#FictionFriday -- a Teaser Tuesday

I LOVE TEASERS! I can't help it. I love the visuals with the words. They compel me to buy books. Seriously. 

Today is Fiction Friday on the blog, and I thought I'd share a teaser as well as an excerpt...

Excerpt: From For Love or Duty available at AMAZON!

Chapter Ten

Sweat dripped from Kevin’s head onto the map-covered table. They’d made about fifty runs to the drop-off and pick-up zone in the last two weeks. His men were tired but going strong.
“Captain, the last of the Seals have flown out with Otto and Tyler.”
With a nod, Kevin folded the map in front of him. “Good. Let’s start breaking down camp. Five hours, and we’re going home.”
“Hoo-ah,” Specialist Quinn sang out with a grin. “We are finally out of this fucking sandbox. You know, it’s spring back home. The tulips are coming up and the trees are filling out. Damn, I know we haven’t been gone that long, but it’s always nice to go back.”
Kevin thought the same thing. And as the afternoon progressed, he began planning how he could put together the best salmon and shrimp ceviche Valerie had ever experienced. He wanted it to be perfect—a perfect meal, perfect mood, perfect company. Grand scheme to get a ring on her finger or not, he wanted to be with her.
With a self-conscious look around, he brought himself back to the task at hand. As the last tent was taken down, Kevin nodded at Quinn to radio the chopper.
At the sound of a car coming down the road through the scraggly brush, he turned to see and whistled, signaling for everyone to be on alert.
The driver smiled. Kevin recognized the face of one of the local merchants.
“ETA twelve minutes,” Quinn reported of the helicopter.
The car continued past their location, the driver giving him a slight nod of acknowledgment and a wave.
The rotors of the chopper drummed in the distance.
He smiled when a vision of Valerie came to him, the easy way she laughed, her cynical edge, ready to question any unspoken promises. She was a pistol, his Valerie, and she was never out of his mind for long these days.
One question remained. Could he charm her back into the military life?
“Yo, Capt’n. Look.”
He turned. The small foreign car sat ten yards down the road. The driver was on a cell phone and waving his arms emphatically. He had a flat tire.
Kevin couldn’t help it. He groaned inwardly and, at the same time, waved his men back. The helicopter was in sight. If he hurried, he could assist the stranded motorist without delaying their departure while everyone else loaded for take-off.
He jogged a few yards then slowed.
The man gave Kevin a deliberate look. His smile came up on one side, tilting his mustache. A glint—there was no other way to describe it—appeared in his eye.
The man spoke one word into his phone.
Kevin took a step back, instinct and survival racing through his veins.
The unexpectedly snazzy phone slid shut.
Kevin ran toward the helicopter, yelling, “Back! Get down! Down, down, down!”
An explosion lifted him from the ground. Glass flew past him, striking him like needles—his neck, through his fatigues to his arms and back. Jesus, not good. The ground came at him like a Mack truck, and he slammed into it.
For a brief moment, the world tilted around him, forcing him to close his eyes. When he shook it off and opened his eyes again, Tyler and Quinn were running to him.
Kevin dragged himself to his knees and stumbled to his feet.
Strong arms hoisted his body and dragged him toward the chopper.
His vision hazed at the edges, and he wondered if a storm was brewing. No. The sun shone too brightly, hurting his head with every step.
At the helicopter, he lifted his leg but fumbled the movement. Tyler jumped up and grabbed him under the arms.
Pain mauled his shoulder and he moaned as consciousness slipped.
“There’s lots of bleeding,” his medic, Jeremiah, spoke over the sound of the rotors. Jer stuck him. An IV. “The shoulder’s dislocated.”
“He hit the ground like a ragdoll.”
The sounds around him began to fade.
“…fucking glass everywhere, must have been a trunk full…”
“Radio ahead, Quinn. Find out…” 
Then, sweet oblivion as the thwap of the helicopter finally faded.


FIVE SENTENCE FRIDAY [that's unlikely!]
FANTASTIC FICTION FRIDAY....Oooh, yeah. That's good.

So, we've hit the new year, and we're all busy making ourselves better.
But what I want to know is WHAT ARE YOU READING? When you get to sit down for two minutes [or more] by yourself, what is your fiction of choice?

Here's a sample of my newest paranormal romance: One Heartbeat.

With only two weeks left on earth, the saucy granddaughter of Mother Nature gambles her soul in a task meant for a guardian angel.

“Is the black t-shirt supposed to be funny?” She was talking to his back. He wore black jeans, black boots, even his hair seemed darker, and it was short. He was filthy from their bout with the ground in the alleyway. She didn’t want to think about how she looked.
She cleared her throat of the rash case of tears welling up inside of her.
Aarden stood hunched over a small desk with a laptop on it. A gray thermal blanket was strewn over a cot in the corner and a folding chair was lying on its side, as if it had been kicked over at some point.
She hadn’t known what to expect, but this utilitarian existence in an underground bunker was not even close to what she imagined. “Aarden?”
“You shouldn’t be here.” His voice was hoarse. “How in heaven did you get here, anyway?”
Was it possible for him to be bigger? Broader? Everything about him exuded menace.
“I merely thought it.” She crossed her arms over her chest and tilted her head. “Apparently that’s how it works for immortals. No more spirit transport for this old girl.”
Aarden scowled. “This isn’t funny, Rachel.”
At a small chiming noise, he turned back to the oh-so-important computer behind him.
He still had a nice ass in those jeans. That hadn’t changed.
You’re not helping.
I wouldn’t dream of trying to help. A hello would be nice, though.
When Aarden turned this time, his eyes blazed with the light of passion she remembered. She took a small step toward him. “Please.”
It might have been a lifetime since she’d been in his arms. It had taken the sharp cut of denial after seeing him again to feel his absence like the great hole in her heart that it had been all along.
“I can’t.”

Fiction Friday

Today Suzanne Lazear stopping in to celebrate the upcoming release of her first novel, Innocent Darkness.

Hello, Suzanne!!! Thanks for coming in. Around here we celebrate most things in life with cake and ice cream. My virtual bakery is open so tell me what you'll have.

S: Yum, thanks for the cake.  Well, I think everyone knows how much I like cupcakes. ~launches cupcake cannon~ However, I’m partial to chocolate cake and ice cream. Everything is better with chocolate...or bacon.  But I’m not certain bacon and chocolate go together.  

Tell me a little about your book that comes out in August.

S: Innocent Darkness, which is book 1 of the Aether Chronicles, is what I call “Fairytale Steampunk.”  It’s a blend of classic fairytale elements (evil queens, huntsman, bad bargains, wishes), faeries, and of course, Steampunk.  My main character, Noli Braddock lives in an alternate version of Los Angeles, one populated by flying cars, hoverboards, and Airpirates. I adore Steampunk and it was fun coming up with things like Noli’s flying car and the alternate history explaining why her version of 1901 is steampunk. I also enjoyed mashing it up with the faery world and creating that mythos as well.  My faeries are a little different than you might be used to – my courts are elements not seasons, and the realm subsists on the blood of mortal girls. The book comes out from Flux on 8-8-12.  

When you made that first sale, how did you celebrate?

S: When I sold, I was unemployed—like my unemployment was about to run out unemployed.  So, when I got “the email” from Flux, offering me a two book deal, I took my daughter to McDonalds after school to celebrate.  She had a happy meal and ice cream.  I ate her fries.  While at McDonalds, I got “the call” from my agent.  INNOCENT DARKNESS is my first novel.

Wow! Way to go. On a first novel! So, tell me, are you a plotter or a panster?

S: I’m a puzzler.  I often know certain points in the story, but have no idea how I’ll get from point A to point B.  Usually, I come up with that as I write, though once in awhile I’ll actually have an outline.  I had an outline with INNOCENT DARKNESS, but not with book 2.  When I had to turn in my first 3 chapters and a synopsis to my editor, I actually had to sit down write the whole story so I knew how it ended.

I know how that can be a lot of work. When you're ready to take a break from work, what would be your dream vacation spot? Have you been there?

S:  I think a nice tropical beach with a hammock, the ocean, and my family sounds really good.  But I’d have to have electrical outlets because I’m co-dependent with my laptop.

What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

S: I love learning new things about my characters.  I actually was majorly surprised by a character recently.  I was doing a final re-through of the draft of book 2 before I sent it off to my editor and all the sudden I figured something out about a character, one I’d been writing since 2009.  Since I, being a writer, think my characters are real, I was actually a little wounded that the character had never told me before. It was such a big thing.  But I’ve since forgiven said character.  I’m not going to say what or whom, because even though I figured it out, said character doesn’t actually reveal said thing in book 2. (Yes, I’m giving my fictional character privacy, lol).

Can you give me and my readers a hint about what you’re working on for your next book?

S: Well, right now I’m editing book 2, and all I’ll say is “beyond here be airpirates.  Argh!”  (After all, Noli’s brother is an airpirate, you know we’ll have to meet them eventually).

I love a series, Suzanne and I can't wait to read this one. :D I'll be watching for it! Thanks for being here.

Thank you so much for having me on.  Remember, never talk to strange faeries.

Blurb:  In a Steampunk version of Los Angeles, Sixteen-year-old Noli Braddock's hoyden ways land her in an abusive reform school far from home. On mid-summer's eve she wishes to be anyplace but that dreadful school. A mysterious man from the Realm of Faerie rescues her and brings her to the Otherworld, only to reveal that she must be sacrificed.  If Noli doesn't die, an entire civilization will.

Buy links! 
Indie Bound, 
The Book Depository, 
and Barnes and Noble. 

Aether Chronicles series website:  http://www.aetherchronicles.com/  author website: www.suzannelazear.com

Fiction Friday

Today I started a story for my daughter who has generously agreed to donate four teeth to the Make-More-Room Foundation, a subsidiary of the Mouth Association, of which she is a current member. She sure does have a mouth on her! hahaha

I've never had a tooth pulled, not even a wisdom tooth, so I don't know how to help her, warn her of how it's going to be. But, I hear that dentists are pretty gentle nowadays...

and local anesthetics are AWESOME...even if she does want to be put under all the way. :D

Funny conversation before I throw a few lines at you. My daughter told me to remind her, even when she's 75 that she does NOT want short hair. I told her when she was 75 I'd probably be dead. Her response???

"You'll be alive. Eat fish and wine."

Okaaay. That I can manage. Where does she come up with this stuff? LOL :D


Claudia Anne Darling wished for powers. Different than the ones she already possessed. Powers that would make her disappear for the next two hours so she didn’t have to get her teeth pulled. Four teeth! She groaned and bit her fist.
“It’s going to be fine.” Her mom patted her shoulder and gave her ponytail a little tug.
Fine! Fine was what you were after your brother rigged your bike so that it would only turn right and you ended up in the creek off Johnson road. It was how you did on that stupid, science pop quiz in Mrs. Burns’ class.
Having four teeth pulled was not fine.

Fiction Friday

Ahead of schedule here... just 909 words a day to make my 60,000 word count by the New Year. Yay!

I don't often read something that makes me giggle, okay I do, but this one was extra special.
Imagine, two [ethno]botanists in the Amazon, both scarred by events that have taken place over the past few years. Now they are together, fighting evil to save a culture.
Hero: Working for money-grubbing riverlord in order to get to the REAL bad guy. He is hired to transport a woman up river to a science refuge.
Heroine: Says she is going back to science refuge to retrieve previous work. Really is looking for revenge against the REAL bad guy because he captured her and tortured her.
There's something about fiction that is GREAT!
Anyway, believe it or not, they fall in love.
Fiction Friday is brought to you by Glenna McReynolds and her book, River of Eden.
I am really liking this book. Don't let this tiny blip fool you. It is well written and plotted.
It's not a trashy romance novel.
[Indian shaman speaking to hero] "You should take your woman to the river," the shaman advised. "Wash her in the warm water and put your seed inside her to calm her down. Do this every day and feed her only fish and fruit. Then she won't be so wild."

Fiction Friday -- Racing through the Middle...of Nano

The last 300 words I wrote last night. Just for the fun of it.


“You're successful.”

“I try to be.” He'd given up a well-paying, upwardly mobile position to come home, though. So he tended to watch his dollars and keep a level head. “I like this business, but my heart is in my workshop.”

She stopped chewing, swallowed and wiped her lips.

He wasn't sure why he would divulge something so personal. Even his father didn't know that this was going to be a part-time business for him. He just couldn't stand being cooped up in an office all day, everyday.

“Amazing.” Her eyes were wide and filled with longing.

His gut twisted even though he knew she wasn't longing for him personally. “You seem disbelieving.”

“I keep working my butt off to get somewhere that I'm happy and you just seem to walk right into it.” She placed the plastic fork on her plate and stood. “I should go.”

Crap. “I didn't mean to make you feel bad.” He stood quickly when she stuffed her roll back into the take-out bag. “I've worked my butt off, I swear. Late nights during college. Barely getting by, living in New York City. Uh, I owned a pinto.”

He didn't want her to leave.

She narrowed her dark brown eyes—a glint of reflection hitting her pupil and giving them life. “What year?”

“Seventy-two.” Heat rose on his neck. God, she didn't know about cars, too, did she?

“That's not working your butt off! That's a classic. What did you pay for it?”

“Five hundred dollars,” he retorted. And a few to several thousand for the refurbishing, which he'd done himself. Okay, so he'd had it pretty easy. But he'd earned what mattered. He'd never taken any handouts and he'd worked hard.

Fiction Friday -- Forever My Lady

“Don’t be stupid foo’. Don’t be a pendejo.”

Dio looked at his homie Spooky’s grip on his jacket. Most of his boys called Dio “Playboy” because all the ladies loved him, but those that had known him since he was a kid called him his real name, Dio.

He took another hit off his joint. He’d given up smoking over a year ago, had to, but on this day he was more nervous that he had ever been in his life. Thunder rumbled and rain poured, making it impossible to see. Thunder scared Dio, always had. Dio fought to keep from shaking. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t swallow. He tried to hide his fear. His mind was set. He had to do it. Dio yanked his arm away from Spooky, and pushed the door open.

“Just keep the car runnin’, ese.”

Spooky was a big guy, tattoos up and down his arm and a glass eye. He normally would have just kept Dio from leaving at all, but he knew nothing could stop him. Nothing at all. Dio jumped out the car. It was a ‘57 Chevy, slick red, with a chili-pepper-hot Mexican heina painted across the hood. Dio had painted that picture himself. Complete with chrome wheels.

He slammed the door shut and looked up at the Cathedral in front of him. Lightning illuminated its majestic towers, windows with an eerie stained glass. He’d spent many a night imagining this would be where he’d marry her. They’d have a huge wedding with members of their families flying in from all over the world just to watch this event; this marriage he thought was so destined to be. He’d put his everything into this dream, his one and only dream, and now as he yanked the heavy Oak doors open, his heart pounded like a subwoofer.

He dried his soaked clothes with his hand and scratched his shoes on the mat so as not to squeak across the old wood floor. The church was jam-packed, mostly with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, but some blacks.

Probably his familia, Dio thought. How could she even think about marrying some pinche negro?

The grand organ music permeated the building while a choir of children sang, their voices echoing throughout the church. It smelled musty in the air, a mix of wood stain and must as if they never really cleaned the place, just painted over it.

He tried not to be too suspicious, slipping past every one. Funny, he was dressed probably better than he’d ever been. Black suit, his wavy black hair slicked back, starched white shirt, polished black shoes.

Dio had grown into a very nice looking young man. Maybe even could have been a model, had he played his cards right. Maybe if he hadn’t grown up in the slums of Northeast Vegas, he could have been one of those Latin heartthrobs that were in those magazines. Instead, most of the time he looked like the thug most people assumed he was just by looking at him.

But on this day, this very weird day, he was even wearing a tie. Jennifer would have been so proud of him if she could see him. Funny, he’d probably be the last thing she’d see.

He checked his jacket pocket to make sure it was still there. Yep, it felt like a brick pressed against his chest. But he was so numb, or more like so focused, that he was oblivious to it. All he knew was that he had to find Jennifer, and he would use any means necessary.

Wham! Dio bumped hard into a glass table. His thigh throbbed in pain as bullets dropped from his pocket and bounced off the tile floor. The sound echoed all over the lobby. People looked around for the source of the sound, but Dio managed to scoop them up before anyone could see.

He got up and noticed the beautiful ice sculpture on the table--melting, dripping like an ice cream cone in August. Melting just like his heart.

He saw Father Martínez, his priest, the one he’d grown up with. It was as if the whole world had turned against him. They’d sided with Jennifer, when this was supposed to be their wedding. It was as if she’d slapped him across the face, as if nothing they’d been through together even mattered. The whole thing was surreal.

She loved him. She’d said that over and over to him since they were little kids. She’d taken care of him and believed in him and dreamed with him and held him when nobody else could give a care.

“Estoy aquí para ti. No matter what -- Siempre,” they’d promised each other. And a promise was a promise.

"Don’t be stupid, Foo’. Don’t be a pendejo.” His brother’s scolding remarks kept playing in his head. He warned Dio to just let it go. It wasn’t worth it. Normally Spooky would have been all for it, but this time around he said to “olvídalo…let it go.” It was as if he sensed something was going to go wrong and, no matter how high Spooky had been, his gut was always right.

Dio only hoped this time around he was wrong. He had worked so hard. He could really get a fresh new start now, “a new lease on life,” as his probation officer used to say, but now he was risking it all to confront Jennifer.

Was Spooky right? Should he just let it go, face it that she didn’t want to be with him no matter how hard and bad it felt? Should he just forget the whole thing? Maybe he’d meet some other ruca. Time heals all wounds, they say, and maybe if he’d just -- But no, Dio shoved those thoughts out of his mind.

He’d spent the last year changing his life around for her, so they could be together, so he would be the man she said she’d always wanted, so he could be the daddy his daughter needed. They were meant to be together and he was going to make Jennifer understand that, if it was the last thing he would do.

He could see Jennifer’s family in the front, dressed in their Sunday best. Her mom always made a spectacle of herself with her gigantic summer hat in purple. She never did like Dio and he knew she probably orchestrated this whole thing, probably arranged the whole wedding herself.

He wondered if perhaps Jennifer was doing this just to make her mom happy, but then he saw her … the music changed, the children’s choir sounded so beautiful, he had to admit, so irritatingly perfect. All heads turned and gasped as the bride, Jennifer, made her way down the aisle. Her father took her arm, biting his lip, trying not to cry.

He looks nervous, Dio thought.

Jennifer looked incredible. How could she afford a dress like that? The guy must be rich or something. That’s probably what it was. That’s probably why she was marrying him. It had to be the money, the one thing Dio could never give her. Her gown had a laced top, cut just low enough to show her sensual bust line, but high enough to showcase the first class-act that she was. Her face was shielded by her veil. He hadn’t seen her in so long. It seemed like the whole auditorium held their breath with him.

Her mom made a dramatic spectacle of herself; her wails were the only thing that could be heard above the organ playing as the children’s choir reached a crescendo, then trailed off.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Even Dio had to fight the tears.

Thunder rumbled. Her father escorted her over to her groom. He was a nice looking man, a light-skinned black man. Maybe he was mulatto or something. He wore a striped, stuffed tie, not a traditional bow tie, and the tux must have been Armani or something. He had one of those smiles with teeth so white it blinded you. His gaze never left Jennifer, even as the priest rambled on and on with the vows.

“I, Antonio Estrella ---“

What kind of nombre was that? Estrella? Jennifer Estrella. It just didn’t match her. No le queda.

“… hereby take you as my wife, to have and to hold…”

There was a lump in the back of Dio’s throat. He wanted to burst out “No!” but it hurt so bad.

“I, Jennifer Lalita Sánchez …” He couldn’t believe his ears, she was promising him her life.

Thunder rumbled, the lights went out. There was a small gasp in the audience, but Jennifer just smiled, the candles illuminating her. She was too lost in the groom’s eyes.

“…to have and to hold, through sickness and health …” she continued.

He couldn’t help it anymore. Tears came streaming from Dio’s eyes. This was too much for him. He was about to explode. His blood boiled.

He looked around at all the stained-glass Bible stories, the creepy statue of Jesus on the cross. He swore Jesus was glaring right at him as if he was saying “No lo hagas…Don’t do it.”

He looked the other way but the statue of the Virgin Mary scolded him as well.

Dio couldn’t help but think how proud his own mother had been with how he’d changed his life around, the tears of joy she’d shed. He’d never seen her like that before. He shuddered to think how his mother would feel after all this went down, how ashamed she’d be. Maybe it would drive her to drinking again. Drinking again after how far she’d come around.

“With the power invested in me in the state of Nevada, I hereby declare you … man and wife.”

Dio couldn’t breathe. The only thing that kept him from passing out was seeing Jennifer’s face as her new husband lifted the veil. She was more beautiful than ever. She had olive-colored skin and was the type of girl that never did need any makeup, in fact she hated wearing it. But this time she was wearing just enough. Her dark brown hair was curled, glitter sparkled in it.

She looked like an angel, no, a goddess, better than the pictures Dio drew of her, better than he’d remembered her looking in his dreams.

He’d never seen Jennifer so happy. Not even when she was with him. She always seemed so distracted, but now she really did look like she was in love.

How could that be possible?

He loved her more than he’d ever loved anyone. Didn’t she see that? How could she do this to him? The ice sculpture melted like it was on fire.

His heart raced as he reached for the .45 caliber in his pocket, which Dio called his cuete. He could hear the rain pounding against the stained-glass windows and the roof. His sweaty hands pulled for it, his heart in his throat. He crossed himself, closed his eyes and prayed he was about to do the right thing.

To read more of FOREVER MY LADY by Jeff Rivera click here


Fiction Friday -- Poetry

Roses are Red.

Violets are Blue.

.....Just kidding. I really stink at poetry, unless it's in narrative form and reads more like a novel.

Poem of the Day from Poetry.com

I've seen the rain, more leak than I got pot
When the sugar cane can't drink another drop
When the bayou barge don't need to use the lock
I've seen the rain in Louisianne, I've seen the rain
I've seen the sun make gumbo in the bay
Too hot to fly, so the ducks decide to stay
Make my Yvonne say, no bon temp roule
I've seen the sun in Louisianne, I've seen the sun
I've seen the cold, won't let my big pot boil
But that's OK, my hanging meat won't spoil
The old crawfish, he's way down in the soil
I've seen the cold in Louisianne, I've seen the cold
I've seen the wind bring cypress to their knees
Make my perouge land way up in the tree
It's blowing hard in Camp Chu-du-chawee
I've seen the wind in Louisianne, I've seen the wind

Edward Theriot
This is a random pick, but I have to say, I like it. I'm not big into poetry, but this one has great imagery. I can see what Edward is talking about...and that makes me happy. :) Great weekend ALL!

Fiction Friday -- 1000 words

By the time Thaddeus arrived home, rain pounded the car roof in accompaniment to the pounding in his head. How, in God's name, he'd gotten strapped into taking care of blonde, on-the-run Katie Hansen was completely beyond his comprehension, but the message from his mother was quite clear. He was going to be stuck with the girl—woman, damn it—who made him dream of things that shouldn't be.

She was probably in his house right now, wreaking havoc on...something.

At eight years old, she had pulled every one of his paintings from his portfolio—okay, not a portfolio, but a very important senior year art thesis for his advanced placement class in high school.

God, he sounded like a pretentious prick. Ten years his junior, she couldn't have known to check the kitchen table for water before laying them out to admire.

He braked to a stop in front of his brownstone and glared at the beat up old Chevy—her truck in his parking spot. He'd won that spot in the neighborhood association lottery. He sighed, closed his eyes for a moment, put his practical sedan back into drive and pulled around the corner to the parking garage. This day just wouldn't end.

Rounding the corner back to his street on foot, he took the steps to his front door two at a time. He stopped short at the open door and frowned. “Hello?”

He pushed the door open. It creaked like the eighty-year-old fixture it was. “Katie?”

His voice bounced from the hardwood floors and paneled walls. She was supposed to be here. Glancing up the stairs, he rested his hand on the pineapple-shaped newel cap and stood still.

A soft rumbling snore came from the study. Crossing the hallway, he quietly pushed the sliding door into the wall. Despite keeping his distance, he had noticed her new height, the supple curves...the smart mouth. Her length barely fit the brown leather couch and bare feet poked out from beneath the fleece blanket. Not small feet, but pretty, with painted pink toes. His stomach clenched as the unwanted feelings of desire hit him hard.

“Hey,” she said.

His eyes flew to her wary gaze. He jack-knifed away from the door jamb and came to her side. “What the hell happened to your face?”

She touched the bruising that ran from her hairline to the lobe of her ear. And winced. “Jack ran to me and we bonked heads.”

“A two-year-old. Your nephew?”

Her laugh filled the room, successfully cutting the air from his lungs.

“We had our little run in at the playground.” She sat up and ran her hands nervously over her wrinkled slacks. She wouldn't meet his gaze. “Um, your mom insisted I come over, and I just didn't have the heart to resist.”

“Well, you left the door open.” He turned to the dry sink where he stored his liquor. He pulled a tumbler from the rack on the wall, poured himself some scotch and turned to her. Squelching lust might take a shot or two.

“What?” Her blank stare cut through his sympathy, reminding him that she just might still be an irresponsible girl.

“The front door was open when I got home.”

Her face paled as she scooted past him into the foyer. “Are you sure?” She swung the door open and looked out. “No. I wouldn't do that.” When her hands shook, he knew something was seriously wrong, knew, in an instant, that the bruising on her face hadn't come from playing with a two-year-old. He set down the empty tumbler.

“Have you been upstairs? Or back to the kitchen?” She ran a hand through her hair. “I'll check upstairs. You do the kitchen.”

He grabbed her arm—tone, lean muscle under his hand shocked him.

She didn't seem to notice his stupor and clasped him with both hands, one on his arm and the other at his waist. “After we look around, I'll go. You don't want me here anyway.”

He cleared his throat and loosened his tongue. Every muscle in his body tense. “You wanna tell me what you're running from?”

She backed up as if slapped. “No,” she said flatly. “I'm a big girl now, and I take care of myself.”

He had noticed. He pulled her close and noticed again. “Maybe my mother is right. You should stay here.”

She sputtered with tight lips, determination emanating from every pore. God, those lips. They were close enough to kiss.

She reared back. “Don't even think about it, Thaddeus Magree.” Katie's face flushed, her lips parted.

He was struck by a realization. “You still have a crush on me.”

Her eyes widened, and she snorted. “You are so full of yourself.”

With little show of his normal finesse, he melded their lips together. She made a sound of protest. He didn't even have to lower his head to have her. They fit together perfectly from head to toe. The girl she'd been yesterday was now his fantasy woman come true as she relaxed into his embrace.

He would be forty in five years, and she was just barely out of college.

It didn't seem to matter anymore. They'd played long enough, and he was through being a slave to his past. He wanted her, wanted the woman she'd become.

“Thaddeus.” Her throaty, desperate cry tipped his scales. He took the opening she'd given him and tasted her, tasted burgundy and fire. Her arms came around his neck.

He backed her into the wall, crushing every inch of her to him. She tipped her head back. His lips moved to her jaw and down the smooth slope of her neck. He should have known it would be like this. A burning ache in his soul to be the one—the one to protect her, to love her.

“Well, isn't this sweet.” A deep voice from behind him slammed into his libido.

He caught the startled look in Katie's eyes. “Oh crap.”

Fiction Friday -- Crushed

Found a word challenge on the Harlequin Forums. 1000 words.

5) The key scene in an "adolescence crush to adult"theme romance where the older hero sees the heroine as a woman for thefirst time and not as the little brat who used to follow him aroundyears ago.

This is what I have so far....

By the time Thadeus arrived home, rain poured from the sky. The pounding on the car roof matched the pounding of his headache. How in God's name he'd gotten strapped into taking care of little, blonde Katie Hansen was completely beyond his comprehension. But the message on his blackberry from his mother definitely confirmed his worst nightmare.

Katie Hansen was probably in his house right now, wreaking havoc on...something. He couldn't get out of his mind the way she'd pulled every one of his paintings from his portfolio—okay, it hadn't been a portfolio, but it had been a very important senior year art thesis for his advanced placement class.

Now he sounded like a prick.

She'd been eight, ten years his junior. She couldn't have known to check the kitchen table for water before laying them all out to admire.

Fiction Friday -- The Hero makes a plan

A quick question for my readers[especially those with any military background]. Is there such a thing as a "Stray bombing?" Seriously, I pulled that phrase from my...tricky hat, thinking, people make up titles, phrases, crap all the time. It would be perfect for Mark, in heated concern, to question it. But, i've had 3 critiquers say, "He's a pilot. Wouldn't he know what a stray bombing is?" *snort* Um, I don't know... I think in a situation like that people want details, and saying stray bombing doesn't really translate. Am I wrong? Is there such a thing as a stray bombing? What's your opinion? Happy Reading!

Mark Danbury strode down the darkened corridor. His shoes echoed the steady drumming of his heart as an unseen energy pressed him from all sides. A small bead of sweat trickled down the side of this face. He wiped it with a shaky hand and cursed the clench of his stomach.

He’d come to this country to fight in a war. Marriage had never been in the plans. He cut down the small measure of resentment that cropped up in his heart. His vulnerability towards her was of his own making. He should have learned at eighteen how unreliable his judgment could be when it came to matters of the heart. Bottom line, he should never have gotten involved with Margaret Keith.

An office at the end of the hallway stood open, and light spilled from the narrow doorway to the tiled floor, illuminating the speckled surface as he approached. He slowed, stopped in the last instant before his life would be irrevocably changed.

There was no going back.

Mark took a deep breath, relaxed his shoulders and stepped into the light.
Cameron Hawthorne stood quickly at the interruption. His hand moved to the side arm under his left elbow, but he slid it back into the leather holster on a breath of air. “Mark. I didn't realize the time. Have you come straight from the airfield?”

“I came as soon as I heard.”

Cameron Hawthorne wanted to enlist Maggie in his newly formed Civilian Intelligence Operation. She spoke four languages fluently and would be an asset to the team. An asset or not, Mark didn’t want to worry about her as she traipsed through Europe meeting with the victims of war and helping them find refuge. Good cause or not, people died doing that.

“Of course.” Cameron pursed his lips and scratched his chin. “So, you haven't spoken with Maggie yet.”

“No. God, Cameron. Have you? Have you sealed the deal already?” Bile climbed the back of Mark's throat. He hated being late and being out of control...and he'd felt out of control ever since he'd met Maggie. “She can be carelessly impulsive.”

Cameron raised a brow at his description.

Mark relented. “As responsible as she is, she'll agree to anything. Remember the trip down the Thames in a canoe?”

Cameron leaned back with a roar of laughter. His shoulders shook, and he held up a finger. “Yes. God, yes.” He sobered. “I need someone like her, a woman who can reassure the female victims, not everyone we encounter is going to feel comfortable with a man. She's strong Mark.”

“She's a woman.” His grandmother would roll over in her grave if she were dead. Grateful that Ethel wasn't, he silently asked forgiveness for the offense. He just needed something to protect Maggie—even a good douse of male chauvinism. “I would be obliged if you’d allow me a few days leave, sir.”

“You know I don't have that kind of authority, Mark.”

“I received my notice. I've been assigned to your civilian unit—on retainer. As of zero hundred hours, your request for a pilot is being fulfilled. I'm reporting for duty, sir!”

“...after you take a three day leave, you mean.” Cameron smirked. “And cut the crap, Mark. Don't sir me.” He moved around to the shelves that lined the western wall of his office. “Damn it. We’re in the middle of a war. I may be a civilian, but I work closely with the RAF. As a matter of fact, your first assignment is to fly reconnaissance.”

“I wasn't aware of that.” Mark shifted his weight. He cleared his throat. “You see, Maggie and I are going to be married.”

“Maggie has agreed to marry you?” Disbelief covered Cameron from his eyes to his stance, even his hands hung slack at his sides.

“We’ve spoken about it many times.” He slowly met Cameron's gaze, hoping his insinuation meshed with his words.

“Ahh.” Cameron called his bluff. He had an uncanny ability to pick out a lie. “How much time will you need in order to convince her?”

“Three days should be enough time.” He wished, banking that Maggie's spontaneity would precipitate the big event.

“Optimistic, aren’t you?” Cameron's incredulity sparked a fire of anger in his chest.

“More like stubborn,” he bit off. “Believe me when I say, Maggie will not be available to work for you after we are wed. I’ll be sending her home.”

“Do you love her?”

“What the hell does that have to do with anything?” How could anyone know what love was right now? If Mark survived this war, then love might become a viable option. Until then, all he knew was that he was very fond of her and feared for her safety.

“Twenty-four hours. The fact is, I could really use Maggie.” Cameron didn't wish Mark luck. It was obvious in the fold of his arms and firm set of his jaw.

“Please, two days, Cameron.”

“You really need to talk to Maggie. I'm actually surprised you didn't go directly to her place. Didn't you hear about the stray bombing just north of the city?”

“Stray bombing. What the hell is a stray bombing?”

“Some German plane just showed up out of nowhere and dropped a bomb. Middle of the day, a mostly deserted road on the out skirts of town. Maggie was on her way home from your grandmother's by way of the Pennington estate.”

Dread suckered the air from his lungs. “My God. I have to go.”

“Thirty-six hours, Mark. That’s all I can give you. If you can’t convince her to marry you in that amount of time, you’ll need to report to the Bentley Priory anyway. You belong in the air fighting the Germans not on the ground courting the ladies.”

“Is she okay?” His affection for her had grown, and Cameron had been witness to it, knew it. Still, he liked to keep those affections under his hat. Too many things could go wrong, and he didn't even know if Maggie would agree to this proposal. Did she want him for life—however long that ended up being?

"It wasn't pretty. She was shook up when I left her with the Pennington's."

The relief made him unexpectedly lightheaded. She had to be in mostly working order, really fine or Cameron wouldn't have left her. “Thirty-six hours then.” He saluted, his expression grim as he did an about-face. He paused at the door and turned back. “Thanks for the leave.”

“I hope you know what you’re doing Mark.”

“I hope so too.”

Fiction Friday -- Creepy Guy


Creepy in a Gary Sinise kind of way.


Bam. Bam. Bam.

She screeched at the pounding, her back shuddered at the tremor of the door. Heart racing she called out, "Who’s there?"

"Margaret? It’s me, Henry. Open the door."

She released the lock and pulled the door open with a bang.

"What’s going on? Your neighbor is babbling about strange men and loose women."

Maggie grabbed his arm, dragging him through the doorway. With a glare at Mr. Anderson she slammed the door again. There was a certain pleasure seeing the suspicion on his face in that instant she’d forced Henry through the door.

"I had an intruder, Henry." She moved to the windows and drew the curtains. Doing so, she lit her candle-lamp that sat in the furthest corner. "Please sit down. My kitchen is a mess, and I should report this, but I need to sit for a moment."

"Are you okay? Was anything taken?"

"I don’t know," she answered from the kitchen doorway. The glow from the single bulbed fixture at the center of the room shed just enough light to see there was no way she was getting her cocoa tonight without spending at least an hour cleaning first. Whoever it was had torn the place apart. With a sigh, she turned back. "There’s nothing to offer but some water. I might have some brandy…" She crossed her arms and rubbed the goose bumps away. "Honestly, I’m exhausted."

"Thank God I came by. Should I call the police?" He rose from the chair and turned his hat over in his hands before setting it on the chair. "Let me get you that brandy."

"I know you said we had an early morning tomorrow. I really think I should report this before we head out." Her eyes followed him to the liquor cabinet. "It’s too late now. I’m not going to bother them over this, not when nobody was hurt. It seems so trivial compared to what the police are probably dealing with in other parts of the city."

Henry poured a drink and handed it to her. She sipped, swallowing the fear and the tears. He patted her back and rested his hand on her shoulder.

Her breath stopped when his thumb trailed down and caressed the slope of her arm. She backed away and his hand fell to his side, his face showing no sign of discomfort. She, on the other hand, was beyond uncomfortable. She cleared her throat.

"I could stay on the couch if you’d like. I hate to leave you—"

"No!" Moving to the cabinet—and away from Henry—she placed the glass on top of it. "I mean, no thank you. I feel much better now and really appreciate that you came by when you did, but I think I’ll just lock up and head to bed. It was probably just a down-on-his-luck bum looking for a quick pick." Her laugh was short. "Not that he found anything worth taking here."

"Well, if you’re certain." He reached for his hat, closing the distance between them, and smiled—a sad smile. He lifted his hand as if to touch her face.

She pulled back. "Henry." Rounding the chair and crossing to the door, she opened it for him. "Please, don’t make this harder than it is."

Fiction Friday

Mark is in Switzerland with Flannery. This particular scene I'm inserting into chapter twelve in hopes that when chapter thirteen rears its lovely head, I'll be more prepared. :D So, here you have it. In all its rough draft glory. :) The Last Lie


An Opel, German made truck circa 1930, whined its way down the side of the hill. He had a very bad feeling they were about to be submersed in a day’s worth of back and forth. He measured with his eyes and figured at least three trips. "Let’s start unloading."

"Maybe it’s not our contact."

Mark gave Flannery a look of disbelief. "Who else? There’s no one here. Hasn’t been anyone here in some time, I’d guess."

His friend shrugged and jumped back into the plane to pull the wooden crates from the stacks, neatly lining them at the door. "Come on old man. Get your ass up here."

Mark waved him off and walked toward the terminal. The truck rumbled to a stop feet from the end of the runway where he stood. He choked on the dense smog of exhaust, covering his mouth and nose.

A big man hoisted himself from the driver seat and stepped down. He wore brown overalls and a denim, long-sleeved shirt. His balding head glistened with a sheen of perspiration. Bushy eyebrows hooded large droopy eyes that lit up when he smiled. "Dzien dobry. Hallo!"

Some of the tension he’d been feeling since he’d flown out of Lakenheath dissipated. He grasped the older man’s hand. "Hello, I’m Mark Danbury, RAF."

The man’s accent, European, though Mark couldn’t determine where from, gilded his words. "We wait long time for someone to come."

"We’re a little short on information, but still glad to help in anyway we can." Mark turned and pointed toward the plane whistling through his teeth. "That’s Flannery O’Riley."

Flannery waved from his perch in the cargo bay.

"My name is Emil Tomaszewski. Come, let us help your friend so we can continue or journey." Emil walked with a slight limp, but despite that and the protruding middle, he carried more of his share during the task.

The midmorning sun caused sweat to pour down Mark’s face, but he appreciated the manual labor. It kept his mind from lingering on Maggie, from seeing her board the train with that knowing smile. Remembering the taste of her lips…

"Watch it, Mark." Flannery sidestepped him with a crate full of canned goods.

He broke from the trance he’d been convincing himself the work would distract him from and shook his head.

"So, you think about a girl, eh?" Emil stood at the cargo entrance with his hands upraised for another load. He slipped his fingers into the slots on either side of the crate Mark had shoved over.

"My wife."

"This is good! You have wife."

Mark smiled at the jovial man. After just an hour or so of work and talk, he now knew that Emil had been married twice and had two grown sons. James and Adalbert worked within occupied Poland, during the day as street pavers, but by night as underground network emissaries. His current wife was ten years his junior and had stayed by his side as they crossed through the Czech Republic[check this for timing] and Austria[bavaria?] before reaching Switzerland.

Mark imagined a stern woman, tall and strong…with muscles. He chuckled to himself. European women were not the same soft, loving female variety he was used to. Maggie would never have the strength for what Emil described, some days taking to the roads on foot.
"Eh." Emil nudged him. "She is pretty, no?"

"Yes. She is very pretty." Mark lifted the last box onto the bed of the truck.

"It all fit." Flannery walked up after closing the cargo bay door and removed his cap. He scratched his head. "I’ll be danged."

"No kidding. I was sure we’d be taking at least three trips." Mark lifted his small duffel bag from the ground and slung it over his shoulder.

Emil threw his head back and laughed. "I learn to pack. Very quick and tight." He patted the side of the truck. "Fuel is hard to come by, but we are lucky. So far, the German’s have stayed out of Switzerland. So, men like me—we bring our families into these mountains. And we do what we have to…including bring supplies in from the airport." He struck the air above his head with his finger. "We go! Marta has made a fine meal to share."

Mark’s stomach growled at the mention of food. "Thank you. We could use a meal and a good night sleep."

"How many families did you travel with?" Flannery squeezed in between Emil and Mark on the bench seat. Emil started up the engine before answering the question.

With his side pressed up against the door, Mark hung his elbow out the window. The fresh cool mountain air swirled through the window and into the cab. Mark caught the scent of hard work and sweat mixed with the mountain heather.

"In March five new families come from Germany. All together, there are eleven, three from Poland, three more from France, and one couple from Prague--newlyweds."

Mark’s mind wandered as Emil ran through a list of everyone’s name, what they liked, how long it took them to get to the farm… His head fell back against the seat and he rested his eyes as the truck rumbled through the quiet streets of Langnua before becoming dirt.

Flannery must have understood his fatigue because he kept up the easy banter, relieving Mark of the obligation.

He jerked awake when the truck ground to a halt. A tall house rose out of green rolling hills that were backdropped by the magnificent rise of the Alps. Gray peaks with tops of white, a fortress for this small farming community. Mark yawned away the vestiges of much needed sleep.

picture found at FiddlersGreen.net

Fiction Friday

A friend of mine asked me about how much work i had piled up in my Document Folders on my computer. I think she was worried about how much stuff she had piled up in her folders... I told her not to worry. I had PLENTY! This one, titled Red Wine, I wrote from a prompt...entitle, Red Wine. :D Clever aren't I?

Red Wine
Remember that scene from *Cocktail*? The one where Elizabeth Shue is dancing with Tom Cruise and they’re down on that island in the Caribbean? The scene always intrigued me for one reason…I thought they looked so incredibly dumb dancing that way. She kept lifting her arm and he would copycat that movement and their hips would sway in rhythm to the steel drum band. It was the night she lost her virginity and maybe that’s why it always stuck out in my memory.
Virginity. That not very likely characteristic of most young women today. It was an odd thought to have while I stood off to the side of the hardwood dance floor and watched the couples move back and forth.

This was my fourth wedding this season and the only real difference this time being that I decided before even arriving I was going to drink red wine. Why red wine you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It is horribly potent. I mean dance on tables, lamp shades on your head…forget the jerk you just broke up with potent.

As a matter of fact the glass I was holding right now was quite half empty…and wavering a bit, I think. Yes, it was doing that. But, wait. Mr. Blues-eyes was looking at me again. I lifted my glass to him but I’m afraid he misunderstood my gesture for he returned the gesture and started walking towards me…without a refill.

When he was standing just in front of me and my head was tilted back considerably he placed his index finger just on my sternum. "You’ve spilt your drink."

"Hmm?" My loss of vocabulary was unintentional.

"Can I help you with your drink?" Yes. He was finally seeing the light! A man who knew what I needed and would get me more. But he only took the wineglass and placed it on the tray of the passing waiter.

"Now why would you go and do a thing like that?" I had always been a direct sort of person and I saw a spark in his eyes then.

"How about some coffee?"

"With Bailey’s?" That would help too. I was so looking forward to the wine but sometimes you just have to make do. "That would be wonderful."

Blue-eyes lifted his finger and a passing waitress came up in an instant. Perhaps I should be calling him Fonzie. Fonzarelli. The Fonz. I giggled pretty unattractively and Blue-eyes gave me a puzzled look, but I just shrugged my shoulders. I had had a bit of wine already.

"Two coffees, please." I opened my mouth to speak but the stern look on his face stopped me. Why was he frowning at me? I looked down at my elbow. Yes, he was gripping it and pulling me along to a table in the corner.

"Now wait a minute here. I’m certain I’ve given up men for the time being. You’ll understand if I don’t sit with you. I’m just going to go find myself a table full of nice single ladies and get something to drink." Oh, I didn’t have to add that part, did I? Now, he’s looking irritated again.

"Drink your coffee."

"But I don’t want coffee." Who the heck was he to tell me what to do? Although, now that I had a better look at him, he did look somewhat familiar. "Do I know you?"

Oh, that’s just great. Now, I’ve insulted him. "Well, don’t look so hurt. It’s an honest question."
I can tell that the fog is starting to clear. My head is definitely filling in the holes because I’m mortified to find the rhinestone studded belt usually sitting at my waist has slid down over my hips and is in my lap. Now how did that happen? It must have been when I sat down. Hmm. Interesting what can happen when you’re not looking.

Oh…Blue-eyes was coughing…oh, right. Pay attention, Anne! Honestly, I would lose my head if it weren’t attached. "So," I said as I struggled with the belt in my lap, tugging it up where it originated, "you are?"

"Tom. Thomas Edwin Duvall, the Third. You use to call me Ted."

I almost fell off my chair. Ted was a skinny obnoxious older boy who had given me my first lesson in humility. The man sitting in front of me was…well, good-looking, for one. The glasses he wore implied intelligence.

At twelve, I’d proclaimed my undying love and been rejected. I’d been sixteen when we last met up. Sixteen and no smarter than the post I’d been sitting on. Surrounded by my few comrades from school, he’d approached. Said hello.

I’d been holding a grudge, juvenile as it was and so…

I flashed him, jumped from the fence, and walked away.