A snippet of my wip, Aromance. I’ve never had two wip’s going at the same time, but it seems to be working.

The gears grind as Mom downshifts, filling the car with an awful metal on metal sound. She cusses like a gangster, and I hold out my hand for payment.

“Dammit, Lark. That shouldn’t count. The car made me do it,” she grumbles.

We’ve been driving all night, and the sun hasn’t risen yet. She is cranky without her first third cup of coffee, but she reaches into her purse for one of the coins she keeps in an emergency stash for stressful times like these.

“It’s not Jack’s fault you can’t drive a stick shift. I offered to take over back in Louisville. Now pay up for using the “D” word, too.”

She gives me another quarter and spares a glaring glance my way. “I told you it was bad luck to give the car a boy’s name.”

I drop both coins into the Cussing Can at my feet. This cross-country road trip has nearly filled the Folger’s coffee can to the top. Sadly, this is our third can in less than a month.

“It’s sexist to think all boats, cars, and other modes of transportation are female,” I say by rote. We’ve had this argument before. “Besides, call me crazy, but no female would be caught dead in Jack’s condition.”

Jack is a 1977 VW Bug with faded red paint peeking through random patches of deep gray primer. He looks like an old man with a serious case of the chicken pox, pock marks, suspicious leaks, and all. We love Jack, though.

“You better hope he can get us the last twenty miles, or your ass is going to be pushing him into Elsinore.”

“Quarter, please.”

Mom clamps her jaw to hold back a string of curses and slaps another coin into my palm. She’s slightly bitter that I’m having an easier time reforming. I’ve explained to her that the trick lies in replacing words we’ve deemed “Inappropriate” with meaningless words.