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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Project”

“Is that what I am to you?” Caelen asked from the doorway. “A project?”

Alaina spun to face him, her mouth hanging slightly open. “What…what are you talking about?”

“I heard you talkin’ to your sister-in-law. About your latest project. Is that why you’re here. To make the poor, sad, lonely Irish boy feel better ’bout himself. Then, you’ll go back home to America.”

It wasn’t guilt that flashed into her eyes, but anger. “Is that really what you think of me, Caelen Dougherty? That I’d just string you along then cut the line. I’m not like that.”

“I heard what you said,” he replied stubbornly.

“You heard what you wanted to,” she retorted. “I know you’ve got abandonment issues, and I get that. I’ve got a set of my own. It doesn’t mean you need to project your fears onto me and think you know what I’m thinking.”

Shame washed through him. Maybe she was right. About his fears and taking it out on her. He wasn’t sure which one made him feel worse. “Alaina-”

“No,” she said, slapping a hand against his chest. “You don’t get to accuse me, then try to just smooth things over. If you really want to know, I was talking about a project. Something I’m making. That I was going to give you for Christmas. But, if you’re just going to be a donkey’s ass about it, I just may have changed my mind, and I’ll just scrap the whole thing.”

He just stared at her as she stomped out of the room. She was making him a gift? He hadn’t even gone out and bought her anything yet. Well, now, didn’t he feel the idiot? And still, he wanted to follow her. Lord knew it would probably be a mistake in her current temper. And that temper only drew him to her more. And he wasn’t sure what to do about that.

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I can tell you, Caelen! haha. Anyway, this is my sacrifice to the gods of Stream of Consciousness Saturday…oh, wait, there are no gods of SOCS, you say? My bad. Sorry, I seem to be in a goofy mood this morning. No idea why. Anyway, I’ve shared a few other pieces that will likely make it into Heart of Christmas, but I haven’t had anything from Caelen’s pov yet. I think these two should be interesting to write.

Fiction Friday: Patreon

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had some plans for the back story novellas I started sharing here. But, I never said any more about it. Well, I’ve been quietly working on getting my Patreon page set up. Yes, I’ve decided to do this. I figured it could be a way to make some extra money from my writing, and possibly even a steadier stream of income than I’ve been making from my books. I was willing to at least give it a chance.

So, I’ve got my page set up and finished typing the first piece to share there. You may have read it before as it showed up in the first World Unknown Review. Most of the other ones I’ll share will probably be shorter, though some may end up longer. And I’m planning to share the back story novellas chapter by chapter. For now I’ll only be sharing Patrick & Sarah’s & Tavin & Haiwee’s, since those are the only ones where the main stories have been published.

I’m going to be going through my published novels and making lists of the little side stories I can write from them, side characters, back stories, or even some “after the HEA” moments. If you’ve read any of my novels and have any ideas for more I can write, I’d be glad to see what they are.

And feel free to check out my page and let me know what you think?

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 – “Pretty”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is to use “pretty” somehow in the post. I was trying to figure out how to use it toward one of my current project, then another character started waving his arms around. I wrote “Midas’ Daughter” back in May for the Story a Day challenge. Then I revised it and submitted it for the World Unknown Review. Well, I heard back about that on Monday, and it wasn’t accepted(neither was my other submission unfortunately). But, I decided to take her comments on it and flesh it out some more, maybe even add in POVs from the other characters, and possibly turn it into a novella(maybe novellete if it falls short of novella length). Then…I don’t know. First, I have to rewrite it, then I’ll decide what happens next. but, today, I’ll be looking at events from another character’s perspective(without looking back at the original. right now, I just have the first line in my head).

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“Yeah, pretty girl,” Flip said, rubbing a hand down the mare’s neck. “I miss her, too.”

He’d seen Calla walk past the stable not too long ago. Of course, she hadn’t even looked in here. He’d only been able to sneak peeks of her the last several days. She wouldn’t stay away by choice, so he knew exactly who was making it this way.

Not that he could ever have her. Old Man Midas had made that clear the first time he showed interest. He was just a stable hand and would never deserve her. Neither did that creep her father was currently pushing at her. The mare nudged his shoulder as if she sensed his mood. He patted her neck once more than moved toward the door to the stall. He had more chores to see to.

But, he’d barely made it halfway through the next stall before Ariadne pawed at the stall and snorted. she wasn’t usually high-tempered, so he knew something was up. He moved back toward her then heard the raised voices outside. He couldn’t make out any of the words, but he recognized one of the voices. Calla. He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall. He wanted to do something, wanted to make everything better for her. But, what could he do? He knew what would happen if he made a scene out there. He’d be fired, and if she needed him he wouldn’t be here any longer.

He needed to be here just in case things went bad. And he couldn’t see them going good with the direction they’d taken.

The other voice rose even more, and Ariadne’s ear went back flat. His own chest felt tight, claws digging deep into him. “I know, pretty girl,” he said, trying to soothe the animal. “I don’t much care for him, either. But, the important thing is if Calla does.” He rubbed her neck, taking as much comfort from her as he was giving. This pain in his chest was almost too much to bear. But, he’d known for a long time that Calla was the only one who could take it away. “We’ve already chosen her. She just has to choose us back.”

And he was afraid that was never going to happen. It would mean fighting back against her father. And she’d never done that before. He’d offer her whatever strength he had to make sure she could do that. It just meant he had to stick around as long as he could. He wouldn’t give up yet. He would never give up on them until she made that choice.

SOCS: “Strongest, Bravest, Best”

After I read this week’s prompt of using a word that ends in -est for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, a bit of dialogue popped into my head between two characters for the story I’m currently plotting out. Then, this morning I thought about talking about my latest release. But, then I hopped back over to the fiction idea. Though I will probably tag on a note about that release on the end of this post.

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“It would be better if you stay away from me, Denise. I don’t know-”

“Then, it’s a good thing I do, Toby,” she said, not letting him finish. “I’ve known you at least twenty years now, haven’t I?”

“Give or take,” he admitted. “But, you were a kid. You didn’t know anything about me.”

“Was I ever a typical kid, though? Even before…he died, I knew stuff little kids shouldn’t know. Jared tried to protect me from the worst of it, but that didn’t mean I didn’t see. Just like I always saw you.”

“If that was true, you’d understand why-”

She interrupted him again. She was always doing that, and it drove him crazy.

“I do understand, Toby, I just think you’re wrong. Do you really think you just happened to find me all those times I ran from those homes? I was always trying to find you.”

“Why would you do that?”

She rolled her eyes, and yeah, she must have driven him crazy, because that gesture had him grinning suddenly. “Other than Jared, you were the strongest, bravest, smartest person I knew. You were the best person I knew, Toby, other than my brother. Why wouldn’t I have come to find you?”

He could only stare at her. Yep, absolutely crazy. For her.

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No idea where this will come in the story. maybe in the middle, so they can think, at least for a little while, that everything will be okay. Cause I’m just mean like that.

As I said above, I have a new release out. Stained by Ashes, the second book in my Stained series. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can even read it for free. And the first book, Stained Snow, is free through Monday.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Exit Strategy

Today’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is ‘ex-‘. And we have internet this time! Woohoo! They actually sent someone out on Saturday to fix it last week. I was afraid we’d be internet-less until at least Monday. Which would have made me an antsy mess. But, it’s fixed. Something on the pole at the end of the driveway broke and had to be replaced. All better now, though. Not everything is better, though. One of the guys from the motorcycle club we ride with was involved in a hit and run accident Monday and passed away early Thursday morning. So, we have his funeral today, as well as a family reunion and my daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. Needless to say, my mind is kind of all over the place(which…isn’t all that different from any other time. Anxiety is *so* much fun).

Anyway, fiction helps me deal with all the craziness in my head. So, going back to visiting with Piers and Xavier from Defending the Heart. I’ve been working on Xavier’s back story this week and learning a lot more about him. And, damn, am I mean to my characters, especially during their back stories. Anyway…

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“You always have an exit strategy, don’t you?”

Xavier glanced over at Piers, who was already setting up at his computer at the table they’d selected. “That’s what they taught us, isn’t it? Twelve years is hard to just shut away, now that we’re out.” He went back to cataloguing all the doors and the routes they could take to them. But, he kept Piers in sight from the corner of his eye. Part of him worried the man would disappear again if he lost sight of him.

His nickname of Ghost fit for more than one  reason.

“There’s more to it than that, isn’t there?” He was tapping away at the keyboard now. “I noticed it all those years ago, too. When we first met at Basic. That was before they taught us anything but getting up at the crack of dawn.”

Xavier let out a soft snort of laughter at that and turned fully to Piers, even though he was still aware of what was going on around him. “You didn’t grow up in a farming community. I was already used to waking up then.”

“You’re changing the subject. You’re good at that, too.”

Xavier knew Piers was shifting the subject as well. This wasn’t just about knowing where doors were if they needed to make an escape. It was about them. “I never had a plan for exit, Piers. Things just…they happen.”

“You made me a promise and didn’t keep it. You had to know what would happen, X. Was that just easier than telling me you didn’t want to be with me?”

“That’s not the way it was,” he said, dropping his voice before people started looking at them. A cup hit against a table not far from them, and his heart jumped. His shoulders hunched up until he got his breathing under control again.

Piers’ gaze shifted to the noise then back to him. “You okay, X?”

“Fine,” he bit out. But, he couldn’t filter out any of the input from the room. It all crammed into his head until there wasn’t any room for his own thoughts. Piers’ large, warm hand covered his, and he jumped even higher. “Don’t.”

Piers withdrew his hand, but he just sat quietly for a moment. Then, he asked, “What’s wrong? You usually aren’t so jumpy.”

Xavier almost laughed at that. If only he knew. If only any of them knew. he couldn’t believe how well he’d hid it from his friends for so many years, not that all five of them had been together all that time. They each got out of the Marines at different times, except him and Piers. And it had always been him and Piers. Until he’d screwed things up. But, Piers was the one person who tore away all his defenses.

“I’m not jumpy,” he said, taking a deep breath and trying to force his nerves to settle. It was nothing he couldn’t deal with. he was always better when he was on a job and had something to funnel this into. “Let’s just get to work.” And he didn’t want Piers to know what he’d been before he’d learned to fight back.

Piers studied him for a moment then nodded and turned back to his computer. Xavier hated that he’d put that shuttered look in the other man’s eyes…yet again. But, it was better this way. He’d trusted someone with everything he was once before, and they’d used it to hurt him. He couldn’t risk becoming that victim again.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “If/then”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to start with “if” and try to end with “then”. I’m actually writing this Friday night(hope that’s not cheating) because we’re leaving early Saturday to drop the kids off with mother-in-law and going on a First Responders Appreciation motorcycle ride. So, I won’t have much time to get to it tomorrow. This is from Closing Time, which I’ve been struggling with this past week. I’m coming up on where this scene will likely appear, though.

“If you’re going to lean against the bar, you really should order something.”

“You know I don’t drink, Cameron.”

Cam had always hated the way his brother said his name. Like it was somehow beneath him. Like he was beneath him. “Then, I really don’t understand why you’d come into a pub. You want food, you should go grab a table. I’ll send a waitress your way.”

He heard a sound from behind him that he’d come to recognize as Gio’s amused exasperation. Really, he usually had better customer service. But, his brother had just showed up. It was over an hour drive just to come here to bother him. Not that Cam would have answered if Elliot had called first.

“I came to talk to you, Cameron.”

“And I thought I’ve made it clear to you I have absolutely nothing to say to you. So, take your private eye you sent snooping around, all your salvation talk, and go back home to Dad. I don’t-”

“He’s sick, Cameron.”

Those words stopped him. “What?”

“Dad’s sick. The doctors give him less than a year. He wants you to come home so you can make peace.”

Now, Cam felt sick. But, there was that sneer he was used to. His brother obviously had no interest in making peace with him. Not until he repented his sinful ways and saved his soul. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. He saw nothing sinful with the way he lived…or loved.

“Yeah, I don’t see that happening.”

“It’s the only thing he wants, Cameron. After all you’ve put him, our whole family, through the last years, it’s the least you can do.”

“No, the least I can do is nothing. And that’s just what I plan on. unless you’re going to order something, you should go.”

“You’ll regret it if you don’t even speak to him one last time.”

But, Cam just turned away from the bar and tried to act busy until he was sure Elliot had gone. When he looked up, Gio was looking right at him, something soft in his eyes. Cam had to look away from it, because it hurt. Especially with the way they’d been at odds the last several days.

“So, that’s your brother.”

Was that all he had to say? “Yep.” What else was there to say? That Elliot had been the one to out him to their father in the first place. The reason his last few months at home had been pure hell. And now he was the one trying to drag him right back to there again.

But, Gio didn’t ask any other questions just faced the bar beside Cam and took the next order. The tension that had been between them hadn’t quite disappeared, but it had faded. Well, that was something. maybe being forced to face his brother had been worth something after all then.

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