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JusJoJan: Day 31 – Clumsy

Welcome to the last day of Just Jot It January. Today’s prompt is clumsy, brought to us by Judy.

Must have been thinking of me when this prompt was chosen. You know that whole “could trip over flat surfaces” thing? Yep, that’s totally me. I drop things, I trip over my own feet, I trip over my tongue. If there’s something I can be clumsy about, I am.

There’s a reason(besides me not caring about fashion) that I don’t wear high-heels. I can twist my ankle in a pair of flip-flops(or my bare feet). So, high heels are pretty much a no-go for me. I can handle a short heel, as long as it’s wide, too.

If you ever meet me in person, I may not talk much. Until I’m comfortable around you. Because I’m always afraid I’m going to say the wrong thing, use the wrong word for something. So, I think about everything I’m going to say. And by the time I’m ready to say anything, the conversation has usually moved on.

So, yeah, that’s me. The definition of clumsy(actually, I didn’t look up the definition – but it’s probably in there somewhere). 😉

 

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SOCS/JusJoJan: Day 30 – “An”

Welcome back to day 30 of Just Jot It January, which is also Stream of Consciousness Saturday. We’re almost to the end of the month, and I’m pretty sure I’ve managed at least half of the Just Jot It prompts. That’s pretty good for me. Next up, is the A-Z challenge(unless there’s something I don’t know about in February/March). I’m excited about that, too. Last year I had a fire theme for it. This year, I have something else in mind, which I’ll talk about more some other time.

Today’s prompt is “an-“. I thought I’d write about a character, but looking through my list of character names, I realized they’re all side characters that have barely even popped up(except for Anna from Stained Snow). So, I started browsing through dictionary.com, hoping to find something that struck me(and I really hope thinking that much about it isn’t against the SOCS rules). Then, I hit “ancient history” and went AHA! This will have some spoiler material for some of my Flames stories(mostly Flames of Restoration) and also some back story for a novella(actually 2), I have planned.

“Ancient History”

Cameron leaned back against the wall as he watched the couple spin around on the dance floor. One corner of his mouth ticked up. That wasn’t quite accurate. She was spinning around him, but he was basically just standing there, grinning at her. The last time Cam had seen that man, he certainly hadn’t been grinning.

Cam had stopped calling Mark Young an asshole for how he’d acted that day. Cam had been in the wrong all along. And everything else that had happened after that was his fault as well. He couldn’t put the blame anywhere else.

Despite what he knew was best, his gaze scanned the reception room. He knew Nolan would be here. Mark was his best friend, Nolan had even claimed he was more like a brother. Cam always shuddered a little at that. He hadn’t had good experience with brothers. Cam always said it like it was a good thing, though. Of course, he had a supportive family.

Apparently that made a difference.

He saw the table with the rest of the firefighters in their dress uniforms, but he didn’t see Nolan there. Maybe he’d sat with the rest of the family. Nolan technically was family now, after marrying Mark’s sister. His stomach churned at that. He turned his gaze back to the dance floor as applause broke out and the music shifted as the rest of the wedding party drifted onto the floor for the next dance.

“They’re quite a sight, aren’t they?”

Cam didn’t turn to look at his boss, just kept his gaze on the dancers. There was Nolan, dancing with a woman who wasn’t his new wife. He did recognize her, though. She’d come into the pub more than once. One of his boss’s cousins, he was pretty sure. There were so many of them, it was hard to keep straight.

“Why aren’t you out there? Didn’t your sister want you in her wedding?”

Which didn’t make much sense to him. He’d seen them interact before, and it was obvious there was a lot of love to go around in that family. “She knew I wouldn’t care to wear a tux, and they wanted to keep the numbers of the party even. Mark doesn’t have a lot of people on his side.”

“No one does compared to your family.”

His boss laughed at that, and Cam finally turned to look at him. Giovanni Magaldi’s eyes were bright with amusement, the same way they always seemed to be. And they were locked on Cam right now. Cam turned away. It was never good to look at his boss too long. It put too many ideas in his head.

“I’d rather be behind the bar than in front of all those people anyway,” Gio admitted.

That surprised Cam a bit. Gio had seemed to be one of the most outgoing, friendly people Cam knew over the last several months he’d worked for the other man. But, he’d started to realize there was a lot more to Gio than was obvious on the surface.

The song ended and the couples started drifting off the floor, going back to their seats. Most of them anyway.

“They’ll be doing the rest of the dances after dinner,” Gio said. “We’ll be busy for a little while.”

Sure enough people started moving toward them, wanting to get their drinks before dinner was served. Cam’s hands stayed busy, opening, pouring, mixing.

“Funny seeing you here.”

His hand jerked, and he almost spilled the drink he’d been mixing together. He set everything down before lifting his gaze. “Nolan.” He still looked good, some of that dark brown hair slipping over his forehead. And he looked happy. Something he hadn’t always been when they were together. If you could call their mostly casual relationship as being together.

“I didn’t know,” Cam said in a rush. “I only knew we’d be working a wedding. I didn’t realize whose it was.”

Nolan was still smiling at him. “It’s fine, Cam. Really. I was just surprised to see you.”

Gio stood right beside him, opening a couple bottles and sliding them over to the couple across the bar. But, he could feel his boss’s eyes on them. “I said I’d stay away from you, though. I don’t want you to think-“

Nolan leaned a little closer, and the smile fell away. “I said it’s fine, okay. It’s over. I thought we were fine now.”

Cam blew out a breath. “I’m sorry, okay. I never should have-“

“It’s ancient history. Just drop it.”

That had Cam’s lips quirking up a bit. “Ancient? It was only like six months ago.”

“Like I said, ancient history,” Nolan said, smiling again. “A lot can change in six months.”

Cam saw the arm go around Nolan’s waist then, and he lifted his gaze to see Nolan’s wife beside him. She was smiling, too. Something about the way Nolan ran his hand over her stomach and to her hip almost felt too intimate for him to be watching. “Did you get our drinks yet?” she asked.

“Just about.” He looked back up to Cam. “Maura would like whatever you have that’s non-alcoholic.” Gio laughed from beside him, but whatever the joke might be went right over Cam’s head. “And I’ll have-“

“I know what you drink, Nolan,” Cam said, reaching for the cooler that held bottles of Rolling Rock.

He watched as they walked away. It wasn’t as hard seeing them together as it had been the first time. That was something at least.

“It was you,” Gio said when the space in front of the bar finally cleared out.

“Yeah,” Cam said quietly, finally turning away. “It was me.”

“You almost ruined everything for him.”

“I know,” Cam said, his voice strained. “And I haven’t stopped regretting it since.” He finally looked up at Gio and was surprised to see something but amusement making his eyes bright now. It looked more like fury. “But, like he said, it’s ancient history.”

“It’s never ancient history when someone betrays you.” Gio stepped away. “I need to take a break. You’ll be on your own for a while.”

Cam sighed then rubbed his hands over his face. It looked like he was still screwing everything up.

JusJoJan: Day 29 – Ghost

Welcome back for day 29 of Just Jot It January. Today’s prompt is ghost, brought to us by Barbara.

I don’t write about ghosts. Well, not actual ghosts. Though I do have one of those plotted out. Not sure if I’ll ever get around to writing it, though. It was actually an idea that came to me years ago while I was watching a show on Discovery ID(one of my favorite channels back when we had the satellite).

What I do often write about, though, are people’s emotional ghosts. This came up quite a bit when I was writing Chasing the Ghost(book 4 in my Gilbert, CO series). After all, it’s right there in the title. For anyone who has read Duty to Protect, this is Connie’s story(for anyone who hasn’t, there’s at least one spoiler right there).

Jason closed the door of his truck and glanced over at Leo. “Why aren’t you driving yourself? Or hitching a ride with one of the other guys?”
Leo lifted a shoulder, but he tapped his fingers against the door. “Didn’t drive here this morning, and didn’t want to have to depend on one of them if I wanted to leave.”
“You don’t stay on the ranch?”
“No. I have a house less than a mile away.”
Jason nodded but kept his gaze focused on the road. “What about you?” Leo asked as they turned toward town. “I know Brendan gave you the cabin since there isn’t room in the bunkhouse. Are you planning on moving anyone else into it?”
Jason nearly lifted his hand to touch the ring under his shirt, but he forced it to stay on the wheel instead. “No,” he said, his voice gruff. “There’s no one.”
Leo was silent, but Jason felt him watching him. “Was there?” he finally asked, his voice soft.
“Yes,” he said after a moment. “There isn’t now.” There wouldn’t be. He wouldn’t bring someone into his crazy mess of a life.
“You don’t think she’ll ever take you back?”
“She can’t.”

And there’s Connie’s ghosts:

He reached out and lifted her chin, so she had to look up at him. “It’s not something to be ashamed of. You survived, Connie. That means you’re strong.”
“It means I’m lucky. That’s it, Jason. I got lucky. My fiancé didn’t. That’s why I’ll never have it. The only man I ever loved was stolen away from me. And I…I didn’t even get to grieve for him. I still have trouble remembering he’s gone. Sometimes I forget, and it’s like I lost him all over again.”
He slid both hands along the side of her face, then he bent down and pressed his mouth to hers. Her lips parted in surprise, but he didn’t take that as invitation to take the kiss deeper. He kept it light and soft. He pulled back after a moment. “I know,” he murmured. “I’ve lost, and the pain doesn’t go away. Even when you can remember.”

And some more of what’s haunting Jason:

“I said I wouldn’t ask questions, but I need to know.” Brendan’s voice was strained, as if it pained him to ask. “Is it true?”
Everything inside of him froze. “What?” He had to push the single word out.
“Your wife. Did you kill her?”
Jason shoved up from the bed. He felt cold everywhere, even though his blood burned. “No.” He spit out the word. “I loved her. I loved her with every fucking thing I was. I wasn’t there when she died. I came home to learn my family was dead. How can you ask if it was by my hand?”
He took the picture out of the box and shoved it at him. “I loved them. Why would I kill them?”
Brendan’s hands shook slightly as he took the picture and looked down at it. “You had a son too,” he murmured.
“Adam.” Another tear slid down his cheek. “He was…” Jason sank back onto the bed. “I loved my boy. He was the most precious thing to me, even above my love for her. I don’t care what he says, I never lost my temper with them. I never would have hurt either of them.”
“I can see that, son,” Brendan murmured. “Who says you did?”
Jason blew out a breath. “Her father. He always hated me. Even though the police cleared me, he insists I’m responsible.” He wouldn’t bring up the other things his former father-in-law had done in retribution.
“Why does he have a, what did Garren call him, some sort of private investigator following you?”
“Because he doesn’t believe the police. He’s so sure I did it, he won’t believe anything else.” He rubbed a hand over his face. “You don’t need to worry about this, Brendan. I’ll be leaving. You don’t need my problems.”

JusJoJan: Day 28 – Serendipity

Welcome back to day 28 of Just Jot It January. Today’s prompt is Serendipity, brought to us by Jan. I was thinking about this word, and is meaning and got a little thread of an idea. This will likely be backstory for the next novella I have planned for my Gilbert,  CO series. I wrote some other back story earlier this month and more last May (which was the first I had any idea this character might even get a story). Anyway, carrying on:

“Uncle Ry! Uncle Ry!”

Rylan turned from the shelf he was studying. He’d been staring at it for the last ten minutes. How did he know what he should get his brother and Kellie for their wedding? He wanted to hit the canvas, but wouldn’t they expect something more practical for a wedding gift.

But, now he had something else to focus on. He smiled at the little girl. “Hey, Cora. Well, isn’t this a serendipitous meeting?”

Her face scrunched up. “What does seren…what does that mean?”

He kept smiling at her even though his gaze wanted to jump up to her mother’s face. That wouldn’t be a smart move, though. It had taken him weeks to stop thinking about her after the last time he’d seen her. At another wedding.

“It means I’m lucky you’re here. I could use some help picking out a gift. I’m sure you’re the best at that.”

Cora grinned up at him. “Mommy says I’m pretty good at finding the right gift. Who is it for?”

“Cora,” Kirsten said from behind the girl. “We need to get going. I told you we didn’t have time to say hi.”

“Just one minute, Mommy, please.”

“I have to get you to the babysitter so I can get to class. We’ve been over this.”

It didn’t matter how many times he told himself not to look, he couldn’t help it. She looked so tired. How much had she taken on herself? Raising Cora on her own, going back to school, working every other minute of her day from what Jason had told him.

“I could watch her for you,” he said before he’d thought it through.

Her eyes finally met his, and it felt like it sucked all the air from his lungs. Why did she always have this effect on him. She’d made it clear she didn’t feel the same. So, why did he have to torture himself this way?

“That’s nice of you, but she already has a babysitter. We need to get going, so I can make it to class in time, though.”

“If you let me watch her, you can cut out an extra stop. I really don’t mind, Kirsten.”

She sucked in a breath, but her lips pressed into a thin line. Before she could respond, Cora said, “Please, Mommy. I can help Uncle Ry find a gift. Then, maybe he can teach me to paint. He said he would.”

He had made her that promise a couple months ago at Jason and Connie’s wedding. But, he hadn’t been able to get in touch with Kirsten to keep that promise. “I’d like to do that,” he said, looking straight at Kirsten. There was a lot more he’d like to do, but if lending a hand with this was all she’d accept for now, he’d take it.

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll be able to pick her up by dinner time.”

Which would work out perfectly, if he could convince her to let him take them both out for dinner when she got there. He wouldn’t push her, but he wasn’t going to give up either.

Teaser Tuesday/JusJoJan: Day 26 – Oneness

Welcome back to Day 26 of Just Jot It January. Today’s prompt is Oneness, brought to us by Carol. It’s also Tuesday when I usually share a teaser from my upcoming release. Right now, that’s still Stained Snow(though still no release date. but, if things continue as they are, probably some time in March). The snippet itself doesn’t deal with oneness, but just wait.

His head nodded slightly, the only sign he’d even heard her. By the time she returned with his food, he was sleeping. She set the plate of food on the table before pulling the blanket up over him. Her fingers brushed his forehead, moving his hair away from his face. Something stirred inside of her, but she quickly pushed it away. She still held out hope Thomas would come back for her. She didn’t feel anything but pity for this man.
He’d be riding on as soon as he had his strength back. She couldn’t feel anything more for him.

As for what this has to do with “oneness”. That has more to do with my beta reader’s comment to this section. Which was basically “keep on telling yourself that, Maggie.” Which is pretty much the same thing *I* said when I got sucked into reading through this again when I was supposed to be editing. I may also have said it when I was writing this, but that was more than 2 years ago(maybe less than that for this version. It’s gone through a few). I always find it interesting when someone else has the same reaction I did to something I wrote. And hopefully that means it will do the same to others who read it.

JusJoJan: Day 24 – Compelled

Welcome back to Day 24 of Just Jot It January. I’ve skipped the last couple days. I had some vague ideas for the last two prompts, but nothing that formed into any actual words. So, I just didn’t write anything. Anyway, today’s prompt is compelled, brought to us by Willow.

I have a lot of stories in my head. And it seems more pop in all the time. Sometimes, as I write them, it actually feels like I’m writing them, making it all up. Then, other times, they just pour out of me. It’s more like the characters are telling me the story, and I’m just trying to keep up with transcribing it. These are some of my favorite to write, even if it can be a bit exhausting.

The first I can remember being like this, was Flames of Retribution, which I’ve just finished doing a second round of revisions on. The words only stopped rolling one time, because a side character revealed something about himself that I hadn’t been prepared for. Once I adjusted to that reveal(much as the main character needed to), the story rolled right on until the end. The other books in the series have rolled out much the same way. There’s just something about these characters.

The bedroom door creaked, and he turned toward the front door. He had no desire to see whoever Nolan had spent the night with. “I’ll see you later.”
As he opened the front door, he heard, “Nolan, you coming back to bed?” He nearly froze in the doorway. That hadn’t been a woman’s voice. He didn’t turn back, waiting until he was on the sidewalk to increase his pace to a jog.
His best friend was not gay. He knew that. He’d seen him with women, knew he brought them home. Did he bring men home too?
Did it matter? It didn’t change anything about the man his best friend was. Did it?
He picked up his pace. He couldn’t, didn’t want to, think about this right now. He’d finish his workout then head into the hospital. He wanted to be back at the apartment before Adrian brought Caitie home.

I also wrote this, and what led up to it, in a separate “short” story(if you can count 10k as still a short story).

Then, there’s the side characters that sometimes pop up. I think they’re just throwaway characters. And then they start talking to me, telling me they have a story to tell. Leo Rusak, from my Gilbert, CO series, was one of these. I really hadn’t been planning to tell his, and then I wrote My Way to You in 7 days. All 36,237 words of it.

She’d caught a glimpse of who Leo was talking about. “The guy Dad hired? Jensen?” That was his name, right?
“Jason,” he corrected softly. “So, you’ve already met him.”
“Kind of. He helped me up to the house yesterday when I got hit with a headache. He came out to the barn while I was there. We talked for a few minutes. He seems nice.”
A smile played around his lips, and her own lips turned down into a frown. “It’s not like that, Leo. He wouldn’t be interested in me, anyway.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Look at him.”
“Oh, I have,” he said, that smile still floating on his face. “Do you think Bryan will be jealous?”
Connie laughed and slapped at his arm. “You’re bad, Leo.”

This was when Leo popped up in Chasing the Ghost. My Way to You starts shortly after Chasing ends and then goes back in the past to when Leo and Bryan first meet. I really liked telling their story.

Another side character, Xavier (no last name yet), who showed up in Guarding the Heart(the first in my BC Security series – and yes, I have a lot of series), was another who surprised me and compelled me to tell their stories.

“Xavier. I didn’t know you were still here.”
He turned from the stove with a grin for her. “I’ve had the boss’s cooking before. I figured I’d save you that experience.”
“I’m right here, X,” Casey said from the table, and she froze in the middle of her laugh. “You don’t really need to insult me.”
Xavier flicked his gaze to Casey, where it lingered for just a moment before turning back to the stove. “Yeah. I see ya.”
Emelyn looked between them, awareness dawning. Casey seemed oblivious to the tone in the man’s voice or that look, though. She moved over toward the stove. “Need help with anything?” she asked, reaching over to squeeze the hand he had clenched against the counter.
He looked over at her, and saw the moment realization hit him. He glanced away, but she saw his throat move as he swallowed. “Nope,” he said, keeping his voice light. “It’s just about ready. All you gotta do is eat.”
She nodded and moved over to the coffeepot and saw there was already a cup sitting in front of it. Since the two men already had their own, she assumed this one had been set out for her. She wondered who she had to thank for that. But, by the small thing of milk and sugar sitting beside it, she thought she knew. Xavier didn’t know how she took her coffee.
When Xavier slid a plate in front of her, she dug into the eggs with small pieces of ham and potato mixed in. She hummed at the first taste. It had just a little bite to it. Perfect. “You have to tell me your secret,” she said, looking right at Xavier. “I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
He looked back at her, and she saw the slight relaxing of his muscles as he got another meaning in her words. “Not a secret once someone else knows.”

And then there’s this when another character shows up, which tells me at least part of what their story(which will be the third in the series)

“Need anything, boss?” Xavier asked, and Casey saw him standing at the foot of the bed. His gaze was on the wall behind Casey. “If it’s time for you to take more meds, I can get them.”
“No. I’ve got time before I gotta take more. All I need is for you to get the bug out of your ass. I told you I don’t want you to resign or anything. So, you could at least make eye contact with me.”
The rest of the room had fallen silent, and a heavy weight settled on his chest. But, it was Piers who broke the tension, and Casey saw his eyes linger on Xavier a moment as he said, “We gonna bring the boy up to speed or spend the rest of the day bullshitting?”
The tension dissipated at that, and Xavier turned away. He walked toward the other side of the room, and again, Casey thought he saw a quick brush of Piers’ hand against Xavier’s arm. The younger man jerked away this time, though. And before Piers turned away, Casey was almost certain he saw a flash of hurt in his eyes. He’d probably imagined it, though. This concussion was making him read more into things.

I really loved these guys, especially when Dorian(even though I could have sworn I’d named him Declan at some point) and Piers showed up. They’ll be in the next stories a lot more. In fact, Dorian/Declan’s will be the next one I outline.

JusJoJan: Day 19 – Climate

Welcome back to Day 19 of Just Jot It January. Today’s prompt is Climate, brought to us by Joanne. This is actually kind of fitting for how my day started. Although, I suppose, technically that’s more weather than climate. But, still.

I woke up about four thirty this morning. Yeah, I hear it now. But, that’s actually not too early for me. Planned to go out and start my coffee then get some writing done before the kids woke up. I went to turn the water on and…nothing. Sometimes our hot water freezes in the winter, and we can put the heater to it in the house and get it going again. Well, I tried the cold water, too, and still…nothing.

And, of course, my husband had been out plowing since late Sunday night, and he still wasn’t home. So, I was going to have to take care of it myself. I’ve never had to before, so I sent him a text asking what I needed to do. After a quick call, I had a plan.

Of course, I hadn’t shoveled out the whole walk way between our house and garage when we got dumped on last week. And guess where I needed to get into? Yep. Where some of that snow had frozen over. It took me about 45 minutes just to clear the ice out, then I had to pull away the skirting so I could get to where it usually freezes. Had on coveralls, boots, gloves and everything. And still my toes and fingers were freezing soon. But I kept a hair dryer blowing on it for about an hour. This is the only thing we use a hair dryer for in our house, really. We have a heat gun somewhere in the garage, which probably would have been better, except I couldn’t find it. And several torches my husband said would do even better, but using them makes me nervous. After an hour, I took out an electric heater and had it pointing at it(with an extension cord to the garage).

My husband got home a little after 10:30 and by 11, we finally had water again. So, all my attempts didn’t do much good. We can just say I started to thaw it, though, right? And thankfully, no pipes burst.

Now, I just have to remember to keep some water trickling through from now on. Or at least until it warms up again.

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