Read Sticks and Stones Online

Authors: Kerrie Dubrock

Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Kerrie DuBrock

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sticks and Stones

Copyright © 2014 by Kerrie DuBrock

All rights reserved. No part of this book
may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written
permission of the author.

 

Authors Note:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters and incidents
either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously,
and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments,
events or locales is entirely coincidental. No, really!

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to G.E. Smith, a most awesome teacher!

Acknowledgments

I’d like to thank the
following people:

Theresa O’Shea, for
suggesting the name of Rick O’Shea for a character. Theresa is a wacky,
wonderful woman with an interesting story of her own.

Kathy Royce, for constantly
being on my ass about getting the book finished and also for finding errors in
the manuscript.

Kim Courtright for
supporting me.

My daughter, Rachel DuBrock,
for her wealth of knowledge in all things hockey.

My beta readers…where would
I be without your support?

Ashley Ubinger for finally
finishing the beta version after her son deleted it several times…me thinks
your son isn’t a hockey fan! LOL!

My nephew, Allen Gray, for
his patience when it came to designing the cover.

Eddie Vedder and Pearl
Jam…for writing awesome music!

F. Scott Fitzgerald for
writing amazing literature!

And last, but not least, I’d
like to thank the readers! Without you, I wouldn’t have a reason to write!

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

 

April
2013

            Grace
Ryan stared out the window of the dirty cab and read the billboards along the
interstate to pass the time. The designing seminar was boring as hell and
although she was glad she left a day early, a feeling of trepidation filled her
when the cab pulled up to the condo she shared with Ben.

            He
seemed too eager for her to go to the seminar, unlike the last time when he
pouted for days before she left. And then, the strange case of the stomach flu
hit her best friend and assistant, Janice, the day before they were scheduled
to fly out.

            So,
with plenty of time to ponder during the long, drawn-out seminar, Grace came to
a sickening realization. One that she could only confirm by leaving the seminar
early.

 

           

*          *          *

            Ben’s
white BMW parked in the driveway gave her pause. It
was
a Thursday
afternoon, after all.

            Chewy,
a calico cat, greeted her at the door. The cat was more like a dog and loved
attention. Grace scooped her up and scratched her behind the ears as she moved
quietly through the condo.

            She
placed Chewy on the wood plank floor when she heard rustling and giggling
coming from the bedroom she and Ben shared. After taking a steadying breath she
approached the partially opened door and peeked inside.

            Squaring
her shoulders and lifting her chin, she walked to the laundry room and filled a
bucket with cold water.

            She
strode down the hall and gently pushed the bedroom door open.

            “Oh,
baby, you’re so wet and hot!” Ben moaned as he thrust deeper into Janice.

            Fighting
back tears, Grace threw the ice cold water onto the couple, causing them to
shriek.

            She
lifted her trembling chin. “Thought you two needed to cool off.”

            “Jesus
Christ Grace!” Ben yelled.

            Mock
horror filled Janice’s face as she struggled to pull the bedding around
herself.

            Grace
turned and walked towards the door. “Call me Ben so I can make arrangements to
collect my things. And Janice? You’re fired.”

*          *          *

            Defenseman
for the Chicago Wind hockey team, Rick O’Shea, placed a firm hand on the small
of the busty blondes back leading her towards the door.

            She
paused and turned into him. “I had a great time last night, Ricochet.”

            He
grinned, “Me, too, Laurie.”

            “My
name is Tori,” she giggled.

            He
opened the door and nudged her over the threshold. “I stand corrected,” he
muttered, closing the door.

Chapter
One

June

            The ebony toned woman appraised the waif before
her with a discerning eye. She settled onto the leather couch and folded her
hands on her lap. “How may I help you, Miss Reddick?”

            Janice lifted a smug eyebrow. The woman before
didn’t look like a Wiccan High Priestess. She wore a red head wrap and had
large round gold hoops in her ears. She bit back a laugh. “I’m sorry; I didn’t
get your name.”

            The woman shrugged, “Until you tell me your
intentions, you don’t need to know my name,” she paused for a moment then
continued. “You wanted to see me, here I am…”

            Janice blew out a hard breath. “I requested the
High Priestess
not
her assistant.”

            “I
am
the person you requested and you’re
wasting my time,” she replied icily, standing to leave.

            Janice reached out and touched her arm, causing
the woman to glance at the white hand on her forearm. Janice quickly withdrew
her hand and mumbled an apology.

            “Please, I mean no disrespect. Take a seat, won’t
you?” Janice asked sweetly.

            The woman sat and straightened her red skirt.
“Now then, what do you want?”

            Janice licked her lips. “I need your help. There
are things I need to do, but I can’t do it alone.”

            “Such as?”

            “I want to take what is rightfully mine,” Janice
replied indignantly.

            The ebony woman sighed in exasperation.

            “She tried to take my man and now she’s taken my
clients and used witchcraft to do it! I just want them back,” Janice pouted.

            “Who is this woman?”

            Janice’s lip curled. “Grace
Ryan.”

*          *          *

            “Aw Gracie, ya gotta get yourself out there! Mix
and mingle with all the hunks in Chicago!” her Aunt Tilda muttered as she ran
her fingers through Grace’s long chestnut colored hair.

            Grace took a sip of coffee and sniffed. “I do
mingle!”

            Tilda rolled her eyes and plopped down on the
plush sofa. “With gay men! You’re not likely to find Mr. Right that way!”

            “Hey! Those people at Gypsy’s love me. In fact,
whenever I’m there they play our favorite song!”

            “Oh-h-h!
In the Evening
by Led Zeppelin?”
Aunt Tilda cooed.

            Grace nodded. “Yep! Anyway, Blake and Max are the
only friends I have, other than you and Jessica,” Grace argued.

            “I know, but honey, they’re taking you to gay
bars!”

            Grace giggled. “Yeah and I’ve been hit on by
several women.”

            Tilda’s grey brows lifted. “Gracie?”

            “Don’t worry,” she patted her aunt’s knee. “I
still like men. I just don’t trust them. If it’ll make you feel better I’ve
signed up with a singles club on-line. When I’m paired up with someone, we’ll
meet for lunch and see if we want it to progress from there.”

            Tilda’s nose scrunched. “What happened to people
meeting at concerts? Through mutual friends?”

            “Love-in’s are a thing of the past Aunt Tilda.
Besides, this fits in with my crazy schedule. Have I told you we’ve retained
five new clients?”

            Tilda beamed, “So, the abundance spell is
working?”

            Grace nodded enthusiastically, sipping her
coffee. “Yeah, we’ll need to hire a receptionist soon.”

            Tilda loaded a CD into the mini stereo. “C’mon!
Let’s dance!”

           
In the Evening
blared through the Bose
stereo as the two women danced around the living room.

            Tilda clapped her hands together. “Have I shown
you my new gazing ball?” She tugged Grace’s hand. “C’mon! It’ll be fun!”

            “Can we finish dancing first?” Grace pouted.

            Tilda brought her hands over her head and shook
her fanny at Grace. “Certainly, dear! Now, shake what ya got!”

            Together they twisted and turned to the music and
when the tempo slowed they swayed in unison. Grace grinned as her aunt bent her
head forward, allowing her long gray hair to spill over her head. It was their
six minutes of heaven.

            When the song ended Grace begrudgingly followed
Tilda into her ‘pad’. The room was decorated with Grace’s help
and
dismay. Large flowers that screamed 1970 filled the walls along with a black
light and vintage posters. Grace eyed the posters of couples making love and
shuddered. She purchased them for Tilda at an auction a few years back and the
stares she received from the crowd…well; even now it made her blush!

            “Sit, sit!” Tilda commanded.

            Grace sat at the round table while Tilda lit
incense. Afterwards, she joined her niece and winked. “The incense adds to the
excitement, huh?”

            “For sure,” Grace replied dryly.

            Tilda closed her eyes and ran her fingers lightly
over the large glass ball. Grace stifled a grin.

            “Oh! What’s this I see?” she mumbled as she
stared into the ball. A slow grin slid over her face. “Yes. Oh yes! The love of
your life is quite handsome!”

            Grace lifted a brown brow, feigning interest. “Do
tell…”           

            “Well, he’s right here! Can’t ya see him?” Tilda
replied, waving a hand over the ball. Grace shook her head. “Oh, that’s right,
dear. Your specialty are rune stones and auras,” Tilda tutted.

            Tilda lifted her shoulders and sighed happily.
“He’s tall, has light brown hair and sexy hazel bedroom eyes.” She cocked her
head and grinned. “And he’s built like a brick shithouse!”

            Grace giggled, “Well, at least I have that to
look forward to.” She glanced briefly at the glass ball. “Is he the Irishman of
my dreams?”

            “Have those dreams returned?”

            “Yeah,” Grace scrunched her nose. “Who has
recurring dreams like this?”

            “In my sixty some years I’ve never met anyone
who’s had a recurring dream since the age of ten,” Tilda shrugged.

            Grace frowned and gazed into the glass ball
again. “Well, does it say where I’m going to meet this brick shithouse?”

            Tilda
pursed her lips. “No Miss Smarty Pants, it doesn’t.”

*          *          *

            Rick
O’Shea sat comfortably in a blue wicker chair enjoying a bottle of Corona beer,
admiring the sunset.

            Chase
Storm, his best friend, placed a tray of chips and salsa on a nearby table.
“It’s something, isn’t it?” he grinned, motioning towards the sky.

            “Yeah.
No wonder you named the subdivision Sunset Ridge. It’s very appropriate,” Rick
acknowledged.

            Chase
sat across from him on a matching love seat. “So, ya seem quiet. What’s up
Ricochet?”

            Rick
pulled the bottle away from his mouth and shrugged. “Well, it’s a beautiful
Friday night in July and I’m sitting on a very fine porch, enjoying a cold beer
with my friends and I gotta admit, I’m a little jealous.”

            Chase
dunked a tortilla chip into the salsa. “Jealous of what?”

            “You,”
Rick sighed, waving a hand. “Pretty fucked up to say I’m jealous of my best
friend, but there it is.” He took a long pull on his bottle. “Jealous and happy
for you man. Ya did well when you married Emily.”

            “Damn
right he did!” Emily laughed stepping out onto the porch.

            Chase
reached out his hand to her. She slid next to him and frowned at Rick’s
demeanor. “Rick? Are you okay?”

            “Well,
I should be out chasing tail but instead I’m here with you two love sick
fools,” he grinned sheepishly. “The truth is I want more than a roll in the hay
anymore. I want something real, like what you two have.” He sighed and glanced
away from his friends. “Nothing is as obnoxious as other peoples luck.”

            Chase
choked on his beer. “For Chrissakes! You’re only twenty-six! You
should
be out chasing puck bunnies and not quoting Fitzgerald.”

            Emily
scowled at Chase. “I think it’s great he wants something more than meaningless
sex.” She patted Rick’s knee. “You’ll find someone when you’re least expecting
it, won’t he Chase?”

            Chase
ran his hand down her honey-blonde hair. “Yep, just like I did.”

*          *          *

            “I
gotta scoot, Aunt Tilda. Thanks for dinner. I promised Max and Blake I’d meet
them for a drink,” Grace murmured.

            Tilda
followed Grace to the front door, snatching a sheet of paper from an antique
sideboard. “Can you get these supplies for me from Magickal Botanicals?”

            Grace
eyed the list and lifted an eyebrow. “Aunt Tilda, what spell do you plan to
cast with these herbs?”

            Tilda
snorted indignantly. “I ran out and need to replenish my supplies.”

            Grace
eyed her suspiciously, but kissed her lightly on the cheek and strode to her
black Lexus. Tilda watched as she pulled out of the driveway. Reginald appeared
next to her.

            “Matilda,
I’ve known you far too long to not recognize that look,” Reginald gently
scolded.

            She
turned away from the window and met his eyes. “Whatever do you mean?”

            His
grey eyes glowered. “Don’t feign innocence with me. I know you’re up to
something.”       

            She
waved a casual hand. “Nothing that concerns you.”

            “Matilda!”

            “You
stodgy ol’ pooh!” she snipped, walking into the kitchen. “I hate seeing Gracie
so lonely. I’m going to whip up a spell for her to finally find her one true
love.”

            “The
elusive Irishman she dreams about?”

            “Yep!
I’ve found the perfect spell, too!” she giggled.

            “Matilida
O’Leary! You will
not
cast a love spell!”

            She
angrily filled the dishwasher with dinner plates, ignoring Reginald’s ranting.

            “May
I remind you, dear woman, how your first love spell went awry?”

            When
she tried to move past him, he held out a hand to block her. “Instead of a
living soul, you ended up with me,” he gently reminded her.

            A
slow smile crept across her face as she patted his chest. “Yes and look what I
have.”

            Reginald
snorted incredulously. “You have a
bloody
ghost who can’t give you
everything you need! Do you want that for Grace?”

            Tears
pooled in her eyes. “For the past thirty years you’ve been everything I need. I
love you Reginald.” She pushed past him and continued to fill the dishwasher.
“Besides, I’m better at casting spells now.”

*          *          *

            “Grace!
Over here!”

            She
managed to hear Blake’s booming voice over the music and maneuvered her way to
the table.

            “Hey
partner!” she grinned, kissing his cheek.

            Max
stood and hugged her. “You look great Grace!”

            She
gently pushed his chest. “Flatterer!”

            Blake
called a server over and ordered a white wine spritzer for her. “Thought you
weren’t going to make it,” he frowned.

            She
shrugged, “Sorry. Aunt Tilda wanted to show me her new gazing ball.”

            Max’s
eyebrows lifted. “Is that like a crystal ball?”

            “Yeah,”
she muttered, taking a sip of her drink. “She said she saw my next lover in
it.”

            Max
ran a hand over his black hair and smiled. “Hopefully it wasn’t Ben.”

            Grace’s
lip curled. “He’s lucky I don’t practice black magic, otherwise I might’ve
casted a spell to make his pecker fall off.”

            Blake
choked on his beer. “Geez, Gracie, that’s harsh.”

            She
shrugged and grinned. The atmosphere of the bar, even though it was crowded,
was calming. Not like Murphy’s down the street. Murphy’s was a place to drink
heavily, dance wildly and leave with someone you didn’t know for the night. She
glanced around and noticed the photos of F. Scott Fitzgerald that lined the
walls, along with images of his book covers. “I like this place. I didn’t
realize they had live music here!”

            Blake
grinned, “Yeah, they used to only have jazz bands, but it didn’t go over well
with the younger crowd so now they book all kinds of musicians.” He took a sip
of his daiquiri. “My brother’s a huge fan of Fitzgerald and comes here often.”

            Grace
nodded, “Now I know why it’s called
Gatsby’s
.”

            Max
frowned, “I’d like to dance with my man, but I don’t think that’d go over well
here.”

            Blake
batted his blue eyes at Max and gripped his hand. “There’s always later,
handsome.”

            Seeing
the two of them making googly eyes at each other made Grace blush and also a
little envious. She fidgeted in her chair and watched as couples made their way
to the dance floor.

            “We’re
making Grace uncomfortable Max,” Blake grinned.

            Grace
turned her head and shrugged. “Not uncomfortable, a bit jealous maybe.”

            “Hey
Grace, why don’t you cast a love spell for yourself?” Blake asked.

            She
shook her head. “It has to be free will.” When Blake’s eyebrows furrowed she
continued. “See that guy over there, in the white shirt? I could conjure up a
spell and make him love me, but it wouldn’t be real and eventually it’d wear
off.” She quickly finished her drink. “I’m going to head home. Thanks for the
drink.”

Other books

Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John
Ramage by Pope, Dudley
The Sweet Life by Rebecca Lim
Area 51 by Robert Doherty
This Love Is Not for Cowards by Robert Andrew Powell
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
The Book of One Hundred Truths by Julie Schumacher
The Devil's Looking-Glass by Mark Chadbourn
Twice Upon a Blue Moon by Helena Maeve
Boston Cream by Howard Shrier