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Sunday Summary: Settled for a Break

Yeah, yeah, RoW80 is on a break, so why are you all seeing me here? That should be obvious. I don’t do breaks very well. You’ve figured that out about me, right?

Friday night we were on our way to get some dinner and groceries, as usual for us lately. Then, there’s a call over the radio for a structure fire with entrapment in town. So, my husband turns around and we park down the street. he’s the Chief Safety Officer for the department and carries all his gear in the truck. They pretty much had it out by that point. And it turns out, the ‘entrapment’ was a cat. Everyone else had gotten out(and yes, they did save the cat).

Saturday I had planned to catch up on my reading and writing I fell behind on during the week. Then, husband decided he wanted to go to Erie to see if either of the sports stores could restring and resight his bow since archery season is coming up soon. And he had to get some tools. Well, the used bookstore is right next to the tool store. So, I took in two boxes I’d filled with books. Both kids decided they wanted to go with me(usually the boy wants to go to the tool store with Daddy). After trading in the two boxes of books, I had over $78 in credit on my account. After buying 15 books(8 of those were the kids), I still had about $53 dollars. I had to spend $35(only half the price of each book is taken out of the credit). Still, I only would have been able to get maybe 4 books new for that price. I figured we’d go home after we got some lunch. Instead, we ended up taking the kids to the local pumpkin farm. They have a whole punch of activities, hay bales set up in a maze that the kids can run over or go through, a corn box(kind of like a sandbox but filled with…you guessed it, corn, mazes, and several other things. We ended up staying there for almost 3 hours. Needless to say, I didn’t get much reading or writing done yesterday. I’ve been making up for that today, though. Got through my secondary projects and most of my side projects, too. Still well behind on my reading, though. Hoping to catch up on some of that this afternoon.

Today we’re trying to clean out the garage, mostly moving stuff we won’t need for the winter(and baby stuff we keep planning to sell) into our enclosed trailer. But, I got a good bit done before that, and we’re taking a break for lunch, so I’m typing while I eat some leftover pizza.

  • Write – 13000 words(10000 towards Closing Time) – 13590 words/13000. That’s a win! Even if it took me until Sunday to reach it.
    • Closing Time – 10394 words – “I don’t think he does, big brother. I’ve heard you have a reputation for spilling other people’s secrets. Why would he believe you now?” *Oh, I hate Cam’s brother so very, very much. And now I have to find the way to get Cam & Gio back together.
    • Break on Me – 1034 words – She leaned forward then and pressed her lips over the largest of the scars left behind by the shrapnel from the blast that had taken his arm. A shiver rippled over him at her light touch. She wasn’t turned off by his stump of an arm, wasn’t disgusted by these scars. She hardly even stumbled over his anxiety issues. Could she be any more perfect?
    • In the Moonlight – 1144 words – I took a couple more steps up the stairs and it was almost like whispers swirled around me. Words of desire, wishes, promises. I gripped the railing a little tighter even though it didn’t feel all that sturdy. “Nola,” I said quietly, my heart hammering faster.
    • Defending the Heart – 1018 words – Damn. He was still thinking like a Marine three years out. Maybe that stupid old saying was true. He’d heard his dad repeat it often enough.
  • Edit – Polish Healing the Heart(if anyone’s interested in beta reading this, let me know) – Finished polishing this on Friday. Still looking for beta readers, though.
  • Plot – Toby & Denise: Write Denise’s back story – finished Denise’s back story as well as ones for the two antagonists. Now, to do the actual plotting.
  • Side Projects – Add 2500 words between projects – 2643 words/2500.
    • Dance with the Devil – 784 words. All written this morning. – Bull huffed out a breath, but he turned and walked out of the room. She shook her head once the door closed. “Should’ve named him teddy bear,” she murmured. 
    • Snow White Twist – 1298 words. Most of those are from a scene that will come later(I actually wrote it for a Story a Day piece) – Tarian let out a huff of laughter. “They always have had sucky timing.” She took a step back, and fixed the laces Eira had just undone.
    • Patrick & Sarah – 181 words – The woman let out a rather offensive snort. “Like you don’t know. Like all the men in this town don’t know her.” *poor Sarah. She’s obviously not thought too highly of by the “kind” people of town.
    • Tavin & Haiwee – 196 words – Tavin sighed and followed more slowly. “I’ll just go out and get us some meat, boys. It won’t take long at all.” Famous last words of a fool.
    • Roman – 184 words – “If you want to help him, Tereza,” he said, biting back the words he wanted to spew out, “if you want me to help him, then you have to talk to me. What did you see? What do you know?” *those words he wants to spew out aren’t towards Tereza, but Carlos, who at this point, he thinks may have taken advantage of a vulnerable girl.
  • Story a Day – Wrote 6/7 stories
  • Read: Writing Active Hooks: Book 2 – 50% – got to this point
  • Listen: Empire of Storms & Obsessed(T.R. Ragan) – I finished Empire of Storms(loved, loved, loved) and Obsessed(Really enjoyed, but that ending. Ugh. It’s killing me). I also started Hour of Need(Melinda Leigh). I’m about 2.5 hours into it.
  • Read: Finish Blightlore(Krista Walsh), The Darkest Hour(Maya Banks), Grave Touched(Erin Zarro), The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie(Jennifer Ashley), More Happy Than Not(Adam Silvera), Cut Both Ways(Carrie Mesrobian), Start Me Up(Victoria Dahl), An Ember in the Ashes(Sabaa Tahir), The Chief(Monica McCarty), & Still the One(Jill Shalvis) – I finished Blightlore(loved, even if it shattered my heart), The Darkest Hour(enjoyed), Grave Touched(really enjoyed), and The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie(LOVED…and had me squeezing to a friend who reads historical romance about it before I’d even finished). I’m 75% through More Happy Than Not and really enjoying it. I’ll finish that today and hoping to read at least most of Cut Both Ways. That still leaves me with 10 books on my list to read this month. Probably not going to happen in 5 days, but that’s okay. They’ll just get moved to next month’s list.

Overall it was a pretty good week. I knew I likely would get to all those books, though I was hoping to get to more of them.

  • Write 13000 words(10000 on main project: Closing Time)
  • Edit: Work in Worldbuilding details for Guarding the Heart
  • Plot: Toby & Denise – Outline
  • Side Projects: Add 2500 words
  • Story a Day – write 5 stories
  • Read: Writing Active Hooks – 100%
  • Listen: Hour of Need(Melinda Leigh) & Frost Like Night(Sara Raasch – this just came out & it jumped the list)
  • Read: Finish More Happy Than Not(Adam Silvera), Cut Both Ways(Carrie Mesrobian), Start Me Up(Victoria Dahl), An Ember in the Ashes(Sabaa Tahir), The Chief(Monica McCarty), Still the One(Jill Shalvis), Sudden Death(Allison Brennan), Right of First Refusal(Dahlia Adler), The Blade’s Memory(Lindsay Buroker), Saint and Scholar(Holley Trent), Chemical Reaction(A.M. Leibowitz), & Shallow Graves(Kali Wallace)

Next Sunday I’ll have my wrap-up for the month and next month’s goals as well as my usual weekly goals(I know RoW80 will be changing how we check-in, but I’ll probably at least continue my Sunday check-in if not Wednesday as well)

SOCS/Story a Day September: Day 24 – “Busted”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was to use ‘bus’ somewhere, either on it’s own or as part of another word. And for Story a Day, it was to focus on genre. Pretty much everything I write would fall under the Romance genre. This will probably come at the beginning of the story that I’m currently plotting(no title yet, but it’s part of one of my series). I’ve just finished all of the back stories, so I may have it plotted before the end of the month. This fits somewhere around the story I wrote for Day 21, Barely Crawling.


“You could take your eyes off my sister for even five seconds.”

Beside Toby, Jonas started to laugh. “You’re so totally busted,” his teenage brother said.

Toby put his hand on the kid’s face and pushed him back into the chair. Jonas only laughed harder. “Knew I shoulda left you at home,” Toby muttered.

Across the table, Jared just smiled at the two of them. Then, his gaze went back to Toby even as he balanced his infant daughter on one leg. That couldn’t be easy as she was squirming as if she wanted down. Jared made it look easy, though. “Seriously, Toby, I’m sure she’d appreciate, oh, I don’t know, if you’d go over and talk to her instead of trying to stare through her clothes.”

Heat washed over him at that. “I wasn’t. That’s not-”

Jared laughed. “Don’t worry about it. I know my sister’s a grown woman. Trust me, she’s made that clear to me. And that I need to ‘chill on the overprotectiveness.’ Her words.”

“So Hallie’s going to get all of that now,” Melanie, Jared’s wife, said as she joined them.

He raised one eyebrow and stared her down. But, she only kept looking right back at him. Finally he dropped his gaze and kissed the top of his daughter’s head. “Your mama’s got me beat. Always.”

Toby’s chest burned watching the two of them. The love was obvious between them, even when they were in one of their fights. It was something he’d never thought he’d have for himself. He’d never seen it growing up. The men in his mother’s life hadn’t loved either of them. Not until Edward. The foster homes he’d bounced between whenever he’d been taken away from her hadn’t been all that loving either. Then, there’d been Adriane. But, she’d been taken away from him, too. And he’d seen how losing Edward had nearly destroyed his mom.

Maybe love wasn’t such a good thing after all.

Then, Denise’s laugh rang out again and drew his gaze back to her. Melanie laughed this time. “Go talk to her, Toby. I’m sure she’d like it if you did.”

Did everyone see it? No, because then she would, too. But, she seemed to be oblivious. And it was probably better that way. She was sweet, innocent, and perfect. Everything he hadn’t been since before he even hit his teenage years. It was better for both of them if he just kept his distance. “We should probably get going, Jonas. Mom will be expecting us.”

His kid brother rolled his eyes but stood up from the chair. “How come she’s the only thing you’ve ever run from? You were in the Army. You’re a cop. You’re not supposed to be afraid of anything.”

Jared laughed again. “You’ll figure it out one of these days. Sometimes the best things in life are the ones that scare us the most.”

Toby glanced toward Denise again, caught the grin she was flashing toward another couple. If that was true, then there couldn’t be anything better than Denise. If only he could be good enough for her.

Writing Wednesday: New Routine

I keep adjusting my routine, hoping eventually I’ll land on one that works just right for me. It’s not too different from what I was doing before really. But, so far this week, it seems to be working. I’m starting by writing 2000 words on my main project(Closing Time at the moment). Depending on what time I get up and get started on that, I’m usually close to being done by the time the kids have to get on the bus. So after some breakfast, I finish that up. Then, I do chores and go for a walk(if the weather and my joints are cooperating- seriously, I’m not quite 32. Shouldn’t have trouble with them, and yet…). Once the chores are done, I come back and work on editing & plotting. Then, whatever else is on my list. I have my other projects listed out at the end of my to-do list, so if I get everything else done, I’ll bounce between those and my reading goals. yesterday I was able to get 2(actually have 3 checked off, b/c I wrote a lot of Snow White Twist on Monday) out of the 9 items on the secondary list done. Whatever doesn’t get done from there, I just add on to for the next day. Monday I wanted to write 200 words on each of my secondary projects. Didn’t write on any, so yesterday it was 400 words. Today’s goal is 200 on Break on Me, but 600 on the others.

So, since it’s Wednesday again, it’s time for another snippet for WiPPet Wednesday. I’m still sharing from Closing Time as it’s my main project now, since I finished Shed Some Light on Friday. Today I have 10 paragraphs(9+21+16=46=4+6=10) from Chapter 4. Cam & Gio are working at a wedding, but Cam hadn’t realized whose wedding it was, or who else would be there. Mainly someone he has some history with. This references something from Flames of Restoration. Gio knew what happened, just not that Cam had a part in it.

“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, feeling it was important Nolan knew and didn’t think Cam was stalking him. Again. “I only knew we’d be working a wedding. I didn’t realize whose it was.”

Nolan was still smiling at him, though. “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. I’ve come into the pub a few times when you’ve been working, and you didn’t freak out.”

“On the outside,” he said with a huff of a laugh. “Still, I never should have-”

“It’s ancient history,” Nolan said. “Just drop it.”

That had Cam’s lips quirking up a bit. “Ancient? It was only like six months ago.” He heard Gio’s drawn in breath at that and nearly winced. He’d probably put it all together now.

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

Needless to say, Cam hasn’t always made the best decisions. Nolan has apparently forgiven him. Will Gio?(even though Cam didn’t actually do anything to him, Gio still feels betrayed by it) *looks back at last few scenes written and grins* I know the answer to that. 😀

This round of RoW80 ends tomorrow, but I’m still going to do a quick evaluation of my progress so far this week. I’ll have my round wrap-up post tomorrow, though.

  • Write – 13000 words(10000 towards Closing Time) – I’ve written 6633 words toward this goal so far.
    • Closing Time – 6205 words – “Stop right there,” Gio said, dropping any hint of lightness from his voice. “I don’t tolerate that kind of hate being lobbed at me or anyone I care about. And anyway, your brother wouldn’t be the first guy I’ve brought home. It doesn’t change the way my family cares about me. Because they actually do love me, unlike whatever your family has twisted love into. Now, get out of my place before I do have to call the cops.”
    • Break on Me – 428 words – “I’ve watched you, Gabe,” she murmured against his lips. “with your family, with Erik, with everyone in this town. There is nothing weak or messed up about you. And I want to be here with you. So stop questioning it.”
    • Story a Day – I skipped a few days last week & over the weekend. But picked it back up on Monday
      • One Touch – part of my Snow White Twist story
      • Looking for Allies – a bit of fan fiction from the Throne of Glass(Sarah J Maas) world. May not want to read if you aren’t t least through Queen of Shadows. Inspired by theories a friend and I have thrown around throughout the series.
  • Edit – Polish Healing the Heart(if anyone’s interested in beta reading this, let me know) – About 2/5 through my polish-up list. Still looking for beta readers
  • Plot – Toby & Denise: Write Denise’s back story – I think I’m almost through Denise’s back story. These two. *shakes head* If only they’d realized they were both in love with the other sooner. *rubs hands together* This is going to be fun.
  • Side Projects – Add 2500 words between projects – I’ve written 1060 and that’s all on Snow White Twist – Eira’s stepmother had always used the things she loved against her.
  • Read: Writing Active Hooks: Book 250% – I’m at 26% right now. On track.
  • Listen: Empire of Storms & Obsessed(T.R. Ragan) – I finished Empire of Storms yesterday(LOVED, but that ending. This is the problem with devouring as soon as it comes out. Now I have to wait for the next book. *wails*). Have Obsessed downloaded but haven’t started listening yet. Will once I start chores.
  • Read: Finish Blightlore(Krista Walsh), The Darkest Hour(Maya Banks), Grave Touched(Erin Zarro), The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie(Jennifer Ashley), More Happy Than Not(Adam Silvera), Cut Both Ways(Carrie Mesrobian), Start Me Up(Victoria Dahl), An Ember in the Ashes(Sabaa Tahir), The Chief(Monica McCarty), & Still the One(Jill Shalvis) – I finished Blightlore Sunday night(loved even if my heart is shattered right now), The Darkest Hour(enjoyed), and I’m about 60% through Grave Touched. Really enjoying it.

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 10 – “Enjoying the View”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is to use “view” in some way or another. I’m also still participating in the Story a Day challenge, so once again, I’m combining the two of them. Today’s Story a Day prompt is to write a Hansel & Gretel story structure(life-changing moment then a series of progress/setbacks). I finished my word goal on Closing Time for the week, but didn’t do anything on Break on Me, so I’ll be visiting with those characters for today. I haven’t written the scene that comes before this yet, but needless to say, it was a slightly life-changing moment for both of them. 😉


Lora ran her hand down Gabriel’s side, wanting to revel in the feel of just being so close to him. How many times had she imagined this? How many more had she not let herself?

That didn’t matter now, she told herself. Being here with Gabriel did. it’s what she’d wanted almost from that first time she’d seen him on the video chat with her brother. What would Aaron think of this?

No. She shook that thought off almost before it had finished processing. Her brother had no place in all of this. But, the question still nagged at the edge of her mind, not letting her drift back to sleep. She rolled over, drawing her hand away from Gabriel’s side, and stood up from the bed. She shivered, and spotting the afghan over the back of a chair, grabbed it to wrap around her shoulders.

She walked through the house, glancing down the hallway. but the light in the other bedroom wasn’t on. maybe Erik hadn’t come in yet. it was getting rather late, though. “He’s a grown man,” she muttered. “Doesn’t need you to be a mother hen.”

Aaron had always accused her of that, too. Like trying to look out for her older brother was a bad thing. She’d known something was wrong, though, no matter how many times he insisted he was fine. Turned out, he wasn’t, and she should have worried more.

She braced her hand against the window frame and tried to shut those thoughts away, too. it wasn’t her fault. She’d done as much as she was capable of to help him. But, it still hadn’t been enough. Maybe nothing would have.

An arm wrapped around her waist. “What are you doing out here?” Gabriel asked her.

“Enjoying the view,” she said as snow fell on the other side of the window. Not that she’d really noticed it with all the other thoughts going through her head.

“Me, too,” he said, amusement in his voice.

She glanced back, but Gabriel’s gaze certainly wasn’t on the window. She laughed and turned into him. “You’re bad, Gabriel Saranno.”

The corner of his mouth tugged up. “Only around you, Lora Price.”

“Now, I don’t believe that for a second.”

“You should,” he said, his lips grazing the side of her forehead. “And you should come back to bed.”

That she could do. And maybe it would help keep these other thoughts out of her head. So she let him guide her back to his bedroom, where she dropped the afghan to the floor and slid back into his bed.


So, that may not fit the Hansel & Gretel story structure quite so much. But, it’s what came out.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday/Story a Day September: Day 3 – Accumulate

I’m back for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Today’s prompt is “accumulate”. Wasn’t quite sure how I was going to use this. But, I’m also participating in the Story a Day challenge this month. And today’s prompt for that is to write a 100 word story, or drabble. Wasn’t so sure I could combine the two, but when I finished it, I had exactly 100 words. So, here’s a little bit of Xavier & Piers(I just started finally writing their story yesterday!)

“Careful, brother. You keep that look up, and you’ll burn right through his coat.”

Xavier turned to Magdalene, and the knowing look in her eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mags.”

“You do. The more you let accumulate between you, the harder it’ll be to make things right with him.”

“I don’t even think that’s possible. Not anymore.”

She slung her arm over his shoulders. “You loved him then, just as you love him now. That makes anything possible.”

Xavier glanced at Piers’ retreating back and let out a long sigh. God, he really wished she was right.


If you want to check out my other Story a Day posts for this month, there’s:

Dessert(Cam & Gio)

An Easy Lie(Yasmin & Nola)

Sunday Summary: Summer Starting

Summer has officially started here. Okay, not according to the calendar. But, Thursday was the kids’ last day of school. And the kids went swimming for the first time this year yesterday. We had my niece’s 9th birthday party(uhh, that means my daughter’s going to be 9 in two more months. That can’t be right). And they were told the pool was not very warm…in fact, freezing. My sister’s all “they won’t stay in more than ten minutes.” Does she not know my kids? Half an hour later we still had to practically drag them out of the water. Then, we had a fire out in our back yard(the purposely set in a fire ring kind) and invited a couple friends over. Even though it was sprinkling most of the time. It was fun.

Today we almost slept in. It was close to 6 before I woke up, and the kids didn’t get up until almost 6:30. Yeah, that is sleeping in for us. Then, we went to church and decided to take MIL out for breakfast for her birthday. We were going to go to the new IHOP(just opened the end of May). The wait for a table was going to be about an hour. Decided that wasn’t going to happen. Went to Bob Evans instead. Then, we went looking at new chainsaws, but husband couldn’t find the kind he wants. Then, he went into the tool store to replace a tool he broke yesterday trying to help fix a friend’s vehicle. So, the girl & I went to the used bookstore next door. They used to be closed on Sundays, so I hadn’t planned on going or I would have taken in my box of books to exchange. Still, it only cost $16 for 9 books(I got5, the kids got 4). I got the next 3 I needed in Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor series, the second in Shannon Stacey’s Boston Fire series, and the next in Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series. Now, we’re finally back home and I can actually get to my update for the week.

  • Write/edit 20 hours for the week – 18 hours, 35 minutes. Wrote 13701 words. I’ll be adjusting this for this week, switching back to a word count goal. I’m going to plan to write 2500 words on each project. This will get me 15000 words for the week. And once I reach that, I’ll switch to working on my side projects. This should give me more time for those and reading.
    • In the Moonlight – 1507 words – Favorite(& last) line: I watched her walk away and highly doubted that would happen. But, I might get some good dreams out of it. And I’d still call that a win.
    • Break on Me – 1944 words –  But, she reached across the table and laid her hand over his. As if she knew the thoughts were bouncing around in his head, and that touch was the one thing that seemed to slow them down. How could she know that, though, when he’d never told anyone else? Still, there was something there between them. He couldn’t deny it, even if he’d never act on it. He owed his old friend that much at least.
    • Shed Some Light(formerly known as: Carlos & Tereza) – 3182 words – All he could see was his little brother behind bars for the rest of his life. He wasn’t sure he could handle knowing he’d lost virtually all of his family. And all of them due to his own stupid mistakes.
    • Protecting the Heart – 2578 words – Eva covered her mouth again as she heard the frustration leak through. She couldn’t help it. She’d never seen Declan like this before. It was…cute.
    • Ready When You Are – 4490 words – Everything outside might be going wrong, but this right here felt just right. He’d try not to let go of it again.
    • Stained by Ashes – moved notes for Chapter 3 into the master file.

I don’t know if I’ll continue including a line from each project. Let me know if you like reading them or not.

  • Dance with the Devil – get to 2500 words – wrote 326 words. A total of 2537 words. And because it made me chuckle when I wrote it & every time I read it:

“Do you try real hard to be offensive, Devil? Or does it just come natural as an asshole?”


  • Goin Down – get to 2000 words – added 182 words. Got to 1888 words. Not quite to my goal.
  • Snow White Twist – get to 1750 words no progress
  • Read: Storyworld First – 100%. Choose next craft/research book. Read 15% of it – Finished Storyworld First. Chose Description(Elements of Fiction Writing). Got through the first 15%
  • Read: Finish Sworn(Kate Sparkes) & Faking Perfect(Rebecca Phillips). Decide on June’s books: Stars of Fortune(Nora Roberts), Fast, Fresh, & Hot(Eliza Madison), Brokedown Cowboy(Maisey Yates), Night Terror(Stacy Green), & The Countess Conspiracy(Courtney Milan) – finished Sworn(loved it!! Even when it shattered my heart) & Faking Perfect(enjoyed it). Loved Stars of Fortune, though a lot of it felt like getting things set up. The next book comes out in less than 2 weeks. Hopefully it doesn’t take me over five months to get to it(I only had this one since just before Christmas). Read Fast, Fresh, & Hot Friday. It was a quick read and I really liked it. I’ve read most of Breakdown Cowboy, should finish it today. I read Night Terror while we were out and about today, even though I hadn’t finished Brokedown Cowboy yet, because I could read it on my phone(whereas BdC is in paperback). It was another quick one that I enjoyed. I’m hoping to start The Countess Conspiracy but probably won’t finish it today.
  • Story a Day – Finish last 2 stories – Finished these!! Got 31 stories written in 31 days. You can find all of them here.
    • Three – Yasmin looks into the facts around the ghost story Nola told her.
    • Reasons Upon Reasons – Gabriel meets with Lora again.

A lot of blue(woo hoo!), some green(okay), and just a couple red(boo!). Now, for my adjustments for next week.

  • Write 15000 words between 6 projects
  • Dance with the Devil – get to 3000 words
  • Goin’ Down – get to 2000 words
  • Snow White Twist – get to 1500 words
  • Read: Description – get to 40%
  • Read: Finish Brokedown Cowboy(Maisey Yates), The Countess Conspiracy(Courtney Milan), A Court of Thorns and Roses(Sarah J Maas), One Week Girlfriend(Monica Murphy), Things I Can’t Forget(Miranda Kenneally), Harvard’s Education(Suzanne Brockman)


Story a Day: Day 31 – Reasons Upon Reasons

The last day of Story a Day, and today’s prompt was to “Go Big”. Taking everything we’ve done this month and put it toward something new. This takes place shortly after “Put the Brakes on“.

Gabriel opened the door, not sure he’d ever been this nervous. Which was rather silly. It was Lora. His friend’s little sister. Who he’d talked to enough times through the computer. No screen, or thousands of miles, between them now, but it didn’t have to be any different.

And then he saw her. Gabriel imagined she thought the outfit was professional, and he was sure it was. But, it clung to every curve, giving him just a taste of what was under it. Stop it, he scolded himself. She was here for business, and he’d promised himself he wouldn’t let his thoughts go there. He’d made a promise to Aaron, and just because the man wasn’t here to make sure he’d keep it didn’t mean Gabriel would go and break his word.

“Come in,” he said when she looked at him curiously. He must look like an idiot just standing in the doorway, staring at her.

She stepped inside and let out a little shiver as she slipped off her sweater. “I thought it was warm when I left the bed and breakfast. I would have grabbed a coat, too, if I’d realized the temperature had dropped so much.”

He couldn’t say he was too disappointed that she hadn’t. Then, he reminded himself, again, that he wasn’t going to think like that. “We’ll get you warmed up,” he said and hung her sweater on a hook by the door.

He caught the way her eyes darkened as the words slipped out of his mouth. Shit. He hadn’t meant it like that, but now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. “Roommate threw some soup in the slow cooker this morning. House has smelled amazing since I got home.” Which had been fairly early since there wasn’t much to do, even in the office. And he’d needed to clean the house up anyway.

Her face tilted up, her nose twitching as if smelling the air. “You’re right,” she said, “it does smell good. Is it ready?”

“He said it would be whenever we wanted to eat.” Had he told her who his roommate was? He couldn’t remember now, though he wracked his memory for it.

“Is he joining us?”

“I don’t think so.” Actually Erik had made it pretty clear he wanted to be anywhere but near them tonight. And he knew his roommate had reasons upon reasons for that.

Gabriel led her into the kitchen. “Have a seat,” he told her. “I’ll get the bowls.”

He took a moment to draw and release a few breaths as he took the bowls out of the cupboard. Being here with her shouldn’t be dragging this response from him. They were going to eat and go over the proposal. That was it. And yet, this felt awfully close to the panic he’d found himself fighting off nearly daily when he’d first come home. He hadn’t dealt with that for a while now, though. He’d thought he was over it.

“Gabe, you okay?” Lora asked from over by the table.

He drew in another breath and said, “Fine,” on the exhale. And he was. This wasn’t a typical panic attack. It had felt like it at first, but the feeling was changing. Still, he breathed through the feeling as he dished out the stew Erik had made then cut a few slices of the bread he’d brought home.

When he carried the first of the bowls to the table, she still looked vaguely concerned. “I could have helped you with that. I should have. Your hand-”

“It’s fine,” he said, almost snapping the words. Even though relief nearly flooded him when she did. His father and brother nearly refused to acknowledge that anything was different and he had to make certain accommodations because of it. Having someone note it without acting like nothing had changed was a relief.

She jerked back, and he winced. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a little rough. Had an argument, I guess, with my roommate. Did I tell you who that was?” He rubbed at the side of his head, it was aching a little. Like it always did when he felt a small detail escaping from him. The blast had done more than take part of his arm, though most of the time the other issues didn’t affect him as much.

“Yeah,” she said, that curious look on her face again. “You’d said Erik was living with you.”

He cringed at the way she said that. But, she had to know. If they were going to be working together, she’d hear what everyone else in town said, so he should set her clear now. “We live in the same house, yes,” he said, testing his words carefully. “People may tell you there’s more going on, but that’s really all there is.” Except those few times. But, he wasn’t going to mention those. It wasn’t anyone else’s business how they both managed to cope late at night.

“I never thought any different,” she told him, still with that slightly curious look on her face.

Of course she hadn’t. Aaron had known, but he’d never told anyone. Not even his sister, despite how close they’d been. He turned and grabbed the other bowl of stew, but before he had turned back, Lora was reaching around him for the bread. He had to stop and take a breath, calming himself at the feel of her so close.

By the time he’d set his bowl on the table, Lora had taken a tub of butter out of the refrigerator and was heading back. It was like she belonged there. No. He couldn’t think like that. She didn’t belong here, not with him.

But, when he looked up after taking a bite of stew, she was watching him. He couldn’t exactly say what the look encompassed, though. Some curiosity, certainly. He was acting strange. He knew it, even as he couldn’t do anything to stop it. But, there seemed to be something else, too. He dropped his gaze again before he could think too much about it.

He couldn’t let himself go there.

But, she reached across the table and laid her hand over his. As if she knew the thoughts were bouncing around in his head, and that touch was the one thing that seemed to slow them down. How could she know that, though, when he’d never told anyone else? Still, there was something there between them. He couldn’t deny it, even if he’d never act on it.

He owed his old friend that much at least.


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