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Teaser Tuesday: “Family”

I finished polishing up Healing the Heart last week. I’m still looking for beta readers for that if anyone’s interested in reading and giving me feedback. It’s the follow-up to Duty to Protect and is Melanie’s(Garren’s former fiancee) story(and another character that doesn’t show up in the first story.

Today I’m sharing a bit from the MS I’m currently editing, Guarding the Heart. This is the first in my BC Security series. This snippet is from close to the beginning.

“Does she get everything she wants?” Casey asked, coming up behind them.
He saw Alex’s back stiffen, knew he hadn’t heard him approach. Then, his friend was turning to him. Hannah was already sliding down from the pony’s back and climbing through the fence. “Uncle Casey,” she cried, throwing herself at him.
“Hannah Bana,” he said, wrapping his arms around her. The nickname had started a couple years ago when he’d called her Hannah Banana and she’d tried to repeat it. Just her smile always made him feel better. It had from the first time he’d held her.
She giggled. “You’re silly, Uncle Casey. I’m a big girl now. I don’t need a silly nickname anymore.”
“That’s right. You’re all grown up now. Are you ready to ship out to college?”
She giggled again. “I’m only six. You’re being silly again.”
Not too many people had ever accused him of that. But, from her, it sent a jolt of warmth through him. Along with the pain of knowing he’d never have this for himself. That had died with Marie.
“Why don’t you go in and see if Mom has dinner ready,” Alex suggested.
The little girl ran toward the house. Casey had sobered by the time he straightened. “We need to talk.”
Alex nodded. “Let’s walk. Sarah will call us when dinner’s ready. I’m sure she’ll set a place for you once Hannah tells her you’re here.”
“I don’t want to intrude.”
“You never do.” He let out a breath and ran a hand through his hair. “You know you’re always welcome here. You’re not an intrusion.”
“I know. I’m still not used to it. Family. Being welcome. It’s not easy for me.”
“It should be.” He sighed. “So, what’s going on?”
“I got all our bills paid, but the next ones aren’t going to be if we don’t get another job soon. I called George. Turlington has blacklisted us. That’s why we can’t get any jobs.”
Alex leaned his arms against a fence and stared out at the horses grazing there, many of them heavy with foals. “It’s what we figured. Don’t really care to have the confirmation though.”
“At least we know. We just have to figure out what we’re going to do.”
“What can we do, Casey? We can’t force people to hire us.”
“George said he’d help us until we got some jobs. I don’t want to take it. He’s done so much already.” Casey rapped his fist on the top rail of the fence. “I hate that he’s brought us to this. What right does he have?”
Alex pushed away from the fence. “At least you finally stopped blaming yourself. But, it doesn’t solve the problem. If George wants to help,-”
Casey shook his head. “No. It’s not to that yet. I have my savings. It’s just sitting there. I can dip into it first.”
Alex turned to him. “No. You were saving that for a house. I won’t let you do that.”
“I was saving it to get a house with Marie. That’s not a possibility anymore. I won’t let you dip into yours. You have a family, you need it for them. I don’t need it for anything.”
“You are so damn stubborn, Case.”
“It doesn’t matter, Alex. I don’t need the money. My apartment’s over the office, and George bought that building for us. The only thing I need money for is food and stuff. Hell, I eat more here than anywhere else. I should be paying Sarah for feeding me.”
“You know she’d never take it.” Alex slapped his shoulder. “We might as well head up. Dinner should be ready soon.”
“We haven’t figured out what we’re going to do yet.”
“It sounded like you already figured it out for yourself. Come on.”

Teaser Tuesday: Emelyn

Sharing a snippet from Guarding the Heart again this week. Today we get to meet Emelyn Blaine.

Emelyn Blaine stared at the screen. She knew she should shut it down. This wasn’t getting her anywhere. Instead she went back to her initial search and clicked another link. There had to be something more out there.
This wasn’t even about class any more. The assignment had been to determine why a case hadn’t been solved. Not to try to solve it herself. So, why was she doing just that?
“Because you’re an idiot, Emelyn, that’s why,” she muttered. She needed to just write her paper. She had enough information for that. She moved the mouse and brought the document up. Her opening paragraph, that’s all she had so far. Only a couple more days to finish before the deadline. That’s what she should be worrying about. But, her attention kept going back to her search.
There had to be more answers out there somewhere. She just had to figure out where to find them. She heard the front door slam and winced for a moment. Melissa must have had a bad day. She saved the document and went out to see her best friend.
“Need a glass of wine?” She asked, leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen.
Melissa turned to face her. “If I didn’t have all these papers to grade, I’d take you up on that.”
Emelyn shrugged. “What do you want to do for dinner?”
“Are you cooking or are we doing take-out?”
“Doesn’t matter.” She didn’t admit it to many people, but she actually enjoyed cooking. She rarely followed a recipe, but she enjoyed the process of figuring out what went together to make a good dish.
“Whatever you want to do then. I should get started on these papers.”

What kind of trouble will Emelyn get in with her need to keep digging? Wait around, and you’ll find out.

Teaser Tuesday: Guarding the Heart

I haven’t shared anything for Teaser Tuesday for a while. I currently have three projects in various stages of revisions. Two of those I’m waiting for feedback on, though. So, today I have something from the other one, that’s really in the pre-revision stage. I’m filling in details that I left blank during the first draft. I’m almost halfway through that, and then I’ll be starting to dig into revisions before I add it to the list to send to my critique partner. But, for now here’s the beginning of Guarding the Heart:

Casey Brannigan stood at the back of the church. He hated these places. Hated them like nothing else. And he’d hated plenty of things during the last thirty years. But churches, and particularly the funerals held in them, held a special place in his list of hatred. There’d been too many. Too damn many. And he was sick of attending them. But, he’d missed the one he should have been there for the most.
The thought, the memory, nearly had him doubled over with the pain of grief. Eight years. Eight damn years, and it still hurt. He should be over it by now. Should have moved on and gotten over her.
He’d never get over her.
He felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder and winced even though he knew who it was. “Goddamn it, Alex. I’ve told you not to do that.”
“Watch it, Casey. You shouldn’t take the Lord’s name in vain in his own house.”
The words were light, but Casey knew his best friend took his faith seriously. “I don’t think your Lord has anything to do with these places or half the shit that goes on in them.”
“Again, you may want to watch it.”
Casey realized people’s heads were turning their way and pursed his lips together. He was silent as the pastor read a passage from the bible. “We shouldn’t be here,” he finally said.
“She was our client, Case. You’re the one who wanted to come.”
“Exactly. She was ours. We shouldn’t have let this happen. How did he get past us?”
Alex shook his head then glanced down pointedly at Casey’s side. “He nearly killed you, that’s how. Your guardian angel is gonna quit his job if you keep this up.”
“I was just doing my job, Alex. We’re supposed to protect our clients.”
“I’m not stupid, Casey. You’re still trying to make up for not being able to protect Marie.There was nothing you could have done. You weren’t even in the country.”
There it was again. That pain in his heart, in his gut. He turned away from his friend before he gave in to the urge to punch him. “I need to get some air.”
He heard his friend’s soft curses as he turned and left the sanctuary. And he couldn’t help the twitch at the corner of his lips. Alex was always the one to lecture him about swearing in the church. Like it would get him struck down right then and there. And now he was doing it. Then, he heard his footsteps following. “Damn it, Casey, get back here.”
He turned toward the other man. “When I say I want air, I don’t usually want company.”
“Look, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I just worry about how hard you push yourself. If you keep putting yourself in the path of danger, you’re not going to get out of the way one of these times.”

I probably won’t have this one out this year, but hoping for sometime early next year.

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.

A-Z Challenge: H is for Hannah Connelly

 

HThe blaring of alarms woke Hannah Connelly from a dream that scattered into pieces as soon as her eyes opened. It wasn’t the alarm to wake her up for school, though. She knew that almost instantly. It wasn’t coming from the clock beside her bed but deeper in the house. It didn’t go off too often, but it frightened her whenever it did.

“Just a false alarm,” she said, repeating what her father said was always the case every other time it went off. But, Uncle Casey had been really worried lately. And he’d brought that woman, Emelyn,  with him. They seemed to yell at each other all the time.

What if it was different this time?

The tone of the alarm changed as it continued to go off, and she let out a little cry. She put her hands over her ears then called for her mother. “Shut it off, Daddy. Please, shut it off,” she whispered, burying her face in her pillow.

Then, the bed sank beside her and a soft hand ran over her back. “Hannah, it’s okay. You’re okay.”

Not her mom. The voice wasn’t right. It had to be Emelyn then. Hannah had liked the woman, except for when she’d yelled at Uncle Casey. She didn’t like that at all. But, she’d gotten down with Hannah to play with the new puppies the other day, and she’d been really nice. But, she still wasn’t her mother.

“I want my mommy.” she sobbed.

“It’s okay,” Emelyn said again, but it didn’t calm her down any more this time. “Casey and your dad went out to check what’s going on. I’m sure it will all be fine.”

Her mom was a deep sleeper. She said it all the time. That’s why she wasn’t coming. Emelyn shifted on the bed, but she didn’t get up. She kept her hand on Hannah’s back, stroking her until she started to drift back to sleep. “I’m sure your mom will come.”

But, she never did.

***

“I stayed with Hannah until the two of them came in, then Alex came in and said Sarah was missing.”

Hannah had woken up disoriented and alone in her parents’ bed. She’d walked out into the living room but had heard Uncle Casey, Emelyn, and another man speaking. She hadn’t meant to eavesdrop. She just wanted to find her mom. But, what they’d said…

“Mom’s missing?” she asked, stepping into the kitchen.

Uncle Casey turned toward her. “Han-” he started to say, his dark blue eyes looking so sad. Like they did when she overheard him and her dad talking about someone named Marie. The adults exchanged a glance. She might only be six, but even she noticed it.

“What’s going on, Uncle Casey? Where’s my mommy? Daddy?” she asked again.

“I’m right here, Hannah.” She spun around and saw her dad standing in the doorway. She ran straight into his arms, tears streaming down her cheeks. “Where’s Mommy? They said she’s missing. Where’d she go?”

She sobbed harder, and didn’t hear what her father said next, but she felt the words rumble through his chest as he held her tight. Then, he was turning away with her, picking her up and carrying her out of the room. He didn’t let her down until they were in her room. “Did you hear what I said, Hannah?”

She shook her head but still clung to him. “We’re going to find your mom, Hannah. I promise you. Whatever it takes, I’ll get her back.”

“Where is she?”

“I don’t know, sweetheart. But-” His voice broke off, and she looked up at him. Tears were running down his face as well. That made her tears fall harder. He just held her tighter until she fell asleep once more.

Note: This scene takes place about half way through Guarding the Heart. Alex’s wife is abducted by mistake(was supposed to be Emelyn). We only see that from Emelyn & Casey’s POV, though. I did change some of the dialogue from the original, because as  read over that, I realized it didn’t seem like something a six year old would say, especially one who is frightened. This felt more true.

Stream Of Consciousness Saturday – Tire

Last week, I forgot to check in to see what the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was. This week, I did better. Following now(terrible about remembering to hit the follow button, especially when wordpress keeps changing things around)), so I won’t have that problem again. 😉

Anyway, if you’ve read some of my RoW80 posts recently, you know I’m plotting out 2 different stories. Right now, that means working on back stories. And, for some reason when I saw today’s prompt of “tire”, one of those characters popped into my head. Declan was first introduced in Guarding the Heart, and now he’s getting his own story. He’s also very talkative. I’ve already written two pages, and he’s not even ten years old. He spent most of the first page telling me how his parents met, apparently a story he’d been told many times before. Now, we’re on to how they tried to balance between his mom living in Texas and his dad in Ireland. And there are reasons one couldn’t just move to the other(though they tried that for a time. And I’ll be getting to how Declan got tired of feeling like he never had one place to call home.

My back stories usually range from one page to a dozen(I think only one’s been that long. And it was a character trying to rationalize all his awful behavior and how everything was someone else’s fault). I’m thinking Declan’s will be on the longer end of this range. It was mentioned in Guarding the Heart that he was the most talkative of their group. Unlike Casey(the main character in that one), who’d rather act than talk.

I had planned to write a little story from his back story rather than this. But, I guess I’ll save that one for another time maybe. In fact, you’ll be able to see more of him(and other members of the BC Security team) around here in April.

Writing Wednesday: Bouncing Ahead

So, this week has been going pretty well. I did have a snag on Monday.

Not sure how exactly it happened. But, I thought I was ahead, until I realized the number of notes was low(10 when it had been over 50 when I’d stopped earlier). Ended up having to go back and go through the first 25% again. Was frustrating, but I got caught back up. And got even farther ahead yesterday(actually got through today’s goal yesterday afternoon).

I’ll get to more on that later. First, though, it’s WiPPet Wednesday! And I have…something to share. Looks like I’m back to Guarding the Heart this week. Since that’s what I have open at the moment. Today I have 24 words(8+12-1+5). These are the last words I’ve written on it, so it’s quite a bit after the last snippet I posted(which was from Chapter 6, I’m on Chapter 17 now).

“This is a really, really bad idea,” he said.
“I excel at those,” she said as she flicked the button on his jeans open.

Is it going to be as bad of an idea as he assumes? How many bad ideas has she had? Will it really hurt to let go for one night?(She doesn’t think so, but he knows one night can change a lot).

As I said above, I’m making pretty good progress for the week. It’s only 6 a.m. and I’m already halfway through today’s to-do list. Hoping to get even farther ahead by the end of the day. At this rate, Friday may end up being a reading day.

  • Demons Rising: Read Through on my Kindle about 75%. Should be able to finish this today.
  • Guarding the Heart: Work through Chapter 17(this will be early morning project) – I’ve added 829 words so far this week. I only had 1 scene planned, but they may end up changing.
  • Into the Sun: finish 1st draft – I’ve added 891 words since Sunday. It’s not over 25k. I should have it wrapped up in a couple more scenes, though.
  • Read: GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict – 50% – I’m about 35% through which keeps me on track.
  • Read: Debt Collector: Season 1(Susan Kaye Quinn), Murder by the Seaside(Julie Anne Lindsey), & Everly After(Rebecca Paula) – I liked Debt Collector and really enjoyed Murder by the Seaside. About halfway through Everly After. And I’ve been listening to Under Different Stars(Amy Barton). 2 hours left, and it’s hitting all my sappy romantic buttons.
  •  Crochet: Spring Training Cap– I’ve got the body of this done. Have to do the brim and embroidery.

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