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Posts tagged ‘A-Z 2017’

A to Z: L is for Love

Last time we left Icarus leaving the clubhouse, angry about what he’d read in the newspaper and worried his temper would scare Cassie. Now, her reaction to what happened.


Cassie stood in the doorway, staring out into the kitchen. The now empty kitchen where she could still see the door swinging. She couldn’t remember ever seeing Grady so angry. Except for that day she’d come to see him. But, he hadn’t exploded like that. She’d seen it simmering in him. Of course, she’d pretty much told him he wasn’t good enough for her. Or at least that he had been good enough for an adventure, but nothing more than that.

None of it had been true. But, she’d been all of not quite seventeen, had just found out she was pregnant, and her father had threatened her with sending Grady to jail if she didn’t find a way to make him leave. She hadn’t wanted that for him, so she’d done as her father ordered. And had lost so many years with a good man because of it. Her father had taken care of everything so she could marry Henry before Trace had been born and be put as the father on his birth certificate. Her only conditions were that they never go after Grady again, and she be able to name the baby without any arguments.

She had named him, but when Henry realized who he’d been named after, he lost it. Trace had only been a week old the first time Henry hit her. Because of his name. He refused to call him Grady, insisted no one call him by that name. If she ever slipped when he was around, she’d paid for it. And the few times Trace had insisted he be called Grady, he’d paid for it as well.

Cassie shook away those old memories and started toward the kitchen. Only to find a large man, the president of the club, standing in her way. “Eric, please,” she said, still not comfortable using their nicknames for each other after nearly a year. “I have to go after him. He’s upset.”

“I know,” he said, his voice surprisingly gentle for such a large man. “There’s a reason he left. He doesn’t want you to see him that way. He doesn’t want to frighten you.”

“He never has,” she said. “Not like that.” No matter what she’d tried to convince herself, and Trace, of over the years. Grady had never been a scary person. Not like Henry. “I can’t let him think-”

“He doesn’t,” the younger Eric Parnell assured her, coming up to stand beside his father. “He knows you, Cassandra.” She flinched at the use of her name. Henry had always used it instead of the shorter version. She’d always liked it when Grady called her his Cassandra, like she was something special. Now, even that was tainted. “He loves you.”

“I love him, too. I can’t let him drown in all that anger. I won’t.”

Eric studied her for a long moment then stepped out of her path, taking his son with him. “I hope you know what you’re doing. Losing you to that man nearly destroyed him once. I don’t want to see it happen again.”

She headed through the kitchen and outside to see Grady pacing in front of the trees, his hands gripping both sides of his head. He looked up, their gazes clashing, and she saw all the anguish in his. Sorrow spilled through her, and she couldn’t do anything but go straight to him. He tried to turn away, but she simply moved with him, until his shoulders slumped and he stood in place.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry, Cassie.”

“No,” she said gripping his arms. “It’s not your fault. Remember that first day I came to find you? After my father finally let me out of the house? You tried to take the blame for my punishment then, and I told you the same. Their actions are not your fault. Not then and certainly not now.”

“I can’t bear the thought of harm coming to you because of me. That’s what it would be. If we hadn’t come to take you away from there-”

“Then, Henry would have kept taking his anger out on me. Every single day, Grady. I don’t know how much longer I could have stood it. You came exactly when I needed you to.” She reached up to caress his face. “Stop taking on the weight of this. I love you, Grady Hartson. And I’m not going to leave you again. Not because of Henry, and not because you think you need to protect me.”

He stared down at her for a second then drew her in to him, burying his face in her hair. “I love you,” he said. “And I’m not going to let anything take you from me. Not Henry and not my own stubborn pride.”

She laughed but stayed right in his arms until the cool breeze made her shiver. Then, with his arm wrapped around her waist, they walked back into the clubhouse.


What will happen now? Will they be able to hang onto this and each other? Or will Henry succeed at coming between them?

A to Z: K is for Kidnapped

Last time, we left Icarus going to talk to Chief and Bull about what happened in town. Today, we pick up the next morning.


Icarus stood in the hallway, leaning back against the wall. Cassie hadn’t said a whole lot the night before when he’d finally found her again. He wasn’t sure if she was upset he’d left her as soon as they’d gotten back to the clubhouse and hadn’t been able to find her until close to dinner. But, he hadn’t really had too much choice in the matter.

Sure, he could have waited to tell Chief about the run-in with Henry. But, he figured it was better they knew right away. No point in putting it off.

Maybe the shock of the run-in had finally worn off, and the reality had hit her.

Maybe she did actually want to go back to Henry. He shook that thought right out of his head. She had chosen to come with them. And every day she made the choice to stay. If she’d really wanted to return, any one of them would have driven her back to that house and dropped her off. Well, maybe not Icarus himself. He would let her go, but he didn’t think he could bring himself to be the one to leave her in that hellhole.

But, she’d never asked.

Who knows, maybe her thoughts had nothing to do with Henry or this situation. How was he to know? She hadn’t talked to him at all.

A door a couple rooms down the hallway opened, and a soft giggle escaped with it. “Trace,” Birdie said, almost affectionately exasperated. “Those pigs are going to eat all the breakfast if we don’t go down there now.”

He heard murmuring from inside the room but couldn’t make out any words that his son said. He shifted from one foot to the other, considering heading for the stairs right now, before either of them saw him. He was aware that they shared a room most nights; either Birdie’s or Trace’s. But, knowing his son and the girl he’d raised as a daughter from a few months old shared a bed and seeing the evidence of it were two far different circumstances.

Too late. Birdie’s gaze caught him, and her eyes danced. “Hi, Dad,” she said, nearly grinning. “You waiting for one of us?”

“Nope,” he said, feeling his cheeks pull up in a smile. She was definitely full of something this morning.

Her gaze darted toward Cassie’s door then back to him. And her grin widened. “Got you.” At least she didn’t seem to hate Cassie anymore. They hadn’t exactly gotten off to the best start. “We’re just heading down to breakfast. If there’s any left,” she threw back to Trace who was hesitating in the doorway.

“Uh, Dad,” he greeted Icarus. Apparently not nearly as comfortable as Birdie with being caught coming out of the same room when both were obviously just out of bed. “Morning.”

“Less talking, more eating,” Birdie said, and finally Trace laughed, following her to the stairs.

Cassie’s door finally creaked open after they’d disappeared downstairs. She stepped out and spotted him right away. Color rose to her cheeks, and his grin softened to a smile. “Why are you waiting for me?” she asked. “Usually you’re already down at breakfast.”

Had she been trying to avoid him. He certainly hoped not. Had he given her cause to try to? Again, he certainly hoped not. “I wanted a chance to speak to you. After yesterday, I was hoping everything was okay.”

“Everything’s fine, Grady,” she said, but she wouldn’t quite meet his eyes. “I was just tired last night. I didn’t feel like staying down with everyone else.”

He reached out and cupped her chin, bringing her face up toward his. “Are you sure that’s all?” he asked. “If there’s anything-”

“Stop,” she said quietly. “I’m fine. A little shaken up, but I’ll survive. You should probably go down to breakfast. See if anyone needs you today.”

Okay, there was a bit of a sharp bite to that. But, he did have responsibilities here. He couldn’t really help that. He brushed his lips over hers then pulled back. “Are you coming down, too?”

“Maybe in a little bit. I’m not hungry right now.”

She also didn’t look like she’d slept well. But, he doubted she’d take kindly to him saying so. Instead he just said, “We’ll talk later, okay?”

She nodded then crossed the hall to the bathroom. Right. She usually did take a shower before coming down to join them. He should know her routine by now. She wasn’t the only one still a little shaken from the encounter yesterday he supposed.

He found a fairly normal scene down in the large dining room. People talking, laughing, some kissing. His gaze skipped from Trace and Birdie to where Hawk and Devil sat hip to hip. Hawk’s face was all healed up from his ordeal with the Ivory Crows. Icarus knew his ribs still ached, though. In fact he saw a slight cringe as he moved a little too fast to meet Devil’s mouth. That didn’t stop the two of them, though, and Icarus couldn’t hold back a smile at the sight. After everything they’d been through, they deserved this bit of joy.

After grabbing a plate of food from the buffet, he moved to an empty chair, his empty chair, and was grateful to find the newspaper folded up in front of it. He imagined he had Birdie to thank for that, though she hadn’t gotten down here all that much sooner than him.

He took a sip of coffee before unfolding the paper. But, he froze with a forkful of pancake dripping syrup over his plate. All the joy he’d felt at seeing the people he cared about together fled in a single instant.

A photo of Cassie and Trace stared back at him. It had to have been taken a couple years earlier. Trace didn’t look much more than sixteen, softer than he was now, but there was already fear in his eyes. Even with the grainy image, he could see it. He scanned the article running beside it and everything inside him curdled.

“Kidnapped,” he read aloud and sensed everything around him come to a crashing stop. “Wife and son of decorated Olin County deputy sheriff, Henry Kearns were abducted from their home early last summer. Under threat of their death, he didn’t report the abduction until now. After spotting his wife, Cassandra, the daughter of the late sheriff Scott Vallis, with the man who allegedly abducted her,  he knew he had to take action.”

Icarus could not read anymore. His mouth was too dry to even speak. Trace’s wasn’t, though, apparently. “What utter horseshit,” he spit out. “I left there on my own, before I ever even met any of you, and he damn well knows that. Mom left of her own free will, too. And you’ve never threatened any of us. How dare he say any of this.”

“It doesn’t matter that it’s not true,” Arrow said from the other end of the table. “He’s said it, and it’s out there. People will believe him because of his position. It doesn’t matter,” he said again.

Icarus knew what the kid said was true. But, he couldn’t let this happen. He was not going to let that man take his family away from him. Not this time. Not again.

He didn’t realize he had the newspaper balled in his fist until Bull pried it out of his fingers. When Icarus looked up, Cassie stood in the doorway, a stricken look on her face. All his anger spilled over, and he shoved back from the table. He turned and stormed into the kitchen, taking the door in there to go outside. He needed to get away before he did something that would have scared her even more.

He just needed to calm down, before this fire raging through him destroyed everything in his path. It had been nearly eighteen years since he’d felt like this. Since Eric Parnell had plucked him from the dark path he’d started down after Cassie was taken from him.

He couldn’t let himself start down it again. No matter what it took. And if Henry ever got his hands on what was his again, Icarus was afraid that’s exactly what would happen.


What will happen now? What else will Henry do? What will happen between Cassie and Icarus now?

A to Z: H is for Henry

Last week, we left Icarus remembering his past with Cassie as they go out for a ride. Today, we’re moving into someone else’s POV. If you’ve read Into the Sun, you’ll recognize him.


Henry Kearns stepped out of his cruiser and headed for the front of the store. He still walked with a limp, and his knee ached like a bitch almost constantly, but he’d tossed away the cane he’d been using. His doctor had suggested he keep it, but fuck that. As long as he used it, the department would keep him on a medical leave. He couldn’t take that anymore.

He wasn’t going to let that bastard Hartson keep on winning.

He was off duty now and should be in his recliner already, taking his weight off this knee. But, he’d remembered on the way there, he wouldn’t have anything to eat as soon as he walked in the door. After a year, he should damn well be used to it. But, sometimes he still forgot Cassandra wouldn’t be waiting for him, putting a hot dinner on the table as soon as he came inside.

He’d taught her that lesson well.

And she’d still left him. For fucking Hartson. He thought she’d learned how that would go for her twenty years ago. Should never have let the little punk out of a cell. But Sheriff Vallis had been sure he’d stay away. And, well, he had. Just not long enough. If Henry ever got his hands on Trace again, he’d certainly pay for ever bringing Grady Hartson back into their lives.

He walked through the store to the prepared foods section. Several people lifted their hands to him in a wave as he passed. People around here respected him. Just as they damn well should. He picked up a small roasted chicken from the warmer and a small cup of fried potatoes. That would work. If he hadn’t already passed the diner, he would have just stopped there like he had most nights.

“It’s good to see you up and about, Deputy Kearns,” the cashier said.

He just nodded back at her, not bothering with a thanks or even a glance at her name tag. What did any of that matter to him?

“It’s a shame they never caught the men who broke into your place and shot you.”

Henry barely held back a snort. He couldn’t believe everyone had bought that shit he’d shoveled out a year ago. He’d waited for that little punk to follow through with his threat to expose what he knew about Henry’s dealings for months. But, nothing had ever come of it. Little fucker had probably only been bluffing. He couldn’t really have known any of that.

He walked back out into the parking lot and heard the roar of a motorcycle. That sound always made a chill flash over him. And he couldn’t help looking for the source of it. It was never Grady, though. Or any of his accomplices. He so wanted to take at least one of them down, haul them in, get whatever he could from them before he found a way to lock them up for the rest of their miserable lives.

Then, go on and do it to the next one. Until they were all gone. Then, he could finally have his wife back. He’d think about taking Trace back, too, if they begged good enough. But, he was already enmeshed in that lifestyle too much. Henry would just have to lock him up, too. Then, he’d see what real punishment was like.

When he finally spotted the bike, it was just coming to a stop a couple aisles over from him. Still, he noticed the woman first as she slid off the back of the bike. She pulled off the helmet, and Henry felt like someone had socked him right in the stomach. Possibly with a sledgehammer. The sunglasses came off too, and he couldn’t convince himself he was seeing things.

His sweet quiet, demure Cassandra was riding bitch on a motorcycle. She never would have done that. Not unless they’d brainwashed her somehow. She knew better than to do something dangerous like that. And she was laughing about it, too.

He hadn’t heard her really laugh in years.

Then, the man took off his helmet too and smiled up at her. Even from this distance, that smile was nearly blinding. And it infuriated Henry.

“Fucking Hartson,” he muttered, then he set his food on the back of his car and strode toward them.

He hated that his stride was still more of a hobble, despite the months of physical therapy. And all because of this man. And he still had what belonged to Henry.

Not for much longer.

Cassandra was the one who saw him first. Her face went bleach white, and she reached out to grip the bastard’s arm. He turned toward her then instantly shifted so she was behind him, even while he reached a hand into his vest. His gaze landed on Henry, and the man’s jaw tightened. He didn’t pull his hand back out of his vest, but that also meant his gun was still in his hidden pocket.

Henry wasn’t going to let him use it on him again. “You shoot me this time, and you can bet I won’t tell some fiction about burglars. You will rot in a cell. I’ll make sure of it.”

“You were threatening my son. I’d do it all over again and risk the jail time to save his life. Don’t think I wouldn’t do what it takes to keep Cassie safe as well.”

He sneered at the way he shortened her name, made it less than. “I’m not the one putting them in danger. The longer they’re around you, the more hurt they’ll be in the end.”

Grady snarled as he lunged toward Henry. “You come near them and I’ll make sure it’s known just what you did to Trace. He told us everything. If it was up to me-”

Before he could finish whatever threat he would have come up with, Cassandra stepped forward and put a hand on Grady’s arm. “Come on,” she said softly. “He’s not going to do anything to us. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

“Don’t be so sure, Cassandra. I’m going to take that gang down.”

Hartson looked about ready to snarl something at him again, but Cassandra gave his arm a little tug. Grady turned toward her, and Henry was taken by surprise at the warmth in his eyes. “Come on,” she said again. “We’ll go. He’s not worth it.”

Those words had the air rushing from his lungs. Then, a fire started to build inside him. But, the two of them were already climbing back on the bike. They might be getting away today, but he would find a way to take them down. All of them.


Henry certainly is a piece of work, isn’t he? What he going to do next? Will he find a way to get Cassie back(let’s keep our fingers crossed that’s a no)?

Writing Wednesday: New Month

I was going to do my January wrap-up along with today’s post, but I figured my Wednesday posts are usually long enough as it is. So, I did it and my goals for February yesterday. So you can go check those out if you’d like.

I’ve had a pretty decent start to the week. Monday was a good wording day. Yesterday not quite as much, but not too bad. And things are heating up in Defending the Heart(in nice contrast to the weather outside my window).

Speaking of, it’s Wednesday which means WiPPet time!! Woohoo!! Yeah, I get a little excited about that. As I figured last Wednesday, I did finish the first draft of Crash and Burn on Friday. Which means Defending the Heart has moved up into the main project slot. So, that’s what I’ll be sharing from, probably at least the rest of this month. Today I have 13 sentences(2+1+2+1+7). Piers was worried about Xavier when he didn’t show up for work so went up to his apartment where Xavier started to attack him but didn’t seem to realize it was him. It didn’t take Piers long to realize what was going on.

“Flashback?” Piers asked softly when Xavier took his arm away.
“I’m fine,” Xavier said. Which didn’t exactly answer Piers’ question. He wasn’t really surprised, though.
“Does this happen often?”
“That I have hot guys breaking into my apartment? I wish.”
Piers knew Xavier was just trying to get a rise out of him, but he didn’t bite. “You know just what I meant, X.”
“And I told you I’m fine. You surprised me, that’s all.” But, he’d turned his back so Piers could no longer see his eyes.

Is Xavier really fine? What was he flashing back to? Will he let Piers in?

Now, as for my progress so far this week:


  • Write: Shoot for 10000 between all projects – 3939/10000. Okay not as much as I’d like at this point.
  • Edit: Stained Blood – finish Story Toolkit & outline new scenes – I got through the subplot worksheet on this one
  • Plot: Playing with Fire – finish Story Toolkit, the last 2 Just Jot It January prompts, and outline if I can – I got through the subplot worksheet on this too. And I wrote 1 more Just Jot It piece for this one, though it probably takes place after the end of the story
  • Side Projects: Add 1500 words(since I’m moving Midas’ Daughter up under the other writing for now) – 329/1500 words so far.
  • Listen: Changeless(Gail Carriger), Be Mine Forever(Marina Adair), The Sapphire Brooch(Katherine Lowry Logan) – finished Changeless(loved, though the end broke my heart. just glad there’s more or that end would have pissed me off), I still have about 3 hours left on Be Mine Forever but enjoying it.
  • Read: Finish Idol(Kristen Callihan), Mixed Signals(Alyssa Cole), Act Like It(Lucy Parker), & Engaging the Bachelor(Cathryn Fox). Added: No Place to Run(Maya Banks), Along Came a Spider(Kate Serine), Born Wild(Julie Ann Walker), Gena/Finn(Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson) & Make It Right(Megan Erickson) – I finished Idol(enjoyed), Mixed Signals(really enjoyed), set aside Act Like It because it didn’t pull me in & the hero was being set up as a completely unlikeable asshat & I didn’t see why I’d want to root for the heroine to get together with him. Then, I read Engaging the Bachelor which I liked. I started No Place to Run last night and got to page 69.
  • Loom: Meadow Moss Headband – I started this again and ended up ripping it out yet again. I just can’t seem to get it right, so I finally decided to give up on this one. So for this week, I added:
  • Knit: Clean Slate hat – haven’t started this quite yet
  • A to Z Challenge: Draft – Posts A-Z – I got the theme reveal post mostly written up. I was going to list out the titles for each post but realized there’s only 25 days not counting the Sundays this April. So, I’m not sure where that extra day will go. I checked the website, but it’s not up there yet, so I’ll wait to finish that one up. I’m still counting this one as in progress.


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