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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writing Update

Hello everyone!  I hope you have had the chance to check out my latest short story, "Creeping Ivy".  If not, please take a few minutes to read it and share your thoughts on it!  I really appreciate it.

I just wanted to update you on my current projects.  I am working on a new short story and a poem.  I hope to have them both finished soon, so keep checking back!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Creeping Ivy

Ivy crept slowly through the forest, moving carefully and skillfully through the undergrowth.  Her footsteps left no trace in the thick mossy carpet.  Not even the keenest animal ears could have heard her stealthy movements.  She knew well how to be silent and invisible.  A hunter had to learn such skills...or go hungry.

A sudden noise and a flash of color startled Ivy, and she froze mid-stride and waited.  The sound of her own heartbeat pounded in her ears.  Her eyes searched wildly for the source of the cry.

"Stupid bird," she grumbled under her ragged breath as the colorful creature scurried through the tree branches above her.

"Stupid me too," she growled as she began to creep forward once again.  The forest began to close in around her.  How far away from the village was she?

"I bet those stupid boys are all having a good laugh right now," she thought to herself as she carefully made her way around a large thorn bush.  Some of the sharp points were stained bright red.  She paused a moment to observe the blood more carefully.

"Probably just an oinker or something," she mumbled.  She pushed other thoughts from her mind, determined not to think about worse alternatives.

After another hour under the thick canopy, the twisted mass of branches finally opened and revealed the summer sun above.  A charred circle of trees was quickly being overcome by small creepers and flowers.  Ivy made her way to the middle of the opening and held her head up toward the sky.  The bright yellow orb was almost directly above her.  She'd been walking almost six hours.

"Good time for a stop," she said outloud.  The sound of her voice seemed strangely out of place in the quiet gloom and radiant sun.  How long had it been since this spot had heard human words?

Ivy settled down on a thick patch of moss and rummaged around in her sack.  She pulled out her meager supplies and frowned.

"Can't complain now," she whispered to herself as she pulled a chunk off of the thick bread.  She stuffed it in her mouth and let her mind wander as she munched on it.


"I swear, I seen it," her older brother Storm had said.  "I seen one of the..." his voice had trailed, afraid of saying the horrible name.

"Oh you did not," Ivy had said, rolling her eyes at him.  The other boys with Storm started chattering and asking questions like they believed his fairy tale.

"You actually found one?"  Dark Cloud asked him, his eyes wide in amazement.

"I did.  When I was out huntin' I found it.  I was huntin', and I went too far..."

"You didn't go too far," Ivy scoffed, "you got lost again you big dummy.  Dad only lets you go hunting so you don't feel bad."

"Shut up, Ivy," he said and punched her on the arm.  He didn't punch her hard, just enough to remind her who was older.

"Anyways, like I was sayin' before someone so rudely interrupted," he shot a menacing glance Ivy's way, "I was huntin', and I didn't recognize where I was.  So I thought I'd do some explorin' before I came back to the village.  Thought I might find some big game or somethin'.  So I was out lookin' around, and suddenly...there it was."  Storm paused for effect.

"There was what?"  Quiet Rain asked in a hushed, but awed, voice.

"It was big.  Bigger than the Great Hall, and taller than the greatest pine tree.  It was made of stone, with some kind of stuff holding the stones together.  The door was layin' in the grass, but it was the biggest door I ever saw.  And everywhere there were pieces of this colored stuff.  But you could see right through the colored stuff.  I swear, I ain't ever seen nothin' like it."

The boys gasped as Storm produced a tiny piece of something.  Ivy could see that it was red and jagged.  She was slightly interested in it, but she didn't want the boys to know.

"What do ya think it was?"  Dark Cloud asked.

"I dunno," Storm replied, "I never seen nothin' like it before."

"I have," Ivy answered as she kicked Dark Cloud out of her way.  She grabbed the shard out of Storm's hand.

"Ouch!" she squealed.  Dark red blood poured out of the cut on her finger.  "Stupid stuff is sharp!"

The boys giggled at her girlish outburst.  Ivy was angry, but tried to hide it.

"Boys are so stupid," she said as she kicked dirt up at Quiet Rain.  "What you saw was a building of some sort.  We have buildings here, ya know."

"Not like that," Storm started.

"No, but it's still a building.  I've seen pictures of them."


"At Mother Rainbow's of course."

A couple of the boys giggled at the name, while a few of the others pretended to lose interest in the conversation.

"That crazy ol' bat has books with pictures?"

"Of course she does," Ivy answered, "and she ain't crazy.  She knows more than any of you do.  Her grandmother survived the Great Dying and taught her stuff."

The mood of the little group shifted at the mention of the Great Dying.  No one in the village liked to speak of it, but Ivy was fascinated by it.  Mother Rainbow, the village shaman, had told her many stories of the Dying Times.

"Some buildings were huge.  They soared right up in to the sky," Ivy began explaining.  Some of the boys were suddenly interested again and stared up at her from their spots on the ground.

"Some were made out of stone.  Some were wood.  Some were harder, made out of metal."

"Metal!" exclaimed Storm, "That's crazy!  There ain't enough metal to make a whole building!"

"Not now dummy," Ivy said, rolling her eyes again, "but in the Dying Times there was metal everywhere."

"Alright then Miss I-Know-Everything, what's that stuff?" Storm asked as he jerked the shard away from Ivy.

"Glass I suppose," Ivy answered.  "Mother Rainbow told me about it.  I thought it was always clear, but I guess it could be colored somehow."

"Ha!"  Storm laughed as he jumped up.  He began to dance around Ivy and some of the other boys joined in.  "You don't know nothing.  And neither does batty ol' Rainbow lady!"

Ivy was furious, and tripped Storm as he skipped around her.  He landed with a hard thud.

"Fine then, I'll prove it.  Where is the Dead Place?  I'll go there myself."

The boys had erupted in laughter around her.

"You'll go?  All alone?"

"Yes, I will.  And I will find clear glass.  And metal.  And books with pictures!"

The boys laughed again.

"Okay, I'll tell you how to find it.  But if you get lost and eaten, don't blame me!"


A noise from beyond the burnt spot caught Ivy's attention.  She stopped chewing at her bread and listened.

Must be hearing things, she tried to convince herself.  It wasn't the first time she'd heard the noise since she left the village.  She refused to think about what might be following her.  Or hunting her.

After a couple of long swigs from her canteen, Ivy shoved everything back in the sack and stood up.  She stretched her long legs and arms, her skin aglow in the midday sun.  It would be at least four more hours before she came to the Dead Place.  She had to be there before the sun set or risk staying all night in the open forest.

As the afternoon wore on, Ivy's legs began to tire.  Several times she stopped and rubbed her achy muscles.  She'd never been so far from the village.  She didn't mind being alone, but the unknown place that lay in front of her made her nervous.  The scuffling noises had been growing closer and more frequent, but she still hadn't seen anything other than a few deer and squirrels.  But as the light waned beneath the trees, an unnamed fear began to creep into Ivy's mind.  Still, she marched forward.

The sun was about to sink into slumber when something beneath the thick grass crunched beneath Ivy's feet.  She bent down to inspect and found tiny shards that looked like the one Storm had brought back from the Dead Place.  She looked around in the growing gloom.

More shards twinkled in the fading light.  Ivy crept along beside the trail, careful not to step on the sharp pieces.  She wove herself through a small opening in a thick hedge and gasped at what she saw.

In front of her stood the tall stone building Storm had described.  It stretched into the gloomy evening sky.  At the top point stood a strange symbol.  Ivy was certain she'd seen it in one of Mother Rainbow's books, but she couldn't remember what it was called.  All around the base of the building colored shards of glass glittered faintly.  Some of the glass still stood defiantly in the building's windows, battling with the creepers that were covering most of the south side.

Carefully, Ivy stepped onto the crumbling stone steps.  The stone was cool and smooth beneath her tired bare feet.  Parts of the steps had broke off and crumbled into dust, but there was enough left for her to continue.  At the top she stood silently in awe at the great wooden door that lay haphazardly in a pile of rotten leaves and twisted vines.

"What hands could carve such a thing?" she whispered in the still air.  She stepped carefully over the decaying thing, afraid that it would disintegrate if she touched it.

There was more glass inside the building and long benches made of wood.  She ran her hand along the bench closest to her and marveled at the smoothness of the wood.  She stepped forward, weaving her way through the overturned benches and vines that had invaded the space.  Scattered over the floor were books, most of which had already been destroyed by decades of wind and rain.  On one book she again saw the symbol that stood at the top of the building.  She ran her finger gently across the image.

"Creeping Ivy," a voice rang out in the darkness.  Ivy jumped.  She hadn't heard anyone approach her.

"Who...who is it?  Who's there?"  She tried to sound brave, but her voice wavered in her fear.

"Fear not child," the voice answered, gentler than before.  A figure separated from the shadows and moved slowly toward the stunned Ivy.

"It is only me child, Mother Rainbow."

"Mother Rainbow?"  Ivy said in amazement.  She watched as the old lady crossed the room, stepping through the tangled mess like a skilled dancer.

"Ay, my child.  I've been following you all day."

"How did you know?  I left before the sun came up.  No one saw me, I was certain of it."

"You are right and wrong.  No one saw you leave, but one knew that you were going."

"Storm?" she asked, certain she already knew the answer.

"Yes, Raging Storm came to me just after the sun kissed the sky.  He told me that you were missing, and that he feared you'd come here.  I told him not to tell anyone, and that I would bring you home."

"But how did you catch up to me?"

"I am not as fragile as I appear my girl.  For many years, I was a huntress.  I ran through these woods and many others.  I know this land for it is a part of me."  She paused and gave Ivy a quick wink, "I also know many shortcuts that you have not yet discovered."

Ivy smiled and looked hard at the old woman for the first time.  Her wrinkled face could not tame the bright blue eyes that shone in the gathering gloom.  Her thick red hair was pulled back in to a braid that swung at her waist as she moved.  Her long skirt almost hid her thick bare feet.  She smiled at Ivy.

"Come child, let us build a fire.  It's too late to return to the village tonight, and I know that you have many questions."

Ivy nodded and followed Mother Rainbow out of the building, the little black book still clutched in her hands.  Away from the building, in a clear spot, Ivy built a great fire.  She was overjoyed when Mother Rainbow produced a thick slice of salted pork from her canvas sack.  As the meat cooked, Ivy settled down beside Mother Rainbow just as she'd done many times in the comfort of their tiny village.

"I can see that there is much that you wish to know my child," Mother Rainbow said quietly beside Ivy.

"Yes there is."  Ivy looked up at the old woman.  "Mother, I thought that there were no Dead Places near our village.  How can this place be so close?"

"My dear girl, there are Dead Places all around you.  Every time your feet touch the earth, you are touching a Dead Place."

"But how?  There is nothing like this," Ivy motioned to the building, "in our village.  How can it be a Dead Place?"

"My child, the entire world is a Dead Place.  There was not a speck of dust or a drop of rain that was not damaged by the Blind Ones.  They stretched out across the land, crossing rivers and Great Waters like a plague.  They could not hear our Sacred Mother crying.  They did not see that she was sick."

"How could they not see it Mother?  You have said that the signs were all around them.  How did they not see?"

"Oh yes, dear.  There were many signs.  The Sacred Mother screamed in her agony.  Great mountains exploded in a fiery cloud, the ground swelled and shook, and the waters rose up and swept away the Blind Ones.  But still, they did not see.  They did not hear.  They had forgotten."


"Yes child.  They had forgotten the language of the Great Mother.  They no longer understood her cries.  They no longer listened.  They were blind to their own ignorance.  They fancied themselves a great people, greater than the highest and mightiest gods.  They believed that they controlled the Great Mother.   They were wrong."

Ivy sat in silence for a while, the cracking fire and the sizzling pork the only sounds she heard.  Her mind reeled with a million questions.

"But wasn't there anything good about the Blind Ones?  Didn't they do good things at all?"

"Oh yes, there were many good things about the Blind Ones.  Many of them had good spirits and tried to help the Great Mother.  But their pleas were too late to help.  The Dying Times had already begun and could not be stopped.  There was much good in the Blind Ones, but they did not know it.  They could not see beyond their differences and into the goodness of their existence.  Instead they fought bloody wars for ideals they did not even understand.  They killed their brothers and sisters out of greed and ignorance.  Blood ran freely in the time of the Blind Ones.  So much blood that it drowned all the good they had created until it is nothing but faded memories and hushed tales told around bright fires."

"But some survived, or we wouldn't be here."

"A few, yes.  The Great Mother spared some of her children.  The ones that could still see and hear were left behind after the Great Dying.  It was not an easy thing."

"Your grandmother, she was left behind?"

"Yes, she was.  She was a young girl, not much older than you are now Ivy.  Her mother, father, and sisters all died from the great Darkness that spread through the Great Dead Places.  It was a painful death, and my grandmother would cry for the agony her loved ones had suffered.  But she was spared, as was her oldest brother.  She did not understand why she had been left.  Everywhere, there was Death.  Babies cried till their tears were dried on their cold cheeks.  Wives fell at the feet of their husbands.  Death was the only lord
of those times.  My grandmother did not understand, and for many moons she lamented and could not be consoled.  Then, in the darkest moments of the night, she had a great vision.  The Great Mother came and stood in front of her.  She came as a young woman dressed in gold and told my grandmother that she must rise.  She had been spared from the Dying Times to live, not to cry over what could not be undone.  She told my grandmother that at the end of each era of men, a new age must begin.  From the darkness, the sun is
born.  She then gave my grandmother a new name, Bright Sun, and told her to seek out the others that were left behind in this land.  She told her to abandon the ways and trappings of the Blind Ones and to create a new time, not of dying, but of living."

"Your grandmother helped build our village."

"Yes, she did.  She chose a spot that was sacred to a great people.  Many of those great people had been spared, and with them she and many others began to rebuild together.  The Living Times were born from their hands.  And the remains of the Blind Ones were soon consumed by the Great Mother once again."

"But some survives..."

"Yes, there are places where a building stands or a great statue stands proudly among the forest.  In the south, there are great temples of stone that were ancient even in the Dying Times.  And yet, they still stand.  They are a reminder of where we have been as a people, a testimony to the lessons we have learned, and a memorial for those that died in vain."

"Was this building important?"  Ivy motioned to the stone structure that seemed to be listening intently.  Perhaps it had missed the warmth of fire and the sound of whispers in the dark.

"It was.  This was a church, a house of God.  In this small town, it was very important."

"What is a church Mother Rainbow?"

"One of the greatest, and deadliest, legacies of the Blind Ones.  There were many of these churches.  Some were small and humble.  Others stood as tall and magnificent as the castles you've seen in my books.  Great wisdom and folly was contained within them.  Under those pointed roofs, men and women worshiped God.  Not all of them called him by the same name, and it caused much hardship.  They fought each other in God's name.  They twisted and warped the sacred teachings until they were sick with hate and ignorance."

"They fought each other for God?  How can that be?  God is love, just like the Great Mother.  They create life and give blessings.  How can anyone fight under the name of God?  God is God, no matter what name he is called by!"

Mother Rainbow sighed and stared deeply into the glowing flames.

"I do not know child.  I do not understand what happened to the Blind Ones.  I do not know why they could not see that they were all woven together in the great web of life.  They were a people of many islands, but nothing more.  Each one lived only for himself, believed his thoughts and morals to be the only one of any worth, and disconnected himself from his brothers.  The greatest tragedy of the Dying Times was that each person died alone."

"Don't we all die alone Mother?"

Mother Rainbow gently stroked Ivy's long blonde hair.

"No child.  All of life is connected.  Among all living things, there is but one pulse.  And each time a body dies, the entire world trembles.  But from death, life springs.  Rain falls on the heads of the mourning.  That same rain quenches the thirsty earth, and life begins again.  And in our hearts, in our spirits, we feel it.  No child, no one ever dies alone anymore."

Ivy watched as Mother Rainbow pulled the salted pork out of the fire.  The delicious smell wafted around Ivy and her stomach grumbled.

"Here my girl," Mother Rainbow said as she held out a piece of the meat to Ivy, "eat.  Tonight we will sleep in the garden of memories.  And tomorrow, we will leave this place to its slumber."

"I'm really glad you're here Mother." Ivy said as she smiled at the old woman.

"When you were born, I named you Creeping Ivy.  Some laughed, but it is a powerful name my girl.  Ivy grows always, unhindered by stone or wood.  Remember that, and be like the ivy you were named for.  Grow always, question everything, and when all else fails...listen and see."

Ivy nodded at Mother Rainbow as a feeling of warmth spread throughout her body.

Keep growing, she thought to herself with a smile.  Out of the corner of her eye, she saw something glistening in the leaves beneath her feet.  She carefully picked the piece of clear glass up and held it to the light of the fire.  She laughed quietly to herself and placed the shard back in the leaves.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Third Piece", a Missing Pieces story

Finally, here is the short story I have been working on.  It features two characters, Trent and Jason, from the novel I am currently working on.  I hope you enjoy it, and please feel free to comment or ask questions.

"Third Piece"
by Laurie Martin-Gardner

This is it, Trent thought to himself. This is the moment that will change everything.

Trent let his eyes travel casually through the room, consciously trying to disguise his inner chaos. The architect in him silently made calculations and mental notes on the layout of the room. The dark blue walls were unusually tall and the ceiling was vaulted to dizzying heights, creating a feeling of majesty and power. The furnishings were minimal with the clean lines that Trent adored. Beautiful artwork adorned the walls, creating a splash of shadowed color in the room. Under normal circumstances, he would have been standing, trying to decipher the hidden meanings in the generic forms of the artwork.

Maybe I will get the chance to look at them closer after I get this job, Trent thought. If I get this job.

Across the room, a middle-aged man in a stuffy gray suit dropped his thick portfolio with a loud thud. Papers scuttled across the floor in every direction. Another man, in another gray suit, stooped to help the first man recover his dignity. They did not impress Trent, and his eyes were swept down to the beautiful hardwood floor of the room. The deep rose red color of the wood entranced him. It was almost the color of...

"Blood," Trent mumbled to himself.

"Excuse me?" the plain looking man to his left replied.

"Hmm? Oh, sorry, I must have been thinking out loud," Trent smiled at the man, "I was just musing to myself that bloodwood actually does have the same hue as blood."

"Bloodwood?" The man obviously had no idea what Trent was talking about.

"Yes, this floor. It is made of bloodwood. I believe it's the first time I've actually seen it."

The man looked at the floor intently as a wave of warmth spread over his face. It amused Trent tremendously.

"Oh yes, of course," the man stammered. He looked away hastily and pretended to be occupied by other thoughts.

Probably never even heard of bloodwood, Trent thought with a silent laugh. Nice to show up the old-timers on occasion.

From the far corner of the room, a great door swung open. Another middle-aged man, this one in a blue suit, stumbled out of the door. Trent watched as the man reached into his pocket for a handkerchief. He clumsily wiped it over his face as he crossed the room.

"How was it, Charles?" asked one of the gray suits.

"Terrible," Charles replied as he collapsed into the seat next to the gray suit, any trace of former dignity now a distant memory.

"What happened?"

"That man, Mr. Maxwell, he is the coldest fella I have ever met. He just sat there and stared at me, with those cold green eyes. I swear it felt like he was looking straight into my soul!"

The other men in the room, all intently listening, laughed nervously.

"Oh, come on now Charles!" the man in the gray suit laughed, "It couldn't have been that bad!"

"Just you wait Carl," Charles said with a red face, "wait until you get in there! He's nothing like his father I tell you. I met Keith Maxwell once. Nicest guy you'd ever meet. He talked to me just like we were the best of friends. A good, warm man was Keith Maxwell. That man in there," Charles pointed a stubby finger toward the door, "that man in there is made of ice!"

The conversation continued, but Trent didn't hear it. He stared down at his leather portfolio and worried. He'd heard similar stories about Jason Maxwell. Sitting in the comfort of his own apartment, he had laughed at the rumors. But he was about to face the man himself, and things didn't seem quite so humorous.

On the receptionist's ornate desk, a phone rang. All conversation stopped in the room. The tension mounted while the pretty blonde woman spoke to the person on the other end of the line.

"Yes sir," she said cheerfully, "I'll send him right in." Trent watched her as she thumbed through a stack of papers and selected the next victim.

"Mr. Buckland?" she asked, her bright blue eyes sweeping around the room of waiting men. The man sitting next to Trent rose quickly.

"Yes?" he asked, the tremor in his voice obvious.

"Mr. Maxwell will see you now."

"Th...thank you," he murmured as he crossed the room. At the door he paused, took a deep breath, and turned the brass knob. Trent watched as he disappeared, the door clicking shut behind him.

Trent again let his eyes roam, this time across the faces that sat around him. Four men in their forties, another one a bit older. All in shades of gray and blue. They were just about the dreariest bunch that Trent had ever seen. None of them looked excited, or even happy, to be there. Not like Trent did.

He was a bundle of raw nerves and anticipation, but Trent was quite possibly the happiest man in the building. As a child, he had dreamed of this moment. He had imagined, again and again, walking across to that door and pulling it open. He had practiced every word that he would say. He had read every news article, every press release, every rumor filled blog that had contained the name of Maxwell Design and Construction.

Trent's mind flickered back to his earliest memory of the name. His father had taken Trent with him to work. Trent had stood in awe at the front of his father's building. The sweeping lines and ingenious design of the place had instantly captured his imagination. His father had watched him, smiling at the look of wonder on his son's face.

"Isn't it magnificent Trent?"

"It's perfect," Trent had managed to say. His father had laughed.

"It probably is. The man that designed the place, they say he's an architectural genius."

"He has to be," Trent's amazement replied.

"I hear he sometimes visits the places he's built. Maybe if he ever comes here, I can introduce you to him."

Trent's eyes had grown wide with amazement. "Really Dad?"

"Sure, I'll see what I can do. I hear he's got a son, just about your age."

The memory faded into a million others. Trent had never met Keith Maxwell. He had died just a few months after that fateful day. For Trent, every decision of his life stemmed from that one moment. He knew then, at the age of eight, that his destiny in life was to work for Maxwell Design. It was his one, and only, dream.

The big door swung open again, and the man in blue stumbled out. He didn't stop to talk to anyone like Charles had.

"Dear God," he was mumbling as he left, "cold, cold man."

The men in the room looked at each other, worry and nervousness obvious in every set of eyes. Every set but one. To the other men, Trent looked calm and confident. They were all slightly annoyed when they looked at him.

Too brash and arrogant, thought one of the men in gray. Maxwell will eat him alive.

He's the only competition here, thought another man enviously.

On the desk, the phone rang again.

"Mr. Chambers?"

"Yes," Trent replied as he stood up without hesitation.

"Mr. Maxwell will see you now."

"Thank you," Trent answered, smiling sweetly at the woman. She smiled back at him.

"Good luck in there," she said with a wink.

Trent nodded at the receptionist with another smile and took a deep breath.

This is it. Time to meet Destiny, face to face. Trent walked confidently to the door and turned the knob.

Jason was irritated. There were dozens of projects he should have been working on. Instead, he was sitting at his desk listening to men rattle on about their mediocre experience and petty accomplishments. He was tired of the constant noise, the silver rimmed glasses, and balding heads. He began to question his decision to personally oversee the hire.

Isn't there one decent architect under 35? he wondered to himself. His eyes slowly soaked in the view of the city that stretched out beyond the oversized window. Behind him, the gentle clicking of the door brought him harshly back to reality. He sighed, briefly closed his eyes, and turned around.

For a moment, Jason completely forgot the routine of welcoming in the next job candidate. He stared blankly at the young man standing in front of him.

"Mr. Maxwell?" the man asked. Jason noted immediately that there was no hesitation in the gentle voice.

"Ah yes, come in. Please have a seat." Jason motioned to the seat across from his desk. He watched the young man walk confidently across the room. Jason extended his hand toward the man and was pleasantly surprised with the firm grip he received.

This could get interesting, Jason thought as he settled into his seat.

Mr. Chambers, correct?” Jason asked in his best authoritative voice.

Yes, Trent Chambers sir. It's an honor to meet you.”

Jason watched the excitement dance in the clear blue eyes of the man in front of him. He was intrigued.

May I?” he said coolly, pointing to the portfolio in Trent's hands.

Of course,” Trent replied with a warm smile. Jason did not return the gesture, although he was finding it difficult to maintain his normal remoteness. Something about Trent pulled him in. He was reminded of a silly quote he'd once seen—Something about you feels like destiny.

Jason pushed the absurd thought from his mind and opened the portfolio. He could feel Trent's eager eyes watching his every move. At this point, all the others had begun stammering about their qualifications, dripping compliments and hoping to receive some in return. None had yet warranted any.

Jason flipped through the portfolio in awe. Trent Chambers possessed an amazing ability and a style not dissimilar to his own.

I can assure you,” Jason finally said, “that I don't say this very often, but your portfolio and resume are impressive.”

Thank you, sir,” Trent said calmly, beaming a radiant smile across to Jason.

Tell me, why did you choose to become an architect?”

Trent's smiled broadened. “I was inspired as a child by a magnificent building. From the moment I saw it, I was mesmerized. Since then I have only ever wanted to be an architect.”

That's quite an original answer,” Jason said, impressed already with Trent's calm manner. “Could I ask, who was the designer of the building that so inspired you?”

Your father.” Trent watched as Jason's expression changed. “You see, my father was lucky enough to work in the Baymont building in Houston. When I was about eight years old, he took me there. I fell in love with the place and would beg him to take me to work with him. My affair with architecture began there.”

For a moment, Jason sat silently looking at Trent. The sincerity was obvious in his words. He spoke with a passion that Jason rarely, if ever, encountered.

The Baymont is a masterpiece,” Jason finally said. “One of Dad's greatest achievements. It's nice to know that someone appreciates it.”

It is absolutely incredible. I was so impressed by the attention to detail, the beauty of the lines, and the blending of styles. That building has shaped every aspect of my professional life.”

Jason sat back in his chair. His mind reeled. He felt an amazing attraction to the man that sat quietly waiting for his reply. He was talented, enthusiastic, and sincere. But there was something else.

Normally,” Jason said slowly, “I would now ask why you want to work at Maxwell. But I think you have already answered that question.”

Working here has been my life's ambition,” Trent laughed a bit, “in fact sir, you hold the only copy of both my portfolio and resume.”

Why? A man of your talent has many options.”

That may be true,” Trent's smile faded a bit and he peered deeply into Jason's eyes, “but my heart has only one.”

Jason was mesmerized. Trent's words had triggered something in his mind, but he wasn't certain what it was. But there was one thing he did know.

I expect perfection, Mr. Chambers. I accept nothing less.” Jason paused, watching the excitement build in Trent's face. “But from you, I will expect much more. Much more.”

An immaculate smile swept across Trent's face. Jason couldn't help but smile back as Trent vigorously shook his outstretched hand.

He looks like an angel, Jason thought to himself.

Thank you sir,” Trent beamed, “I will be the hardest working person here.”

Good,” Jason replied, his voice slightly tinged with happiness. “Now, go out and see Stacy. She'll get all of the paperwork started. You start tomorrow.”

Jason watched as Trent strode across the room and disappeared behind the heavy door. He collapsed into his high-backed leather chair, slightly stunned. Trent's crystal blue eyes, so blue they were almost clear, were burnt into his memory. Again he was struck with the thought that Trent looked remarkably angelic—a trait he'd only assigned to one other person in his life.

Behind the safety of the closed door, Trent let out a sigh of relief. His mind was swimming with everything that had just happened. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that all of the staring men could hear it.

I didn't expect him to be so...The thought wouldn't form correctly in Trent's mind. He felt dazzled, almost intoxicated.

Well,” one of the gray suits finally asked, “how was it?”

Trent smiled devilishly at the man.

Go home boys. This one is all mine.”

The blonde behind the desk, Stacy, hung up the phone she'd been holding.

Thank you gentlemen for your time, but Mr. Maxwell has made his decision. We do hope you'll all apply for the next available position. Good afternoon.”

The men in the suits stared blankly, first at Trent and then the woman. They were murmuring crossly as they gathered their things. Trent couldn't help but feel pleased with their reaction.

Thought he was made of ice,” Carl grumbled as he hastily pulled on his coat.

Well you know,” Trent replied as he walked over to Stacy's desk, “even the coldest glacier has a melting point.” He slyly winked at the old man and almost laughed out loud as the man's face flashed red.

This is it, Trent thought again as he smiled at the pretty receptionist. Nothing will ever be the same again.
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I'm a wife, a mom, and a writer. My life is crazy and chaotic ... but I wouldn't have it any other way!

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"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be." -- Abraham Maslow

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