Riley’s Epiphany. A Short Story

I hope that you’ve had a fantastic November. I haven’t shared any writing tidbits in a while, and as I’m finishing up this manuscript for Book 2 in my YA sweet romance series, I thought that I would improvise the first scene from another potential story. Enjoy!

Riley’s Epiphany

Riley saw her, and he knew that she was his.

It wasn’t about possession or dominance; it was the bone-deep confirmation that an integral part of him – a part that he didn’t even know was missing – was suddenly standing right in front of him. Never had he seen a smile so radiant with a row of perfectly straight, white teeth that were slightly too large for her mouth. Even her body couldn’t contain the potency of that smile, he thought with a half-grin. Her lips were full, their perpetual pout sensual and playful at the same time. His eyes, greedy and eager to take all of her in, were drawn to those moistened lips, broad and slightly flushed as she bit the lower one to contain her mirth.

The sight of her easygoing, positive nature made an unfamiliar heat unfurl in the center of his belly. The warmth gave his courage sustenance that he otherwise never would have had. Detmernined steps were fuled by a confidence that Riley would normally never possess. What would he say to her? What should he say to her – “Hi there, I’m Ri, and I just want you to know that you’re my future wife”? The absurdity of the thought made him smile.

His smile must have caught her attention because suddenly, she was walking towards him – no,  it was an all out squeal and skip-run combination. His grin grew wider – could she feel the connection between them, too? 

Arms outstretched, he stood, knees bent, his body braced in anticipation of her approach.  She ran, smiling, now laughing – her pure joy sparkling like the myriad particles in a sunbeam – right into the arms of his best friend.

In the back of his throat, Riley tasted the bitter bile of hate for the first time in his life.


Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more.

Short Story: Ali & Nick (Continued)


Ali & Nick

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve returned to Ali & Nick. Sometimes, when I’m delving in the business of other folks, aka writing, some stories rush forward, demanding to be told, while others choose to take the time of a gently blossoming flower. The story with Ali and Nick is a bit more like the latter than the former.

If you haven’t had a chance to get to know Ali & Nick, or since it’s been a while, get to know them in the first installment of the short story here. Now, without further adieu, their story continues…


“I’m just gonna assume that you’re Nick.” Her strong voice was no nonsense, smooth as butter, and carried the faint overtones of reproach.

“Yeah, that’s me.” Why do I always sound like an idiot in real life? 

When a computer is in front of me, it becomes my shield, and I can approach anyone as though we are equal. My confidence soars, and I know exactly how I want to express myself. If the words don’t look right, I can simply erase them and try again. In real life, I only get one chance, and as soon as I open my mouth, I somehow end up feeling like a first-class dunce.

Miraculously, she sat down, and I scrambled to remove the scarf that I’d thrown over the chair to reserve a spot for her. I send a silent prayer of thanks to my Grandmother for having at least taught me manners. Nervously, I cleared my throat.

“Thank you so much for coming. I know that neither one of us is really into meeting face to face…” 

As soon as I mentioned the word face, I lost my train of thought. Ali is truly beautiful. Now that I’ve had a chance to see her in real life, her profile picture seemed like a caricature. Her eyes were the color and shape of a roasted almond, a mesmerizing shade of light brown just on the verge of turning dark. At first glance, I could tell that those eyes were perceptive — they noticed everything with judgement and a hint of distrust. Under her intense scrutiny, I was no exception.

“…And yet, you insisted that we meet.” Ali readjusted herself in the overstuffed chair, scooting back with her legs primly crossed at the ankles. 

I battled with my eyes to keep them above her neckline, but eventually, I lost the war. Her legs got longer by the second, and that eggplant purple skirt ended just a few tantalizing inches above her knees. The black button-up blouse that she wore was modest, some sort of silky material with long sleeves and a high collar. I don’t know how it worked, but it did. She pulled off sexy and sophisticated at the same time, and while I felt nothing but admiration and attraction, I also felt even more inept wearing just jeans a t-shirt with the logo of my brother’s auto shop business. When my eyes finally returned to hers, a faint sparkle of mirth in them reminded me of gold.

“Yeah, I know.” I sighed and ran a hand through the length of my hair. I was overdue for a haircut, but times were tough and I didn’t have the $20 to throw towards vanity. 

“So, now that we’re face to face, what is it that you feel you need to say, Nick? You already know that I’m out of my comfort zone here, but the past few months have been… nice.” Ali paused, and I could have sworn that the heat of a blush stained her cheeks.

“Look,” I started, already exasperated by the amount of words we’d already exchanged, but hadn’t really gotten anywhere. “I just needed to see you, face to face. I needed to know if you were — real.” 

There, I said it. At risk of looking like a complete idiot in a public place, I had to lay everything out on the line. Because the truth of the matter is, this online thing between us isn’t enough for me anymore.

“What do you want from me?”

Her features had softened at my outburst, and now she stared at me thoughtfully, with genuine interest. I was relieved that she hadn’t walked away, or worse, outright laughed in my face. Still, I knew that Ali was highly intelligent, and combined with her beauty and wit, she was definitely a force to be reckoned with.

There was no way that I could honestly answer her question. Not now. Not when my mouth, heart, and soul wanted to confess to her that I wanted anything and everything she was willing to give me.


I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Be on the lookout for my next installment (sooner rather than later).

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook for more.

When Characters Become Dictators

Sometimes Characters Tell You Who They Are. Sometimes They Don’t.


Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, maybe I can go ahead and finish this manuscript that should have been finished 2 months ago.

When you write, it’s amazing to see how many different approaches and techniques that you’ll inevitably use. Each project is like a new experiment, what worked once is never guaranteed to work a second time. Well, except for the sit down and write part.

My latest work, a sweet, YA novella that is slated for release in late October, is the one that is giving me grief. Already at 16,500 words, this novella is screaming for more character depth and development. The heroine and hero want to be super fleshed-out, not just two little gamey tropes, and here’s the gut-puncher of it all – they BOTH want their stories told in the first person narrative.

Which, for whatever reason, totally isn’t my thing. Normally, my developed stories play out in my mind in an arc, and I get to report to everyone else as I observe the action as it takes place in the sweet-spot of third person omniscient.

Not this time.

Stories WANT to be Written

My husband keeps chuckling because I’m complaining about how the story wants to be written in the 1st person. It may sound strange when I say things like that, but it’s totally true. Eventually, stories have lives of their own. It’s a beautiful thing, and a frustrating thing at the same time. I can fully understand how some people call their works “book babies”, because there are a few similarities involved. In any case, this novella is currently throwing a tantrum, and at 3:00 this morning, I finally heard my hero whine “Hey, what about my side of things?” (Insert eye-roll here.)

Since he’s 100% right, damn him, I’ve got to go back and slap his perspective on everything in subsequent chapters. Had this story wanted to be written in 3PO, I would have been finished months ago. Now, I’m off schedule by about 3-4 weeks, and you know, no pressure there.

Teenagers. *Sigh* Here’s hoping for the best, and that I do these kids justice.

Sending Love and Light to you all.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time.™

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, writing. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.



Short Story: Ali & Nick

Short Story: Ali & Nick*

Nearly a year ago, I posted the beginning of a quick pants short story, and then I completely forgot about it. I rediscovered it during Toddler nap time yesterday, and so I added a little bit more to it. The original posting of the story is here, but for convenience, I’m re-posting the beginning of this short story here as well.

As usual, I invite you to let me know what you think! Comments appreciated.


She was the silent type. It would have been an awesome and somewhat mystical trait if she had also been strong, but she wasn’t. Not yet.

For years, Alissa had been perfectly fine flying solo, and after that disastrous train wreck that she’d mistakenly called a relationship with Dax, being alone had been a good thing. She needed to heal; she was determined to remember to love herself before she tried loving anyone else.

Besides, she knew that when the time was right, her feelings and intuition would give her the courage to take action and move forward. Today, Ali knew that the time had come.

Squaring her shoulders and taking a deep breath, she held her head high as she advanced upon her target. This guy didn’t know it, but a serendipitous hurricane was heading his way.


He felt her presence before he saw her. Nick had already memorized her features from her profile picture, so he took his time before looking up from the glare of his computer screen. He just barely resisted the urge to adjust the frame of his glasses with his thumb. Reviewing facts always calmed his nerves, so he ran through the shortlist of everything he thought he knew about her.

Her name was Ali, she was a junior, and she had long jet black hair (thanks to two $5 dye kits from the store, she’d confessed), and apparently had shapely legs that went on for miles and miles down to impatiently tapping feet that had an at-home, slightly rushed looking pedicure. Well, the last facts had been observations in real time.

Nick cleared his throat and willed his heart to stop beating in his ears like an obnoxious drum. During one of their late-night chats Ali warned him that she was a mess; yet even after he’d confessed his own shortcomings to her, she’d still been willing to show up at this random hipster cafe to actually meet him in person. She’d given him a chance, and he was already half in love with her for that small miracle alone.

He just hoped like hell he wouldn’t blow it.


I recognized him before I even saw his face. Hunched over a laptop, his back was toward the front entrance of the cafe. Since he was the one who proposed meeting here in the first place, I was a little confused. It had taken all of my strength to gather enough courage to show up in the first place, and now he’s placing me in the position of risking possible humiliation by approaching a complete stranger like I’m desperate or something. Far from it — I know my worth.

The familiar burn of sudden rage churned in my stomach, threatening to erupt in the form of bile. Wait a second, Ali, I reassured myself. It’s Nick. He’s not one of them. Give him a chance. These days, being my own voice of reason was my only saving grace. 

As I stood near the door of the coffee shop, I took a deep breath and weighed my options. He hadn’t turned around, so I could still back away and escape before he even noticed that I had come. We’d both given each other a way out in case either one of us lost our nerve; maybe this was his method. 

Taking advantage of the slightly crowded, yet still cozy coffee shop, I perched on a wooden bar stool and pretended to study the  gigantic menu ahead of me on the left wall. Nick was seated near the back of the shop, apparently in a designated quiet area. A vacant brown pleather seat next to his caught my attention. A sapphire-blue scarf with appliquéd peacock feathers was carefully draped over one of the arms of the well-worn chair, a clear indication that the seat had been reserved for someone. An involuntary gasp escaped from my throat. That was the present that I had made for him after his grandmother died a few months ago. He swore to me up and down that everywhere he went, that scarf went, too. I was certain that he was exaggerating, attempting to flatter me, until now. Even from my safe distance I could see that the scarf truly had been well-worn. I’ll have to make another one for him, I vowed. 

Taking my time, I studied what I could gather of his physique. He definitely had stringy, chestnut brown hair that he had warned me about; it was a bit longer than I personally preferred, but it was his head, so I guessed that he was pleased with the length going slightly past his neck. I had expected him to be a super tall string bean kind of guy, but from what I could tell from my pseudo-hidden position, he seemed to be of average height, about 5’9 or so. His shoulders were more broad than I had anticipated, and a flutter of surprised attraction swirled in my belly. I knew that he worked out because of his older brother, but I have to admit that I hadn’t expected that it would be so, well, obvious. 

The realization that Nick could actually be an attractive guy suddenly made me nervous. I know that this sounds snobbish, but I was kind of expecting him to not be the hottest guy in the world. Actually, the way he described himself, he almost made Quasimodo sound handsome. I knew that he had self-esteem issues — don’t we all — but to a certain extent, when he had described himself in such a negative fashion, I believed him.

His back suddenly straightened, as though a chill had clutched him by the shoulders and pulled him to attention. It was strange; in that very instant, I knew that he had finally sensed my presence. Still, he didn’t turn around; instead, he adjusted his computer screen, obviously relying on its reflection to reveal my actual location to him. Coward. 

Quickly tiring of the Cat and Mouse game, I stood up, straightened my purple and black skirt and blouse, slung my thick braided hair behind me, and walked straight towards him. 


Oh crap. I knew that I was in trouble the second I heard the barista address Ali as she floated by the counter, beelining in my direction.

“May I help you?” The perky barista practically look ready to jump over the counter and give out free hugs to all customers. Ali barely glanced at her as she maintained her pace.

“No, I can help myself. If I need anything, I’ll let you know, thank you.”

The succinct, clipped tones emanated from a voice that reminded me of indulging in one of Grandma’s honeyed biscuits on a Sunday morning. Sweet, savory, buttery, and hot all at the same time. Who was this woman? And why the hell was she still showing interest in a throwaway like me?


*The Next Installment of Ali & Nick’s story continues here!

I can’t wait to find out what happens next! Be on the lookout for my next installment (sooner rather than later).

Sending Love and Light to all of you.

©Atina Atwood 2018 Exploring Love and Life, One Word At A Time

– Atina Atwood is a southern girl who moved from Europe to the West Coast. A former university professor in Germany and California, Atina stepped away from Academia to focus on her miracle child, life, love, food, quilting, and of course, Romance. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for more.

Whatever Happened to that Free Ebook I promised?

My sister sweetly reminded me the other day that in a previous post a few months back, I promised to write a free ebook before this year ended. Well, thank you for the reminder, and I’m happy to say that I wrapped it up last month in November! I’m pretty pleased with it, and I’m hopeful that you will be, too.

So, that’s the good news. The not so fantastic for the short-term follower is that I am definitely postponing the release of this ebook because, well, it actually inspired me to expand on my series beyond the original novels. That means that each book continues to be a stand-alone, but you can also now expect a shorter story involving the original characters to have another dance in the limelight.

Meanwhile, look for the continuation of a story I started in a previous blog post, Skies of Gray (it was originally “Shades of Gray”, but I’m modifying it to avoid confusion). The next installment can be found on my blog next month in January.

As this year closes, I wish all of you a safe, uneventful ending to this year, and a Happy New Year 2018 filled with happiness, laughter, love, and if you’re open to it, romance. 💜