Welcome to week two of Wednesday Writing Prompt! What is Wednesday Writing Prompt? Every Wednesday in May, I and four author friends will write a short story from a writing prompt, and you can hop from blog to blog to read each one and see the different ideas that come from each prompt.
Last week you met Layla, Tamika, and Dana, and I wrote about Layla in last week’s prompt. In this week’s prompt I wrote about Dana, who works on documentaries for my favorite alpha female, Sylvie Johnson from the Brooks Family series.
All of us writing the prompts have to stick to a certain word count, and I had a hard time limiting myself this week. I wanted to write more, but I’m confident you’ll enjoy what I did write about this couple. Without further ado, below is the writing prompt and my contribution, Count on Me.
Writing prompt: The hero and heroine work late and end up locked in the building alone.
Count on Me
Dana stood, yawned, and stretched, tired after a long day at work as a documentary film editor for SJ Media.
The phone rang and she answered right away when she saw the call was from one of her best friends, Layla. “Hey, haven’t heard from you since that text you sent Saturday.”
“I’ve been busy,” Layla said coyly.
Dana checked her reflection in the window, smoothing a hand over the stretchy cotton dress that showed off the ample curves of her plus-sized figure. “Busy with Chance?”
“Yes. You’re not going to believe this, but except for picking up clothes Saturday morning, I’ve been at his place ever since.”
Dana picked up her giant purse from her desk and flung it over her shoulder. “It’s Wednesday!”
“I know. I feel so good with him, it’s crazy.”
Dana left her cubicle and headed toward the elevator. “I’m so happy for you!”
“Thanks, honey. Can’t talk long, but I want you, me, and Tamika to go out on Friday night again, okay? Don’t forget.”
“Good. Talk to you later!”
Dana hung up and exited the elevator. She had never worked this late before and downstairs was unusually quiet.
“Dammit!” a male voice yelled.
She paused, surprised she wasn’t the only person there and also because she recognized that voice. Slowly, she rounded the corner. Her ex, Brandon, stood in front of the exit.
She came up behind him and asked quietly, “What’s the matter?”
He swung around. When he saw her, his jaw hardened and the fire in his eyes dimmed. His reaction twisted pain in her chest. He never looked at her like that before they broke up. It could be a bad idea to get involved with someone you worked with, but she’d made an exception with Brandon. With toasty brown skin and a tall muscular build, he was a good-looking man who also had a great personality.
He trained her when she first arrived at SJ Media. They became friends and eventually lovers, and then she had done what she had to do. Let him go.
“Door’s locked,” he grumbled, as if it was her fault.
“What do you mean locked?”
“Locked, as in, we can’t get out. We’re stuck here.”
“No.” Dana marched past him and pushed on the door. It opened fractionally but not all the way because of the thick metal chain wrapped around the outer door.
“Like I said, locked.”
Dana turned around. “What about the back door?”
“Also locked. That’s where I was going to leave from because I parked my truck in the back.”
“So we’re really stuck here?”
“Afraid so.” Brandon walked away.
“Where are you going?”
“To find something to eat. I’m starving.”
Dana was starving, too and had planned to grab a bite on the way home. She rushed after Brandon. “Is there someone we can call for help?”
“If you know someone, let me know. I don’t know anyone we can call.”
He stabbed the button on the wall. The doors immediately opened and they stepped in. He hit the fourth floor button and when the elevator stopped, Dana followed him down the hall. She stood inside the door of the break room as he opened cabinets and pulled out caramel popcorn, beef jerky, and protein bars.
“That’s dinner?” she asked, wrinkling her nose.
“Got a better idea?” he shot back in a hostile tone.
“No.” She wished he wouldn’t look at her with such anger. She wished he’d speak to her in the softly amused voice he used to use on the phone or when they were sneaking a kiss in this very room.
Dana went to the vending machine. “Coke?”
“Can’t believe you asked that.”
She smiled. He had a Coke addiction, one she’d tried unsuccessfully to save him from during their five months together.
She chose a Vitaminwater, set both beverages on the table, and sat across from him. She emptied popcorn onto a styrofoam plate and chose one of the protein bars.
“Mmm, not bad,” she said, licking crumbs from her lip.
Brandon stared at her mouth, and she stopped chewing. He kept staring at her, mouth set in an angry line.
Dana lowered her gaze. The silence was as dense as the protein snack, and she didn’t know what to say or do.
“Why did you break up with me?” he asked.
“I told you why.”
“You claimed you weren’t interested anymore, but that’s bullshit. We had fun together, we like the same movies, the same food, we went out all the time. You liked spending time with me as much as I liked spending time with you. Why did you dump me, Dana? You owe me a real answer.”
Dana hated the hurt she saw in his eyes. Knowing she caused him pain hurt her, too, but she kept her voice even and hoped the longing and regret that filled her wasn’t obvious. “I don’t owe you anything. Accept what I said and move on.”
She pushed back her chair and rushed from the table. Brandon jumped up and blocked the doorway.
“What are you doing?” She needed to get away from him and hadn’t expected him to challenge her.
“Stop it, Brandon.”
“Did I do something to hurt you? Was I insensitive in any way? Did I—”
“Stop! Please stop,” she finished softly.
His shoulders dipped lower. “I love you. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”
Dana laughed softly, miserably. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“I must have. You broke up with me.”
She blinked back tears and when she settled her gaze on him, knew she had to tell him the truth. He blamed himself when he was the epitome of a great boyfriend. “I did, but only because…because I didn’t want you to be stuck with me when I get sick.”
“Sick? What are you talking about?”
“A few weeks ago I found out I have breast cancer.” Her voice trembled. “It runs in my family, and I guess it’s my turn.” She shrugged.
“That’s why you broke up with me?”
“I have a long road ahead, and I didn’t want to drag you into my problems. If you stayed with me out of pity...”
She choked, unable to finish the sentence.
“You never thought I’d stay with you out of love?” Brandon asked quietly.
“We were only together for five months. That’s not a lot of time to have to go through such a life-changing experience with someone. I don’t expect you—”
“I love you. I told you that after three months, meant it, and still do. Having cancer doesn’t change my feelings or make me want to walk away when you’ll need me most.”
She stared at him in disbelief. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m very serious.” He came closer. “I love you, and I want to be right there with you, fighting, and helping you beat this thing.”
“I didn’t think…”
“Nah, you didn’t think.” His smile softened the words.
Heart filled with happiness, Dana stepped closer. “It won’t be easy. My mom really suffered. My dad could barely handle it, and they were together for ten years by that time.”
“Don’t count me out.”
She released a long breath. “Okay.”
Brandon cupped her face and kissed her softly. Like always, her toes curled. She tugged him closer and he laughed against her lips, and she laughed.
“Ready for dinner?” Brandon asked.
“I guess. But what about sleep later?”
“We can go to the lounge to watch TV and sleep on one of the futons.” Brandon pulled out her chair and she sat down.
When he sat across the table from her, Dana smiled. “Hey.”
“Hey.” He bit into a beef jerky stick.
“I love you.”
He grinned. “I know.”
Readers, should Dana have told Brandon the truth from the beginning, or can you understand her fears?
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