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Fiction Friday: Goin’ Down – The Change

Last week I started sharing my short story “Goin’ Down” that I’d submitted to the World Unknown Review but wasn’t accepted. Good things were said about it in the rejection letter, though. This week, I have the second scene for you.

“Where are we going?” I didn’t like having the blindfold over my eyes, but Justin promised he had a surprise for me. He hadn’t thought to surprise me since our early days of dating. I didn’t think he knew how anymore.

“If I told you, that would ruin the surprise, wouldn’t it?”

This was a surprise in itself. I’d spent the last couple weeks doing everything I could think of to bring us back to what we’d been before. He ate my home-cooked dinners without a word, barely spoke to me when I sat next to him while we watched TV, and turned away from my advances. I had started consulting with a divorce lawyer. I told myself I’d go through with it if he didn’t agree to marriage counseling.

Now, suddenly he was attentive, taking me for a surprise picnic lunch. I didn’t know what to make of it.

This was the spontaneous man I’d married. I should probably be thankful something was bringing him back to me.

“We’re almost there,” he told me.

I wish I knew where ‘there’ was. We seemed to have come a long way from home for a lunch. Or he had taken a winding, twisting way to confuse me. Why would he have done that?

Not a lot of this made sense, but I kept telling myself he had a sweet surprise in store for me. None of the rest of it mattered.

I went where he led me, trusting him. Just like I always had. When I stumbled, he caught me. He guided me around trees and other obstacles. I felt the brush of them as we passed. He wouldn’t let me get hurt.

“Stay right here,” he said before stepping away from me.

I tried to listen to him, I wanted to. I wanted to trust him. But, I couldn’t see anything, I only heard the wind…no that wasn’t the wind. It was water rushing over rocks. Where had he brought me? My stomach tightened at being so close to water. It had to be a large stream or river, a lake wouldn’t make that noise.

“Justin,” I called out to him when I still didn’t hear him returning. He didn’t answer me. Where had he gone? He wouldn’t have left me out here. Would he? No, of course he wouldn’t. He loved me, and I trusted him. I called out again but still nothing.

I reached up for the blindfold, needing to see where I was. I didn’t want to trip over something and fall into the water. My chest tightened. I’d been having the dream more often. In the morning, I’d find Justin sleeping on the couch. I guess he had gotten tired of waking me from it.

Just as I tried to get at the knot at the back of my head, Justin’s hand covered mine. “I said to stay where you were. That meant leaving the blindfold alone as well.”

“I was scared. You weren’t answering me. It was like you just disappeared.”

“Really, Heather. You do realize how ridiculous that sounds, don’t you?”

I heard the teasing in his voice and tried to laugh at myself. He knew how I felt around the water. “I was scared, Justin,” I said again. “Why would you do that?”

“I wanted you to trust me. You used to trust me, Heather.”

I didn’t see how manipulating my fears would get that to happen.

“I was going to take the blindfold off while we ate. Since you failed my test, I think I should leave it on as punishment.”

My heart quickened, but not in the way I would have liked. We’d never played these games before, and I was sure I didn’t want to start now. “Justin,” I started, but he took my hand and led me away.

“Come with me. I have a blanket spread out here with our lunch.” He guided me over and down onto it. “You will learn to trust me, Heather,” he whispered in my ear.

How was I supposed to when none of this felt right? He pulled away from me, and I couldn’t feel anything but the ground beneath me. The grass poked my legs through the blanket. I heard the water behind us, and it left me tense. He wouldn’t have us sitting close enough I fell over into the water. Would he?

No, of course not. Things had been tense between us, but he still loved me. He was just trying to spice things up.

“Open up.”

When I did, he set the edge of a glass to my lips. The taste of the wine burst across my tongue then he took it away again. “You don’t want to drink too much, too fast. I know what a light head you have for wine.”

Something about his words struck me wrong, but none of it was false. I could only handle small amounts of wine or any other alcohol. And only when I’d had some food with it. I hoped he had more than wine in his basket.

He murmured something. No, he was humming. Doing this for me must really make him happy. That was good. Why did it send a cold shiver down the center of my back?

What is going on? should she trust that strange feeling she has? What is going to happen next? Well, you’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

In the meantime, I have a new release out today. Healing the Heart is the follow-up to my first book, Duty to Protect. If you were wondering about Garren’s ex-fiancée, Melanie, this is her story. I hope you’ll enjoy it if you check it out.

WeWriWa: “Always Running”

Welcome back to another visit with the Weekend Writing Warriors, the blog hop for anyone who likes to write. It’s been quite a week here. Starting off with me as a potential juror for a criminal homicide case(got excused, thank goodness) and ending with my 10 year wedding anniversary and publishing my 5th book(more on that later). But, right now, it’s time to get back to Devil and Hawk. I didn’t write a whole lot on Dance with the Devil this week, but I’m still ahead of where I’ve been posting. This is a little ahead of what I posted last week, but Devil still isn’t sure of his future with the club due to his own actions.

“You said they provoked you, and I can’t say they didn’t. But, we were told to keep our distance. Which means you don’t go up and confront one of them.”

They badmouthed you. I opened my mouth to say it, but he just kept rolling right on.

“You keep walking right on the edge, and you’re going to end up falling over one of these days.”

“Thought you said you’d always catch me,” I said reminding him of something he’d said in one of the letters we used to exchange.

But, it only brought that hurt look back to his eyes. “I’d do just that if you weren’t always running from me.”

Why does Devil keep running from Hawk? Will he finally stop? Or will he finally step too far over that edge?

As I mentioned above, I released my fifth book last night. Stained by Ashes is the second Stained book. Stained is my western series that started with Stained Snow, which is free now through Monday. I loved writing these books since westerns were one of my first reading loves(I started reading them when I was 12. I was an odd child). Both are also available on Kindle Unlimited. I hope you’ll enjoy if you pick them up.

SOCS: “Strongest, Bravest, Best”

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why would you do that?”

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

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

Fiction Friday: Stained Snow

Today’s the day! Stained Snow is live and out in the wild! I’m excited and a bit anxious about this one. It’s the first western I’ve written in a while. Though westerns were really my first writing love. The first story I finished writing outside of school was a western. It was probably crappy and short(though I thought it was long at the time), but I was only 13/14 at the time. I gave the only copy to my Dad and almost hope he lost it.

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Stained Snow started out as a piece of flash fiction, the first one I ever wrote actually. Probably about 3-4 years ago. Then, I expanded that into a novella. It still needed more work after that, and got it expanded even farther. Until finally, it’s the book you can read now.

There are two more books coming in this series, and I have ideas for other westerns in the works. I really hope you’ll enjoy this tale if you read it.

Sometimes blood isn’t thick enough.

William Jensen thought he had everything he could ever want: a small ranch in Wyoming Territory, the respect of the people around him, and the love of his wife and son. But, when he comes back from doing a favor for the sheriff and finds most of that gone, he isn’t sure what’s left for him. Other than finding the man responsible and bringing him to justice.

Maggie Barnes can only ever remember living on her father’s ranch in northern Colorado. And for almost as long, has dreamed about getting away. She thought she was close, but one more person left her behind. When her father brings an wounded man home, she thinks there may be more to life than seeing the world.

William starts to see there may be more now than vengeance as he starts to piece his life back together with Maggie. But, when he’s faced with losing it all again, he may just have to accept the truth. The only way he can have everything is by hunting down the man who keeps taking it all until nothing is left. Even if it means killing his own brother.

Teaser Tuesday: World Unknown Review Released

The second edition of the World Unknown Review releases today. So I figured I’d share another snippet from Into the Sun, my novella that is included in this collection.

   I had pulled a chair out at the table when I heard a pounding of feet out in the hallway. I stiffened, but Icarus grinned as the door was thrown open. “Birdie,” he said, “what have I said about flying in the house?”
The light giggle had another part of me stiffening. God, what was wrong with me? She didn’t sound like she could be older than fifteen. I’d just turned eighteen. That was all kinds of wrong.
“I’d heard you were home. I missed you, Dad.”
Dad. If I was right about Icarus, that made what I felt even more kinds of wrong.
“Hey, Trace.”
I still hadn’t turned around. I wasn’t sure I could. But, Icarus said my name softly again. I could hear the worry in his voice. Did he think I was having another panic attack? No, this was much worse than that.
I turned around, and I couldn’t quite keep my gaze from going to the girl. Tall like him, but her skin was darker than either of ours. Her hair was dark too, nearly black. But, her eyes, I couldn’t even say what color they were. Some gold, brown, and green all mixed together. She was beautiful. I wasn’t sure if I could even breathe while looking at her.
“Another one, Dad? You’re gonna run out of room if you keep collecting us.”
“Never,” Icarus said and kissed the top of her head. “My heart grew two sizes that day.”
It almost felt like some kind of inside joke, but I didn’t have a clue what the punchline might be. Now, she looked at me, and I really couldn’t breathe.
I didn’t think I’d ever seen a more beautiful girl. I thought I’d been wrong when I’d judged her age by that giggle. She definitely looked more grown up than fifteen. Especially with the way she filled out those tight jeans and the snug t-shirt. My mouth dried right up.
“Birdie, this is Trace. No last name until he learns he can trust us.” He flashed a smile at me then said, “Trace, this is my little wounded bird.”
“Jeez, Dad, are you determined to embarrass me? My wings certainly aren’t broken anymore.”
More inside jokes, or shared history at least. I didn’t know what any of it meant. “Nice to meet you,” I managed to get out.
She flashed me a smile then Icarus said, “Can you go in and let Cookie know he needs something to eat. I think he’s skipped a few meals.”
I hadn’t had a real one since the night before I’d left home, but I wasn’t going to admit that. “I’m fine, really.”
“Trace, sit down,” Icarus ordered. “You’ll eat then I’ll show you up to your room.”
I found myself sitting without another thought. Birdie laughed and leaned a hip on the corner of the table, only inches away from me. Her chest was right at eye level now. I forced my gaze up to keep it on her face.
She smirked and looked over at Icarus. “This one’s polite at least. I’ll go get his food.”
He stopped her for another forehead kiss. “He wasn’t towards you, and he’d be right back out on his ass.” He said this with a pointed look toward me.
I swallowed and let my eyes fall to the table at the obvious warning. But, Birdie only laughed. “I don’t like ’em polite anyway. I’ve spent too much time around you raunchy bunch.”
“Who’s being raunchy toward you? I’ll-”
“Dad, stop,” she demanded. “None of them are. Just relax. I’m all grown up now. You don’t need to tend to me anymore.”

You can check out the rest of the story, and 9 others now.

Teaser Tuesday: It’s Live

It’s release day, so this will be the last excerpt from First Choice, Second Chance. From Chapter 7, Lila is having dinner with her old friend, Ashley(who happened to marry Mason’s friend, Brian).

Ashley reached across the table and put her hand over Lila’s. “I saw what the papers said. I’d imagine almost everyone in town has. You know there are few around here who will believe it.”
“I’m not sure what I’d rather have them believe. That I really was a bad girl in a good girl’s skin, or I was so deceived by someone like Kyle. Both are humiliating. Now, my career’s over.”
“Don’t say that, Lila. I’m sure you can go back to it. Other stars have had bad press, and it’s forgotten the next time someone else’s name is splashed across the tabloids.”
Lila shook her head. “You don’t understand. It’s not just the tabloids. He spread lies to producers, to the venues. No one wants me. He’s essentially ruined any chances of me performing again any time soon. I don’t know if I could even handle going back on the stage. It was never easy for me before. I don’t think I have the confidence to do it now.”
“I’ve never known you to not have confidence, and I’ve known you a long time.”
“Getting on stage, especially the bigger ones, scared me to death. It was easier that summer I was home. When I knew Mason was out there. When I had his support.” She dropped her head into her hands. “God. Why was I so stupid?”
When Ashley didn’t respond after a minute, she looked back up and realized her friend’s attention had focused past her. “What? What is it?” A stone weighed heavy in her stomach.
“He’s here. With his parents.”
She wanted to turn and look too much. She kept her eyes trained ahead of her and saw the sadness in Ashley’s eyes. “What is it? Is something wrong with him?”
“You never heard about Scott, either? About his accident?”
“What happened? Is he okay?”
“Well, since the doctors didn’t expect him to live, I’d say it’s a pretty good thing he’s walking, even with the use of a cane.”
“What happened?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to know. She had always cared for Scott. Had loved how he supported Mason even when he didn’t agree with his choices. So many times she had wished her father was more like him.
“An accident with his tractor. I’m not exactly sure what happened. Mason found him out in the field, stuck under that big beast. He was in the hospital for nearly two months. Like I said, the doctors said he was lucky to still be alive, let alone walking. Mason’s handled most of the work on the farm since.”
“How can he do that on his own? I can’t imagine one man handling it alone.”
“They hired a couple of high school kids. I know they’ve sold off close to half of the cows. Scott has started talking about finding a buyer for it. He told Brian he’s tired of feeling like a burden. Thinks if he sells, it will make things better for everyone.”
“Poor Mason.” She hadn’t meant to let the words slip out. “Poor Scott, too. I know how much Mason has always loved that place. What will he do if they sell it?”
Ashley shook her head. “I don’t know. Brian’s talked to Scott about it. They’ve been tossing ideas around, but Scott hasn’t been ready to sell. I think it’s getting to be too much now, and he’s ready. From what Brian says, Mason’s the only resistant one now.”
“It’s his home,” Lila murmured. “It’s his whole life.”
“For being gone seven years, you still know him pretty well.”

Add First Choice, Second Chance to Goodreads or buy it now!

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Monday Mentions: Heartless

I was supposed to help with the cover reveal for L.S. Engler‘s new book at the beginning of this month, but a ball got dropped somewhere. But, it came out on August 15(actually Amazon is saying 8/7, but still), so I figured I’d share this with you all.

Where do you turn when there’s no one left to trust?

The Slayer of the Soulless has found betrayal around every corner, and she has discovered that there are evils in the world far worse than the ravenous undead. Slicing down walking cadavers is one thing, but overthrowing the vile machinations of human beings is a brand of horror she never saw coming. She has her companions to help her, as well as some new friends and new technologies, but will it be enough? What if the true danger is not the Soulless of the outside world, but what has been inside her all along?

In this second book of the exciting Slayer Saga trilogy, L.S. Engler expands the world she introduced in “Soulless,” taking her readers even deeper into this world of zombie and political intrigue, a world that was once like our own, but has been claimed by nature and other dark forces. What lies ahead for the Slayer of the Soulless and her friends? Something that will surprise you and shake up the very things she holds dear.

– from Amazon

I’ve already bought it and have it on my list to read. Can’t wait to continue this series.

 

Writing Wednesday: Post Release

If you missed it here or on Twitter(or Facebook thanks to my husband), I released Flames of Redemption yesterday. Now, I’m having momentary blips of anxiety because people I actually know(and may have to see face-to-face again) will be reading my book. Ugh and gah. I’m excited people are reading it, of course, but also very nervous. Especially since quite a few people on my husband’s friends list are firefighters. So, what if I screwed something up? Ugh and gah again. So, needless to say, yesterday my focus was completely shot. I did manage to get some words written in the morning, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. Decided to put it aside and celebrate the release by watching Divergent(since I just got it, and this was my first chance to see it). And I baked some banana bread. Overall, a great day. Especially since I also got my contributor’s copies of World Unknown Review in the mail. So, yes, a good day.

Today is shaping up to be another one, despite the girl’s school being on a 2 hour delay, and the boy’s preschool cancelling busing for the day. I’ve already written over 3k today. So, there’s that.

Since it’s Wednesday, I’ve got another WiPPet. Still sticking with Scars and All. Today I have 8 paragraphs(1+7).

He turned away and headed out into the parking lot. But, he stopped when the object of his conversation with Kendall came strolling across the parking lot. he let out a long breath as his blood stirred. Yeah, he definitely couldn’t shut this attraction off. That’s all it could be though. A one-sided attraction. Maybe at one time, but no, she wouldn’t want anything to do with the man he was now.
Her dark green eyes shifted as she saw him though, darkening as they slid down his body then back up to his face. Then, she started laughing. His mouth turned down. “What’s so funny?” He asked.
She was still laughing as she moved toward him. He flinched back as she reached toward his face. “You have something,” she murmured, then her thumb was stroking over his cheek. “Right here.” He glanced down at it when she pulled away and saw the black coated on her skin.
“Grease,” he murmured. “Hands weren’t quite as clean as I thought apparently.”
He looked back up into her eyes and his breath strangled in his throat. “Cassie,” he managed to get out. She blinked but didn’t take her eyes from his, and the desire in them didn’t dim. “I’m not what you remember.”
“Neither am I, Doren. It’s okay.”
He wasn’t sure anyone had ever told him it was okay that he’d changed. Mostly they tried to insist he hadn’t. She pushed up onto her toes, holding onto his arms. Her fingers brushed against his biceps and had him taking in a short breath. Then, he was leaning closer to her. His lips brushed over hers once, just a brief caress. Then, he came back for more. One of her hands slid up his arm to his shoulder, and she opened for him. Doren kept his hands at her hips no matter how much they wanted to travel; to cup her ass, caress her stomach up to her breasts, into her hair.
She pulled back slightly and tipped her head back to look up at him. There was a soft smile on her face. “I’ve wanted to do that for more than ten years.”

This week has been going good, despite my inability to focus yesterday. I managed over 6k on Monday and already have over 3k for today with more writing time to go.

  • Chasing the Ghost – Write 4 hours/day – Did this on Monday, only managed 2 hours yesterday. So far, I’m at 2.5 hours today. I’ve added over 10k to it this week.
  • Flames of Restoration – Brainstorming & start on back stories – technically this is done. I have the brainstorming finished, and one paragraph of Nolan’s back story written.
  • Read: Against the Wind(Kat Martin), Shadow Spell(Nora Roberts), One, Two, Three(Elodie Nowodazkij), His Obsession Next Door(Cathryn Fox), All Lined Up(Cora Carmack), & Bound(Kate Sparkes) – I finished Against the Wind Sunday, enjoyed it. I’m actually falling a bit behind on my reading. About 60% through Shadow Spell. I love the book, but dedicating more of my time to writing cuts into this as well.
  • Read: Forensics for Writers – through Chapter 6 – I’ve finished Chapter 3, so I’m mostly on track with this.
  • Crochet: Sleigh Bell Scarf – I have 4 of the snowflake motifs finished for this. I need to do 9 total before I put it together.
  • Added: Submit RoW80 sponsor post – I have this drafted, just need to go over it before I send it in.

How is your week going so far?

Release Day: Flames of Redemption

The day is here. Adrian and Kayla have finally been released into the world. I’m very excited about this one. And nervous. I hope everyone will enjoy it.

Available now

Available now

You can add it to your goodreads

Or purchase at: Amazon| B&N| Kobo

Once lit, there’s no stopping this blaze.

Kayla Brooke has firefighting in her blood. She followed her father’s footsteps into the Crystal Glen Fire Department, but when she shows an interest in the whys, she moves into her uncle’s path; fire investigation. Fighting the flames has cost her: a man she thought she’d loved and friends taken by the flames that call to her. After her fiance walked out on her because he could handle what she was, she never expected another man to light a different kind of fire in her blood. Until Adrian Riley ran into her life.

Adrian Riley came from a family of cops, but he decided to start over in a town where no one knows his family. Now, on the fast track to promotion, he thinks this new case could be the key to proving himself. Then, he butts heads with a hotheaded firefighter on the scene, and his whole world turns upside down. She could be the key to everything, or the one weakness that could take him down.

They fight the sparks that threaten to burn them both. But, once they light, there’s no stopping the blaze. Kayla’s been burned before, but this time the flames may consume her. When more fires start, they know it’s more than a simple case. But, when the arsonist seems to have turned his attention to Kayla, Adrian will do everything within his power to keep her safe, even stand between her and the fire.

Excerpt:

This was a mistake. It would blow up right in their faces, and she wasn’t sure if either of them would survive the blast. She had never run from the things that scared her before.
Kayla released the doorknob. “I feel it,” she said, swallowing down her fear and turning toward him. “I’ve felt it ever since I saw you standing on the other side of the funeral home. Maybe since that day on the street. It pissed me off, and it terrified me.”
He had started to raise his hand to touch her face, but her words seemed to stop him. “Why?”
“I felt like this once before, drawn to someone. He thought that meant he could tell me what I could and couldn’t do.”
His face went hard. “Did he hurt you?”
“No, not like that. He wanted to keep me under his control. When I wouldn’t buckle to his demands, he walked away. I felt so used. I got over him, but I’m not going to trust this pull is enough.”
“Of course, it isn’t,” he said, finally stroking her cheek. “There’s more to it than that. I know you can feel it. It’s not just some pull. There are sparks. It’s a damn spontaneous combustion. It’s not going to go away until we burn it out of our systems.”
She struggled to breathe. Is that what she’d hoped for in coming here, to get this out of her system? She knew it was, even though she would never admit it out loud. “Do you know what happens when sparks contact an ignition source?” she asked, running her hand up his chest and looking up into his eyes.
“I’m guessing that’s firefighter speak for ‘things go boom’.” He pulled down the zipper of her coat then slid it away from her arms.
“Incendiary,” she murmured.
“Hot.”
He ran a finger down her neck. She could feel the quiver all the way down to her stomach, which clenched as his touch moved down the shirt, between her breasts, barely brushing the sides of them.
“Adrian.”
“Shh. I’m concentrating here.”

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