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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: This Side of Paradise (not about the book) (07/14/11)

TITLE: Mountainside Honeymoon
By Sara Harricharan


On the balcony of the rustic log cabin, I stared at tall mountains in purples and blues, seeing nothing but giant grey triangles. I shivered in the warm air, recalling the tall tales of monster bugs, mischievous animals and the worst—lack of internet. Another shiver ran down my spine as I realized there hadn’t been a decent cell signal for miles. The withdrawal symptoms were settling in.

Reception had been spotty at best and there was one general store down the—horrors—dirt road.

I stood on the balcony in my peach silk robe, fighting exhausted tears. This so-called outdoor wonderland was awful. I wanted my silver-screened city with shiny tall buildings, shaded walkways, free wifi cafés and chic boutiques.

That was wonderful.

That was paradise.

That was key lime pie on a stick.

This was not.

I nibbled one manicured finger.


My sleepy new husband stuck his head through the opened door. There was worry in his voice and I knew what he wanted to say, but wouldn’t. “Morning.” I waved from my corner on the balcony.

We’d compromised for the honeymoon. He’d taken me to Paris and I’d had a ball. Then we’d returned to the states and trekked up into the mountains. He was ecstatic for the fresh air, tall trees and sweet iced tea. I was decidedly less enthusiastic.

“Something wrong?” There was a new weight in his voice.

I ignored it. “Pie.”


“I need key lime pie.” I tried to keep my voice even.

“Key lime pie?” He repeated, puzzled.

“Yes. Now. Please. Hurry.” My arms crossed over my chest, hands fisting in the silken fabric of the dressing room. My panic attacks came with sugar cravings. Very specific sugar cravings. I wanted pie and I wanted it now.

There was a long moment of silence and then he sighed. “There’s a diner built into the side of the grocery store, we can get breakfast there.”

“Don’t need breakfast. Just pie.”

“It’s a shorter wait if you come along.”

“To a diner…store?” I choked out the last word.

“You’d rather stay alone?” He disappeared back inside the bedroom.

I followed.

The ride to the diner-store was relatively quiet and dusty.

I was glad to have a shiny rental SUV.

Terrence offered me his arm as we entered the establishment and I took it, taking up residence behind his tall, manly figure. It was a safe vantage point. I had no idea what to expect. I was so far out of my comfort zone, my producers could probably pull off a comedy show from this alone.

The proprietors were an elderly couple with a penchant for long, pointless conversation and I nearly died when my cellphone chimed from my sequined purse.

Reception? In this area?

I fumbled with the clasp and fished it out. Scanning quickly through the latest notifications brought a huge grin to my face that I absolutely could not contain. It was wonderful in every way and I couldn’t wait to tell Terrence about it—he cleared his throat from beside me.

I turned in time to see a thick metal fork with a quivering mouthful of pale green cream and graham-cracker crust waiting. Happily accepting the treat, I closed my eyes, savoring the familiar taste of cream, key lime and golden honey crackers.


My eyes popped open and I turned, looping one arm around his neck to draw him close for a celebratory kiss. He didn’t resist, but the confusion on his face was adorable.

“We did it.” I took the fork from his hand and returned the favor. “The case went through. We won. Your Daddy’s clinic will be fine.”

Gorgeous blue eyes grew round, the faintest shimmer of tears. He grabbed me in a hug, swinging me in a half circle. The elderly couple smiled, exchanging knowing glances.

“And guess what?”

“What?” He held me tight.

I breathed in the scent of spice, musk and something close to fresh air. “They gave me the contract for the new thriller. It’s gonna be wild, babe.”

He laughed. “How can you film movies about monsters and aliens in the great outdoors and have a meltdown when I bring you to a log cabin?”

I grabbed him for another kiss. That was easy. The movies were make believe.

But with him here as a distraction, perhaps I’d be able to stomach it.

This side of paradise was absolute bliss.

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