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WeWriWa: “Just Go”

Welcome back for another edition of Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop for anyone who likes to write. Today, I’m sharing something new. Like I mentioned last week, I just started writing the third book in my Riders of Justice series. I also have some news on the first book, which I’ll share after the snippet. For now, here’s the first 10 sentences of Dance with the Devil.

I rested both feet on the ground on each side of my bike while I waited for the light to change. I just wanted to go. But, of course, we still had to follow all the rules of the road. And I didn’t really want to be flattened, or have my bike that way, so I held back the urge to twist the throttle and let go.

It wasn’t easy, though.

There was so much going on lately, and my head was full of chaotic thoughts. I usually didn’t stop long enough to let any of them take root, but they were now. God, I needed to go. Just go, as fast and as far as I could. But, Icarus and Bull were expecting us back within the hour, so I couldn’t even do that.

Oh, Devil. Some of those chaotic thoughts will be coming out as we go along. I’ll probably share some of them with the next lines next week.

As for that news I mentioned above. I finally put together a cover and put Into the Sun up on Wattpad. The first chapter is available, and I’ll be putting a new one up each Friday. So, if you want to read from the beginning, you can check it out.

A-Z Challenge: Z is for Zachariah Sarrano

Z

Tissue Warning: Apparently I’m going to end on a sad note. I had to fight tears a couple times while writing this one, so you’re warned.

“Hey, Boss!”

Zachariah Sarrano glanced down from his position on the roof at the shouted words. One of his men held his thumb and pinky beside his head. Damn phone. He didn’t want to talk to anyone until they were done putting on this roof. “Take a message,” he shouted back.

“Sounded important.”

He didn’t bother cursing again. Just part of being the boss. He hoped to pass that responsibility off to his sons as soon as they could join him full-time. They already worked for him during summer vacations, but he certainly wouldn’t let them up here until they had more training. He thought Gabriel would handle the office work well, or at least better than Chris. That wasn’t saying much, though. His second son was practically a copy of himself.

He made his way across the roof and down the ladder then unhooked his harness. None of them worked on the roof without one. He made sure of it. “Who is it?” he asked Matt as they started toward the trailer that served as a temporary office when they were on a job site.

Irritation shifted to worry when Matt didn’t answer him. Zachariah looked over at him, but Matt wouldn’t meet his gaze. “I think you’d better just take the call, boss.”

Yeah, there was nothing good about this.

He stepped into the trailer and yanked up the receiver Matt had laid on the desk. “Sarrano Construction.”

“Is this Zachariah Sarrano?”

“Yeah. What is this about?”

“There’s been an accident.”

***

This could not be happening. It just could not. He hadn’t been given any details over the phone. Just that Marleen and Lyndsey had been taken to the hospital after being pulled out of the car. His hands shook, and he laid on the horn again. Where the hell were those boys?

Finally they came out of the house. Not in any hurry at all. Damn it. He’d told them to be ready when he got here.

“What the hell, Dad?” Gabriel said when he opened the front door of the truck. “I was going to go pick Brittany up in a little bit. I had to call her and cancel our date. Chris rushed back from Doren’s. What was so damn important?”

“Don’t swear at me, Gabriel,” he said, pointing a shaky finger at his older son. “I don’t care if you did just turn seventeen. Your mom and sister are in the hospital, so I don’t want to hear any of it. Just buckle up.”

Both boys fell silent at that, and Zachariah pulled away from the curb. They’d barely made it out of town before Chris asked, his voice wavering, “What happened?”

Zach’s hands shook on the wheel, and he tightened his grip, wishing that would steady him. “I don’t know. Exactly. There was an accident, and they were both taken in. That is all I know.”

Neither of the boys spoke after that, but Gabriel did put a hand over his when he set it on the gear shift. They pulled into the parking lot at the hospital, but suddenly he wasn’t sure what to do. They needed to go inside, of course, but he couldn’t make himself open the door. “Come on, Dad,” Gabriel said. “I’m sure Mom’s going to want to see you.”

That kicked him back into gear. He led the way into the hospital and up to the desk. “How can I help you?” the receptionist asked.

“My wife and daughter should have been brought in. They were in an accident.”

“Names?”

“Marleen and Lyndsey Saranno.”

She typed the names in–he had to spell Lyndsey’s as always–and he thought something passed through her eyes. But, she looked up at him again, and her face was blank. “Have a seat, Mr. Saranno. Someone will be out to talk to you.”

There was too damn much pity in her voice for that talk to be anything he wanted. “What happened to them?”

“I can’t tell you. Just go have a seat.”

But, he couldn’t sit. So, he paced. He stood at the window and stared out. He crushed a water bottle Chris had gotten him from the vending machine. When he couldn’t handle the crinkling of the plastic, he tossed it into the trash without even opening it.

“Mr. Saranno?”

He turned to look at the weary-looking man who stood only feet away from him. Something in his eyes…Zachariah’s legs nearly went out on him. “No,” he said. “Don’t tell me that. They aren’t-”

“Dad,” Gabriel said, stepping up and taking one of his arms. “He hasn’t told us anything yet. I’m sure they’re going to be fine.”

“Your daughter is going to be fine,” the doctor assured him. “She suffered a broken arm and a few other bumps and bruises, but she’ll heal.”

Zachariah’s shoulders sagged. Maybe he’d imagined it all. His mind was playing tricks on him. They were all going to walk out of here together. As a family.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Sarrano.” He looked up at the doctor, his eyes narrowing. But, he’d just said Lyndsey would be fine. Of course, Marleen would be, too. Why was he sorry?

“Your wife. She didn’t make it here.”

He almost hit the floor, but the doctor reached out and caught him. Gabriel grabbed his other side and helped him into a chair.
The doctor was saying something else, but he didn’t hear anything else. Marleen was gone. What was he supposed to do now?

***

“Dad?”

Zachariah lifted shaking hands to his face. He was sitting in his dark bedroom, not answering his son’s call. He’d done this too many times over the last couple months. He just wasn’t sure if he could handle facing them. If it wasn’t for work, he may not leave this room at all. Some days he couldn’t even manage it for that.

Gabriel wasn’t giving up this time, though. “Dad, you can’t just stay in here. Mom’s gone, but the rest of us aren’t.” He pushed the door open but thankfully didn’t switch on the light. “Lyndsey thinks you hate her because she’s the one who survived. Chris is drifting, even Doren is worried about him. I…I don’t know what to do. We need you, Dad.”

Zachariah squeezed his eyes closed even tighter. His family was breaking apart right now, and he didn’t know how to fix it. His chest ached every day, like part of him had been scooped out and thrown away.

“Where are they?” he finally asked, his voice hoarse.

“Lyndsey’s in her room, finishing her homework for tomorrow. Chris…well, he said he was going to Doren’s. But, he called me a little bit ago wondering why he never came over after church.”

Church. He hadn’t even realized it was Sunday. God, Gabriel must have been taking them, because Zachariah certainly hadn’t been doing it. Just how much had his eldest been doing for the younger two? More than was his responsibility. That was for sure.

“Call him and tell him to get back here. I’ll talk to Lyndsey. And order us some pizzas. We’re all having dinner together today.” They’d need to do more than that to keep this family together, but it would be a start at least.

Zachariah walked slowly up the stairs to his daughters room. He knocked briefly, but when she didn’t answer, he nudged the door open. “Lynds? Gabriel said you were up here.”

“Go away.” Her voice was even rougher than his and filled with tears.

It killed him. Still he was tempted to do as she asked. Most of the time he gave his children what they asked for, within reason, but he thought it would be worse to do that now. So, he pushed the door open and stepped inside. She wasn’t doing homework. She was laying on her bed, the pink of her cast laying overtop the stuffed elephant she held against her. The elephant Marleen had given her when she’d been in the hospital for meningitis a couple years earlier.

“I said to go away.”

“I’m not going to leave you, Lyndsey.”

“You don’t even want me to be here.”

He sat on the edge of her bed. “Of course, I do. I love you.”

“No, you don’t. You wish she was here. That we could have switched places.”

He’d cried at the funeral but not again since that day. Now, tears were rolling down his cheeks. “No. I mean, yes, I wish your mother was still here. I’ve loved her since I was Gabriel’s age. But, no, I don’t wish you’d died instead of her.” He moved closer to her, so he could run a hand over her hair. “I would have been heartbroken to lose you, too.”

“You won’t even look at me.”

He could hardly even look at anyone these days. “You look just like her. You know that?”

Lyndsey nodded. “That’s what everyone’s always said.”

“I haven’t handled things well. I’m sorry for that. We’re going to find our way through this, though. I had Gabriel order some pizza and go to find your other brother. We’re going to start with having dinner together.”

“He’s been doing my hair for school. Did you know that?”

“Gabriel?” He hadn’t even thought about it. Marleen had always handled that kind of stuff. It wasn’t even on his radar of wondering about.

She shook her head. “Chris. They’ve both been trying to do whatever they can to help. I know you’re sad, Dad.”

Sad didn’t even begin to cover it. But, that didn’t matter. Gabriel was right. They were still here, and he couldn’t just ignore that while he wallowed in his grief. His children still needed him, and he couldn’t let them down.

“Come on,” he said. “We’ll all eat dinner together, then I’ll see if I can help you with that homework.”

She rolled her eyes, but got up off the bed with him. “I already got it done, Dad. You don’t have to worry about that.”

Well, at least it was one thing he didn’t have to worry about it.

Note: Chris showed up in Love Who You Love, book 3 in my Kurztown series. And he told me about the family dinners his father had instituted after Chris’ mother’s death. I also just finished outlining Gabriel’s story. And even though he often comes off as the more fun-loving brother, he does step up to take responsibility when needed.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Zoo”

Time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Today’s prompt is ‘zoo’ either as the word itself or as part of a word.

Zoom!

Declan jerked his head as the missile went past, and he felt it nearly graze his cheek. For just a brief moment, he was back. In the middle of the fighting, not knowing when an explosion or bullet could take any of them out. Then, he was brought back. By a little girl’s giggle.

“Sorry, Declan,” Danica said.

And he was right back in his living room. With Eva in the kitchen, and Danica scurrying after the toy she’d just thrown across the room. He rubbed a hand over his eyes. He couldn’t believe he’d fallen asleep sitting up on the couch. That shouldn’t have happened. He couldn’t let it happen again.

Not while these two were still in danger.

“Are you supposed to throw things in the house?” he asked.

“I didn’t,” she said, her eyes wide as she shook her head.

Declan glanced over his shoulder at Eva, who seemed to be trying to smother a smile. He turned back to Danica. “It went flying past my head. So, unless it grew wings, mo cara, you did just that.”

She shook her head again. “It’s Nighthawk. He can fly.”

He lifted one eyebrow at her, and she nodded. “He can, Declan, really. I’ll show you. Wait here.”

Declan hadn’t really planned to move from the couch. Not unless he had to. But, as he looked over his shoulder, Eva bent down to scoop up the toy and moved over to his side. “This is Nighthawk,” she said. “One of Dani’s favorite superheroes.”

He glanced at the toy and reached out to take it but winced at the stab of pain that went through his arm. Eva ran her fingers lightly over the bandage there. “Just relax,” she told him. “I’ll handle this. Get her to play quietly.” Her lips twitched. “It is rare, but it can happen.”

“It’s fine. I’m fine, Eva.”

“You were shot. Protecting us. I still don’t see why you won’t take a pain pill.”

But, he couldn’t. Not unless he got one of the other guys to keep an eye on things. “It’s not that bad,” he assured her, not for the first time.

Before she could argue once again, Dani came running back into the living room, several books clasped in her hands. She jumped onto the couch, and he barely held back another wince as his arm was jostled. “Dani, be careful,” Eva reminded her. “Declan was hurt.”

He didn’t bother reminding her he was fine, the bullet had done only a little more than graze him. He’d been injured worse than this before. But he didn’t have two people’s, who he was coming to care quite a bit for, safety as his sole responsibility then. He sent a smile to Danica, though, to assure her it was okay. “What do you have there?”

She sent a worried look at her mom then turned back to Declan. “These are all about Nighthawk. This one is about his beginning. And these other tell all about the people he helps. Like you do.”

His throat went thick at that, and he glanced back at Eva. He hadn’t been doing a great job of helping them. Barely staying one step ahead of trouble. He was going to have to change that. But, Eva was smiling at them, like that thought wasn’t even bothering her. She trusted him, and he needed to make sure he didn’t betray that by letting either of them get hurt.

“Can you read them to me? I think I’d like to know more about this Nighthawk. As long as he doesn’t fly around my apartment anymore.”

Danica grinned up at him then opened the first book and started reading.

***

This takes place during Protecting the Heart, which I’m currently over 17k into. This part(him getting shot) hasn’t happened yet, but it’s in the outline. I had no idea where this was going to go beyond the zoom at the beginning. Don’t know if this scene will even make it into the story, but it was fun to write.

 

Fiction Friday: Into the Sun

If you purchased the World Unknown Review, you may have already read this. But, I’ve been wanting to do something else with this and the rest of the series I’ve started writing. So, I’ve decided to start putting it up on Wattpad. I’ll be putting it up one chapter a week. The first chapter is already up there. So, if you want to, you can go check out Chapter one.

I have the second story finished, though I still need to read through it and revise. I should be able to get that done before I’m finished posting chapters of Into the Sun. And I have the first 750+ words of the third book written. There will be at least one more after that. Maybe even more, depending on who else decides to talk to me.

I hope you’ll enjoy this story.

 

A-Z Challenge: Y is for Dillon Yates

Y

Dillon Yates stepped out of his classroom and glanced down the hallway. There didn’t seem to be any students loitering in the hallway after the last class on the first day of school. He couldn’t really blame them for being anxious to get out of here. It was a beautiful day out, and he didn’t know many people, especially kids, who’d rather spend it inside.

He glanced toward the room at the end of the hallway. He’d met the new Industrial Arts teacher when they’d been setting up their rooms the week before. But, he hadn’t had much of a chance to talk to him. Hunter, he’d said his last name was. Dillon had known a Hunter years ago and wondered if they were related.

He started that way, wanting to find out. And from everything he’d heard, the new guy had kept mostly to himself. He wasn’t going to make it for long here if he couldn’t even make one friend. It had been more than a decade, but he still remembered being the new guy here. It had been rough until he’d made his own connections.

He knocked once on the door before poking his head in. The young man standing in the middle of the room, his hands on his hips, looked a little lost. Dillon thought he looked a few years older than his own daughter, Sakura. Probably a little past his mid-twenties. His red hair fell a little past his ears, a lot longer than Dillon’s own short-cropped hair. He turned then and caught the wariness in the blue eyes.

Blue eyes that looked familiar. “You are Carrick’s son,” Dillon said.

The other man looked stunned for a minute. “Uh, yeah,” he said. He glanced around as if he might be trying to find a means of escape from the crazy man in front of him.

Dillon gave a little laugh. “Sorry. That probably did sound a little creepy. You’d said your last name was Hunter, and I’d wondered if you were related. I didn’t have much of a chance to speak to you before, though.”

“Oh. Yeah.” He ran a hand through his hair and let it drop again. “My brother was at a fire that day. He was taken to the hospital. Or I would have stuck around longer.”

“He okay?”

The other man nodded. “Not much will keep Tate down for long. His guardian angel probably has a permanent handslap mark on his forehead, though.”

That made Dillon chuckle. “Your dad helped build my house ages ago. We realized we had some things in common, mostly time served in the Army”–though Carrick hadn’t been in nearly as long as he had– “and we’ve tried to keep in touch over the years. I haven’t heard from him for a while, though.” Then, he realized something. “I’m Dillon Yates, by the way.”

“Kelan. You already know my last name, so…”

Dillon laughed again. There seemed to be a sense of humor hidden under the nerves. “It’s good to meet you, Kelan. I think I’ll like working down the hall from you.”

Note: I’m currently working on Kelan’s story(which is also Oliver’s story), and his friendship with Dillon comes into play a good bit in it. Kelan’s younger brother, Jace, also gets involved with Dillon’s daughter(not Sakura) in Burning Bright, book 1 of my Hunter Family series.

A-Z Challenge: X is for Xavier Urban(take 2)

X

Spoiler Warning: This takes place during Guarding the Heart, though his part actually occurs off page in that one. But, it does refer to some events in that, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for when that comes out(probably not until the end of this year or sometime next year), you might want to skip this one.

“Hey, X.”

Xavier looked over his shoulder to where Alex’s voice came from the doorway. “What?” He hated how his voice cracked and was sure the other man could tell he’d been crying. But, Alex didn’t say a thing about that.

“They’re here,” Alex said. “Why don’t you come out so we can all talk?”

Xavier hunched his shoulders. He didn’t want to. He looked back at his friend on the bed in front of him, who still hadn’t opened his eyes yet.

“He’s going to be fine, X,” Alex said, though even his voice wavered on the words. “The doctor said all we can do is wait until he wakes up. He will wake up.”

Alex couldn’t know that, though. He wasn’t the one who had found Casey crumpled on the floor, bleeding from his head. For a moment, he’d been sure his boss, his old friend, had been dead. He’d almost forgotten Emelyn was missing in that moment of grief. But, he couldn’t forget. They had to get her back. But, he couldn’t just leave Casey, either.

“You talk to them. I’m staying here.”

“What the hell, X? You and Piers used to be best friends. I’d think you’d be happy to see him again. Even if the circumstances do suck.”

Xavier cringed. Alex didn’t know. No one knew about the last time he’d seen Piers. About the things the other man had said to him. And that Xavier had deserved every one of them. Even more than three years later, and he still wasn’t sure he could face him.

“You need to come out, X.”

Yeah, that was what Piers had thought, too. That wasn’t what Alex meant, though, and Xavier couldn’t really refuse. Alex was still his boss, too. “Fine. But, I don’t know how much I can tell them that you can’t. I wasn’t there tonight.”

“And I haven’t been with it for nearly a week. Not since Sarah was taken and brought back hurt. So, there’s even less I can tell them.”

Xavier tried to control his breathing as they walked down the hallway and wished he could control the rest of his body’s reactions to anxiety. But, his hands were still sweating, his heart speeding along, his chest was tight. Piers had been so angry the last time Xavier saw him. And Xavier couldn’t blame him for that. He’d handled everything wrong. But, even now, he wasn’t sure he would have done it any differently.

His feet dragged a little more as they neared the waiting room. But, his gaze went right to the big man sitting in the corner. Another man sat beside him, skinnier but just as tall. That red hair was instantly recognizable. “Declan,” Xavier greeted the redhead.

“Nothing for me, X?” Piers asked.

Xavier couldn’t even bring himself to look at the other man. If that love he’d once claimed to have for Xavier had turned to hate, he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

“Still a coward then,” Piers murmured.

Xavier could feel Alex looking between them. He didn’t respond, though. Alex sighed. “Piers, you know as well as I do that X is one of the bravest men there is. I’d trust him to have my back. In fact, I have, more than once in the last few years he’s worked for Casey and me.”

“Oh, Oui,” Piers admitted, and Xavier was sure he felt Piers’ eyes burning into him. “You can trust him with your life, just not his word.”

Xavier spun around, not able to take it any longer. “I’m going back to Casey. Y’all can figure this out.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty good at walking away from me.”

That stopped Xavier in his tracks, and he spun back. “You walked away from me, Ghost. You lived up to that name pretty damn well, in fact. Just disappeared. I couldn’t have found you if I’d wanted to. So, don’t put it all on me.”

He turned back around again, and headed for the door. “I’m going back to sit with Casey.”

“What the hell?” he heard Alex say as he exited the waiting room. “Just what the hell was that all about?”

Rien,” Piers responded. “It was nothing.”

Xavier could only wish that was true. And that there was even a chance of there being something again. He missed the man who had seemed to get everything about him. But, it was obvious now that his mistake, his inability to do what he’d promised to, had completely broken anything they’d had.

And that was something he couldn’t blame anyone but himself for.

Note: These two just break my heart. If you missed the other parts of the story: Piers realizes his comrade has feelings for him, too, but then Xavier doesn’t follow through on a promise made. I’m still writing Declan’s story, Protecting the Heart, but once that is done, I’ll be starting on Piers & Xavier’s, Defending the Heart.

Writing Wednesday: Split Focus

This week has been going fairly well. Making progress on projects, though the last few days I’ve felt unfocused. Or at least my focus wasn’t what it should be on. Yesterday all I wanted to do was get back into reading Beyond the Red(Ava Jae), which I absolutely loved. But, I made myself get everything else done before I picked it back up. Not sure what my problem was today, other than being woken up at 3 a.m. by a whining puppy(this doesn’t happen too often anymore at least). And it’s really cold in the house. Last week I was thinking about getting shorts out. Today I dug out some slippers. I was going to sit under my blanket and watch the second half of season 1 of Outlander(I got it on DVD in December, but never seem to find the time to watch). But all of a sudden, the DVD player doesn’t want to read any DVDs.

It’s Wednesday again, which means it’s WiPPet Time! Woohoo!! I’m working on Ready When You Are(Hunter Family Book 3). This is Kelan and Oliver’s(might remember him from Some Fools Never Learn – he was Emilia’s brother) story, and Kelan’s brother, Nolan(from Flames of Restoration) has just showed up. This is still fairly close to the beginning of the story(pg 15 in my Word document). I have 14 paragraphs(2+7-4+2+1+6) of mostly dialogue

Nolan smiled, but it didn’t quite meet his eyes. Him and Maura couldn’t be having problems already, could they? They’d only been married for three weeks.

“Finn had a birthday party to go to,” Nolan said. “Maura took the girls shopping to spend some of their Christmas money. I have about an hour until I need to pick Finn back up, so I thought I’d see you, maybe swing by Mom and Dad’s if I have time.”

“Oh, okay,” he said, leading Nolan toward the kitchen. It wasn’t too unusual for his brother to stop by, especially if he was nearby. Still, it felt like there was more going on. And he had just seen Nolan the night before. Which made it even odder for him to just come over. “So, what’s up?”

Nolan let out a long breath. “Actually that’s what I was going to ask you.”

That had Kelan stopping where he was. “What does that mean? I’ve been back to school this week. But, you know that since the kids are, too.”

Nolan nodded. “There’s more to you than your work, though. You had a date last week.”

Damn having a close-knit family. He didn’t think that too often, as he loved the way his family was. Most of the time. “He had to cancel on me. Something with work, I guess.” He shrugged a shoulder as if it didn’t even matter. But his hand shook as he reached for the refrigerator door. “You want something to drink?”

“No, Kel. I want you to sit down and talk to me. You seemed upset when you were talking to Emilia last night.”

Kelan grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge for himself then moved over to the table where his brother had already taken a seat. “It’s fine. She explained this is how he gets when he’s working on a case. It wasn’t about me.”

“Kelan,” Nolan said, and something in his voice had Kelan’s head coming up, forcing him to make eye contact. “He may not have meant it like that, but you don’t have to disregard the way it made you feel.”

Kelan let out a strained laugh. “Anyone ever tell you that you should go back and finish your psychology degree.”

Nolan’s laugh was a little looser. “Mark mentions it all the time. Not always as a compliment.”

“When’s he getting married? Coming up soon, isn’t it?”

“Yes, next month. And stop changing the subject,” he said, but with a smile still on his face.

My progress so far this week:

  • Plot/write/edit for 20 hours – 9.5 hours. I might try to get a little more written today. We’ll see.
    • In the Moonlight – 2341 words in plotting. Ready to start writing this
    • Protecting the Heart – 2537 words
    • Ready When You Are – 1420 words
  • Dance with the Devil – get to 750 words – Have played with this(and the other two when I’ve gotten everything else done for the day. – at 619 words right now.
  • Goin’ Down – get to 625 words – 606 words
  • Snow White Twist(no official title for this one yet) – get to 300 words – 314 words
  • Read: Conflict & Suspense – Finish – up to 88% on this
  • Read: Everyday Average Jones(Suzanne Brockman), Beyond the Red(Ava Jae), & Beware the Wild(Natalie C. Parker) – finished Everyday Average Jones(liked it, though  had a couple issues with it) and Beyond the Red(LOVED!! yes, it deserved all caps), and almost halfway through Beware the Wild. Obviously it’s been a reading week.
  • Crochet: Twisty Cabled Beanie – more progress on this. Hoping to finish it this week.
  • A-Z Challenge – Revise U,V,W,X,Y,Z – got these all revised and scheduled on Sunday.

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