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Brain Dump

So, this is my first time doing a brain dump. I think I’ve elected not to do them, before. Now, I know why. It’s hard. I asked myself… what’s inside my head. The answer was a resounding NOTHING. Or… so much it’s just a high-pitched scream. 😀 But, I shall push through it. So, here’s my post. Oh and in case you didn’t notice, I gave the website a makeover and… made the jump to WordPress. Maybe that was the cause of my insomnia? hmmm….

INSOMNIA

This won’t be a complaint. I know lots of folks have issues sleeping. For the past twenty years it was kids. Now, well, now it’s just hormones and my brain refusing to shut down because of stress. Or whatever. I’ll admit, seeing my kids fall asleep on the couch and sleep through their alarms… makes me want to stab them just a bit. Maybe shove that irritating alarm noise up their asses… but I digress. I’ve come to appreciate this time as my quality “try to think up a plot” time. Or, “scratch the cat” time. Maybe even “stare at the ceiling” time.

Yes, I’ve tried my own kind of sleep aid.. Benadryl. That stuff knocks me out… but then I can barely get up the next morning, so I use it sparingly. I wait until I’m so grumpy that it’s do or die. But, in the spirit of being positive, here’s some fun visuals of my experience with insomnia. Enjoy…

This is how it begins…

 

So you stare some more figuring it has to end soon, eh?

 

Things get a bit…. heated.

 

Nothing seems to work.

 

Even the cat is against you.

 

No caption needed here, folks…

 

This is you until it passes…. still waiting…

 

And that’s it for me, folks. I’m just sitting here, rocking back and forth… waiting. go visit the others and see what they chatted about.

Bronwyn ~ Jessica ~ Siobhan ~ Torrance ~ Deelylah ~ Jessica DLR ~ Kellie

 

 

My Life Mission Statement

Well, I’m back to WordPress. Though, it definitely has more functionality. And as long as it works, I’m good.

So, this week’s random post is entitled… My Life Mission Statement. I’ll probably be way off on this. But here goes…

MISSION STATEMENT

Smile. Have fun. Life is better on the edge. If nothing else, try to leave each place better than when I came. I’ll only fail if I never try. Embrace the suck… there’s going to be a lot of it. Yes, there are stupid questions, but ask them, anyway. Somewhere between the base and the summit is why we climb—that applies to most things. Things can always get worse—this goes back to embracing the suck—but I’ll never know how strong I am if I don’t have to learn how to get back up. The struggle is real, but it’s worth it. And… remember that even if I fall flat on my face, I’m still, technically, moving forward.

Not even sure if that’s what was intended but that’s what you’re all getting. Now hop on over and read what the other ladies had to say… they might have even understood the question 🙂

Bronwyn ~ Jessica ~ Siobhan ~ Deelylah ~ Paige

Song Flash Fiction ~ Dog Days Are Over

Hi everyone and welcome to my shiny new site. Okay, it’s the same place, just with new window dressing.

So… I tried blogging from within my website program, but I couldn’t get the comments to work, so… I’ve redesigned a new WordPress theme. Hoping it’s close to my website. I added a nav bar to take you anywhere in my site, so… hoping it’s fairly seamless. Also, this is a repost of Monday. I just wanted it included in here.

Anyway, it’s time for our first song fiction of the year…yeah, I’m scared, too. I have no idea what kind of music there is. So, pray with me. It looks like the song this month is Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machines. I’ve heard this song a bunch of times, and looked at the lyrics. I still don’t freaking know if it’s supposed to be a happy song or a depressing one. Did love hit her and she’s good? But then why did she have to leave it all behind to survive? I choose to go with not so happy.

And no one is surprised…

Anyway, here’s the video if you want to give it a listen and the resulting story… OMG.. it’s short. Seriously. Short. You’re welcome for the third time.

It’s time.

Tyler closed his eyes, ignoring the looping message in his head—the one that had been screaming at him since he’d allowed Barry to sweet-talk him into coming back. Returning to their flat on the east side of the city. The one that still smelled of Barry’s cologne. That still held all their photographs on the mantle. Ty had pretended he hadn’t noticed them as they’d bumped their way down the hall, leaving a trail of clothes and token promises along the way. He’d even managed to block out the image of Barry tangled in the sheets with Ty’s so-called work buddy when Ty had stopped by for lunch two weeks ago to surprise Barry with take-out. An apology for missing their dinner the night before.

To think Ty had felt guilty over the long hours he’d put in. The endless shifts that never seemed to finish on time. That he’d actually contemplated taking the paramedic job at Barry’s factory, which guaranteed him regular hours. Nights at home.

Right. Nights he’d thought he’d been missed.

He glanced over his shoulder. Barry was out. Muscles slack. Lashes resting against sun-brozed skin. His face twitched in his sleep, creating a spiderweb of fine lines around his mouth and eyes before slowly fading as he relaxed, again. God, the man was stunning—thick blond hair, easy symmetrical features, and a square jaw covered in the right amount of scruff. It was easy to see why Ty had fallen for the man. Barry oozed sex appeal. It radiated from his body, sweated from his pores like an invisible pheromone. But it was all an illusion. Beneath the rippling muscles and roguish charm was nothing but bitter emptiness.

Or maybe that’s what Tyler had inside of him. He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that if he didn’t make a change—find the balls to leave and stay gone—he’d end up like a train stuck on the same dead-end track. No hope of ever getting off.

It’s time.

He palmed his ears, willing his inner voice to shut up. To just let him have one last moment. One more minute of pretending he wouldn’t be leaving the shattered pieces of his heart on the floor when he left. That a part of him wondered if he’d ever find someone who loved him for him. Who loved him not despite his flaws, but because of them. Or if he was the problem. If he’d somehow driven Barry to cheating.

Ty groaned at the thought. Now, he sounded like some love-sick teenager. He was thirty for Christ’s sake. He knew what made a healthy releationship and screwing around wasn’t anywhere on the list. All it took was one moment of clarity. A single chance to open one door while closing another.

Barry mumbled in his sleep, snuggling his ass against Ty’s thigh before drifting off, again. Ty clenched his jaw, savoring the heat of the other man’s skin for just a few more seconds before shifting his legs and swinging them over the edge of the bed. He moved slowly, setting the covers back over the other man once he’d managed to stand. To fight the urge to dive back under and put this off for another day. To believe the lies one more time.

No turning back.

He repeated the mantra over in his head as he gathered his clothes, stopping to stare at Barry before heading for the door. Ty held his breath until he stepped into the night air. Rain blanketed the city, dulling the surrounding noises and hiding the usual glow of the moon. He tipped his head up, letting the drops wash down his face. This was it. The first step in a new journey. But this time, he wasn’t taking his heart with him. He was leaving it here. Broken. Used. Remnants of the man he’d been before he’d realized his own self-worth.

Run.

It sounded good. Sounded right. He didn’t need to run far. He’d call his buddy in Portland in the morning. Finally accept the job the other man had been offering for what seemed like forever. A new city. A new start. All he had to do was run.

And that’s it for me. Super short. You’re welcome. Please go visit the rest of the ladies who probably actually understood this song.

Bronwyn | Jessica | Siobhan | Gwendolyn | Deelylah

Promptly Penned ~ January

It’s a brand-new round of promptly penned, and they are just as awesome as last year’s. Here’s the prompt. I will fit it in “somewhere” in the story, lol. I hope you enjoy…

My apologies. It’s a long one. I wanted it to be short. I really did, but… sigh.

“Take one step closer to me, and I swear to God, I’ll drop this cake! I’ll do it! Don’t test me!”

promptlypenned

“How do I look?”

Trixie looked up from the glass of white wine death-clamped between her fingers and gave her best friend the once-over. Bard had his back to her, his body reflected in the long mirror in front of him. Crisp white shirt, grey vest, dark blue tie topped off with a black tux. How did her look? Fucking amazing. Good enough to eat.  Exactly the way she’d always envisioned he’d look on his wedding day, only… he wasn’t marrying her.

She bit back the bite of jealousy that burned her throat. She didn’t have any right to be jealous. As far as Bard knew, they were friends. Best friends. Drinking buddies. Road trip renegades. Hell, she’d even bailed his ass out of jail once when he’d gotten into a fight in some red-neck town with the local sheriff’s son.

But that was it. Not lovers. Not even friends with benefits, despite the signs she’d been throwing his way for—Christ? Ten years? Maybe twelve? The guy was brilliant when it came to architecture. Had created a stunning new wing for the marine museum. But he wouldn’t know a flirt or pass if it bit him in the ass.

In retrospect, she should have literally bitten him in the ass. At least that way he would have gotten the message. Or maybe he had and he’d pretended to be dense because he didn’t have any romantic feelings for her. Didn’t feel his skin tighten, his heart race. Didn’t feel as if his tongue was too thick to form words or that he was going to spontaneously combust if she rubbed up innocently against him one more time.

She smiled. “You look great. You’re gonna make Monica cry.”

He snorted. “Make her cry? Are we talking about the same woman, because I’m certain she’ll say my tie isn’t right, or my hair’s unruly.” He looked down. “Shit. Do these shoes go with this tux?”

Trixie choked on her next swig of alcohol. Damn, she couldn’t afford to waste any of it. The only way she was getting through this ceremony was with an obscene amount of ninety-proof in her system.

Bard frowned. “What’s so funny? Do they look that bad? Should I change them?”

She shook her head, muttering when a chunk of her updo let loose, dropping a curly mass of hair around her shoulder. Fuck, she couldn’t get her hair right with someone helping and Miss Perfect managed to hold all hers in with two freaking chop sticks.

Trixie shoved the hair out of her face as she sat up straighter. “I was laughing at you, not your shoes.”

The lines above his nose deepened. “Why?”

“Because you sound like a freaking girl. How many vaginas are there in your relationship? I thought it was only supposed to be Monica’s.”

“Not funny, Trix. This is important.”

“Getting married is important. Saying your vows and believing in them is important. Being so in love with your partner you’re blind to everyone else in the room is important. Who gives a crap if your shoes are shined properly? Besides, they’re black. They match everything.”

His face relaxed and his lips curved up. “Monica cares. About everything. About the color of the damn pocket square I’m supposed to wear.” He turned to face her. “What the fuck is a pocket square? Am I supposed to give it to her if she starts crying? Or if her mother does? If my mother? And why does it matter if the groomsmen and bridesmaids aren’t organized by height? It’s supposed to be about having your friends stand up with you. Not whether Nancy is taller than my brother.”

“Nancy is taller than everyone’s brother.”

“Right?” He toed at the floor. “You were supposed to be my best man.”

“Best woman. Person. I’m sure there’s a name for it.” She shrugged as she paced to the other side of the small antechamber. “It’s fine. I get it. It would have thrown off the whole balance of the wedding party. God forbid, I didn’t have anyone to dance with.”

“I would have danced with you.”

Trixie snapped her head around. Had she imagined the hint of longing in his voice? The slight gravelly tone she’d only ever heard him talk to his ‘dates’ with? She studied his face. Lips pinched tight, brows slightly furrowed. A slight blush colored his cheeks as he drew air in through his nose, the rhythm faster than usual.

“I know. But that kind of defeats the purpose. You’re supposed to be dancing with your bride.”

He nodded. “I know. I’ve seen enough sappy chick flicks to have it all down pat.”

“She made you watch wedding movies?”

“Endlessly. And not just me. The entire wedding party. It was one long weekend I will never get back. I thought my brother was going to bail.”

Trixie laughed. James, Bard’s brother, would never bail on his little brother’s wedding, even if James didn’t really agree. Like her, he didn’t understand what Bard saw in Monica. They were polar opposites Trixie was sure extended to a cellular level. Of course, for her, jealousy blurred reality, and she was big enough to admit she couldn’t have pictured Bard with anyone other than her.

She drew in a calming breath then moved over to him, reaching up to straight his tie. “You look great. Perfect. Just like everything else. I’ve already checked out the chapel room. The flowers are stunning and it smells great. Like roses and summer rain. And once you’re ready, I’ll go take one last look around the reception area—they were supposed to deliver the cake. I’ll make sure it’s flawless, like everything else is supposed to be. Okay?”

Bard smiled, wrapping his arms around her then dragging her in for a soul-crushing hug. God, just feeling his arms around her—his breath warm and spicy against her cheek, his chest heaving against hers—made the pain in her heart explode outwards until it took every ounce of strength she had just to breathe. To return the hug without taking it further—letting her lips graze his neck or rubbing against the slight bulge in his pants. She wasn’t sure if he was slightly aroused or just big—great. Now, she was picturing his cock.

Bard gave her a squeeze. “What would I do without you?”

She was more interested in what he’d do with her. To her.

Trixie cleared her throat as she stepped back once he’d dropped his arms, fighting back the burning sensation in her eyes. Shit. She never cried. “Crash and burn, for sure.”

Bard frowned. “Hey, are you okay?”

She cursed inwardly. She hadn’t really thought he’d notice. “Fine. Girls are supposed to cry at weddings.”

“But—”

She spun, the sharp tap of her heels cutting him off. “I’ll go check everything, again. Then, I’ll take me seat.” She paused at the doorway, glancing over her shoulder without making eye contact. “Congratulations, Bard. Monica’s a lucky lady.”

She left, walking as quickly as her damn shoes would let her. Why had she worn heels? It wasn’t as if she was in the wedding party. Monica had vetoed that the moment Bard had brought it up—had said he needed his best friend up there with him. Trixie still wasn’t sure why Bard hadn’t fought Monica’s decision. They were supposed to be equals, yet, he seemed content more times than not to let Monica make the decisions.

Which was just another indicator that Trixie and Bard never would have lasted. She didn’t want a guy who caved to her every whim. She wanted a man who called her on her bullshit. Who stood up for his beliefs, but who both expected and respected that she did the same. She’d always thought Bard was that kind of guy. He was in every other facet of his life, but with Monica…

Stop thinking about it, you ditz. He’s marrying her. In like thirty minutes, so…

Trixie walked into the reception area. All the table were elegantly decorated, with more flowers and ribbons—the gleaming silverware glinting off the massive chandelier hanging in the middle of the dance floor. It looked beautiful. Though, if she were honest with herself, it didn’t suit Bard. She’d always pictured him whirling through a Vegas chapel then spending the honeymoon gambling and fucking. Not necessarily in that order. But definitely not the Kardashian event Monica had arranged.

Trixie’s stomach roiled as she made her way toward the cake. Everything else seemed fine. One final inspection and she could say she’d done her best to ensure Bard’s day was as great as he deserved. Even if Monica didn’t want Trixie to be a part of it, she’d assured Bard she’d be there for him. And she had. Despite the toll it had taken on her heart.

She stopped in front of the cake, staring up at the multiple tiers of smooth perfection. A ceramic bride and groom decorated the top layer, and Trixie swore Monica had paid to have them resemble her and Bard.

Talk about overkill.

She leaned in when footsteps sounded behind her. She nearly bumped the damn cake as she spun, staring at Bard as he closed the distance, stopping a foot away. “What the hell, Bard? You’re supposed to be greeting the guests. Smiling and shaking hands.”

“You never cry. Least of all at a wedding when you can’t stand the bride, so out with it.”

Her mouth gaped open before she was able to shut it. “You’re getting married in…” She glanced at her watch. “…twenty minutes and you’re wondering why I had a few tears in my eyes?”

“I know you. Have known you since we were sixteen. You. Don’t. Cry.”

“So sue me for having a moment. Now, go out there and greet your guests. Everything’s fine in here. The wedding is going to go over without a hitch.”

He inched closer. “Tell me why you were crying.”

“It doesn’t matter. You need to go.”

Bard arched a brow then side-stepped around the table, grabbing the top tier of the wedding cake then holding it up.

Trixie inhaled. “What are you doing? I’ll never be able to put that back the way it was. Shit, Monica is going to freak!”

“Tell me why you were crying.”

“Jesus, Bard, just…put the cake back the way you found it.” She moved toward him. “I can try to fix it. I—”

“Take one step closer to me, and I swear to God, I’ll drop this cake! I’ll do it! Don’t test me!”

She froze. She knew the look in his eyes. He was serious.

She held up her hands, palms facing him. “Okay. I won’t get any closer.”

“Now, tell me why you were crying. And not some lame ass excuse. I want the truth, Trix. I need the truth.”

Trixie crossed her arms. “Fine. You want the truth? Why not. It’s not like this day can get any worse for me. In fact, it’s pretty much an indicator of how the rest of my life is going to play out, at least where you’re concerned. I mean, if you didn’t have the balls to stand up to Monica about me being your best man, then I doubt we’ll be watching the Sunday game together any time soon. So…” She wiped at the sudden rush of moisture down her cheeks, uncertain if it was sad or angry tears. “I was crying because it guts me to think you’re marrying that…that…cold prissy rich girl. You weren’t supposed to last a month, let alone a year. And you definitely weren’t supposed to have some country club wedding a few months later. I don’t understand how you don’t see it. How utterly wrong you are for each other.” She shook her head. “You weren’t supposed to marry her. You were supposed to marry…”

She clamped her mouth shut.

He stared at her, eyes wide, lips slightly parted, when more footsteps sounded behind them. Trixie turned, sighing when it was James and not Monica.

James stared at the two of them, eyeing the cake before looking up at his brother. “I was wondering where you were. I have a message for you. Call me crazy, but this…” He waved at the cake. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Bard seemed obvious to the fact he was still holding the damn cake, losing more bits of icing every time he shuffled his feet. “What were you expecting?”

“Honestly?” Jame smiled. “I was hoping you had Trixie pinned to some wall, pounding into her as if your life depended on it.”

Trixie choked on her next breath. “Excuse me?”

James laughed. “Please, even if I hadn’t heard every word you just said, I’m not blind. Unlike my brother, who wouldn’t know if a pretty girl was hitting on him if she punched him in the eye. I always thought you two would finally figure it out. Even if it was this late in the game.”

Trixie exhaled a shaky breath, glancing over at Bard, but he didn’t seem surprised. In fact, he looked relieved. “This is crazy. I never should have said anything. I’m so sorry. Just…give me the cake, and I’ll fix this. I’ll fix everything.”

Bard shook his head, handing James the cake and nearly dropping it in the process. Bard marched around the table, palming her face with his hands. “No. You won’t fix it. I will.”

He kissed her. In the middle of the damn reception room with guests filing in at the end of the hallway. Slid his tongue into her mouth, threaded his fingers through her messed-up hair and kissed her. Long. Deep. She lost track of time, of everything but the soft, warm feel of his lips on hers and everything slotted into place.

He gave her a smile as they parted. “Been wanting to do that for ten fucking years. Never had the balls to, though. Until now. So…answer me one more question. Were you going to say I was supposed to marry you?”

She stared into his blue eyes, looking for an answer that would make everything all right, but couldn’t stop the word, “Yes,” from slipping free.

He nodded. “Then, it’s time I made this right.”

James held up his hand. “Actually, bro, remember that part where I told you I had a message?” Bard nodded.

James laughed. “Looks like you weren’t the only one who got cold feet. Monica came looking for you. When she realized Trixie was in the change room with you, she said something about it being the last straw. That she’d told you it was either her or Trixie.”

Trixie gasped. “She actually said that? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Like I was ever giving you up.” Bard waved her shock away as he faced his brother. “So, what are you saying?”

James grinned. “She left. With Greg, actually. I’m pretty sure they’ve been humping on the side.”

Bard laughed. “So, you’re saying she already left me?”

Trixie cringed. “Damn, Bard, I’m—”

“Talk about a lucky break.” He held his hand out to his brother. “Don’t suppose I could borrow your car?”

James grinned. “I just filled her up.”

Bard jingled the keys, as he took her hand. “Don’t suppose you’re up for a road trip? Maybe Vegas?”

She gulped in a mouthful of air, running after him as he made for the rear door. “Vegas?”

“I’ve waited ten years to tell you I’m crazy in love with you. About time I something about it.”

 

And that’s it for me. Sorry for the epic chapter there. Anyway, if you haven’t already, go and visit the rest of the gang.

Bronwyn  |  Jessica  |  Siobhan  |  Deelylah  |  Jessica DLR

 

Wordless Wednesday

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday. This month, we get to choose what we wish to post, so sit back and enjoy a photo account of ~ SNOWSHOEING….

 

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We’re heading for those hills.
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White pine… my favorite pine tree.
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Close up of white pine needles.
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View from first plateau

 

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Sub alpine grand fir.

 

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Grand fir with a cedar tree.

 

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Climbing in snowshoes is not easy.
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Second level. Wish the yellow showed like it did in the sky.
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Hemlock… I think… Andrea?

 

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Highest part…

 

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Blocked by rocks, lol.

 

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Trying to show the slope. It was steep.

 

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Virgin snow… the reason we go.

 

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The path back.

 

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Partner in crime.

And that’s it for me. I had an awesome summit panorama, but freaking WordPress won’t import it so…. have fun with all the other ladies. And yeah, it wasn’t exactly wordless 🙂 No one is surprised.

Bronwyn  |  Jessica  |  Siobhan  |  Torrence  |  Jessica DLR  |  Paige  |  Gwendolyn

 

Flash Fiction ~ January Snowy Road

Welcome to 2018! it’s a new year and a new opportunity to make things happen. So, let’s start off the year of the dog right with a new flash fiction. Love the photo below. So pretty. Though, I’m over the snow. We usually don’t get too much, but we have several inches and I’m done, already, lol. It needs to just stay on the mountain where it belongs.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the story. It’s a bit of insight into a side character in my upcoming release Midnight Ranger. Russel will be getting his own story… soon. Not sure when, but… And it’s short. No, seriously. Short. Really short. I know, I’m surprised, too.

Rural winter snowy landscape

Snow. Christ, how long had it been since he’d driven in snow?

Russel “Ice” Foster stared at the expanse of white powder covering the lonely road, wondering if he’d ever seen anything so pristine. So pure. Growing up in the Deep South, he hadn’t encountered snow until his PJ training. Oh yeah, he’d learned about the fucking cold pretty damn quickly. Nothing like a week in the Arctic to make those neurons fire—create permanent pathways that went on high alert whenever the temperature dropped below freezing. He couldn’t walk into an ice rink without having a few flashbacks of that training session.

Not that he’d been in an ice rink recently. Been anywhere other than where his next mission had taken him. And for the past decade, it had been the desert. The Sandbox, as it had been affectionally termed then on to Afghanistan. Heat. Sand. Dust that caked every damn inch for years on end. He’d had the occasional mountain rescue. Donned the odd parka and gloves. But nothing compared to the endless fields of snow he’d been driving through for the past few hours.

He scrubbed a hand down his face, shifted his truck into four-wheel drive, then started down the road. He hadn’t seen another vehicle since he’d pulled off the main interstate and onto some shit backroad in the middle of nowhere. Montana. Not exactly nowhere, but it felt like it. Endless miles with nothing but the odd ranch opening up the forest on either side. He’d checked the map a dozen times, even inputted the address into his GPS. He was definitely on the right road, even if he felt lost.

Lost.

Russel cursed the thought. He’d never imagined he’d ever feel that way, not after making a living out finding people. A life dedicated to the military. A lifetime’s worth of blood, sweat and determination to make it through Combat Rescue training. He’d been in the one percent of candidates that had actually reached the finish line. Had been on more covert rescue missions than he could count—dragging men back from places no one ever heard of. Missions that wouldn’t make the evening news. He was the guy who went in when special ops went down. Their only chance at a getting back alive. Sometimes with a team. Often, alone. Armed and ready to kill in order to bring his comrades back alive. He could navigate by the stars, some moss on the side of a tree. Hell, he’d once made his own sundial to get his bearings when a mission had gone sideways. And here he was, in the middle of Montana feeling lost.

He’d never considered a life beyond the service. Never imagined he’d have to learn how to integrate back into civilian life. He’d planned on rescuing guys until he either got old enough to retire, or got himself killed. Either was fine by him. He’d never been afraid of dying. Had made peace with it right from the start. And now he was faced with a life so foreign to him, he didn’t know where to start. How to fit in. All it took was one fucked up mission, and here he was. Out.

He glanced at the GPS, again. Just another ten miles and he’d reach Eagle Rock. A blip on the map. A town he’d miss if he closed his eyes for longer than a couple of seconds. And yet, it might be his only chance at salvation. A Hail Mary in a lifetime of rolling sevens.

He laughed. Out loud to the empty cabin. He’d been lucky he hadn’t landed up in jail. His ass rotting in some military prison for the next twenty years, so getting ousted—yeah, it had been the best option in a list full of ugly alternatives. Not that it had been justified. It hadn’t. And given the same situation, he’d do it all over, again. Exactly the same. He didn’t pull punches and he didn’t let his teammates down. Period. If saving that soldier’s life meant Russel had to make a new one for himself, it had been worth it. He had enough blood on his conscience. He didn’t need anymore.

The voice on his GPS broke the silence, calling out the next turn. He was nearly there. His last chance. One he needed to make count.

 

And that’s it for me, folks. Please hop on over and visit the other wonderful ladies.

Jessica  |  Bronwyn  |  Gwendolyn  |  Siobhan  |  Kayleigh

Song Fiction ~ Chances

The last song flash fiction of the year. How it is the week before Christmas already? I’m still shopping, but no one is surprised. This month the song is Chances by Five for Fighting. I love love love this band. Love them. The Riddle is one of my fave songs. Anyway, if you haven’t heard the song, please give it a listen.  I’ve shared the video below. And I hope you enjoy the accompanying short (lol, I even laughed myself) story.

“What are you doing? Seriously, man. What the fuck are you doing?”

Kane stared at his reflection in the mirror, listening to the last of his words slowly fade. He must be losing his shit if he’d resorted to talking to himself. Out loud. But…damn. He needed to hear the words. Watch the way his mouth formed them as he tried to make sense of why he was standing there, getting ready for another date with Justin. The same man Kane had told himself, a million fucking times not to get involved with. Because Justin—he was made for leaving.

Kane knew it. Had watched the man fall in and out of relationships, and sure, probably love, more times than Kane could count. It was as if Justin had a revolving door in his chest where he could let guys in then turn them around and shove them back out without ever being fazed.

Kane was fazed. He as the king of fazed. Maybe because he was always the guy on the receiving end of getting hurt. The one who never saw it coming. Who was continuously picking up the shattered pieces of his heart off the damn floor, knowing he’d never find every tiny shard. That he’d lost another bit of himself in another fucked up relationship with another wrong guy.

He should have “we can still be friends” tattooed on his forehead. Or maybe his ass because that was the last thing all his boyfriends saw of him as Kane walked out the door. Generally after finding his partner in bed with another man.

So why had he ever thought hooking up with Justin was the right call? Regardless of the fact he’d been halfway in love with the guy for the past three years. And by halfway, he meant ridiculously in love. Border line obsession. And not the good kind that entailed healthy habits or going to the gym everyday. The kind that messed with Kane’s head.

And his heart.

Fuck, his heart. He wasn’t sure it was even beating right now. Or maybe it was beating too fast. So fast he couldn’t even feel each individual thump in his chest. It was more like one long, never-ending thrashing against his ribs he just attributed to the crushing feeling any time Justin was in the room. Or inside Kane’s head. Which was basically 24/7, now that they’d started dating.

“You’re an idiot. Setting yourself up for another fall. You’d think you’d have learned your lesson by now. Justin’s way out of your league, not to mention not the settling kind. You’d be better off just stopping before you tell him just how far you’ve fallen. How long you’ve been waiting for a chance at…”

At what? And why didn’t it sound anymore convincing when he made it echo off the walls? He was in his last year of med school. He could stitch people up. Surely, he could figure out how to pick a guy who wouldn’t use him as nothing more than a safe place to fall for awhile. Someone who wanted him for…him.

Kane turned on the taps then splashed cold water over his face. The problem wasn’t Justin. It was him. The fact he was in love with Justin. That Kane didn’t want to play it safe. He wanted to be reckless. To kiss as if it was the first time. To love as if he’d never had a broken heart. And he wanted it believe it would last. That this time, they’d beat the odds.

He scrubbed his hand down his face. Him? Beat the odds? It’d take a miracle.

Or a way to cheat. To cheat love.

“Kane!”

His name mixed in with an obnoxious amount of banging on the bathroom door. He glanced at it in the mirror, silently flipping his roommate off.

“Kane! Dude! Get stop talking to yourself and get your ass out here. Justin’s been waiting for ten minutes, already.”

Kane groaned. Great. Now, Justin knew he’d been talking to himself in the bathroom. That was fucking perfect.

Kane towelled off, then ran his fingers through his hair one more time before heading for the door. He opened it, stopping dead when he nearly ran into Justin. The man had both hands on the doorframe, boxing Kane in if he tried to leave. He’d taken off his coat and shoes, standing there in a form-fitting long-sleeved shirt and jeans that outlined every firm muscle in his legs.

Kane swallowed. Shit, he knew exactly how Justin’s ass looked in those jeans. He’d watched the guy walk away more times than he’d admit to, and those pants didn’t do the man’s butt justice.

He sighed. “Sorry. I just need to grab my coat and—”

Justin kissed him. No pre-amble, no hesitation, just slipped one hand off the doorframe and into Kane’s hair before dragging his face forward. Justin’s lips slid over Kane’s, then his tongue was inside, tasting. Tangling with Kane’s before easing back.

Kane stared up at the man. They’d kissed, but nothing like that. Just polite, good night maybe we’ll go out again kind of kisses. Not the kind that set fire to Kane’s skin. Made him feel as if he was melting into the floor.

Justin thumbed the corner of Kane’s mouth as he gave him a devastating smile. “You are definitely one of a kind.”

“Did I miss something?”

“Just the part where you’re not the only one feeling out of their league.” He chuckled at Kane’s furrowed brow. “You do know that there’s a vent in the living room, right? it pretty much echoes everything you say in here.”

Kane’s mouth gaped open. “So, you heard—”

“Every word.”

“Shit. Look, Justin, I—”

“You’re wrong, you know. I’m not the one who’s out of your league. You’re the one who’s out of mine. You’re in med school. You play the guitar like it’s an extension of your arm, and I swear you can bench more than anyone else I’ve ever seen. And if that’s not enough…you’re a fucking nice guy. Too nice for the likes of me.”

Justin traced Kane’s lip. “You were also wrong about me, though. True, I’ve been a player, but not because I’m not the settling kind. But because the one guy I wanted was out of my league, and I didn’t know how to tell him I’ve been insanely in love with him for the past two years. Until now. So…how about we stay in tonight, and give this…give us…an honest chance. Because if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s beating the odds. And you’re definitely worth rolling the dice.”

 

And that’s it for me. Please join the rest of the ladies playing along this week.

Bronwyn  |  Jessica  |  Gwendolyn  |  Siobhan

Top 10 ~ Gifts for Writers

Top10-12DEC

Yeah, I’ve made a Wednesday blog. Time is so not my friend right now. I’m at the very end of my next book—releasing in January—and I tend to get caught in that time warp that happens when you’re on a deadline.

Anyway, the post is pretty self explanatory. The top 10 gifts for writers. So, without further delay, and in no particular order. It’s hard enough coming up with 10 without trying to rank them.

1 — A journal to keep yourself organized. I’ve been given a handmade one, and I love it. I’m guilty of not using it enough lately, but that’s going to change. And I think most writers would appreciate it.

2 — A colourful pen set for the journal. Hey… colour makes everything better.

3 — One of those colouring books of their favourite subject or theme. Because we all need down time and sometimes losing yourself in something else that’s creative helps other areas.

4 — Something sentimental regarding one of their favourite book or books that they’ve written. Maybe a picture frame with some of their covers displayed. Or a mug with a cover or logo. Something that celebrates their accomplishments.

5 — An ebook gift card. Writers are readers, after all and what better way to help them enjoy other works than by giving them the means to order a few of the favourite authors.

6 — A subscription to a reading venue like Scrib’d. Or another online reading subscription. I know… very similar to the first, but kinda different.

7 — A coupon redeemable for a cover on you. Especially for self published authors. Getting a good cover isn’t always cheap, so surprising them with an offer to pay for their next one would be a nice gesture.

8 — A clone. No really. I want one. I need one. I’m sure everyone else, does, too.

9 — A bubble enclosure where family can’t constantly intrude to ask where the peanut butter is or if you’ve washed their skinny jeans.

10 — A shiny new laptop or iPad Pro. Tablet. Whatever their preference it. I know this isn’t on the books for most of us, but damn, I’d love an iPad Pro. A new keyboard or mouse might be a good option, too.

I thought about including large boxes of ibuprofen. Endless carafes of caffeine laden drinks. Those energy drinks for when you have to squeeze out one more page. And chocolate. Just because. Honestly the list is endless.

Now hop on over and see what the other ladies have on their list of ideal presents.

Bronwyn |  Jessica  | Paige  | Gwendolyn

 

December ~ Flash Fiction

December…how does it manage to sneak up on me every year? I’m sure lots of you are done your Christmas shopping. I haven’t started. I work better on a deadline. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

This month’s picture flash fiction is an interesting one. I had hope the story would be super short. I’d intended for it to be super short. It’s pretty much the opposite. Not super long, but… definitely not short. Anyway, here’s the photo and the resulting story.

43659803 - christmas table place setting with christmas pine branches,ribbon and bow. christmas holidays background
43659803 – christmas table place setting with christmas pine branches,ribbon and bow. christmas holidays background

Grace stood next to the table, staring down at the place settings. They weren’t anything special. A knife. A fork. She’d included a small sprig of evergreen and tied it with a bow. But it wasn’t special. Special didn’t exist. It had been put on hold. Placed in limbo until Kurt walked back through the door. Until he came home. Alive. Whole.

Whole. She wasn’t sure that existed anymore, either. Not for him. Them. He’d been deployed for over two years, the brief furloughs barely long enough to get reacquainted, again. To reconnect. It was more a mashing of bodies and souls in a whirlwind that left her feeling twice as empty once he’d returned to his unit.

How the military thought a few days would be enough to keep their marriage alive baffled her. Not that she’d give up. She hadn’t made her vows lightly. She’d known marrying a soldier had risks. Sacrifices. She just hadn’t counted on feeling so…

Lost? Alone? Angry?

She glanced at the shiny silver-plated cutlery. Twelve days. That’s how long she’d been waiting for him to come home. For good this time. Or at least, for longer. Twelve days. Like that annoying Christmas song. Only she’d gotten the same present each day—silence.

His team had been hit. There were massive casualties. She’d spent endless hours trying to get an update. To see if her world had been reduced to a casket and a folded flag.

Nothing. Not one damn word.

Be patient, they’d told her.

Patient.

That word didn’t exist, either. Patient was waiting in line to return a gift. Patient was knowing she couldn’t take the pregnancy test until she’d missed her period. This…

This was torture. Cruel and unusual.

So she’d taken what little control she could. She’d gone to work, come home, made dinner then set the table. Every night with the same wrapped up silverware. The only thing in the house remotely Christmas oriented. Because without Kurt…

The doorbell rang.

She turned, hands fisted at her sides, stomach threatening to heave at any second. She wasn’t expecting anyone. Which could only mean one thing.

Bad news.

Good news didn’t come with a bell or a ringtone. It walked through the door. It welcomed her into strong arms with a long, slow kiss. A doorbell meant pain. Sadness. Meant her world was crumbling around her, and all she had were those stupid ribbon-wrapped place-settings.

It rang, again, the tone lingering on inside her head long after it had cut off.

She walked toward the door, feet shuffling. No need to rush. Whether she ran there or crawled, she’d get the same answer.

I’m sorry for your loss. He gave his life valiantly. He’s a hero.

She didn’t care because it wouldn’t bring him back. Make her whole.

Her hand shook as she reached for the doorknob. It felt cold. Heavy. And she wasn’t sure she’d be able to turn it without someone else helping her. Taking some of the weight off. She clamped her fingers around the smooth surface then willed her hand to turn. Face what had been hanging over her the past twelve days.

A man stood on the porch, hat clasped between his hands. He looked old. Tired. Though she doubted he any older than she was. His grey gaze met hers and held. He clenched his jaw, breaking eye contact as he stared at the wooden planks beneath his feet.

This was it. The moment where hope vanished like the morning mist. There one second, then gone, with nothing but lingering drops as proof it had existed.

He nodded. “Mrs. Harris? Mrs. Grace Harris?”

She nodded back. No use talking when nothing would come out. Her throat was frozen. Clamped shut. It was a miracle she was still conscious since she was positive she wasn’t breathing. Wasn’t doing anything but staring at the stranger about to destroy her life.

He swallowed. He looked nervous. “I’m Captain Grier. I know you’ve been waiting to hear news about your husband’s unit. I’m sorry it’s been so long in coming. It’s been…hard.”

Hard. He had no idea.

He waited to see if she’d say anything, but she didn’t. Just stared. Waiting.

He cleared his throat. “Anyway, I wanted to tell each family personally. That’s why it’s taken so long. I made the difficult visits, first. It’s never easy. Not for any of us.”

She frowned, trying to process his words. “You made the difficult visits, first?”

He startled, as if he hadn’t believed she could actually speak. She didn’t blame him. She hadn’t thought she’d be able to, either.

He wet his lips. “It only seems right that way. To give families closure as quickly as I can. But, there were so many. Spread out. It’s taken me this long to get around to you.”

She shook her head. “I don’t understand. I’ve been waiting twelve days. How is that giving me closure quickly?”

His brows furrowed. “Closure?”

“Where’s his body?”

“His body?”

“I’d like to see it. I need to see it.”

Captain Grier looked at her as if she’d spoken another language. Maybe she had. Everything was mixed up. Moving at a different speed. She just wasn’t sure if she was going faster or slower.

He put on his hat, giving her a smile. “His body should be here in about a minute, ma’am.”

It as her turn to stare at him.“You’re bringing his body here? To the house? But…”

She paused as another car pulled up. Big. Dark. The kind that brought death with it. It stopped beside the curb, the setting sun glinting off the windows. She shaded her eyes against the glare, watching as the car doors opened. Three men got out, faces hidden in the shadows from the backlit sunlight. They looked big, strong.

They’d have to be. Kurt was—had been a large man. Firm. Muscles that made women drool and other men jealous. Some thought he was too big. Jarhead, she’d heard him called. But it had made him seem invincible. Had helped her believe he’d come back.

They’d have trouble carrying him. Wasn’t there something about dead weight?

Dead.

She swallowed, nearly choking, as the men headed for the door, their footsteps echoing around her. They weren’t carrying anyone. Hadn’t opened some other door to retrieve Kurt’s body. In fact, she doubted the car could carry a body. Not without it being strapped in.

Her stomach dropped. What if there wasn’t anything left of him? If she’d have to bury an empty coffin? Always wondering. Hoping they’d made a mistake. Live the rest of her life with a piece of a knife stuck in her heart, slowly bleeding her out.

The men climbed the four steps to the porch, obscuring everything but the dark color of their uniforms. The wide width of their shoulders. They saluted the captain in unison. One body with three arms. That’s what it looked like.

One of the men stepped forward, removing his hat like Grier had done. “Ma’am.”

She opened her mouth. Nothing came out. Not a breath. Not a whispered word. Just emptiness, like her heart. The rest of her life.

He glanced at the captain then continued. “We wanted to come here to tell you, we’re all alive because of Rachet…Lieutenant Harris.”

She couldn’t help the smile that lifted her lips at his nickname. Kurt could fix anything with a socket set and some spit.

The man’s face lightened a bit at her reaction. “We got hit. Bad. The three of us were trapped under rubble. There was gunfire and explosions sounding around us. But Rach—the Lt. He stood his ground. Dug us out then dragged us back to the LZ.”

Landing zone. God, she hated that she knew the terminology. Hated that it would haunt the last memories of her husband.

“Anyway, we begged the captain to let us accompany him home. Tell you, ourselves, how grateful we are. And that we’re sorry we made you worry. Made him late.”

She stared at them, hearing the words but not quite understanding them.

The men saluted her, this time, then parted. A shadow fell across her face and she looked up. Another man limbed through the ranks, a heavy scruff lining his jaw. Bruises colored his left cheek, a slash of white gauze covering part of his head. He looked lethal. Weather-beaten.

He moved forward out of the shadows, and her heart stopped. Just stopped, as if someone had flicked a switch.

Brown eyes gazed at her, his mouth curving into a smile. “I hope I didn’t miss dinner, tonight, sweetheart. I told the captain you didn’t like it when I missed dinner.”

 

That’s it for me. Please join the rest of the ladies by clicking on the links.

Bronwyn  |  Jessica  |  Siobhan

November Song Fiction ~ Flaws

Almost the last song fiction of the year. That’s crazy. This month it’s Flaws by Bastille. I haven’t heard this one before and wasn’t fond of the regular, radio version. But dear god, the acoustic one—his voice. You really should give it a listen.

Anyway, you can watch the video below and I hope you enjoy the resulting story.

“You don’t have to do this, Izzy. You know that, right?”

Isabel McClaren glanced over at her brother. Ryan’s brows were furrowed, his left eye twitching slightly with ever other breath. He’d tightened his grip on the steering wheel to the point the flesh over his knuckles had bleached white. And there was no mistaking the slash of red on his cheeks.

She took a steadying breath, burying her hands in her lap so he couldn’t see the way they shook. “I know.”

“If you’re having second thoughts, all you have to do is tell me.”

Second thoughts? She was way past second and on her way home.

He turned to face her, unclipping the seatbelt when it caught on his shoulder. “They can’t make you testify against Zack. It’s called Spousal Privilege. I had a buddy at JAG double check.”

“So I’m just supposed to what? Walk away? Pretend I didn’t see him kill that…” Bile caught in her throat, making her gag. She forced herself to swallow—meet Ryan’s gaze. “That woman? That I haven’t spent the last five years married to a monster?”

Ryan’s jaw clenched, jumping the muscle in his temple. “I think the beatings you took from the bastard more than clears your conscience.”

“My conscience? I should have found a way to stop him.”

“You didn’t know.”

“But I should have! I should have seen it. In the way he treated me. Treated any woman he saw. And I should have left him the first time he hit me. Put a restraining order on his ass and had him charged with assault.”

Ryan cupped her hand, holding it gently in his. “Izz. Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“Why not? You would have pressed charges. Anyone with half a brain would have. And maybe if I’d had the balls to do that, they would have figured out he was the psychopath roaming the streets, killing those prostitutes. Instead, I believed the lies.” She shook her head, punching her other hand against her thigh. “I wanted so bad for them to be true. Christ, I’m pathetic.”

She bowed her head. Tears threatened, but she knew she wouldn’t cry. Couldn’t. Not another tear for that bastard.

Ryan sighed. “You’re not pathetic. You’re brave as hell.”

She snorted, glancing at him. “I’m not brave. You are. You were always were. The golden child.”

“Golden child?”

“You know. The perfect kid. Got good grades. Never gave dad a hard time. Joined the army, and served your country for ten years. You have a shit ton of medals to prove just how great you are. And what have I done? Made a lifetime’s worth of poor choices.”

“We all make mistakes.”

Her chin quivered before she glanced at him. “You don’t. You’re flawless. Like a sculpture carved out of ice.”

“You’re wrong. The only difference between us is that you wear them on your sleeve.”

She frowned. This was a side of Ryan she hadn’t seen before. “And where are yours?”

“Buried. Deep. But still there.” He looked away. “And for the record, Zack isn’t on you. He was messed up long before you ever met him. I guess he’s really good at hiding his flaws, too.”

“It’s funny. I used to think that Zack was my redemption. The one thing I hadn’t fucked up since I was born. How it’s all played out? It’s poetic, really.”

“Then stop making bad choices. Starting now.” He grabbed her other hand, again, waiting until she met his gaze. “I have…a friend. Someone I knew overseas. He can make us disappear. For good. And we can start over. Anywhere you want. Another state. Hell, another country. Just say the word, and we’re out of here.”

“You’d leave everything for me?”

“In a heartbeat, sis.”

Izzy stared out at the courthouse, the rain creating tiny rings in the puddles lining the steps. It had rained the day she’d married Zack. Then, again, the night she’d stumbled upon him in the cellar. She’d heard the drops beating against the wooden door as she’d stood in horror, unable to move. Zack’s hands covered in blood. The woman’s lifeless eyes staring out at Izzy. Pale. Pleading. Bruises had bloomed around the dead woman’s neck, the same shades as the ones Zack had left on Izzy’s body.

Not, again.

“I want to disappear…” She grabbed Ryan’s hand before he could turn over the engine. “After the trial. After they lock Zack’s ass up for the rest of his miserable life.”

After I did something good. Something—flawless.

Ryan stared at her, his face unreadable, before he nodded. “After you hand that bastard his ass. Then, we’re gone.”

 

And that’s it for me. Just the amazing Bronwyn and Siobhan playing along today. So, go check out her masterpiece.

Bronwyn   |  Siobhan