Name: Kimberlee Turley
Title: NOTE TO SELF
Description: Gracie Heart gets turned out of the New York orphanage in which she was raised since childhood. Rather than taking a dead-end job at a local chicken factory, Gracie steals a ride on a circus train in hopes of traveling to Chicago to search for her last living relatives. When she gets caught, she is given a job as the magician’s assistant.
After every performance, Gracie finds threatening notes hidden in her circus costume, eerily in her own hand writing. While unraveling the mystery of the notes and surviving the notes’ omens, Gracie discovers that even if she never reaches Chicago she isn't without family.
Robert flourished a ruby heart-shaped gemstone in a gold setting from his cupped hand and Gracie threw her arms around his neck. He took her into his greedy arms, swinging her around in a circle. Even after he set her down, the room still spun.
A soft sigh escaped his lips once he slid the ring on.
She raised her brow slightly. “Was that a sigh of relief?”
“Indeed. I was worried you’d not find the stone large enough to suit your tastes, or me rich enough. Especially when I take into consideration how you fancy four-dollar trunks and ruining my dress shirts.”
Gracie smiled coyly, grabbing Robert’s pillow from the bed behind her and giving him a well deserved thumping with it.
In hindsight, now lying pinned to the floor with his perfect body straddled on top, she should have known better than to think he could be bested in a pillow fight.
Feathers littered the floor like the entire pigeon population of Central Park decided to hold their seasonal molt in Robert’s room. And somewhere in Rochester, a poor girl was already pulling the feathers off another chicken to refill it. Gracie hoped it was the red-headed girl who’d put tree sap in her hair four years ago.
Robert kissed her once on the forehead, then helped her to her feet. His hands came to rest on her hips. She batted her eyes, and he took the bait. Leaning closer, he whispered into her ear, “I should warn you now, that I’m declaring a line of demarcation at my belt. Touch anything below my waist, including my pockets and feet, you may find you’ve automatically forfeited your virtue. Until I figure myself out again, I can’t guarantee to be a perfect gentlemen if you tempt me.”
“I trust you,” she murmured, playfully walking her fingers on the buttons of his shirt toward his equator.
He braced his forehead against hers as she slid her hands around his waist and pulled him closer. Tracing his chest with her finger, she slid her hands under the hem of his shirt. His eyes fluttered closed and his face reflected an inner struggle of furtive concentration.
Before she had a chance to pull his shirt off over his head, he grabbed her hands, tilted her head back to meet his lips, and stole her breath away with an adoring kiss.
He tasted like sunlight—a bright Australian sunrise and sunset.
Sound, sight, and touch blurred into one physical sensation. It was the blue color of the sky, or the taste of wine, or the feeling of being kissed—a mesh of experiences anyone could relate to, but that no two people could describe exactly the same. For her, it was the moment God put the spark of life in Adam. She was home.