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Stream of Consciousness Saturday – ‘liqu’

Austin was sure his knees would liquefy when he met Jess’ eyes across the space. She hadn’t gone inside, had she? Had she had to see the same things he had?

God, he really hoped not.

But, she took her mask off, and he could see the horror in her eyes. Yeah, she’d seen it, too.

He started toward her, but she turned away from him. Of course, she did. She was always turning and walking away from him. But, he didn’t take his gaze off her until she’d made it to the fire truck.

He turned away and nearly ran into another man. Jess’ father. Great. But, he didn’t see anything but compassion in his eyes. “She thought Tate might be inside when the call came through,” Carrick Hunter told him. “The crew was supposed to be finishing up this job today. And he always likes to get to a job before everyone else. The relief her big brother is fine and wasn’t inside–he’s the one who called it in, though– is nearly as overwhelming as that fear had been. I hope you’ll forgive her for handling it the best she can.”

“There’s nothing to forgive,” Austin said, but his throat felt raw. And he knew it wasn’t from all the times he’d walked into that fire. “She doesn’t have to stop and talk to me or let me be reassured she’s fine. There’s nothing between us anymore. She’s made that clear.”

Her father shook his head. “The both of you. So damn foolish. I hope you figure it out before it’s too late.”


Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was to use “liqu” either as the beginning of a word or as part of a word. This fits just about right in with where I currently am in Still Burning. They’ll figure things out and probably soonish. 🙂

Writing Wednesday: No Internet

It’s been an odd week for me. Mostly because since I woke up Monday morning, we’ve had no internet. Kept hoping it would come back on. Even reset the modem a couple times. Nothing. Tuesday, I ended up using my phone as a hotspot just so I could get on and do a few things. But, our cell signal out here isn’t that great and I really didn’t want to use up all our data in one day(we’ve got a good bit rolled over, so it shouldn’t be a problem, but still). *Turning it on again long enough to post this* And I broke down and called Verizon. Went through their troubleshooting list, nothing worked. So they’re sending someone out here this morning to hopefully fix the problem. *fingers crossed* I’ll have my internet back today.

For now, since it is Wednesday, it’s time for another WiPPet!! Today I’m working on Still Burning, so I’ll share more from that today. I have 8 paragraphs(2+6 for the day) from the last scene I wrote. Jess & Austin have had this off & on relationship(more friends with benefits situation than actually dating) for a while, and he wants it to be more on. They tried dating, but she just keeps pushing him away, and he really wants to know why.

Austin knew he probably shouldn’t have said that. Especially not that last part. He shouldn’t let her see how much this was tearing him apart. Give her an entry point to hurt him even more.
He shook himself at that thought. She was not a fire, spreading through his walls. Moving along any crack she could find in his defenses. She was a woman. One he liked very much.
It didn’t matter what else she did, he still wanted her.
It was probably toxic to live like this, letting her in only to have her push him out again. Over and over, until he was sure he was going to break apart. But, he couldn’t seem to give her up anyway.
“I’m not trying to hurt you,” she finally said, her voice low. “That’s why I told you this wasn’t going to work. Because it’s the last thing I want to do.”
“Then, why do you keep walking away?”
“Because I’m not right for you. How many ways do I have to show you before you actually believe it?”
“A million,” he said, knowing the words came out harsh, even though it wasn’t the way he’d meant them. But, it felt like his throat had closed around them. “Because it’s not true. Jess, it isn’t true. You are the only one I want. How can you not be right for me?”

You can check out the other WiPPets here.

And now, for my progress so far this week:


  • Heart of Christmas – 10000 words – 9915/10000 words, 2257 this week
    • No, it was definitely better to pull away now. He’d have to make her see this was for the best. Somehow.
  • Still Burning – 10000 words – 7727/10000 words,
  • Whatever It Takes – 10000 words – 7427/10000 words,
  • High on Loving You – 10000 words – 9053/10000 words,
  • By the Gun – 10000 words – 10092/10000 words, 1640 this week
    • Rosalyn sighed and shook her head then started up toward the house. “What?” Carlos yelled after her. “What does that mean?” *Ahh, siblings. 😉
  • Side Projects – 10000 words – 9526/10000 words, 1725 this week
    • Jacob & Matthew – 175 words – The boy frowned at that. As if he was thinking it over. Then, he asked, “Are you going to go away again?” *Matthew didn’t expect to be sentimental over the little brother he barely knows. And my goal on this one is met for the month.
    • Mike & Fadil – 271 words – Mike couldn’t help it, he laughed too. Then, he ran a hand over his hair. “I am sorry. I did not mean to be a bear.” *that’s not quite how Fadil would describe you, Mike. 😉


  • Stained Blood – Beta edits – Chapter 1/26, 0 this month
  • Flames of Renewal – CP edits
  • In the Moonlight – Read Through & Revise – Read through Chapter 32/32.
  • Hang On – Polish & Submit – 50/50 polished. Submitted.
  • Staring at the Sun – Read Through, Revise, Polish, & Post to Wattpad – Read through Chapter 10/10.


  • Listen: 5 books – 6/5, 1  this week
    • The Delphi Effect(Rysa Walker) – Started this Tuesday afternoon. Finished this Sunday morning. Really enjoyed it, but the next book doesn’t come out until October! Patience is not one of my virtues when it comes to books. 😉
    • A Merciful Death(Kendra Elliot) – Started this Sunday morning. On Chapter 24/42
  • Read: 30 books – 25/30, 3 this week
    • The Three Brooches(Katherine Lowry Logan) – Started this Saturday morning. At 42%
    • The Shadow Hour(Melissa Grey) – Started this Saturday morning. Finished it Sunday night. Really enjoyed this. And the final book in the trilogy came out like 2 weeks ago! Good timing(even though I won’t get it yet, b/c the kindle version is $10.99!)
    • The Magpie Lord(K.J. Charles) – Read this Monday. Really enjoyed it.
    • The Viper(Monica McCarty) – Started this Monday evening. Finished this Tuesday night. Really enjoyed it.

Writing Wednesday: Holiday Beginning

Sunday we mostly sat around, had a pretty laidback day. I did get some writing done on a project I started in a notebook last July. Not something I plan to publish, just playing around. And I also wrote a short story of Jonas and Isaac’s(you may remember them from a snippet or two of Not Meant to Be) first kiss. But, that was all the writing I did.

Monday we had the pest control guy back out. He was here about a week and a half earlier because we’ve been having problems with mice(they chewed through half a loaf of bread, several hot dog buns and some other things). Monday was a scheduled “check-up” and he had to refill most of the bait stations. We haven’t heard as much activity(usually we can hear them scurrying around in the walls and cupboards but don’t usually see them), so it seems to be doing the trick. After he left, we went up to Erie and took the kids to see Despicable Me 3. It was good, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it. And then we had friends over for a fire Monday night.

Tuesday we had a pretty laidback day. We cooked on the grill and did some things around the house, and ended up going for ice cream after dinner. Now, time to get back to the regular routine.

And since today is Wednesday, it’s time for WiPPet Wednesday!! This week I have 13 paragraphs(5+7+1 bonus for the holiday) from Still Burning. Last week, Austin & Jess mentioned her dad. So, I figured this week, I’d share a snippet that actually featured him. He’ll probably feature a good bit in this since she does work for him. And they do have a pretty close family. This is pretty much right after Austin has left.

“Jess,” her father bellowed just as she reached the ladder.
She hunched her shoulders. Great. Not like it was her fault Austin had stopped by. She hadn’t even talked to him for more than five minutes probably. They took longer water breaks than that every couple hours.
She tried to push aside her worries as she strode over to him. “What’s up, Pops?” she asked when she reached the steps to the job trailer.
He scowled down at her from the top of the steps. But, she saw a twinkle in his eyes. “Was that Austin who stopped by?”
“Sure was. He just got out of work. Is it a problem? I sent him on his way quick enough.”
That extinguished the twinkle. “I’m not worried about that, Jess. People stop by, it’s not something you can control. And he’s a nice boy.”
A nice boy. Right. Opposite of her in every way. “Then, what’s the problem?”
“I didn’t say there was one.”
“Except you bellowed for me.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “I do not bellow, that’s Tate you’re thinking of.”
“And where do you think he gets it from?”
“Smart ass,” he muttered, but he was still chuckling.
“It’s why you love me.”

Pretty sure that’s not the only reason, Jess, even if you don’t see it.

And my progress during this first full week of July:


  • Heart of Christmas – 10000 words – 2129/10000 words, 1860 this week
  • Still Burning – 10000 words – 2373/10000 words, 1973 this week
  • Whatever It Takes – 10000 words – 1606/10000 words, 1340 this week
  • High on Loving You – 10000 words – 1572/10000 words, 1353 this week
  • By the Gun – 10000 words – 1502/10000 words, 1232 this week
  • Side Projects – 10000 words – 873/10000 words, 873 this week


  • Stained Blood – Beta edits – Chapter 1/26, 0 this month
  • Flames of Renewal – CP edits
  • In the MoonlightRead Through & Revise – Read through Chapter 2/32
  • Hang OnPolish & Submit


  • Listen: 5 books – 1/5
    • Bitterblue(Kristin Cashore) – Started this last Monday morning. Finished it Wednesday morning. Loved it.
    • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue(Mackenzi Lee) – downloaded this Wednesday morning. Didn’t actually start it yet, though.
  • Read: 30 books – 4/30, 2 this week
    • How to Date Dead Guys(Ann M. Noser) – Started this Saturday night. Got to 34% but really didn’t care about any of it. So decided to set it aside.
    • Speak No Evil(Allison Brennan) – Started this Sunday afternoon. Finished this Monday night. Really enjoyed it.
    • Knit Tight(Annabeth Albert) – Started this Monday night. Finished it Tuesday afternoon. Really enjoyed it.
    • Taking him On(Debbie McGowan) – Started this Tuesday evening. At 26%

Writing Wednesday: Ahead of Myself

On Sunday, we had my niece’s birthday party. Got groceries, came home and put air conditioners in the window. And thank goodness for that. Apparently even 75F in the house is even too hot for me(I used to let it get to 80 before I’d turn the air conditioner on. My tolerance for heat seems to keep getting less and less).

Monday I had my goals for the day finished around lunch time. Part of that is because I only had two plotting goals for my writing time, 1 of which I got to Sunday night), also the book I was going to read I ended up setting aside because I just didn’t care, it wasn’t drawing me in. So, I had most of Tuesday’s goals done by the time I went to bed Monday night. The same was true for Tuesday(in fact I’m writing this up Tuesday evening). in fact, I had all my writing goals and everything else except picking up the yard(too hot outside) and getting dinner ready for Wednesday done before I went to bed Tuesday.

I was looking through the things the kids brought home from school, including some of the boy’s writing. And found this little “book” he wrote, “The Lost Puppy”(or Pupe as he spelled it). Here’s 2 pages from it:

But, it’s Wednesday now(ok, it will be by the time this posts), which means WiPPet Wednesday!!!! This week, I have 5 paragraphs from Still Burning. This is from the first chapter, and they’re at a picnic at Jess’ parents’ house. The baby is her twin brother’s new daughter. And you may recognize some familiar names. 😉

“I rescued her from the rookie,” Mark said as they reached the table. It should look strange, that bundle wrapped in a pink blanket nestled in his tattooed arms. But, it didn’t, not even with him holding the bottle of milk in one hand.
Nolan laughed. “You make it sound so altruistic. And when are you going to stop calling Austin a rookie? He’s been with the department more than two years.”
Mark shrugged one shoulder. “Ah, he’s still a baby. And he is a rookie on the squad. Same with Brooke,” he said, raising his voice slightly.
Jeremiah Brooke jerked his head toward them then grinned when we realized Mark was ribbing him. His boyfriend, Silas, came up beside him along with their girlfriend, Corrin. She didn’t get that. She couldn’t even keep one man in her life, let alone balance two of them.
She wasn’t romantic enough. She’d been told that enough times. Fuck romance. She liked sex plenty, but once someone started getting all lovey-dovey she was done.

Writing a romance about someone who doesn’t care for romance, this could be interesting. Especially since I don’t want it to turn into a “she was just waiting for the right person” situation.

Now on to my progress for the week so far.


  • High on Your LoveBack stories, Plot summaries, Story Toolkit, Outline
  • Jayla & CarisaPlot summaries, Story Toolkit, Outline – Wrote up plot summaries Sunday night and typed them Monday. Started the Story Toolkit. Got through Initial Concept & started on World Building


  • Heart of Christmas(BC Security #3.5) – Add 8000 words – 4122/8000 words, 2425 words this week
    • As he walked out, Alaina turned her gaze to her brother. “You know, sometimes I forget I love you and really start to hate you.” Then, she pushed away from the table as well and followed Caelen. *looks like someone’s overprotectiveness just backfired on him.
  • Still Burning(Hunter Family #4) – Add 10000 words – 6190/10000 words, 1761 words this week
    • Austin watched as the volunteer department’s engine pulled away. “I just wish I knew why she hated me.” The words spilled out before he could catch them.
  • Not Meant to Be(Gilbert, Co #6) – finish 1st draft 
  • By the Gun – Add 8000 words – 2014/8000 words
  • Side Projects – Add 9000 words between them – 7990/9000 words, 2524 words this week
    • Sean & Braeden – 216 words – Braeden dropped his gaze almost instantly, which sent a rock tumbling into Sean’s stomach. That was probably his own fault. He shouldn’t have let Braeden’s reaction to that stupid kiss send him running. But, how could he see him every day with Braeden had made his feelings clear? *Oh, I don’t think they’re all that clear, Sean. 😉
    • Hawk – 275 words – “It’s my father,” I said, after swallowing the huge lump in my throat. “Yesterday he tried to kill me.”
    • Mike & Fadil – 1009(about 750 of these were copied from a piece I wrote during May). “I know. I’m not saying you should regret anything, Mike. I’m just saying you should stop looking back. You have a daughter, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a future.”
    • Patrick & Sarah – 324 words – That changed things, at least as far as Patrick was concerned. It would have been one thing to him if Sarah had wanted the man here. But, he would not let someone get away with abusing her.
    • Roman – 202 words – And that had totally not been what he’d expected. He’d thought Carlos would be more worried about himself, not some young girl he’d been using. So, maybe it wasn’t what he’d thought. Maybe he’d made assumptions he shouldn’t have. He was going to have to figure that out.
    • Dougal & Shae – 258 words – But, as she took a few more steps down, she saw that she’d been wrong. He was here. Her gaze shot back to Donovan. And his smirk turned to a full-out grin. That damn, dirty bastard. *Oh, yeah, Shae is not happy with her brother & this little set-up.
    • Preggers – 240 words – Lyndi snickered when the waitress had left. “Damn, she’s gotten good since the last time I was in here. Her older sister made passive-aggression an art form. I wasn’t sure Missy had the knack for it, though.”


  • Stained Blood – beta edits – edited Chapter 1/26(counting the epilogue as a chapter of its own).
  • Flames of Renewal – CP edits – still waiting
  • In the Moonlight – Pre-revisions & 1st Revisions – finished 4 scenes(added 2623 words). Decided to leave chapters how I have them for now(switching to a new chapter when POV switches between Yasmin & Nola – which  means some are a bit longer than others). I’ll see how the pace seems when I do my read through, which I think will be in July.
  • One Touch(formerly Snow White Twist)Beta edits, Polish, & Submit – contacted 2nd beta reader Sunday night. Hoping to have it back from her soon.
  • Dance with the Devil – Polish 6 chapters  – Polished 4/6 chapters


  • Listen: 5 books – 2/5
    • Blood and Betrayal(Lindsay Buroker) – Started this Friday morning. On Chapter 20/25. I’ll probably finish it today or tomorrow.
  • Read: 30 books – 15/30, 2 this week
    • Hellbent(Cynthia/Sara Rayne) – Started this Saturday night. Finished it Sunday evening. Really enjoyed it.
    • Hiding Behind the Couch – Box Set One(Debbie McGowan) – Started this Sunday night but didn’t get too far yet.
    • Delivered Fast(Annabeth Albert) – Started this Monday evening. Finished it Tuesday morning. Liked it. Was about to give up on these books, due to same reasons as an earlier rant(basically in the six books of hers I’ve read – from 2 different series- the word bisexual hasn’t even been used. And it’s been bothering me). But I read a review of the next book and apparently one of the characters(who was a side character in this one) is bi, so I’ll give it a little longer and see how that one is(and it was only .99 so I bought it all ready).
    • This Savage Song(Victoria Schwab) – Started this Tuesday afternoon. At 12%

Story a Day: Day 7 – “So Mean”

Yesterday’s prompt was to explore a character’s emotional wound, so I went back to when Austin was about 7. Today’s is to take someone you’ve fallen out of touch with and think of a question you’d want to ask them and fictionalize it. So, I’m switching to Jess, the other main character in Still Burning. Her and Austin have a bit of a push & pull relationship through some of the other Flames novels(basically he pushes for just a little more, and she pulls away. And then they start all over again). This is when Jess is about 13.


“Are you sure you’re even a girl?”

Jess looked across the lunch table at Ashley, who she’d always considered a friend. Maybe even her best friend. She certainly wasn’t good at making them. Not nearly as good as her brother, Jace. “That’s what they tell me,” she said.  She wasn’t going to admit the question made her want to cry. What did that even mean, though?

“You don’t act like one,” Ashley went on. “You don’t ever dress like one. You’ve never had a boyfriend. I don’t think you’ve ever even had a crush on one. What’s wrong with you?”

“There’s nothing wrong with me,” Jess snapped, even though the piece of pizza she’d just swallowed felt like lumpy paste in her throat. “Why do you always have to be so mean.”

“I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. I don’t know why you’re getting mad at me.”

Jess wasn’t even sure how to put words to what she was feeling. But, Ashley did this all the time. Pick at her until she lost her temper, then expect Jess to apologize. She wasn’t going to do it this time. She pushed back from the table and took her tray up to dump the rest of her lunch. She wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.


Short one today. This exact thing didn’t happen to me, though something similar with a “friend” and that friendship Jess describes at the end is basically how it went with us. And this was pretty much the end of thinking she was a friend. Though, there are times I’d like to go back and ask her why she always treated me that way.


Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Yard”

Jess walked into her parents’ back yard and looked around. It seemed everyone else was already here. All her brothers were scattered around, their significant others not far from them. Nolan’s two younger stepkids were running around, the oldest sitting near her mother and talking to Jess’ second oldest brother, Kelan.

And she was here all alone. Nothing unusual about that. She’d never thought she’d feel lonely around her family, but that’s exactly how she felt lately. And she was tired of it. She wasn’t going to let herself feel this way anymore. That’s all there was to it.

“Hey, Jess.”

She spun around to see Austin Melnik walking toward her. She barely held back a groan. Just what she didn’t need right now when she’d just made the decision to stop feeling things. Apparently her parents had invited more than family. As more people spilled into the yard, she thought they might have invited both fire departments for the day. Which was pretty much the same thing as family to them.

But, she could barely take her eyes off of Austin. And the pink bundle he carried. How long had he been here if he’d already got his hands on her baby niece. Her mouth went dry at the sight of how comfortable he was with her. “Melnik,” she greeted him, trying to keep her voice neutral.

But, his eyes narrowed, then his lips quirked up. As if he knew exactly what she was doing. Hell, he probably did. It wouldn’t be the first time he called her out on her bullshit. Damn those lips. Even now she wanted to kiss them.

So, she turned away and headed into the middle of her family. They would keep her safe from doing something stupid. Like falling for someone who deserved a lot better than her.


This week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was to use “yard”. I’m still plotting out Still Burning. This will probably take place before it starts or close to the beginning. Jess has quite a bit to work through.

“Stream of Consciousness: “Spell”

“Do I really have to spell it out for you?”

“Yeah,” Jace said as he rinsed the paintbrush off. “I really think you do, Jess.”

Jess leaned against the doorframe to the little bathroom in her brother’s new house. “You wouldn’t get it, Jace.” She ran a hand through the back of her hair. It wasn’t what most would call long, but she was antsy to get it cut again. “You’ve got everything here. A pretty little wife.”

“Aw,” Kammi said, coming up behind her. “Your sister thinks I’m pretty, Jace. Even though I feel like I’m about ready to explode.”

“If that’s how birth works,” Jess said, “I definitely don’t want to have any kids.”

Kammi laughed and gave her a quick hug. She was pretty sure she felt a foot in her side even during the brief contact. “My sister’s here, Jace. We’ll be back later.”

He moved over to her and gave her a hug and a long kiss. Jess had to look away from the intimacy of it. When Kammi had left, Jess finally looked back at her twin brother. “See? You have everything. Kammi, your painting, a baby pretty damn soon.”

“And I almost lost all of it because I thought it would be better to send her away,” Jace reminded her. “And I still don’t see what that has to do with you not deserving the same thing.”

She wanted to pull her hair out, not just at irritation with her brother for being obtuse, but with herself for not being able to find the right words to describe how she felt. She’d never been good with words. She was a lot more like her oldest brother than any of the others. “Never mind,” she said. “I need to get to the work site anyway.”

“Jess, I’m sorry,” Jace said, putting the brush down and moving to intercept her. “I’m trying to understand, but I just don’t get what you think the problem is.”

“I’m not angry with you.” No, the problem wasn’t with her brother. It was something wrong with her. “But, I really do need to get to work.” And she hurried out before her brother could try to dig any deeper.


It’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday ad today’s prompt was to Use the word “spell” any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use it in the first sentence. I’m still plotting out Jess and Austin’s story, so I decided to use them again today. I’ve felt some of what Jess is going through, though I didn’t go into exactly what that is here. It will be explored more in the actual story, though.

Stream of Consciousness: “Moo”

“Moo” Jess laughed and put the little stuffed cow back on the shelf. Yeah, she couldn’t see her brother appreciating that gift. She’d have to keep looking.

“So, which of the coming babies are you shopping for today?”

Jess turned at the voice behind her. Austin stood a few paces away, holding a small firetruck in his hand. It was a good question. Two of her brothers’ wives were having babies this summer. “Jace and Kammi’s,” she answered. “They’re up first after all.”

Austin laughed at that. She loved the way he looked when he laughed. It made her want to step closer and soak in some of the joy. If only she wasn’t afraid she would blemish it.

“Maybe I should be looking in art supplies. You think Jace would appreciate that?”

Austin laughed again. “I think you have some time before the baby would follow in your brother’s footsteps. Maybe something a little more age appropriate would be better.”

“You got any ideas? I don’t have a clue here.”

Even better than a laugh, she got a warm smile from him. Even though she knew she didn’t deserve it at all. Not as many times as she’d pushed and pulled him around. She didn’t know why he didn’t hate her by now. She thought maybe he didn’t have that emotion in him.

“Come with me,” he told her. “I think I know the perfect gift.”


Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was to “Base your post on the word “moo” or a word that rhymes with it. Bonus points if you actually use the word “moo” in your post.” This week, I started working on plotting out Still Burning, which is Jess & Austin’s story. So, today you get some of them. And I’d say Jess is unaware of how deep some of Austin’s feelings go.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “You’re/Your”

Time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Today’s prompt was “your/you’re/yore” I’m almost finished with the plotting for Defending the Heart, but it was a couple other characters who jumped into my head this morning. I didn’t think I’d be writing their story yet. but, they’ve convinced me it need to move up in the line. I don’t have any of it plotted yet, but I did write out some parts of scenes in my head one day while we were on the motorcycle. So, there’s that.


You’re really going to do this?”

Terrall ran one large hand over his head while he held the phone to his ear. He felt the bristle of the hair growing back in. Not shaving it all off again might be the hardest part of deciding to change himself. “Yes, Mother,” he said, trying to hold on to his patience. He should have known better than to answer the phone when he saw her number. “We’ve already discussed this.”

“I still do not see why you won’t just come home. You don’t have anything to make up for.”

Only because your sense of entitlement is too large to let you see it. “You know exactly what I need to make up for, Mother. I would have done it seven years ago, if you hadn’t pulled all those strings.”

“Well, did you really think I’d just let my baby boy rot in a jail cell?”

He moved his hand down to grip the back of his neck. “I deserved to be there, Mother. That’s the point you’re not getting. I didn’t deserve everything I got when someone else-”

“Enough, Terrall,” she said, her voice sharp. He knew better than to argue with her when she took on that tone. “You’ve brought enough shame on us by that public spectacle last summer. Now, you’re back in that backwards town. It is only asking for trouble.”

“Lieutenant Berman  has given me an opportunity here. He could have just written me off after what happened. Instead I have a chance to give back. I don’t see why you have such a problem with that.”

“If you bring more shame to us-”

“I don’t see what could be more shameful than me walking away when I left one person dead and the other broken.” Doren likely wouldn’t like being described that way, but hopefully it would get his point across. “Nothing I do will make that right, but I can at least do everything I can to balance the scales a little. I’m doing this, Mother, no matter what you say about it.”

There was a sharp sound then…nothing. He pulled the phone away from his ear and looked at the screen. Yeah, she’d hung up on him. Not all that surprised, he clipped it back onto his belt.

“Parental expectations can be hell, can’t they?”

He spun around, his gaze latching onto the woman standing a few feet away on the sidewalk. She looked familiar, but he couldn’t place why. “You eavesdropping on my conversation?”

One corner of her mouth tugged up. “I just stepped out of the store there and caught the last part. I don’t know what it was about, but I understand disappointing your parents.” He didn’t like what he saw flash through her eyes, but he didn’t know how to make it go away. Then, she was sticking her hand out. “Jess Amadeo. Haven’t I seen you around?”

He gripped her hand in his much larger and darker one. “Terrall Shreeve. I haven’t been here in over a year, and I don’t live here.”

“Strange. I thought you looked familiar. Well, I have to get going, but maybe I’ll see you around. Hope you can work things out with your mom.”

“Thanks, but that’s unlikely.”

She smiled at him then turned and walked away. Well, maybe there was more than one reason to stick around here for a little bit.


I may have trouble with this one. Drunk driving is one thing I have trouble finding any sympathy for. And yet, somehow, Terrall has burrowed his way in. So, I guess we’ll see if he can find any redemption.

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