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SOCS/Story a Day: Day 27 – “Romance in the Air”

Fadil walked down the sidewalk, pushing his mom’s chair ahead of him. He knew she could do it herself, she’d told him plenty of times, but he liked being out here with her. It gave him something that made him feel useful at least.

“You’ve been quiet lately,” his mother said suddenly. “Ever since you got back with my medicine yesterday really. Did something happen?”

A snorting laugh nearly escaped him at that. Did something happen? Yeah, something had certainly happened. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to talk to his mother about that, though.

“It was fine. I told you about it.”

“Yeah,” she said, and he could hear the tension in the voice. “I still want to call my sister and have it out with her. She promised she’d take care of everything so you wouldn’t have a problem picking things up for me.”

“Aunt Janine has never liked me. That’s not your fault.”

“It isn’t yours either, my sweet boy.”

Fadil did snort at that. It had been a long time since she’d called him that. A long time since he’d felt he deserved it. His mom chuckled then and it took him a moment to realize her amusement wasn’t over their conversation but something that had caught her attention in the park.

He turned his gaze that way and nearly stopped breathing. A man had his head thrown back, a laugh bursting out of him. Even from this distance, Fadil could hear the joy in it. He licked his lips, but his tongue and mouth and throat felt suddenly dry. Then, the little girl jumped up from the ground where she’d fallen in the middle of a cartwheel and put her hands on her hips.

What had Mike called her the day before? Right. Alexa. He couldn’t hear what she said to her father, but her face was fierce. And Fadil’s mother was still chuckling. “We should go over and say hi to them,” she said.

“No,” he answered automatically, his face already feeling warm.

His mother tipped her head back so she could look up at him, and he averted his gaze. He didn’t want to know what she would see there. “Fadil,” she murmured, “my sweet boy. What do you seem to think you have to be ashamed of.”

“Nothing,” he lied. He hadn’t given voice to it since those first days after the accident. When his father was being buried and his mother was still laying in a hospital bed. When the guilt and grief were ripping him apart.

“Fadil,” she said again, tapping her hand on the arm of the chair.

He came around and knelt beside her. “I wasn’t here,” he said, the word torn from him. Dad died, you were hurt, and I didn’t even know for hours because I was with…someone.”

He felt her fingers trail through his hair. “A boy,” she said. “You can say it. He was your boyfriend. We thought he was a nice boy, but he didn’t stick with you when you were hurting.”

“I was an asshole,” he said, wincing slightly at the term. He’d always been careful not to curse around his parents, but it was the only way to describe how he’d acted back then. “He was right to leave.”

“You were grieving. He should have understood that.”

He shook his head but didn’t know what else to say about that. There had been more to his actions than grieving, but he couldn’t find the words to explain it to her. She lifted his chin. “You haven’t spoken of any relationships since then, but you deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else.”

He hadn’t had any relationships to speak of in that time, but he wouldn’t mention that. It would likely only worry her more. But, he lifted his gaze and saw Mike watching them, his hand wrapped around his daughter’s. Fadil’s mother glanced that way then back to Fadil. And a smile curved her lips up.

“Do I smell romance in the air?”

“No,” Fadil said sharply, standing up and brushing his knees off.

“Mike’s a good guy,” his mom said. “I think-”

“No, Mama,” Fadil said, taking the handles of the chair and starting on their way again. “Just let it go.”

Her shoulders slumped, and she heaved a sigh. “Fine. Have it your way.”

He figured that was best. No matter what else he might want. Taking what he wanted only ever seemed to bring sorrow his way.

No, he thought this was definitely better.


I combined prompts for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Story a Day again. For SOCS, it was to use smell any way you want. And for Story a Day, to write a non-traditional love story. In a way, this is a love story between mother and son, her offering him forgiveness she doesn’t even think is necessary. It’s also the start of a romantic relationship between Mike & Fadil(shh, don’t tell Fadil he’s already a goner). Which is also non-traditional according to Julie’s tips(Mike is black & bisexual, Fadil is of Middle Eastern descent & gay/bi –he hasn’t told me exactly).

Story a Day: Day 26 – Letters Home

Mother and Father,

I hope you will not worry for me. I could not sit aside any longer while our country is torn apart. I will return once the war has been won.

Your loving son,



Mother and Father,

I have not received a response to my last letter home. I hope that to mean it has just not found its way to me. Three years of fighting, and I’m ready to come home. They say this war should be over soon. But they have been saying that since the first shots of this senseless war. Still, I hope to be home soon.

Your weary son,



Mother and Father,

I am coming home. The war is done, and the Union secure. I do not know why you have still not responded, or if your letter had just been lost on its way to me. I pray that is the answer, but this war has left me little easiness where those I care for are concerned.  

I got word Joseph fell at Gettysburg. No one has had word of Benjamin since I joined  up. I hope he is well and will be returning home to you as well, and that you were able to keep Aaron from joining the war effort. I saw Peter at one of the battles and held his hand in the field hospital after as he faded away. Two brothers gone, and that isn’t the worst of the war.

I am sorry if this letter brings you sorrow. I feel it’s all I’m left with some days. I am just ready to be home. I hope to find the rest of you well.

Your hopeful son,




This letter will likely never find you, still I will post it, even not knowing where you are now. You are the only one I can write to with this news. You are my only living brother, if you do indeed still live. Mother and father are dead. They perished in a house fire more than a year ago. Aaron and Bridget went with them.

Abigail is married to our old neighbor, Elijah. I am sure you remember him, you were of an age. He treats her and their three children well from all I could see. Joseph and Peter fell during the war. I hope the same fate did not come to you. But, I do not know how I will ever know.

I cannot stay here any longer. There is nothing left for me here. I do not know where I will go, but I hope to find my place out there. Perhaps I will even find you while I’m about it.

Your searching brother,




I hope this letter finds you well. I got your last before leaving Mayfield. The country is still torn to pieces. I do hope it can start being put back to rights soon.

I have a new nephew, you say. Elijah must be so proud. I miss the children. I wish I’d felt I could stay as you offered, but it didn’t feel right. I’m keeping on the move now. No place feels more like home than another. I do plan to stay here for a time, so hopefully your next letter will catch me as well.

I hope you, Elijah, and the children all remain well. Maybe in time I will see you again.

Your wandering brother,




I killed a man. I can barely stand to put those words to paper. He was not the first, but the others were all during war. This was different. I did not wish to kill him, but he was stealing my horse, my only means of travel. I only meant to stop him, not kill him.

Please do not relay this news to my sister. I do not wish her to know what I am becoming. His friends tracked me down. I didn’t have a choice, Elijah. If I had not killed them, they would have killed me. But, it is weighing down my soul.

I do not know how long I will be here in this town. The marshal assured me I am in no trouble for defending my own life, but those men may have more friends. I will do what is necessary to stay alive, but I do not wish to take more lives.

Take care of my sister and nephews,

Your disquieted brother-in-law,




I have met a woman. I know I have been silent for a while. I did not want you to know what my life has become. If Elijah has not told you, tell him he may. I am changing it, or at least making my best effort to return to the man I’d hoped to be.

But, I do not wish you to worry about that. I have signed on with a cattle outfit in Texas now and only use my guns as needed. We have just delivered a herd of cattle to New Mexico Territory, which is where I met her. Arcelia Rodriguez. I do not know how to put to paper all I feel for her. The rest of the outfit is heading back to Texas in the morning. I have taken my wages and will be returning to Arcelia.

I may have no future here with her, either. But, it is something I hope to find out.

Your loving brother,




Your baby brother is now a married man. I can barely write the words without laughing and shaking my head. Arcelia accepted when I asked for her hand, and the rest feels like a whirlwind. I have never been so happy as the day we were bound together.

It is not all light and joy, though. There was another man who wanted Arcelia’s hand. When she chose me, he swore we’d regret it. As much as I have enjoyed working for Arcelia’s family, there is no way we could stay there and be safe. I won’t risk her, especially not now when she is carrying my child.

Yes, I am to be a father. Can you believe that? I’ve built on some land on the other side of the territory from her family. It’s nearly a week ride between, but her brother, Diego, has promised to visit when he can. And to keep watch on the situation there. If it is ever resolved, we may be able to return.

I remain safe for now. And I hope you and your family are as well.

Your settled brother,




I am glad to hear that Varick Steinwehr no longer appears to be a problem on that side of the territory. Since you say it is safe, I will bring Arcelia and Alejandro for a visit. I do not yet know about moving back. As you know, I have started a small ranch of my own out here. I am not sure I am ready to just start over.

But, we will visit. Arcelia misses you and the rest of the family. And I would like Alejandro to meet his grandparents before he can remember a time of not knowing them. I have to see to some things here, then we shall leave. In two weeks’ time, we should be there.

Your grateful brother-in-law,




We made it home. I will keep this short as I still tire easily and am not feeling well. The wounds from Varick’s bullets are healing, but I still wake with nightmares. As does Arcelia. Alejandro seems to be none the worse for his ordeal, but I suppose only time will tell.

I want to think Varick’s son’s threats were empty, but I cannot take that risk. It would be better if people start to hear I am dead. I’m afraid he will never stop coming for me otherwise. With Arcelia’s condition, I will not put my growing family to chance. This will be the last you hear from me until you can make your way here.

Your despairing brother-in-law,



Luke Tierney sat back after sealing the final letter he’d send to his brother-in-law. He closed his eyes, but that didn’t stop that day from playing out in his mind. A hand came down on his shoulder, gentle as it always was. “Are you finished?” his wife asked. “You should come to bed.”

“No,” he said quietly. “I have one more thing to do.”

He stood up from the chair, taking a moment until his body stopped protesting, then unbuckled the gun belt from around his waist. He walked to the bedroom and knelt in front of the chest at the end of their bed. Once he’d tucked the guns inside, he sat back on his heels.

“You do not have to do that,” Arcelia said. “You can still protect us with them.”

Luke shook his head. “All they have brought me is destruction. I’m not Lucas Tierney, the gunfighter. From now on, I’m only Luke Tierny, a simple rancher. That’s all I want, this place, you, and our family. None of the trouble those have always brought me.”

He could only hope laying them down would be enough.


Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story using a series of letters. I wasn’t going to add that last bit, as it isn’t in the form of a letter. But, I decided to anyway. And Luke’s going to learn it won’t be quite that easy after all.

Story a Day: Day 25 – “Save Herself”

Denise knew she was going about this all wrong. Toby said he’d take care of it. Jared told her to have faith. Even Melanie thought she should stay out of it.

No one thought she could take care of herself. Even her brother, who had always been on her side, told her it would be better to leave this alone. Like she hadn’t been basically taking care of herself since she was eight years old. Jared may have helped with that, but he hadn’t always been there.

Now, she was being reduced to a helpless bystander in her own life again. To a victim, who needed someone to sweep in and save her. As a kid, she’d let that happen over and over again. Jared, Toby, even the few foster parents who had actually cared.

No, she wasn’t going to do that. She was going to take care of this and prove to them all she wasn’t helpless anymore, that she could save herself.


That was harder than I thought it would be. Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a “prose sonnet”, a story told in 14 sentences. There were a few examples given, and I decided to go with 3 groups of 4 sentences followed by a 2 sentence ending. This fits right in to where I’m at in Not Meant to Be, though I don’t know if I’ll use this, though maybe pieces of it.

Writing Wednesday: Early Start

2 weeks ago, I had trouble getting up when my alarm went off. This week it looks like I might have the opposite problem. Monday morning I woke up at 2 a.m. Usually when that happens, I can go back to sleep. Nope. Wide awake. So I was at my computer by about 3. Had my Story a Day finished right around 4 and got caught up on replying to blog comments and checking out other blogs by 5(well, most of them, some carried over until later), when I started brainstorming the next story in my Kurztown series, High On Your Love(title inspired by Florida Georgia Line’s song H.O.L.Y because there was a line in it that I thought fit Morgan and Anna really well). N(the boy) had a “writer’s gallery” at the school Monday morning. There were a bunch of table set up in the gym and each of the kids had a binder of their writing from the year. It went from the beginning of the  year, where it was mostly scribbles, to the end where you can actually read most of it).

Tuesday I actually slept until 4, so that’s something at least. And it was a more lowkey day. I did make some good progress on my goals. This new routine seems to be working. So far anyway. Wednesday was a normal wake-up time again. Not sure what my internal alarm clock thought it was up to Monday, but it seems to be going back to normal.

And now, it’s Wednesday!! I mentioned on Sunday that I was changing things up again. Characters are clamoring for me to pay attention to them. So, I’ve decided to work on a different main project each day. Today’s was Heart of Christmas, but I don’t have much for that yet. Yesterday I started Still Burning, which I’ve finished a scene for and pasted one of my Stream of Consciousness pieces in as part of the next scene. For today I have 6 paragraphs(2+4 for the day) from Still Burning.

He walked through the house and opened the door that led to the back porch. His father was manning the grill, smiling at something Austin’s little sister was telling him, using quite a few hand gestures as she spoke. He smiled a little, knowing she hated being referred to that way. But, she wasn’t quite twelve yet, so as far as he was concerned, it fit. And she’d always be his little sister anyway.
Jai glanced over at him and grinned, his white teeth flashing against his brown skin. “Austin,” he said. “You made it.”
“I said I’d be here, didn’t I?” He didn’t know why he got defensive by Jai’s greeting. The man had never made him feel like he didn’t belong. Even though he was the only one of them who wasn’t his biological offspring.
But, Jai was the only father he’d ever known.
Jai continued smiling, though it seemed to dim slightly. Damn it. He hadn’t meant to do that. He didn’t even know what was wrong with him lately.
Yes, you do. He really wished he could shut that voice off. It didn’t matter. This was about time with his family. He didn’t need to let anything else intrude right now.

If you check out the snippet in my writing section below, you might get an idea of what that problem is. 😉


  • Still Burning finish Story Toolkit, Outline
  • Jayla & Carisa(Gilbert, Co #7) brainstorm, character back stories, plot summaryget through Story Toolkit: Supporting Characters – This is going onto the backburner for the moment. I’ll pick it back up once I finish Not Meant to Be.
  • High on Your Love(Kurztown #6)brainstorm, character back stories, plot summary, Story Toolkit, Outline. This is Morgan(Kendall’s brother) & Anna’s story. I’m not currently sure if it’s going to be a Christmas novella(since that is when it takes place) or a full-length novel. Guess that will depend on what the characters have to tell me. I got the mind maps done, and Morgan’s back story started.


  • Not Meant to Be – Add 53000 words/28 scenes to finish 1st draft – 19204 words/21 scenes finished this month,
  • Still Burning(Hunter Family #4) – Write 70000 words/61 scenes – 1397 words/1 scene finished
    • He wondered if discussing the volunteers from the town’s other department counted toward the moratorium on fire talk. Or would that be sorted under girl problems? He shook his head. “No, it’s nothing.”
  • Side ProjectsAdd 4400 words between all projects – 8209/4400 words, 1584 words this week
    • Roman – 386 words – Carlos blinked then, and Roman saw it. Exactly what his boss had suggested. Pain and grief buried under the layer of anger. And it was a thin layer now that he looked closely. He wasn’t sure how Carlos would hold up if it was ripped away.
    • Tavin & Haiwee – 509 words – He wouldn’t have expected to be so sad about that. He had not even been home in five years. It should not make him want to mourn. And yet he did. His brother had moved his young family to the city, and they had a place there, and he was learning a new trade. It had to be enough. He wanted to invite them to come here, but what had he to offer them? Not even his own land.
    • Preggers – 323 words – But, it was. And that woman in there had started to reawaken it. That thought brought another sob. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m sorry, Darren.” She’d loved her husband and missed him so much. So how could she be having these feelings for someone else after only a few months? It wasn’t right.
    • Jacob & Matthew – 366 words – Barrett snorted softly as the woman headed away after he declined anything besides coffee. “What she wanted to offer you had nothing to do with food, my friend.”“As you should know, Barrett,” he said with barely a glance up at him. “Maybe you should go and tell her you have an appetite.” *This is pretty close to the beginning of Stained Blood. Soon, Barrett will only have an appetite for one woman, but he hasn’t met her yet. 😉


  • Flames of Renewal – CP Edits
  • In the Moonlight – Transfer from OneNote(on my Surface) to Scrivener(on my laptop) – 27 chapters(there’s actually 32, counting the epilogue, but I’d already started it before) – 19/27 chapters typed up.
  • Stained Blood – Adding this in as I’m starting to get chapters back from beta: Compile comments – 0/26 chapters. I’ve transferred 71/79 comments to the scrivener doc for Chapter 1. Well, not all those. I’m not copying the “this is great” type comments, though I love reading them. 🙂 And I love that Kingsoft Writer numbers them so I can keep track. I’ll get back to this during my next editing hour.
  • Snow White Twist – Beta edits, rename, & submitcompiled notes from 1 beta reader to the main document(so I can put them all in one place when I get them back from other reader) for 6/8 chapters(1st 2 chapters done last month). Have a potential title for it as well. Still simmering on that, though.
  • Dance with the Devilread through, make revisions, & polish – Applied 81/81 comments(not counting areas I highlighted, though those will be fixed as I go through, too). Polished 2/10 chapters.
  • Beta Read – Read 58 chapters(total of 73, but that’s what I have left) & return to author – 58/58 chapters. Will be emailing author later today(at least that’s the plan).


  • Story a Day – Write 31 stories – 24/31 stories written, 3 this week
    • Diner – Anna’s getting the diner kitchen ready for the day and gets a surprise visitor.
    • The List – Morgan tells his ex exactly what his problems with her are.
    • Hidden Message – Caelen writes a letter to Alaina with a hidden message, trying to explain why he acted the way he did(which I haven’t written that part, so I only have a vague idea of what he did).


  • Listen: 5 books – 6/5 for the month, 1 this week
    •  Conspiracy(Lindsay Buroker) – this is book 4 in her Emperor’s Edge series.
    • The Immortal Irishman(Timothy Egan) – I don’t read or listen to much non-fiction. But this one was the daily deal back on St. Patrick’s day and it combines two of my interests, Irish history and the Civil War.
  • Read: 31 books – 24.5/31, 3.5 this week
    • Hometown Heartbreaker(Maisey Yates) – Finished this Sunday afternoon. Enjoyed it. I’m only counting it as half, since it was included in the back of another novel
    • Up in Flames(Sidney Bristol) – Finished this Sunday afternoon. Really enjoyed it. The next 2 books in the series are written by a different author, then this one wrote the fourth, so we’ll see how that goes.
    • Death at Peony House(Krista Walsh) – I started this Sunday afternoon. At 30%. This was still in my Unlimited folder, though I think the series is out of KU now. So this will be my “extra” book for now. Really enjoying it(so good incentive to finish my other books for the week and get back to it).
    • One Good Earl Deserves a Lover(Sara MacLean) – Started this Monday morning. Finished it Tuesday night. Really enjoyed it.
    • Before that Night(Violet Duke) – Started this Tuesday morning. Finished it Tuesday afternoon. Liked it.
    • Reckoning(Myndi Shafer) – Started this Wednesday morning. At 3%


  • Knit: Duo Cable Hat – Finished 2 decrease rounds

Story a Day: Day 24 – Hidden Message

Caelen stared down at the scarred wood in front of him. He wanted to go back up to the house, tell Alaina he was sorry, he hadn’t meant any of things he said, all he wanted was to be with her.

But, he couldn’t do that. It would only put them right back to where they were. Alaina at risk, and him still not deserving her. So instead he took out a piece of paper and started writing. Maybe he could make it so she could understand why he’d had to do this.

Dear Alaina,

As I hurt you, I know you may not even read this. I would not blame you.

Do not believe any of it is your fault. None at all.

I am sorry for it all. I did not know of a better way to keep you

Safe. I wish I could have.

Don’t think I don’t want you. That is the farthest thing from the truth.

All I want is you safe and happy. I do not see me making you either.

Nothing would make me happier if I could. But it’s not to be.

God. This is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I know

Exactly how much you are worth, or I would not have done this. Even if I

Regret losing you because of this, I know it would have been the right thing.

Only thing I regret is that look in your eyes when I said we were done.

Unless he goes away, this is the way it must be. No matter how

Sorry I am for that. And please know that I am. Always, Caelen.

He looked at the letter once he’d signed it. This was probably stupid. He should just tell her. But, she probably wouldn’t even speak to him now. If her brother even let him get close. And he was afraid if he wrote it out plainly, and his father did get a hold of it, she would be at even more risk.

He couldn’t take the chance. So he folded the letter and tried to think of how he could get it to her.


Today’s Story a Day prompt was to include a hidden message in your story. It shouldn’t be too easy to figure out the message Caelen was trying to give to Alaina. I’ve just started writing their story this morning, but this would come closer to the end. Not sure I’ll include it in the actual story, though. We’ll see.


Story a Day: Day 23 – “The List”

“I don’t know what your problem is.”

Morgan glanced at the woman he’d once thought he could have made a life with. For about five seconds after she told him she was pregnant. She didn’t care. She had never cared. “Do I really need to make a list?”

“You don’t have to be so cruel about it.”

“Cruel? How am I the one being cruel? You left our six-year-old daughter home by herself so you could go on a date. You don’t call me when the babysitter cancels when you know I’d be willing to have extra time with Raina. You conveniently forget when it’s my weekend to have her, yet threaten to call the police if I’m even five minutes late bringing her back.”

“Well, you’ve taken care of that, haven’t you?” she snapped at him. “You and your precious lawyer made sure I can’t even see her unless someone else is there.”

“The last time she was under your supervision, and I use that term loosely, she fell down the stairs and broke her arm.”

“I still fail to see how that is my fault. She should have stayed in bed.”

Morgan was having an extremely hard time hanging on to his temper. But, he knew it was necessary. If he lost it, she’d probably use it to say he was the one who was a danger to their daughter the next time they went to court. “She was looking for you. But, you weren’t even home. She could have suffered a lot worse than a broken arm because you put your pleasure before her needs.”

She opened her mouth, but he couldn’t sit there and listen to any more of her excuses. “I’m done,” he said, grabbing the receipt from his lunch. He’d already given Anna the money to pay for it. “I have to go pick our daughter up from school. If you have anything else to say, you can relay it through Brian.”

“I don’t want to speak to your lawyer,” she insisted. “We can settle this ourselves.”

“Obviously we can’t,” Morgan said, “or we wouldn’t be going through this in the first place.” he left the diner, but he knew this wasn’t the end of this. Kacy wouldn’t give up until she got her way.

He just hoped he could protect Raina from as much of the fallout as possible. She didn’t need to understand yet that her mother only saw her as a weapon to use against him.


Today’s Story a Day prompt was to write a story in the form of a list. So, this isn’t so much that. But, more lead-up to High on Your Love, the story I started plotting yesterday. Morgan’s shown up in the last couple stories in this series, so I know some of what’s been leading to this.

Story a Day: Day 22 – Diner

Anna unlocked the back door of the diner and twisted the knob, the cold of the metal nearly soaking right through her soft gloves. Winter. Yeah, she couldn’t definitely do without it. She shivered as a blast of wind blew snow against her neck. Well, she’d had a chance to move, and she’d blown it. Now, she was just going to have to deal with it.

She flipped the lights on as she stepped into the kitchen. The left one flickered erratically for several moments before it finally stayed on. Anna blew out a breath. She’d have to mention that to Dana once again. Maybe her boss would finally see fit to get it fixed. Likely not since that would mean spending money on something the customers never saw.

Anna shook away the bitter thought and went to hang her coat and purse up in the little closet at the other end of the kitchen. She also stowed her heavy winter boots in there, changing into the shoes she’d wear all day at work. Once she got all the prep work done, and the diner actually opened for business, she’d be out running the register and waiting on tables. For now, she had some time to herself. She switched on the radio on the counter then got to work.

She didn’t mind that their cooks didn’t like coming in early. It was her favorite time of day anyway. And this was all so simple anyway. the dough was already prepared, she just had to separate it for bread and rolls and put them in the ovens. Take fresh vegetables out of the refrigerator and slice. Make sure everything was ready before the breakfast rush came in.

She pulled some of the sticky dough off her fingers before sticking them under the water. It ran down her hands swirling away into the drain. running the rough cloth of the towel over them, she swayed to the beat of the song on the radio. No one else was here, so she sang along with one of the older songs the radio still played by Lila Corelli. Anna giggled softly as she hauled out the tray of veggies, grabbing several small containers out to store them in once they were diced, sliced, or cubed. It wasn’t Lila Corelli anymore, she’d been Lila Akeley for the last four months, but no one cared since she left Nashville. Just like they wouldn’t have cared she was one of Anna’s best friends.

She’d just cut a green pepper in half when one of the lower pantry doors creaked open. The knife fell from her hand, and she was just glad she hadn’t sliced a finger off. Then, the strawberry blond head popped out of the pantry, and she put her hand to her chest. “Raina,” she said. “how in the he…world did you get in here?”

“I came in last night when Courtnay took the garbage out.”

Their newest dishwasher and general clean-up person. Anna would have a talk with her about being more observant. She picked the little girl up. “Where does your dad think you are?” If Morgan had realized she was missing, he’d be frantic. She doubted the town would be so quiet then.

“Mama had me this weekend,” the girl said, her voice such a soft whisper, Anna almost couldn’t hear her. “She brought a friend home last night, though, and he scared me. But she said I couldn’t go back to Daddy’s til Sunday night.”

Anna wanted to fist her hands, but with the girl in her arms, there was only so much she could do. How could that woman not realize her daughter was gone? Hadn’t she tried to tuck her in the night before? No, probably not. Raina had just recently gotten the cast off from breaking her arm when her mom had left her alone to go on a date. So, she wasn’t even sure why this surprised her. “You want to stay with me while I finish getting this ready? I’ll just send your daddy a message to let him know you’re here.”

Raina’s face brightened at that. Whether because she liked helping in the kitchen or she really didn’t want to go back to her mom’s, Anna wasn’t sure. She didn’t care either. If she saw this as a safe place, Anna wouldn’t make her leave.

She sent a message to Morgan, letting him know what was going on then put her phone back in her pocket. She imagined he’d show up soon enough, wanting to be sure his daughter was unharmed. Until then she’d let Raina give her a hand. And hopefully Morgan would be able to use this in the ongoing custody case. Maybe the system would finally see the harm that woman was doing to her daughter and finally do something about it.

She could hope, at least.


That turned out longer than I thought it would. I’m working on plotting Morgan and Anna’s story today, so I used the Story a Day prompt for that. I didn’t know Raina was going to show up, though.

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