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Story a Day: Day 29 – Memorial Day

Toby stepped out of his car, leaning back in to grab the bag off the passenger seat. He locked the car and walked deeper into the cemetery. This had become routine. Not just today. He came here at least three times a year, to lay flowers on Edward’s grave.

Marrying Toby’s mom hadn’t meant Edward had to take him on as well. He could have just been a stepfather, but he’d been so much more than that. He’d saved Toby, and he wasn’t sure he’d ever thanked the man while he was living for doing that.

It wasn’t the main reason he was here today, but still he knelt in front of Edward’s grave and set the vase he’d brought long against the base of the headstone. “Thank you,” he said softly. “Not just for your service to this country, but for taking on a punk kid like me. You taught me everything I know about honor, integrity, and duty. I’m not sure I ever said thank you for making me the man I am. If I didn’t, I’m sorry.”

He stood there in silence for a moment then stepped back and retrieved his bag. He had a few other stones to visit. He headed toward a section of the cemetery where he knew too many of the people who were buried. As he approached, he saw another figure kneeling in front of one of the stones. It took him only another moment to recognize the man. he was a little surprised to see Patrick here. Maybe he shouldn’t be. The man was a veteran, too, and would likely want to honor those who had fallen just as Toby did. But, if he was visiting graves, he’d thought he’d do it back in New Mexico where he’d moved from recently.

He saw which grave he was kneeling before and took another step forward. He would have left the man alone, but it was one of the ones he’d come to visit anyway. “I served with him,” he said, taking another step toward the man and the grave.

Patrick looked up at him, and Toby had the feeling the other man had known he was there. “I went to school with him. He was a year ahead of me, but he was still a good friend. His parents moved up here right after he graduated. I heard about his death just as I was being deployed the first time.”

Toby could still remember that day. He didn’t think he’d ever forget. He’d lost many friends in one single ambush. “He was a good man,” Toby said, setting one of the small wreaths he carried against the stone.

“Yes,” Patrick said, “he always was.”

They started walking off together, and Toby glanced over at Patrick. “I figured you’d be going home for the holiday.”

Patrick glanced back at him and smiled a little. “This is home now. But, I get what you mean. I’ve said good-bye to the ones I’ve lost enough times. And the doctor put Kellie on bedrest. I didn’t want to leave town and leave her alone.”

Toby had heard Kellie was pregnant but not that she was having any issues. He needed to get out of his head and back to his friends. Especially those who were still living.

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

For today’s Story a Day, I went with a story specifically written for Memorial Day.

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Writing Wednesday: Scattered

This week started out pretty good. I got all my writing done by lunchtime on Monday and even got a 1 mile+ walk in during that time(and my legs felt about dead after having to climb back up the hill to our house). I’m hoping to get 2-3 walks in a week for right now. Of course the kids only have about 3.5 weeks of school left and then I’ll have to figure out what to do. We may be able to walk down to the free beach at the lake, but I have to clock the mileage still(I don’t think it’s much more than a mile). I may do that on my next walk.

Tuesday I had a serious lack of focus. Not sure why. I just felt completely scattered. I did still manage to almost everything done before the kids got home from school. Only had to finish typing chapter 18 of In the Moonlight(it’s a longer one) up into scrivener and type up Jayla’s back story(wrote it by hand first). I still managed to finish them by dinnertime. Today I’m still feeling scattered, but instead of trying to force my mind to focus, I’m going with it. I have all my projects open and am bouncing between them. I’ve already managed to get my side projects done(those are usually the last I work on for the day).

And now, it’s WiPPet Wednesday!! So, it’s time for another snippet.  Still working on Not Meant to Be. While still with Denise, Toby got a call from Isaac that Jonas was attacked while in the park and he’s in the hospital. So, we’re there with him now and all the thoughts going on in his head. Tereza is Toby’s half-sister, their mom abandoned her when she was a few years old, and the two of them have just recently figured out their connection(that happened in Carlos’ story). Edward married Toby’s mom when Toby was about fourteen and adopted Toby. He was killed during a mugging about ten years before this, and Toby was one of the officers that responded to the call.  For today, I have 13 paragraphs(5+1+7).

Toby backed away from the counter, but he couldn’t sit. What if it was worse than Isaac had thought? What if his brother was bleeding out right now and there was nothing they could do to save him? He almost thought he felt a hand on his shoulder. It felt like Edward’s. But, he knew that wasn’t possible. Still, he heard Edward’s voice in his head. “This isn’t your fault, Tobias. Not everything bad that happens is your fault. Be strong for your mama.”
The same words Edward had said to him that day while they waited for the ambulance to get there. “I tried,” he whispered. “I’ve tried to be everything you wanted me to be.”
“Toby?”
He spun around at the soft voice, surprised to see Tereza there. “What are you doing here?”
She glanced around then seemed to relax when she saw it was just him. He wished she knew how much that hurt. His mom was trying, but Tereza didn’t seem to want to give her a chance. “Denise called and told me what happened. Well, what she knew anyway. She wanted to be here but said you told her to stay put.”
He glanced away, his hands balling into fists at his sides. “She’s better off away from me. I can’t put her in danger.”
“Idiot,” Tereza said, shoving against his shoulder. “I told her I’d call you one, but I’ll do it for myself too. You really think she wants to be kept at a distance from you?”
“It’s what’s best,” he said. “She deserves better than me.”
Tereza pressed her fingers into his shoulder but didn’t bother pushing this time. “I’d call you an idiot again, but I don’t think that’s a strong enough word for you. Why do you think there’s a better man out there than you? Besides Carlos, of course.”
Toby snorted at that. “Isn’t that obvious? I’m not much better than a screw-up. I made so many bad decisions. If it wasn’t for Edward, I would have gone right back to it. And then I couldn’t even save him. I can’t protect Denise. I couldn’t even keep my brother safe. He’s in there now probably because of me. What good am I?”
“Mijo,” his mother’s broken voice came from the doorway. Tereza stiffened, but she didn’t back away. “Tobias. Do not speak of yourself that way.”
“Mama, this is my fault. He said it was a message for me. If not for me, Jonas would be perfectly fine right now. If I was a better man, the man Edward wanted me to be, I’d be able to keep Denise safe and stop thinking about taking her to bed.”
His face warmed at admitting that, but his mother only smiled, brushing some hair back from his face. “Edward wanted everything for you. He saw the good man behind all the bitterness and anger and hurt. He helped bring that man out of you. He would not be disappointed in the man in front of me. The only thing that would hurt him is you taking so much on yourself. The mistakes of your past aren’t any worse than mine,” she said with a quick glance toward Tereza. “He was so proud of you, mijo. He wouldn’t want this.”

Plotting

  • Still Burning finish Story Toolkit, Outline
  • Jayla & Carisa(Gilbert, Co #7) brainstormcharacter back stories, plot summaryget through Story Toolkit: Supporting Characters – finished GMCs & Jayla’s back story(754 words). Started Carisa’s(who happens to be Carlos’ baby sister) back story.

Writing

  • Not Meant to Be – Add 53000 words/28 scenes to finish 1st draft – 13686 words/16 scenes finished this month, 2603 words/3 scenes this week
  • Side Projects – Add 4400 words between all projects – 6083/4400 words, 1086 words this week
    • Preggers – 194 words – It didn’t work. She couldn’t stop the memories of Darren that almost played like old videos through her head. The times he’d sat next to her when she’d been so homesick, even with him there. How he’d known she got more comfort from that than a hug. Marika had somehow seemed to sense that as well. Or she just hadn’t thought they knew each other well enough for more than that.
    • Tavin & Haiwee – 130 words – “There ye go, lad,” he said, patting the horse’s neck. “Ye’ll be feeling better soon.”
    • Patrick & Sarah – 109 words – His boss stepped out of one of the other stalls and nodded at Patrick. “You’ve been working hard lately, Bailey. If the plowing’s all done, why don’t you take off tomorrow? I’m sure there’s something waiting for you in town.”
    • Jacob & Matthew – 102 words – Jacob shook his head, though, smiling a little bit to himself. He had only played a couple hands of cards before making his way up to the room Matthew had rented, hoping no one would connect the two of them going into the same room. “Pa was expecting me back in town today. And I wouldn’t want to miss the wedding. Those friends of Adam’s show yet?”
    • Midas’ Daughter – 143 words – She nearly screamed as she spun around. Then, put a hand over her chest when she saw Flip. His face was fuzzed with that reddish-blond hair that fell slightly into his eyes. She had the urge to run her palm over the scruff, but she quickly squashed it. Not that he’d appreciate it. He’d made that clear years ago. “Don’t tell me you don’t do the same,” she said. “I’ve heard you.” *You might be surprised by what he wants, Calla. 😉
    • Dougal & Shae – 191 words – “What the bloody hell does that have to do with anything?” Dougal didn’t know where Donovan was heading with this. Or what any of it had to do with him.
    • Hawk – 217 words – Still I’d take it while I could get it. Just like I’d take Devil for as long as he still wanted me.*Oh, don’t worry, Hawk, I’m sure that’s going to be for a good long time.

Editing

  • 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) – 13/27 chapters typed up.
  • 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 4/8 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)
  • Beta Read – Read 58 chapters(total of 73, but that’s what I have left) & return to author – 32/58,

Blogging

  • Story a Day – Write 31 stories – 16/31 stories written, 3 this week

Reading

  • Listen: 5 books – 5/5 for the month, 1 this week
    • Ten Thousand Skies Above You(Claudia Gray) – Started this Monday morning. Finished it Tuesday evening. Really liked it. But that ending. Oof. I’ll just say there’s lots to make right in book 3, or I’m going to be really disappointed.
    • Conspiracy(Lindsay Buroker) – this is book 4 in her Emperor’s Edge series.
  • Read: 31 books – 17/31, 4 this week
    • All Fired Up(Elle Kennedy & Vivian Arend) – Started this Sunday night(5/7). It was in my ‘free’ collection, so will be my ‘read after everything for the week is done’ book(I choose from my free & unlimited collections for this). Finished it this past Sunday night(5/14). Enjoyed it. Added the next book in the series to my wish list.
    • Missed Connections(Tamara Mataya) – Started this Saturday night. Finished it Sunday afternoon. Really enjoyed it.
    • One Night Charmer/Hometown Heartbreaker(Maisey Yates) – I started One Night Charmer Monday morning. There’s also a novella included in the back of the book. Finished ONC Monday night and enjoyed it, but didn’t get to Hometown Heartbreaker.
    • Nightsong(A.M. Leibowitz) – started this Tuesday evening. Finished it Tuesday night. Stayed up an hour later than usual because I just didn’t want to stop reading. I loved it so much.

Crafting

  • Knit: Duo Cable Hat – finally got more yarn for this on Sunday. Finished 2 decrease rounds

Writing Wednesday: Pulling Ahead

This has been quite a week already. In a good way. My word count may not be too high since Monday I only had to finish a scene for Not Meant to Be, and I didn’t count my words for the Story a Day piece(maybe I should, but I didn’t). But, by the time I went to bed Monday night, I already had about half of Tuesday’s goals checked off, including most of the chores.

Lilacs are out(please ignore the dirty windows, it was raining out, so I couldn’t get a good picture)

On Sunday I’d finally finished moving the rest of the wood from the yard out to our wood pile. Good thing too, because it poured down rain almost all of Monday. So, I wouldn’t have gotten any of it done then.

I do not know when my name became so popular, but I’m seeing it in so many books lately.

Tuesday I looked around the living room, trying to decide if there was any surface I could use as a makeshift standing desk. Rather than sitting pretty much all day(other than when I’m doing chores or taking the dog for a walk–which it’s been raining all week and that hasn’t happened). I’m sure I’ll be plugging it back into the TV and sitting at some points during the day, either if my knee starts bothering me and probably I’ll start out there first thing in the morning. But, at least when the kids are home/awake, this set-up should work to get some more writing in. I just had to shut the touchpad off on my laptop so I’m not accidentally hitting it and moving the cursor while I’m typing. And the ‘d’ key doesn’t like to work(which is only 1 reason I’d been using the wireless keyboard and plugging it into the tv- and a different monitor when it was on my desk).

My new work area(all my yarn is inside the cabinet).

Now, for WiPPet Wednesday!!! I finished Playing with Fire last week. So, this week I’m back to working on Not Meant to Be. I hadn’t written anything on this since February, so I had to spend some time going back and reading through what I had. This is an earlier scene with Toby at his mom’s for dinner. He’s about 33, but his younger brother(and sister, but she’s not really in this scene) are only 16. Their father died about 10 years earlier, and he’s rather protective of them. I have 11 paragraphs(2+0+17-5-3)

Toby leaned back in his chair and stared across the table at the boy. He had his head turned toward Jonas, and they seemed deep into an intense conversation about…hell, Toby wasn’t even sure. But, he hadn’t often seen his brother light up so much.
The other kid seemed to be about the same age, with dark brown hair. Not the near black that his and his siblings were, but something with shades of gold through it. He blew a breath out. He didn’t know why he was being so fanciful. It was brown. His eyes, behind the glasses he kept pushing up on his nose, were somewhere between brown and gold. He seemed nice and had been perfectly polite throughout dinner. Jonas definitely could do worse.
Still, a part of Toby wanted to run a check on the kid. He wouldn’t abuse his power, or Jonas’ trust, like that, though. No matter how strong the urge was. “So, Isaac,” he said, bringing the boys’ attention to him.
“Toby,” Jonas said, “don’t. Just don’t.”
“What?” he asked innocently. “I’m not allowed to speak to my brother’s new friend?”
He saw the boy grab Jonas’ hand and squeeze, the wide bracelets around his wrists clank together. His nails were short but painted a soft blue. “It’s okay, Jo,” he said, smirking back across the table. “I think I can handle an interrogation. Especially on a full stomach. The enchiladas were delicious, Mrs. Pedera.”
Toby just barely held back a laugh. The kid was pretty charming. His mother smiled at the boys. “Thank you. I’ll clean up while you two chat. Tobias, you can help me.”
Ah, crap. That usually meant he was in trouble.
But, he stood up from the table and followed his mom into the kitchen, carrying a stack of plates with silverware thrown on top of them. he managed to set them on the counter before his mother turned to him. “You need to leave your brother’s friend alone,” she told him.
“What?” he asked, trying to look innocent. “What did I do? I was only going to ask him a couple questions.”
“He is not one of your criminals, Tobias. He’s a sweet sixteen-year-old boy who doesn’t have it all that easy at home. That’s why he spends so much time in that park where Jonas met him. He is always welcome in this house. I don’t want you to make him feel otherwise.”

Plotting

  • Still Burning – finish Story Toolkit, Outline – finished Subplot sheet & event brainstorming sheets. 3/13 sections of Story Toolkit done
  • Jayla’s Story(Gilbert, Co #7) – get through Story Toolkit: Supporting Characters

Writing

  • Not Meant to Be – Add 53000 words/28 scenes to finish 1st draft – 1799 words/3 scenes finished this month, 1799 words/3 scenes finished for this week
  • Side Projects – Add 4400 words between all projects – 658/4400 words, 658 words this week
    • Patrick & Sarah – 154 words – He brought his attention back to the path of the horses. His boss would be none too happy with a crooked row. Not that the man typically even raised his voice. Not for anything less than an atrocious misdeed. And anyone committing one of those, found himself set instantly off the farm.
    • Tavin & Haiwee – 119 words – The lad glared at Tavin as he slid his gloves off but didn’t make any attempt to get down from the saddle. “You cannot tell me what to do. You work for me.” *Tavin does not seem to be making friends. Though this little shit doesn’t deserve to be friends with him 😉
    • Mason & Lila – 251 words – “He’ll come around,” she said softly. Then added, “Eventually.”Yeah. Eventually. Like probably the day after Mason’s funeral. But, Mason didn’t say that to Lila. He didn’t like to feel like he was pulling her between him and her father. He knew he’d always come out the loser there.
    • Midas’ Daughter – 134 words – But, she wasn’t a business interest. She was his daughter. Why couldn’t he seem to understand that?

Editing

  • 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) – 2/27 chapters typed up. 2 this week.
  • Snow White Twist – Beta edits, rename, & submit
  • Dance with the Devil – read through & make revisions
  • Beta Read – Read 58 chapters(total of 73, but that’s what I have left) & return to author – 6/58, 6 this week

Blogging

Reading

  • Listen: 5 books – 0/5 for the month, 0 this week
    • A Thousand Pieces of You(Claudia Gray) – Started this Friday morning. It’s my second time listening to it. I finally got the second book in the series, and it had been a while since I listened to this one, so decided on a re-listen before I start the next one.
    • The Curse of the Pharaohs(Elizabeth Peters) – Started this Monday morning. On Chapter 7/17
  • Read: 31 books – 2/31, 3 this week
    • Hammer of the Gods(Christina Ochs) – this is book 3 in her Desolate Empire series. I finished it Sunday night. Definitely eager to see what happens next in the series. I finished this in April, so I’m not counting it to my monthly goal, though I will for the week.
    • The Faerie Key(Denise D. Young) – Read this Monday afternoon. It was a quick read, and I enjoyed it.
    • Beyond Pain(Kit Rocha) – Started this Monday evening. Finished it Tuesday afternoon. Really enjoyed it.
    • Over the Edge(Suzanne Brockman) – Started this Tuesday evening. On page 59/395.

Crafting

  • Knit: Duo Cable Hat

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.

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

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

“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.

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