| Hi, Life's a Beach... says Joey C . I am honored to review your short story as a part of your shower at "Invalid Item" .
My Thoughts: First of all, I love the photos and think they are very helpful in allowing the reader to visualize the different parts of the story. This is the first time I have seen a story contain so many pictures, and I think it works well. Next, let me tell you that I think this story was excellent. But because you specifically asked for reviews and critiques of this piece, this review may seem overly critical.
I couldn't help but wonder, is there a particular reason the husband's vows were to love, honor and cherish while the wife's vows were to love, honor and obey? It just struck me as odd. Also, Jack and Michelle weren't really married since Michelle only filed for divorce in Vegas. She was legally still married to Dennis. Also, she would have to file in the state that at least one of them lived. So if they were married in LA, they'd have to be divorced in LA or, in some cases, the state where they were domiciled (where they resided). And if she was running for her life, would she really take the time to stop and file for divorce? Leave it to me to fret about the small details. And I'm sorry - I just graduated law school in May, so I had to get some of that useless info out there.
I loved the irony in that the man Michelle trusted to protect her was the one she should have actually feared. It didn't appear that Dennis had done anything to her specifically, so she would have been much better off taking her chances with him. I assume that Jack and Michelle had a whirlwind romance and marriage. Maybe you could mention in dialogue between the characters that they had only known each other for weeks, months or whatever. Also, I wondered why Michelle had never seen Jack's estate before. Where had he been living since she had known him? And where had she been living? I know there isn't a lot of room for detail in a story with such a limited word count, but these are just some of the questions that came to mind as I read the story.
My Suggestions: In the fourth paragraph, "Is this fair to him" should end with a question mark. The sixth paragraph should end with a question mark after the question of how could Dennis find out she was in Florida. I would change "Danish and OJ are worn off" to "Danish and OJ have worn off." Five paragraphs later, I would change the semicolon after "not going to be there" to a comma. In the next paragraph, the colon between "clothes on" and "no reason" should be a semicolon. In the next paragraph, I would insert a period after "anyway," and start a new sentence with "She stays..." A few paragraphs later, I'd change "You looked worried" to "You look worried".
In the paragraph just before the photo of the house, I would end one sentence with "...surprised Michelle." and start another with "Circled by ancient live oaks, all surrounded by pink azaleas, it was a picture perfect southern mansion." Otherwise, it sounds like the surprised Michelle is circled by oaks and surrounded by azaleas. In the paragraph just before the photo of Mrs. Nilson, I would omit the comma after "suppose" and insert a comma after "warn you". In the next sentence, I would change the semicolon after "old" to a comma. In the sentence "I am more interested in the present, then the past." I would omit the comma and change "then" to "than". In the next sentence, I would omit the comma after "think". In the next paragraph, I would change the comma after "heart" to a semicolon. Several paragraphs later, I'd change the colon after "She opened the door wider" to a semicolon. In the next sentence, I would insert a comma after "pulled back". I would omit the word "over" from "Jack's hands caressed over his..."
Overall: Thank you for sharing this terrific short story. I wish you luck with the contest and hope this review was helpful. I look forward to reading more of your work!