Wordless Wednesday ~ Winter

A post…without words? Never! Anyway, I just wanted to note that, despite the photos that depict a clear image of the great white north, we usually don’t get much snow on Vancouver Island. It’s generally rain, rain, some wind and more rain. In fact, the kids have more ‘flood’ days than snow days. But this year… this was the year of the 100-year-snow storm. So…enjoy the winter wonderland and some images of the days just before. Oh, and it’s raining now. Lots. As in 50mm, lol. So, back to the usual for us.

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Check out how winter is with the others…

Bronwyn Green  |  Deelylah Mullin  |  Kellie St. James

Gwendolyn Cease  |    Torrance Sené

Picture Flash Fiction ~ February

It’s the second round of picture flash fiction. As usual, I’m staring at it and wondering what to write 😉 Only one thing pops to mind. A piece out of the my on-going serial or trilogy. I haven’t really decided how it’s going to progress, yet. It’s epic in my mind, so…

Anyway, we’re taking a jump into Red Sky Dawning. Sorry, it’s going to be just a snippet out of the blue , but it’s more of an aside to the novel. You can read the first four chapters by clicking on the link to Free Reads in the nav bar it you wish. Otherwise, here’s a bit with Aelwyn…

44148085 - mysterious woman in red cloak

44148085 – mysterious woman in red cloak

“Princess Aelwyn.”

Aelwyn looked up from the pages she’d been scouring and glanced at the door to her chambers as the thick, wooden slab swung inwards. Her brother’s personal guard, Captain Tarn, stood in the opening, his armour gleaming in the bright light. His distorted shadow stretched out across the floor, reaching towards her like a wraith.

She placed the tome down on the small table beside her, then slowly rose. She nodded, glancing over the man’s shoulder. “Captain Tarn.”

The man shifted on his feet, gazing around the small room as if expecting something to leap out at him. “Cane has requested your presence in the throne room. If you’d please come with me.” He motioned to the corridor and adjoining staircase.

“Aern is King of Aldhaven, not Cane. I don’t take orders from him.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “If my father wises to see me, he can summon me, himself.”

Colour rose high on the man’s cheeks as his hands fisted at his sides. “Your father is ill. His time here is quickly diminishing. Besides, you know that Cane speaks for him.”

“What I know is that my father is currently dying from a disease I could cure if he’d only ask.”

Tarn glared at her, pursing his lips together as if simply being in her presence sickened him. “You know you are forbidden to use your dark arts.”

“Since when is healing someone evil?”

“Since it was abolished centuries ago.”

Aelwyn shook her head. “You mean since my grandfather had every healer within the kingdom killed. If my mother were alive—”

“Your mother died bringing you into this world.” Tarn took a step forward, one hand lifting to rest on the hilt of his sword. “That should be proof enough that you weren’t meant to survive.”

Guilt and pain settled unforgivingly in her core as tears stung her eyes. Why she even bothered to try and reason with anyone was a mystery. Only her brother had ever seen her as anything other than a monster. As someone worthy of love.

She forced herself to swallow around the ball of emotion stuck in her throat. “Are you so sure I’m the reason she’s dead?”

Tarn frowned. “How could there be any other reason?”

“Perhaps you only see what others want you to.”

“I see perfectly fine.” He motioned to the cloak lying across the back of a chair. “I suggest you wear your cloak. It’s quite cool outside. I’ll wait for you in the Keep. Don’t keep me waiting, Princess.”

Aelwyn sneered at the man’s back as he marched out of her chambers, not bothering to close the door behind him. Not that she’d expected him to. Respect wasn’t a virtue many bestowed upon her. And she’d only be wasting her energy if she lamented that fact.

She walked over to the chair, gathering the red fabric in her hands. A gift from her brother. One of the few possessions she actually coveted. The soft garment eased some of the tension bunching her shoulders as she wrapped it around her, lifting the hood to cover her head. Not that it would hide her identity. Her father’s soldiers would recognize the cloak—know it was her. But at least it would spare her having to see their reactions as she walked down the corridor. Shield her from the blatant hatred that would follow her every step. And all because she was different. Because she’d been born with a gift long since condemned.

“Enough.”

She was bigger than this. Stronger. And when Aelrik finally became king, she’d show everyone how wrong they’d been. How Cane was the monster who dwelled with the castle walls, not her.

She sighed. It was a dream at best. Even if Aelrik freed her from her tower, she knew her people would never embrace her power. Never trust her or see her as anything other than an abomination. That regardless of where she slept, she’d never truly be free.

The sides of her cloak fluttered in the wind as she walked along the stone path. Tarn waited at the entrance to the Keep, his face pulled tight, his back stiff. She paused just long enough to draw herself up—mask any pain that still lingered inside her. She’d play her part. Bide her time so Aelrik didn’t have to suffer on her behalf. But it wasn’t a role she’d play forever.

 

And that’s it for me. I seriously have nothing else. But go visit the other ladies.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Deelylah Mullin  |  Kayleigh Jones

 

A TOP 10 COUNTDOWN

Hey all…It’s time for another top ten list. This month it’s Ways to Hook Me as a Reader. Now, I’m not sure if this will solely be ways to hook me or might end up having points of how NOT to hook me,  or lose me, lol. But I’ll try to stay on topic. Soooo, here we go.

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10 — I hate to put this in here, because as an author, I hate writing them, but…. a good blurb will get me to buy your book in the first place. That and an interesting cover. If neither of these are done well, I probably won’t even pick up the book, either literally or virtually, and you won’t have a chance to hook me. So, ensure you put your best foot forward here.

9 — Likeable characters. I know this seems silly, but if the guy is a total douchbag, with no redeeming qualities… I’m probably not going to continue to read the book. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a bad boy or a guy who’s a bit of an ass—adorable asses are one of my faves. But if he’s going to be a jerk, he’d best redeem himself along the way or the book will end up hitting the wall.

8 — Words I can actually read. Okay, this might need a bit of explaining. I don’t mean you have to use the vocabulary of a 5th grader. I mean more along the lines of not using too much dialect. I read a book once with a Scottish hero and I swear it took me twice as long to try and puzzle out his dialogue because it was all super deep brogue that was more frustrating than anything to read. I ended up skipping parts because it just wasn’t worth trying to figure out the accent. I mean, tell me he’s Scottish.. toss a few common Scottish words in there, and I’m good. Don’t make me wade through pages of horrible, awkward dialect. The same goes with super ‘big’ words. Don’t use obscure meanings from a thesaurus that will make me feel like I truly am a fifth grader. I don’t mind some unusual words sprinkled throughout, but if I to check my dictionary every other page… I’ll be putting that book down.

7 — Ensuring your book actually fits the genre you’re writing in. If it’s a suspense book, there’d better be some suspense in it, lol. My old classic saying is when I used to edit, I was given an erotic novel to edit that had absolutely no erotic content. Which is fine, except then it’s not an erotic romance. There will be sex in this sex book, lol. So, don’t call it a romance then hand me a straight paranormal where the couple barely acknowledge each other. Stay true to what you’re marketing.

6 — Good editing. I can overlook the odd forgotten word, wrong word or spelling mistake. Hell, shit happens and I know that pretty much every book has an error in it somewhere. This isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about those books where the author didn’t think they even needed an editor or it was a sad attempt at best. If the book is riddled with errors. If the characters continually sit down twice or go from being dressed to miraculously naked in every scene… then you’ll lose me. Also along with this is good formatting. JUSTIFY PRINT BOOKS PEOPLE. It seems silly but that jagged right edge in a print book enrages me.

5 — A action packed or dramatically strong opening. It’s an old saying but it’s true. I’m more apt to keep reading if something happens in the first chapter or two to grab my attention. If you make me wait too long, I might get too distracted and stop reading. The first book in the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan is an example. It’s a great book and I’m glad I toughed it out, but it was nearly 100 pages before I was truly invested. Well over 50 before anything happened and I was ready to put it down. So… shock me early and I’ll forgive some dull periods later.

4 — Not too many descriptions. Okay, I know some folks like to have things detailed down to what kind of swirls are on the wallpaper, but I’m not one of those folks. Just give me enough so I can picture the scene in my head. Besides, I like to picture the hero in my own head. If you detail too much, I can’t create them to be to my liking. So… tall, dark-haired with blue eyes that rival the sea is great. I don’t need to know how many freckles he has or what kind of hair products he uses.

3 — Good plot. I’ll read lots of different genres, but if you want me to keep turning the pages, there has to be something more than just Sally met Harry… and never had an argument or that restaurant scene… I like a few detours in my books. That doesn’t mean you have to follow a formula. It just means if there are a few different ideas running through the book, I’m more likely to get hooked and keep reading when I should be doing other things… Stephen King is a wizard at this. He’s unnatural in his ability to weave all sorts of threads together.

2 — Strong female characters. Okay, not every heroine has to have a black belt in Muay Ti, or be some kind of crack shot, or a Marshal, spy, cop, etc. But… and this is huge for me, if they’re a doormat. If they do things that are too stupid to live. If they just sit there crying waiting to be rescued… or as Sydney would say from Scream…. if the bitch is running up the stairs when she should be running out the door… I won’t finish the story. So… let’s celebrate strong heroines, who hold their heads high and aren’t afraid to get a bit dirty.

1 — Snappy and realistic dialogue. I’m not sure why this is my number one. Maybe it’s because it makes everything feel far more real to me. So, please….don’t use character’s names every other line. Don’t forget to use contractions… and no, just because it’s historical doesn’t mean they didn’t speak in contractions. Trust me, humans are lazy by nature. We’ve been shortening EVERYTHING since the dawn of time.

 

And there you have it. Now jump on over to the other ladies and see what keeps them turning those pages.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman |  Deelylah Mullin

 Gwendolyn Cease   |  Kellie St. James

MUSICAL MUSINGS ~ JANUARY

Wow, mid-January already. And that means it’s time for a brand new feature on our Wednesday random blog schedule. It’s called Musical Musings. I’m not exactly sure how it will evolve throughout the year, but this month it’s about favourite songs based on three questions. So, without further ado, here we go…

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1.) FAVE SOUNDTRACK

Okay, this is a tough one. I don’t really listen to soundtracks, anymore. When I was younger, I think I listened to all of them. But now, it’s more that I might like a particular song from a movie or play, but not the entire playlist. So… god, this is going to so date me… I’ll have to say GREASE. I know… trust me, I know, but, come on. We are all Sandra Dee.

Though a close second is Awesome Mix Vol 1 from Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, I’m breaking the rules and showing two… because I can.

 

2.) SONG THAT MAKES ME WANT TO DANCE

ALL OF THEM! Okay, I guess maybe not the slow ones, (though I love to slow dance, too) but there are so many that make me want to dance. All I need is a beat and I’m there. But, one that never fails… MOVE by Luke Bryant. Yeah, it’s a country song. It’s no longer a secret I have a deep love affaire with country music. One that’s rubbing off on the kids, at least a bit, lol. But this song is just so toe-tapping. So upbeat. I move, (see what I did there) every time I hear it.

3.) SONG I LOVE TO SING ALONG WITH

ALL OF THEM! No really. I shudder to think how much of my grey matter is used up on song lyrics, movie lines, and other trivia. So I sing to every song that comes on the radio that I know. How do you isolate one song? Sigh… fine. Yes, I’m pouting. But, in the spirit of playing along, lol, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, by Billy Joel. Oh, Jenny Trout would be so proud.

 

Now go check out the other ladies and see what their choices are…

Bronwyn Green  | Jessica Jarman  |

 Paige Prince  |  Torrance Sené  |  Gwendolyn Cease

SONG FICTION ~ ALBATROSS

One of the popular posts we kept this year is our month song fiction. This month’s choice is Albatross by Susan Mckeown. I’ve never heard of this one but you can check out the video below. After to listening to it, I’ll admit I like the music. The lyrics are a bit…different, but the melody is pretty cool. And she has a nice voice. So… here is the resulting story, which is more from the mood of the song than anything else. Though it does play into some of the lines. It’s a bit with the characters from a previous post… Bryony. You can read that one here— this Song Fiction —or just jump right in. It doesn’t require the previous bit.

 

“See! I knew we could make it, big brother.”

Bryony grinned as she crested the last rocky scramble, reaching the summit just as the downpour ebbed for a moment, giving her a misty view of the rolling hills and pasture land a few thousand feet below. She picked her way to a group of rocks near the edge of a steep drop-off, finally shuffling the heavy pack off her shoulders. Despite the non-stop rain and dangerously slick conditions along the trail, she’d still managed to finish the hike before darkness had completely engulfed the mountain. Though, she’d definitely been cutting it close leaving as late as she had the previous day.

Thunder rumbled overhead, a stark reminder she had limited time before the next round of showers hit. She settled onto the flattest rock she could find, sighing as some of the tension eased from her muscles. She almost hadn’t come. Had thought of a thousand reasons to let the trip go this year. To find another way to cope with the loss. The ever-present emptiness slowly gnawing away at what was left of her sanity. But then she’d heard Aaron’s voice inside her head. Remembered how much he’d loved their annual trek, and she’d packed up a bag and left. Hell, she hadn’t even told the rest of the Watchmen she was leaving. Hadn’t wanted to have to say the words out loud, not that the others wouldn’t remember. Half of them had served with Aaron, so it wasn’t a secret what this weekend signified.

“Shut up! Christ, you’re being a damn drama queen.”

She liked the way her voice echoed around her, reminding her this wasn’t supposed to be about drowning in her own self pity. It was a tribute to her brother. A celebration of all he’d sacrificed without ever expecting anything in return except a cold drink and a warm smile. And that was the least she could give him.

She dragged her bag closer, rummaging through the contents until she found the set of plastic cups. Then she removed the bottle of tequila, holding it up against the waning light. Coloured streaks reflected off the clear liquid, casting lines along the stones. She smiled, then twisted off the top, pouring a healthy amount into both cups. She balanced the bottle against some boulders, then lifted the two cups. A few drops of rain splattered against her skin, sending a round of shivers down her body. Though she wasn’t convinced it was the cold beading her skin with goose bumps.

She sighed, then held her chin high, raising both drinks above her head. “Okay, brother mine. I’m here. Just like I promised I would until you came back. And no, coming back like you did doesn’t count. You know that. So don’t think about bitching at me or telling me to stop. Not a chance in Hell that’s going to happen.”

She swallowed with effort, not sure what to say. Hell, she never knew what to say. “I can’t believe it’s been three years. Three years without you hearing your voice. Having you tease me over just about everything. Beating your ass at poker only to have you whine and call it beginner’s luck. Hate to be the buzzkill, bro, but it can’t be beginner’s luck when I’ve been playing for years.”

She glanced at the horizon, watching the light fade into grey. “I miss you, Aaron. Every day. I still keep expecting you to call or show up on my doorstep. Sometimes I swear I see you standing across the street, or sitting in a car that drives by. I wonder if that’ll ever go away. Or if I’ll be chasing your ghost for the rest of my life. Not that I mind. After all you did, it doesn’t seem like much to ask in return. To be remembered.”

She shook her head, clinking the cups together. “Here’s to you, wherever you are. And if for some reason they were lying. If those pieces I buried weren’t you, and you’re still out there, wondering if you can ever find your way back, I’ll keep the light on. Keep watching. You won’t have to explain. You can just come home. We can pick up where we left off, as if this never happened. As if I didn’t lose the one person who’d always had my back. Who knew me better than I knew myself. And I’ll be back here every year, just in case. Promise.”

Bryony cursed under her breath then downed the liquor, wincing as it burned a path along her throat. She’d always hated tequila, but somehow, this year, it didn’t taste quite as bitter as she remembered. Didn’t sour her stomach like it had before. She poured herself another glass, then slowly emptied Aaron’s onto the rocks, watching as it dripped down the sides and into the ground.

Pain tightened her chest, as the scenery blurred beneath a wash of tears. She’d hoped this year would be different. That time had finally made her accept that he was gone. That no amount of wishful thinking or praying would bring him back. That it was time for her to move on.

She glanced at the empty glass, pouring some of hers into it. Then she shifted onto her knees, digging at a spot on the far side of the rock. A ring of plastic appeared amidst the stone as she removed a few more rocks. One cup for every year she’d ventured here, alone. She stacked the third inside, then covered them up, hoping they’d make it through another winter. Though she always had extras in her bag, if need be.

Bryony regained her seat, then pulled out her phone. She didn’t bother smiling, just held up her drink and snapped a shot. Her way of proving to herself she hadn’t backed out. Not that anyone else would ever see the photos she took every year. But she’d keep them, nonetheless. Who knew, maybe one day she’d be able to look back at them and feel something other than pain. Than the ache she feared would never truly vanish.

An eerie silence settled over the summit as she drank the last of the tequila as the rest of the light dimmed into black. If she’d been smart, she would have used the past few minutes to put up her tent. But she’d wanted to toast Aaron while there had still been something worth seeing visible. Before the night swallowed up any good thoughts she’d managed to bring along. And it wasn’t as if she couldn’t put the damn pop tent up in the dark.

A sudden onslaught of rain had her moving. She got the pad laid down and the tent set up in record time, finally climbing inside the small enclosure and shutting out the storm. Though she had to admit, the weather always seemed to suit her mood. Dark. Angry. Unrelenting.

She kicked off her boots and snuggled into her sleeping bag. She’d have to leave early if she wanted to make it back to the trailhead before dark, especially if the storm worsened the conditions. And there was little hope the deluge would help her situation.

Just as long as she didn’t become one of the many hikers she’d had to rescue over the years. God knows the others would never let her live it down. And seeing as her work was all she had going for her right now, it didn’t seem wise to tempt her last remaining sanctuary.

“Christ, I really am a drama queen.”

She sighed, grabbed a bag of granola and laid back as she listened to the thunder echo across the sky as the rain struck the tent. At least, she had something other than disturbing quiet to keep her mind off of her poor excuse of a life. And lord knows, she’d take any help she could get.

 

That’s it for me. Go read the other ladies, who I’m sure have pulled much better out of their asses.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Deelylah Mullin

 

 

 

PROMPTLY PENNED ~ JANUARY

Welcome to 2017’s first promptly penned. And I have to say, I’ve been looking through the snippets and scenarios for this year and Bronwyn and Jess outdid themselves. They are brilliant. So without further ado, here’s the first prompt and the resulting story.

S/he showed up at his/her door, soaking wet, bruised and covered in glitter.

promptlypenned

Kameron groaned as pain thrummed through her head, the loud banging echoing inside her skull making every nerve feel overly stimulated. She palmed her temples, blinking open her eyes. Grey light brightened the curtains of the large picture window on the far wall, the hint of brightness igniting another jolt of pain. She closed her eyes, determined to drift back into the darkness when more banging resonated through the room.

She squinted at the door, muttering under her breath when she realized it wasn’t her head that was pounding but some jackass trying to break down the door. She rolled off the sofa, stumbling half across the room before gaining her balance. She tripped against the wall when the floor seemed to tilt, finally righting herself as the asshole slammed the door again.

She clicked over the lock then yanked open the door, barely getting out of the way before a wall of male muscle barged through, his footsteps ringing loudly across the linoleum floor. He paced across the room, spinning once he’d reached the window. Dark circles stained the skin beneath his eyes, one coloured in shades of purple, and his brown hair was spiked up in all directions.

Kameron sighed as she closed the door, leaning against it in the hopes of not falling on her ass. She arched a brow when the guy copied her stance, his green eyes watching her. She shook her head then crossed her arms over her chest. “Do I want to know what happened?”

Confusion shaped his features before he tipped his head back. “Not sure what you mean.”

“Please. Your clothes are soaked, your eye is five shades of blue and you’re covered in glitter.” She cracked a hint of a smile. “Either some serious shit when down after you dropped me off or you went down on the wrong pixie, and she packs one hell of a punch.”

His lips twitched. “Always was partial to a gal with wings.”

“Right. So why don’t you go back to your room, spoon with your faery friend and come back later. Much later.”

“No can do, sweetheart. Duty calls, or have you forgotten?”

She chuckled. “I’m not your sweetheart, and it’s five am.”

Branch shrugged. “You know what they say…no dark of night stops the marshal service from getting their man.”

“I believe that’s the postal service from delivering the mail. And it’s only been a couple of hours. Pretty sure I’m entitled to at least six.”

“Try fifteen minutes.”

“Fifteen minutes since what?”

“Since I left you here.”

“What?” She scrunched up her nose. “No. You left here around one.”

“The first time, yeah, but not the second.”

She sighed, then picked her way over to the small kitchenette. She grabbed the coffee pot, filling it with water before emptying it into the machine. The crinkle of the packet tearing made her eyes roll slightly before she flicked on the switches. Though she wasn’t sure even a strong cup would be enough to clear her head.

She glanced back at Branch as he fell into one of two chairs pushed up against a small round table. “You’re not making any sense, though judging by that eye, you probably have a concussion.”

“I’m not the only one who looks like shit.” He lifted his hand, holding up three fingers. “Can you tell how many or are you still swimming with Captain Morgan?”

“Three, smartass. And I switched to Patróne after you left.”

“Tequila? Really? You know how you get when you drink that shit.”

“Yeah. Drunk. Which was what I was going for.” She jumped when a drop of coffee hissed against the hot plate before getting a couple of mugs. She poured them each a cup, sliding it across the table to Branch as she claimed the other seat. “Your turn. Who gave you the shiner?”

“Same guys who tossed me in the pool.”

She nodded, not that she had a clue what he was talking about. “And the glitter?”

He stilled, staring at her as if she’d spoken another language. He pushed to his feet, stomping away before turning. “You’re serious? You really don’t remember?”

“Remember what?”

“Last night.”

“Which part? Where we got our asses handed to us by those bounty hunters who didn’t take lightly to two marshals showing up and claiming their prize? Or the part where we picked the wrong bar to drink away the pain and embarrassment of nearly losing that convict?”

“That part after that.”

She frowned, trying to rerun the events of the night, but all she got was a big, empty space. “There wasn’t anything after that. You dropped me off here, I had a few shots of tequila then passed out on the couch.”

“So that ring on your hand?”

“Ring? Are you high, I don’t have…” Her voice rasped into a harsh breath as she stared at the shiny diamond wrapped around her finger. Panic clawed at the blank spaces, but nothing surfaced but nerves.

Kameron forced herself to swallow, slowly raising her gaze to Branch’s. She made a point of searching his left hand, nearly falling off the chair at the gold band on his ring finger. She opened her mouth, then closed it.

Branch walked back over, once again taking the seat opposite her. “If you could see your face—”

“Don’t! Don’t fucking sit there and pretend that this is all some kind of joke and tell me what the hell happened. As far as I know, you dropped me off and I passed out.” She held up her hand. “And I’m damned sure I wasn’t wearing a ring.”

Branch raked a hand through his hair, half staring at the ring before folding his hands on top of the table. “Yup. I saw you to your door then went next door to my room. Fell asleep nursing a beer watching some infomercial. I came to a couple of hours later on a bench in a chapel. You were draped across my lap more than a little out of it and we were sporting matching jewelry. Some lady with an annoying accent handed me our wedding certificate then told me our limo was waiting outside. I didn’t see many options at the time, so I picked you up, and carried you out.” He smiled. “Didn’t realize you knew the words to every John Legend song.”

She ignored the comment, snippets of one of the songs playing in her head. “So, I sing when I’m smashed. That’s no great secret. Then what?”

“Brought you back here with every intention of sobering you up with a cold shower. Praying you had a clue what was going on—how we’d gotten to that chapel. Where the hell we even got rings. Then these two guys showed up, claiming to be your brothers. They managed to wrestle me outside and one punched me in the eye. I fell into the pool and…well…”

“Well what?”

“They took off. I came back here but the door was closed. You know the rest.”

Kameron stared at him, still trying to follow all his words before snorting. “First of all, I don’t have any brothers. A sister, but she’d be hard pressed to do more than break a nail if she ever tried to punch someone. And I don’t remember any of what you’re saying.”

“So the wedding…”

“There wasn’t any wedding. Who in their right mind would marry two people in our condition. And I can assure you I wasn’t in any shape to walk out of this room last night. Not after the fight then the alcohol.” She held up her hand. “Obviously, this is a joke. Probably Johnson. You know he hates the fact we get the fun runs.”

“Tracking down a convict in Vegas isn’t a fun run. And this isn’t a joke.” He reached into his pocket then placed a sheet of paper on the table.

She turned it toward her, reading the words stamped on the page. Her heartbeat echoed in her ears as she stared at their signatures scribbled across the bottom, before gazing at Branch. “This…no. It can’t be.”

“Afraid so.”

“No. This is Vegas. It doesn’t mean anything.”

“Actually, it’s legal. And binding. Not that it can’t be changed, but…for right this moment, we’re husband and wife, sweetheart.” He smiled sweetly at her. “You were going to take my name, right?”

“Shut up.”

She gained her feet, regretting it when the world tipped again and she swayed to her right. Branch caught her, tugging her against him as he wrapped his arms around her. She closed her eyes, doing her best not to breathe in the scent of spicy cologne and chlorine. Her stomach fluttered, but she didn’t think it was from the alcohol. She was married. And not just to anyone. To her damn partner. The same guy she’d been secretly in love with for the past six months.

Branch sighed, laying his chin on the top of her head. “See, I told you shit happens when you drink tequila.”

She gave him a shove, hoping he’d think the flush she felt heating her cheeks was from anger, not because she wanted him to do so much more than simply hold her. “This wasn’t from the tequila, unless…” She groaned. “Someone drugged us.”

“Seems so. Though it was most likely at the bar. We’ll have to give up some blood. See if we can trace it. Figure out what happened.”

“Why would someone drug us then take us to a chapel to get married? If we were that out of it, why didn’t they do something worse?”

“Like kill us?” He shrugged. “No idea. Thinking it’d be best if we found out.”

She nodded, still trying to take it all in. “Wait. That explains the clothes and the eye. What’s up with the glitter?”

His smile was nothing short of sinful. “You might want to take a look in the mirror.”

She frowned, then made her way to the bathroom, cursing the flash of bright light as she flicked the switch. Her reflection glared back at her, the sparkly dots on her face  casting coloured spots on the mirror.

Branch’s face appeared behind her. “The glitter’s from when you kissed me just before those guys showed up.”

She slowly turned to face him. “I…kissed you?”

“Well, kiss is a bit of an understatement. It was more like a carnal act of war.” He moved in close, hovering dangerously within reach. “One I plan on answering, Mrs. Wilson. So…do you want to shower before I do that? Or after?”

 

And that’s all for me. I had hoped for short, but…now hop on over to the other ladies.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Deelylah Mullin

Paige Prince  |  Kellie St. James  |  Gwendolyn Cease

 

January’s Top 10 ~ pride

This year, we’re trying a few new ideas for blogs along with favourites, like the flash fiction posts. While those are always the hardest, they really are my favourite. I love reading all the different takes on the same photo or line.

But one of the new topics is a list of our top ten examples for any given subject. This month it’s the top ten things we are proud of. So… here we go, though they may not be in a particular order…

10… My secret life as a superhero… whoa, wait. You’re not supposed to know that. Moving on.

 

9… That I’m really a sleeper spy waiting for those correct words to be spoken so I can unleash my fury upon… oops, that’s not what I should be talking about either. Next…

 

8… Being Canadian, ‘eh. My country’s not perfect. We have plenty of issues, but I’m proud that we’ve got some of the major things right. Legalized gay marriage. Health rights for women. New, forward thinking fluid gender laws. A strive for equality, though I know, we’re not free of prejudice. But damn it, we’re trying. We keep moving in the right direction. I don’t think anywhere is utopia, but I’m proud to call this land home. To stand up for maple syrup, hockey and everything Tim Horton’s. To say PROgress and spell colour with a U. That we put out bands like Nickelback (no, I’m not SORRY you haters. Not one bit!) and hell, I even like Justin Bieber these days. I know, but damn, Love Yourself is pretty damn catchy, as is Sorry. I’m proud that we have moose crossing signs, and so much undisturbed forest land it makes up over half the country. We might not have the best TV (though, hello, Ryan Reynolds, Keanu Reeves, and of course, William Shatner) but we still have stronger beer. 🙂 And here is some Canadian content because the CRA insists that there’s a specific percentage in all broadcasts 🙂

 

7… My friends. I have some pretty kick ass friends. They’re compassionate, patient, funny, smart and help keep me grounded. They tell it straight when I need them to, and lie, just a little, when I need that, lol. Thanks for being partners in crime. For being the one beside me in the jail cell saying… how the fuck did we screw that up, instead of the person I have to call to bail me out. Not sure how I lucked out, but I definitely did.

 

6… My brother. He’s smart, athletic, (some say cute, but really, please, I got the cuteness in the family. 🙂 But I’m proud of all his accomplishments. Numerous Iron Mans and other races. A successful career. Being a great Uncle. I’m lucky I have family that has my back.

 

5… My determination. Not in anything in particular, but I like that my stubborn attitude helps get me through most situations. Helps me achieve my goals. Whether it’s finishing a book or a fifty mile race, it’s ninety percent all in your head. I proud of myself for achieving at least some of my goals.

 

4… My books. And I’m not going to feel guilty about saying this. I’m not one to say, hey, I’m awesome, read my books. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of what I put out. I strive to give my best, and in the end, that’s always enough. Psst, this is the cover I made for Michael, should I decide to self publish after the freaking ARe shitstorm… cough, free promo, cough… though I might change the font a bit and change some position, but you get the gist of it.

michael

 

3, 2 and 1… My kids. Yeah, I know, it’s an easy one, but I mean it. Kyle, Jared and Sydney all tie for first place. Watching them grow into the amazing, talented teenagers and (somewhat adults) that they have is what I’m most proud of. Seeing them have compassion, great sportsmanship.  Knowing they’re brave enough to chase their dreams is nothing short of awe-inspiring. It hasn’t been easy being a single mom—the lack of sleep, the weight of knowing you might be single-handedly screwing them up—but it’s the one thing I’d never change and will never regret. I will always be their biggest fan, no matter what they do in life.

 

And I nearly forgot to post all the links for the ladies who probably have way better lists. This one was kinda weird, I’ll say it.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Deelylah Mullin

Gwendolyn Cease  |  Paige Prince  |  Torrance Sené

PICTURE FLASH FICTION ~ january

It’s only the second day of January and already we have a flash fiction. Well, guess it’s best to just jump right in. I haven’t done a “here’s what my plans are for 2017” because life has a way of tossing those plans in your face. Forcefully. But I will say this. It’s time to stop making excuses and to make your decisions a reality. I don’t want to call them dreams because… I truly believe we’ll all capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for, we just need to make the decision to do it. And this is the year. So click your heels together three times and repeat…no excuses, I’m badass.

Now, onto the story. No idea what I’m doing but…that’s par for the course, right? 🙂 So, for lack of any other idea, I think I’ll revisit Kent and Seth, my paranormal hunting buddies, who just discovered there was more between them than bloody corpses. You can read the first instalment as January’s Song fiction, and the second one as June’s if you’d like. Or, just jump right one in, the water’s fine.

40557114 - a camping tent glowing under the northern lights. night time camping scene.

40557114 – a camping tent glowing under the northern lights. night time camping scene.

“See!” Seth nudged Kent as his partner stood beside him, staring up at the green-coloured lights flashing across the sky. “I told you it was worth the drive up here. The light show is stunning.”

Kent wrinkled his nose, rubbing his arms a few times before glancing at Seth. “You do know we could have seen the Northern Lights without having to traipse into the middle of God’s country, right? From the hotel. Where there’s hot water. A bed with an actual mattress. Food we didn’t have to carry in on our backs. All of which is freeze dried, I might add.”

“Please, you love jerky. Don’t even try to deny it. I know you too well for that lie to work.”

“Of course I love jerky. It’s a fucking food staple. All I’m saying is that we didn’t have to hike all this way to eat it.”

“After our last encounter in a motel, I would have thought you’d had your fill for a while.”

Kent’s expression sobered. The man still had bruises from his battle with Malcolm, or should Seth say, him. It didn’t matter that the demon had been the one making Seth hurt Kent, all Seth could picture was his hand around Kent’s throat, the man’s blood dripping down his cheek. While they’d come out of the whole ordeal fairly unscathed, just knowing he could have killed the one man who made his chest tighten and his heart race gutted Seth.

Kent shook his head. “Would you stop agonizing over the possession thing. Christ, you’re a drama queen.”

“I nearly killed you.”

“In your dreams. My sister hits harder than you do.”

“That so? Then maybe we should get her to join the team.”

Kent’s gaze drifted down Seth’s body, pausing at his groin before slowly climbing back to his face. There was no mistaking the hungry look in Kent’s eyes as he turned, fisting Seth’s shirt then dragging him closer. “If we do that, then I won’t be able to do this.”

He raised his other hand, spearing it through Seth’s hair. Kent anchored his fingers in the long strands, holding Seth’s head firm as he slanted his mouth over Seth’s, tracing his lips before slipping inside when Seth gasped. Warm male spice burst along his tongue, the flavour a headier version of Kent’s natural scent.

Seth smoothed his hands up Kent’s back, kneading the firm muscles flexing beneath his palms before splaying them across Kent’s shoulder blades. He pulled Kent tighter against his body, moaning at the firm ridge of Kent’s shaft as it jutted against Seth’s hip. Christ he wanted to touch the man. Taste every inch of skin as it quivered beneath his hands. Run his fingers the length of the man’s dick, watching as it twitched from the gentle contact. Then he wanted to wrap his lips around the swollen head and take it deep to the back of his throat. But more than anything, he wanted to be the one that brought Kent to the edge. That tested his resolve until it spurted down Seth’s throat or across his stomach.

Kent ate at Seth’s mouth, staying dangerously close when he finally released Seth. Every exhalation caressed Seth’s skin, cooling the surface. He didn’t talk, simply stood there, breathing. It wasn’t until a particularly bright flash of light blanketed the sky that Kent seemed to shake himself back to reality.

He smiled as he eased away, one hand still fisted around Seth’s shirt, the other dropping to snag the belt looped through Seth’s jeans. “I know you think you hurt me back in that motel, but the truth is…Malcom did us a favour. I never would have had the guts to kiss you if he hadn’t told me you wanted me for more than watching your back.”

“So trying to kill you was a successful pick-up tactic? Maybe you’re the one who needs to get laid more often, bro, because that’s fucked up.”

“Not quite the fucking I was thinking about. Call me crazy, but there’s nothing stopping us. That is why we dragged our asses all the way out here, right? No chance of demons, ghosts, or  vampires dropping by. No annoying cases popping up to interrupt us. We’re pretty much guaranteed a much-needed vacation.” He leaned in, nipping at Seth’s lip. “Though, I wouldn’t count on catching up on your sleep. Something tells me you’re going to be extremely busy.”

“Don’t think for a second you’ll be the one calling all the shots here, buddy. Sure, I want you to fuck me more more than I want to damn-well breathe right now, but…” He fisted Kent’s hair, yanking him in close. “I also want to ride your ass.”

He took his partner’s mouth in his, twisting his lips open then dipping inside. He didn’t try to be gentle, thriving in the battle of wills until Kent finally allowed Seth to own the kiss. Seth hummed, enjoying the simple pleasure of having Kent in his arms. Of knowing he wouldn’t have to fake wanting something more than what he already had. That he was the least bit interested in anyone other than Kent.

Gasping breaths filled the air when they finally parted, Kent’s chest pressing roughly against Seth’s. Seth grinned, stepping back. He moved to the front of the tent, unzipping the flap before ducking inside. A single lantern burned from the centre post, casting shadows across the sleeping bags. Seth rummaged through his backpack, removing a flask and a small glass. Then he grabbed a tub of salt, sprinkling some in his hand before twisting back out.

Ken smiled, moving toward him only to curse when Seth tossed the handful of salt at him. Kent scrubbed a hand down his face, giving Seth a raise of his brow. “Seriously? Salt?”

“Hey, you’re the one that chewed out my ass for not practicing safe sex the last time. And we both know condoms are the least of our worries.” He poured some water into the glass then downed it, pouring another and handing it to Kent. “Drink up.”

Kent took the glass, eyeing it suspiciously. “A shot of holy water?”

“In a silver-rimmed shot glass.” He lifted the container, shaking it at his buddy. “I also plan on making a ring of salt. Just to be sure.”

“Sure of what? What ghosts or demons could possible be up here?”

“Don’t know. Don’t want to find out. And it should guard against faeries, too.”

“Faeries? Dude, should I be worried about you?”

“Just shut up and drink.”

Kent glared but downed the water, tapping his foot restlessly on the ground as Seth made the lopsided circle around the tent. “Satisfied? Or do we need to say an exorcism just to be sure?”

Seth offered Kent his hand, pulling him hard against him once he’d stepped over the salt line. “You know I love it when you talk latin to me.”

“Betting I could come up with a better way to use my mouth. Yours, too.”

“Now we’re speaking the same language. The only question is…who gets to be in charge first?”

“I did save your ass from a demon. Seems only fair I get it in return.”

Seth chuckled, leading Kent backwards into the tent. “Fair’s overrated, but I’ll concede this first round. Get comfortable, buddy. The show’s going to last all night.”

 

And that’s it for me. Hop on over and read the other offerings. I doubt they’ll be along these lines, lol. In fact, they’ll probably be far more in line with the actual image.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Deelylah Mullin  |  Paige Prince

 

 

Promptly Penned ~ December

Happy holidays, folks. And welcome to the last edition of Promptly Penned for 2016. Christ, where did the time go? I swear it vanished. I remember training for my race then bam, it’s nearly 2017. Though I hope to run a ton more in the new year…once this silly groin is fixed for good.

By I digress. So… at least some things don’t change. It’s down to the wire and I, as usual, don’t have anything for this post. But, in the spirit of giving, I’ll try. Here’s the prompt…

It’s odd how life is rarely about those big important choices, but hinges on the small stupid choices you didn’t even realize were choices until it was too late.

And here’s the resulting story. I’m continuing on from July’s Song Fiction. Which I think was a continuation from a couple of other ones, lol. You can hop skip and jump back if you’d like. But hey, I’m desperate.

Promptly Penned

Devon groaned as she rolled her head to the left, wincing when the slight movement sent a jarring stab of pain through her temples. Either she’d drank far too much tequila, or she’d fucked up. Again. She pried open her eyelids, blinking the scenery into view. A man sat in the seat beside her, his face washing in and out of focus with the passing lights. The window wipers slapped against the windshield, keeping tempo with the music playing quietly in the background.

She stared at the man’s face, wondering why he looked familiar when images and memories came slamming back—fighting off Slader, barely making it back to the facility alive, stumbling into Smither’s office.

The guy glanced at her, frowning when their gazes clashed. “Go back to sleep before you start puking on me.”

Names bounced around in her head, one finally sticking. “Ryker?”

“So that’s a positive on the concussion. Might have to make that trip to Mercy General, after all.”

“What…” She groaned as more pieces of the evening shifted through her mind. “Damn. I’d kinda hoped it had all been a dream.” She glared at him. “Or should I say, nightmare.”

“Guess this wasn’t your lucky night. Is that patch job I did holding?”

“Patch job?”

Ryker shook his head. “Mercy General, it is.”

“No.” She grunted as pain throbbed through her side when she reached for his arm. Instead, she lifted her shirt, staring at the taped up bandages. “You did this?”

“You never were that great at the medic side of things, Dev. Those Sterie strips you’d plastered on your skin hadn’t come close to closing the wound.”

“It was the best I could do with Smithers breathing down my neck. I was going to fix it.”

“When?” He arched a brow. “Because you passed out before we made it out of the damn building.”

“If you hadn’t distracted me, I would have been out in half the time.”

“Or, you would have bled to death on Smither’s floor.” He sighed, focusing purposely on the road. “I’ll freeze and stitch it once we get to the safe house. Where you’ll keep your ass planted to the couch until some of the colour returns to your cheeks. You look like a ghost.”

A new pain sizzled to life in her gut, only it had nothing to do with her injuries. “Don’t worry, you’re still the resident spectre where I’m concerned.”

He slid a glance her way before raking his hand through his hair. “I’d explain, despite your protests, but something tells me you’re not going to remember any of this once you finally get coherent.”

“I’m plenty coherent.”

“Right, which is why you were surprised to see me when you woke up.” He turned to look at her, flashing her a smile that dropped her stomach and made the interior of the car overly hot. “Just…go back to sleep. We’re still a ways out. I’ll wake you once we get there.”

Devlyn let her head fall back against the seat rest. While she wanted nothing more than to challenge his claims, the incessant pounding in her ribs and echoing beat in her head stole her resolve. It didn’t help that she already felt as if she was fading, her vision starting to darken around the edges.

Ryker’s hand landed on her thigh and he smiled again when she managed to met his gaze. “I know how pissed off you are about…well, everything. But just for tonight, trust me to keep you safe. And yeah, I know how hypocritical you probably think that is, but it doesn’t change the fact I’m the only backup you have.”

She released a weary breath, allowing some of the tension to ease from her muscles. “Who knew accepting a lame-ass money laundering assignment would end like this. Of all the ways I’d seen it finishing, this didn’t even make the list.”

He chuckled.

She slapped at his shoulder, ignoring the strength of his muscles as her hand connected with his body. “Not sure what you find funny? Pretty sure I’m the last person you want guarding your ass, considering I’m just a liable to kick it as save it.”

His expression sobered. “I’ll admit. This wasn’t what I had in mind when I walked through the doors to Smither’s office tonight. But like my grandpa always said… It’s odd how life is rarely about those big important choices, but hinges on the small stupid ones you didn’t even realize were there until it was too late. Thinking we’re both victims of that.”

“Trust me. I’m intimately familiar with all of the choices that lead me here. And they started six months ago on that damn train platform. Not that it matters.” She closed her eyes, wishing for the hundredth time she’d killed Slader instead of worrying about her damn mark. “Fine. We’ll play it your way for now. But don’t think this changes anything. You’re still the enemy, albeit the lesser of two evils at the moment.”

 

And that’s all for me, folks. Please go visit Bronwyn Green and Jessica De La Rosa for more stories.

SONG FLASH FICTION ~ WAR

Song time again, and this month it’s a song I’m not familiar with, but it’s quite catchy. Here’s the video if you’d like to listen. I have to admit, the only thing that popped into my head when I heard this was Lucifer, so… here’s a bit from that book. Once I figure it all out, of course.

“I’m sorry. But I can’t bow before them, Father.” Lucifer rolled his shoulders, snapping his wings in a show of defiance. “I won’t.”

The field where they were gathered grew silent, nothing but the odd whisper of the breeze along his feathers sounding above the eerie quiet. He didn’t move, didn’t flinch as clouds slowly gathered overhead, the white colour bleeding into black. A few hushed voices finally rose around him as the wind picked up, pushing him a few steps closer to his father before Lucifer had the strength to push back—halt his movements. Thunder boomed around them, a flicker of lightning charging the air.

A shadow fell in beside his—smaller. More delicate. He didn’t have to turn around to sense her presence. He felt her heartbeat echo in his head. Smelled the sweet essence of her skin gather around him. He wasn’t sure why she affected him the way she did. Why he wanted to gather her in his arms—love her in the same fashion as the very creatures his father wanted him to honour. To kneel before.

His brother stepped out from beside his father, his gaze falling on Lucifer. Michael had been the first to bow—to swear his service to their father’s new creations, not that it surprised Lucifer. Michael had always been the good son. The one to follow commands without question. Lucifer wouldn’t have expected any less of the angel.

Michael frowned. “You must yield, brother. I beg of you.”

Lucifer lifted his chin. He didn’t like going against his family. Seeing disappointment gleam in Michael’s eyes. Lucifer had always looked up to his older brother. Had idolized him and had always wanted to be close to him. He’d even gone so far as to establish his sanctuary close to Michael’s. Standing there, on opposite sides, made Lucifer want to acquiesce.

He glanced at his father. “I’ve done everything you’ve ever asked of me. I’ve fought your battles. I’ve made everything you hold dear sacred to me. But this… I won’t bow to a race that will never love you the way I do.”

Michael’s expression fell before he looked away, shoulders hunched, eyes closed. Lucifer frowned, moving forward, when pain blossomed in his chest. His breath hitched, held prisoner by the crushing force in his chest. Stone bit into his knees as he fell forward, the scenery dimming around him.

A small hand landed on his arm. He managed to catch a glimpse of the green in her eyes before a blinding white light blanketed the area. Lucifer covered his eyes with his arm, shouting Michael’s name when the ground vanished beneath him. There was a moment of silence, then the air rushed past him, crushing his cries for help. He opened his wings, doing his best to slow his descent when the earth raced upwards, slamming into him.

Pain splintered through him, the taste of blood and dirt heavy on his tongue. He focused on breathing, groaning against the fiery sensation in his ribs until he was able to open his eyes. Darkness spread out around him, the only light coming from a flicker of flames far off in the distance. Sulphur saturated the air, the pungent aroma making him sick.

He pushed onto his hands and knees, ignoring the way his limbs shook as he tried to bridge his weight. His once white wings had turned a bloody shade of red, some of the feathers littering the stone surface around him. He glanced to his left, and his heart stopped cold.

She was lying on the ground not far from him, eyes closed, lips pursed into a grimace. Her wings stretched out to either side, the feathers nothing more than black stains against the grey stone. Blood covered most of her creamy skin, a small pool collecting beneath her.

“No, please.”

Lucifer crawled over to her, staring at her limp body before brushing her pale hair back from her face. Her eyes squeezed shut, then opened, most of the spark he’d always admired gone. She moistened her lips, crying out as she tried to move her head to look at him.

He shushed her. “Just, lie still. Let me heal you.”

She shook her head, grabbing his hands as he placed them on her chest. “No, Lucifer. You can’t. It’s too late.”

“Don’t say that. I still have my power, I feel it, I…” He swallowed past the lump in his throat. “Please, don’t leave me, Grace.”

She gave him a stunning smile, lifting one hand to touch his face. “It won’t be forever. You’ll find me again. I know it. And when you do, we can be together for as long as you’ll love me.”

“I already love you that much. Grace!”

Lucifer clenched his jaw, drawing on the power still strumming inside him. A golden glow surrounded him, slowly fading into red as he tried to heal her broken body. But despite the surge of energy he pumped into her fragile form, the light faded from her eyes. She whispered her love one last time, before her head lolled to the side, her eyes drifting shut.

Another flash of white light knocked Lucifer back on his ass. He covered his face again, waiting for the glow to fade before opening his eyes. Nothing but a ghostly outline of her body remained, a single, golden feather resting on the rock.

Lucifer picked it up, holding it against his chest as a numbing cold bled through his body. He tipped back his head, staring at the endless darkness above him. “Why? Why did you have to hurt her? I’m the one you’re mad at. Punish me.”

He waited, but only his own ragged breathing sounded around him. He let his head bow forward, staring at the desolate stone as the reality of his fate sank in. He’d been cast out. Exiled to some kind of barren wasteland. And Grace had paid the price. Had suffered for being close to him. For loving him.

Lucifer pushed to his feet, the feather still clutched in his hand. This wasn’t over. Not until he’d found a way to make his father’s beloved creations suffer the same loss. Until he’d buried his love so far inside him, nothing and no one could ever resurrect it again.

 

And that’s it for me. Go and see what the lovely Bronwyn Green and Jessica Jarman have to offer.