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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Shield

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to use a word starting with ‘sh’. I didn’t write as much as I would have liked on yesterday’s project, so I’m using this to work my way through the scene I couldn’t focus on then.

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She stared out the window, and he finally relaxed his hands on the steering wheel. No point in getting upset. He knew how she felt and why. And couldn’t even blame her too much for it.

“I care,” he told her. “I’ve always cared.”

“I wasn’t talking about you, Toby,” she said without glancing over at him.

“No, but you said cops have never cared about this neighborhood.” Or you. But, he didn’t bother voicing what she hadn’t, either. “I’m a cop, and I’ve always cared.”

“You’re different.”

He knew this conversation wouldn’t go anywhere else, not in this direction at least. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you, Denise,” he promised.

She snorted, and he finally glanced over at her before returning his gaze to the road. He couldn’t believe the humor on her face after everything that had happened. “You probably think you’re the first one to tell me that.”

No, he didn’t. He knew just how protective her brother was, so it didn’t surprise him at all he would have told her the same way. “Jared has taken it on himself practically since I was born to be my shield,” she said. “The last thing I need is for someone else to take up that position. I know why he felt he needed to do that, but not you. I’m all grown up now, Toby. I don’t need a protector.”

He pulled into the lot in front of the station and looked pointedly at her side, where the bandage now covered her wound. “I beg to differ,” he said. “As long as this man has his sights set on you, that’s just what you need.”

Toby wanted to be a lot more than her shield, but if that’s all he could get, all he deserved after all the wrong he’d done in his life, he’d gladly take up the position.

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There will probably be more to this scene, but that’s it for now. And if you’d like to read Jared’s story, it just released yesterday!

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: In Loving Memory

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to use “mem” as part of a word. As yesterday was Veteran’s day, I decided to use one of my veteran characters. It was just a matter of which one. I have a whole series that surrounds a group of former Marines, after all. But today  it’s one of my other characters who spoke up.

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Toby walked slowly down the path. He didn’t have to look around. he knew the exact route to where he was going. He’d been there enough times over the last several years. He didn’t expect anyone else to be here. His mom and siblings didn’t usually come out on this day. Maybe because their service in the Army was one thing he and Edward had shared was why this day felt important to come out here, too.

He veered off the path, counted his steps and turned to face his stepfather’s grave. He brushed a couple dead leaves off the top of the headstone as he crouched down in front of it. Ten years. Sometimes, he still found it hard to believe it had been ten years since he’d died. He’d survived two tours of duty in war zones, but it had been some punk on the street that had ended his life.

“We still miss you, Edward,” he said. “Jonas and Celia are good kids. You’d be so proud of them. I still remember how you said all the time you were proud of me. I didn’t get it. I did so much wrong, screwed up so much, and you were still proud.”

He’d never even known who his real father was. But, that hadn’t mattered once Edward came into their life.

“He was a good man.”

Toby glanced up at the familiar deep voice and stared at Michael McRoy, his captain at the police department. he wasn’t sure what to say to him right now. He hated anyone to see him in a weak moment, and that’s just how he felt right now. But, the other man just crouched down beside him.

“I didn’t know him as well as Brendan or Jerry, but we served together, too. And you’re right, he was proud of you. He didn’t hold the choices you made as a kid against you. Why should he? You turned your life around.”

“Because of him. He saved me.”

“You saved yourself, Toby. He might have helped set you on that path, but don’t forget that you’re the one who stayed on it.”

The memory of Edward saying something very similar once hit him hard. Michael squeezed his shoulder as he pushed back to his feet. “he’s not the only one who’s always been proud of you,” Michael said.

Toby turned and saw Denise walking toward him. Michael was right. Toby hadn’t always been proud of the person he was, it hadn’t always been a good one, but Denise had always believed in him. And he knew that was something he could always put his faith in.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Coin

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “coin”. I skipped last week’s post because we left early for the town’s Homecoming parade, which both of my kids ended up being in. My boy got to walk with Daddy with both of them in fire gear, and the girl rode in a hay wagon for the fire department. And the town had a sort of “fall fest” after the parade. So, we were gone most of the day. But, I’m coming back this week. Once again, the prompt had a line of dialogue popping into my head. this seems to be what happens most often.

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“Maybe you two should flip a coin for it.”

Toby glanced over at his mother. Her lips were pressed together, but from the way they kept twitching, he thought it was to suppress a laugh, and not because she was upset with his siblings. His own lips quirked up at that. This was the mother he sometimes wished he’d had when he was growing up, one that was actually involved instead of off finding another fix and sometimes forgetting she had a son.

He pushed those dark thoughts away. Not the time for them. Mom was different now, and if his childhood had been different, he might not be the person he was now. Not that he always thought that would be a bad thing.

“I could take both of them. It wouldn’t really be a problem. It’s not like I have a patrol car and one of them would have to sit in the back.” He saw his sister’s eyes go wide at that. He nearly laughed at that. Arcelia was a sweet girl and had probably never even thought about sitting in the back of a police car. Well before he was her age, he’d done just that several times. Back then, he certainly never thought he’d drive one.

Not going back there. He knew better than to let thoughts of his past crowd his mind. He was different now, like his mother. They’d both come out better than they’d been.

Arcelia took a step back. “Jonas can go this time,” she said. “I have some homework to get done for Monday still.”

Her twin brother wrinkled his nose at that. “You’re going to spend your Saturday doing homework? Really, Cel? I didn’t even think you were that pathetic.”

“Jonas Edward Pedera,” his mother chastised. “You don’t talk to your sister like that.”

Hearing his brother’s middle name always sent a pang through his chest. Edward, who’d always been more of a father to Toby than he’d needed to be. He could have been like his buddy Carlos’ stepfather and shut him out because of the things he’d done. Instead, he’d drawn him in, adopted him, and been everything a real father should be. He’d helped draw Toby back out of that darkness.

And he still missed him so much some days.

Toby smiled at Arcelia. “That’s fine,” he said. “We can go somewhere tomorrow, since you’ll be finished with your homework while Jonas has to cram all his into a few hours.”

His brother stuck his tongue out, and Toby caught him in a quick headlock. But, it was hard to hold it when he was laughing nearly as much as the teenager. “Go get your shoes,” he said, pushing the boy away from him. “I told Carlos we’d be there by noon. Going to be pushing it.”

Both of the kids headed out of the kitchen, Jonas to grab his shoes, and Arcelia up to her room. When they were alone, Toby’s mother turned to him. “They both love you so much. You know that, right?”

He nodded, but his throat felt too tight to respond. His mother seemed to sense this and just pushed up on her toes to kiss his forehead. “Edward would be so proud of you, of the man you’ve become.”

Toby knew he never would have been able to do it without the other man. And he just hoped he’d never let him down, never return to the screw-up he’d been when the man had first met him. He was determined to leave something better behind.

Jonas came running back into the room, pushing those murky thoughts away. “That was quick. You must really be craving some of Carlos’ cooking.”

“Actually I think he has a crush on one of the waitresses there,” their mom said.

“Mom,” Jonas said, drawing the word out into several syllables.

She laughed and kissed his forehead, like she’d done with Toby. “Have fun. Be good. Listen to your brother.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” he said, but his cheeks were still dark from their mom’s revelation.

Toby remembered what it was like to be sixteen and have a crush. His hadn’t had any possibility of happening though. So, he just squeezed the boy’s shoulder and headed for the door. “I’ll have him back in time for dinner.”

“You’re welcome to stay for it, too, Tobias.”

“Thanks, mama. I might just do that.” It would be better than being alone in his apartment with his own thoughts. He’d been spending too much time there lately, and it didn’t make things look any brighter.

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.

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“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.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘Long’

Today’s Stream of Consciousness post is brought to you by the prompt of ‘long’. It’s a long holiday weekend here, but that’s not what I’m going to write about. Of course not. I’ve got fiction on my brain(which shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you who have stopped by here before). So, this will actually be referencing something that’s about to happen in Shed Some Light(I may have shared some from Carlos & Tereza’s story before). This part won’t likely end up in the actual story, though. But, Toby’s story will be in the works once I finish Shed Some Light.

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Toby knocked on the door but didn’t wait for an answer before he stepped inside. The woman at the sink didn’t turn to look at him, so he walked right over and wrapped his arm around her waist, kissing the top of her head. “How are you, mama?”

She turned toward him and smiled, but he could see the worry lurking in her eyes. “I’m fine now,” she said. “You’re here.”

It was her standard response, and he got it. He had a job that could be dangerous, and after all the grief he’d caused her growing up, she still worried about him all the time. “You know I’ve spent most of this week sitting at my desk. It’s not all chasing down bad guys.”

She let out a little laugh and leaned into him. “I’ll still worry. It’s my job.”

But, she hadn’t always done so well at her job. And just as she’d started getting things back on track, he’d started getting into trouble. And if what Tereza had told him earlier was true, she’d once completely abandoned her job. “I wanted to talk to you about something,” he said, taking a step back.

She must have sensed something in his voice because she tensed at that. “Take your shoes off if you’re staying. I taught you better than that.”

Oh, yes, the rules. What she clung to when she was afraid she was losing her grip on control. “You also taught me not to lie, Mama,” he said as he toes off his shoes. “But, you’ve been doing that for a long time, haven’t you.”

She’d been putting some cookies on a plate, but her hand froze at that. He could see it tremble as she went to put the lid back on the cookie jar. The last twenty years it had been full of at least one kind of cookie or another. “I don’t know what you mean by that, Tobias. It is an awful accusation to make, though.”

He hadn’t wanted to. He hadn’t wanted to believe Tereza. But, she wasn’t one to lie. And the picture she’d had in her wallet looked just like his mother would have thirty years ago. Still, it wasn’t easy to say the words. Finally, he went with, “You always told me I’m the oldest, but that’s not true, is it?”

“What are you talking about?” she asked, a little too lightly. She apparently forgot that he interrogated criminals for a living. He knew the signs when someone was lying. “Your brother and sister should be getting home from school soon.”

His half brother and sister from the only good man his mother had probably ever known. And he’d left them, too. Not by his own choice. The man who had wanted the bit of money he carried and his watch had taken care of that. Toby had been a rookie patrol officer at the time. But, he’d known then where he wanted to go in the department.

He wet his dry lips with the iced tea his mother put in front of him before looking up at her again. He’d been afraid his stepfather’s death would send her into a spiral again, but she’d been stronger after several stints in rehab. Thank God. “I’m talking about Tereza,” he finally said. “I’m talking about my older sister.”

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Well…I didn’t even know that bit about Toby’s stepdad, or his half-siblings, until I wrote this. Will have to remember when I start writing out his back story.

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