Monday, April 30, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Z is for Zero

This is the end of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.

"Are you sure you're ready?" Demetrius kept his arms firmly locked around her. Abby didn't protest. She'd stay in his arms for the rest of her days if she could.

"I'm fine. I need to work. I have to pay the bills somehow." She kissed him and ran her fingers along the side of his face. He needed to shave, but she wasn't complaining. She never thought stubble could be such a turn-on.

"I'm going to ask my cousin if I can work with him. He's a park warden not far from here. Then you can stay home--"

"And do what?" Abby kissed him again and smiled. "I want to work. I like tutoring kids. And the monsters aren't all going to disappear because I killed the one inside of Burrows' head. There're still children out there that need me to protect them." She wouldn't abandon her duty because she fell in love. She didn't have to hear him say it to know he admired that about her even if he wanted to fight every fight for her. It was going to be difficult to do without Tawa to guide her, but wouldn't let the monsters take one more child on her watch.

Dang right they need you. Tawa's voice was sudden and loud. How long have I been gone? You better have been out there doing your duty rather than lazing around in bed with that troublesome fae.

"Tawa!" Abby cried, freeing herself from Demetrius and turning around in a circle as if she could spot the stuffed hippo. "Where are you?"

"I've been trying to get her to laze around in bed." Demetrius smirked.

I'm in your backpack. Where else would I be? Get me out of here. Tawa demanded.

"I can't believe you're alive! When you were eaten by that monster, I thought you were gone forever." Abby snatched her backpack off the hook near her front door and bounced around with happiness. She unzipped it, but there was no hippo inside. She checked all the pouches. There was a pad of paper, pencils, and a calculator. She frowned. "Where are you?"

Right here. Tawa huffed and Abby could now pinpoint the source of her voice. I just needed to get situated into a new vessel after the last one was destroyed.

"My calculator?" Abby gaped. Demetrius burst into a fit of laughter.

Yes, how absolutely embarrassing for you and horrifying for me. Worse than that stuffed toy.

"Hey, I've had this calculator since I was in high school. I really love it." As Abby said it, she realized why Tawa now found herself in the device. Abby had few material objects she valued, and being a math nerd, well, this was one of them. Her cheeks went a bit pink, but she grinned.

I want you to get attached to a respectable object and then destroy this thing so I can move into a proper vessel, Tawa said with every ounce of her self that Abby knew and loved.

"You've lost..." Abby punched a few keys on the calculator. "Zero percent of your bossiness." She hugged the device as Tawa snorted. "I missed you. I'm so glad you're back."

Demetrius came up behind Abby and hugged her from behind. He kissed the top of her head, still chuckling. "I've a few objects that I can help Abby get attached to."

Oh no. No way. Tawa was the expert at vocally shaking her head. I told you he was trouble, Abby. Hey, what about the blood oath? Was it repaid?

"Yes, it was." Abby smiled and turned her head to kiss him. "And now he's working on repaying the second one which I'm determined to take a very long time."

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Y is for Yes

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Burrows howled and tackled Abby. The two fell to the floor, but Abby felt none of the dreadful strength of the monster. The shadows melted or fled from her touch.

Abby rolled them until she was on top and put her hands on either side of Burrows' head. She held her in place with surprising ease.

"I'm sorry, Myrtle, that no one could save you from your monster. I'm sorry that you lived so long with such darkness within you, but you don't have to be afraid any more." Abby's voice was tender. The tips of her glowing fingers dipped into Burrows' head as if it were made of pudding.

The beast screamed, cursed, and then pleaded. The big bad wolf would not win this time. Abby would make sure it never won. That was no world for children.

There was silence.

The monster was obliterated. Not a trace of it left. Abby was certain of it as she removed her hands from the writer's head. The glow faded from her body.

Burrows was breathing. She was unconscious, but she was alive.

Abby didn't pause to wonder about it. She crawled across the room until she could take Demetrius' hand in her own. She tried to will her full body glow back, to demand it bring him back to her, but it didn't come. The ache in her chest came back and she could do nothing for it.

For several minutes, Abby sat there hugging his hand to her chest. It was only when she heard a soft snore coming from Burrows that she snapped out of her sorrowful trance.

"Your debt is paid. Thank you." Abby kissed the back of his hand. It twitched, and with her surprise, she dropped it.

"Don't let go of me yet, darling. I've got several other bits that need kissing too." Demetrius' voice was weak, but he was talking. He was alive.

Abby laughed and scooped up his hand again to kiss it. Then she bent forward and kissed his swollen lips. Her body tingled with sudden elation. "I'll kiss whatever you want. I thought you were dead. That thing had stepped on your head--"

"Yes, my head." Demetrius chuckled and winced as he did so. "It'd take more than a woman stepping on my head to kill me."

"You are pretty damn hard headed," Abby said and kissed his forehead. He was alive. There was still a great mess to clean up and wounds to heal, but Demetrius was alive. She wanted to laugh, cry, and kiss him all over at once.

What kept her from giving fully over to her emotions before was gone. The next time he tempted her into bed, she would say yes. Only if she didn't take him there first.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A to Z Challenge - X is for Xenophobic

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.

The world seemed to shatter around her, but it was only Abby's heart. She fell to her knees, shaking her head as the tears streamed down her cheeks. It was her fault Demetrius was dead. She knew honor meant much to him, but she knew the real reason he stayed. He protected her because he fell in love with her. And she had let him stay because she loved him too.

"Now I have the mighty warrior on her knees before me." Burrows chortled and walked over the fae's body toward Abby. "Brought down not by my fighting prowess, but by her own fear of loss. This is better than when I killed my first Fearless. She was pathetic compared to you."

Abby didn't move. She couldn't take her eyes off Demetrius. She'd never feel his lips on hers again nor hear his sexy, gravelly laugh.

"Soon the rest of the Fearless will fall just as you did. Warriors you might be, but you're all so pitifully human." Burrows spat onto the floor. "Then I will rule. The big bad wolf wins in this story."

"What?" Abby wasn't sure she had heard the beast's mad ramblings, but it was slowly sinking into her head. "All the Fearless?"

"Oh yes." Burrows clapped her hands with an excited little hop and stopped five feet in front of Abby. "Why do you think I wrote all those books? Do you honestly think I have aspirations to be an author?" She snorted. "No, no. I want to rid the world of you Fearless and then the monsters can roam free. I'm seeding the minds of children. Not every one of them will be special enough, but there are more and more out there with imaginations fertile enough to create magnificent creatures like me. Children are not as xenophobic as adults. They will live with us and we will live off them."

The children.

No one in this town had protected the children. And if this beast had its way, there would be no one left in the world to protect them.

Abby's hands grew brighter and the glow slowly worked its way up her arms.

"Powering up for one last desperate attack?" Burrows smirked, rolling her eyes. "Ah, how you amuse me."

The glow picked up speed. It went past Abby's shoulders across her chest and back. The empty ache within her dulled and determination replaced it. Her whole body glowed as she raised her head.

"This your imitation of a nightlight?" Burrows' snark wasn't as confident as it had been a few seconds ago.

"The big bad wolf never wins." Abby rose to her feet. Her purpose had never been more clear. "You will never harm another child."

"I've rewritten the ending." Burrows hissed and struck out at Abby. The first tendril that hit her sizzled and melted with no effect. The monster screeched and lashed out with several tendrils. Each one withered if it didn't retract.

"You're not one of the Fearless. I broke you." Burrows shuddered with rage. "I took from you what you feared most to lose. I will take your pathetic life!"

"I've never feared death. And now you've taken away those I care about." Abby stepped forward, feeling lighter than she ever had. "There's nothing left I fear. You didn't break me. You made me truly one of the Fearless."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A to Z Challenge - W is for Weakness

This is part of an ongoing story written for the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


"I'm not going to make it that easy for you." Burrows laughed and motioned with her hand for them to come at her again.

Demetrius roared and tried to zigzag his way closer to the writer, but with such little space, there was no way his strategy could work. Abby held her ground as he was slapped back again.

"It's just toying with us." Why? What was it up to? Abby knew it was waiting for something. Her usual way to go about it was to think like a child, but Burrows was no child. The monster had grown as the woman had. Yet it was still was a monster. It wanted to kill.

"Toy with this then." Demetrius rammed his club into the desk and sent it into Burrows.

The writer let out a girlish shriek as she was pinned against the wall. Her face contorted into something ugly and unnatural as the beast howled. A dozen tendrils smashed Demetrius into the ceiling and wall. The wood cracked and split as he was repeatedly slammed against it.

Abby cried out and leapt at Burrows. She was thrown against the filing cabinet and landed hard on one shoulder. She didn't drop her swords as she sped to Demetrius and sliced through the tendrils to free him. He slumped to the floor. His breaths coming in shuddering gasps.

"Demetrius, no. Stay with me." Abby laid her swords down to put his head on her lap and brushed his hair back from his handsome face. Her chest was so tight, it hurt to breathe. She used her sleeve to wipe the blood from his eyes. "Please."

"Abby." His whisper was accompanied by a bubble of blood. His hands curled into fists.

"That's right. Don't you dare die on me. Fight. Fight, you stubborn freakin' fae." She couldn't contain her tears nor the trembling of her body.

Suddenly, Demetrius was yanked away and dragged across the floor. Burrows, free from the desk, grinned as he came to rest before her. She put a foot on the side of his face and pressed into it with her heel. He barely had the strength to groan.

"So that's it. Your weakness. I didn't think you were that much into him." The monster's gleeful laugh echoed in the room.

Abby swiped at her cheeks and picked up her swords. Her legs were shaky as she stood up. She wanted to beg, to promise to give the thing whatever it wanted if it let Demetrius go. Her heart couldn't take losing him. She choked back a sob.

"This is what I waited to see. The Fearless isn't so fearless in the end." Burrows stomped on Demetrius' head and there was a crack.

This time, the beast's insane laughter made Abby scream.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A to Z Challenge - V is for Villain

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Abby started to move to check on Demetrius, but had to stop as Burrows rounded the desk. She couldn't turn her back on the thing no matter her desperation to know if Demetrius was dead or not. It had killed one of the Fearless when Burrows was a girl, and she wasn't a young woman. That meant it had several years to get stronger.

"I have no qualms about killing Burrows to kill you." Abby had several, but she wasn't going to let the monster know that. Perhaps if Tawa was with her, she might be able to tell her a way to kill the thing without killing Burrows too, but she was on her own.

She heard Demetrius then, stomping up the stairs and growling curses. Abby felt a warmth spread through her. No, she wasn't alone. She had Demetrius.

"I didn't think you would. That's what makes this even more thrilling." Burrows stopped in front of her desk and pushed her glasses up her nose. It was a silly human gesture, but somehow chilling in this moment. "I've always wanted to be the villain, the big bad wolf of the world. It's hard to do stuck in a pathetic little body."

"So you want Abby's? Not going to happen." Demetrius limped, but it seemed his pride was hurt more than anything else. He readied himself for another charge, but Abby put a hand on his arm.

"It doesn't want my body. It can't leave Burrows." It seemed easy enough to just kill the host to kill the beast, but Abby doubted it was going to be that easy. Something else was going on. Something she hadn't figured out yet.

"Then let's get on with the fight." Patience wasn't one of Demetrius' virtues. He ran head-on again, but wary of the dark tendrils this time. He dodged two and was smacked back into the bookshelf with a third.

There was no point standing around playing Twenty Questions. Abby used the fae's distraction and dove in, targeting Burrows' mid-section. She was swept back, stopping herself just before she fell down the stairs.

Demetrius and Abby made a second attack together, and then a third and fourth. Each time, they were knocked back. Neither of them were able to get close enough to land a hit on Burrows. The attic was small. There was only so much room to maneuver and the monster was aware of every tiny movement.

Abby threw one blade as Demetrius bellowed and swung from the opposite side. He was thrown back and Burrows caught the glowing sword. She held it in one hand, examining it with a childlike fascination.

"Interesting. It burns my essence, but human flesh can hold it. Perhaps it isn't so bad being trapped in this form." Burrows gave Abby a sly look. "Or maybe it's a sign that you can't kill me after all."

Abby recalled her sword and it re-emerged from her palm. "I don't know. Let me run you through with it and see what happens."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday with Blood Red Road

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I've heard a lot of good things about this YA post-apocalytpic story. Moira Young's Blood Red Road has received a lot of rave reviews. At the beginning, the style immediately turned me off. It's one thing if the characters talk a certain way, but I don't want to read it in anything other than dialogue. Though, sometimes it's hard to tell what's dialogue because there are no quotation marks in this book. None. Big lack of punctuation. Bad spelling and grammar, but not because the writer is bad. It's the style. (Reminds me of The Road by Cormac McCarthy style-wise.) Yet if you can make it past the style, it's an intriguing story with high tension. I'm curious to see where it takes me.
Here's your teaser:
I'm afeared that, in the end, the darkness will turn out to be stronger'n the red hot.
The moment I shut my eyes, it comes.
The darkness comes.
The darkness an the dreams. (page 156)

A to Z Challenge - U is for Unhappy

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Abby was ready for anything as she walked up the stairs. An ambush, a giant monster, a hundred monsters, a guillotine whooshing through the air to lop her head off. Everything in her was itching for a battle. She wasn't prepared for nothing when she reached the top.

The attic wasn't a big room. Its ceiling was V'ed and the rafters were bare. A filing cabinet loomed in one corner and a bookcase in the other. There was one diamond shaped window at the far end. The only thing in the room was a large old desk. Burrows sat behind it with the light from her computer screen illuminating her unhappy expression.

"I had hoped it would be you alone, Abby." Burrows sighed and tented her fingers.

"We can arrange that," Abby said through clenched teeth. Demetrius stepped in front of her. "No, we won't."

Abby wanted to push him aside and charge, but she still expected something. She moved to stand next to him, attempting to focus through her sorrow and rage.

"Handsome and chivalrous. No wonder Myrtle went all silly over him. It didn't deter her when I told her he had fae cooties." Burrows shuddered and made a blech sound.

"You know what I am." Demetrius grunted and then frowned. "Myrtle?"

"Not Myrtle." Abby shook her head. Her still glowing hands told her that whoever was sitting there wasn't human. Whatever it was wasn't hiding itself now.

"She's still in here, but I've had control for many years now." Burrows grinned, slow and maniacal.

"Demon." Demetrius bared his teeth, but Abby shook her head again. She knew what it was. She just didn't know how it could be what it was.

"Ah, Abby. You know, don't you?" Burrows chuckled and leaned back in her chair. "Most children conceive of their monsters in the closet, under the bed, somewhere it's dark and scary at night. Yet there are a few that have the darkness in them for one reason or another. And Myrtle had such a powerful imagination. When she created me, she gave me voice and intelligence. No regular monster for this little girl." Smirking, her gaze bore into Abby. "When one of the Fearless came to kill me, she found she couldn't take the life of a child to do so. So I killed her instead. My first kill. My most momentous kill."

Demetrius' battle cry shook the little room. He rushed at Burrows and was hit by a inky black tendril that sent him toppling down the stairs.

"Children are easy to kill." Burrows stood up. The shadows around her so thick the glow from the screen couldn't penetrate them and the window was blacked out behind her. "I'm so glad you're here now, Abby."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Mix

I can't believe there's only a week left of April. The A to Z Challenge has been so much fun. And what a response I've gotten about my story. Wow. Thank you all. I wasn't going to publish the story at all, but a lot of people have been encouraging me to do so. I think I might be a sucker for peer pressure in this.

I've been trying to design a banner for my blog. I came up with an image I like, but when I previewed it on my site, I didn't like it. It didn't seem to fit. I'll have to keep trying. I want to find something that really represents me.

Cherie Reich's Flashes of Foxwick is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. It's a great collection of fantasy pieces taking place in her marvelous world of Foxwick.

Aubrie Dionne's first fantasy romance novel, Messenger in the Mist, is on sale at Amazon for $.99! A beautifully written tale.

Alex J. Cavanaugh is having a contest to celebrate 1500 followers. Congratulations, Alex! He's giving away both his books - CassaStar and CassaFire - and the books will be donated to a school library of the winner's choice. Awesome.

My weekend was a busy one. My son turned two. He's happy, healthy, smart, creative, and beautiful. I lucked out with the little guy.
We already celebrated with my family in Canada on Easter. This past Saturday, we had a barbecue with our friends and decorated cupcakes. Good times.

The little guy looks A LOT like I did when I was his age. Here he is in a mud puddle, and there I am at two years old in a ruffly dress that does not suit a tomboy!
I didn't cut his hair to match mine. I like his page boy look. Mine was that bowl or mushroom cut which I hated as a child.

A to Z Challenge - T is for Tawa

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


"No." The word came out as barely a whimper.

There was an answering roar of pain from down the hall. The monsters had taken Demetrius to the ground. He was sitting on one, pounding another, and a third had just leapt onto his back.

There was no time for Abby to let loose her tears. She swiped at the monster who had swallowed Tawa with her sword, scratching it across the eyes, and then ran down the hall as her other blade emerged from her right hand. She used her momentum to skewer the creature on Demetrius' back. She hopped over him and tossed the dead thing into one of the rooms. She spun and chopped down another beast. Black blood splashed over the walls and dripped on her from the ceiling.

Demetrius killed the other two. Ignoring his wounds, he picked up his club and met the newly blinded monster as it tore down the hall at them. His swing sent it flying against the wall. Abby was there to stake it to the ground and disembowel it. There was nothing inside but shadows and ooze.

"No!" This time, her cry rattled her throat. Abby would have fallen to the floor if Demetrius didn't put an arm around her. A few shuddering sobs escaped her before she could speak again. "Tawa. It ate Tawa."

Demetrius held her closer, stroking her arm. "Tawa went down honorably. But there's no time for mourning. Now is the time for vengeance."

Since the night when Abby had killed her first monster, Tawa had been the only one who ever truly knew her. Her parents had no sympathy for a child's wild imagination. Her friends at school could never know. Then as an adult, no one knew her secret calling. Tawa wasn't only her teacher and guide, she was her confidante and best friend. Her life was a little less lonely with the stuffed hippo.

Now Tawa was gone.

"Vengeance." Abby numbly repeated. Her face hardened as she walked to the attic door and opened it.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A to Z Challenge - S is for Swallowed

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Go to the attic. That's where most of the characters are killed in Burrows' book. Tawa informed them. It's also where Jessica tells Matt that she kissed his best friend, but he still protected her and got eaten.

"What else does the book say?" Abby followed Demetrius up the stairs. Her steps were careful and silent. Her heart was still pounding and her lips still tingling. "Seems kind of soap opera-ishy for a kids' book."

Matt was the older brother of the protagonist. His death helped motivate her. Not soap opera-ishy. I just have a mature appreciation for the story, Tawa said. The attic is through the door at the far end of the hall.

Abby reached the top of the stairs and stood beside Demetrius. She could feel the heat of his body and had to battle the temptation to touch him. She silently chastised herself, demanding focus. There were five doors between them and the closed one at the end of the hall. All five doors opened slowly and green glowing cat's eyes locked onto their prey.

"Of course," Abby groaned. "At the end of a hall filled with monsters."

"I'll clear the way." Demetrius tapped his club on the floor and crooked a finger at the beasts. "Come here, kitty, kitty, kitty."

The answering growls didn't sound feline at all, but the monsters had a big cat's grace as they padded out of the rooms and fell into a synchronized prowl. Demetrius raised his club and roared, barreling down the hall at them. He smashed two against the wall as a third bit into his forearm. A fourth jumped high into the air over the others going for his head.

Abby threw her blade with her right hand. It twirled in the air leaving a pale blue contrail and hit its mark.
The monster fell motionless to the ground, but there were still four. Demetrius snarled and slammed the beast attached to his arm onto the floor. The position allowed him to headbutt another as it charged him as Abby moved forward to join him.

Abby! Tawa screamed.

Turning around, but not quick enough, Abby faced another green eyed beast that had come from a linen closet. It had snatched Tawa from her backpack and, with a technique like an alligator, it swallowed the stuffed hippo with two hungry gulps.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A to Z Challenge - R is for Reflex

This is part of an ongoing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.

Abby's hands glowed and the swords slid out. She gripped the slim hilts, trying to ignore the nervous perspiration. She and Demetrius moved to stand back-to-back with one another. Instinctive reflex.

Who turned out the lights? Tawa squawked from the other room.

"I guess I'm not getting any dinner." His humor didn't hide the tension in his voice.

"I think that's the least of your worries." Abby listened for something, anything, but the house itself didn't even creak. "Too bad you didn't bring your club. Anything else you could use as a weapon here?"

"Ah, but I did bring it." Demetrius reached into his pants' pocket. She glanced over her shoulder and gasped as he withdrew his enormous weapon. It was like watching a cartoon. It wasn't physically possible. Her mouth opened and shut wordlessly.

"Bet you're wondering what else is in my pants." He smirked, clearly enjoying her reaction. She elbowed him. "Magical weapon. It can be a twig or a trunk depending on your needs."

"I'm not going to say anything." There was no way Abby could do without thinking about what else was in his pants. Focus. She needed to focus. "Burrows was expecting us to do something. We search one room at a time."

"Main floor first," Demetrius said. "Then--"

Staircase! Tawa shouted. Something's coming down the stairs!

Abby and Demetrius raced from the TV room. She managed to catch sight of what looked like a black magic carpet hovering beside the bannister before it pounced on the fae. It wrapped itself around him and his club like an inky cocoon. He twisted and fell, rolling on the floor.

The thing was smothering him, and Abby couldn't wildly stab it without hitting Demetrius too. "Hold still!" It was like trying to tell a cat in a bath to stop fighting. He was a fighter. He couldn't stop himself.

Let him fight it. Go after Burrows. She's the real threat here. Tawa barked.

"No. Dammit." Abby cursed. She tried to shallowly slice at the monster, and though it squealed, it didn't release its hostage. Her heart hammered in her chest. She refused to let him die. She stepped on either side of Demetrius and trapped him between her legs. She raised her right sword and brought it down through the most bulky part of the cocoon.

The monster wailed and let go of Demetrius. He gulped in a huge breath. It shuddered before flopping down to lay motionless between her legs.

Demetrius stared at her and then at her blade still embedded in his club. "You could have hit me."

"There's nothing about you that big." Abby yanked her sword free and stepped away. She scooped up her backpack, hitching it over her shoulders.

"That you know of." Demetrius picked himself up. "You should have listened to Tawa. If Burrows gets away--"

"No." Abby replied too quickly. The thought of leaving him behind to die tore at her soul. She cleared her throat and motioned to the stairs. "Besides, she's not going to leave. All monsters want to fight. And you deserve better than death by blanket."

Demetrius grabbed on of the backpack's straps and pulled her to him. He kissed her. Nothing gentle about it. Teeth clinked as his tongue rolled around hers. Her world spun and went out of focus. When he pulled back an inch, all she could see was him.

"You saved my life again. If I had two lives to pledge to you, you would have them." His eyes bore into hers. "Honor or not, you already have me. Blood for blood, breath for breath, heart for heart."

Abby didn't have time to respond before he let her go, turned, and marched up the stairs. It wouldn't have mattered. His words left her more breathless than the kiss.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A to Z Challenge - Q is for Quiet

This is part of one continuing story throughout the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


The house at the end of the road. I wonder how much it's like the one in the book. Tawa piped up from the backpack.

"It could be exactly the same for all it matters." Abby rang the doorbell. Her breath made small impatient clouds. Her head still hurt, but from lack of sleep rather than her injuries. Her wrist was wrapped up and she had taken some Tylenol. She was at the best she could be without more time to rest and heal.

"Do you hear that?" Demetrius cocked his head to the side.

"What? The cheesy jazz music Burrows just turned on in there?" Abby snorted.

Hey, that's Sarah Vaughan. This is classic jazz. Tawa asserted.

"No," Demetrius said in a quiet tone. "There's no nightlife. No birds or animals. It's only seven. No kids or even teenagers out in the neighborhood."

Abby had been too lost to her own thoughts to notice the eerie quiet of the night. Even if it was cold out, it wasn't late. She didn't get more than a few seconds to nod at Demetrius before the door swung open.

Burrows smiled at Demetrius with lips painted too red. Then she noticed Abby and her smile faltered. "Oh, hello. Good evening."

"A good evening to you, my dear Myrtle. I hope you don't mind. My sister was feeling better and I didn't want her sitting around the hotel by herself, so I brought her along." Demetrius grinned and walked inside without waiting for an invitation. He unbuttoned his jacket and slid it off. He rolled his big shoulders and dropped the jacket over the back of a chair.

"Oh, well, I suppose. I didn't make enough food for three." Burrows fiddled with the rings on her right hand. She stepped back and motioned to Abby. "Come on in then."

"Thanks. And it's all right. I'm not hungry." Not for food, anyway. Abby walked near to Burrows, but her hands didn't glow. What was different in the store the first time they met? She closed the door behind her.

What's it look like? Is there a curving staircase? Tawa inquired. Two of her characters had their first kiss on it and then one of them was killed in the same spot.

"Nice place you've got here. I see you got a lot of your inspiration for your books from your own home." Demetrius answered Tawa's question as he took a slow tour around the main room. He came near Burrows and threw her a sexy little smile. "You look lovely tonight. That color brings out your eyes."

Abby suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Burrows wore a hideous green sweater that made her look more like a toad than anything else. She undid her coat and eased the backpack off, setting it on the floor. She bent as if settling her bag and opened the top so Tawa's head popped out.

"Thank you." Burrows cooed and flushed. "Um, perhaps your sister would like to go into the TV room and watch something while you and I have dinner?"

Demetrius looked over at Abby and she gave him a subtle shake of her head. She wasn't going to wait for them to have a leisurely meal before they questioned Burrows. They needed answers as soon as possible. The monsters would come out as soon as children started going to bed. There was no time to waste.

"If you don't mind, darling, I think maybe we could all go have a sit-down. Our conversation got cut short earlier today and I prefer to work up an appetite." Demetrius gestured to their hostess to lead the way. Burrows looked as if she was going to protest, but finally nodded and took them into a smaller room where the furniture was more worn in and a flat screen TV hogged the space on the far wall.

"Have a seat. I'll just check on the food and make sure it doesn't get cold." Burrows exited the room with a smile over her shoulder at Demetrius.

Ten seconds later, the power went out. The house was dark and quiet. Too quiet. Just like it had been outside.


(Blogger pre-scheduling problems: For some reason, Blogger isn't automatically posting for me. I don't know why it's suddenly doing this. Anyone have any ideas?)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A to Z Challenge - P is for Plan

This is part of one story covering the entire Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


The moment the door of the restroom opened, the remains of the monster vanished. The college-aged goth who entered only saw Abby sprawled out on the floor. "Uh, are you all right?"

"I'm fine," Abby replied, picking herself up with the aid of the sink. "I hurt my ankle recently and there was a bit of water on the floor and I slipped."

"Oh. Okay." The goth shrugged and locked herself in one of the stalls.

Her wrist and ankle throbbed in unison. Abby limped out of the restroom and paused to stare out the windows to reassure herself of a certain fact: it was daytime. A monster attacked her while the sun was up. It wasn't possible. Okay, well, it obviously was possible, but it shouldn't be.

Abby exited the cafe and breathed in the cool air. People walked by her, and she got a few strange looks. She wanted to tell them stranger things were going on in town than seeing a tussled woman without her jacket outside in November. And whatever strange thing was going on knew she was there to stop it. It underestimated her by sending one monster after her, but it wouldn't do so again.

"Abby." Demetrius called as he came outside. When she didn't turn, he put her jacket over her shoulders and nudged her chin with his fingers to turn her head his way. "Abby. What's going on?" His eyes narrowed. "What happened?"

"I was attacked in the restroom." She slipped her arms through her jacket sleeves and pulled it tighter around her. "By a monster."

"What?" Demetrius' face hardened and his hands clenched into fists.

"It's dead. It's gone." Abby waved it off. The monster was no more. There was something bigger ahead of them. Something the writer was involved with. "Have you learned anything from Burrows? She has to know something."

"No, nothing useful. I can't manage to steer the conversation in the direction I want to go." He grunted with the admission, and Abby couldn't help but smirk a little. "All she wants to talk about is me, and how she enjoys chocolate truffles and long massages."

"Maybe if you give her a massage, she might talk what you want to talk about."

Demetrius made a small choking sound. Abby had to muffled a snicker.

"Okay. Here's the new plan." Abby hugged herself tighter. "Go back inside and tell Burrows that I'm not feeling well. You're going to take me back to our hotel room so I can rest. Invite her to dinner, but say you want to have a private dinner. Since I'm at the hotel, the other logical option is her house. I bet she'll suggest it on her own, but if she doesn't, do it yourself. She won't say no to you. Then we'll both show up tonight and have a chat with her."

"Done." Demetrius turned and went back inside. Two minutes later, he was back and handed her the backpack. "Dinner at her house at seven o'clock."

"Good. This has to end tonight." Abby didn't protest as he put an arm around her to lead her away from the cafe. He was warm and strong. She needed that right now, because the night would bring the cold and then she would have to be the strongest one. If she wasn't, she was certain she would die tonight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday with Slave to Sensation

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I finally managed to pick up the first book in Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling series, Slave to Sensation. I've always wanted to get my hands on it, but it was never at the library or used book stores. She's one of the best paranormal romance writers out there, and I'm devouring this book.
Here's your teaser:
The Psy thought the changelings stupid because they sacrificed the wisdom of their elders in favor of young blood. The Psy didn't know anything. (page 66)

A to Z Challenge - O is for Obscene

This is part of one story through the month of April.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Abby couldn't sit at the table any longer. Demetrius had all the subtlety of a rampaging ox. Yet for all his dramatic gestures and cliched lines, Myrtle Burrows was enthralled.

Excusing herself to go to the bathroom, Abby breathed out a sigh of relief when she entered the cafe's empty restroom. One of the lights flickered making a soft sizzling sound. She had expected to do all the questioning of Burrows, but the other woman would barely look her way. The fact her hands had glowed when she first met Burrows threw her off, but she hadn't meant for Demetrius to take it all over.

She sat down first of the two stalls. Abby hated seeing him behaving like that with another woman. She hated herself for feeling that way. She knew he was only acting. Besides, he made it clear he wanted her and she had turned him down. It was her own doing.

When Burrows met them in the cafe, Abby's hands didn't glow. She even shook the author's hand. Nothing.
It didn't make sense. The light flickered again and made her jump when it popped. Dark shadows settled in the stall with her. Only the single light over the entry door remained.

Abby shook her head and stood up. She should get back to the others. She was sure the answer was with Burrows. She walked to the sink and frowned as she saw her hands glow.

Looking up into the mirror, a hideous melted face grinned at her from the darkness in the far corner before it leapt at her. Abby didn't have time to scream as she whirled around, dropped low, and let her blades slide out. She slashed at the monster, but it flew up and over to rebound off the wall and come for her again.

She hissed with the pain in her ankle as she twisted and stood, holding her ground against the thing. It laughed lowly; the sound seemingly coming from all around her. A trick for amateurs.

Abby crossed her blades, and when the monster was near enough, she used them like scissors to cut through its skinny neck. The grotesque face fell to the right, but from within the ragged black robes, a second beast kept coming at her. It was like an obscene version of Russian nesting dolls.

It slammed into her chest and Abby fell back onto the tiled floor. She kicked up, sending it sailing to smack against the wall. She threw one sword pin it there, lancing it through one of the empty eye sockets. Abby was ready for the third monster when it launched itself out of the second's robes.

Standing and slipping on the floor, her swing missed and the thing grabbed her wrist with a bony hand. It smashed her hand against the sink, but couldn't force Abby to drop her sword.

"You're mine now. What a tasty meal you'll make." Its voice was a dry rattle, but its teeth didn't look old and brittle. Its mouth yawned, opening wider to impossible angles. 

The blade disappeared from the wall and emerged from Abby's free hand.

"I'm not on the menu." She jammed the blade up under the monster's chin and out the top of its head. No more came forth as it sank into a black mass onto the floor.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z Challenge - N is for No one

I'm writing one story over the course of the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


Abby's hands had never glowed in the day, in front of other adults, nor at the introduction of a human. Since it was obviously morning and there were adults around, it meant Burrows wasn't human.

"Good morning, Miss Burrows." Demetrius pushed Abby to the side, making the writer focus her attention on him. And oh, did her attention focus on him. "My sister here is a big fan, but she never told me how lovely you are. Talented and beautiful. A rare combination." He smiled that killer smile of his and leaned on the table. His gaze was smoky under long lashes.

"Oh, well, uh, thank you." Burrows fumbled, blushing and pushing up her glasses with her index finger. "It's always, uh, nice to meet my fans. Please, call me Myrtle."

Abby left the book on the table and stuffed her hands into her jacket pockets. She could stop the swords from emerging, but not the glow. She couldn't do anything here. She wasn't even sure what she should do. Burrows didn't look to be a threat. She was barely managing to talk when faced with Demetrius' charm. There as no such thing as a false alarm with her powers, though.

What's going on? Where's the danger? Tawa asked from within the backpack, urgency in her voice.

That was the question. Was Burrows dangerous? Or was there something around her? Abby didn't dare say another word with Demetrius continuing to chat up the writer.

Burrows absently signed Abby's copy and pushed it back to her without even looking. She smiled and giggled like girl at his compliments.

Retrieving herself from the shock, Abby picked up the book and stepped back with her hands hidden in her sleeves. She thought he was laying it on too heavily, but then Burrows agreed to meet them for coffee later at a nearby cafe. He gave her a parting wink and sauntered out of the bookstore, not waiting for his "sister" to catch up until he was outside.

Abby was barely limping as she hurried after him. Once out of view of the shop's windows, she put the book in her backpack and poked him on the arm. "What was that all about? That wasn't the plan."

"I saved you from revealing yourself in there. I had to give the woman something more interesting to think about than glowing hands." Demetrius shot back. He grabbed her forearms and looked at her hands. "They're not glowing any more. Why where they? I didn't sense any beasts in there and Burrows is obviously human."

"I don't know." Abby huffed, yanking herself free from his grip. "Something is up with her, obviously. And the children...." She shook her head as her chest tightened. "How does no one see something is wrong here?"

Because adults only see what they want to see. You know that, Tawa replied in a sage tone. These people probably see a virus going around and making children ill.

"And all the missing children?" Abby asked.

Runaways. Kids have all sorts of weird pacts these days, Tawa said. Also, children eaten by monsters leave a sort of strange void. The parents know they're gone, but their feelings are numbed. It's a phenomena that's never been explained, but my theory is that it's part of the beasts' defenses, so the adult population never finds out about them. Just like the monsters' bodies vanishing in the morning after you've slayed them.

"No evidence of the beasts and thus they don't exist." Demetrius ran his hands through his dark hair, muscles tense.

Abby had never failed the children she protected. She hadn't thought of what might occur if no one was there to save the children. The tightness rose from her chest to her throat. This had to stop. She couldn't allow this to go on any longer.

"Burrows has something to do with this. We will find out what it is." Abby turned toward the cafe across the street. She had no idea what was going on or how to start the search, but she would figure it out. She had to figure it out.

Monsters were breeding from children's minds inspired by Burrows' books. This was the writer's hometown. The children here had no one fighting for them.

Until now.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Return of the Jedi, uh, I mean, GeekWriterMom

This post has nothing to do with pirate kitties, but my head has been fuzzy with travel hang-over. I've got so much to do, it's nice to take a moment to breathe and giggle over an lolcat.

Hello! I'm back from my visit with my family. It was great to see everyone, but it's rough traveling with a toddler who hates to travel. Every hour, he asked to go home. Poor little guy. We learned he talks in his sleep and can climb out of his playpen. He slept very well - we all did - when we got home.

I've lots of catching up to do. Welcome to my new followers and thank you to everyone who left such awesome comments. I'm so happy you're loving the story. The A to Z Challenge has been incredible!

My first rejection of the year was waiting for me when I got home. Ah well. I'll try the story elsewhere. I have to write something for April yet too. Oh boy.

My son turns two this coming Friday. I need to prepare for his party. We're barbecuing and having a decorate your own cupcake and sundae dessert bar. Good times!

With his turning two, I've been busy making his annual photo book on Shutterfly. I want to do one for him every year throughout his childhood. It's so much fun to create books on that site.

Okay. Time to visit some of your blogs!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A to Z Challenge - M is for Mousy

This story spans the entire month of the Challenge.
If you're just joining me now, please start with A is for Abby.


"Don't puke on my boots." Demetrius wasn't smiling, but she could still hear the amusement in his tone and wanted to smack him for it.

"I'm not going to puke." Abby leaned against the trunk of the tree, waiting for the world to right itself. In the Ways, she couldn't tell up from down or that there was solid ground under her feet. Demetrius hadn't been bothered by the Ways at all. Of course, he had been traveling them all his life, but she still wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of seeing just how badly her mind had been tossed around on their short stroll.

By the sounds your stomach is making, I think you're going to puke, Tawa said.

"I'm. Not. Going. To. Puke." To prove her point, Abby straightened up and pushed away from the tree. She swayed a bit, but held herself up. Walking, well, that was going to be another story.

"It's a wonder you're still conscious and sane. The Ways have driven humans to worse things than puking in the grass." Demetrius smirked a bit this time.

Abby opened her mouth to yell at him for not telling her that bit of information before taking her into the Ways, but she snapped her mouth shut. She never asked and they needed to get to Wisconsin fast. She had too many other things on her mind when they left her loft. Like how his body had felt pressed to hers and how he so easily set her heart pounding.

"Okay. We find a road and a cab. Burrows is doing a signing at a local bookstore this morning." Abby dared take a step and didn't fall over. One foot in front of the other. Step, limp, step. Don't think about Demetrius. Children's lives were in danger. She adjusted her backpack over her shoulders. Tawa was near weightless, but the book seemed to weigh fifty pounds. "I'll talk to her and see what I can find out."

"We'll talk to her." Demetrius corrected her.

I have a few questions of my own I want you to ask, Tawa added.

"You'll wait outside. You'll likely scare her." Abby shook her head.

"Or she'll be so charmed by my good looks that she'll tell me anything I want to know." He flashed her a grin.

Abby rolled her eyes and then sighed. The fae had a good point. She had read Burrows' bio on her website. Burrows wasn't married. A handsome man might be more welcome than just another fan. A flash of possessiveness went through her at the thought of letting Demetrius do such a thing. This helped to make up her mind. "Fine. All right. You're Plan B. But only if I don't learn anything from her."

That pacified Demetrius and the taxi ride to the bookstore kept him quiet. When they got out of the cab and she paid the driver, she was going to make a smart remark about Demetrius puking on her boots. Seeing his pale face, though, she held her tongue. Instead, she remained silent as he took a moment to compose himself.

The bookstore was called The Window Seat. There were half a dozen cozy nooks with great views for people to sit in and read. When they went inside, the line to get a book signed was curled halfway around the building. Abby groaned under her breath, but walked to the end of the line and waited her turn.

"I'm going to walk around," Demetrius said near her ear and disappeared from her sight amongst the shelves.

Abby spied him a few times walking the perimeter of the store pretending to browse. She let her gaze wander. After a few minutes, a small girl bumped into her leg as she hadn't seen where she was going.

"Sorry," the girl cringed and hurried off to catch up with her mother before Abby could say it was okay.

Abby didn't know why the child had seemed afraid of her. In fact, it was too quiet in a store full of children. There was no laughter or squealing. None of them were running willy-nilly around the shelves or shouting at each other. The children looked overly tired, big circles around many of their eyes. They weren't getting any sleep. She didn't have to reason out why. This was far worse than the area she lived.

Demetrius came up behind her and startled her. He laid a reassuring hand on her shoulder.

"There's a bulletin board at the other side of the store." He was whispering. Why was he whispering? "It's covered in missing children posters."

How could no one else see there was a problem? Why wasn't the media all over the fact not just one but several children were missing? Where was the Fearless that was suppose to watch over this area? There were too many unanswered questions. More so, too many big unanswered questions.

Abby almost didn't realize she was at the front of the line until Demetrius nudged her. She blinked and put on a friendly smile as she stepped up to the author's table. Burrows was a small, mousy woman. Her glasses sat on the tip of her nose and her brown sweater had too much fuzz. She didn't look like a woman who wrote scary stories.

"Hi. It's nice to meet you." Abby took the book from her backpack and held it out to Burrows. At the same time, her hands started to glow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A to Z Challenge - L is for Lips

I'm writing one story over the course of the Challenge.
If you're just joining me, please start with A is for Abby.


"Burrows lives in Wisconsin. Only six to seven hours in the car." Abby limped into the kitchen area. The washer swished quietly in the corner. She was a fast healer, but she'd be feeling the wound on her ankle for days. She tried not to wince as she balanced and attempted to make herself a sandwich.

"No." Demetrius shook his head and grabbed one of the stools from in front of the island to slide it around to her. He took her firmly by the hips and sat her down on it. "You need to rest and heal." His hands stayed upon her, and though she threw him a furious look, she didn't tell him to take them off.

"I consider sitting in the car for hours on end resting." Abby was very aware of his body behind hers as she opened the peanut butter jar and plopped a big blob onto a slice of bread. "You just don't want to sit in the car for that long. You can stay here and rest."

"I'm not leaving your side again." His hands tightened on her. "And we wouldn't need the car. I can take us north in a matter of minutes through the Ways. Once you're healed." His breath was warm on her neck. His woodsy scent enticed her, whetting her appetite for something other than a sandwich.

"We can't waste any time. Children will die if we don't do something about this now." Her knuckles turned white with her grip on the butter knife. She twisted her head. Her mouth a butterfly's breath away from his and her eyes not meeting his intense gaze. "I can't let any children die."

Demetrius pressed his chest to her back. His nose grazed hers and heat raced through her veins. The throbbing in her ankle was forgotten as a new ache blossomed between her legs. She needed to keep her mind on what needed to be done to stop the monsters. She needed to turn her head just a fraction of an inch more.

"We won't let any children die. We'll go, but let me handle everything. I can carry you." His fingers stretched out over her hips, slipping under the hem of her shirt to touch bare skin. She sucked in a breath.

"Don't be ridiculous." Abby snorted, immediately regretting how unattractive that was. She set down the knife and turned, intending to put a few inches more between them and tell him to quit treating her as a fragile doll. His mouth immediately mashed to hers and words were forgotten. His tongue parted her lips, demanding entrance. She didn't deny him. A wanton whimper escaped her, and her heart hammered in her chest.

His hands eased upward, taking her shirt with them. When his thumbs skimmed the underside of her bra, she managed to find her voice. "We don't have time for this. We need to leave as soon as possible."

"We have time." Demetrius insisted, kissing down to her neck and nibbling upon her sensitive flesh. She gripped his biceps and clenched her thighs.

"We need to go." Abby's voice wobbled. She should be pushing him away. Not just because she had a job to do, but because this could never be anything other than a fling. She was one of the Fearless. Her duty came first and it would claim her life sooner than later. He was one of the fae. His world wasn't hers. He would leave after his blood debt was paid. And she didn't do flings. Already she felt too much for him.

"We have time." He repeated, arousal making his voice deeper, more gravelly. His mouth met hers again, and then he paused to smile in that sexy way of his and say, "We have to wait until the wash is done. Can't leave without Tawa."

No, they couldn't leave with Tawa. The tension between Abby and Demetrius was smothering at times, and he was her only gulp of fresh air, but no matter how much her body cried out for his, she couldn't do it. A warrior she might be, but she didn't know how to defend her heart. He was too easy to love.

She gasped. He seemed to think it was from his touches and pressed himself more firmly to her. Abby had thought the L word. No. This couldn't happen. Not now. Not ever.

She pushed him away, shaking her head. "No. No, we can't do this."

"Abby." He breathed out her name as if in worship and nipped at her ear lobe as he attempted to pull her back to him.

"No." Abby pushed harder and yanked herself from his arms. "Don't touch me. Keep your mind on what we need to do. We're leaving once Tawa is clean." Demetrius didn't fight her on it and didn't get angry. He stepped back, brows furrowed. She turned away from him so he couldn't see her tearing up. She hoped he didn't see her hand shaking as she went back to preparing her sandwich.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A to Z Challenge - K is for Knees

This is part of a story continuing through the whole Challenge.
If you're just joining me, please start with A is for Abby.


"Get out of there now!" Demetrius bellowed, trying to grab Abby from the window. His broad shoulders prevented him from slipping through.

Abby ignored him. She stood with knees bent, ready to spring into action. She nearly gagged with the fermented musky scent of the things as it threatened to stick to her throat.

A swarm. Best strategy is to keep moving and use broad, sweeping strikes. Tawa instructed. And don't give them a chance to jump on you all at once.

"Really? I thought that would be the best plan, considering how fuzzy and cute they look." Abby swiped at the first brave beast that pounced at her. She sliced it in half and it fell like mush to the floor.

"Dammit, Abby! Get out!" Demetrius snarled, pounding at the sides of the window. He then let out a roar of frustration and disappeared from sight.

With a squealing cry, the monsters attacked. Abby spun fast, low to the ground. Her glowing blades made it look like the circle was unbroken. Many of the creatures met the same fate as the first beast, but two of them landed on their target.

Abby screamed as their long teeth bit into her. One of them managed to scrape against bone. She skewered the monsters and three more launched themselves at her.

Abby! Tawa cried. Retreat to higher ground. Go for the stairs!

A violet monster attached itself to Abby's ankle as she dove over the horde and landed in a somersault. She didn't land on both feet, but stretched the leg out that the critter clung to and smacked it on the cement floor. It squeaked, but didn't let go. It gave two others the opportunity to jump on Abby's back.

The basement door burst open and Demetrius flew down the stairs. With his first strike, he squashed the one latched on to Abby's ankle and then yanked the others off her back. As if with the same motion, Abby turned and slammed her swords through the pair of beasts. Black blood formed shiny puddles.

Demetrius leapt over her and to one side to crush a turquoise one. Abby pushed herself forward on her knees to skid across the now slick floor. She swept her blades out to the sides and killed most of the remaining monsters. Demetrius smashed the last two with a victorious grunt.

They searched the basement in silence for any beasts that might have been hiding. Not finding any more, Abby limped to the center of the room to face Demetrius. She felt as though she might topple over from blood loss at any moment, but sheer will kept her standing. He was still breathing heavily as he eyed her wounds.

"I told you I could take care of it," Abby said as her swords disappeared.

"And I told you not to go in without me." His reply was low with his displeasure.
Neither of them moved.

So now that you saved Abby's life, your blood debt has been paid.You can go home now. Tawa's voice was crisp and business-like.

Abby's stomach flipped. She bit the side of her tongue to keep herself from begging him to stay.

Demetrius stared at her for another few seconds and then shook his head. "Abby would have killed them all eventually. Her life wasn't in any danger. My blood debt still stands."

Abby wanted to grin and throw her arms around him. Her mouth twitched and her body relaxed. No matter how good she thought she was at hiding her emotions, she spied his little smirk as he offered his arm to help her up the stairs.