the year. When she’d gotten there to help set up for the yearbook, Melissa had found both of the parking lots full and was forced to park at the church down the street. It wasn’t a long walk but the breeze irritated the abrasions on her arm and she gritted her teeth for the trip down the street.
She wasn’t expecting the big white truck that pulled up next to her as she walked through the parking lot.
“Need a ride?” Her savior asked.
She smiled at him and climbed into the cab of the truck. “You’ve saved me twice today. Thank you. I’m parked at the church.”
“I thought you might be, and it’s the least I could do after taking your ladder,” he said. “How’s your arm feeling?”
“It stings a bit. I was going to grab some band-aids and ibuprofen out of my car because I couldn’t find any at the school. I’m Melissa, by the way.”
“Henry,” he replied. “Which kid do you belong to?”
“Liam Harris, sixth grade. You?”
“Josh Johnson, eighth grade. So you’re Liam’s mom, huh?”
“Yep,” she nodded.
“I don’t remember seeing you at the school much,” he said.
“I wasn’t at the school much before this year. I got roped into helping with the yearbook so I’ve spent most of my time here in the computer lab showing the kids how to use the graphics and layout programs.”
“Liam’s not on the yearbook, is he?”
“Nope, yearbook is high schoolers only. I’m a graphic designer, though, and the computer teacher asked me if I knew anything about the programs they were using. When I found out there were only two students and the teacher working on it, I couldn’t no. I guess I’ve got a soft spot for overwhelmed yearbook staffs.”
They pulled into the church parking lot. “Well, I know they appreciate the help. I’ve heard some of the teachers talking about you.”
Melissa blushed. “Hopefully they were talking about the yearbook and not anything else.”
“What else could they possibly be talking about?” He asked with a grin. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Melissa.”
“Likewise, Henry. I appreciate the ride and the rescue.”
“You’re welcome, feel free to fall on my anytime,” he said as she slipped out of the door. When she turned to look at him, he laughed and waved. She laughed and shook her head while she walked to her car.