In One Picture: N.J. Walters’ “This Time Forever” (Contest)

In One Picture: N.J. Walters’ “This Time Forever” (Contest)

UPDATE: The winner is…Diane Garland!

This Time Forever by N.J. Walters

A retired Delta Force operator thwarts a holdup, saving the life of the woman he left behind twenty-seven years ago.

When I started thinking about writing this story, the first image I had was of a man leaning over a sink in a motel bathroom staring at his reflection and wondering how he got here. After twenty-seven years of service to his country, he had some silver in his hair, no place to call home, and no family. For the first time since he left, he’s heading back to where he grew up to tie up loose ends for his father’s estate. He’s at loose ends, wondering where he’s going to go once it’s done and where he’s going to go next.

He has no idea his life is about to change forever.

Snippet from “This Time Forever”…

All his senses on high alert, he walked to the front door. And stepped into chaos. In a split-second, he cataloged every detail. A male in his early twenties had his arm around the neck of a red-haired woman and was waving a gun with the other. The angle of his body made it impossible for Cal to see the woman’s face. A dozen more people huddled toward one end of the diner. A body lay a few feet away. Impossible to tell if the person was dead or alive.

“Who the fuck are you?” the man demanded.

Cal held his hands up in the air, praying the guy didn’t have an itchy trigger finger. He needed to watch for his opportunity. “I was just looking for breakfast.”

“Wrong place, wrong time, buddy.” He waved the gun again at a nearby table. “Toss out your phone and wallet.”

Cal complied, adding it to the pile already there.

“You,” the gunman yelled at a young woman wearing an apron with the diner’s logo. “Pick up the wallets and phones and put them in a takeout sack.” When she hesitated, he yelled, “Now!”

Tears rolling down her cheeks, hands shaking, she started forward.

“Let me do it.” It was the redhead, the one being held by the gunman. Cal noted she was wearing a diner apron as well. There was only the slightest tremble in the voice. In spite of her precarious situation, she was keeping it together. “Kerry is scared.”

The gunman yanked the hostage’s head back even further. “You keep your mouth shut. And you.” He motioned at Kerry. “Hurry up. Unless you want to end up like him.” He pointed to the motionless body.

The gunman was jittery, out of his element, and likely on something. He licked his lips, all his focus on the young waitress as she got a bag from behind the counter and began to fill it.

Years of training had Cal adjusting his stance and reaching behind his back. His hand grasped his weapon, and he eased it out, keeping it behind him. “Hey,” he called.

The gunman swiveled toward him, his attention split.

Cal brought his gun up in one smooth motion and fired.

He was on the move before the man hit the ground. Grabbing the hostage, he yanked her aside and then kicked the gun away. “Call the cops,” he ordered.

“I’m shot,” the man screamed.

“You’ll live.” He’d aimed for the shoulder. He could have gone for a headshot, but that would’ve been more of a hassle than it was worth, and there’d been no need. Flipping the guy onto his stomach, Cal frisked him, finding a knife in his boot. Behind him, the woman was talking to the sheriff’s department, her voice calm and low and…familiar.

Keeping his knee on the perpetrator’s back, he swiveled around, getting his first good look at the woman whose life he’d just saved. “Mari?”

Bottle-green eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. “Cal?”

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About the Author

N.J. Walters has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.


For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, answer this!
I love diner food—especially all-day breakfast. What’s your favorite thing to order at a diner?

12 thoughts on “In One Picture: N.J. Walters’ “This Time Forever” (Contest)

  1. I love breakfasts at any time. Eggs over easy, toast, ham, bacon, home fries, and a side of hot cakes! Oh — and a big glass of ice-cold milk (whole–none of the reduced stuff or non-cow).

  2. Oh this one diner back East had this breakfast special that I just loved… sadly they went out of business years ago.
    Another one had this delicious French Silk pie… I miss it.

  3. I love to get the full breakfast. I try to go whenever I have the time.

  4. It always depends on my mood….even if it’s afternoon & they serve all day breakfast, sometimes that’ll be my choice. For lunch though it’s usually a BLT or grilled ham & cheese. And, usually a little place like that will have a delicious soup & I like to order those when I’m there.

  5. I don’t think that I have ever eaten at a diner. Certainly none around here.

  6. I absolutely love hashbrowns! And I honestly love most breakfast food, so I’m usually happy as a clam at a diner!

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