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A to Z Challenge – Y is for Mark Young

Name: Mark Young

Age: 34 years old

Description: Mark is tall and muscular. He has blond hair, that he keeps buzzed short, and blue eyes. He has several tattoos, though they are mostly covered when he has his firefighter uniform on.

Short Bio: Mark is the second child, but oldest son, of Timothy and Monica Young. His sister, Maura, is less than two years older than him. His brother, is a little more than three years younger than him. The two boys never quite got along. Their father barely spent time with them, putting work ahead of everything else. Their mother tended to ignore them as well. Instead it was usually Maura who took care of them.

Mark met Deena Chase when he was in high school. They started dating and stayed together even after he joined the Marine Corps. He met Nolan Hunter there, as well as Erin Zernig. There were others, but those two were more than comrades-in-arms, they were good friends.

He proposed to Deena after his first enlistment term was up. She said yes, thinking it meant he’d be staying home. And was quite upset when he told her he’d re-enlisted. They started fighting every time they managed to talk and weren’t in a good place the next time he deployed. And one night, he and Erin did more than play pool together. He was ashamed of what he’d done, and yet it happened once more, after they lost another comrade and comforted each other.

When he got home, he came clean to Deena, hoping he’d be able to earn her forgiveness in time. She threw the engagement ring at him and would not speak to him. Finally, one of the times he called, her brother answered the phone and told him she was dead. Because of him.

Then, he was wounded in action, his leg shattered from an explosion that also took the life of Erin and others. He was discharged and after healing, he tried to move on with his life. His friend, Nolan, was up in Crystal Glen and suggested he come up there. He ended up joining the fire department there, where they worked together.


James stepped out of his car to find a crowd already gathered in the cemetery. He hadn’t expected to feel anything but sadness and anger while here. Yet seeing so many people who came out to help, filled him with even more.
Some of these people he didn’t even recognize. Adrian’s family probably. The first person he did recognize, Mark Young who used to work with Kayla, stood near a tree staring off at a small group raking away some small debris laying around the graves. Caitie stood in that group. She looked a little different out of her uniform. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and she wore a blue tank top with a pair of denim shorts.
He stopped near the tree. “Mark. You’re not on shift today?”
The man turned his head away from the group. “Nope. Tomorrow.” He had sunglasses pulled down over his eyes, so James couldn’t see them, but there was a tightness to the firefighter’s jaw. “Sorry about what happened here, Brooke. Some of the other guys plan to show up too if you need the help.”
Emotion nearly overwhelmed him. He should have known he didn’t only have to count on his own family. There was the fire family too. He’d always be a part of it even though he wasn’t actively fighting fires now. “Thanks, Mark. I appreciate it.”
“Whoever did this is the lowliest sort of scum. Desecrating graves. It’s despicable. I’d like to-”
“Might want to watch what threats you make, Young,” a voice said from behind them. “There’s lots of cops present here.”
James turned as Adrian walked toward them, an arm around Kayla’s waist. “Your whole family show up to help, Adrian?” he asked.
Kayla snorted. “This? I don’t think that’s even half of them.”
“You didn’t even meet Mom’s side yet,” Adrian said.
“There’s more?” she groaned.
He laughed and bent down to kiss her. “Don’t worry. It’s smaller.”
“Not saying much. You have thirteen freaking cousins.”
He chuckled. “You’re still stuck on that?”
“I don’t have any. Except,” she added, glancing over at James.
“It’s okay,” James said. “You didn’t know him.”
Mark stepped forward and stuck his hand out. “Riley.”
“Young,” Adrian responded in the same brisk tone, but he took his hand.

Flames A-Z: Nolan Hunter

I did a post on Nolan back in April for the A-Z challenge. At the time, I was in the middle of writing his story. He’s another of those characters who was supposed to just have a walk-on part in the first book. That first book was supposed to be a standalone. HaHa. I seem incapable of writing those. He only has a small appearance in the second book, but he’s in a good bit of book 3. And we learn something new about him at the same time Mark does. In fact, I learned it only shortly before that and may have resisted just a bit.

Nolan is the third son of Carrick and Ariana Hunter(that kind of makes him sound like royalty, huh?) and grew up in Crystal Glen, Pa. His father works in construction and his mother was an art teacher. Nolan and his brothers grew up around hammers and power tools. Only his oldest brother, Tate, followed in the family business. Although, his other older brother, Kelan, at one time planned to be an architect. He also has two younger siblings, Jessica and Jace, who are about 10 years younger than Nolan. Jessica also followed in their father’s footsteps.

When Nolan graduated high school, he went to college, majoring in psychology. During his second year at college, he left and joined the Marine Corps.* While there, he met Mark Young, who became one of his best friends. He served four years, a lot of that time spent in the Middle East. He was wounded just before his enlistment term was up, and he was also growing disillusioned, so he didn’t re-enlist.*

After that, he ended up joining the Crystal Lake Fire Department. He spent a few of his teen years as an Explorer for the town’s volunteer department. And his father, two of his brothers, and his sister are all volunteers as well. He’d been there for a couple years when Mark returned home badly wounded. After he’d recovered, Nolan convinced him to move up north(same state, but they come from different parts of it) and join the department as well.

Since him and Mark were friends, Nolan had gone home with Mark a few times when they were on leave. And he met Mark’s sister, Maura. Unfortunately, the first time he met her, she was already engaged to someone else. So, he became her friend. And he waited. He stood by her even when her husband treated her poorly. And when she finally left him, he was still there to support her and waiting for her to be ready to move on.

Writing Nolan’s story did push me a bit out of my comfort zone(and no, still not revealing Nolan’s secret. haha. I’m evil like that). But, I do really like it. I’m hoping others will, too.

*these lead to stories I wrote for this year’s Story a Day challenge.

Flames A-Z: Caitie & Callum

I couldn’t decide who to write about for C. I have more than one character in the series who starts with C. There’s Carol Brooke(Kayla’s grandma), Caitlin Cooper(Adrian’s niece), Caitie Magaldi(Adrian’s cousin) and her older brother, Cormac, Callum & Connor(Adrian’s younger brothers), Christopher Takoda(James’ stepson). There’s a few others that are mostly distant cousins of Adrian(I have a very detailed family tree, my favorite form of procrastination).

Two of my favorites of these to write, though, have been Caitie Magaldi and Callum Riley.

Caitie was a bit unexpected, and so very different than me. She’s small, and often mistaken as a teenager. In fact, when Mark Young, firefighter and former Marine, first meets her that’s exactly what he thinks she is and so is very disturbed by his reaction to her. Until she sets him straight. She has an attitude about twice her size, though. Not a bad one, in fact she tends to be a bit bubbly and friendly. But, she doesn’t back down for much.

Caitie grew up with a father who ran a chain of pubs and a mother who’s a cop. Her two older brothers, Cormac and Brannon(named after an uncle but almost exclusively goes by Brann), joined the police department, and Caitie followed in their footsteps a few years later. She also has a younger brother, Giovanni, who was the only one to follow in their father into business. She moved to Crystal Glen, like her older cousin, Adrian, so she didn’t feel like she was always walking in her mother’s & brothers’ shadows. She ran into Mark Young a second time at Kayla and Adrian’s wedding and after one night together, thought she wouldn’t see him again(which she wasn’t too happy about). Of course, we can’t let that happen. 😉

From the first time Caitie & Mark run into each other after the wedding:

Caitie took a step forward. “Need some help here, Ham?”
“Just for these dumb smoke eaters to tell me what happened.”
She met Nolan’s gaze first and saw the smile spread across his face. “Fairy. What the hell are you doing here?”
Mark’s head jerked up at that. She saw him wince at the movement, but his gaze didn’t leave hers. There was pain in his eyes, but anger came in to cover it. “Caitie? What the hell?”
Then, his gaze moved down. Her skin tingled, as it roved over her chest to her badge, down to her waist, then back up, taking in her uniform. She held herself still, but she saw the muscle in his jaw twitch. “What the hell?” He said again.
She could feel Ham’s gaze on her too. “What’s going on, Magaldi? You know these guys?”
“Those two,” she said, indicating Mark and Nolan. She had to keep her eyes off Mark though. “They were at Adrian’s wedding. I don’t know the others.”
“They were there too,” Nolan said. “You must have missed them when you couldn’t take your eyes off Mark.”
“Shut the fuck up, Nolan,” Mark snarled.
He wasn’t looking at her anymore. Instead his gaze was focused across the room. That hurt, but she wasn’t going to let it show. Kayla had told her how he felt about women in their kind of jobs. Even if he’d been there when she woke up, it wouldn’t have worked.
“Let him get seen, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know,” Nolan was saying.
“I didn’t get hit in the fucking head. I’d remember that.”
“Obviously not,” Caitie said, putting one hand to the bruise on his face. He flinched, and she dropped her hand. She wanted to keep touching him though. And it was killing her that he wouldn’t even look her way. “You need to be seen, Mark. So, be a good boy…”
He growled and pushed up from the chair, shrugging off Nolan’s hand. When he towered over her, she should have been scared. But, she still remembered how gentle his hands were on her the other night. He didn’t frighten her.

Now, Callum, surprised me as well, but for different reasons. When he first showed up in Flames of Redemption, I didn’t expect too much from him. He was just Adrian’s younger brother, a recovering addict(although, at the time, I wasn’t even sure how *recovering* he was). There was a lot of conflict between him and Adrian since Adrian was the one who had arrested him about 2 years earlier. Some of that conflict remained in the next couple books, but by the time I started writing Callum’s story, Adrian was back on his brother’s side. And, a snippet of the two brothers together:

When he’d disappeared, Adrian sighed and crouched next to where Callum was sifting through the bolts laying on the ground. “What’s going on, Cal?”
He shook his head. “Nothing. I wish people would stop asking.”
“You’ve been acting weird since Easter. Even more since you moved here. Will you talk to me?”
Callum tossed one of the bolts to the ground. “Why? So you can lord it over me that I threw away the one possibly good thing in my life? That I let her walk away from me? What am I supposed to do? She’s the only one who looked at me and saw through all the shit I pulled. She’s the only one who saw me, Adrian. And she abandoned me when I was at my lowest. But, that’s my fault, too.”
“Cal, don’t-”
“No, Adrian, it’s true. I made her promises. That I would get clean. That I would stay clean. That I wouldn’t go back. I broke all of those and spent nearly two years behind bars. Why the hell wouldn’t she walk away from me? And now she’ll barely look at me.”
He saw Adrian freeze. “You’ve seen her again?”
He nodded and gripped his arm tight. “At the fire yesterday. She was there.”
He finally looked up, and Adrian’s eyes were dark, shuttered. “She’s with the department.”
“Yes. She always talked about joining. I didn’t know she’d gone through with it.”
“Who, Cal? I don’t know which shift that would be.”
“Megan,” he said, her name just a breath across his lips. “Megan Luzat.”
“Damn. I’m sorry, Cal.”
He shook his head and walked over to the next piece they needed to attach to the swingset. “It doesn’t matter. Hell, why should I expect her to forgive me? I can’t even forgive myself. I don’t deserve to.”
“You know that isn’t true, Callum. You made mistakes. Your coping methods hurt you and others. But, you paid for that. And you’ve been making up for it. You don’t need to keep punishing yourself. I know I had my doubts about if you were serious this time. I don’t anymore. So, stop beating yourself up.”
“Whatever, Adrian,” he said, but a smile slid across his face as his brother slid the bolt into place, attaching the piece to the rest of it.

A to Z: M is for Mark Young


I was going to talk about mutual aid today, but I think I’ll put that as part of another day’s post. Instead, I want to talk about another character in my Flames series who took on more life than I ever expected.

At first, I think I wrote Mark Young into Flames of Redemption simply because obviously Kayla couldn’t be the only firefighter at the station. Then, he started giving her a hard time. At first, I thought it was simply because he was grieving a friend, a brother, even more than a colleague. Then, I learned he’d been giving her a hard time even longer than that. And I realized there was even more behind why he did this, and little of it actually had to do with her. More of his background started to come through until I realized he had a story to tell as well. Well, it wasn’t so much I realized it as he demanded I let him tell his story. And he didn’t stop demanding, until I’d finished writing it.

Name: Mark Young

Age: 34

Parents: Timothy & Monica Young

Siblings: older sister – Maura, younger brother – Patrick

Occupation: firefighter

Background: Mark grew up as the middle son but never felt like he belonged anywhere until he joined the Marine Corps right out of high school. He served for almost eight years before being seriously wounded. While in the Corps, he met and became friends with Nolan Hunter(more on him tomorrow). After recovering, he moved to Crystal Glen(fictional town set in NW Pennsylvania) and ended up joining the fire department there with Nolan. He’d found another place he belonged, but traumas from the last several years still rode with him.

Mark had just lifted the bar over his head when he heard the sharp rap on his front door. He groaned as he set the bar back in the bracket and sat up. He was only halfway through his weights routine and hated being interrupted. But he grabbed the towel he kept near his weight bench and wiped the sweat from his face as he headed for the door. He’d taken his shirt off when he’d returned from today’s run and didn’t bother putting it back on. So, he answered the door in just a pair of track pants.
“Damn it, Mark. You could at least put a shirt on.”
Mark just grinned at Nolan. “Grow a couple inches, and you could just look me in the face.”
Nolan pushed against his shoulder. He could look him in the eye, but straight on, his gaze landed right at his collarbone. Mark just turned and walked back into the apartment, leaving the door open for his friend. He didn’t put his shirt on, dropping back onto the weight bench and reaching for the bar again. “I know you didn’t come here to spot me,” he said as he started another set of lifts.
“You never got my keys back to me.”
“On the kitchen counter. I tried to take them by your place and even brought them to the station yesterday, but you’d switched shifts with McCorkel. How’ve you been getting around?”
“Walking. Hopping rides with the other guys. Cork’s wife went into labor Saturday night. Hadn’t planned on working Sunday.”
“How is she?”
“Good from all reports,” he said, hopping up on to the counter as Mark settled the bar in the bracket again.
Without sitting up, he put his knees over the padded bars of the leg developer, hooking his feet onto the bottom of it. He started doing leg lifts and just turned his head toward Nolan. “The baby?”
“Good too. A little girl, Lorna Caitrin.He’s taking my next shift. I’m sure he’ll have pictures for you.”
Mark nodded, but his jaw tightened as he counted each lift in his head. It clenched tighter as his leg twinged. But, he pushed past that. He felt like he was always pushing past it. “Damn it, Mark. You don’t have to do this to yourself.”
“I’m not doing anything to myself,” he said, the words grating out through his teeth as he forced himself to do a few more lifts. “I’m doing it for me. I won’t go back to what I was.”
“What you were? You were fucking wounded. You were lucky to be alive, let alone keep your leg. Give yourself a fucking break. Being wounded isn’t a sign of weakness. The fact you’re still around and moving on your own should be a sign of your strength.”
“Didn’t feel that way to me when I couldn’t do a single thing for myself. I won’t go back to feeling that way again.” He let the equipment drop back into place and sat up, reaching for the towel. “Can you get a water out of the fridge? Since you seem determined to stay.”
“You’re in a nasty mood today, Mark. I figured that fairy would have taken care of that.”
He nearly snarled at that before pulling himself back. “She has nothing to do with it. It was a rough night. We got that warehouse fire and that pile-up.” He wiped the towel over his face again, as if that could erase the memory of the little boy he’d pulled out of the car. He was still alive even if his legs were mangled. They could fix that. He knew a leg could be fixed. So, he tried not to think about all the pain the boy would go through to get them working again.
At least he was still alive.
“What did happen Saturday night?” Nolan asked as he handed him the bottle of water. “You didn’t come back down before I left, and you never responded to my message.”
“I was a little busy.”
“So, you did get some. Why aren’t you in a better mood then?”
“I told you. It was a rough night.” He dragged a hand over his head though.
“We’re used to rough nights, Mark. What the hell is going on with you?”
“Hell if I know,” he muttered, taking a pull from the bottle. Then, he wrapped the towel around his shoulders. “I didn’t want to leave. She was wrapped around me, and I just wanted to stay there.”
“Maybe you should have.” The teasing tone and aggravation had left Nolan’s voice. “You could have given yourself that.”
Mark shook his head and leaned against a wall. “I haven’t even fallen asleep with a woman in over a year, Nolan. I never have trouble leaving. So, why was this so hard?”
“She have her claws in you already, brother? You going to start calling her when you’re done with work?”
Mark’s eyes snapped open, but even though Nolan was smiling, it didn’t quite reach his eyes. He knew his friend was worried about him. “No. It’s not like that. I don’t do relationships. Not anymore.”
“I’m not going there with you again. You already know my opinion about you still punishing yourself for that. You made a mistake. You’re human, Mark. You’re allowed.”

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