Shifting into Love Part 3


So sorry this is late, but the life of romance writers is, unfortunately, not always glamorous. If you’re here for the first time, please check out Part One and Part Two. Otherwise, please enjoy and help Samantha decide what to do at the end.


Samantha pressed her spirit through the door handle as the stranger tried to open it again. Warmth spread through her at his touch, and their souls mingled for another moment. He didn’t even try to open the door. She watched him step away from the red head and look around the bar. It would have to be enough, but he’d most likely drive off once his bike was fixed.

The ringtone echoed. Samantha relinquished her small amount of control over the bar and removed her hands from the tabletop. The cellar came back into focus. “What’s up Shannon?” she asked after pulling her phone out of her back pocket. The feel of his wanderlust lingered until her sister spoke.

“Make my fucking headache go away.”

“Ummm, take two aspirin and call me in the morning?”

“It’s Harrigans calling me.”

Samantha didn’t know what to say—it was exactly what she’d worried about, but she still couldn’t understand why Harrigans would want Shannon when she’d left so long ago. After a second, she took the tact she always did as a bartender. “How’s life treating you?”

“No. This is not about my divorce or job loss. This is about–”

“You lost your job?”

Silence answered Samantha. The divorce had been painful to hear about only by phone, and now her sister had no job. “There were massive layoffs last month. I haven’t found a new one yet.”

Maybe Harrigans was loosening his grip to make room for her sister—not a replacement, but a partner. “Come home, Shannon. You should be here.”

“I don’t even know where you are.”

“But you always know how to get here.”

The line went dead.

The bar was usually placid, but as soon as Shannon hung up, the ground of the cellar tilted Samantha toward the stairs. “If you wanted me to go after him, why did you block his soul from me?”

The only answer was a gentle lift up to the stairs. She took them two at a time and burst out of the doorway. But the stranger was gone along with the red head. As she stared through the crowd, the front door of the bar opened as if the wind had blown it.

Samantha caught her breath—the outside. She only ever saw glimpses like postcards of distant places she’d never visit. Staring out gave her the shakes. It was almost as if the bar was telling her to leave. It couldn’t just kick her out like this. Not after all these years of being together.

The sunlight reflected off red metal. She squinted—she actually had to squint. When her eyes adjusted, she saw a crimson motorcycle, which was old fashioned in style, but appeared mint. Something about it tugged at Samantha; she wanted to sit on it, to ride it. She realized with a jolt that there was already someone on it: the red head. The stranger stood with his hands across his chest, watching the mechanic. He appeared angered or maybe just annoyed.

The door waved back and forth as if it beckoned her outside. Samantha stepped behind the bar, afraid to get too close to the door. She placed her hands on the bar, ready to serve, but no one needed a drink. A breeze blew by her ear and seemed to whisper, “It’s okay,” but she decided it was only her imagination, at least she only wanted it to be her imagination.

And then she met eyes with the stranger again.

At that distance, she only saw black, but she thought, or maybe she wished, that the eyes smiled at her. The frown, though, as her turned back to the mechanic was unmistakable. He shook his head and said something that made her get off the bike and strut back into the bar as if she’d been extremely put out.

The stranger followed her in, but headed straight for the bar while the red head returned to her booth. The door remained open.

Samantha grabbed a rag and began wiping down the bar like she hadn’t been standing there watching anything going on. Her heart pounded faster when he spoke, and Samantha felt another pull away from Harrigans.

“Could I have whatever you have on tap?” His voice was strangely intimate, as if he only wanted Samantha to hear him speak.

She opened her mouth, but her eyes glanced outside again, making her mute. She turned away, took a beer mug off of the shelf, tilted it under the tap and watched a dark stout flow out.

“Nice,” he said behind her. “I got a taste of that when I was traveling through Europe. I don’t see it much on tap back here.”

Samantha turned back to him and set the mug down. She stared at the motorcycle again and said in a strangely breathless voice, “Did you take your bike over there?”

“Yeah, she’s beautiful isn’t she?”

“I’ve never seen one like her.” Samantha found it odd that she called the motorcycle her, but the bar was always male in her mind. Maybe it wasn’t so strange.

“I’m Levi,” he said.

She gazed back into his umber eyes and said, “I’m Samantha. Was she able to get your motorcycle to start?” Samantha knew the answer, but she wanted to hear more of what had happened.

“She had no idea. Of course, I don’t either, but I couldn’t believe she suggested that I was out of gas.”

“Yeah, how dare she.” Samantha tried to hide a smile when he looked up, but didn’t quite manage it. She was glad because the grin that spread across his face made even the music in the bar play with a happier beat.

“You caught me. I can be a bit of an ass when it comes to my bike.”

“Everyone’s a pain in the ass over something.”

“And what about you?” His hand reached out and took one of hers.

Wanderlust wrapped around her heart. She searched his eyes, determined for a hint as to what he needed from the bar besides a working motorcycle, but Harrigans kept blocking her. His eyes widened, and she realized maybe he could sense something from her spirit. She slid her hand out from his and said, “I can be a bitch when it comes to the bar.”

“I imagine you’ve kicked a fair share of people out of here. And you play pool like a shark.”

“Seems like I missed my shot when you walked in.” That was the wrong thing to say, or maybe the right thing.

He leaned in closer and said, “I’d like to think it was because of my incredible presence.”

Samantha broke into laughter. “You’re quite full of yourself.”

“Only around gorgeous women. Want to get a closer look at my bike? Maybe you have the magic touch to get it started.”

The door to the outside world stood wide open. Samantha couldn’t see much beyond the bike and the parking lot. She looked down at the beer she’d drawn from the tap. She never left the bar. It’d be the first time since her grandma had died if she went out. She hadn’t even realized she missed the open world until today when Levi walked in.

Maybe if her sister was here, she could go outside, but not now, not when the bar seemed to be loosening its hold on her. If she left, the bar could crumble, well, okay, she had no idea what would happen to the bar if she left.

What should Samantha do? Go outside with Levi, or play it safe and remain in the bar?

Shifting into Love

Dear Readers,

Welcome to my second Crowd Chooses Romance! If this is your first time, all you have to do is enjoy the story segment and post in the comment section which decision you’d like Samantha to make. For April Showers, I let the women who posted a vote every time choose an aspect of this story. Thanks to Janet, Shannon and Jeri for your input on the characters and genre!


Shifting into Love

by Evelyn Aster


The fluctuation almost passed through Samantha’s soul without perception—the emotions of the bar crowd always pervading her and demanding her attention. But as she pulled the cork out of the bottle of wine for the couple that sat before her in the corner, the shift seeped into her lungs like the oxygen entering the bottle for the first time in a century. The smooth jazz music playing throughout the bar crescendoed and dimmed once again—longer than a beat but shorter than a measure.

She paused with the corkscrew in the air to gauge her connection to the bar she tended and owned: the change had been a loosening.

No. She gave her head a slight shake.

It was easy to imagine odd movements in the atmosphere. She put the corkscrew down and picked up a glass, pouring a sip of the maroon liquid into it. The man took it from her—the CEO variety with manicured looks and a tailored suit. He was trying to mend his relationship with the woman next to him. Samantha didn’t know what he’d done wrong—she only knew his sincerity of love mixed with the wine would go far in sewing together the woman’s broken heart.

He sniffed the bouquet and took a sip. When he nodded, Samantha filled the woman’s glass and then finished filling the man’s. The couple drank at the same time, and Samantha watched the hues of a red wave between them, mending the break and making their hearts whole.

The sound of smooth jazz fell away along with the dimmed lights, private booths and floor to ceiling wine racks. The walls and floor waved until classic rock blared out of a jukebox, vinyl booths torn and faded replaced the leather ones, dart boards took over the wine rack area and a pool table with a stained glass light hanging over it took up the center of the room.

Samantha put her hand on her chest and breathed easier. The moment earlier had just been a warning of the change to come—a change that happened all the time like pushing the reboot button on the computer. The pool bar was her home setting—the place she could most be herself.

She walked through the now empty room to the bar in the back with the mirror running behind it. The tight jeans rubbed comfort into her long legs, giving her hips a bit of a sway. She had just enough time for a shot of whiskey before the rowdy crowd arrived; she needed it to take away the lingering unease from the moment before. The bar hadn’t loosened its connection to her; it was as strong as ever. She grabbed a bottle of her best and a shot glass from under the bar. The liquid fired down her throat but refused to assure her that she had imagined the bar distancing itself from her.

She took another shot as a group of men and women entered dressed in jeans and concert t-shirts. They were just here to have a good time—they didn’t require special treatment like the couple had. The second shot of whiskey ran through her blood, convincing her that everything was normal: the bar only had her. They were entwined like lovers in a marble statue; no shift could loosen the bond.

People kept arriving, and Samantha kept the drinks flowing to everyone without ever taking an order. The bar told her what people needed, even if it wasn’t their favorite. A few men in painter’s overalls scoffed at the rum and coke she offered instead of their favorite beers, but after one sip, they quit arguing.

As she sashayed between the bar and the booths, she forgot about the loosening between her and the bar—it had been a mere figment of worry. When everyone had a drink and the bar was filled, Samantha took to the pool table. Her thoughts fragmented when she broke the balls apart, and she felt a rift down her spine as if the bar tried to break from her again. She straightened her back and shook the feeling off again as two balls sunk into pockets. Her opponent whistled and said he was glad they hadn’t bet.

She gripped the cue harder and leaned down again. Outside, a motorcycle engine pulsed its sound into the bar in time with the music. It entered her spine in the slight space the bar had left when it tried to break from her again. Samantha straightened her back without taking a shot. The bar was her home; her better-half; her only love. She had no use for motorcycles and was glad when the engine stopped.

She leaned down again to take her shot and try to woo the bar to complete her again—she knew the bar enjoyed it when her opponent never even got a turn. But right as the cue slid between her fingers, the door swung open and in stepped a man as tall as her slender six-foot height. The cue grazed over the white ball and made a sound that would’ve caused her to cringe, except her heartbeat filled her ears instead.

She slowly stood straight as her opponent laughed, but her eyes were only for the stranger. His unshaven face seemed to match the wanderlust in his eyes and awoke a yearning in Samantha she hadn’t experienced in ages—a yearning for the outside.

When his eyes met hers, the pleasant tingles of new romance played through her body. She turned away from him and the table. She didn’t need this, she didn’t need him. Anyway, he was too young—maybe thirty years to her fortyish. She needed to figure out what was wrong with the bar.

She walked away as if she needed to refill somebody’s drink, but only made it half-way before a hand fell on her shoulder. She knew it was the stranger without turning to look at him. He smelled like musk and motor oil in perfect harmony.

Just when she took a deep breath to steel herself to greet him, her phone rang from her pocket—not just anyone’s ring, but her sister: the only other person with a claim to the bar. The room spun. She didn’t know what to do if the bar was leaving her for her sister. The stranger’s grip steadied her like he was an old friend.

Samantha stood paralyzed with indecision.


What should Samantha do? Escape from the stranger’s grip and answer the phone, or ignore her sister’s call and turn and greet the stranger?


Friday Flirtations: Next Crowd Chooses Romance (CCR)

Pull up some chocolate and sit a spell. The CCR that I did for the Love, Lust and Lipstick blog hop went so well that I’m going to do another one in May. Three lovely readers cast a vote all three times that I asked for a decision, so I decided to involve them in the next story.

I asked Shannon to send me a name and attributes for the heroine, and I received Samantha: a tall woman who “drinks like a fish and plays pool like a shark.”

Jeri sent me the hero who I think will be the perfect compliment to Samantha: Levi, a scruffy rebel, who rides a 1947 Triumph motorcycle and waxes philosophical after a few beers.

I asked Janet to choose the genre. I knew she was trouble when she wanted me to introduce a brand new character in the middle of April Showers 🙂 So I wasn’t surprised when she gave me a tricky genre: Slipstream. I have never read a slipstream romance, and if you don’t know what slipstream is, the best I can say is it moves in and out of what’s real and what is fantastical. I think the 1947 Triumph motorcycle will be the perfect vehicle to move our heroes in and out of reality.

I’ll let you know next Friday when the story will start. If you’re new to the site, I made a page for April Showers so that you can read it in its entirety.

April Showers Final Part

Dear Readers,

Thank you so very much for all of your comments and subscriptions to my email feed. This is the last day of the Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains blog hop. Be sure to get in all of your entries for the drawing–one of the prizes is a Kindle!

I’m finishing up the blog hop with the final installment in April Showers. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading it as I have had writing it. The vote went to Mark! Please enjoy.


April Showers Final Part

by Evelyn Aster

Mark gripped her arms and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you he’d called. I didn’t think he’d just show up looking for you.”

She squirmed out of his grasp—rain beating down on her face as she looked up at him. “But why? Your job is not to decide who I get to talk to. I make those decisions.”

“Because when I first started working for you, you were on the verge of divorce, and he convinced you to stay with him. Something inside me told me he was going to try to get you back again. And I couldn’t stand to watch it. You’re a smart, beautiful woman and I love you.”

Tessa stepped back. Her mouth hung open and the raindrops fell in. Sure, he’d been flirting with her earlier, but she hadn’t equated it with love. “I, I can’t talk about this right now. Please don’t follow me.” She turned around with his coat still on and ran until a taxi stopped for her.

She sat dripping inside of the cab. One ex-husband and one assistant—she couldn’t help but notice her heart grew cold at the thought of Rick and warmed at the thought of Mark. But it was a rainy Friday night—not the type of evening suited for decisions of the heart. She needed to sleep on it.


Tessa sat in flannel pajamas with her feet up on a chair, a cup of coffee on the kitchen table and an e-reader in her hand. The storm from the night before still pattered down on her roof and brought a chill back into her house like Rick had brought turmoil back into her heart. She tried to read the words before her, but her mind gave them no meaning. She always liked the idea of her and Rick together, but the reality never matched it.

A knock at the door startled her. She set aside the e-reader and walked until she could look through the peephole. Crap. It was Rick.

She opened the door and saw he was drenched with a dozen red roses in his hand. The porch roof rattled under the raindrops. She sighed. She didn’t like roses because of the thorns, but Rick thought they were the only romantic flower out there. “What do you want?”

He held the bouquet out and said, “I’m really sorry about the way I treated you. And I’m sorry about last night. If Mark–”

“Leave Mark out of this.”

Rick’s eyes narrowed like he suspected something was going on between them. “I didn’t think I should just show up here and I couldn’t think of any way else to see you.”

“It’s over, Rick.”

Rick dropped the flowers to his side. “Are you with Mark now? I always knew he wanted you.”

Despite trying to keep a straight face, her eyes widened. She’d never thought they were anything but professional. Except Mark had been very caring during everything that had happened—over and beyond even the best assistant. God, she was an idiot. “No, I’m not with Mark. You and I are not good for each other. We should’ve never tried to have children–”

“No, we were great together, and I want children with you.”

“But I can’t have them. And they aren’t a bandage for all the hurt between us. You went too far in the divorce. I can’t be with you again.” She shut the door and leaned against it.

“I love you, Tessa.” He called.

She kept the door shut and stood at it until she heard him walk away. Tears brimmed at the thought of never seeing him again, but she blinked them back.


After a shower and lunch, she sat at the kitchen table still trying to read, but the doorbell rang. Damn it. It had better not be Rick again. She stomped to the door and flung it open. A delivery man stood there with a bouquet of spring flowers—purple and pink with raindrops rolling off the petals in momentary beauty. She caught her breath; they had to be from Mark.

The storm finally stopped as she signed for the flowers. She took them and noticed a letter sized envelope in the middle. She set the flowers in a vase on her table and opened up the letter.

Dear Tessa,

Last night is not the way I wanted to share my feelings for you. I imagined something much grander, but the words just flew out of my mouth in panic. If you’re with Rick right now, I wish you well and know that he’s the luckiest bastard in the world.

If you’ve made up your mind to stay divorced, please consider going out to dinner with me tonight. There’s so much I want to say, and I’m not much good at Jane Austen length letters.

Either way, I think our time working together has come to an end. I’ve accepted a job in the marketing department. Of course, I’ll help you transition to someone new, but I think we both know it can’t go back to the way it was, and I don’t want it to. I want us to be so much more.

Please call me,


Oh, god. He’d finally taken a better job and was moving on. The marketing department was on a different floor; she wouldn’t see him anymore except at Christmas parties. What would she do without their chats over morning coffee, their laughter over lunch and their banter at the end of the day when—her thought ended on the realization that they always talked as if they didn’t want to leave each other to go home at the end of the day. Damn.

She was in love with him.

She dashed out to her living room where she’d left her purse and phone. As soon as the phone was in her hand, she pressed her finger over his number. It only rang once before he said, “Tessa?”

“Mark.” She had no idea what to say.

The pause seemed to go on forever. “Did you get my flowers?”

Tessa hit her palm on her forehead. “Yes, they’re lovely. Thank you so much. I want—is it possible–” Tessa took a deep breath. “I don’t want to wait until dinner to see you.”

The doorbell rang. “Answer your door,” said Mark.

She ran to the front door and slammed it open.

Mark put his phone in his pocket and said, “I stalked the deliveryman here. I didn’t want to wait until dinner either. I take it Rick isn’t here?”

Tessa put her phone in her back jeans’ pocket and shook her head. “We’re through. We’re divorced. I’m done with him.”

Mark held out a hand and caressed her cheek. “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you to make that decision. I just can’t stand not being with you any longer. Everyday I come to work I want to take you in my arms and tell you how much you mean to me.”

Tessa pressed his hand to her cheek and said, “I know I’m a little slow sometimes, but when you said you were leaving me for marketing, I realized how important everything you do is to me. I can’t give up talking and laughing with you. I should’ve realized it a long time ago.”

Clouds broke apart and the sun’s rays shone through. The world smelled as if it had just stepped out of a shower scented with wildflowers. He pulled her to him and said, “The past is done. Let’s move on together and not look back.”

She wrapped her arms around him—her heart beating happiness mixed with anticipation throughout her body. Their lips pressed together, washing euphoria over her. They kissed until the last of the rain dripped off of the porch roof and then went inside to a blissful afternoon in her bedroom.


If you enjoyed my off the cuff writing, please buy my new and first release Through the Paintings with a fuller plot and professional editing. You can buy it at Jupiter Gardens, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ARECoffee Time Romance and Smashwords.




April Showers Part Three

For those of you who have just tuned in, I’m running a sort of “choose your own romance” story this week for the Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains Blog Hop. You can read Part One here and Part Two here. Also, remember to enter the Giveaway here.

You guys made it hard on me tonight by having a tie. I decided the important part seemed to be to know what her ex-husband wanted. I hope you enjoy how I wrote the compromise. Please vote at the end, and please pass the link on to anyone you think might have fun with the story!

April Showers Part 3

by Evelyn Aster

Tessa let go of Mark and placed her hands together on top of the table before looking up at Rick. His eyes had the puppy dog look that always made her cave, but not today. “Quit being rude to Mark. If you want to talk to me, just call me. I’m busy right now.”

“Mark’s been screening my calls and you got a new number.”

Tessa tried to stay stoic when he said Mark had been screening his calls. She hadn’t told him to do that. “There’s always Facebook,” she said.

Rick glanced around the table; everyone had fallen silent. “All right then.”

To Tessa’s surprise, he walked away. It wasn’t like him to give up without getting his way. Maybe something was really wrong, but there was no reason he should come to her about it. They had pretty much severed everything about their relationship, and without kids, they never had to see each other again—ever.

People at the table tried to make small talk, but she felt their eyes on her. Her knuckles were white. The waitress came by, and Tessa managed to order a round of beer.

Mark shifted so his arm was stretched out on the top of the booth behind her, but not touching her. “Are you okay?” he whispered.

She took a deep breath and relaxed her hands. “How many times did he call?” she asked in a low voice.

“Once a day since Monday. I’m sorry. I know I was out of line.”

She caught a joke somebody made and laughed at it but was really trying to figure out how she felt about Mark not telling her Rick had called. She needed to have a talk with Mark. Whatever his intentions were, he still should’ve told her Rick had called—in the very least so she wouldn’t be sitting here feeling like someone had slammed a filing cabinet into her.

The waitress arrived with the beers and put a glass of red wine in front of Tessa. “From the gentleman over there,” she said.

Tessa didn’t need to follow where the waitress pointed to know that Rick had sent it, or to taste it to know that it was Merlot. Damn it. She said, “Excuse me,” to Mark but he didn’t get up.

“Don’t go,” he said. “What could he possibly have to say to you that would be to your benefit?”

“I don’t know. Maybe if you hadn’t been screening my calls he wouldn’t be here at all.”

Mark set he’s jaw as if he wouldn’t let her go. “Come to dinner with me tonight.”

“What? I’m sure you realize I’m not happy with you right now. So get up.”

“You deserve so much better than him. Don’t cave into whatever it is he wants.” Mark stood and Tessa scooted by him without replying.

Rick sat alone at a table on the other side of the bar. She rolled her shoulders back and marched over. “What happened to the woman?” she asked.


“The woman I saw you with when I first entered.”

He shrugged. “I have no idea. I didn’t come with her. She had just sat down when you arrived.”

Tessa rolled her eyes—women always flocked to him. “What do you want?”

“Could you please sit down?”

“No. We’re divo–”

“I think I made a huge mistake divorcing you.”

The world fell away—no bar noise or sights. Just his sincere blue eyes remained. She’d cried herself to sleep many nights wishing he would say those words, but now that he had, the flood of forgiveness she’d planned didn’t pour out—it didn’t even trickle. The sincerity in his eyes masked an underlying confidence that she would take him back, and it grated on her.

“That’s it? No apology? Just that you’ve made a mistake? How about, ‘I’m sorry for blaming the miscarriage on you,’ or ‘I’m sorry for demanding ten thousand dollars from you in the divorce proceedings.’ How did your lawyer put it? Something like ‘wasted fertility money because she ultimately rejected the baby.’”

Rick jumped up and tried to take her hands, but she snatched them away. “Tessa, please. I was getting to that. I’m really, really sorry about all of it. I was a world class dick. But it was like you didn’t think the miscarriage affected me at all—it was just you.”

Her body shook in rage. She wanted to punch him. Instead, she said, “You refused to say anything about it. Whenever I brought it up, you changed the topic.”

“Because I couldn’t deal with it. It was so unexpected after everything we’d done to get you pregnant. I was an asshole, and I realize that now. Please give me a second chance. I won’t screw it up.”

The moment surrounded her like a bubble and made her feel suspended out of time. He wanted her back, finally. She’d just been daydreaming about snuggling with him while it rained outside. And now she could have it.

She shook her head and the bubble popped. She could never have the imagined life. To much sadness and pain pushed them apart. “No,” she said. “You’re about six months too late on the apology. And I didn’t deserve the treatment I got in the divorce. We’re through.”

She turned on her heel and walked straight out of the bar and into the rain. She realized for the first time that she still had Mark’s coat on her shoulders. She put her arms through the sleeves and started walking—to where, she had no idea.

Before she reached the light, a hand fell on her shoulder and turned her around.

Who do you want it to be: Mark to console her, or Rick to beg for forgiveness some more?