Welcome to birthday week! We're celebrating my birthday all week long with a short story I wrote just for the occasion, as well as a chance for you to win some ice cream. Want more information or to see the list of scavenger hunt clues you're looking for? Check it out here. If you missed yesterday's part of the story, it's here (you'll want to read it first).
Foreboding inched its way through her body as she glanced up at her apartment windows. No lights. Sarah and Lucy should be home by now. Hadn’t they promised to celebrate more with her tonight?
“Anything but a surprise party, God.” Cassandra muttered the prayer under her breath as she opened the door of her sister’s car.
“What did you say?” Paige stood beside her.
“I was praying.”
“Oh-kay.” Paige drug out the word, showing her skepticism. “Hey, do you still have that cute blue and white stripey dress? It would be perfect for my date this weekend.”
“Really?” Cassandra turned a frown on her sister. “Is that why you filled me up with ice cream? To get me in a good enough mood for you to borrow a dress?”
“No. The ice cream was the real reason I came. The dress was just something I thought of as we were hanging out.” Paige winked and then motioned for her sister to walk ahead of her.
“One day you’re going to have to get your own wardrobe instead of borrowing mine and forgetting to return most of it.” Cassandra huffed up the steps. “I’m going to come raid your closet soon so I can have most of my clothes back.”
“You’re such a drama queen.”
“You’re one to talk.” Cassandra unlocked the door and pushed it open.
Even though she had suspected it, the loud cacophonous roar of the greeting threw her off-balance. She took a step back and squished Paige’s toes. Her cheeks burned and she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment to try and find it in herself to act happy about this unwanted celebration.
“Cass?” Lucy tugged on her arm.
“You guys really shouldn’t have.” Cassandra forced a smile to her face, no longer caring if it were real or fake.
“And we told you that you only turn thirty once. We’ve got to live it up!” Sarah grabbed her other hand and pulled her into the crowded apartment.
Everyone from their Sunday school class, several co-workers, her parents, and Paige surrounded her with greetings and laughter. Was that the guy who lived down the hall? She didn’t even know him.
“You didn’t even get dressed?” Her mother’s voice held its usual disapproval. “Eating here with us in that get-up was bad enough, but you actually went out like that?”
“It’s not that much different from what Paige has on.” Cassandra hooked a thumb over her shoulder. “And she’s the one who lured me out without giving me a warning that I should wear something different.”
“I told you yoga pants weren’t a good idea.” Paige shrugged.
“Cass, there’s someone here I want you to meet.” Lucy grabbed her elbow and saved her from further discussion over her rotten life choices with her mother. Although, meeting a stranger wasn’t Cassandra’s idea of being rescued. More like out of one fire into another. “Where is he? I saw him just a minute ago.” Lucy raised up on her tiptoes, as if that would help her five-foot-one frame see over the heads of everyone around them.
Cassandra wished for the ability to turn invisible and hide somewhere quiet. Then, she could finish her book in peace and end her birthday how she wanted to.
“Don’t move. I think I see him over there. I’m going to grab him and be right back.” Lucy poked Cassandra in the chest.
Two seconds after Lucy walked away, the lights dimmed and a cake full of candles was carried into the room, the glow lending a sinister affect to Sarah’s smile above it.
The usual off-key chorus of the birthday song started slowly and then picked up speed and gusto, ending with several notes that weren’t originally meant to be there.
“Make a wish, Cassandra.” Sarah stood right in front of her.
Cassandra glanced around at everyone, her eyes landing on an unfamiliar face nearby. His smile made her heart skip a beat. She had planned to wish for everyone to disappear so she could go read, but suddenly, her desires took a different turn.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)