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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “March”

“Danica, you march right in there and apologize to your mama.”

Alaina glanced up at her brother’s voice, but it was the little girl who caught her attention. Her bottom lip was trembling, and tears were welling in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Declan.”

“I’m not the one you yelled at,” he said, but his voice was softening. “She didn’t deserve that, Dani. Go on and tell her you’re sorry. Everything will be fine.”

Alaina waited until the little girl dragged her feet back into the kitchen to approach her brother. He was still crouched down from facing his stepdaughter, and she put a hand on his shoulder. “You make a pretty great dad, Dec.”

He shook his head. “I don’t have a clue to what I’m doing. What if I mess it all up?”

“You did fine with me.”

He looked back at her then. “You were nearly sixteen at the time. There wasn’t much raising left to do. This is different. And I’m not.”

“What do you mean?”

“Not her father. Not really. She never really knew him and thank goodness for that.”

Alaina didn’t know a whole lot about the situation, except he’d been responsible for Declan being hurt over the summer. So, yeah, she could agree with him there. “You’re doing just fine,” she told him. But, she had to hold back a smile. She was pretty sure her brother was going to be surprised when he opened his gift from Eva and Dani on Christmas morning.

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Today’s prompt for the Stream of Consciousness post was “march” and that first sentence is what popped into  my head. I’m still plotting out Heart of Christmas, but I definitely think this will be included in it.

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “How”

How are you doing on this lovely day?”

Alaina glanced over at Caelen who was leaning in the doorway to the kitchen then back out the window. Where the sky seem to be pouring down buckets of water. “Is this really what you call a lovely day in Ireland?”

He let out a long loud laugh. God, she really loved to hear his laugh. “You’d think you’d be used to it after the more than year you’ve lived here.”

She loved listening to the way words rolled off his tongue, too. Sometimes she wished he talked more, just so she could hear it.

He brushed his dark hair away from his face and moved over to the table. He’d been out working in her uncle’s barn most of the day. Now, she scooped some of the stew she’d been cooking into a bowl for him. He smiled up at her as she set the bowl in front of him. “Running through the rain may well have been worth this.”

“My stew or getting to see me?”

She watched his face flood with color then just winked at him. Then, she turned back around. “Are you flirting with my sister, Dougherty?”

She rolled her eyes at her older brother’s question, but she heard Caelen choke a little. “No. No, I…I just came in for some stew.”

“Relax, Caelen,” she told him still not turning around. “Declan likes to think he’s a badass, but he’s really a softie.”

Her brother wrapped an arm around her shoulders and pressed a kiss to the side of her head. “I am a badass. Retired, but still a badass.”

She laughed. “I didn’t know badass and Marine were synonymous.”

“Then, you weren’t paying attention.”

She laughed again, harder this time. She’d missed his brother and hated not knowing exactly what was going on with him. Especially when he’d gotten hurt over the summer. So much for being retired from anything. She was glad he and his new family had at least been able to make it over here for the holidays. She wasn’t looking forward to when they left again, though.

Even if her brother did try to butt into her private life.

“Maybe it’s him I should be worrying about,” Declan murmured. “Are you going to break his heart?”

“I don’t think that’s possible,” she said. She’d have to have it first, and it was something Caelen seemed to keep well-guarded. If only she could get through those defenses. She just didn’t know how.

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Another Stream of Consciousness Saturday, today’s prompt: “how.” Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy! Another dip into the novella I’m planning to write in my BC Security series. This one is tentatively titled “Heart of Christmas”. The others all have heart in the title(Guarding the Heart, Protecting the Heart, Defending the Heart) and this one does take place around Christmas. I got it mostly brainstormed this week, so I’ll be moving on to writing back stories next week. I already know most of Alaina’s from writing Declan’s for Protecting the Heart. So that shouldn’t be too hard.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Cook”

I skipped last week’s prompt, mostly because I couldn’t come up with anything for it. But, I’ve had something simmering in my head since I saw the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt yesterday. We have a busy day(ok, we’re busy through Monday), but I’m going to try to get it down before we have to get going.

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“I do know how to cook, you know?” Alaina said. “You don’t have to hover.”

Declan laughed from behind her. “Trust me, I know you can. We probably wouldn’t have survived if I’d had to do the cooking.”

She looked over her shoulder and smiled at her older brother. They may bicker, but she was so grateful to have him in her life, especially after their mother had died and her stepfather hadn’t stuck around. He’d sacrificed a lot to finish raising her, and that’s something she’d never forget. “I’m sure you would have figured it out.” She went back to stirring the bowl in front of her. “And I’m sorry I couldn’t make it back for the wedding.”

“You could have,” he said, but she didn’t hear any censure in the words. “If you would’ve accepted my offer.”

She closed her eyes. He had offered to pay for her ticket back to Texas for the wedding. But, after everything he’d done for her, she couldn’t accept more from him. “No, I couldn’t,” she said softly.

She felt him behind her then, and his arms wrapped around her. “I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done for you. Don’t ever forget that.”

She smiled ever as tears welled in her eyes. She had missed her big brother, even as much as she loved it here. “You know Uncle Niall and Aunt Eileen are glad you, Eva, and Dani were able to make it for Christmas. They were afraid something might come up.” Not that she was sure what. She didn’t even know exactly what her brother did, except install security. But, she didn’t understand how that had gotten him shot–twice–over the summer.

“I said we’d be here. I wouldn’t have broken that promise unless I couldn’t help it. You know that.”

She did. and she didn’t say it, but she was even happier he was here. She liked being here in Ireland with her father’s family, but she’d missed Declan. He took a step back but didn’t go far. “Now, before Aunt Eileen comes in and kicks me out of the kitchen, what’s this I hear about some friends that will be joining us.”

Alaina could feel her face warm, but she kept her gaze on the ingredients she was measuring. “I’m sure she told you, they’re friends of Sean’s.”

“Yes. She also told me one of them has been paying an awful lot of attention to you.”

That actually wasn’t Sean’s friend. It was his younger brother. “They don’t have much in the way of family, either. Braeden helped raise Caelan, just like you. They’re going to spend the holidays here. I don’t know what else there is to know.”

“How about how you feel about him?”

She turned to him then and tried to control her flush, though that was nearly impossible. “I feel that I’m a grown woman now, and what I feel is my business.”

He scowled for a moment then burst out laughing. “Yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what Eva told me, too.”

“I like your wife, Declan.”

His smile was soft as he said, “Yeah, I do, too.” He took another step back and said, “I’ll get out of your hair now. Go see if Dani’s back from the barn with Uncle Niall yet.”

The whole family had taken instantly to Declan’s new stepdaughter, and Alaina was especially happy her brother had found this happiness. He deserved it, maybe more than any of them. And she hoped she could find it one day, too.

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I don’t know how far this will go, but I’ve been thinking about writing a novella about Declan’s sister since I wrote Protecting the Heart, even though this series was only supposed to be a trilogy. So, I may work on this once I finish Defending the Heart.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Cash

We have another busy weekend. Last night we had a motorcycle ride that raised money for the drug and alcohol coalition. Today we have another one that’s raising money for the oncology department at a local hospital. There’s another ride tomorrow, one we did last year, that’s sponsored by the Riders Advocating Against Child Abuse, but we’re not going on that one this year. Instead, we have a picnic hosted by the Moose club we belong to. I’m going to be very peopled out by the end of Sunday.

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Anyway, we’re here for Stream of Consciousness Saturday right now. I’ve been using these prompts to explore my characters from the WiP I’m currently plotting out. It’s book 3 in the series, and I’m just about finished up with book 2(I wrote the climax yesterday, so just need to wrap the rest up). I’ve been focusing on Xavier, since I was writing his back story. But, I’ve started Piers’, so may  be looking at things from his perspective now. *This does reference what happened during that climax of  book 2, but it’s not all too spoilery.

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“You ever going to cash in that favor I owe you?”

Piers glanced over at Declan, one eyebrow twitching up. “Favor? I don’t recall a favor.”

“I told you I owed you for what you did. I wouldn’t have gotten Eva out of there if it wasn’t for you. I told you, whatever you want, I’ll find a way to do it. You haven’t said a word about it in months, though.”

“You were high on pain medicine when you said that,” Piers said, keeping his gaze on his computer screen. “I would never hold you to it. And, I told you then, you owe me nothing.”

To his surprise, his old friend didn’t push it anymore. Then, Piers glanced up and saw who else had walked into the office. He closed his eyes and rubbed his fingers over them. Right. Declan knew all about that now. Or at least how Piers felt about it. He hadn’t meant to let it out. But, there was nothing he could do to take it back now. And he didn’t think Declan would say anything.

“What is it, Xavier?” Declan asked. Piers wasn’t even sure he could speak.

The other man’s eyes met his then darted away again. Well, at least one thing between them was mutual.

“Case and Alex want to see all of us. I said I’d get you.”

Xavier had gotten him at one time. Every single thing about him. Not so much anymore.

But, there wasn’t much he could do about that either. Except try to move on.

Story a Day: Day 15 – Still Trusted

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to rewrite the 1st person story from week 1. I wrote it from Eva’s POV the first time. This time, I rewrote it from Declan’s.

I headed up the stairs, wondering how Eva was doing after meeting Piers. I’d  worried when I heard Eva coming down the stairs. I remembered how she’d reacted to Casey that first day. Piers may not come off as intimidating, he was more laidback. But, he was still a big man, so it wasn’t a surprise she’d been frightened by him as well. I could tell her that none of the guys would ever hurt her, but I wasn’t so sure she’d believe me. And I wouldn’t blame her, either. Sometimes I was surprised she still trusted me.

I’d promised her she’d be safe from Doug, and now it looked like that might not be the case.

Now, I found her waiting for me at the top of the stairs, just inside the apartment. It looked like she’d worked herself into a state, just as I’d been worried about. Now, if only I could find the right words to calm her fears. She turned from the kitchen counter, and I approached slowly, hoping I wouldn’t spook her as well.

“Your friend left?” she asked.

“Yeah. What did you want to talk to me about, Eva?”

I took a couple steps closer to her,  but I saw her eyes widen and that pulse in her neck start to flutter, so I stopped where I was. I didn’t want to frighten her any more than I, or Piers, already had. I wished she knew I’d never hurt her. I wanted to touch her but never in the way her husband had.

“I want to do something.”

That took me by surprise, but I shook it off. Of course, she was tired of being cooped up here. “Okay,” I said, a little slowly. “What? You need to go somewhere? I can take you.”

She shook her head, the earrings she wore swinging with the motion. I wondered if she’d made those ones herself. “That’s not what I meant,” she said, bringing my attention back to her mouth. Which was a mistake. But, I had to focus on her words not on how much I’d like to kiss her right now. “I want to do something about Doug, to stop him.”

Those words sent a shaft of fear through me. I couldn’t let her anywhere near him, couldn’t let him get near her. “You don’t need to do that. I told you I’d take care of you. That I would keep you safe.”

“But, I can’t just sit around knowing he’s still out there. I have to do something, Declan. I don’t want to be this damsel in distress. Not again.”

“You’ve never been that,” I insisted. “You got yourself out of a bad situation, protected your baby. I only helped. So, don’t think of yourself like that.”

“There has to be something I can do,” she said, her voice sounding a little desperate.

I stared at her for a few moments then sighed. It seemed there was very little I could deny her or her daughter. “I got some information from Piers earlier. That’s why he was here. You can go through it with me.”

I watched her, waiting for her reaction, and hoped this would be enough. She still wouldn’t be in danger, but at least she’d feel she was doing something. Finally, she said, “Okay, I’ll check on Danica. She was in her room playing. Then, we can get started.”

I just nodded and headed to the table with the file I’d brought up from the office. She hesitated for a moment then headed back toward the bedrooms. I ran a hand over my face as I sank into a seat. Piers had said I was sunk. And I was pretty sure he was right.

Story a Day: Day 12 – “Too Overbearing”

Today’s prompt was to write about a flawed protagonist(as all protagonists should be), and to make that flaw pretty much center stage. And Declan’s overbearing/overprotectiveness could definitely be seen as a flaw. Even if he feels he has reasons to be that way.

“I hate you!”

Declan cringed at the sound of the slamming door then ran a hand over his face. He’d never expected to hear those words from his sister’s mouth. Maybe it was common for most siblings, but she’d always seemed to adore him. Even when he hadn’t always wanted her around. There was a nearly ten year age difference between them. And he’d spent most of the earliest years of her life with their father in Ireland.

But, now he was the one responsible for her. Both of their parents were dead, and their stepfather had refused to continue guardianship of her after they’d buried their mother. And good riddance. But, it meant Declan hadn’t had a choice but to step up. And now she hated him. Great. Just, bloody great.

He took a deep breath then headed down the short hallway to her room. “Alaina,” he said, knocking on her door, “I am sorry, but that boy-”

“You haven’t even met him,” she shouted through the closed door. “If you’d talk to him, you’d see. He’s not what you think. You’re just too overbearing to even let me have a life.”

Declan winced. She probably had a point. But, he was just trying to protect her. They only had each other now. He couldn’t let anything happen to her. She had just turned seventeen. And even though he was twenty-six, he could still remember how things had been when he was her age. How he had been.

“It’s not that I don’t want you havin’ a life, Alaina. I just don’t want you hurtin’. Sometimes, well, some boys will say anything at all to get what they want.”

“I told you, Dec, Alek isn’t like that. If you’d talk to him, you’d see that. He can come over here and-”

“Not today.” He practically growled the words. “I have to get to work, Alaina.” He tried to keep his schedule to week days, but they’d needed him to come in today even though it was Saturday. “Please, just tell me you’ll stay here until I get home. We can talk more about this over dinner tonight.”

She didn’t answer him, though. Declan let his forehead hit the door. But, he really did need to get moving. He didn’t want to be late for work. They’d given him the job as much because his father had worked for them as because of his references. It was the one job his time in the Marines actually seemed to come in handy for. And he didn’t want to screw up that chance.

But, once he had his security guard’s uniform on, he tried one more time. “Alaina.”

This time she did open her door, and she smiled as she adjusted his collar. “Don’t you look dashing,” she said. “You going to go keep all those shoppers safe?”

He knew a distraction technique when he saw one and narrowed his eyes at her. “Alaina, promise me you won’t go out and see him. Not until we can talk about this some more.”

She kept that sweet smile on her face, but he wasn’t so sure he should trust it. “I won’t go out, Declan. I promise.”

A warning went off in his head, but he brushed it aside. He wasn’t a prison warden, and he had to get to work. He’d have to trust her. “I’ll bring dinner home,” he told her. “We’ll talk more then.”

***

Declan rubbed his eyes as he headed into the apartment building then let out a jaw-cracking yawn. He felt like he’d been about to fall asleep on his feet toward the end of his shift. There’d been plenty of people at the shopping mall today, but very little trouble. One missing kid who’d wandered off to the toy store and a teenager who’d tried to walk out of another store with a pair of sunglasses. He’d handle days like that, even if they were boring.

His father had died doing this job, so he’d live with the less eventful moments.

He balanced the boxes of barbeque on one hand while he unlocked the apartment door with the other. Alaina hadn’t answered his texts as he was leaving work, but he hoped she was just getting a head start on her homework that was due Monday. He pushed the door open with his shoulder, but had barely stepped inside when Alaina’s voice cut through the apartment.

“I said no, damn it.”

He nearly dropped the food as everything in him went on alert. He set it on the counter before he took off for Alaina’s room. To find a boy staggering out of the room, blood dripping from a cut on his lip. “Damn, that girl is crazy.”

Declan grabbed his arm and shoved him up against the wall. “That girl is me sister. What did you do to her?”

Before he could answer, Alaina was at their side. “Dec, let him go. He was leaving anyway. Nothing happened,” she added, a little softer now.

He didn’t release his grip on the boy as he looked over at her. Her hair was , her shirt a little twisted up. But, he couldn’t see anything else out of place. He pushed the boy down the hallway. “Get out of here. I don’t ever want to see or hear of you putting your hands on my sister again.”

He waited until he heard the front door slam then turned back to Alaina. And saw she was shaking now. He pushed away the anger still coursing through him and took her arms in his hands. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, but her voice wavered. “We were just fooling around. He wanted to go farther than I did. I told him to stop, and he didn’t want to. So, I hit him.”

Despite everything, Declan had to laugh. “I taught you well, didn’t I?”

She let out a watery laugh then went into his arms. “So, you don’t have to be so overprotective of me. I’ve told you, I can take care of myself.”

Maybe so. But, that certainly didn’t mean he’d just stop worrying and trying to protect her. He also didn’t want to push her right in the opposite direction. He’d have to work on that. In the meantime…”Come on,” he said, hugging her one more time. “I brought some dinner home. And we can have a talk about twisting the promises you make to me.”

Her lips quirked at that. “I said I wouldn’t leave to see him. I didn’t go anywhere.”

“Like I said. We’ll have to have a talk about the spirit of a promise.”

 

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.

 

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