Wednesday, November 27, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12:

Violet worked on various assignments the next day. She got an Instant Message from Jake at eight in the morning, right after they took his dad into surgery.

'Are you okay?' she asked.

'No. Am I allowed to call you?'

'Sure, but I don't know who might hear me. Call my cell. I'll go outside.'

'No. Go to that conference room. The lock number is 0-9-4-6. Go inside and I'll call you in six minutes.'

She wrote down the number, grabbed some paper and a pen, and headed for the conference room. After unlocking the door, she entered and closed it behind her. As soon as she sat down, the phone rang and she answered it. "Hello?"

"Violet, that office is going to be used. Go to my office."

"Where is it?"

"Fifth floor. As soon as you get off the elevator, tell Gwen, my secretary, who you are. She'll take you to my office and we can talk there."

She ended the call and just as she opened the door, Lanny and his group walked inside. "What are you doing here?" he asked.

"Jake told me to come in here. I'm just leaving." She ran off as he laughed and took the elevator to the fifth floor. She checked in with Gwen, who took her to Jake's huge office. It was impressive, but the most intriguing part were the pictures he'd framed and put on his walls. They were all of her and the dogs.

The phone rang and she answered it. "Hello?"

"Violet. It's Jake. We've heard nothing, so keep me occupied, if you will."


"If you had the chance to move with the dogs, where would you live?"

She chuckled. "In my house."

"Hmmm…would you ever consider moving?"

"I live alone. Why would I move? I have a mortgage to pay."

"What if you didn't live alone? Where would you like to live?"

She shook her head. "I'm alone and I can't change that. So what did they say about your dad when they took him back?"

"Not much. Mom, Ray, and Sandy are all here with me. Ray and Sandy are my brother and sister."

They talked for a few more hours, and he showed her how to bring up her work on his computer. They worked on it together, laughing and having a great time. It was then she realized he wasn't a boyfriend, but a true friend, someone she didn't want to lose.

His dad came out of surgery after noon, and was doing well. Jake had to go, and she'd miss him, but she went back to her cubicle and got to work. Afterwards, she spent the night alone with her dogs, but worried about Jake. The next day, she went to work and heard nothing. Maybe he was a fair-weather friend.

Finally, it was Thanksgiving. After she put the dogs out and her parents opened their door, Violet made a few desserts and a side dish for the meal at four o'clock. Alone again for Thanksgiving. But it was all for the best, because it'd be easier to find another job if she didn't feel guilty about the job with Jake.

While she was baking, the phone rang. She grabbed it and put it to her ear, working on a pumpkin pie. "Hello?"

"It's Jake. I'm sorry I didn't call you yesterday, at least. I spent just about every minute in the ICU. Dad had a little relapse, but he was better last night. I wanted to call you, but they wouldn't allow any cell phones. Dad took six hours to tell me what he wanted me to do with the business. I didn't get to sleep until after midnight on Tuesday and got up around four, because Mom wanted to get to the hospital. I spent all day there, too." He yawned. "I'm really tired."

"I'm so sorry. Go to bed."

"I'm up, now. I just wanted to talk to you to see if you're okay."

"I'm fine. I'm making a pumpkin pie right now. I wish you were here to taste it. It's a new recipe and I hope it's good."

"I wish I were there, too. I'm going back to bed, but I'll see you soon."

"Yep. Just one more week of work."

He was quiet for a moment. "We'll miss you." But he didn't seem very upset about her leaving. They ended the call and she kept baking.

By three o'clock, she had the car loaded up with various dishes and drove over to her parent's house. She wasn't about to walk through the backyard with the puppies outside, or they'd trip her. She drove around the block and parked on the street. Once she loaded up her hands with bags and dishes, she went to the door. While juggling the items, she pressed the doorbell.

The door opened and her dad welcomed her. "Let me take those things. The dogs are outside playing with Katie and Tony." Those were her niece and nephew, Ben's kids. "Ben's watching them."

She took the things inside, and placed them in front of Dave and Emma, who were sitting at the table talking to Ben's wife, Stacey. Ashley and her little baby boy, Andy, were also at the table, along with her husband, Greg. Since Ronnie and Rick were still on their honeymoon, this was the entire crowd, and Violet was alone, yet again this year.

"Where's John?" Stacey asked.

"Not a good thing to talk about," Dave whispered. "History, but it's a long story."

"I'm sorry," Stacey said. "But you always have us."

Every year, just like clockwork. Violet sighed.

The doorbell rang and Violet's dad, William, jumped to his feet. "Our special guest." He chuckled and ran to the door.

"Special guest?" Dave asked.

No one knew, and Denise, Violet's mom, had gone outside with Ben and the kids.

"Welcome," William said. "I'm so glad to see you."

No answer. Violet turned to see if her father had gone nuts, talking to no one. But she couldn't see the front door, but heard whispering.

"Ready?" her dad whispered.

Violet glanced at the rest of her family and they seemed as interested and confused as Violet was.

She turned back and watched her dad enter the room. "We have a special guest and I want you to all welcome him. You all know him." He motioned into the hidden hallway and someone walked into the room. It was Jake.

Violet's face heated up and she got to her feet. "You're in Texas. What are you doing here? I just talked to you."

"You did?" Dave asked. "You made up?"

"Sort of," Jake said. "And for the rest of you, my name's really Jake Oakwood. I own the greeting card business where Violet works. I mean, worked. She quit because I wasn't allowed to tell the truth until we got the goods on the guy who worked next to her."

"Did you get rid of him?" Dave asked.

"Yes," Jake said. "With Violet's help." He glanced toward William and then back at Violet. "Your dad heard the whole story from his brother-in-law, Gene, and invited me here today. So I had to get back after Dad's surgery, and flew in overnight. That's another reason you didn't hear from me last night."

She stepped closer, wanting to give him a hug. "You've been through a lot." But she knew her place. She didn't want to lead him on.

"As have you." Jake glanced toward William and then turned toward Violet. "I want everyone to hear this. Violet, I've fallen in love with you. I want to be your friend…um…more than your friend."

William nudged Jake. "Just ask her, will you?"

Jake chuckled. "I'm gettin' there."

Denise, Ben, and the kids all ran inside with the dogs. "They're tired," Denise said, and looked up. "Jake! I'm so glad you made it. Did I miss it?"


"He's working up to it," William said. "Hurry up. I'm not getting any younger here."

Jake chuckled. "Well, Violet, I love you and I want to know if you'll still date me. I really missed you."

She couldn't stop herself. She took a few steps and gave him a hug. "I'd love to. I missed you, too, more than I thought possible."

He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead. "Then I have a question for you." He backed away and got on one knee while the dogs jumped up on his other knee and licked his face. He pulled a small box from his pocket and opened it to show a yellow golden ring with a huge solitaire diamond on the top. "Marry me? No more lies or half-truths. My dad wants to see me married, and talked to me for four hours straight about my married life after the six hours about the business. Will you marry me, Violet Renee Black, and make me the happiest man alive?"

Violet stood still, stunned. "Marriage? But I have four dogs—"

"I'd adopt them. They're great." He petted two of them as the other two ran off to get a drink.

"Say yes," Dave said. "You know you want to."

Violet chuckled and covered her mouth. She thought about it for a moment, realizing that Jake was the most wonderful man alive. "Yes. I'd love to. You're really special to me, and I love you, too."

Everyone clapped. Jake got to his feet and gave Violet a big kiss, which made her warm from her lips to her toes. When he backed away, her heart beat fast and she felt giddy. He rested his head on hers. "After dinner, I want to show you our new house. I bought it the day I met you, just for us, and my house is up for sale. It even has a dog door and lots of land."

"But my parents keep the dogs—"

"It's next door to this place. Both lots will be put together and our kids and dogs will have grandparents to bug all the time."

And so began their lives together. Violet kept her job, but moved up to work with Jake to keep the business afloat. His parents retired in town, and his brother and sister moved closer, so Violet had more family around her than ever, never feeling alone again.

The End

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 11)

Chapter 11:

Violet was on Instant Messaging with Jake while keeping an eye on Chet. The guy was boring. He did nothing all day long. But Jake was chatty, to say the least.

'If you could go on any vacation, where would you go?' he asked on messaging.


'It's keeping my mind off my dad. Where? Money is no object.'

'Chet just came back to his desk. He's eating something that smells like nuts.'

'Boring. Where would you go?'

'I have no idea. I've never been on vacation. As a kid, we couldn't go, because Mom worked year-round. So dad would get us to do the work around the house all summer long. When we didn't have work to do, he'd make us learn more. I guess that's why we all have extra degrees. Ben's a doctor but didn't want to specialize. Instead, he took extra classes to get a PhD in psychology to handle women, or so he said. Ashley has a PhD in education, but doesn't like being called doctor. Emma has a master's degree in biology. And Ronnie just finished her master's degree in chemistry. Why am I telling you this?'

'You never went on vacation. If you could go anywhere, where would it be? Do you think you'd like mountains or the beach?'

'The beach. I can't even imagine what that's like.'

'Do you like winter or summer?'

'Summer, hands down.' She heard the speakerphone again. 'Chet just dialed the phone. Keep an ear open.'

'Yep.' He paused. 'He's calling a 1-900 number. A sex call during work?'

'Can you prove anything?'

'No, unless you hear moaning.'

She listened for a moment. 'Just breathing. He left the office again.' She leaned out the cubicle door and returned to the computer. 'He went to the bathroom.'

'Can't get him there,' Jake wrote.

They kept messaging, but nothing happened. At lunchtime, a secretary brought a sandwich and a drink. "Take a break," she whispered. "I'm here now. Eat when you get back."

Violet nodded and left the room, using the restroom. When she walked out, Jake was waiting for her. "I'm on break," he said. "The secretary's eating your meal so you can get out of there for a bit."

"Thanks. I have to get my purse and coat."

"Nope." He took her hand and headed back for the forbidden conference room. "My treat." He opened the door and there sat two steaks on plates, with baked potatoes and a salad with a soda.

"Wow. Some treat. Trying to get back in my good graces?"

"No. I'm not a suck-up, either." He ushered her through the door and closed it behind him. "I'm thanking you for helping me out. We don't have it yet, but we'll get the goods on him. When he calls those kids, I want to know about it."

They sat down and started to eat, talking over the meal. Each time she laughed with him, she felt guiltier and guiltier. Maybe he was right and had to lie to everyone. If they had more employees like Chet, he'd have to go undercover. There was no doubt about it.

After they ate, they went back to their positions to watch Chet. That afternoon, Chet called one of his kids.

'He's on the phone,' Violet wrote. 'He's talking to Billy. He had Billy tear holes in his clothes and put mud on his cheeks to make a sale.'

'We're listening,' Jake wrote. 'Wow. He's teaching the kids how to steal. They're going to use a team of kids. I think this might be enough. What do you hear?'

'Same thing. He's even laughing about it. Get the cops to Sixth and Main. They're talking about knives.'

'How old is that kid?'

'Pre-teen I think? Maybe twelve, from the way he's talking.'

'Would you be willing to testify against him?'

'Sure. Ask the neighbors around me, too.' She looked around and two people were standing up and staring at Chet. 'Nora and Anne are both staring at him, and now Ned and Victor are on their feet.'

'Good. Security will be there in three-two—"

"Chet, you're fired. Come with us."

Chet slammed down the phone and he was ushered out. Another man came in and took everything personal from Chet's office and he was gone.

About ten minutes later, Jake came into her office and sat down, leaning close. "The cops were nearby and got the kids," he whispered. "Billy is nineteen and his cohorts were ten and eleven. They had to be disarmed, but Billy was shot in the shoulder when he tried to get away. They're in jail and the hospital, and when they patted Billy down, he had a gun and over three thousand dollars in his pockets. He said they were for sales of not only greeting cards, but drugs he'd sold for Chet."

Violet was more than surprised. "So he's gone."

Jake nodded. "Now I have to leave. I wish you could come with me."

"Call me with whatever happens. You can always talk to me by phone. I keep my cell on all the time."

He shook her hand. "Thank you. I'll be home as soon as I can." He stood up. "Hold down the fort for me. I'm off to round up the horses."

She chuckled, said goodbye, and he was gone. She'd certainly miss him, but knew her time with him was limited.

Stay tuned!  Last Chapter, Chapter 12, Wednesday, November 27!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Friday, November 22, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 10)

Chapter 10:

After looking for another job all day Sunday, Violet went to work on Monday morning. She put earphones into her ears and got to work. A new batch of greeting cards had been sent to her from the photography department, which wasn't usual. She was certain, though, that Jake had had a hand in this, because she was now being asked to write humorous prose. She'd been promoted and hadn't wanted that to happen. But it didn't matter. She'd be gone in two weeks. Since everyone had Thursday and Friday off, in eight working days, she'd be history from the Oakwood Greeting Card Company. She just wished she could find a job as much as she liked this one.

As she thought of some prose, she looked up a bit. She couldn't see well over the cubicle walls, but felt like she was being watched. She stood up, and there, across the room, stood Jake, just staring at her cubicle. His hands were on his hips and he appeared to be frustrated.

She crossed her arms, shook her head slowly, and sat back down. The next eight days were going to be brutal. But she'd do her work and move on.

Just as she began to work again, someone stepped into her cubicle. "Miss Black, I'd like to speak with you."

She knew that voice. Jake. "Yes, sir." She turned, seeing his sad face.

"In the conference room."

She grabbed some paper and a pen, considering taking her coat and purse with her. As she looked up at Jake, she opened her desk, lifted her purse, and took her coat off the back of her chair.

He moved to block her exit. "You're not leaving yet, so you won't need that."

She put the purse back into the desk and locked it. After dropping her coat on her chair, she realized he still hadn't moved. "What now?"

"You don't need a pen and paper, either. We'll work on a laptop."

Chet stood up and stared. "Oooohhh…someone's in trouble."

Violet bit her lips, because she wanted to say that Chet was in trouble, but knew better. As soon as she put down the paper and pen, Jake ushered her into the hallway. They continued walking, heading for that forbidden conference room.

"Care to tell me what this is about?" she asked.

"Nope. Not yet."

"Are you trying to get on my good side?"

"No. You're not receptive to that." He seemed so cold and indifferent, she wondered what she ever saw in the guy. "Do you have another job in mind yet?"

"I saw a few." But she was lying. The job market for English majors was nonexistent in the area. However, she could always work for Dave as a secretary. It'd be brutal but it was a job.


They stopped at the conference room and he opened the door. Betty and a few of the upper echelons of the company sat inside. Violet felt more confident that ever, considering she only had eight days left, and the day was part of the way over.

"Have a seat," Jake said, and sat at the head of the table.

She did as requested, and sat on the far side, near the other empty end of the table and beside Betty.

Jake made eye contact with the entire group. "I called this meeting because we have a problem. I can't prove anything Chet's done, except for surfing porn. Because he claims it was to find a dancer for an ad, our legal department said it'd be too weak a reason to fire him. So we need to find more." He sighed. "Dad had a heart attack this morning, so I'm in charge, more than I want to be. I talked to him on the phone and they said he needs a triple bypass, but he's okay for now. He has formally retired and the company is now mine to run."

Violet felt so badly for Jake. His dad wasn't well, and he had a lot on his shoulders.

"I'm flying to San Antonio tomorrow for the operation, so in the meantime, I'm putting Lanny in charge." Jake nodded toward the smiling bald man on his right. "I'm going to close the San Antonio office, so we can downsize a bit. The employees there will have the option of moving up here, telecommuting, or given a severance package. When the sale of that office is complete, we'll take the money and expand here, since we have a lot of land to the west. In the meantime, I want each of you to get rid of any dead wood. If any employee isn't exceptional, I want them gone. They'll be laid off, but not fired, so they can find another job." He looked directly at Violet. "I have a job for you in the time remaining with our company."

"You've been fired?" Betty asked, staring at Violet.

"No," Jake said to Betty. "I want her to stay, but a…personal problem happened and she's resigned. I convinced her to stay two weeks, but I'd like her to stay longer. However, I made a mistake and I think it's unfixable." He sighed and everyone kept quiet. "I wish I could turn back the clock, but it's not going to happen." He looked at Violet. "I want you to finish up the cards you're working on, because you're exceptional at writing card messages."

"Oakies," Lanny whispered.

"Not any more. That's a stupid thing to call them, and my dad was wrong. We've had to educate each of our clients to something that makes no sense." He turned back toward Violet. "Finish just those few. I think you have two left."

She nodded. He must've checked her boss' emails, because she'd sent the rest in that morning.

Jake continued. "Then I want you to listen to Chet. I want to know exactly what he's doing every moment of every day. We have a tap on his phone, but we can't have it on all the time, according to our lawyers. We also can't use it in a court of law, because he wasn't notified. I want to stay on private messaging with me all day, because if we know what he's doing, we can catch him in the act."

"Wait, John…I mean, whatever your name is today."

Everyone's eyebrows lifted as they stared at her.

"That's another thing," Jake said. "My real name's Jake. I took the name John so no one would know who I am." He looked over at Violet. "I'm so sorry, but I couldn't let Chet find out my real name. Will you help me in the last seven or so days you're here?"

"Yes, sir."

Betty leaned closer, since she was beside Violet. "Give the guy a break. His dad's not in good shape."

There was no way she'd say anything, and definitely not in a business setting. Instead, she sighed and pursed her lips.

"All right," Jake said. "Everyone knows what to do. Clean out the dead wood, close the San Antonio office, and get rid of Chet. Any other questions?"

Lanny leaned closer to Jake. "Are you two dating?"

"No, but that policy will change. As long as the employee isn't a direct report, I don't care who's dating whom. I put that in the works this morning at the board meeting. It was passed unanimously, along with a few other policies. They'll all be distributed this afternoon. Anything else?"

"I think you should date her, Lanny whispered. "We really need her. Those cards—"

"Later." Jake stood up. "Meeting dismissed."

Violet stood up, but just as she approached the door, Jake touched her shoulder. "I'd like to speak with you in private, so we can get a strategy."

"Yes, sir."

He sighed, but everyone else left the room. As soon as they were gone, he shut the door and motioned to the table.

She sat down, her arms crossing. She hated the thought that she had to bow down to him.

"I know you're really angry with me right now, and I honestly can't blame you. I had no idea your uncle was Gene Ranger. He and my dad are really good friends. He wouldn't let me go after you on Saturday, but said he'd explain it to you."

"I haven't talked to Uncle Gene for years. He's too uppity for my family, since my dad was an elementary school principal and my mom was a nurse."

Jake half-smiled. "Well, he feels badly for letting the cat out of the bag, but I'm glad he did. I didn't see any way to tell you, or explain why I couldn't kiss you. If anyone on the board found out, I'd be in trouble and you'd be fired. Neither of us needed that. But you did amazing work and I'd like to be a reference for you. I'll give you glowing marks, too."

"Thanks, but it's not necessary. I'll use the references that I used to get this job."

He shook his head. "They're outdated. I just wish you'd stay here, but I know I messed up." He sighed and continued. "Now, as for Chet, just stay on Instant Messaging and we'll act like we're working. I want you to bring up one of the puppy pictures on your screen for a cover."


"I hope to get rid of him before I have to leave tonight. I'm taking a late flight so I can be there for Dad tomorrow."

"I truly hope he's okay. I'm really sorry this all happened at once."

He watched her for a moment. "Thank you. The nice thing is I know you're saying that from your heart, and not because I'm the boss."

"Even if you were the boss, it'd be from my heart. I'm not that cold and I don't play games to get ahead."

He took her hand. "I admire that about you, too."

She pulled her hand away. "I hope you didn't promote me, either. I was given upper level cards to work on today."

"No. It wasn't me. I don't know what happened, but I do know they were impressed with your work."

"John…I mean Jake, I didn't do all that work. You helped me."

"Barely," he said. "You know you did almost all of it. I think I suggested one word change. The point is, you're a great employee and we really don't want you to leave. If I left, would you stay?"

"Who would run the place?"

He sighed. "Oh yeah. My brother doesn't want it, and my sister is a stay-at-home mom. It's all up to me." He shook his head. "I don't want to go home tomorrow. I really want to stay here and talk to you. You keep it all in perspective. If we get the goods on Chet today, would you come with me tomorrow?"

"I can't. I'm looking for a job and don't have time to play. My team needs me to work."

He leaned back on the chair. "I don't know what else to do, but the offer stands. Stay here and date me. I've never fallen for a woman like I fell for you. But now, it's all being pulled out from under me right when my dad's undergoing the knife." He closed his eyes for a second. "I'm scared for him."

She hated this whole situation, but how could she ever trust him? "Let's get Chet and see what happens then."

"Fine." He stood up. "Stay on Instant Messaging and let me know what he does every second."

She stood up, too. "Yes, sir."

"Don't call me sir. I'm Jake. I never should've changed my name, but five years ago, it seemed like a good idea." He headed for the door and opened it for her. She walked through, wondering how she could make this right. But she saw no way out.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 11, Monday, November 25!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 9)

Chapter 9:

John, also known as Jake, walked into the house and lowered his head as if he was in trouble, which he was.

"She quits." Dave handed John the letter. "I'd say it was a Dear John letter, but your name's Jake."

John read the letter and then lifted his gaze to Violet's face. She crossed her arms. She wasn't falling for this liar anymore.

"I wanted to tell you right away," he said. "But I couldn't."

"Why not? Was it because of Chet?"

He nodded. "You don't understand. Betty called me and told me what you'd told her. I'd always been the 'fixer' in the company, but with Dad being sick, I'm also now the owner. I go by John at work in case anyone reads Dad's bio which includes information about me. I've done all the jobs at that business, but being a 'fixer' seems to be where I shine. I play like someone on their team until I can catch them doing something wrong. Then I leave, have them fired, and escorted out. No one knows who I really am." He sighed. "But then I met you. It made it more difficult, because I have to play two parts with you—your boss that you don't even know exists, and someone who truly cares about you, more than you know. You're extremely talented and had no idea you were auditioning for a promotion that day when we worked on the oakies together."

Dave raised his eyebrows. "Oakies?"

"Greeting card messages," Violet said, crossing her arms tighter. "Someone thinks so highly of themselves, that they have to name the messages after their last name."

John grunted. "That was Dad's idea. Not mine. Mom and he fought over that one, believe it or not. I have to play along until he decides to retire, and then the company's mine. And you can guarantee there will be some changes. Lots of changes. First, I'll get my real name back." He looked down at her resignation and then lifted his blue eyes to see her. "Don't quit. I need you in more ways than one. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me."

She took a step closer. "But you lied to me. How can I ever trust you again?"

Dave sighed. "This is the part I call 'leap of faith.' Now bring it home so I can have a happy ending."

Violet gave Dave an evil stare.

"Or not." Dave chuckled. "Just kiss and make up."

"He doesn't kiss," Violet said. "I'm too ugly and am just being used. I'll be thrown out like the trash when he doesn't need me anymore." She nodded toward the paper. "Well, you don't need me so you can leave now."

John sighed. "I can't kiss you. I'm not allowed to, by my dad's policy. I really want to kiss you, because you're beautiful, darlin'. You wouldn't believe the comments over those pictures, by the way. Some of the upper management want to hire you as our spokesmodel, because you're the girl next door and gorgeous."

She grunted. "I'm surprised you didn't use any of Chet's porn girls."

"No. That's not our image. All of our cards are wholesome and Chet's just about to get canned, but that's a secret." John stared at her face. "Please come back to work. I won't bug you and won't even talk to you unless you want me to. We really need you, because you're excellent at your job."

"She wants a promotion and more pay," Dave said.

John nodded. "Done."

Unbelievable. "No, I don't want that. I'd be using blackmail to get a promotion, and I want to get there with good work instead." Violet took a deep breath. "Hold onto that resignation, but I'll put in my two weeks. That way, you'll have time to find a replacement."

John moved closer. "Violet, don't be like this. Please?"

She tightened her jaw but said not a word.

"Um, let me handle this," Dave said. "John..or would you rather be called Jake?"

"Jake. No more lies to this family. And eventually, no more lies at work, where I'll be known as Jake. Everyone will know me, too. I'm going to have a big talk with Dad. He's not well, so it's really time he retire."

Dave ushered him toward the door. "Let's have a little chat. If I can handle her sister, I can certainly help you handle Violet. She's easy to deal with, but I still think she needs a promotion."

"With her background, you're right."

The door opened and closed. At least they'd leave her alone. But on Monday morning, she vowed to only do her work. No more special projects for anyone, and if they had an employee like Chet or even one that hung from the ceiling, she wasn't about to turn them in. Nope. Jake and his company were on their own.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 10, Friday, November 22!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New Section for SweetTale Books: Let's Write!

I've added a new section to the SweetTale Books website.  It's called 'Let's Write' and includes tips of the writing trade.  I've taken old articles I've written, reworked them for the current times, and am putting them out to the website over time.

Right now, there are two articles.  'Dialogue' and 'Why Grammar Matters.'  I hope it helps someone in their writing endeavor!


Monday, November 18, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8:

Violet sat with her dogs on the couch, trying not to cry. While Dave took care of the dogs, she'd changed into jeans and a t-shirt.

"Want something to drink?" Dave asked, as he opened the refrigerator.

She shook her head. "No, thanks, but get yourself something." She wiped her eyes.

He entered the living room and sat down beside her, handing her a soda and box of tissues. "Drink that can anyway. What happened?"

"You don't have to counsel me with your psychologist's hat on."

He laughed. "I'm not. I have enough of that at the office. Now tell me what happened? John's a nice guy."

"No, he's not." She grabbed a tissue and wiped her eyes. "He's a liar. His name's not even John, but it's Jake. Uncle Gene knows him and his dad. Jake is the owner of our company and I didn't even know it."

"Sounds like he didn't want you to know it, if he used a different name. Did he even give you his last name?"

"Nope." She opened the soda and took a sip. "I was so stupid. I should've known. The signs are all there, now. His email wasn't in the same format as the rest of us, he had access to too many parts of the building, and he was good friends with the bosses. I just wonder why he was working in sales. I met him by listening to his voice over speakerphone from the guy next door." Sudden realization hit her. "And I know why, too. It's just too coincidental." She stood up. "You won't believe this one." She started to pace, but stopped and stared at Dave. "Wait. I'm going to have to quit my job. Are you charging me for this?"

He laughed and shook his head. "No way. This is just too good to charge for. So why was it coincidental?" Viking ran into the room and up on the couch to Dave's lap. "Good boy," he said. "Emma would have a fit if you did this in our house. But a house should be lived in and you should feel at home." He looked up at Violet. "Do you feel comfortable with John…I mean Jake?"

"Yeah, but he's a liar."

"Why is that coincidental, then?"

She paced again. "Well, this guy works beside me." She stared at him again. "Confidential, right?"

He nodded.

"Chet works beside me. He puts all his calls on speakerphone, which means everyone in the cubicles can hear him. He's in sales, and his thought was to watch porn while on the phone, to find a dancer to dress in a greeting card outfit and sell. I took his behavior to human resources, because it's not right that he had his calls on speaker and is surfing porn in his cube. He also bribes kids with candy to do his sales, door-to-door."

"Wow. What a weird guy. Did they fire him?"

"Not yet. But I told H.R. and that lady said she'd get someone to take care of it. After that, John or Jake was on the speakerphone call, suddenly put on Chet's team. He was asking for someone with dogs, and I jumped up and volunteered." She sat down. "He just knew too much about me, from my personnel file. I'm pretty sure he's the one the H.R. lady called, too." She buried her head in her hands. "I'm going to be fired now, I'm sure."

"Not if you quit first." He stroked Viking's back as he lay in Dave's lap.

She sighed. "First thing, Monday morning."

Dave's cell phone rang and he looked at the caller identification screen. "Nope. Right now." He pressed the talk button. "Hey, John. Or is it Jake?" He glanced over at Violet. "Yeah, she's with me right now. I'm counseling her on how to quit her job."

She grabbed Dave's arm to make him stop, but he moved the puppy off his lap and stood up.

"Yep," Dave said. "Pretty upset. Tears and all. Why didn't you tell her the truth to begin with? She feels like an idiot."

Violet put her head in her hands. Dave was going to ruin everything.

"Yes, but I'm staying. I can't let my sister-in-law get beaten up by the boss. We're at her place, taking care of the team." He ended the call and sat back down, putting Viking on his lap. The rest of the dogs ran inside attacking Packer, who carried a huge stick. They were all trying to get it from his mouth.

"Go write your resignation," Dave said to Violet. "Print it out. I want to see it. You have ten minutes to get it done."

"Are you sure?"

"Yep. You'll be in control because he's in love with you. It's a great way to start a relationship, because you'll call the shots."

"And if I get fired?"

"I'll hire you. I need a new secretary." He chuckled, but Violet wasn't amused. However, she couldn't work at a place like Oakwood Greeting Cards if they lied to the employees.

She went into the small office off the living room and booted up her computer. Once it was ready, she wrote up a short resignation letter, but was at a loss. "Two week notice?" she yelled to Dave.

"No. Immediate. He need to know you mean business."

She sighed. "Okay." She changed some of the words to indicate her professionalism and her anger, and printed it off. As soon as she went into the living room, Dave grabbed the paper. Before she could rethink her decision, the doorbell rang.

"You. Sit," he said. "I'll mediate this." He grinned. "I always wanted to do this. I'm going to get you more money and a better job, too." He ran off and answered the door.

What had she gotten herself into?

Stay tuned!  Chapter 9, Wednesday, November 20!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7:

John and Violet dated all week, getting to know each other well. Her parents kept the dogs while John and she went out to eat, to movies, and even bowling. But she didn't care what they did, as long as she could spend time with him. He was just a great guy with so much talent in many areas. But he never made a move on her, as if he wanted to only be her friend. The thought frustrated her, but she never complained.

It was Saturday and her sister's wedding. Since Violet was the maid of honor, she had to be at the church early. John picked her up and they traveled together.

"My parents really like you," she said, on the way to the church. "I think they're going to adopt you into the family today."

He chuckled as he drove. "I get that a lot from a lot of people. But I don't care what others think. I care what you think."


He took her hand. "Yeah. I really want to date you a lot more, but I'm worried that things might be going too fast for you. So I'm holdin' back, but darlin', you're a wonderful gal."

"Thanks…I guess."

He chuckled. "We have to work on that self-confidence. You have a lot of talent, too. That master's degree in English really paid off."

She snapped her head toward him. "How did you know I have a master's in English?"

He sighed. "That just slipped out. I have to know who I'm working with before I dive in. You have an outstanding personnel record. I just want to know why you're working at a greeting card business when that master's in English could get you just about anywhere."

"Not in this town," she said. "And with the dogs, I have to stay near family so the team can run around all day long and get tired out."

"Ah." He nodded. "The family. I should've guessed. They'll be okay in the cages for a bit, right?"

"Yes. My brother-in-law is going to stop by the house and let them out for a while, as soon as the ceremony's over. He hates weddings." She chuckled. "If it were up to him, he'd skip the wedding and just go to my place to play with the dogs. They're his buddies, or so he says."

"Nice guy. That's Dave, right?"

Her eyebrows lowered. "How did you know that?"

"Well, I sort of met him that day we photographed your parents with the dogs. He was over there checking up on his buddies, because your sister, Emma, was bugging him about having kids. He said he'd rather have dogs than kids." John laughed. "He doesn't know what he's missing without kids."

"Yes, he probably does, with Emma as his wife. She wouldn't be good with kids, and knows it."

John held onto her hand a bit tighter. "But you do. You'd be great with kids."

"Me? I think you have me mistaken for someone else."

He shook his head. "Nope. I see how you deal with those dogs. A baby's not a lot different, just more dependent."

Babies were a lot different, but she wasn't going to debate him on it. "I can't have children because I'd have to take off work," she said in a defiant tone. "I have to work or the dogs and I will be out on the street."

"But a husband could support you."

She chuckled. "Like any man would do that these days. Yeah. Not going to happen. I'll never marry, either. I'm always the odd one out."

He kissed the back of her hand. "No, but that's a different discussion."

Her eyebrows rose in surprise. He was a family man, too, or so it seemed. Everything about John kept getting better and better, but she wasn't going to think about any future with him. He'd probably run off with someone at the wedding, and she couldn't blame him. She had little to offer, to make him stay with her.

Once at the church, they went their separate ways. John sat in a pew, alone, while Violet had to deal with the bride and groom, Ronnie, who was her youngest sister, and Rick, her fiancé. Even though Violet had to help make sure both of them were calm, she kept thinking back to John and his comments.

The wedding began and once the wedding party was at the front of the church, they turned toward the minister. Violet stood between Ronnie and her other sisters in the front of the church. Her older sister, Ashley was extremely pregnant, and Violet hoped she didn't have the kid right there.

The wedding progressed and they got to the 'I do's.' Ashley grabbed her stomach and sat down as she whined.

"Not now," Emma said. "Leave if you're going to have a kid."

"I can't get up." Ashley put her head down. "This kid's coming. I can feel it." She screamed and Greg, her husband, Violet's parents, and her brother, Ben, who was a doctor, all ran to the front of the church. They took Ashley out the back and continued with the ceremony, as if nothing had happened.

John stared at Violet as if confused, but she just shrugged. It was typical for her family.

Once the happy couple was married, a baby cried outside the sanctuary. "It's a boy!" Violet's mom yelled from the back of the church.

People laughed and cheered, and the sound of an ambulance pierced the air. At least Ashley would get to the hospital with the little guy.

The wedding party filed out and greeted everyone as they left the church, heading for the reception at a big hotel's conference room.

John waited for Violet, and as soon as she could get free, drove her to the hotel. "That was the weirdest thing," he said. "No one seemed to care that Ashley was having a baby. They just kept on going."

"Yeah. That's my family. Ben's a doctor, and he's the oldest. I'm sure he took care of everything, too." For some reason, she felt like a failure, her own family embarrassing her.

"That makes sense, then. I guess it was smart to just keep going. But I'd be worried about Ashley. Aren't you worried?"

"I'm sure if there were problems, Mom and Dad would've told everyone. Mom lives for that type of stuff. She used to be a nurse, so she convinced Ben to become a general practitioner, at least."

John just sighed and shook his head. "So it's just the reception yet? What are you doin' after that?"

"Nothing. I think my aunts and uncles are going to my parent's house, but I'm staying home with the team. Dave can't have them." She chuckled. "See why Emma doesn't need kids? She's mean, yelling at Ashley like that when the poor woman was in labor."

"Yeah. Dave has his hands full." John pulled into the lot for the hotel and parked. "Let's go have fun. I hope there's dancing."

"Dancing? I've never danced."

His blue eyes seemed mischievous as he glanced at her. "I'll help you. It's fun. I wish it were square dancin' but I'll take anything right now." He got out of the car and Violet opened her door. Before she could get her feet out of the door, considering the long dress she had to wear as maid of honor, John was at her side, helping her out.

"Thank you," she said, but was more than happy he'd helped her. She had high heels, which kind of threw her off balance.

He took her arm and helped her negotiate the blacktop into the church. He was such a nice guy. The thought frustrated and embarrassed her, because she really wasn't in his league. She didn't even know what his 'league' was, but she knew she wasn't in it.

They went inside and sat down to a beautiful meal. After they ate and had cake, Ronnie threw the bouquet, but Violet stood back. She wasn't even going to try to catch it. Let one of her cousins get the thing.

The garter was next, and when Rick, Violet's new brother-in-law, threw it, he aimed right for John, who gladly caught it. Violet was more than disgusted, and left the room to wash her hands. She didn't need to see John enjoying himself. She also didn't want to dance. If only she'd driven, she could go home, but John seemed too happy, talking to everyone around him.

She left the bathroom and ran right into a big chest. As she lifted her eyes, John stood right front of her. "Are you okay?" he asked.

"Sure. My hands were sticky from the cake." She could lie as easily as anyone else.

"I want to dance and was waiting for you." He grinned, and she tried to return the smile, but she really wanted to go home.

"Okay. But you teach me."

"Just follow my lead. I won't step on your shoes." He chuckled and glanced downward. "I hope you don't, either. Those heels are lethal."

She grinned, but it was half-hearted.

They went into the room, which had been set up to be a dance floor. People were slow dancing to a familiar tune, and John took her hand and began to dance with Violet, too. Her cousins pointed and laughed, but with John in the lead, it was easy.

Right when the music stopped, Violet's older uncle Gene stepped forward and touched John's arm. "Jake Oakwood. I can't believe it. How's that greeting card business of yours doing? Are you keeping your dad busy?"

"It's doing well, Mr. Ranger. Are you doing well at your little five-and-dime?" Both men laughed.

Violet looked at her uncle. He was the owner of the huge chain of Ranger Department stores and she knew him but not well.

But Gene knew John? He'd called him Jake Oakwood, as in Oakwood Greeting Cards. Wait. John was the owner of her company? But the owner was supposed to be some old guy in San Antonio.

She stepped away, staring at John…or Jake…or whatever his name was.

John turned toward her, his face forming a frown.

"You own my place of employment?" she whispered.

"It's not what you think," he said, stepping closer.

"Oh, I think it is what I think." She walked away and wound her way through the big crowd until she found her brother-in-law, Dave, on the side, talking to her cousin Jim.

"I want to go home," she said to Dave. "I have to check on the team."

"Aren't you with John? I was just going to go check on them myself."

She sighed. "John's a liar. I want to go home, now."

"I'll take you. I can't have you beaten up by a liar." He excused himself and they both grabbed their coats and got into Dave's truck. It was time for Violet to quit her job and move on.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 8, Monday, November 18!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6:

Violet went to work the next day, but stopped when she reached the entrance to her cubicle. Six huge vases filled with all different colors of roses covered every inch of available counter space.

"Someone loves you," Chet said, entering his cubicle.

"No." She approached the first vase filled with yellow roses and read it. 'Yellow Roses aren't just for Texans. You're adorable, darlin'.'

The roses were from John, making her smile. Each vase had a different phrase on them, giving her an idea for her greeting card messages. But first, she had to write to John and thank him. But she'd never asked his last name.

"Excuse me, Chet," she said. "Do you have John's email? I need to um…discuss the dog pictures."

Chet laughed. "Or is he the one who gave you all those flowers?"

She bit her lips. He didn't know anything. "I just need the email. Do you have it?"

"I'll send it to you." He chuckled and sat down. "But you didn't deny it."

She sat down and rolled her eyes. Chet was a jerk.

She had an email within minutes, but the email address was different than everyone else's. They usually had a first letter for their first name and a last name, with an identifying number. But John's email was random letters and numbers, and she wondered why. She figured he'd gotten that email in the San Antonio office, and emailed him instead, dismissing the thought. She thanked him for the flowers and told him to have a great day.

He emailed back within minutes with the following message. 'I guess Chet gave you my email, and I'm glad you liked the flowers. Tonight, five o'clock, and have your parents keep the dogs. I'll pay for them to do it. I might have to stop by to see you today, to look at the pictures. I went to the bosses and they want you to write the oakies, in either prose or poetry. But they want the oakies to be pithy, because those dogs have attitude. Every picture came out great, and they're labeling you our Greeting Card Princess, since you're so beautiful.'

Great. She was named after a piece of cardboard.

Wait. Did he write she was beautiful? She had to re-read the message just to make sure.

After thanking him, she got to work with a few remaining greeting cards, making up the poems really fast. She emailed them to her boss, and asked for more to do, then waited, checking over her work one last time.

"You need more work?"

Violet turned, seeing her boss in front of her. "Yes, sir."

"I thought you were being given those dog cards?"

John worked fast. "You heard about that already?"

"Yep. Came from the big boss, himself. You must've done something right." He chuckled. "You'll hear about it soon. Go get yourself some more coffee, because it might be a late night."

"Sure, sir," she said, but was confused. She stood up and grabbed her mug, just in time for Chet's 8:30 meeting. She didn't want to go, but she couldn't stay to listen to John today. It would be too obvious, especially with the flowers surrounding her.

When she got back to her desk, John was sitting in her seat, talking on his cell phone. "Yes, and it'll work out great. I'll make sure of it." He nodded and laughed. "That's the plan. Get ready for it." He waited, said goodbye, and ended the call.

"Enjoying yourself?" she asked, entering her cubicle.

"Yep." He stood up. "I want to have a meeting with you, but don't want to do it here. I've signed out a workroom." He glanced down at the coffee in her hand. "And I have better mojo to eat and drink than that."


"Yeah. A mocha cup of coffee, or Joe. Mojo."

"Mocha? I've never had that."

He took the cup from her hand and walked with her out the door. "You'll love it." He stopped at a water fountain and poured out the coffee. "Trust me. You're going to enjoy workin' with me today."

She smiled at him. "Are you so sure of that?"

"Yep. And we're not playin' backgammon, either." He walked with her to the conference room at the end, used by the bosses.

But she backed away. "Here? I'm not allowed to be in here."

"I am. I cleared it." He opened the door and there, on the table, sat a big platter of breakfast foods and two huge cups of coffee from the really expensive coffee shop around the corner. "Grab a cup, because we're going to be really busy."

She sat down and grabbed a cup of coffee. As soon as she took a sip, she blew out a breath. "Chocolatey. Delicious."

"That's the plan." He sat down, opened a laptop beside his seat, and showed her twenty pictures of her and the dogs. They did turn out great, she had to admit, because she had fun. It really showed on the photographs, too, and John was very talented in his job.

"Now, these are just the pictures. The art guys are going to soften the sides a bit, so they look more romantic or something. But that's not our problem. I need you to help me figure out the oakies for each of these things. We want sass and we want pith. I'll show you what they have in mind."

"Wait," she said. "I thought you were in sales?"

He chuckled. "I do everything in this business. I'm a…fixer. I fix things and it seems that everything I touch turns to gold. So work with me here and help me. We want to get these all done this morning, because the team wants more pictures, but this time, they want an older couple, so the dogs can sass their elders."

"Yeah? Who did they have in mind?" She took a sip.

"Your parents."

She choked on her coffee.

John got out of his seat and patted her back. "You okay?"

She coughed a few times and finally caught her breath. "Yeah. But did you say my parents?"

"Yeah. A group of people went out to see them this morning while your team was there. They loved your dogs and your parents would love to help. They know all about this, and they'll be shooting pictures tonight. Today, the group is redesigning your parent's downstairs for a good setting." He paused. "You didn't tell me your sister is getting married this weekend. And your other sister is due with her third child any minute."

"Wow. My parents told a lot."

"They also worry about you, being the only one not married. I'm to ask you if you want a date for your sister's wedding."

She sat closer. "They asked you that?"

He nodded. "I was with that group of people, and told them I took the pictures of the team yesterday."

Weird. "What did you say to that?"

"I said I'd be honored." He smiled. "I haven't been to a good weddin' in years. They're always fun."

"Are you for real?" she whispered. "Weddings are horrible."

"Just because you were alone before. It'll be fun. You'll see." He turned toward the dog pictures. "Now let's get this done fast. We're going out for lunch and have a deadline."

Stay tuned!  Chapter 7, Friday, November 15!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5:

Violet unlocked the door to her home, chuckling at John's stories. "So you traveled to Tibet and climbed Mt. Everest…wearing a Stetson?"

He nodded. "Until it got cold about three minutes into the trip. That's downright cold over there. Somebody's gotta turn up that heat."

He was so pleasant to be around, but she had to get this job done so she could get back to work.

She opened the door and ushered him inside. "Ignore the cheap furniture."

"Cheap?" He walked inside and looked into the living room, to the left. "I wouldn't say cheap. I'd say…eclectic. I like it. It's homey."

Violet stared into the living room at her mismatched furniture, all hand-me-downs. Even though she owned an old brown couch and a light blue chair, she'd tried to make things nice. But with the dogs, the bottom of the couch had been chewed. "More power to ya," she said. "With four dogs, old furniture is a given, even if it was new at some point."

"Not to worry. Now where are those dogs?"

She headed through the foyer and into the kitchen. "Follow me." She unlocked the back door and opened it. "Team, come here!"

The door to her parent's house opened from across the other lawn and four small Boston terriers came running on their tiny legs.

"Will you look at that," John said. "They look like tiny calves."

Violet chuckled. "Yeah. But they grunt like pigs, sometimes. And I have to warn you, they really smell. I think they're the gassiest dogs around."

John shook his head, appearing amused. "I grew up on a ranch until I was about six. Nothin' can smell worse than that."

"You just wait."

All four puppies bounded up the stairs to the porch and jumped up on Violet. "Hey, guys. I missed you all." She knelt down and they licked her chin.

Bear turned and jumped up on John, panting with a smile. John picked up the dog and stroked his back. "Which one's this?" Bear licked the side of his cheek.

"Bear," Violet said, straightening up.

The dogs all began jumping up on John's legs. "Wait, guys," he said. "I can only hold one at a time."

"Good luck," she said, and headed back inside. "Want something to drink?" She opened the refrigerator and two of the dogs put their paws up so they could see inside. "I have water, juice, soda, and it seems, too dogs trying to climb inside."

"No. I'm good." John put Bear down and moved all the dogs toward the living room. "Never a dull moment."

"You have no idea. I've had them since they were six weeks old. Their mother was hit by a car, and they needed someone to take them. So no, there are no dull moments at my house."

"Let's get this done before they start destroying your home."

She shook her head. "Too late for that. Now where do you want them to be for the pictures?"

He pointed toward the living room. "Some place I can corral them in one spot." He pointed toward the fireplace. "There. But I want you in the middle."


"Yeah. You'll bring in the sex appeal for the men and the cuteness factor with the dogs for the women. It's a win-win."

"And better than porn stars wearing greeting cards."

John laughed aloud. "You heard that?"

"I saw it. But that's a different issue." She knew better than to tip her hand. She headed for the step in front of the fireplace and sat down. The dogs jumped up on her and licked her cheek while she laughed. John was clicking pictures, but Violet didn't care. Her team loved her.

John kept taking pictures of her and the dogs while they all laughed. They even went outside to get more photographs. After about an hour, the dogs cuddled together on the couch, and John took more pictures. He even had Violet lay among the puppies.

"I think they're out," she finally said, standing beside him. "That was fun."

He turned toward her and stroked her cheek. "You're covered in dog slobber. You can't go back to work like that." He moved his hand away. "I have to get back and turn in these pictures. But I have a request. Go to dinner with me."

She backed away. "Coworkers shouldn't date."

"I'm not your coworker. I work at your business, but not with you. Does that make it better?"

"Maybe." She sighed. "You're just such a nice guy, too." She looked over at the dogs. "What will I do with them? Dad and Mom had them all day long. I hate putting them in cages for more than an hour."

"Hmmm…" John thought for a moment and then smiled. "Okay, let's do this. Because you helped me out more than you thought you would, you go get a shower." He inched toward the door. "I'll be back." He winked and left the house.

She went upstairs and took a quick shower, dressing in jeans and a red polo shirt. As soon as she applied a bit of makeup, the doorbell rang. She knew to take quick showers, because of the dogs, so she ran back down the stairs. All the dogs were barking at the door. "Just a minute." After running toward the kitchen, she opened the doggy door and they all ran outside. She then headed back for the front door and opened it, seeing John in front of her, holding a pizza box.

"Dinner?" he asked, and lifted the box.

"Sure. Sounds good to me." She took the box from him and ushered him inside, closing the door behind him. "The dogs are outside playing, but I'm sure they'll be in soon."

"When they smell that pizza, they will be." He chuckled. "Oh, and I have to have you sign some forms, since you and the dogs were in the pictures. Company policy, you know."

"Not a problem. It was actually fun. I know it wore the dogs out." They sat at the table and after signing the forms, she got some soda from the refrigerator, along with two glasses filled with ice, and plates with forks for the pizza. They both dug in, talking and laughing while eating. Violet enjoyed his company so much, she wished the night would never end.

After they ate, they decided to play backgammon while having a dessert of an ice cream sundae. The dogs played among themselves until finally, they started bugging Violet and John. So, they took the dogs outside and played fetch until it got dark.

"I guess I should be going," John said. "Back to work tomorrow." They headed inside with the dogs following behind them, but getting tired. Packer collapsed on the wooden foyer floor and fell asleep, snoring before he even lay down.

"Yeah. So do you think some of those pictures will work?"

"I think all of them will. I suspect they're going to be our best sellers, if the wording's right." He sighed as he headed for the door, turning before he opened it. "I had a great time this afternoon. Can we do this again, soon?"

Her heart leaped. "Sure. When?"

"Tomorrow night?"

He winced as if he was going to be shot down, but Violet smiled instead. "Sounds good to me, but I do have the dogs."

"You can go out for an hour, right?"

She nodded. "That's about my limit."

He thought for a moment. "I can work with that. Jeans. Easy and casual."

"My favorite."

He took her hand and pulled her closer. "You're such a good sport. But I have to know. Have you ever dated before?"

Her cheeks heated up and she shook her head, but no words came forth.

"Now it makes more sense." He leaned up and kissed her forehead. "I'm not going to do anything to make you feel uncomfortable. I just like hangin' out with you, even though you think I'm hot."

She laughed, backing away slightly as she dropped his hand. "You figured that out?"

"You tipped your hand when I first met you, darlin'." He winked. "But it's all good. We're buddies first, except when you play cutthroat backgammon. Then it's war."

She laughed again and he gave her a hug.

"You're a great person, Violet." He backed off. "Until tomorrow." He opened the door and was gone before she could even ask what he was talking about.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 6, Wednesday, November 13!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Friday, November 8, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 4)

Chapter 4:

Violet worked on another poem for her boss, but she couldn't concentrate. She was given a sympathy card with a picture of a cottage covered in vines for the front. However, her mind was on her dogs. They were probably waiting at the door of her parent's house, to see her open her patio door.

Even so, she was worried about meeting John. What if he wasn't good looking? Would she write him off as just another voice in a sea of voices? Or worse yet, what if he was good-looking? Would she even be able to speak to the man? That thought made her palms sweat. If only he knew what she thought about his voice. This could be bad.

Now she'd have to take the time to help this guy. What if she got in trouble for taking off work? She never should've agreed to this.

As soon as she put her head in her hands, someone approached her cubicle. "Violet?"

She knew that voice. John. No expectations and don't cringe if he's not as gorgeous as his voice.

She moved her hands and stared up into the most gorgeous face she'd ever seen. With blue eyes framed by dark brown wavy hair and a square face, the guy could've been on the cover of any magazine in the world as the most gorgeous man to walk the planet. Needless to say, she was smitten…and tongue-tied.

"Violet?" he repeated.

"Uh…uh…" She gulped hard. "Yes, sir. You're John. I'd know that gorgeous voice…I mean…sir?" She grabbed a picture from her desk. "Want to see the team?" She practically shoved it into his chest as she stood.

John's face registered amusement and took the picture into his hands. With a moment's hesitation as he studied her face, he finally looked down at the photograph. "Wow. They're identical. How do you identify them?"

Not an easy answer, but she had to explain it like her dad did. "Well, Packer has a brown spot on his tale, Bear is all black except for his nose, Viking has a white spot on his stomach, and Cowboy wears a Stetson."

John laughed and pointed to the picture. "I hate to break this to you, darlin', but there's no Stetson here. There's not even a hat."

She smiled. "I know. Dad tells that to everyone, because he thinks he's funny. Cowboy has white feet. You'll get to know them from their personalities after ten minutes."

He handed her the picture back. "After meeting you, I'm thinking you need to be in the pictures, too. Your team looks a bit rambunctious. It might be more fun if they're crawlin' all over you."

She thrust her thumb into her chest. "Me? You pose with them and I'll take your picture then."

He laughed. "No, that's not the way this works. I'm the photographer."

"Oh. Like the manly man?" She bit her lips and closed her eyes. "I'm so sorry."

She felt him take her hand. "Not a problem," he whispered with a laugh. "I like being the manly man. Can we leave now?"

She opened her eyes, bracing her knees. This guy had it all, and if she wasn't careful, she'd fall hard for him.

"Certainly. I have to tell my boss, first."

He grabbed her coat and helped her pull it on. "Already taken care of." He took her hand and walked around the corner. "Later, Chet. I'll have good pictures when we get back."

Violet just hoped it would be true.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 5, Monday, November 11!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3:

All weekend long, Violet thought about that wonderful voice, wishing it was the last thing she heard at night and the first thing she heard in the morning. She even looked forward to going to work to listen in on Chet's conversations over the next week, just to hear John.

Her sister's wedding was that Saturday. She needed to figure out how to get to know John before the wedding, so she wouldn't be alone at the reception.

It would also be really nice to have him join her at the Thanksgiving dinner at her parent's house, as well. Since she was the only kid in her family that wasn't married, she usually took a few trays of food to her parent's house, which sat behind her home, with a big double fenced-in backyard for both houses where the dogs played.

The setup was great for the dogs, because right before she went to work, the four dogs ran to her parent's home and they watched them all day long. It also gave the dogs twice as much space for a backyard. To pay them for watching the dogs, Violet mowed both of the lawns and kept up the flowerbeds.

It was a great situation…except for holidays. Since she was always alone, she'd leave early and let the dogs play with her nieces and nephews.

But for this holiday, she vowed it would be different. She really wanted to meet John and get to know him. His voice demanded respect, but he was a kind, generous, soul, letting Chet hang himself with every word. She just hoped John knew someone high up to get Chet kicked out.

It was now Monday, about a week and a half until Thanksgiving, the wedding that Saturday, which gave her little time to meet John. Violet arrived at work early, to make sure she could actually listen to the phone conversation. Few people were at work yet, so she turned on her computer and began thinking of text for the greeting cards. Since the company was called 'Oakwood Greeting Cards,' the owner decided to call all messages 'oakies' so they'd remember the name of the company.

She was writing traditional, rhyming oakies, the toughest to do. They put the middle employees there, to see if they could make it. She'd been with the company for four years and really wanted to move up to humorous prose. But she had to catch the eye of a big boss to get there…and no one seemed to like her rhymes. So she grabbed her rhyming dictionary and engulfed herself in her work

Violet didn't hear anything going on around her after writing nine cards, her best daily amount yet. She'd turned them into her boss, receiving words of encouragement with each one.

"Hey, Chet," she heard.

It was that voice. John was talking to Chet over the speakerphone. Violet looked at her watch. 8:30 on the nose. She'd been working for over two hours already? Time had flown by. She needed a break and nothing like ear candy. She stared at the wall, hoping no one would walk by, or if they did, she could make them believe she was thinking.

"John, I think I understand where you're going with this," Chet said. "Are you sure it'll sell?"

"Yes. Do you know anyone who has dogs?"

Without thinking, Violet jumped to her feet. "I do."

Silence filled the room. She glanced around her noticing everyone staring.

"Well, little lady," John said with a chuckle. "And who are you?"

"Um…I work beside Chet. I can hear your conversations."

"Is that right?" John chuckled. "Must be some connection or you have great hearing."

"No." Violet stared at Chet. "He puts you on speakerphone every day, and I can hear all the conversations he has."

"Well that's downright annoying. Does it bother your work?"

"Um…" She looked around at all her coworkers nodding. "Sort of, but that's beside the point."

"No, that is the point." John's voice became a bit more determined. "What's your name?"

"Violet," she all but whispered. "Please don't get me in trouble."

John laughed aloud. "Not a chance. What do you do for this company?"

"I'm write oakies." The term about made her want to roll her eyes, but she knew better. The owner would get upset if he ever found out what she thought.

"Oh. One of our writers." John paused. "You're doing a great job, too…I'm sure." He laughed again, and Violet wanted to melt. "So you have dogs? What kind?"

"Yes, sir. I have four Boston terriers. They're all puppies and littermates."

"Whoa. Four? And you're here all day with them destroyin' your furniture?"

She laughed. "No. My retired parents live behind me and they take them all day. I get them at night. They were a rescue group and we just couldn't break up the team. So I have Packer, Viking, Bear, and Cowboy. My dad named after football teams." She winced, because everyone could hear her. But this guy needed help, and she wanted to be a team player.

John's laughter filled the air and people smiled. They all seemed to get back to work, but Violet was stuck. "Well, Violet, I have to come over there just to meet you. I want to see your dogs. We have an idea to take pictures of dogs for our new line of greeting cards, and Boston terriers are really hot on the market right now. Are they trained in any way?"

"Well, they're all six months old, so no. But they are all neutered." She hid her eyes and felt her cheeks heat up as John laughed.

"You're a gem, darlin'," he said. "I'm on my way. I can't wait to see those football playin' dogs, now."

How should she answer? She had to say something. "You're welcome?"

He laughed again, said goodbye, and ended the call.

Chet stared at her. "You're taking my job. Don't say anything when he takes pictures, but just get rid of him."

"Whatever." She sat back down and lifted her cell phone, pressing the speed dial number fast.

"Hello," her father said. She could hear barking in the background.

"Hey, Dad."

"Violet? Did you get fired? Is that why you're calling? We'll help you get back on your feet. Your babies are a hoot, by the way."

She chuckled. "No, I'm not fired. I'm bringing someone by my house to get pictures of the dogs for cards. Can I have them back earlier than normal tonight?"

"Well, it'll mess up their schedule. Why not bring the person here?"

"I haven't really met him yet," she whispered.

"Him?" Her father whistled. "Denise, she's bringing home a man!" Denise was her mother's name and her father was William.

Oh brother. She definitely needed the dogs at her place and not near her parent's place.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 4, Friday, November 8!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 2)

Chapter 2:

Nothing happened that day, or the next. Today was the second Friday in November, with about two weeks until Thanksgiving. Violet was finding it more and more difficult to concentrate. Not only did she have family drama to deal with at home, Chet was surfing the web while making ooh and aahh sounds in his cubicle. He also talked to the kids every day, with more than one phone call in the past few days. She was still stuck on some rhymes, but that infernal racket next door was more than irritating.

Chet turned on his radio with rap music. That was the last straw. Violet grabbed the phone and called Betty.

"Human Resources, Betty speaking."

"It's Violet."

"Who?" Betty yelled. "Could you turn down the music? It's so loud."

"I'll be right over." Violet hung up the phone and practically ran over to Betty's office, glancing at the naked people having sex on Chet's monitor along the way. Disgusting. She was surprised no one else turned him in.

As soon as she got to the room, Violet banged on Betty's door.

"Come in."

Violet opened the door, stepped inside, and shut it behind her, leaning against the door. "This is ridiculous."

"What is?" Betty motioned toward the chair.

Violet sat down. "That was me on the phone. Chet's playing rap music now. I can't get anything done."

"That was your call? I could barely hear you. I can have you moved right now, if you want."

"No, I want him to stop. He's now watching naked people having sex on his computer. Can't someone fire him?"

"My guy's on it, but he was wrapped up in another case. He said he'd deal with Chet today, but it'll be sly." Betty stood up. "I'll handle Chet right now. Go back to your seat and act like you don't know anything."

"Thank you." Violet stood up and left the room. She could hear the music blasting the whole way to Betty's office. She headed for her cubicle, passing Chet on the way. He was now standing up, with a pen in his hand, playing like he was singing the rap music.

Violet sat down and tried to work, writing down her thoughts. 'Liver is good for people your age…because without it, you could…' and she drew a blank. Who would ever buy a card about liver?

She deleted that and hid her head in her hands.

"Chet!" It was Betty's voice. Violet looked up a bit, able to see Betty's and Chet's heads staring at each other over the wall. "What are you doing, air-rapping? This is a business, not a talent show."

Titters of laughter came from the surrounding cubicles.

"I'm doing research," Chet said. "I'm trying to come up with a jingle for an ad to sell these cards."

That was a new one. Violet suppressed a grin and stared at her computer monitor.

"What about the porn on your monitor?" Betty asked.

"I'm hunting for actresses for that same ad." He stepped closer to his monitor and pointed. "See this lady? She'd be perfect. She could wear a giant greeting card and rap about how it felt so good."

Unbelievable. Using G-rated greeting cards in semi-porn situations. It was novel, to say the least.

"No," Betty said. "You're disturbing those around you, and me, from way over in Human Resources. Turn off the music and the porn, which is against company policy. This is a respectable business." She stepped away and everyone in the nearby area began to clap. Chet sighed and sat down again, turning off the music, at least. Violet couldn't tell if he turned off the porn, nor did she care.

Within minutes of getting back to work, Chet's phone rang. He put it on speaker, of course.

"Chet, what's going on over there?" It was a woman. "Speak to me. We need more sales figures and fresh ideas."

"Well, Daphne, I was working on an idea but the H.R. lady shut me down. So I have to be more creative or quieter in how I work."

"We have a new team member to help you out," Daphne said. "His name's John. He's well-respected in sales and used to work on the tech team here." Silence for a moment. "John, introduce yourself."

"Hello, Chet. This is John. I'm originally from San Antonio, but moved up to Nebraska for this job. Right now, I'm workin' on the photography angle of things."

Violet lifted her head. That voice was golden. She could listen to him all day long, because he was smooth and seemed to demand respect. She wanted to tape the guy's voice, just to play it over and over again.

"What was your idea that got shot down?" John asked.

"A female dancer wearing a giant greeting card while rapping. The card felt so good, she had to sing about it."

John laughed and Violet nearly melted. Even his laughter was hot. She really wanted to see what sort of man was attached to that voice, but knew he couldn't be nearly as gorgeous as his tone.

Now she couldn't work because she kept hearing that male voice, making her weak in the knees. She was in bad shape.

Stay tuned!  Chapter 3, Wednesday, November 6!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013

'The Greeting Card Princess' by Markee Anderson (Chapter 1)

In honor of NaNoWrimo (a 'contest' for writers, to write 50,000 words in a month--, I've put together a 'short' story (12 chapters?  Short?) for people to enjoy.  It's a Thanksgiving story, and will run over many days until the final chapter, the day before Thanksgiving.  It's a sweet romance and, because of lack of space or word count for a short story, it's only in the heroine's point of view.  I also rebelled against some of the romance rules on purpose (to make it more reality-based), so no flaming allowed.  LOL!

I hope you enjoy it!

 Here's the first chapter:

Chapter 1:

Just as Violet Black was looking for a phrase to rhyme with 'ugly as a tree,' for the latest greeting card for her company, her cube-neighbor's phone rang.  Time for the loud daily eight-thirty meeting.

The guy pushed the speakerphone button.  He was probably playing solitaire and needed both hands to count to ten or something.  He was in sales but did no work on his own.

"Chet," the female voice said.  "Any new sales today?"

"Nope.  Just trying to get some leads."  He chuckled.

The walls were high enough that Violet had to stand up just a bit to see over them, but that would be rude.  Considering she couldn't do any work while Chet lied his way through the conversation, she had to know what he was really doing.  Time to get another cup of coffee.

She stood up and stretched as if she'd been working a long time, grabbed her empty mug, and headed out her door.  As she passed Chet's cube, she glanced inside.  He wasn't playing solitaire, but was surfing the web with semi-nude pictures of women on his screen.  He was so in trouble.  The company had a no-tolerance policy for such things and she was tempted to turn him in.  But she didn't know anyone in the tech department to see what else he was viewing.  However, her friend, Betty, worked in Human Resources, which conveniently was right beside the break room and in a real office with walls.  Betty needed a head's up about good old Chet.

Violet walked through the corridors formed by the cubicles, saying good morning to everyone she met.  This business was cutthroat, and networking was key to getting a promotion. 

But for Chet, it didn't seem to matter about hard work.  He was at the top of sales, because he had other people do his work for no pay.  Violet only knew that because she couldn't help but hear his speakerphone conversations over their shared wall.

Once she got to the break room, she made a beeline to see her buddy, Betty.  She'd met the woman when she was hired and they got along well.

Betty's door was shut, so Violet knocked.  "Come in," came the familiar professional voice.  The woman was all business, but liked to be nice to the new hires.  She wore expensive suits to work, high heels, and painted her nails every day to match her outfit.  But Violet tried not to notice, even though Violet could only afford dressy pants and blouses.

Violet opened the door and smiled as Betty stood up.  "What brings you to see me?" Betty asked.  "Another blind date?  I'm still not over that last one."

Violet chuckled.  She'd tried to pawn her brother's neighbor off on Betty, but it didn't go well at all.  The date was brilliant, but he lived in his parent's basement while developing multi-million dollar software that was bound to sell some day, or so he said.

"No blind dates today."  Violet closed the door and pointed toward the chair in front of the desk.  "May I?"

"Certainly."  Both women sat down.

Violet sighed.  "Well, I don't want to tell this to anyone, so I need to know how to approach something."

Betty nodded.  "Spit it out.  I can see it's annoying and we don't want that here."

"It's Chet."

"Topseller Chet?  He sits beside you, right?  Want me to introduce you or fix you up?  He's loaded."  She leaned closer.  "Rumor has it, he even like dogs.  I bet he'd love your dogs."

Violet had four dogs, and she'd told Betty about it after she'd brought them home.  But the comment bugged her.  She was a dog lady, but at least she wasn't an old maid cat  lady.

Violet shook her head and glanced down at the empty coffee cup in her hand.  "No.  I don't want to date him."  She raised her gaze a bit.  "I think I'm destined to be alone and dating in the workplace is against company policy.  No, he's um…"  She stopped, timing her delivery perfectly and stood up.  "I never should've come here." 

Betty pointed toward the seat.  "Sit.  This will stay confidential.  Does that help?"

Violet nodded.  "I can hear everything Chet does over the wall, and he was on his daily meeting that he puts on speakerphone."

"Well, that's annoying.  Is that the problem?"

"Sort of.  He usually plays solitaire during those calls, because I've seen it.  But today, he's not playing solitaire.  He's…um…surfing the web."

"Okay, maybe he's looking for sales leads?"

Violet leaned closer.  "On porn sites?"

Betty's eyebrows lifted and she sat back in surprise.  "Are you sure?"

"I saw it on the way to the break room.  Isn't that against company policy?"

"Definitely."  Betty lifted the phone.

Violet put her hand on the desk to stop Betty for a moment.  "Confidential, right?"

"Yep."  Betty chuckled.  "We have a guy who lives for this sort of thing.  He's been the 'fixer' for any problem for as long as I can remember.  It'll be sly and stealth and Chet won't know what hit him."  She sighed.  "It's a shame because Chet's a top seller."

"Not really, but that's a different story."  Violet stood up and headed for the door.

"Wait."  Betty put the phone back and stood up as well.  "What do you mean, 'not really'?"

"He's getting kids to sell his stuff.  I hear him on the phone.  He's having them go door-to-door and giving them candy for doing it.  The kids are doing a great job, pouring on tears and guilting the customer by wearing old holey clothes, so the people feel guilty and buy.  He's not selling to big corporations like he's supposed to, but kids are doing his bidding for a penny piece of candy.  From his phone calls, he must have at least a hundred kids out selling every day before and after school.  I heard one kid say he'd sold fifty cards in one day.  Chet was going to treat him to ice cream."

Betty stood still, her mouth hanging down.  "Seriously?"

Violet nodded.  "I don't know how to prove it, but anyone sitting near him could hear the conversation.  He doesn't seem to care and puts it all on speakerphone."

"Wow.  I wonder if he'll get them Christmas presents."  Betty sighed.  "My guy can handle that, too.  Just do your job and go get your coffee.  It'll be handled."

"Keep my name out of it."

"You bet."  Betty smiled and sat back at her desk, her hand going to the phone.  Violet didn't want to hear more, but slipped out the door, shutting it behind her.  Now to get that coffee, because she really needed it.

Stay tuned!  Next Chapter, Monday, November 4!

Copyright Markee Anderson, 2013