Authors: Allison Rios
Copyright © 2012 Allison Rios
All rights reserved.
If you’ve ever thought yourself too old or too busy
accomplish your dreams, I hope you
Life is short, but there is always
plenty of time to take a chance.
Plotting and Planning
A Mother’s Love
Beginning of the End
A World of Sacrifice
amazing husband, I have no words (surprisingly) to say how much your love and
encouragement mean. Every day with you is a great one.
sweet children X and Squish – may you always
you can make your
dreams come true and continue to build new ones. This will make life a
wonderful friends and family for their continued support in my writing
endeavors, especially P.O., C.R., D.E., M.J.P., K.B., J.M., J.S., J.O., S.G.
and M.G.V., R & M.R., Dad and the Breakfast Mamas. To have you in my life
is a true blessing.
– thanks for the push!
very patient and fun editor Nanette for long hours spent working. You believed
in this from the start and I believe you are destined for great things, dear
To my mother: although you are in
heaven, you always remain in my heart and soul. Thank you for your everlasting
belief in my writing.
To D.B.U., thank you for your time and
answers to inquiries about writing and publishing. You are an amazing author.
and A.K., thank you for serving as our cover models.
those who inspired some of the characters, I hope you always keep in mind how
great I think you are. Don’t ever let life bring you down; you deserve the
who read this book – thank you so much for the opportunity to take you on one
of my daydreams.
finally, to my Grandma
: thank you for sharing your
love of poetry with me and taking an interest in my writing. If it weren’t for
you, this book wouldn’t exist. Spring is in the air, Gram.
Spring Again by
The last long days of winter,
indeed, seems long,
That one has viewed a blade of grass
heard the birds in song.
The world is somehow brighter
coming of the spring;
The plants begin to nod to us
fairly dance and sing.
When nature opens wide her arms
thrill is everywhere -
The joy we feel to be alive
is in the air.
a welcome break from the chaos and noise of city life, where every moment
blended into the next in a hurried frenzy.
here or there in finely tailored suits and dresses, each looking to make their
next good impression on clients in hopes of becoming the next Wall Street
He hadn’t fit in well as a city boy since his
dreams and aspirations were slightly different and a bit slower-paced. He had
been drawn there for the simple fact that there were a lot of people; people he
could reach and perhaps assist. If he could do that, he felt that it would make
all the disorder in his life seem worthwhile.
red car rambled down the old, crumbling road. The pavement’s cracks made for a
bumpy ride and if the state was fixing roads then they definitely hadn’t spent
any money on this one. Potholes scattered both sides of the road and he was
just a misjudgment away from a flat tire and a dented rim.
Trees surrounded him on either side of the
road and created a tunnel of sorts. Where the tree’s branches opened up the sun
shone in and created a kaleidoscope effect on the road with the dancing lights.
The wind through his hair felt different than it had in the city, perhaps
because it was cleaner. Or perhaps just because he didn’t feel the same
pressure and angst that he had felt while living there. He felt a sense of
freedom here, far away from the constant push and pull of the city.
His hands gripped his steering wheel, the
black rubber covering now crumbling from years of wear and tear in addition to
the nervous hands of a troubled soul writhing on it.
If the scenery was any indicator, he was
right. The lush green trees clouded the sky as they came together across the
road to meet in the middle, the wind whispering a welcome. Greenery grew on
either side of the road, dotted along the way with wildflowers in intense
shades of pink, purple and yellow. Every once in awhile horses were out at
pasture, and he hadn’t seen another car in ages.
He pulled over for a break to stretch his long
legs after hours in the car. Pulling out his old, folded paper map, he
estimated his location and the length of time until he arrived at any
destination. As his tanned fingers traced the street on the weathered paper,
his backside resting on the leather seats, he heard the first sounds of an
engine other than his since about 100 miles back. The dented red pickup drove
up, slowing as it neared him. The tires kicked up some dust on the tattered
road as it pulled to a stop in front of him.
“Hey there stranger, need some help?” a soft
voice asked in a very powerful way.
It was clear she was an in-charge type of
person with that sweet southern look that you saw in movies. She hopped out of
the cab and onto the ground, making her way over as she sized him up. Her eyes
were as bright as the lights over a baseball field at night, and could lead a
man to feel as much about them – as if he could find a second home in them.
She wasn’t tall, yet wasn’t short either. Her
body was full, healthy. The skin peeking out from her tank top was tanned, the
light shade of the first days of summer. As she walked on up to the car without
giving away a sense of fear, AJ figured she was a bit fearless, approaching a
stranger on a seemingly abandoned road.
“You look a little lost.”
thought to say a person can’t be lost if they don’t know where they’re going in
the first place because that was the truth behind his driving.
“Is that a paper map?”
“Yes it is, ma’am,” AJ replied, smiling up at
this dark haired woman who, with the sun glinting off her hair from behind,
almost seemed to be an angel.
“People still use those?” Her sarcastic smile
bordered more on cute than annoying. She was in utter disbelief that someone
would actually use something like an ancient directional tool in the age of
He looked back to wrinkled paper. “I think
I’ll be just fine. I’m looking for a place to stay, maybe for a day, maybe for
awhile. Figured I’d find a town somewhere along the road and the map says
there’s one about a few miles up.”
“It is indeed. That’s where I’m heading, too.
It’s called Lee. You’re welcome to follow me if you’d like.” She paused and
raised an eyebrow as she looked him over again, her hands crossed over her
body, resting back on one heel as she sized him up. “Don’t you have a GPS or
something?” she laughed. “It’s easy to get lost out here.”
“I don’t,” he replied, still smiling. “Do
“I don’t either.
“Nope, I like the quiet.”
“Then why are you giving me such a hard time
about it?” he joked back.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” she replied,
her brown hair caught in the breeze and zipping up alongside her face as it
blew. “The only GPS or assistance I need is internal. You’re a stranger. I’ve
never seen you around these parts. You can get pretty lost up here and before
you know it, you’re 200 miles out of the way.”
“You sound like you know from experience,” he
“I may have gotten lost a time or two, but I
always found my way back home,” she replied, glancing towards town. “Hell, I
might still be lost. You just never know.”
Her laugh was contagious, and he couldn’t
help laughing with her. Partly due to the fact that this was the longest
conversation he’d had with someone in years.
“I’m hoping for the same,” he said, a piece
of him eager to find a home to build his life around. Maybe Lee would be it.
She tipped down the front of her straw hat,
parts of it frayed and worn, as if she were a cowboy in a black and white
western film. “Addie
“AJ,” he replied, nodding his head. “Last
She hopped back up into her cab, her hand
hanging out the window. She slapped the side of her truck a couple times and
motioned for AJ to follow her. He settled back into his car and followed suit
into her dust, heading towards the future.
He looked beyond her truck as the first mile
passed and was able to see the horizon of the town that he might potentially
call home, at least for awhile. Surrounded by trees and golden fields, the
buildings were old and the traditions older. It looked beautiful from the
outset. Buildings dotted the countryside, far enough apart to allow for acreage
and income from growing food for the country; close enough to share camaraderie
with your neighbors.
Just outside of town, Addie pulled over and
signaled for him to do the same. She hopped down off the truck and bounced over
to his car before he had the opportunity to get out.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” she said, leaning
against his car and looking towards the town. The scene looked like it had been
taken right out of history, as if the last two decades hadn’t even happened in
this quiet little place.
He was trying to get a read on her. No ring,
no jewelry at all. She seemed confident and a bit quirky - outgoing to say the
least. The focus was going to give him a headache later. He found himself not
“I was born here.
Met the father of my little girl here.”
Married, he thought.
She paused, looking back down at him. “My
mama died here, my grandma lives here. All in all, this town is my life.”
She looked in at him, grasped his window
frame with both hands and lowered her head down to his level. The smile
faded from her face and took on a seriousness he hadn’t seen on many women before.
“My point is I don’t know you, AJ
, or what you’re here for. What
should know is that if it’s for any
reason that could stir up this town, you might as well keep on driving through,
because where I come from we don’t take kindly to strangers that pose a threat
to our way of
’. If you’re here and plan on
’ a low profile, doing good deeds and
’ your neighbors, then welcome to Lee.”
Her face loosened up again into a smile, and
she leaned back a bit, folding her arms across her chest.
She was intimidating with her self-assurance.
AJ leaned towards his window.
“I’m not here for any trouble. All I want is
a quiet place to start over, pass my days. I won’t be a bother to anyone.”
“Good,” she said with a huge grin. “I knew I
liked you. And I’m pretty good at reading people.”
As she spoke, the words melded into each
other. He could see her lips moving, yet the world was devoid of any sound. A
ringing in his ears started, and then faded, as she brought her face back down
“Hey, you there?”
She waved her arms in front of his face, bringing him back to reality. “What’s
“Nothing,” he said, trying quickly to recover
and regain control of his mind.
“Just zoned out for a second.
Sure is beautiful out here.”
“Sure is.” She looked around, proud of her
home and of the life she’d built for herself – despite the fact that she didn’t
love everyone included in the entire Lee package. “Okay. Well, I have to get
going to get my little girl. Is there anywhere I can help you find?”
“Nope,” he replied, taking off his cap and
tossing it on the passenger seat, right onto his old fashioned paper map. “I’m
sure I’ll find something. I’m just going to walk around a bit in town.”
Don’t be a
stranger. It was nice to meet you AJ.”
She reached out to shake his hand, as it was
the way she had been raised.
“Sorry,” he replied. “I don’t want to be
rude. My hands are a little dirty and sticky from my trip.”
She drew back her hand and bit her bottom
lip. He was different than the guys she’d known her whole life here in town.
“You’re a strange guy.”
She turned, tucking her hands into her back
jeans pockets and moving back towards her truck. As quickly as she had come
into his life, she was gone in a trail of dust into the rustic little town.
He pulled up in front of a little restaurant
or café, though he was not sure which you’d call it in a town like this. He
wandered in, settling in an old-fashioned chair at the counter, like he had
been dropped right into the 1950’s. While the café itself looked old and
outdated, the food was the most delicious he had smelled in years.
A waitress appeared, her attire seemingly
transported from the same era, approached him with a towel draped over her
shoulder and her apron riddled with the day’s menu items. He imagined if
he was given a minute, he might be able to guess what they actually were. Her
hair was curled perfectly and sprayed tightly into place with a brightly
colored flower tucked behind one ear.
“May I take your order?” she asked, following
it up directly with, “You don’t look like you’re from around here.”
She leaned her elbow on the counter, one
eyebrow raised as she slowly looked over the newbie. It made AJ somewhat
nervous, as if he were facing a final exam again.
“I’m not, ma’am.”
He looked up to meet her gaze and found
himself in a staring contest. She wasn’t giving in, either.
“Just looking for a fresh
“You in some kind of trouble?”
He was beginning to realize people were not
subtle in this little town. They wanted answers and every little detail
about exactly who a person was and where they were from. The city had never
bombarded him with this closeness as people kept largely to themselves and
didn't intrude upon stranger’s lives. He quickly considered the possibility
that this might not have been the best place to move and be obscure.