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Caught up!

I fell 4 days behind on NaNoWriMo. Which has never happened. Camp NaNo has been met with varying degrees of success, but every since my first time, I've never gotten this behind in Nov. Or behind at all.

After the death of my husband's uncle I was wrecked. That we dealt with some drama stuff and the grieving while I was PMSing was not a boon. Still, Monday, I sat down determined to catch up, and catch up I did. Over Mon-Tues I wrote over 10k words and once I finish this scene today I will be on track. Which is still painful. By the middle of the month I am usually closer to the end.

Ah, well. Sometimes these things happen.

My goal, over the next two days, is to pull further ahead if possible. Because next week the beloved husband is off ALL WEEK. So are the kids. We'd like to do some family things along with sleeping in, which is always a good thing. :) 

I really liked this scene I wrote yesterday so I thought I'd share. Copper and Silver remain two of my all time favorite characters and I hope someday someone else loves them the way I do. 

Enjoy!

***

“There is no breaking the bond,” Copper said when he stopped her in a patch of moonlight filtered through shaking branches. 

“I know.”

“I had to kill her.”

“Caoimhe.”

He nodded.

Now she knew why he’d not wished to speak of it. “You worry I will feel guilt.” She turned her face away from the moon to stare at him alone. “I do not. Perhaps a better person might, but I shall always be jealous of those who draw your attention. It is not even the bond. Not entirely.”

“I have killed so many people. How does this not frighten you? To this day, no matter what I do, you are constant.”

“You are not the only one who has blood on their hands. I have killed for you. I will kill for you. There is nothing, no one, I value above you.” Which was not what this was about. She knew that, understood what truly bothered him.

“And I am sorry,” Silver said. “Because she was yours and I made you kill her. I should not have put you and your honor in such a position.”

Copper’s laugh was drier than the leaves underfoot.

“I have no honor. I am a monster. It has always been so.”

“No,” Silver objected as she turned away before stepping back into an embrace that faltered only a moment. “I have seen your honor at work. I have ever strived to live up to what you desire. I have never denied my selfish ways. It is only with you I find it in me to be selfless.”

***

Oh, one more thing! I think I've figured out the best way to get all of the Scarlet Ibis story in one place. I'm going to do that next week. Until then, back to the story!

 

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Way Back Machine - Chapter Two

I have a sick kid, and one trying to pass himself as sick, right now. So, here is chapter two of my way back machine story. :) Hopefully I've fixed all the odd tense changes. I do NOT know what it is with me and them. I still catch them on occasion. Sheesh!

I've made some changes to the characters in this. As I said, my MC sucked before. I'm trying to make him more bearable to be around. :) Even if I never do finish this.

When the Spirit Moves You - Chapter Two

The mall was packed with weary parents hauling around whining kids demanding everything and anything. Back to school shopping had started early and the roar of noise from the food court changed my mind about getting a drink after the drive. Better to get in and get out. I rarely came to the mall, never without an escort. Once I’d found a directory I discovered my destination was on the other side of shopping hell. A brief debate about the merits of driving around occurred in my heated brain.

The air conditioning won and I started hoofing it across the wasteland of commercialism to my destination. I’d only made it past three stores before some annoying kiosk drone tried to stop me, insisting I could take years off my looks with her moisturizer. I hadn’t shaved in two days so imagined I looked pretty hard, but that hurt. I wasn’t that close to forty. Instead of saying something mean to a poor girl only trying to make a living I kept walking. My momma always said if you can’t say something nice, shut the hell up. Although usually it was only shut the hell up. Especially when her soaps were on.

Ten kiosks and a mall cop later I made it to the jewelry store. Peering into the window for inspiration I let out a huge sigh. Lily would want something nice and I couldn’t spend the kind of money she would think was acceptable right now.

Maybe something simple. Simple seemed to be less expensive. The current trend was for ugly as sin to be more expensive. I’d never understand women and jewelry. Once inside, I was accosted by a shark with coiffed and shellacked blonde hair whose name tag told me she was Bobbi. I’m pretty sure before I’d said hello she smelled the desperation on me.

“I need something simple,” I told her before she could really get going. The light dimmed some as Bobbi took me over to what I was pretty sure was called the “cheap bastard” case by the employees when no one was around.

“Are you looking for something in gold, white gold, or platinum?” she asked without even a look at the silver jewelry on display. I might have gotten annoyed, but I knew Lily hated silver. So, I let it go. Better man and all.

“I’m looking for the right thing,” I told her and pointed to the first thing that caught my eye. “Let me see that.” There was no flicker of disapproval on Bobbi’s face as well manicured hands reached in and extracted a little moon pendant on a chain.

“An excellent choice, sir,” she told me even though the sir probably stuck in her mouth. To be fair to Bobbi, I hadn’t even thought to tuck in my shirt before leaving work.

Thirst was starting to get to me as she extoled the virtues of the pendant and my hurry to brave the hoards wound up with me agreeing to the matching earrings.

“Half-off,” she assured me rapidly as I started to show signs of awareness.  As we waited together for the credit card machine to chirp my approval she carefully arranged silver and gold tissue paper in a little bag. Once that was completed to her satisfaction she set the little boxes in as carefully as a pharaoh was interred.

“Thank you, sir,” Bobbi said as I signed the slip. Approval of three-hundred-dollar purchase had given me a little more grace in her book. I smiled and left with my bag in hand.  Gracious-like, as one would expect from a sir.

With my purchase in hand I made the second run through the gauntlet much slower. Slow enough that a sale at the movie store halted my steps. I dug my phone from my pocket and checked the time. I used to wear a watch, but I was forever losing it. I toy with getting a new one, but never do. There’s still time to beg forgiveness before lunch even if I did stop to check the sale. Streaming and digital were all the rage, but our internet was often spotty. I liked a hard copy.

  Whistling I headed inside and waved to the woman behind the counter. At work, Mandy gave two damns about the way I looked. She used to work for me, before deciding a pay cut was worth air conditioning and screaming brats. There are still days I can’t fault her. Hopefully today wouldn’t turn into one of them.

I headed right for the clearance shelves and began to peruse them. Mostly, it’s summer blockbusters from a few years ago and tv series called the next great thing four years ago. Sometimes I got lucky, but today was not one of those days. I sure hoped it was no indication of things to come.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” Mandy said behind me.

 “Let’s hope later is a win. It’ll mean I can afford to not haunt the clearance shelves.”

Mandy’s laugh was loud and, to be quite honest, abrasive. She was teased about it a lot when she worked for me, but she’d never let it stop her from laughing. Which had made me like her immediately.

“I know you like to pretend you’re some broke ass dude, but we both know it’s not true.” Her eyes flicked downward to the bag and she laughed again. “Ohhh! Someone’s in trouble,” she sang in a loud playground voice. “Someone’s in trouble,” she chanted as she went back to the counter to ring up some pierced and tattooed dude buying Sleepless in Seattle.

I shook my head and waved with one finger as I left.

Another glance at my phone to check the time and I quickened my steps to dodge the old ladies doing their mall walk late. One of them muttered after me about rude kids today, but I didn’t let it slow me down.  The heat assaulted me when I pushed outside and I remembered the drink I’d never bought. Needs warred with each other. On the one hand, I needed a drink. On the other, Lily was not getting any less pissed off. In the end, I convinced myself it was for the good of the company and trudged to my truck.

Besides, there’s a drive thru on the way to Lily’s.

I tossed the bag onto the seat of my truck without thinking.  All of Bobbi’s hard work gone to naught. The traffic out was not as bad as in so I was back on the road soon enough. A quick stop for an iced tea, and a chance to make sure the bag looked presentable, and I was at Lily’s door in under ten minutes.

Her car was in the driveway alone so she had no clients. Thank God for small favors. I didn’t bother locking the doors and was halfway to the house before remembering the bag. A quick trip back for it and I knocked as the curtains twitched.

Nothing.  

I knocked again. It was her game. I didn’t mind.

Although, I did tuck the bag behind my back. I mean, I didn’t put up with her occasional oddities out of sainthood. I’ve got my own share of dickish behavior.

When I was still outside after the third knock, I started to sing. Lily hated my voice, one could not blame her, so I made sure to sing nice and loud. I was on the second verse and the door opened.

She looked pissed. And hot. Not hot like I felt all sweaty from the mall parking lot. On a base level, I knew her hotness made me work harder on our relationship. A man would be stupid to give up someone as incredibly good looking as her. I knew it made me shallow to think it, but when you fall in love at fifteen there’s no getting around all the shallow.

“You asshole,” she began without missing a beat.  “Don’t think I don’t know why suddenly you give two flying fucks about me. You’ve got a job.” Kursk might not be a small town, but it wasn’t exactly large either.  I wasn’t surprised she’d heard about the Stevens’ job.

“You don’t know everything,” I tell her in a low voice.

Two steps forward and she took two back. Letting me in meant forgiveness. Eventually. I kicked the door closed behind me. Lily smirked, but my occasional brutish behavior amused her.

She stepped backward and I followed her down the hall.  The bag dangled from one hand, but she didn’t lunge for it. Truthfully, for Lily, it was always the thought. I’d braved the mall, the jewelry store, and she’d know I picked it out myself. Her largesse only went so far, however, and woe to anyone who ever brought a forgive me gift from the dollar store.

Seeing her, dark blonde hair loose around her shoulders, and hazel eyes twinkling, I forgot why I’d come. Well, I forgot about the work aspect. It had been a week. A long week. Lily said it was fate, I called it pheromones, but whatever it was, when we were together we had a hard time keeping our hands to ourselves. So, when her back hit the bedroom door she opened it and I followed her straight to the bed. The clients would have to settle for our late arrival.

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December Storytime - Way Back Machine

Years ago, I got it into my head to be a writer. So, I sat down with a pretty cool story idea (I thought) and started writing. I stalled at about 6600 words. They were not...good words. Oh, there were bits and pieces of potential brilliance with some work. I am always potentially brilliant. ;)

The story never went anywhere and I didn't do anything for awhile, hating myself for being stuck at my first outing. Then, some time later, I decided to try again. A new idea, new characters, a new attempt to do what I'd not thought possible. And, I succeeded! My first full novel is no better than my aborted attempt. It could be, should I ever want to sit down with five full novel first drafts and turn them into something else.

Which seems like a lot of work. ;) Especially when I have NEW ideas.

Still, I have all of these things.

Including that first, aborted attempt.

The story took place in a small town in OK (because write what you know) and was about a man who ran a moving company that specialized in packing up belongings in haunted houses to make sure no ghosts followed. Because, write what sounds fun. I hate the main character. He was terrible. I am MUCH better at male POV now. I think. :)

Still, I was emptying an external drive to use it for the Xbox and came across the old stuff. I've cleaned it up a wee bit and offer the beginning of When the Spirit Moves You. Which I want to finish, if only because I hate having half-told stories even if only to myself. :)

I wouldn't call this cheaty as it's all rewritten and some of it is new. Maybe I'll post a bit of this story over the next few days. A bit of rewriting, but some of it is usable. And, it's my blog. Haha! You're not the boss of me. I'll do what I want!

Enjoy!

When The Spirit Moves You

 

The dream happened and I’d come to accept that over the years. I was much better at accepting it at night, in my own bed, where no one would hear me if I screamed. When I dozed at my desk and propelled into the nightmare it’s a little different.

It’s always dark at first and I heard the screams while stumbling around trying to find my way out. Out of wherever this horror lurked that wanted me close. Grasping hands found a wall and I fet my way along rotted wood and decomposing wallpaper. Probably some ugly rose wallpaper in some ugly old house, but there was no light to confirm suspicions.

If the screams were bad they’re nothing compared to the whimpering. The quiet sounds of desperation might almost be ignored in the light. In the dark they’re powerful and my feet moved faster to reach the end of the hallway. I always did. Then, there it was, waiting for me. The end, freedom, safety called out to me, but something waited between it and me.  What waited was something hideous and large. And me? I was helpless and small. Trapped as it watched, patiently, for me to get close so it could grab me with its hands and hold tight forever.

I was aware enough to know it’s a dream, but not enough to break it and escape. In the twenty-one years I’d had the dream I’d never been able to break it. The nightmare ended when it was ready and not a moment sooner. Standing just out of reach, just out of sight, was the thing that called me. It was the source of the screams and the whimpers and all the dread I’d ever felt in the middle of the night. This time something was different. I felt the difference.

The door. I saw the door. I’d never seen the door before, only a pulsing darkness around the thing. Even asleep, I’d been sure of escape, but no true exit had ever appeared. Now, if I made it past the thing, there would be safety waiting. Light seeped in from under the door. It illuminated the thing, but I looked away before I saw too many gasping mouths and reaching hands.

My dream self took hold of the hope of safety and I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t.

I never made it.

No matter if I ran, leapt, crept, or dashed, it was never good enough. The thing always got me and I woke to the smothering feeling of hands and clammy breath.

This time it’s different, my dream self thought. I wanted to rail, but it’s as useless as yelling at the movie screen. I watched as the running started and then it’s me running. Always before I watched, but now it’s me and I screamed as I charged the beast and it reached for me, but this time…this time, blessed safety was mine. I felt bone break and flesh tear as one hand got ahold and didn’t let go, but there’s the door. Safety was right there and I touched the knob and turned the handle and the light spilled forth.

Safe. For the first time, I was safe. The dream allowed me think that for a second. Then, I saw what waited in the light and woke up with a scream.

The door to my office burst open and three worried sets of eyes stared. Behind the knuckledraggers, Shelley hovered with a post-it in her hand. A work call, I guessed, since no one else would be on the phone. Not Lily, certainly, who had not returned my calls since I’d forgotten her birthday.

“You ok, boss?” Chip asked.

“You see a mouse?” Marco offered with a smirk.

The new guy said nothing.

“Stepped on a nail,” I muttered. “Get back to work. I don’t pay you to lurk in fucking doorways.”

Only once they’d dispersed did prim Shelley step into my office. She said nothing, would say nothing, until she allowed herself to forget my swearing. So, lunchtime. The post-it was set on my desk and she glanced at my chin.

The door closed and I reached for a napkin from the fast food place I ate at yesterday. Wiping the sleep drool from myself with one hand, I picked up the post-it. Shit. Client on the phone. Why hadn’t she told me?

If I hadn’t promised Lee I’d keep his niece on as office manager after buying the business she’d be gone. A second glance at the number and I picked up the phone.

“Aaron’s movers.”

A timid voice on the other end responded. “Is this Aaron?”

“No, this is Joe. Aaron retired.” Aaron never existed. When the business had been started people still used phone books. Vincent’s Movers would never have been called, the company founder decided, so Aaron it was from then on.

“We need someone to pack our things. We just moved in so there’s not much.”

Another voice spoke, but I couldn’t make it out so waited.

“We were told to tell you this was a special job.”

Which I’d guessed, since their address had been the old Stevens’ place. I could put my non-existent children through college on the money I made off that house. The extra money charged for the move would be helpful, but having to call Lily would be a pain in the ass.

I half-listened as the quiet voiced man droned on, interrupted by hushed comments from his wife. Two emails came in, neither more interesting than the job, and when there was silence on the other end I transferred them back to Shelley to make an appointment.

I checked my email again after that, but nothing from Lily. This would require a gift. This would likely require groveling. Well, no one had said love was easy and I couldn’t do a ghost job without the so-called psychic being involved. Unenthused about braving the late summer heat, I still grabbed the keys to my truck and headed for parking lot.

Several of the guys hollered advice, knowing my predicament, but most of them were too young to have suffered for their passions, so I showed them my middle finger wave as I let the door slam behind me. Which left me on the wrong side of the AC. My old blue truck, waiting in anorexic shade, had seen better days, but what was the point in getting something new? I figured I didn’t put more into repairs than I’d spend on new car payments and just kept her going.

I banged the dash to see if the air conditioner wanted to work and when it didn’t I turned the radio up and rolled the window down. Fucking Oklahoma summers. I was halfway to Lily’s place before remembering my need for a forgive me gift and turned left to head to the mall. She would appreciate the gesture, I hate the mall, but I still could not screw this up.

I turned the radio up louder and ignored the glare from the sheriff’s deputy stopped next to me at the red light. When the light turned green I peeled out, daring him to stop me, but I knew he wouldn’t bother. Damned sheriff’s deputies think they’re better than a traffic stop. I might not have tried that with a city officer.

The mall awaited. With all its horrors. The things a man would do for love.

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December Storytime - Cheaty Day Chapter One

Today, the last day before the kids' winter break starts, has been insane. How I look forward to having them home! :) As I am just getting a chance to look at my blog I have decided to cheat. If you read this story you know Tesia. Here's chapter one of her novel. Which, someday, I will get back to cleaning up. So many new and old projects and only so much time. I am moderately happy with this first chapter. But I'll cut it to shreds when I do serious edits on it.

Enjoy!

Chapter One - Car Trouble

 

It had been one of those nights and I was glad to be done with it. It seemed like every table that came in was looking to pick a fight and that always meant one thing. Lousy tips. By the time I was hauling the trash out on my way to my old truck I was glad to be done with the human race. All I wanted was to make the drive home, have a cup of cocoa, and crawl into bed after a hot shower. A fine and solid plan that kept me going to my truck. My truck that didn’t want to start. Now, I caught hell about my truck a lot. It had been my dad’s before I inherited it at eighteen, but it was always kept in good order. Which is why, as the engine wouldn’t turn over, I swore. Not enough to get them mad, but enough that they stirred.

“I know this is your fault,” I said to the empty cab. My feet hurt and I had a fresh burn where a coffee pot had hit me as Alice dodged a screaming kid who wouldn’t sit down. Grumbling, minus any real swearing, I reached behind the seat and pulled out a battered backpack. I changed clothes in the truck so at least it was only me that smelled like fried food and gravy. Once I stopped looking like a waitress I got back out of the truck and locked it up. Backpack over my shoulder I started walking. There weren’t any real bad parts of town in this area so I wasn’t worried. Still, I made sure my cell phone was fully charged and checked my pockets for anything I might need.

After walking for half an hour I thought maybe I’d maligned them for no good reason. Nothing pulled at me and I didn’t feel anything wrong. Then I hit the old row of warehouses near the train tracks and froze. They stirred again, forcing me to check every move I made. I whispered a prayer taught to me by my mom and crossed the street. For an old warehouse it was in pretty good shape. The For Sale sign was brand new, replaced after the owners switched real estate agents as if that would sell the place. No one wanted these warehouses which was a shame. Their brick exterior looked new and even the windows has survived countless generations of vandals. The glass brick windows gave no clue as to what was behind them, but I didn’t need to see to know.

A demon was in there.

I circled the building, squeezing through the narrow gap separating it from its neighbor and found a van parked in the alley out back. “Who has a van these days other than creeps?” I asked. There was no response. I found the door they’d used and dug my hand into my pocket to find the broken chalk I kept there for emergencies. Ignoring their insistent stirring I drew a quick symbol taught to me by my Dad. It would keep the curious at bay, hopefully long enough for me to finish up in here and get out. It wasn’t the demon that worried me. It was whomever might be with the demon that worried me. I dug out my phone and found I had less than half a charge. My fingers itched to call 9-1-1, but I didn’t.

Moving slowly so I didn’t attract attention by falling on my face I eventually made my way to the main floor of the warehouse. What I saw was not what I was expecting. Well, in truth I had expected to see someone tied up. I wasn’t expecting the demon to be the one bound. Three people I could only make out as shadows were standing around, talking quietly, as one of them drew lines on the recently swept floor. I knew what they were trying to do, but something wasn’t right.

Before I had a chance to figure it out I felt someone behind me. I tried to move, but a hand on my shoulder and what felt to be a gun at my back stopped me. “This is a private party,” I heard someone say in a deep, local sounding voice. When I went to turn my head he stopped me by pressing the gun, it was surely a gun, harder into my back. “We’ll just stay here and wait for them to be done before we deal with you.”

A good idea, if they hadn’t been screaming in my head now. Their will wanted me to succumb, to let them take over, but I fought. NO! I yelled even as their eerily beautiful voices informed me, as if I could ever forget The vessel must not be harmed.

Drawing in a steadying breath I said to my captor, “Look, I understand your trepidation, but something’s not right here.” Something was very wrong. My eyes kept going back to the demon and the poor soul he was riding as they sat looking calm. Not right. If the exorcism was going right he’d be sweating right now. Probably blood. They loved that trick and I was still trying to remove the stains from several perfectly good pairs of pants. I fought to keep them on their leash, but when the demon looked at us and smirked I nearly lost it. So, I did the only thing I could think of doing. Trusting them to keep me from harm I broke free of my captor’s grip, loosened once it seemed I’d be compliant, and ran towards the group of people.

I didn’t make it in time. The demon broke free of his ropes and grabbed the person kneeling on the floor trying to inscribe the circle that would have held him. He tossed the man backwards into another person and ignored the others as they shouted.

Instead he walked straight to me. Shit I said to them. Their annoyance at my language wasn’t so much felt as known. No, I was busy feeling fear. Lots and lots of fear as the demon didn’t try to avoid me. Most of them, once they knew what I was, didn’t want anything to do with me. This one? This one walked right up like we’d went to school together.

“Shit,” I said aloud because we had been to school together. Not the demon, but the body he’d taken. Andrew Denson had been my class president and while we hadn’t hung out he’d always seemed nice enough. I pulled my backpack around and went for the side pocket. When he saw what I was doing the demon hurried his steps. Too fast, too close, I chanted as I dropped my pack and opened the jar of oil I needed. It sloshed on my hands, but that was ok too. I held it, trying not to let it fall, as I said, “Halt and identify yourself, demon.”

Andrew, no, not Andrew I reminded myself, stopped. I don’t think it was because of my words. They buffeted against my control, but I wasn’t going to let them free because I didn’t know what they’d do. Ignoring the other people in the room I focused on the only problem that mattered at the moment. I met his eyes, a big no-no if you’re not protected, and was pretty sure Andrew was gone. If not gone than complicit which would make holding the angels back harder.

“How long?” I asked as I shoved my left hand into my pocket to find the chalk I would need.

The demon, looking amused, watched me. He also ignored the others in the room now. “College was so hard for him,” the demon said in Andrew’s voice. “So very hard. So very alone. I offered him what he wanted. It was a glorious time.” His words made my skin itch, like he was coating me in some nasty liquid. I knew the feeling well enough to identify him.

“Incubus,” I stated as I pulled chalk from my pocket.

From behind him I heard a man say, “No. That’s not right.” Arguing broke out, but it didn’t concern me. What concerned me was the demon and the way he wouldn’t stop looking at me. I let their leash slip a little and that stopped the smirk on his face.

He had other tricks up his sleeve to cause me trouble. No sooner was I thinking I could get this under control again than he was saying, “Witch,” loud enough to be heard by everyone. The arguing behind him stopped and I felt all eyes on me.

So, I had no choice. I felt trapped, surrounded by hostiles, and the demon wouldn’t stop staring. Whispering a prayer of forgiveness, I let them loose. As far as I know they don’t have a physical body. I’ve never seen them, not with my eyes. In my head they were points of light, too bright to see. I heard them all the time. I try not to let people see this at it can be disconcerting, but I had a feeling things had been about to get really bad for me.

The vessel shall not be harmed, Izquisedulu. Demon of Lust.

No matter how often they do it I still get freaked out when they talk through my voice. It echoes with the both of them and is weird. The demon growled, an uneasy noise to hear from my former class president.

Not Andrew they reminded me. As soon as they spoke it the tricks started. Blood, as I suspected. Eyes and ears were always first.

“No, don’t hurt me,” the demon said. He had the cowering down and I knew this wasn’t the first time he’d been caught. I wondered if he pulled the same stunt with the idiots in the room. Unfortunately for him, my companions and I were used to such tricks.

“In the name of God,” my voice said. “By the power he grants all those living to resist evil, I command you to return to the Pit. In the name of Jesus Christ we ask mercy for Andrew Denton. Be gone, demon, and trouble this man no more,” They/we commanded. I felt the power as it poured into me and out into poor Andrew’s body. He screamed, they do that a lot too, and it was horrible. The body collapsed and the angels turned to the room. I saw through their power the corruption left by the demon.

“No,” I shouted as they gathered power to cleanse the rest of the souls. Demonic taint is impossible for them to resist even if it only came from being too stupid to contain a demon properly before exorcising it. I can cleanse them I said to the angels. They argued with me and I was vaguely aware of two people checking the corpse before me.

Knowing how little time we had I pushed them back despite their protests.

 “Listen,” I started to say, but was stopped by four sets of hostile eyes upon me. “Hey,” I tried again as I stepped away and raised my arms to show I wasn’t a threat.

One of the men stepped forward and in the dim light I could see the small cross pinned to the lapel of his suit. No one else wore a suit. He is holy they whispered to me. If they could be mad at me they would be. Disappointment is easy, but as tied as we are to each other they can’t work up true anger. They save that for me, I guess. The stench of the demon taint was overpowering. It’s not sulfur like the internet boards say. It’s more like rotting meat coated in used fryer oil. The first time I smelled it I didn’t know what it was, but I knew it was bad.

“Demons are known to lie,” the holy man said. “Was he lying? Are you not a witch?”

Shit. I would have loved to lie. Their disapproval over that desire wasn’t new, but the pain between my eyes was still distracting so I took a deep breath.

“Can we discuss that later?” I asked with what I hoped was a calm voice. “The more important things here are calling the cops about Andrew and cleansing you of the demon’s taint.” I looked at the four men in the room and sighed. “You reek of demon,” I said apologetically. “Was this your first? It’s always the hardest to stay clean from.”

“You knew him?” the oldest looking of them said.

“Yea,” I said as I bent down to slowly pick up my pack. Part of the oil spilled on the floor and I frowned at the loss. At least the smell helped a little. “That’s Andrew Denton. We went to school. Well, that’s his body. It’s pretty clear the demon had been in charge for a long time. He was clean when I knew him.”

“How would you know?” one of the younger ones asked. He had the look of law enforcement. That might explain why the cops weren’t coming already.

“Seriously,” I said as the stench made me dizzy. “Can we please clean this place and you before we talk about my past?” They stretched in my head and I winced. It cleared the taint from my nostrils at least.

Tell them they instructed.  

“My name is Tesia Faustina Jaskolski,” I told them as I clutched my backpack to my chest. “I am the Holder of God’s gift and I outrank all your…selves so we’re leaving now.” I let their warmth and power sooth my doubts as I turned and walked towards the door. “You can be cleansed by me or them,” I said. “You’re less likely to suffer at my hands.”

They were stunned enough I made it to the backdoor. There I learned what had tipped them to my arrival. Sitting in the open door of the van was a woman around my age. She didn’t stop me, but the shotgun in her lap did.

I froze two steps into the alley and said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” The demon taint was less on her, but it was still there. Whoever they were, they’d really messed this up.

When she spoke her accent was local although not from here. I knew most everyone in town and had never laid eyes on her before. Now I wished they’d let me go home first if only to have taken a shower before meeting her.

“My brother said that may not be true. Get in the van.”

 

 

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December Storytime - Cheaty!

 

Today was a busy family day. We had to take the dog to the vet, her arthritis was acting up and she chewed on herself. Now she has all her antibiotics and steroids. Poor baby. Then a trip to the post office, the hardware store, and a day spent doing Christmas stuff.

Which, basically, was hanging the felt tree and then sitting down with the kids and the beloved husband to make ornaments. We use construction paper, markers, glue, and scissors to decorate a felt tree. We used sequin strings as garland. It's fun. Next year, the kids want a real tree. Meaning a fake tree. The beloved always wins that argument. LOL

So, the short version is, today is a cheaty day. I wrote a diesel punk story a couple years ago that takes place in Oklahoma. Here's chapter one!

Will Rogers Rocket Port - Rise of the Plastics

 

I’d not anticipated the party turning out the way it had when I showed up. Hardly an hour ago I’d been standing on the edges of the dance floor watching the couples and wondering if I’d be labeled too forward if I were to ask someone to dance. No one had, so far, been inclined to ask me and that had led me to do the one thing I’d sworn I wouldn’t do here.

“Wish Roy would come over,” I mutter to myself before quieting such thoughts with another sip of rather good champagne.

Not that I’d expected anything but the best at the party, but having never had champagne before I wasn’t sure what the best would taste like. I suppose people who can afford to attend parties like this aren’t getting their drinks from a bathtub. The ballroom was decked out for the event, but under the silver and crystal I could see it would be impressive with nothing in it. The floors were hard wood with inlaid silver inscribing something around the edges. I’d been tempted to walk the perimeter to read it, but thought maybe I’d look weird. Also, I’d have to walk right past Roy and Al.

As the dancers continue their fun a steadily louder thump makes itself known throughout the room. The only reason I see what happened is because mere seconds before the glass shattered into millions of pieces I’d been caught staring at Roy. By Roy. Across the room a flash of silver had drawn my eye and I’d found Roy and Albert sharing a drink of something stiffer than what was on offer by the waiters. His eyes had almost instantly found mine as if he’d felt my look. The shared glance lasted only a few seconds, but it was enough to set my heart beating faster than the wild drums of the band and my blood to heat up hotter than the rocket fire I’d witnessed a few months ago. Thinking now of escape, when I turned I was in time to see the windows explode from nothing. Sonic, I thought with the detached part of my brain as people around me begin to scream.

The glass does a good job of creating not only wounded guests, but chaos. At the very least this takes my mind off Roy and how good he looks in his uniform. Instead I get to focus on not being knocked to the ground and trampled by panicked guests. From somewhere close I make out the sound of metal on metal and turn in time to see four odd-looking men in black suits ushering a young woman out of the room. It almost tricks me, but then I remember the efficient and polite security men that had searched me before allowing me into the estate were wearing grey suits.

Before thinking I shout, “Hey!” but it’s drowned out by the screams and sobs of the injured guests. Shoving my way through a knot of people I take off at a run towards the door. I wish I could take off my shoes, but already the sting of glass along the left side of my face and body has me wanting to avoid further injuries.

Reaching the door before it shuts I manage to shove my foot out and muffle a curse learned from eavesdropping on my older brothers when I was younger. The door doesn’t close and as I shove it open I’m relieved there’s no goon in black waiting for me on the other side. Now that I’m past the glass I can remove the heels borrowed from my cousin and take off at a run towards the end of a short hallway. The door on the other side stands open and I burst through in time to see the young woman slump forward and be tossed into the back of an unmarked black van. With another shout I take off for my truck. It doesn’t surprise me the old farm truck was carefully kept away from the nicer cars as if dirt and work were contagious. At least getting out of the parking will be easier. As I yank the rusting door open a pair of hands grab me from behind.

“Hey!” I yell as I’m spun around and see looming men in grey. Estate security, I think with a relieved sigh. Relieved, that is, before I realize they’re not letting me go. “They’re getting away,” I shout at them before one pulls a misting wand from his pocket. “Hey, no! Let me go!” I yell before a fine mist hits me on my next inhale. These guys were good.

The last thing I hear before the knock out drug takes over is an amused sounding, “Vera Pearl, don’t you ever wear shoes?” Then blackness catches me and carries me down into unwanted slumber.

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December Storytime 05

Ok, I am cheating again a wee bit. :) I did say that might happen. Today was a flurry of insanity and it has not let up. So... cheaty! And, it's not even a story. Sheesh. It is a rough, rough draft of a first chapter. From my most recent Nano project. I'm not in love with this project. I like bits of it and think a lot of work would make it awesome.

Just not sure I want to put all that work into it when there's so many other things. This was inspired by my recent rewatching of Person of Interest. Except, they're in Rome, and it's not a Machine, but a God. None of that really comes into play in this chapter. Tomorrow, I've something new cooking up for your pleasure!

Citizen of Interest

A thin layer of dust coated everything in sight including Floriana. It was better than the mud, which would be along shortly, but it did leave her throat too dry to curse her circumstances. The true crime, any who’d known her would point out, as she’d been legendary in the Legion for her ability to aptly describe any situation. The road, loose paving stones aside, was in decent shape and would lead her to where she needed to be, but not if she didn’t make better time. Hard to do alone when caution must prevail.

By the time the fall rains arrived there were sections that no matter their upkeep would be impossible for her to get through. Not by herself. The mark on the back of her neck itched and she found a curse. From the itching mark emanated the idea of how much easier it would be to turn around.

“Take your decrepit, whoreson, gangrenous mind and shove it up a leprous donkey’s ass.”

Not her best work, but Floriana felt the idea retreat. Just in time, as she heard the clop of hooves and creak of wagons approaching. Her uniform may have seen better days, but her sword was sharp and it was that she hoped to sell. Sandaled feet pushed off the rock she leaned against and she shaded her eyes with her hand to watch the caravan approach.

A few desultory looking guards eyed her warily, but she paid them no mind. Instead, hazel eyes sought out the man most likely to be the caravan master. She jogged over to a thin man riding a donkey near the lead wagon. He would be shorter than her on the ground, but she’d learned to be wary of small men. They were always looking to prove something.

“Hail,” she said as she jogged alongside the man.

“Well met,” he returned in a civilized accent. Thank the gods he was Roman! It would be an easier arrangement.

“Where are you heading?”

“The markets of Sirmium. You look to be a long way from home.”

“Not if I can help it. I’m headed to Sirmium as well. Are you needing extra hands? I am Floriana from the 18th.”

The man atop the donkey stared her over. Floriana was sure he noted the care she’d taken to keep up her armor even if it was beginning to show signs of wear. The fact it was a legionnaire’s armor should be good enough for him. None of the guards for his caravan inspired confidence in her and she wondered why a prosperous looking man resorted to such flotsam. Despite the travel dust, his robe was fine, and he had the groomed look of a well-off citizen. Not that the reason mattered so long as she found a position.

“I can pay you 2 d.c. a day if you’ve no food of your own.” His glance took in her personage again and his thin lips turned upwards a fraction.

“Everything I own I wear, but so long as we do nothing to attract the ire of the legion my sword is yours until we reach Sirmium.”

“Good enough. For now. We shall speak again once we make camp for the night. I am Aetius.”

Floriana, who saw no reason to converse again, still nodded before she slowed down her steps to let the caravan master draw ahead of her.

#

The day provided all of the tedium a long march provides. No creature or man stirred within her sight other than those she traveled with on the road. None of the guards spared more than a word for her, but she’d written them off from the start. What she witnessed did not change her mind. They were slovenly, stumbled as if still drunk from the day before, and more than one had rust on his sword.

What she could not figure out was how a man of obvious wealth had found himself with such a mess. Perhaps tonight he would fill her in on some of it. Why else would he want to speak with her? More importantly, what would she tell him?

That last thought niggled her brain more than any other worries. No oaths prevented her from saying what she would, but the job was necessary to make it back swiftly to the legion. If she sounded crazy he was not likely to retain her services. Floriana rubbed her forehead and stepped around the dung left in the road by the caravan.

They stopped sooner than she’d anticipated. The sun still had at least an hour of light and there were not so many to make setting up camp a long affair. In truth, she could admit to herself, it was only she loathed speaking to Aetius. She remained undecided on what to tell him.

“Boss is waiting in his tent.”

Floriana saw the tent in question. The only one. Well, she’d slept under the sky plenty and it would be no hardship in the cool, late summer weather. The sulking guard received the barest hint of a nod before she crossed the chaotic camp. An itch crept over her skin and it had nothing to do with the mark on her neck. The setup lacked any order and the urge to bark an order or two of her own was strong. Knowing the futility of it, she clamped her jaw shut and finished her walk to Aetius’ tent.

“Come in, Floriana.”

A small table had been set up, but Aetius did not sit at it. Instead, he lounged on a rug on the ground while a slave worked off his boot. She could not help but stare as the glimpse of a twisted foot visible before the slave covered it with a blanket.

“Surely not the first of such you’ve seen.” The smirk brought a shine to his brown eyes she hadn’t seen before. A wave of his hand dismissed the slave.

In response to his smirk, she shrugged. “I’ve seen all manner of injuries in my service to Rome. You appear to be wealthy enough to afford better guards. Why the flotsam?”

He did not expect the question. He did not know she asked only to forestall his own questions. Or, perhaps he did. The shrewd look he bestowed upon her nearly caused her feet to shift in the sand.

“Finding people willing to travel to the middle of nowhere is never easy. And to a lawless town like Sirmium? Almost impossible.”

Her laughter interrupted him. A rudeness she felt compelled to apologize for, true, but one she could not help. Aetius stared as she fell silent.

“I offer my most sincere apologies. Only, such a ridiculous thing to say. Lawless? Sirmium? It is incomprehensible. Why, it’s a jewel of the Empire.” Floriana’s head shook. “I cannot believe such nonsense.”

This time the look she received from the merchant was one of pity and it raised her ire immediately. A hand fell to her sword, but as swiftly it left. Flotsam, they may be, but he did have guards outside his tent. Alone, even such as they might be harmful to her.

“You have been away some time, yes?”

The question earned him a guarded nod.

“The Empire, it shifts with each new year. Two decades ago Sirmium was a great city, but now it rests on the edge, struggling to maintain any semblance of her former glory.”

Her knees threatened to give out, but she held herself up. The mark on her neck burned, but it was nothing compared to the bird wing flutters of her heart. She had not been gone so long. Had he engineered this meeting to convince her to turn back? A demand sprung to her lips, but she swallowed it down to give nothing away. If this were some trap she would make no indication of awareness. Better to let her former captor think her ignorant of his plans.

“I have not been away so very long.”

“How long? Judging by your weapon I’d say longer than appears possible. Your gear looks older than you. Was it your mother’s?”

“My mother was a potter.” Left by her father when his legion had been assigned a new garrison. Which had not stopped Floriana from seeking him out to follow his footsteps. Better a soldier than a soldier’s woman.

“Rufus!”

Her head whipped around and she watched the slave from before enter the tent.

“Unpack the mirror from the wagon.”

After the slave left, the merchant hefted a wineskin and offered it to her. “A drink while we wait?”

Again she considered a trap, but thirst overruled her. It would be no more dangerous than sleeping and she would have to do that tonight. Of course, with sleep she might mitigate the danger somewhat. Her hesitation lasted but a moment before she crossed the tent and took the offered drink.

Pleasant surprise warmed her as much as the wine. A fine vintage and so she had another swallow before handing it back. The thought of sitting occurred, but she set it aside. If he’d wished her to sit he would have asked.

From outside, she heard the grumblings of a camp being set up. The noise was almost familiar and she longed to be home. Her contubernium would be pleased to see her. At least, she told herself that they would. Surely they had made it back after her sacrifice.

Rufus returned, lugging a polished metal disc he set up against the center pole of the tent. He lingered, sunburned arms and wild red hair, taking up more space than one would expect. Floriana wondered at his relationship with his master.

“Take a look.”

There was no real reason to give into his fancy. Other than a wish to get back to the conversation. His words still whispered in her ears and she wanted to find some hole in his story to prove him wrong.

Floriana approached the mirror and crouched down to stare at an appearance she knew well.

“Fuck Mars’ ass with the spear of Quirinus.”

 

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It's been too long.

I saw the time since my last blog post and was shocked I had not updated sooner.

Yesterday, I broke 50k on my Nanowrimo project. The last few months I'd been thinking of skipping, despite the fun. Instead, I pushed myself on MBDD rewrites to get to here I might stop. For Nano this year, I did something completely off anything else I was working on currently. The idea is mashup of the show Person of Interest, one of my all time favorites. I rhapsodized back in June on the series finale. If you haven't seen the show it is currently on Netflix in all its glory. Just saying... :)

Anyway! Person of Interest in Ancient Rome. With monsters and magic and, truthfully, I do not know if I will every do anything at all with this or just store it away. That was the point of Nano this year for me. Just to be writing without worrying about anything. I definitely think it will set me to refresh for finishing up this latest draft of MBDD next month.

I've got an idea for a December project, but it is one I can do WHILE rewriting. I'll give more details once I settle them. So, if you liked my weird, barely edited, silly story last year, stay tuned for this year!

Since my last update I've been doing better. My thyroid medicine dosage has definitely fixed most of what ailed me. Yay! I even had a pap smear. Ladies, we all know it needs doing. Don't forget!

In September, the beloved husband took me to Tulsa to see Delta Rae. I could gush, but if you are awesome you already know how amazing they are and to see them live was so great. They are doing a Winter Acoustic tour along the east coast. Yes, if I lived less than two days away and did not have kids who want Christmas I would go. And, yes, it takes a lot to get me to willingly return to the east coast, but this would do it. It was a bright spot in an otherwise bleak feeling time. 

I'm not going to keep gushing over Delta Rae, but...well, maybe a little more. Every playlist for every novel I've written has had at least one Delta Rae song on it. The theme song for several novels has been one of their songs. And I write all kinds of different stuff, so, yea. THEY ARE AWESOME.

Did you think I was done gushing? Well, I am not! Because earlier this month, beloved took me to another show. The American Wake Tour came to OKC and you bet I was there. (We were right in front of the stage for both shows.) The AWT is winding down. Alas. If you missed them, I should have told you sooner! You can still find American Murder Song on their website and on YouTube. I absolutely love their recordings, but it does not compare to a live show. WHICH WAS SO AMAZING OMG! How amazing? Check this out:

Caught on camera.

That's right. A picture of me with a ridiculous smile. Check out those teeth. The fan on the table I left behind because it was admired so. I, yea, stuck a Halloween crow decoration to a black fan via rapidly applied pipe cleaner. I am so creative. Or, umm, desperate to make the damned thing work already! The outfit I wore was inspired by this song.

Oh, and the boys were heartbroken to miss the show, but we bought t-shirts for them. Sometimes we just need a night out. :) Even wearing boots not as broken in as I'd have liked did not dull my fun at the show. Because nothing could have done that! SO AMAZING. Sorry, I run out of superlatives when this excited about things.

This is our first Christmas since the beloved's dad died. It's not going to be easy, so I am clinging to all the things I love. Like, kids, dogs, and the beloved. His dad passing reminds me on occasion of my own brother's death. So, sometimes I cry over commercials because, well, even after 16 years it still gets me. If you're lucky enough to never have experienced losing someone close and you're curious, Patton Oswalt described it so well.

So, there you are. A nice long blog post to make up for the fact I have not blogged. I'm still posting on FB and am considering getting back into Twitter. Post election it was too much to bear so I stepped away. Speaking of the election, I love you all. That's it. Nothing else to say.

Before I go,  here's a peek at what I am working on. Poor Floriana's life was not easy even before I started writing he. Because I am a mean, mean character mom. :D

***

“Are you her daughter?”

Floriana looked away from the smoking torch. “Am I whose daughter?”

“Floriana’s. I know there was a legionnaire with that name. A scout. You would be the right age. Your armor is old.”

“My mother was a potter. My father, Florianus, served with the Eighteenth and I joined up because of him. Thirty-five years ago.”

“Does madness run in your blood? You would have to be, what, fifty for that to be true?”

“Fifty-one, in fact.”

The officer laughed and sat at her desk. “You are half that, if that. I should turn you out. Or whip you for impersonating a legionnaire and then turn you out.”

“You would have a hard time doing so.”

“Are you threatening me?”

Yes. Of course, she threatened the woman. Was she an idiot, or only trying to trap Floriana? Silence was her response.

Into the silence there was a knock on the door. Floriana turned to see Naevius enter. He looked every year she did not, but she would know him anywhere. The look he gave her showed no shared recognition. Impossible!

“We won’t take up much of your time, praefectus castrorum.”

“Naevius-”

“Silence.”

Floriana fumed in silence.

“Do you know this woman?”

Naevius stared at her. He met her eyes and did not even offer a silent apology before he said, “I do not know her.”

“Thank you, you may go.”

He turned and left.

“Naevius.” Floriana watched him leave before she returned her attention to the officer in the room. “What about Petronia? Vibius? They were with us when we left the forest. We carried the eagle together. They will surely not betray such a memory. Naevius be damned.”

 

***

Until next time! Happy Thanksgiving, my American friends! It is going to be less fun for me with the whole cutting carbs thing. Carbs are life blood! Just, alas, not so much for me any longer as I get older.

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Current project and what nots

So, I was working on Adelaide and Jasper's book. And, I love these guys. Only...they're not FUN. Not like I want to be writing right now.

So, I am working on Lucy's book. Lucy's book is bloody and sexy and she's super snarky so she's right up my alley. It's like when I couldn't get going on something to read until I settled back into the Johannes Cabal series and he is the sort of character I adore. :) Cannot wait for the next one.

Right now, I am reading several things. Most of them recommendations from the husband. He reads more than me these days. Not by a LOT, but still...

I always love my wip at the beginning. :) By the 2/3s mark, I'll hate it. LOL This is normal for me. I'm super eager to keep writing and get further into this story. First, I have to survive the next couple weeks. School starts in a week.

Eldest son is in middle school this year. OMG. He has orientation tomorrow.

To close out. A snippet. :) Enjoy! (I hope!)

After the door closes, and I hear the click of a lock, I realize I still have no lunch. I don’t need the food, but I should be hungry. So, I stand once more and walk to the door. No one answers my knocks. No one responds to my calls for food either. So, I throw myself onto the floor by Noah and his charges.

If they watch, I hope they enjoy the show. Because I have lions killing giraffes, zebras engaging in love affairs with elephants, and monkeys doing a little of both. My best friend says my obsession with sex and blood is trite, but he spends his life hiding with polar bears.

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The Problem With Music Based Inspirations

 

So, I have a very aural muse. She throws ideas at me with each new song. Worse, she waits until I am nearly done with a project and listening to a song for the millionth time to rear her damned head.

Which she did.

Yesterday.

Which is why forward momentum on Widowed Witch of the West is on hold as a new project. Undone as it is, now it is squarely a go back and fix project. An editing project.

Mostly, it is me, screaming at that damned muse because she could not have told me this before now??? The muse in question only smiles, by the way, an unrepentant musical sinner. I still love her and want to lay words at her feet in adoration. Just...maybe not today.

A very wise friend has always said not to edit until a project is done, but in this case I can't take that advice. Because the ending wasn't coming to me anyway. I was stuck with about 10k words to go. I knew what had to happen to get to the ending. Final boss battle, get ready, FIGHT! The boss battle in question refused to materialize. I wrote a little, tinkered with other scenes, anything to keep from diving in to finish the story.

Now I know why. Aoife's motivations through the whole book are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. What I thought she was doing was not what she needed to do. The ending that wouldn't come stayed away because I was telling the wrong tale.

SIIIIGH

It could be worse. I could have anything other than a self-imposed deadline. Said deadline being the end of summer. Although, truthfully, I should shoot for later. Too much going on, but suffice it to say I'm dealing with shit while helping others deal with their own shit and sometimes it is so overwhelming I just want to spend the night playing Destiny with the beloved. Some people drink their problems to silence. I shoot mine with magic powers and guns. :)

TLDR: Back to the drawing board in a way. I don't mind. Knowing the story is going to be stronger is encouragement enough. Now if my muse will shut up and let me get this done before suggesting other changes.

In the meantime, here's the unrevised opening scene.

 

Aoife was in the bath, scrubbing the blood off her arms, when she heard someone call her name. The maid seated nearby, busy reading the latest dime novel, looked up questioningly. Aoife nodded and exhaled loudly. She’d recognized Mrs. Nardovino’s voice so she was either in trouble or about to be handed another assignment. Either way, her leisurely bath was over. A last careful scrub of her fingers was going on as Mrs. Nardovino came into the room.

“Dear, I called you. Did you not hear?” Mrs. Nardovino had never lost her Italian accent despite living in New York for the last five decades. In a way, Aoife was heartened. Despite the headaches her own accent caused she liked the link to her homeland. Even if she couldn’t see herself going back to live there.

“I was finishing up. The sluaghs went into labor. It was messy. Please, say I do not have to midwife sluaghs again. If that is why you are here I implore you to bother someone else.” Aoife hated working with them, but she was the only Irish witch in residence and, apparently, that meant she had to do it.

The maid brought a heated towel and Aoife stood to wrap it around herself. She would leave, she swore, if there was more midwifery waiting for her.

“No, dear. Please, perhaps this would be better in my office. I will make tea. You can join me once you’re dressed.”

Mrs. Nardovino was embarrassed by nudity. Aoife was not and would use it to her advantage. Although, not often with the headmistress. She’d been too kind to Aoife in her time here. The maid helped her dress and when wet hair proved too heavy to pin up, Aoife simply had a green ribbon tied around the straight black locks.

 

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Options are confusing!

I haven't updated in awhile. I meant to last weekend and last weekend was crazy. As crazy as this entire week turned out. Which means I let my head get spun around too much to get much done. I have one of those weeks a few times a year. Thankfully, I can recover!

I can't even blame social media for my lack of accomplishments this week as I was mostly off those as well. Basically, I had a hermit week. I played Fallout 4 some, read more than I have lately, and caught up on housework. Somewhat. With two dogs and two kids it's never truly caught up.

Mostly I am fighting conflicting projects! I WANT to work on one and need to work on the other. I am being good and doing what needs doing, but it's no fun. ;) Not when the other characters keep popping up with new scenes I need to write NOW! Widowed Witch of the West is only about 20k from being done, but until I get this unnamed short story done I am not going to address the conflict between the handsome US Marshal and the cursing witch. And let's not forget the- oh, well, that's a secret. ;)

I should get back to work! On the short story.

Here's where I left off the last time I worked on WWotW. Now you see why I am anxious to get back to this first draft!

~~~

“Do you want to get dressed first?”

Oh, right. She was naked. Aoife looked down at herself and wondered if she should put something on. Then again, he’d seen her naked. They’d, well, she figured once a man had been inside her maybe being naked in front of him was not a big deal.

“Does it bother you? My being naked?” It only bothered her a little, but she wasn’t going to let him know. No, she was going to be a modern, independent widow.

Had she drawn the curtains in the entryway? And the kitchen shutters. Were they closed? Maybe she should put something on.

 

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The Click Moment

At least, that's how I see it. Yesterday I finally reached the point in the story where two of the main characters made that first connection. It's going to be a rocky road for them over the next five books, but they've started the trip. This was not the first time they've been alone or even the first time they've talked, but it was the first time they managed to find a little chink in their own prisons so they could reach out. Disa is seriously fucked up from a lifetime of near solitude and decades of torture. Sorvjorn is less so, but he has plenty of demons of his own.

This is not a romance novel. There's no couple HEA at the end of book one. Instead it's a slow unfolding of a friendship that may or may not get to something else. I don't know yet. The characters are still too new to one another to know what will happen. I thrive on the unknown and chaos when writing so this doesn't bother me in the least. Still, the click moment. I love it and I am impatient to see what happens next.

 

“No,” Sorvjorn said as he forced his feet to stay in place. “No, don’t cry, Disa. Please.” He lost the battle of wills and shuffled closer, hands at his sides. “I don’t want to make you cry. I won’t touch you. Promise. I know you don’t want me touching you.” The words stabbed in his heart, but he couldn’t entirely blame her. He was too big, too different, to attract much attention from the prettier women. “Look, I’ll go get wood. You light that lantern, Disa. Get some light in here and close the window and I’ll bring back wood.”

Disa’s head lifted and he smiled at her. “The door doesn’t lock on the outside,” she said.

“So?” Sorvjorn asked, puzzled.

“So, how will you lock me in? What if I run off?”

“I’m not your jailer!” Sorvjorn said hotly. She recoiled from his anger and he winced. “Disa, I was worried about you. I am worried about you. But if…if you don’t want me here I’ll go get you wood and something to eat and then leave you.” He wouldn’t go back to Laelia who would lecture and interrogate him.

“I’m a freak,” Disa said. “Why would you want to be here? You could be anywhere. With anyone.” She shuffled to the window and pulled it closed after knocking snow from the sill. “I don’t understand.” In the dark she turned and stared at him. “You touched me.” It was half an accusation and Sorvjorn didn’t know how to respond. “No one touches me. Not even the ones who like to scare me and threaten me. No one touches me. But you did. I don’t know why.”

Sorvjorn watched as she tried to light the lantern on the counter. He added oil to the list of items to buy. “Disa,” he said when she gave up. “I don’t think you’re a freak. And it sounds selfish to say it, but part of why I like being by you is that you keep us calm.” Disa’s laugh was short and sharp. “Not just him,” Sorvjorn said. “Laelia forces him to be calm. She makes us two people and we aren’t. We’re one person and we don’t fight around you. I don’t know why.”

In his coat she looked small, but she wasn’t. He liked that she was almost as tall as him. He didn’t like how thin she was because it meant she wasn’t eating. “You need me.” He almost missed the words, intent on staring at her. She was pretty. What were a few scars? Or even more than a few? He wanted to kiss her.

“Uh, yea,” he managed. “I think so. Liked touching you. Like being useful.” They weren’t so different, he thought. “Won’t touch you though, Disa. Promise. Only, maybe someday, you might like to hold my hand. Would like that.” She didn’t say anything. “I’ll, uh, go get wood. Will you wait here for me?”

“I will,” Disa said and he smiled. He left her there in the freezing room and hurried to the market. He took a wrong turn twice, but was back in less than an hour.

 

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