Archive for December, 2018


Yes, it’s that week. I’ve been thinking about my goals for next year for a while, in anticipation of the annual online goal-setting workshop Delilah Devlin does, and I think I have them settled finally.  Just the writing goals, that is. If you’ve been here a while, you know I don’t do resolutions for the new year, just writing goals, and sometimes a personal goal or two.

I don’t think my writing goals are too ambitious, but I won’t be slacking if I am going to make all of them happen. My goals the past two years weren’t too ambitious either, but it’s been a rough couple of years for our family, so I feel okay about the things that I have accomplished in the last two years (and am trying not to feel too bad about the ones I didn’t get done).

Dream, Plan, Work, Make it Happen-Depositphotos

 

Next up on my to-do list this month is figuring out a word of the year, one thing to focus on in the new year. I have some friends who have chosen a word of the year the past couple of years, and I had considered it for this year, but couldn’t settle on one–I know I have more than one area that I could improve on or focus on, which made it a bit too challenging to narrow down last December. This year I’m picking one. I haven’t decided which one yet, but will hopefully narrow down my list in the next week so I can whittle it down to one the next week. Have any of you tried this yet? What did you think?

Now I’m off to spend a little time with my husband before I call it a day, but before I go, I have a little story snippet to share with you, from my third shifter story.

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Boris turned to search for Baron, and a flutter of green caught his eye–a loose blouse on a curvy brunette.

Then she pivoted, laughing at the small girl holding her hand, and Bori’s heartbeat quickened–Vivi.

The breeze caught a school identification tag hung around her neck and her blouse again, this time, pressing the garment tight to her, and revealing the unmistakable curve of her belly. Her pregnant belly. It was small, but he knew what that curve meant.

And it was just about the right size…

Vivi’s smile faded as her head came up, and she sniffed the air delicately. Her gaze swung over the crowd of children, and locked on his face. All of the color faded from her cheeks, and her eyes widened.

He watched the child beside her tug on her hand, and Vivi bent back to her for a second, then, reluctance lining her face, released the girl, who leaped into another woman’s arms. Vivi straightened slowly, and he strode through the throng of kids toward her.

Alarm darkened her eyes, and she glanced around, as if thinking of fleeing.

Not a chance.

Three more strides put him in front of her. Her shoulders set, and her wary gaze crawled up to his face.

“Vivi, how nice to see you,” he said softly. He leaned closer and sniffed–the same delicious, earthy scent he remembered, along with a fainter undertone of his own familiar scent. His baby.

“Ah,…”

“Dad!” Baron’s cry diverted both of them. “I’m so glad to see you!” His son flung himself at Boris’s leg and hung on. “Hey, Ms. Todd.” Baron grinned up at her. “I didn’t know you knew my dad.”

Bright color rushed to her cheeks, and her smile was forced.

Boris ruffled his son’s hair. “I do know Ms. Todd,” he said, his gaze sliding down to her belly again. “In fact, she’s having dinner with me tonight.”

Her pointed chin jutted stubbornly, and he saw in her eyes the need to argue battle with her realization of their audience at her workplace.

Boris realized his shock had already dissipated–must be because of their proximity.

How could she have been so close all this time?

He caught himself looking at her belly again and dragged his gaze back to hers.

“You should come have dinner at our house, Ms. Todd,” Baron said, catching her hand. “It’s pizza night.”

Some of the color faded from her face again, and she swallowed hard. “That sounds delicious, Baron, but–”

“But we’re going out to dinner tonight, buddy,” Boris interrupted, “at a grown-up restaurant. Maybe next week she’ll join us for pizza night.” He noted her swallowing more several times, as if the notion of pizza made her want to throw up. “So I’ll pick you up at six-thirty,” he said, more gently than he might have if he hadn’t noticed her discomfort.

“Oh, but…” She stopped when she locked gazes with him again. “Fine.”

He grinned. She hadn’t pointed out that he didn’t know where she lived, probably because she knew it would be easy to find out. Or because she had other plans. He fixed her with ‘The Look’ as India and Tessa used to call it when they were kids. “You will be there,” he added, tone steely.

After a moment, she dipped her chin once, and he took that as agreement.

“Do you have your backpack?” he asked his son.

“Got it. Let’s go, Dad!” Baron wrapped his hand around Boris’s. “See ya next week, Ms. Todd!”

“Enjoy your pizza,” she said with a genuine smile.

Boris turned away reluctantly, noting the way the kids closed in around her again.

And his brain began to function a bit better as he buckled Baron into the car seat, as he listened to Bo and Berdine bicker over who would sit where.

Vivi was pregnant. With his baby.

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I hope you all have a great week with plenty of reading time!

 

 

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Cup of tea, cookies, chocolate – Depositphotos

December seems to always be a busy month, whether it’s day-jobs, family obligations, or holidays. Seems like it might also be a good time to remind ourselves to take some short breaks to retain our sanity, doesn’t it?

When my boys were little, we did a lot of baking in December, way more than I do these days. I would venture a guess that we used to have at least a dozen different kinds of cookies at once, plus a cake or pie of some sort, breads, and occasionally candies.  I never did get my sand tarts as thin as my Grandma’s used to be, and I eventually gave up trying. I did persuade my other Grandma to share her recipe for the nut rolls she used to bake that I loved so much–those aren’t quite right either, but I’m still trying. These days, I may make two or three different kinds of cookies, max, mostly for the boys.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else would bake cookies for us, so we could enjoy them without all the work (and the clean-up!)? I haven’t managed to persuade the boys that baking is all that much fun (when they were littler, they mostly liked the cookies we rolled, cut out and then decorated, and it was messy), and there were a number of years when I was still working retail that I barely had time to make dinner, let alone multiple batches of cookies in December.  These days, my December day-job schedule isn’t quite that crazy, though busier this year than the past few. But it feels like there are still a million things to do.

Which is why I am thinking about a break, and I think you should all take a break, too. At least once a day, take a short break where you can sit down for five or ten minutes with the beverage of your choice (I have raspberry hot chocolate in my mug right now), maybe a book, maybe just enjoy the quiet, and relax, or try to. I’m trying to sneak in some relaxation time today between chores (only one more load of laundry to go!), like doing some reading for a friend, and doing some writing for me, and maybe later a bit of reading.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to sneak much of that in next weekend, because I’ll probably have to go in to the office for a couple of hours, but I will still make the attempt.

Before I get back to my chores, I have a little story snippet for you, from the fifth story in my shifter series.

________________

Joe blinked at the scowl on Piper Finnegan’s face when the door swung open. Somehow, he’d expected she might be happy to see him. Or hoped she would. He cleared his throat. “Hi, Piper.”

“What’s he done now?”

Wow, not even a hello. “Nothing that I know of. I came to see you.”

The wariness in her eyes didn’t dissipate, but she took a step back and gestured inside.

This might not be as easy as he’d assumed. He walked inside, noting the wispy blond hair and wary blue eye peering at him from behind the battered sofa. Her daughter. He smiled, and the eye and hair vanished. Bashful. Or afraid? His smile faded a little. “Am I interrupting anything?” He turned, noting that Piper relocked the door before she faced him.

“No, we were going to start making supper soon, though.”

Joe tamped down the urge to smile at her brusque tone, the not-so-subtle warning in her words. “You should sit, Piper.”

Her mouth tightened, but, after a few seconds, she came away from the door and perched on the edge of the sofa.

Joe dropped carefully on the battered armchair. Satisfied it was sturdier than it looked, he set his elbows on his knees and studied her. Dark smudges marred the fair skin beneath her eyes, and her shiny brown hair was scraped back away from her face into a knot, but wisps brushed her temples and ears. The white blouse she wore was creased, as if it had been bunched under some other garment all day, and her dark grey pants were wet at the bottom. He frowned.

Piper cleared her throat, and he met her gaze again. “Why are you here, Joe?”

He saw her daughter peek around the sofa again, but he kept his gaze on Piper’s face. “I just found out what’s been happening to you because of Chris.”

Her eyes widened a little, and she opened her mouth. A knock at the door made her shut it again, her jaw tightening slightly. “I’m sorry, I need to see who that is,” she murmured as she got to her feet again.

Joe waited while she went to the door, smiling at the little girl who peeked around the edge of the chair at him, solemn and wide-eyed.

“Hey, Piper, just wanted to let you know I got the rent money. You sure you don’t wanna do a trade instead? Keep your money?”

Joe’s attention snapped to the man at the open door–human, maybe forty-ish, slightly paunchy with tumbled brown hair that fell into his eyes, eyes that crawled over Piper’s chest.

“I’m sure,” she said politely, though her fingers tightened on the door.

The man tsked. “Baby, you should reconsider. I gotta lotta people who’d like a nice apartment like this.”

Joe’s eyebrows shot up, as he considered the scratched bare wood floor and the painted metal kitchen cabinets that had to be from the seventies. ‘A nice apartment’? The guy must be high.

Piper swallowed. “I’m sure,” she repeated.

“You an’ that cute little girl–”

Joe shoved to his feet, and the other man’s gaze finally shifted from Piper’s chest to Joe’s face, surprise widening his eyes a little.

“Oh, hey, man. Didn’ know I was poaching.”

Joe glared at him, but when he opened his mouth, he saw Piper shake her head, just a little. He swallowed back his first thought, searched for something else that wouldn’t be out of line, but–

“Or maybe you wanna share?”

His fists clenched, and he took three long strides toward the door and Piper.

The other man held up both hands in surrender. “Or not. Didn’ mean any harm.” He backed up a step, glancing at Piper. “Hey, your boyfriend isn’t stayin’ here, is he?”

“No, and neither is she. Give her rent money back,” Joe growled.

Piper’s eyes widened, and she opened her mouth.

“Now,” Joe said.

The other man’s shoulders dipped a little. “Shit, all right, man. Gimme a minute.” He took another step back.

“I’ll go along.” Joe looked at Piper. “I’ll be right back.” He held her gaze and read the worry mingled with the resignation. It would do for now. He followed the super back the dingy hallway, fishing his phone out of his pocket as they went. He thumbed it on and chose a number from his contacts.

The other man fumbled open a door, revealing a living room with toys and clothing scattered around the floor and on the ratty furniture.

“I need a hand,” Joe said into his phone when his cousin answered.

Anton cleared his throat. “Where are you?”

Alarm widened the landlord’s eyes as Joe recited the address. “Hey, I’ve got the money, man.”

Joe resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Apartment 1D,” he added. “We’re moving someone out.”

The other man didn’t look any happier, but he turned to a small wooden box on the battered kitchen table, opening it and taking out a white envelope. Joe crossed the dingy linoleum and took the envelope. Cash. Gods. And too much for this dump, judging by the feel of it.

He glared at the other man. “Someone should tell your wife about you.” He turned away, only slightly gratified by the cowed silence behind him.

The door to Piper’s apartment was closed, so he knocked again. She opened it right away, as if she’d been standing there waiting. He handed her the envelope as he entered the room. “I can help you pack.”

She lifted wide, worried eyes to his face. “Where do you think we have to go, Joe?”

“You let me worry about that for tonight.” He saw her daughter peeking at him again from behind the chair, and he smiled. “Where should we start?”

Piper sighed, shoulders slumping. “Why don’t you let me do this?”

“It’ll go faster if I help, and one of my cousins will be here soon to give us a hand.”

Distress clouded her eyes. “That isn’t necessary.”

He winked at her. “Mostly it’s to be sure that moron doesn’t give us any trouble. Come on, Piper, let’s go pack.” He glanced over his shoulder to make sure she’d latched the deadbolt.

Defeated, she moved around the rocking chair toward the open doorway on the other side of the room.

________________

Now it’s back to chores for me since my hot chocolate is gone, but I hope you make time for a little break, too. Let me know how that goes for you this week!

Tea, books & heart cookies – Depositphotos

 

 

reading book by fireplace – Depositphotos

Technically, today was a warm one for December in Pennsylvania, but it was wet and gloomy all day, so even though the temps were above normal, it was still a very good day to stay inside and read with a hot beverage at hand, and it looks like it’s going to cool down a lot around here, so definitely reading by the fire weather now.

I realized last weekend I have a lot of short work weeks coming up again. It seems like that time of year at the day-job: I worked only 2 days Thanksgiving week, and left early one day last week. This week, I have Monday and Friday off, but then I have two full work-weeks in a row, before two more short weeks. Two of my days this weekend were spent partially up at the boys’ place, working more on clearing out their basement so they can set it up the way they want now that the old walls and ceiling panels full of 30+ years of cigarette smoke are gone. For a brief moment, the basement looked like it did when I was a kid visiting my grandparents–a wide open space where we could play on rainy vacation days, maybe roller skating (until we were tall enough to hit our heads on the duct work), or just running around playing like kids do. Then a new wall started to go up, in a new spot. When they’re finished, there will be a nice-sized music room for their drums and guitars, and probably my electric keyboard which they used to borrow when they still lived at home.

It makes me happy that my boys are now in a house I’ve spent my whole life visiting. They’re making changes to it, as they should, making it their own. Visiting now makes me think of visits long ago, with my parents and siblings. We used to spend a week with my grandparents each summer, two of us at a time–I have five younger siblings, so that would have been a lot for my grandparents all at once. Some years, we spent Thanksgiving there, and I remember there always being a houseful of guests for dinner, including my great-grandma (my Pop-pop’s mother) and usually a friend of hers, sometimes my aunt would be there with a friend. From our house to theirs was a three hour drive, and it always seemed to take forever to get there. Kid time is different from adult time. Even then, I was a reader, though. Some visits, the weather was too wet for us to play outside, so we might clamber up into the attic to the store of books and toys my grandma kept there. The books kept me entertained, as my books now do.

Though we haven’t emptied it completely, there aren’t any more books or toys up in the attic. And everyone in my family now is too tall to roller-skate in the basement without knocking themselves unconscious on the duct work, but we still love being there, and I love that the house is still in the family for a fourth generation.

I have a little story snippet to share with you today, from the first story in my shifter series, with a little reminiscing on the part of the heroine Tessa.

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Eight years ago…

Tessa bit her lip. How had she managed to get caught in the library when Boris brought his latest girlfriend in for a quickie? At least, she hoped it was just a quickie.

The other woman moaned and made high, breathy sounds while Boris grunted. Tessa squeezed her eyes shut tighter and tried to find something to distract her.

“Oh, baby, that’s so hot,” Boris growled.

Tessa stifled her own aggravated sound and settled back into her corner, resting her head on her knees. At least she’d been in the farthest corner when the pair stumbled into the big room, clothing already half-undone. They didn’t realize she was there. Boris would eventually, though. She hoped he ignored her presence and didn’t make a big deal about it.

Something touched her bare toe, and she jumped, barely keeping in a shriek of surprise. Her gaze landed on Harley, who wore a wicked grin as he eased down on to the floor beside her.

Her heart beat way too fast now, from the scare a little, but more from his presence.

“You into watching, Tessa?” he breathed.

She shook her head, feeling heat rush to her face. “I was here first.” She held up the books in her hand. The sounds from the other pair grew louder.

Harley shook his head. “He knows better.” He glanced in the direction of his brother.

Tessa shut her eyes again when his thigh brushed against hers as he shifted beside her. Her best friend’s older brother. She’d had a crush on him since she was seven. She’d hoped it would have faded by now, especially since she hadn’t seen him in nearly a year.

But no, her heart started beating faster as it always did when he was in the vicinity. That he was pressed up against her side from thigh to shoulder made it that much worse.

If she were still dressed, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. But she’d stripped off her jeans and sweater a couple hours ago and put on her nightshirt and robe for the trek downstairs to the library after India had passed out from sheer exhaustion.

“Oh, Boris, harder,” the girl whined.

Tessa covered her face with her free hand.

Harley’s shoulder shook against hers, and she knew he was laughing, both at her embarrassment and his brother’s slutty girlfriend. “Knowing Boris, this won’t take long,” he whispered near her ear.

That only made her want to laugh, and the effort to keep her laughter contained made her shoulders shake, too, brushing against his.

Still, it seemed an eternity before Boris and his girl of the moment both groaned loudly, their ragged breathing echoing around the big room. Then, as if he’d suddenly realized they weren’t alone, Boris growled. “Come on. We need to get out of here,” he muttered.

Quiet shushing noises meant they were adjusting their clothing, and then soft, quick footsteps left the library.

Tessa let out the breath she’d been holding and pushed to her feet hurriedly, ignoring the cooler air brushing against her side where Harley’s warmth had been only seconds earlier.

“Good night, little Tessa.”

She froze. Little Tessa. He’d been calling her that since she was seven, when they’d met. Apparently he still only saw her as his younger sister’s best friend even though she was an adult now.

She swallowed back the disappointment and managed a wave as she hurried out of the library.

When she got back to India’s suite, her friend was still sound asleep, and Tessa dropped her books onto the low table by the balcony, her interest in reading gone for the night. It seemed there was no way to make Harley see her differently.

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While I’m reminiscing, I wonder if any of you are getting in any good reading now that December is settling in and feels more like winter this week. Let me know if something really great comes out of your to-be-read pile! I’ll be writing between chores on my extra days off, but I am aiming to make some reading time, too!

hot chocolate with books – Depositphotos