Today I have something kind of “unwestern-y” to blog about–it’s a short story of mine called TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST.  It first appeared in an anthology put out by VICTORY TALES PRESS last summer called A SUMMER COLLECTION. All the stories in the collection took place in the summer, but they could have been during any time period. Mine, I decided, would take place in a contemporary setting. 
In Oklahoma where I live is part of the area known as “tornado alley.”  The story opens with a newly divorced police officer starting down the stairs of his apartment building with the tornado sirens wailing in the distance.  All in a day’s work for a police officer in Oklahoma City, but the excitement is only just beginning on this very unusual day. Who would ever expect to find love in the middle of Latino gang warfare and a tornado? 
I was so pleased that my story was included in one of the very first anthologies that VICTORY TALES PRESS put out, and I can’t say enough good things about Rebecca Vickery and her up-and-coming publishing company. TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST also appears now as a “stand alone” short story in one of the VTP imprint companies. 
One thing that is very exciting to me about this story is that my daughter created the cover for the e-book stand alone version. I have several new releases heading your way over this summer, and wanted to start by showcasing this short story, the only non-western one of the bunch!
I will be giving away 2 copies of TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST–all you have to do is leave a comment.  Please check back later on this evening to see who the winners are!  I hope you enjoy!
The set up: 

To Make the Magic Last 

Police officer, Steve Cooper, heads out for work one morning just as the city’s tornado sirens blast a warning. In the stairwell he runs into a different situation—a gang war in his apartment building. Shots ring out and Steve catches a bullet. Seriously injured, he pushes the beautiful woman who has come through the door behind him back toward safety.

Christy Reed, his enchanting new neighbor, pulls him into her apartment and attempts to stop the bleeding. Recently arrived from Mississippi, Christy has no idea what the sirens and gunfire mean, but she knows enough to be terrified.

The phone lines aren’t working and the storm is bearing down. They take refuge in the bathroom as the sound of a freight train roars over the building. Through the pain, Steve finds himself drawn to Christy. There’s some sort of magic about her. Christy feels the same about Steve. He’s the man she’s always dreamed of meeting.

When the building collapses around them and they meet the gunmen once more, will Steve and Christy have what it takes to help each other through this? Can they make the magic last?

The wind was roaring outside, deafening even in the small bathroom.  They were practically yelling to be heard above the storm.

Hesitantly, Christy crawled over the side of the tub, careful of where she placed her hands.    Finally, his good arm came around her in a strong embrace, pulling her down flush with his body until she lay on top of him.  She tried to hold herself away from his shoulder, but he drew her down, tucking her head beneath his chin, and she reached to pull the comforter around them.

Steve could feel her shaking as she lay down.  She was more afraid of the storm than the gunmen, it seemed.  But as soon as he thought it, she asked, “Do you think they were after you, or just anyone who came down the stairwell?”

Her breath was warm against his neck, the comforter enveloping them in a cocoon of false security.  The wind roared outside, deafening in the small bathroom.  There was a high-pitched sound of rending metal, the heavy clunking noise of tearing wood, and Steve knew the roof of the building was gone.

Christy gasped, pressing closer into his chest.  He patted her awkwardly, his arm at an odd angle.  After a moment, he answered her question.  “Neither.  They were after each other.” They’d been yelling at each other in Spanish, he remembered.  He had just happened to walk into the middle of rival Latino gang warfare, ongoing in this neighborhood, day and night.  What was a girl like Christy doing in this area?  “Right now, this storm is more of a threat.”

She had stopped shaking despite the fact the storm still blew with wild strength outside.  She seemed to have forgotten it, lying so close to him.  But he knew they were still in terrible danger, and he might not get the chance to tell her what he needed to say if he waited.

A long moment of silence hung between them, the only sound the worsening storm outside.  “Christy.” He touched her arm again, and she glanced up.  “Thanks for trying to . . . help me.”

“I didn’t do anything.”

Her voice sounded muffled, he thought.  Like she was crying, and trying to hide it.  “Sure you did.”  The comforter was soft. The bleeding was stopped.  And, Steve decided, he loved the feel of Christy Reed’s body on his, warm and curvy, and more comforting than that damn piece of down-filled material ever could be.

Her fingers slowly curled into the folds of his once-starched uniform, then settled against the soft cotton tee shirt.

“You’re doing it . . . even now, sweetheart.”

Slowly, she lifted her head and met his eyes in the dark haven they’d made.  “Steve—” she broke off, raking her teeth over her bottom lip quickly, nervously. 

He smiled at that habit of hers, thinking how he’d like to kiss her; how he wished he knew her better; how it would seem to her if he even  . . . 

Hell with it.  He pulled her to him slowly, her lips coming across his, warm and sweet and soft as the brush of butterfly wings.  Uncertainly, she tasted his mouth, and he opened for her, letting her explore him.  Her right hand moved to his jawline, her thumb skimming his cheekbone before her fingers found their way to thread through his hair.

“What’s happening to us?” she murmured, drawing back slowly to look at him. 

Her voice was quiet and low, and Steve realized that they must be in the eye of the storm.  There was no sound but the rain now, and far away in the distance, the wail of a siren somewhere. “Magic,” he whispered, believing it himself.  He’d never felt so protective of any other woman—even Lacey.  Christy needed him, but she was a giver, too.

She shook her head and lay back down against his chest.  “Magic always fades away.”

Not this time, he wanted to say.  But he was too exhausted to form the words.  Instead, his hand drifted to her short curls, tangling gently there, finding comfort in the clean softness. She’d been hurt before, he knew; he could hear it in her voice.  He wanted to know who…and why.  But he couldn’t ask—not right now. He couldn’t keep himself awake.  “Christy, I’m . . . so tired.”

  There was a long pause.  He knew she was afraid, not only of the storm and the predators, but also of what was happening between them—the magic they’d made so suddenly, the fire that had kindled so unexpectedly between them.  He wouldn’t let it disappear, he thought fiercely.  She was something special—he could feel that already.  Something worth holding onto.“I know, darling,” she whispered finally.  “Just rest, okay?  I’ll be here when you wake up.”

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A native Oklahoman, I've been influenced by the west all my life. I love to write short stories and novels in the historical western and western romance genres, as well as contemporary romantic suspense! Check my Amazon author page to see my work:
I live in Oklahoma City with my husband of 40 years. I love to hear from readers and other authors--you can contact me here:
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35 thoughts on “TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST”

  1. Cheryl, all I can say is “yummy!!!” for both the cover and the excerpt.
    I’ve been seeing the tornado damage on the news. What a terrifying thing, to have a storm of that force hit. Hoping for the safety of all.

  2. Just the kind of story I like Cheryl.. love in the midst of chaos… This sounds delightfuly sexy and dangerous.. Good going girl..

  3. Cheryl, loved your post, your book sounds fabulous. I am not sure I would want to live in Tornado valley though. Things have been bad enough around here with the tonado theats daily. The weather has really been stormy here. Thanks for sharing your book with us.

  4. What a great Post,,loved the part you shared with us,,,I live in Tornado Valley ,,,an it was bad this morning,,the sirens were loud an it was over quickly,,now the sun is shining,,

  5. Hi Cheryl!

    Nice excerpt! Hey, I have one comment — how can she be looking up at him in the eye when there’s all that chest there? I know where I’d be looking. 🙂

  6. Great story!. You guys can keep your tornadoes. I am just as happy with my earthquakes, here in California.
    My niece, her daughter and 4 kids were in a Kids Museum in Raleagh, NC, when that tornado ripped through that town. I couldn’t believe her story, it was too unreal. They were fine because they were missed by the tornado. But scary.
    But this sounds like a great story and an AHHHHH cover!

  7. Good luck with the short story. Disasters always make such good scenarios for romance. Tension, danger, heightened emotions, a sense of urgency – what better backdrop for falling in love?

    Thanks for the excerpt. Rather appropriate for this time of year. It has been a bad one for tornadoes. We live in NE TN and prior to this year we have only had a couple of warnings. We have had so many severe storms already this Spring and one small tornado. We are under a watch again today with severe storms a certainty and a tornado a possibility. Other areas are in much more serious danger than we are.

  8. Hi Elizabeth!
    Right now the weather is calm here, but overcast–this is that time of year! We’ve had a couple of tornadoes the last week-10 days, but Arkansas really got hit worse in that last onslaught.

    So glad you enjoyed the excerpt AND the cover.LOL He IS very yummy–I’m so glad Jessica found him to put on the cover.

  9. Hi Kathleen,
    Yes, all my stories seem to have that in common–love in the midst of chaos. LOL Whether it be a hostage situation, a gang of rustlers and outlaws, or a tornado and gang warfare. The good thing about those kinds of situations in a story is that it just makes you want to be right there beside that sexy hero to offer him…comfort. Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

  10. Hi Kirsten,
    THANK YOU! I enjoyed writing this one a lot–everything I write takes place in Oklahoma or Indian Territory, depending on the time period. I had just the place in mind for this apartment building, and the Good Lord knows, I’ve seen plenty of storms.LOL

  11. Hi Denise,
    Oh, good, I’m glad to hear that! It’s hard to come up with a good excerpt from a short story sometimes–one that doesn’t “give it away” yet makes the reader want to know more. Glad I did that.

  12. Hi Quilt Lady,
    You know, it doesn’t bother me to live here–I guess it’s all in what you grow up in. When I was a young girl, of course, there were not any kind of warning systems like we have now. Because of the development of the systems we have in place, I feel pretty safe now. If you turn on the tv when there’s a chance of severe weather, they keep you well posted on it. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting–STAY SAFE in this stormy weather.

  13. Kay, my friend, you crack me up. Yes, I know where I’d be looking, too, if I were her, but…the story must go on, and they are in the midst of some trying times. LOL Thanks so much for commenting–I’ve missed talking to you but I know you have been busy as all get out.

  14. Hi Linda,
    THANK YOU! I appreciate that! I’m anxious to see how it does, since it’s the first one of these short stories I’ve done like this. VICTORY TALES PRESS and the other imprints of that company do these .99 short stories, and I think they’re a wonderful way to try out new authors and get some great reads for a little of nothing. The WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS imprint does those, too, and they’ve got some fantastic stories coming up there. Thanks again, Linda, for your very kind words.

  15. Hi Mary J.!
    Now, see, I would just be scared to death to live where there were a lot of earthquakes–although, we’ve had some earthquakes of our own not far from where I live. They are thinking that these earthquakes were brought on by all the drilling for oil that has been done over the years. So glad to know that your daughter and grandkids were save. I used to work at a museum here in Ok. City, and a couple of times when we had severe weather, we rounded up everyone and went below ground into the vault. Sometimes, those places are the best places you can be in times like that.

  16. Patricia, you are a woman after my own heart. LOL I agree–those disasters of all kinds make a wonderful backdrop for falling in love and I think it accelerates the pace of the things that happen between the couple.

    For some reason, it seems like this year has been very odd weather wise for so many people in states that don’t normally see a lot of tornadoes. We usually have a lot of that starting in March, but have been very lucky this year, while so many other states that don’t usually see a lot of that activity have had more than their share–very unusual. Hope you don’t get hit–stay safe. I’m thinking of you.

  17. Cheryl, only you, my favoritest writer would plot a couple finding (and making) love in a bathtub during a tornado. Bravo!

  18. Wayne, bless your heart! LOL You are cracking me up, my dear. They don’t know each other well enough for that YET. That being said, it is amazing what people will do when the building is shifting and it might be their last moment on earth. Thank you for coming by and commenting.

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