Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Skin Deep. Chapter One: Secrets

A few times a year I am lucky enough to share a Progressive Story Project. It's a collaboration, a challenge, and to me personally, it's a gift.

A number of bloggers, each with their own personal focus, their own voice and individual style of writing, come together to craft one story, one cohesive piece of fiction that I then get to share.  

Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers, each contributing to but not controlling the story | Presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging #collaboration #MyGraphics

The way it works is that one person writes a piece of a story then each subsequent writer adds their contribution and passes it on to the next. In this way everyone impacts but no one controls the piece. Where the story goes is up to us all. The challenge is to write a cohesive story.  

This is the sixth time we've collaborated on this project. Be sure to check them all out:

Our first story was a holiday fantasy called A Holiday Story.
Next came a darker piece, Storm Past.
For our third project we chose to revisit A Holiday Story and added four more chapters.
Sincerely Sarah was a story of personal strength.
And Take Aim was about compassion, standing up for yourself and for others.

Which brings us to today, and Chapter One of our newest story, Skin Deep. 

Skin Deep, a Progressive Story Project. One piece of fiction written by multiple bloggers | Presented by BakingInATornado.com | #fiction #writers

Skin Deep
Chapter One, Secrets

Karen of Baking In A Tornado (that's me!) :

It wasn't until her stomach rumbled, and not for the first time, that she looked up from her desk. Dusk. How did that happen? She loves her job, that's how. Kathryn, her boss, probably stopped in and told her to go home multiple times, but it hasn't pierced her consciousness. There was always so much to do and she often got so caught up in her work that the whole day would pass by in an instant. There is great satisfaction in knowing you're making a contribution and that it's appreciated.

But there's also satisfaction in not starving to death. Time to go home. Eat, rest, spend time with family, make plans with friends, recharge. Tomorrow's another day.

Lydia of Cluttered Genius:

She gathered her bag and purse and retrieved her lunch thermal from the office fridge. Frank, the janitor, was slowly mopping the kitchen floor.

"Hey Frank," she said. "Don't work too hard tonight, ok?"

"Oh heya there, Isabelle. Not to worry, not to worry. I won't be workin' hard, but I'll probably be hardly workin'", and he chuckled as he turned to move toward the office lounge.

Isabelle grinned to herself, closed the fridge door and started toward the office exit. She stumbled as her left bright red high heel caught the corner of the floor mat, and all of her bags fell out of her hands. She caught herself before landing face flat on the floor and instead landed on her knees. It hurt, and she knew there would be a bruise, but she also knew she'd handled it with way more dignity and poise than normal.

"You ok?" asked a low, grumbling voice. Isabelle turned her eyes and head up and was speechless.

 Jack??? What were the odds? After all those years?

Her mind wandered back to the summer she was temping as a bartender on that cruise ship out of Miami.

Of course there were rules for crew members, and probably the number one rule was not to engage socially with passengers, not beyond friendly chitchat, that is.

Of course over the weeks and months pretty much every one of her coworkers broke that rule. First it was accepting a drink from an exceptionally nice customer, then it was taking a walk on deck to gaze at the stars . . .

However, to her knowledge, she was the only one discovering she was pregnant upon returning to college.

She couldn't believe her eyes as she looked into his, eyes so familiar she felt her heart skip. She looked into a carbon copy of those very same eyes every single day for the last 4.5 years. She never got Jack's last name, wasn't even sure if Jack was his real first name. She just knew that the night they spent together created something so precious to her.

"Ja . . . Jack?" she stammered, still lost in her shock.

"Isabelle . . . it's great to see you," Jack replied, smiling as he knelt down to help her pick up the spilled contents of her purse. Her breath caught in her throat as he handed her the photo album dedicated to her daughter Catherine.

She took it and stood up, still not sure if this was a dream or not.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

Diane of On the Border:

But Jack was looking down at the book in her hand. Catherine's smiling, impish face was gazing out at the world from between her fingers. "Cute kid," he said. He lifted his amazing eyes back to her face. "How old is she?"

"Erm - five. Cat is five." Isabelle winced mentally at the lie. Well, she was nearly five, right?

"Five." He was still looking at her.

Was he turning the time over in his mind? Counting the months. The years?

Did he know?

"Yes." Isabelle jammed the book into her purse along with a handful of other things and snapped the bag shut. She took a calming breath and pasted on her most business-like expression. "So, Jack, it's been a while. What have you been doing with yourself?"

He smiled and her heart did another uncharacteristic flip. "Well, actually, I've been buying up businesses. You know. creating my own little empire."


He laughed. "It's really still in its infancy, but I do have seven or eight in the family now." He looked around. "And I'm really interested in what this company does." He turned back to her. "I'm considering buying it."

"I didn't know it was for sale."

"Oh, the businesses I buy usually aren't. At first. But I make them see reason." He tipped his head to one side and gave her another slow smile. "And I've suddenly decided I'd like this business. Very much."

~~~~~~~ Click here to read chapter two In an Instant.
But before you go, check out today's recipe. ~~~~~~~
One Pan Chicken with Vegetables, a quick dinner. Chicken and vegetables drizzled with a vinaigrette and oven baked. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #dinner
One Pan Chicken with Vegetables

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

One Pan Chicken with Vegetables        

Printable Recipe

1 yellow squash, sliced
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets 
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup raspberry walnut vinaigrette salad dressing
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
1/4 cup bacon bits
2 TBSP raspberry walnut vinaigrette salad dressing
salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika
sliced almonds

OPT: Serve over brown rice

*Place the squash, broccoli, tomato, onion and pepper into a bowl with the garlic and 1/3 cup raspberry vinaigrette. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight. Mix now and then.
*Cover a sheet pan with tin foil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
*Place the chicken strips on one side of the sheet pan. Drizzle with 2 TBSP raspberry vinaigrette, sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Mix with your hands so all of the chicken is coated.
*Spread the vegetables onto the rest of the pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and bacon bits. 
*Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
*Serve over brown rice. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.


  1. just what I needed to get through the day, a day in which I'm working with a writer I'm editing: the positive vibe of collaboration and an easy chicken recipe. thanks.

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, I just love this collaboration. Good luck with yours!

  2. Jack sounds sort of interesting, Isabelle not sure. The recipe is a sure thing. It sounds wonderful!

    1. Hope you come back next week to see where the next group of writers takes the story!

  3. The recipe sounds so delicious. And I thought everyone did an excellent job so far on the progressive story. Hmmm...Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

  4. Recipe looks great but I'm chomping at the bit for the second chapter!!!

  5. It is so fun to see it finally happen! Squeee!

  6. I get so excited when we do these stories! If you need me to take another swing just let me know! Trying the veggie deal this week! Will let you know!

  7. Wow this collaboration is so very interesting. Combined efforts to create one complete new story- Hats off to all the writers here! Great Work! I must say. And A Great Intriguing Story!

    Great Recipe, Karen as always.
    Will try this at home for sure.


    1. Hope you keep on reading, the next batch of writers are as talented as this group.


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