after we met. | f is for FAIL. (a to E challenge) #atozchallenge


So for the first time since my first A to Z in 2016, I have failed. And when I fail, I do so spectacularly.

I only made it to the letter E. That’s terrible! I have never had such trouble before. I think my heart just wasn’t in it. I have so much going on in my life right now, a lot of it quite stressful. You’d think the escape would be good for me. Instead, though, it turned into another thing to worry about, and I’ve already got the anxiety of about twenty “normal” people.

But… I may continue writing these anyway. It just won’t be for A to Z. I considered bringing back Fiction Friday, but I’m not even sure I can commit to weekly.

To everyone who has been reading: Thank you for your support. I hope you’ll continue following me and read when I finally get to writing more.

I will not disappear. I mean, I don’t plan to disappear. I really miss being here with all of you. I’ve just had too much on my mind. Maybe I should start sharing that. Oh god… that might be too much.

Thank you again.

I just discovered this man today. About five minutes ago. More research will be needed.
Hot guy: Italian model Giulio Berruti

p.s. — I was almost done writing for the letter f. I will try to finish and share as soon as I am able! 

©2023 what sandra thinks

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after we met. | e/elevator. #atozchallenge

2022 | when we met. e/elevator.

after we met. e/elevator.

Moments later.

I could feel that Nick was still behind me so moving was out of the question. I kept my eyes on the receptionist.

“Good morning, Ms. Layne,” she said. I caught her eyes lift past me. “Mr. Hunter. Good morning. Shall I show Ms. Layne to the conference room?”

I could feel my heart in my throat. Please wake up. This has to be a nightmare. Wake up, Stella!

“No need, Katherine,” Nick said. “I’ll take care of Ms. Layne.”

Oh fuck. Did he have to say it like that?

“My office is just this way.” He gestured to the right. Without looking at him, I started walking. But he was right there beside me. Making me more anxious than the elevator had. “Last door on the left.”

When I reached the closed door, I stopped in front of it. He reached around me and turned the handle. “Please…” he extended his hand inviting me to walk into his office. “Make yourself comfortable.”

Comfortable? Comfortable!?

I took a seat in one of the chairs facing his desk. As he walked around to sit, I finally had to say something.

“Look, Mr. Hunter…”

“Nick,” he said, sitting down.

“Okay. Nick.

“I know this is a bit awkward, but I know I’m the right person for this job.”

“I’ve read your resumé. I’ve spoken to your former employer. You are certainly well qualified and highly recommended.”

“Thank you. This role is…” …perfect for me. But my words faded when he cut me off.


Oh no. “Yes, Mr. Hunter?”

“Nick.” He smiled. But I was too nervous, angry, and flustered to smile back. “But, Ms. Layne…”


“Stella. How would you handle working on the thirty-fourth floor if you don’t like elevators?”

“I would handle it.”

He stood from his chair and walked around the desk, stopping when he was directly in front of me. He leaned on his desk and folded his arms.

“I won’t always be there to… distract you.”

Oh god. Why does he have to be so damn sexy? “No,” I said, “of course not.” I knew I should say something more, but all I could think of was his distracting mouth. Those lips. That I had tasted. That I wanted to taste again. Dammit, Stella! Stop thinking about kissing him!

“How do I know you’d be good under pressure?”

I could tell from his tone that he was enjoying this far too much. He had nothing to lose, but I did. I really wanted this job.

“I’m doing pretty well not slapping you right now.”

Oh hell. I really need to learn how to keep those kinds of thoughts to myself. I was about to apologize, when a (stupid sexy) smile appeared on his face.

“I appreciate your restraint, Stella. But you know I can’t hire you after what happened in the elevator.”

“What?! I am perfect for this job and you know it!” I stood before my brain was able to process just how close I would be to him when I did. “Mr. Hunter.” I purposely didn’t say Nick. I lifted a finger towards him, pointing at his (stupid sexy) chest. “You kissed me! Not the other way around.”

“Oh… I don’t know, Ms. Layne. It definitely felt like you were doing some kissing.”

“Only because I was afraid. And you caught me off guard. And… and you started it!”

“Still. I can’t have employees behaving inappropriately.”

“You can’t possibly be serious!” I was furious. “I was having a panic attack! You took advantage of the situation!”

“I was only trying to help you.”

“No. You were trying to help you. I didn’t even know who you were! How can you…” And my words died on my lips because in that moment, again he grabbed my face in his hands… and he kissed me.

It took me a moment to realize that I was kissing him back. Again. But I had to stop this. I put my hands on his (stupid sexy) chest and pushed him away from me. “You can’t keep doing that!”

“Stella.” He was so calm. And I was so… not.


“Your hands are still on my chest.”

Oh fuck. But I couldn’t seem to take them off him. I stared at him, angry, exasperated, and apparently, out of my mind because this time, while gripping the lapels of his jacket in my fists, I kissed him. And this time, it was more than one kiss.

Finally, he took his mouth from mine and started to speak, but I wouldn’t let him.

“Shut up.” Our mouths crashed into each other. He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulling my body against his. Slowly, while still kissing me, Nick’s hands moved to my hips. And one of them kept going until he reached the hem of my skirt. He slipped his warm hand under it and held my bare thigh in his grasp.

Fuck fuck fuck.


I could feel his breath on my lips when he spoke. “Stella. Do you want me to stop?”

I knew the right answer, but that wasn’t what came out of my mouth.

” No.”

With his hand still on my thigh, he turned us around until my back was to the desk. He lifted me and sat me on it, standing in front of me between my legs. I wrapped them around him, my ankles locking behind him.

As he began lowering me back onto his desk, I was suddenly brought back to reality. There’s no way Nick will hire me now.

“Nick.” His name came out in a breathy whisper. When he started kissing my neck, I had to repeat his name.

Finally he stopped and looked at me. He could read my expression. He let me up. I stood and straightened my clothes. “I should go.”

I grabbed my things and headed for the door.

“Ms. Layne?”

I turned back to him. “Yes, Mr. Hunter?”

“See you on Monday. 8 am.”

I smiled and gave him a nod. “Thanks, Boss.”

I love those eyes. And those forearms. And…
Hot guy: Spanish model Jon Kortajarena

p.s. — Now I have FGHIJ. Definitely not going to catch up!

©2023 what sandra thinks

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a to z – I know. #atozchallenge

I know. I’m four letters behind now. I owe you E, F, G and H. I can say, without a shred of doubt, that I won’t be writing all four of those tonight. I’m not even sure I’ll be able to write one.  And E was one of my favorite stories last year.

I’ve been having so much trouble writing. Then I had a really (really) bad day. Then I was baking for Easter for two days. Then it was Easter. Then I was exhausted. Then I had a sad and lonely day. And here we are.

I don’t think I was ready for this challenge this year. It kills me because I’ve felt less than prepared for some of the other years, but I’ve still kept up. This year… I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Well, I know some things that are wrong with me.

I’m frustrated with myself and my inability to write. I beat myself up over it which makes me feel worse than I already feel, thus making it even harder to write. But I have to finish even if it takes me far too long because if I don’t, I’m going to feel completely defeated.

I’m doing my best.

(And again, I wonder… Why couldn’t it be like last April when the words were pouring out of me with seemingly little effort and I was at least five letters ahead the whole time?)

Why yes, I would love to join you for a boat ride.
Hot guy: Italian model and my next husband, Simone Bredariol

p.s. — I can’t believe I’m so far behind. If I don’t start writing like crazy, I’m going to be finishing this challenge in June. 

©2023 what sandra thinks

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after we met. | d/diary. #atozchallenge

2022 | when we met. d/diary.

after we met. d/diary.

Note: this is stolen from myself. It’s from the 2018 A-to-Z challenge, when I wrote a story (based on my real-life college experience) as a series of diary entries. Last year, I stole the entry where I meet the guy. This year is also stolen from that story. 

Two days later.

Dear Diary,

His name is Ethan.

I should probably stop calling him Mr. Hottie. If I don’t, I might slip and call him that to his face. That would be humiliating.

I’m fucking twenty years old… I’m not a child anymore. But when I’m sitting in Chem beside Mr. Hottie… oops, I mean Ethan, I feel like I’m thirteen years old again. It’s almost impossible for me to keep from blushing and getting all giggly when he talks to me. Especially with that voice. Even when he whispers it’s sexy as hell. Maybe especially when he whispers. And when he says my name. And when he says chemistry things. Or when he says… anything. God, I need to stop. Fuck… he probably has a girlfriend.

But it’s not just his voice… or his whispers. It’s just him. He’s so sweet. And he’s funny. He makes the same stupid kinds of jokes I make. I love that. We got in a little bit of trouble because of it this morning. He was drawing faces in his notebook during class while Professor Doctor Strange was talking. I think he was bored. But he was adorable… and the expressions on his little faces were funny. And I kind of let a little laugh slip out. And so did he. And we got caught.


Totally worth it, though.

what sandra thinks

I love those eyes. And those forearms. And…
Hot guy: Jon Kortajarena (Spanish Model)

p.s. — I forgot that D was a cheat… so I was able to catch up. But after some things that happened today, I’m not sure how my writing will go tomorrow.
p.p.s. — If you would like to read the original Dear Diary story, you can! Dear Diary | A to Z 2018

©2023 what sandra thinks

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after we met. | c/crush. #atozchallenge

2022 | when we met. c/crush.

after we met. c/crush.

An hour later. In calculus class.

Calculus was my last class of the day. On any other day, I’d pay attention to Mr. Collins while stealing a few glances at Ryan, who conveniently sat two seats in front of me. But today was not any other day. It was the day Ryan Callahan kissed me.

My mind had been racing ever since that kiss. That sweet, gentle kiss.

It didn’t make sense. I didn’t even think he knew my name. Maybe it was a prank. A dare. Oh god, how humiliating. No. I didn’t want to believe he would do something like that. Not because he was the hottest guy I’d ever seen, but because he was also the nicest.

Suddenly I heard Mr. Collins say “test” and half the class groaned. Then half the class laughed. Then Justin, the guy who sat in front of me, reached over his shoulder and dropped a crumpled up piece of paper on my desk. I picked it up and un-crumpled it.

On it were only a few words. A few words that made my heart pound in my chest.

Meet me after class? –Ryan
Please check one:
□ Yes
□ No

I checked the box beside the only possible answer. Yes.

As I was crumpling the paper, I looked up and found Ryan, half turned in his seat, smiling at me. I think I smiled back, but I was so flustered that I couldn’t be sure. I saw his eyes lower to the paper in my hand and back to my eyes. Oh right. I was still holding that.

I tossed it over Justin’s head and Ryan grabbed it out of the air.

The rest of class felt like hours. And when it was finally over, I grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag as quickly as possible. But when I looked up, Ryan was gone. My heart sank. I didn’t want to believe that he would mess with me like this. But he left.

I cursed my emotions when I felt tears threatening to fall as I slowly walked out of class. I took a deep breath to calm myself just before stepping out into the crowded hall. And when I did, my eyes lifted from the floor and landed on someone leaning against the wall in front of me.

Ryan Callahan.

Oh no… please don’t stop. Go on… take that shirt off…
Hot guy: Simone Bredariol (Italy’s hottest man. According to me.)

p.s. — I just can’t seem to get myself to write until late. I’ve got too much on my mind. My head is so crowded that I wish I’d charged an entry fee.
p.p.s. — Today was a mostly bad day.
p.p.p.s. — I know, I’m a day behind. Maybe I’ll try to write D right now. It’s only 11pm…

©2023 what sandra thinks

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a slight delay with my a to z post. #atozchallenge

I’m experiencing some technical difficulties.

And by “technical difficulties“, I mean that I wrote eight words and I’ve been staring at them for the last 90 minutes while simultaneously trying to stay awake.

It’s only day three. God, I am such a failure.

I had some thoughts for my C post, but I can’t get my shit together and write anything. And those thoughts are mixed up pieces of different ideas jumbled up in my head with the approximately 36788492 other things bouncing around in there. (I don’t have a big head. It’s just really really crowded in there.)

I have anxiety. Not, like, “I feel kind of anxious today.” More like, “Sandra, you have an anxiety disorder.

I will finish this challenge if it kills me.

Please note: It might kill me.

No. I know it won’t.

The harder it is for me to write, the more anxious I get about it. Also, the more anxious I get about it, the harder it is for me to write. Which makes me anxious. Do you see where I’m going with this? Yes. That’s right. Nowhere.

For tonight, I have accepted that my C post just isn’t going to happen. And by “accepted“, I mean that I hate myself and feel like a complete failure, but I need to get some sleep. I will have to try to write C and D tomorrow. And fuck, that is making me anxious.

Thanks for being patient with me.

(Why couldn’t it be like last April when the words were pouring out of me with seemingly little effort and I was at least five letters ahead the whole time?)

I need him today. Every day. But especially today.
Hot guy: Simone Bredariol (sexy as hell Italian model)

p.s. — I am so disappointed in myself. 

©2023 what sandra thinks

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after we met. | b/bakery. #atozchallenge

2022 | when we met. b/bakery.

after we met. b/bakery.

Several months later. In the bakery kitchen.

Amelia tried to focus on the cake she was decorating, but that proved difficult with Parker sitting just a few feet away watching her. He couldn’t take his eyes off her.



“If you don’t stop looking at me like that I’m never going to get this cake done.”


“You are not sorry.” Amelia knew he wasn’t.

He smiled to her. “No. I’m not. You are mesmerizing.”

Amelia shook her head and turned back to her cake. “I’ve had lots of practice,” she said as she piped the final tier. “Do you want to try?”

“No! I’ll ruin your cake.”

“I’ll get you a cupcake.” She smiled and without looking at him, she knew he smiled, too. After resting two cupcakes on the counter, she turned back to her cake.

“You know I’m going to totally destroy those, right?” Parker said with a little laugh.

Amelia looked up from her cake with a smile. “I’m looking forward to it.”


After the beautiful cake was safely away, Amelia stood near Parker at the counter.

“Ready?” She asked with a smile.

Parker nodded.

She picked up a bag of frosting and handed it to him. “Start here,” she pointed to the cupcake, “and swirl around like this,” she circled a few times with her finger to show him, “and you’ll have a lovely flower.”

Parker handed the frosting back to Amelia. “I think you should show me first.”

She took the bag from him. It took her seconds to create the perfect swirl of frosting to make a beautlful flower. “Okay,” she turned to him. “Now you try.” She handed him the frosting.

Serious and focused like he was about to perform brain surgery, Parker covered the cupcake with frosting the way he’d watched Amelia do it. He moved a little more slowly than she did so his wasn’t as clean as hers, but it was good. And Amelia thought it was so sweet that he wanted to try—that he was interested in what she loved.

Parker looked at his cupcake and then at Amelia’s. “Yours is better,” he said. “I think I’m going to need more practice.”

“It was your first try. I think it’s cute.” She pushed herself up onto her toes and kissed his cheek.

After resting the frosting on the counter, Parker turned back to her. “I think you’re cute,” he said, slipping his hand into her hair. He pulled her mouth to his and kissed her. When he saw her eyes again, he smiled. “I’m pretty sure no amount of practice could ever make me as amazing as you.”

She laughed softly and pulled his mouth back to hers. As they kissed, she blindly reached to the counter feeling for a cupcake. She scooped frosting onto her finger. As her lips left his, she smeared the frosting onto his nose.


“Oh. I should clean that up.” She kissed his nose and mostly cleaned him up. While she did, Parker ran his own finger across the top of one of the cupcakes. He turned to her and smiled devilishly as he wiped frosting from his finger across her lips.

Without looking away, she reached for more frosting. He neared her with the intention of kissing her sweet frosted mouth, but she stopped him when she tried to frost him again. He was too quick this time, though. He grabbed her hand.

“You are so fresh,” he said, taking her fingers into his mouth to eat up the sugary goodness. Then he kissed her, which was his way of distracting her. But it didn’t work.

Amelia felt Parker’s arm moving. She pulled away just enough to grab his hand. “Are you trying to get more frosting?”

“What?” He pretended to be shocked she would think that of him. “Would I do that?”

“Yes. Of course you would!” She smiled and he adored it. He squeezed her hand in his and kissed her again.

“You know me so well,” he said softly, laughing a little, too. “You’re right,” he mumbled. “I definitely would.”

“Parker.” She couldn’t help laughing with him. “God, I love you.”

Parker went silent and didn’t move for a moment. Amelia stared at him and felt her heart pounding. She had never said that before. Neither had he. But it just fell from her.

“Amelia.” He took her face in his hands and ran his thumbs over her cheeks. “Please say that again…”

She saw the hint of a smile in his expression. “I love you, Parker.”

“Oh God.” He kissed her deeply. And in a moment, when his eyes were back on hers, she saw his whole smile. Lighting up his entire face. “Amelia.”


“I love you.”

Hot guy: Rafael Lazzini (coincidentally, the same model whose photo I used in last years post for this letter…)

p.s. — Day two and I’m late again.
p.p.s. — I take it back. It’s 11:58 pm here. I’m not going to be late for another two minutes!

©2023 what sandra thinks

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after we met. | a/accident. #atozchallenge

[For this year’s challenge, I’m writing what comes after “when we met” which was my theme last year. For all 26 letters, I’ll start with a link to last year’s post where you can meet the couple.]

2022 | when we met. a/accident.

after we met. a/accident.

Two years later…

“Hey, Ash?”

I lifted my head from Spencer’s chest and looked up at his gorgeous face. “Hmm?”

“Remember that dinner when your sister got engaged?”

“Oh god. That was horrible!” I sighed. “The violinist… the flowers… the entire restaurant full of people watching. Horrible.” I shuddered at the thought. My sister loved it, but a huge scene like that was definitely not for me. I wanted to crawl under the table. I bet Spencer would have liked that.

Spencer laughed at my reaction to that night. “I know you hated that.” He kissed my forehead before looking back at me. “So… I got you something.” He took an arm from around me and reached into the drawer in the table by our bed. When he turned back to me and I saw what he was holding, I smiled at him.

“Aww…” I took the little toy car from him. “It looks just like the one you were driving when you hit my car the day we met.”

He gave me a look that said… you’re never going to let that go, are you? And he was right. I wasn’t going to let it go. I loved that exasperated look he gave me. Teasing him was so much fun.

“Why did you get me a tiny toy car?” It was sweet and I loved it. But I was curious.

“I thought it was cute.”

“But you always say…” I paused and changed my tone to imitate his deep voice, “I’m not cute. I’m sexy.”

He laughed at me. My impression of him was terrible. I think that’s what made him enjoy it every time I did it. And I did it kind of a lot.

“I didn’t say I was cute,” he said. “I said the car was cute.”

“Oh. I’m so sorry.” I smiled. “Well. It is cute.”

Spencer ran his fingers along my cheek. “Ashley. That’s not the only reason I’m giving it to you. It’s what’s inside the car.”

“You were inside the car. And I already have you.”

“You do,” he said. “But I meant what’s inside that car.” He pointed to the toy car in my hand.

I gave him a suspicious look before looking down at the car in my hand. I shook it gently and heard something. I pulled open one of the tiny doors and tipped the car so its contents would fall into my hand.

“Spencer.” My voice was barely audible. I dropped the car and covered my mouth with my hand while staring at the ring I held in the other.

“Ashley…” I lifted my eyes to his. “Marry me.”

“Spencer,” I shook my head with a smile and a few tears. “Of course you wouldn’t say that in the form of a question.”

He smiled. “You know me…”

“Shh,” I said softly, placing my finger on his lips. “Yes, Spencer. I will marry you.”

I thought about using the same picture for each letter this year that I used last year, but that seemed redundant. I think I’ll just leave a hot guy here. And I’ll change the picture whenever the spirit moves me.
Hot guy: Rafael Lazzini (damn… look at those arms.)

p.s. — Day one and I’m already late. This is not a good sign!
p.p.s. — I literally wrote my entire first draft of this story on post-it notes. 

©2023 what sandra thinks

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