Not a whole lot to brain dump, this time around. Since the first of the year, I’ve been focusing on writing daily, and have been managing that. So definitely happy and a wee bit proud of myself on that front.
I had one kid, my oldest son, move out (for school) and miss him like crazy. And had another one, my younger daughter, come back home. Not that she was gone long, and we knew she wasn’t gone for good yet. It ties into the other thing on my mind. Her boyfriend of nearly 3 years was sworn in yesterday morning and is off to basic training for the Air Force. Very proud of this guy, who has become family to all of us, and I know the next couple weeks especially are going to be tough for my girl.
She also brought this girl with her.
Who definitely is NOT supposed to be on the bed. Luckily, it was washing bedding day, anyway, so I didn’t get to worked up about my allergies going crazy come bedtime. Also she’s too darned cute. Though, I still show her who’s boss, even if my daughter keeps referring to me as Grandma when she talks to the dog.
And that’s it from me…my mind is a simple place, right now. Writing and family. 🙂
Time for a song fic. This month we’re working with “God of the Ocean Tides” by Counting Crows. Here’s a link, if you want a listen.
Kept it short and sweet, again, this time. This isn’t connect to any particular story, but it’s set in the same world as Tempted to Death, where there are paranormal creatures and a network of hunters and researchers.
Bastian was impressed. He’d felt Owen’s gaze on him since
they’d left town—it’d taken the other man a full half hour to speak. Yeah,
impressed he’d waited that long, but also annoyed because Bastian knew what was
“You gonna call her?”
Fingers tightening around the wheel, Bastian shook his head.
“Why not? You guys have history and seemed to be rekindling something…”
Owen sighed. “You really want to spend the rest of your life with just me for
companionship? ‘Cause I like you and all, Bas, better than most, but…”
“It’s what I signed up for.”
“That’s bullshit, and you know it. There are plenty of people
in the network who have relationships and do their jobs.”
“Good for them,” Bastian snapped.
“All I’m saying is there’s no reason you and Callie couldn’t—”
“I think I’m a better judge of whether there’re reasons standing
in my way,” he ground out, fingers aching, knuckles now white, on the wheel.
He didn’t want to think of all those reasons, right now. Not
when he could still smell her, feel her, taste her. He’d been an idiot. Weak and
stupid…and careless. He’d allowed himself to forget what he’d dedicated his
life to, and that was unacceptable. Even for a short time, because it brought
too much pain. For both of them.
Because how was she supposed to understand what he couldn’t
tell her? She couldn’t know that he spent his days and nights hunting things most
people didn’t believe in. That he had to be ruthless and focused in his work.
That he’d given up more than he ever thought possible to do it. That he could
never love her the way she wanted, the way she deserved.
Owen sighed. “So, that’s it, then? You move on, satisfied
with the small amount of time you had with her, but refuse to go after any
“Yep, that’s it,” Bastian replied—a mix of half-truth, half-lie.
Because satisfied, he most definitely was not. And he wouldn’t be, not really. He couldn’t love her the way she wanted, but he also couldn’t love her the way he wanted. Not if he was going to do the job he was called to do.
“So, while I appreciate the support and concern,” he continued,
“do me a favor? Call in and see where we’re going next and what we’re up
“Yeah…” Owen pulled out his cell but didn’t make the call
immediately. “I didn’t mean to make it more difficult, man. Sorry.”
Gaze firmly on the road ahead, Bastian nodded. Yeah, me, too.
It’s time for another Promptly Penned post – we all get the same prompt and see what we come up with. I can’t wait to see what the others have come up with, because this prompt made me laugh, even if I had a helluva time coming up with an actual story to go along with it.
For better or worse, this is what I came up with. Short and sweet, this time around.
As always, the prompt itself will be in bold.
Dread sat heavily in my stomach as I stared at Nick across the worn table. We’d met for lunch at our favorite diner – I’d been looking forward to it all day. This week had been hellish with both of us crazy busy with work. Other than muttered good nights while climbing into bed – if that – we hadn’t even had a chance to talk. Lunch today was supposed to change that.
But now… He had that distracted look – head tilted to the side, eyes slightly squinted, lines furrowing his brow, the corners of his mouth turned down – and he still hadn’t responded to my suggestion of a weekend away in the near future. The silence hanging between us was getting on my nerves.
I sighed and, propping my elbow on the table, rested my chin in my palm. After a moment, I nearly laughed. Oh, Nick was still ignoring me, but I’d figured out the distraction. The diner wasn’t very busy. Other than a few people sitting at the counter, the only other customers were a pair of guys two booths down from us. Two guys who were complaining loudly about the changes to Doctor Who.
Most wouldn’t assume it by just looking at Nick, who was well over six-foot, athletic and…well, hot as hell. But beneath the hunky exterior, my Nick was a sweetly nerdy guy and fanboy, who took disparaging his favorite TV show very seriously. Perhaps too seriously, at times.
“Excuse me. I have to go make a scene.” He slid across the booth’s seat and stood before taking the few steps to stand beside the next booth over.
This is a new feature we’ll be doing a couple times through the year – highlighting characters sharing firsts. We can post something from an already published work, a work in progress or something completely new. This time, we’re talking first meetings.
I decided to share the first time Grace met Noah and Ethan in Santuary.
This new world is full of risks, but which is greater…being alone or trusting others?
For Grace Summers, life after the super solar flare and deadly viral outbreak can be summed up in one word. Alone. Having lost everyone she loved, Grace travels on foot to her family’s remote hunting cabin, where her father had stockpiled food and supplies for this type of situation.
Along the way, she meets Noah Hill and Ethan Erikson, a couple traveling the same direction. Grace struggles with her attraction to the pair until they make it clear they are just as interested in her.
With Noah and Ethan, Grace is no longer alone, but can she bring herself to trust them in this new world where everyone is just trying to survive no matter the cost?
The sound of Callie’s growling jolted Grace upright from
where she’d slumped farther against the tree trunk. She gripped the rifle and
jumped to her feet, even before her eyes were fully open. Bringing the gun up
snugly against her shoulder, she scanned her surroundings to find what had
Callie sounding the alarm. She didn’t have to look far.
Her heartbeat sped and her breathing stuttered when her gaze
landed on two men standing no more than twenty feet away.
“Whoa.” The taller of the two stepped forward, palms out in
a peaceful gesture. He stopped in his tracks when Callie let out another low,
menacing growl and moved in front of Grace. “Wanna call off the hound?”
“Wanna keep moving?” she returned.
“Not really,” the other man snapped.
“Let me rephrase.” She shifted slightly until the rifle was
leveled directly at him. “Keep moving.”
“We’re not looking to cause any trouble,” the first man
assured. “I’m Noah; this is Ethan. We’re just passing through, looking for a
place to catch a few winks before moving on.” He gestured around. “There’s
plenty of room, and we’ll share.” He pointed back at his partner, who sighed
and lifted a hand. Four good-sized fish dangled from a line held between his fingers.
“Not interested.” Grace widened her stance and waited. The
last thing she needed was two strange men hanging around. She wasn’t going to
feel guilty about sending them on their way into the night. Honestly, if they
couldn’t understand why a lone woman wouldn’t want two strange men hanging
around, they were idiots.
“God, enough.” Ethan stepped forward. “You have no claim on
the place. It’s late and dark; I’m tired and fucking hungry. If you don’t like
it, you can move on.”
“Ethan,” the other man admonished. “There’s no need—”
“Hey,” Grace interrupted, exasperation edging out the panic.
“Last I checked, I’m the one holding the gun, so I’m sure as hell not going
“I’m not your sweetheart!” she snapped. “Do you always make
everything so damned difficult? I was here first, and I don’t make camp with
men I don’t know.” For good reason. She shook her head slightly and tried to
push thoughts of her last, and only, encounter with another person on this
journey. Her stomach roiled, and her dinner threatened to make a reappearance.
Ethan let out an annoyed huff of breath, and Noah moved
closer to him. Grace watched as he ran his palm down Ethan’s arm then wrapped
his fingers around the other man’s hand. Ethan turned his head, and the men
exchanged a long look before responding.
“And that’s completely understandable. Smart,” Noah said
“But it’s late, dark; we aren’t going to be able to get much farther in any
case. We just want to eat, sleep, and, in the morning, we’ll be on our way. How
can we make that happen? What can we do to ease your mind?”
Grace’s gaze drifted back to their linked hands, where
Noah’s thumb slowly rubbed the back of Ethan’s hand. She tightened her grip on
the rifle and inhaled a shaky breath.
“You’re lovers?” she blurted, jerking her head back to look
at their faces.
First flash fic of the year. Yay! We’ve all be given the same photo and have to come up with a story to fit. Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!
Sometimes, I hated my job.
Okay, to be fair, I always
hated my job. The necessity of it. Though,
I had to wonder, did being part of a secretly growing rebellion actually count a
job? Or was it a mission? A quest? Or just a series of trying tasks shoved upon
me in between having to fight for my life? And, in the end, did it fucking
“I don’t understand.”
With a sigh, I shoved aside useless ponderings and focused
on the task at hand. Vetting a possible recruit. Oh, joy. Glancing over at the
man in the passenger seat, I stopped the car and put it in park.
Daniel Hartford, my latest assignment—cute, clean-cut, smart,
a recent self-proclaimed Sympathizer of Magic-users. He also happened to be the son of one of the
most influential couples in the country. The Hartfords were old, old money…and very
vocal in their staunchly anti-magic stance.
The leadership wanted to know if he was on the level,
because if he was… Well, he could be a helluva asset with the access he had.
Which was why Daniel was now my problem.
He’d already been checked—I’d gone over the files last night—by
several of the higher ups, and they liked what they’d seen, so they requested
The human lie detector.
I hated that they called me that. Never to my face of course.
Because they avoided face to face with me as much as possible. And who wouldn’t?
Feeling others’ emotions, knowing when someone was lying…seemed like a pretty
awesome power to manifest, but in reality, it led to a very, very lonely life.
I was an asset the leadership never hesitated to be use, but
never someone they wanted to actually have around. Everyone had their secrets,
after all. Even the good guys.
Daniel’s soft query pulled me out of my head again, and I inwardly
cursed my distraction. I had a job to do, and it was time to do it.
“I told you to call me Emma,” I reminded him. “I know this
doesn’t make sense, but it will. Come on.”
I exited the car and waited for him to do the same before walking
toward the house in front of us. Remaining silent as I lead him across the lawn
and up the steps to the front door.
So far, I hadn’t sensed any deception from Daniel. So, that
was good. Everything I’d gotten from him, so far, assured me he wasn’t an
actual threat, a possible plant from the other side.
Didn’t mean that he was a strong ally, though. There was a
world of difference between sympathizing with Magic-users and actually being
willing to act and fight for them, sometimes in violent ways. Not to mention putting
your own life at risk.
Before I’d give my approval, I had to be sure that there was
more to Daniel Hartford than simply rejecting his parents’ beliefs and making an
impulsive stand against them, because trusting him was a huge, huge risk. And,
at this point, I had nothing to assure me of that the risk was worth taking. While
he’d never publicly aligned himself with his parents’ stance on magic, neither
had he ever shown any support for Magic-users. Not until two weeks ago, when he’d
made contact with one of the more public Sympathizer groups and inquired about the
It seemed like an unlikely first leap to me.
Turning the knob and pushing the unlocked door open, I
gestured for him to enter. He frowned then moved past me…immediately gasping as
he walked into chaos. Shock and confusion pulsed on the air between us as we
moved through the main level.
The old house was, to put it simply, a disaster. Ransacked
with no care for the destruction caused. The floor was littered with books,
“What happened here?” Daniel asked, stopping in the doorway
to the back room. It’d once bene a library or an office. Now, like the rest of
the house it was in shambles. He turned back toward me. “Look, I don’t know why
you brought me here, but I’ve already jumped through enough hoops when all I
want to do is help. If you’re not going to tell me—”
“The family that lived here was on the watch lists. Suspected
of having magic,” I explained, though I knew he had to have heard of the blasted
lists, given who his parents were. “Your father reported them—he worked with
the husband, insisted the entire family be brought in for questioning.”
I tilted my head and concentrated. The shock radiating off
him was genuine. He hadn’t known about this family, this incident.
Inhaling deeply, he looked around. “So, what happened? Did
they… Did they resist back when the police came to get them? They used magic to
“No.” I stepped closer, keeping my gaze locked on his face
and my power centered on his every reaction. “They weren’t magic, Daniel. They
went quietly, didn’t resist. They were questioned, again and again. Then, after
days, they were supposedly released, but they never made it home.” I hesitated
a moment, throat tight. ”Their bodies were found in shallow graves outside the city
several weeks later.”
“No, no…” He shook his head then gestured around them. “This
was a…raid…an invasion. If they went quietly, why— They were killed? You’re
saying that they were killed because my father reported them, because there was
just a suspicion that they had magic?”
As his emotions prickled hotly over my skin, I felt an
inkling of regret for what I was doing but quickly squashed it. This was as
much for him as the cause.
“Daniel, in the countless witch hunts in our history, very
few of those killed, who had their lives and family destroyed, were actually magic.
All it took was a suspicion, a rumor…” I reached into pocket and pulled out the
small stack of photos, flicking them one by one, “Henry…Penny…Grant…and Lucy,”
onto the floor in front of him. “They aren’t the first innocents to die, and
they won’t be last.”
The color drained from his face as he stared down at the
images, his throat working convulsively. He crouched down, tracing a trembling
finger over the photo of four-year-old Lucy laughing at camera.
I backed away from him, overwhelmed by his sadness and anger,
but determined to finish this, so we could both move on. “I understand that you
don’t share your parents’ beliefs, Daniel. That much is obvious, but what you’re
trying to sign up for is much more than standing on opposite sides of an issue.”
His head snapped up, and he glared at me fiercely. “I’m not
“No, you’re not,” I agreed. “From everything I’ve heard and seen, you’re incredibly smart with a world of opportunities. What I’m trying to say—rather poorly, I admit—is war is coming, Daniel. It’s inevitable, but you don’t have to be on the front lines. Most of us… We don’t have a choice. We’re fighting for basic rights, for our lives, but you’re lucky. You do have a choice. Being a Sympathizer doesn’t mean you have to risk everything, risk your life. No one would blame you for avoiding that.”
He looked back down then picked up the pictures, stacking them in one palm as he stood. He stared at the little girl, again, for a long, tense moment, then he tucked the photos in his back pocket. Clearing his throat, he walked over to me. I lifted my chin to meet his gaze, my own eyes stinging at the sight of the tears in his.
I’m happy to see the end of 2018. It wasn’t the worst or anything, just a year full of…growing pains, I suppose. I spent much of the year learning things about my health and things I needed to do and all that jazz – which I will not go into detail about, because no one needs that. LOL
Writing definitely took a backseat to all of that. Not something I can or even would change, because it was important for me to go through, and there were lots of important things I needed to learn and change. And I’m sure that there will be more of that in the future but I feel as though I have a firmer grip on things and I can move forward now.
So, basically, I’m not going to bemoan all the things I didn’t do in 2018. I’m going to chalk it up to learning and getting my head on straight with things, and call it good.
Toward the end of 2018, I started writing regularly again (before the craziness of the holidays started), so that is what I want to focus on as we start the new year. I’m keeping my goals simple to start with, and I’m going to revisit them several times through the year. I’m just focusing on writing-related goals for this post.
Write regularly – as near to daily as possible, even if it’s only 100 words.
Re-release the contemporary novels and the paranormal novels I’ve gotten the rights back for.
I’m still pretty under the weather, but I said I was going to blog this week, so darn it, I’m gonna. 🙂 I don’t know that I can come up with ten things, to be honest, but I’ll give it a wack.
I don’t NEED it, but man I want it. And love it. 🙂
Never enough washi…Yeah I have a problem.
Yes, yes, YES! 🙂
Another trip to the UK and Ireland. I mean, I’d argue that I need it but apparently I won’t die withough it…whatever.
And that’s it from Sick!Jess because my brain is seriously offline. But tell me what you want that you don’t necessarily need. Then, make sure to head over to Bron’s blog to see what she came up with for this Top 10.
It’s our final Promptly Penned of the year, and I have been waiting for this one for soooooo long. From the very beginning, this one sparked an idea for Bron and me. We have plans for some connected Bound books—written separately but connected and happening concurrently—and this prompt… Well, it brought forth two guys that I fell in love with from word one. So, our posts are similar but from differering POVs, giving you a taste of two heroes you’ll be seeing from us in the future.
The prompt will be in bold within the story.
Sam cursed under his breath—again—as he stumbled over his own freaking feet—again—and wondered—yes, AGAIN—why he wasn’t buried beneath the warm duvet, unconscious and blissfully thought-free.
But no. Instead of that wonderful escape from reality, he was up at the ass-crack of dawn, tripping like a drunk duck behind his older brother on a trail that clearly led to nowhere. And, because he’d woken late, he hadn’t even had a single cup of coffee. Seriously, up before the damned sun, and Ollie was bitching about being late. Late to where, exactly, Sam wanted to know. It wasn’t like the blasted hill beneath their feet gave a damn that they were treading upon it fifteen minutes later. At least then he’d be clear headed.
He tripped, yet again again—didn’t they have people clearing rocks off the trail? Fucking dangerous is what this was. This…this was not what he’d signed up for. Though, Ollie… Sam sighed, and a small smile curved his lips. Ollie was probably soaking it all up, getting almost high on freaking nature. This was his idea of heaven, no doubt.
Not for Sam. No, give him cities, night-life, clubs, a coffee shop on every corner, a nice enthusiastic fuck to— Nope, not thinking about that. No thinking of fucks, Samuel, enthusiastic or otherwise.
Of course, trying not to think of it…sure fire way to zero his thoughts on the very thing he wished would stay hidden behind the exhausted, hangover fog he’d been swimming in since falling out of bed.
Which, he granted, had been rather enthusiastic. But it hadn’t been his finest hour. He grimaced—not that he’d lasted remotely that long. God, the guy had been so freaking pretty, too. Right down to his thick, flushed co— Sam grunted as he walked right into Ollie, nearly falling back on his ass.
“What’d you stop for?” he snapped.
Oliver turned, brows lifted. “I’m just enjoying how fucking gorgeous this is. I mean, look at this place.”
“I’ve been looking.” Sam gestured around them…at all the nothing. “Not a goddamn coffee shop anywhere.”
Oliver rolled his eyes and started walking again. “Being away from a city and all its conveniences isn’t going to kill you.”
Sam snorted and followed. “You don’t know that!”
“Rough night, I take it?”
Sam inhaled deeply through his nose, teeth grinding at the cheerful, amused tone. He liked his brother. Scratch that, he adored the hell out of him, but aside from their shared features, the two men had very little in common. Sam spent most of his life sincerely believing he’d been adopted. Some days, like today, he still clung to that theory as the only explanation for being in a family who thought outdoorsy shit was fun. Sam appreciated nature as much as the next person, he really did. He just didn’t need to be in it.
“My night was just fine, thank you very much.” Keep telling yourself that, Sammy-boy. It’s the morning I’m having trouble with.” He panted, curses bursting from his lips, as he righted himself, yet again, toes throbbing from where he’d kicked a large rock. “And what the hell is wrong with you that this is your idea of a good time?!”
“This is a great time. And besides, I did the London pub crawl with you when we first got here.”
“Um, excuse me, but that pub crawl was steeped in…in culture and history and shit! We drank at pubs that had been there for centuries. Can’t do that back home. We have trails and dirt and…and fucking rocks,” he kicked another out of his way half-heartedly, “at home, Ollie! And you’re missing the biggest draw of all, brother—there was beer at the pub crawl. There’s no beer here, Ollie. None. There is zero beer.”
He knows he’s ranting, but what choice did he have, really? It was the ultimate distraction from things he’d rather not think about—it’s what he did, always. Not that his torrent of words was in any way stopping the humiliating little movie in his head of the night before. Nothing like acting like a fumbling teenager, from start to, God help him, premature finish, to cut a man down to size.
He lifted his gaze and stared at his brother’s back, happy to see the relaxed movements and the absence of tension in his shoulders. Of course Sam also used his ranting to distract others, too. And after everything that had happened before they’d come here, Ollie was much more deserving of a distraction than Sam was. His brother had been gutted by his break up with Gina. Not that he should still be that cheating bitch. Sam hadn’t been lying when he’d confronted her—if she hadn’t come clean about her fucking around, he would have laid it out for Ollie. He’d have hated every second of it, but no way in hell was he going to let his brother waste any more of his life on that woman.
Sam’s drunken pursuit of cock that ended in embarrassment didn’t rate high at all in the grand scheme of things. And hey, at least he still had dick-twitching memories of Mr. Pretty Boy. He was sure he’d pull those up front and center when jacking off in the future. Once the sting of said memories faded.
Ollie snorted and paused at the top of the hill to look back. “When we get back, I’ll buy you a pint at that pub down the street from Gram’s.”
Before he can respond, he stumbles again. And fine…just fine. He gets it—the universe hates him. He drops to his knees in the grass framing the narrow trail, flips over and starfishes on his back, staring at the lightening sky. “No need to bother, dear brother… This is my life now. I have climbed this hill, and now, I will die upon it.”
Oliver suddenly towered over him, unsuccessfully fighting a grin. He nudged Sam’s hip with his foot. “Shut up. We’ve only been hiking for twenty minutes.”
With a groan, Sam started to sit up, only to collapse again, spreading out even farther, bumping in to Ollie’s legs.
“Could you be more dramatic?” Oliver asked, nudging him again.
Oh, he did not just… Clenching his fists, Sam arched back, opened his mouth, and wailed wordlessly at all the stupid, stupid nature around them…that he would endure any time he had to because it made his brother so stupidly happy.
It’s time for another Promptly Penned post. We’re all given the same prompt and see where it takes us. This week is a bit short and sweet and, dare I say, kinda fluffy (well, much fluffier than I could have done with this prompt LOL). Because that’s exactly what I needed, right now. 🙂 The prompt itself is in bold in the post.
“For God’s sake!” I shoved at his shoulder then, turning away from him, put distance between us. “I’m trying to have a conversation with you!”
“And I’m trying to subtly avoid it!” he shot back, amusement coloring his voice, like he was holding back laughter.
“Ass,” I muttered. “This is important to me, you know, and we have to talk about it eventually.”
“Didn’t think there was anything to discuss, really.”
I jerked away when he touched my arm, and his answering chuckle made my blood boil.
“Nothing to discuss? I don’t know why I even bother anymo—”
My words morphed into a startled yelp as he grabbed hold of me and hauled me back across the mattress. He wasted no time in getting me on my back and pinning me down. I narrowed my eyes at his stupid laughing face. Before I could say anything, his expression softened.
“Babe,” he sighed. “There’s nothing to discuss, because you’re not going anywhere. Of course I’m introducing you to my parents when they come for the holidays. I’m not hiding what we have. You’re not my dirty little secret, not ever.” He dropped a fast hard kiss on my mouth. “And you bother because you love me.”
I rolled my eyes at his exaggerated drawl but brought my arms around him, unable to hold back the low moan as he dragged his lips along my jaw.
“And I love you. Now,” he breathed the words against my arched neck, “let me show you how much. No more talk tonight, yeah?”
I made a small sound in the back of my throat. Not exactly a sound of agreement but close enough. Of course there was still loads to talk about. His parents were coming to visit. and they didn’t know about us yet. Didn’t know I was now officially living in their son’s house…where they would be staying for a full week.
I let out a shuddered breath as he kneed my legs apart and settled heavily between them, pressing me delciously into the bed. Tomorrow… Tomorrow was soon enough to talk about all that. And I could admit, even if just to myself, I didn’t exactly mind his method of avoidance.