Have a seat and grab an insulated mug. I’ve got hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee. Choose your pot, they’re labeled. Pick your choice of a Snicker-doodle, Chocolate Chip or Peanut butter cookie from the plate. Yep, I baked them myself. Lets find out a little about Loren and see what CrossTown is all about. Thanks for joining us!
I have a few questions for your Loren, lets start with what defines you as an author? As a person? Are they one in the same?Always try to set the bar a little higher. Choosing when and where that is appropriate can be difficult, but I’d say it is the same as an author and as a person.
What inspired this particular story?A horror scene done badly made me want to write a scene I felt more appropriate. The story grew far beyond that, but that’s the first seed.
What secret do you use to blast through writer’s block?Work on more than one thing at a time. If you’re slowing on a project, turn to a different project.
Who is your favorite character of all of the books you’ve written and Why?The White Wolf and permutations of that character, the acerbic wolf-spirit, crop up again and again. That character archetype runs deep for me, obviously, so I’d probably say he’s my favorite.
What inspired you to write?I’ve loved stories and storytelling as long as I can remember. Eventually I had enough stressors I turned to writing as a release, and then it became something more.
How long have you been writing? Over 20 years.
Did you tell friends and family that you were writing a book? Or did it take a while to come out and tell friends and family you were a writer?I was through my first mss before I let anyone see a few of the first pages. After that I had a few regular readers.
Do you see yourself in your characters? Absolutely. Not just the main character. All those voices are facets of our own personality as writers.
What do you want your readers to take away from your books?The best fiction entertains and informs, enlarges our world to some extent. If I succeed there, I have succeeded completely.
Where do your story ideas come from? If they come to you in the middle of the night, do you get up and write them all down?I will jot down lines, images, ideas at any time of the day or night if it captures me.
Do you find it easier to write from a male or female point of view? Why? My main characters tend to reflect my perspective, within limits, so male is generally the primary point of view, but the world is a better place for having strong women in it, and so are stories, whether the main character or not.
Why do you write what you write? Contemporary, paranormal, suspense, etc. I write my interests, which tend to be history, mythology, and science and technology. F/SF is a natural follow on to that.
If writing is your first passion, what is your second? Martial Arts.
What do you like to do when you are not writing? Martial Arts, spend time with family, cook, motorcycle, read.
You’ve got a time machine, a cloak of invisibility, and one hour. Where would you go, and what eavesdropping would you do? It’s a where and when, of course—and such a tight timeline. I’d probably like to go back and see Stonehenge being built and used. Probably wouldn’t understand the language but could get a slice of insight into use and building techniques.
A peek between the pages of CrossTown:
Roads and streets run like veins and arteries through the beating heart of CrossTown. Each runs through all manner of distant and not-so-distant possibilities.
There’s a theory in modern physics that posits a universe for every decision we make. Each time we choose, right or left, high or low, vanilla or chocolate, we split into separate universes. A vanilla me here, a chocolate me there, a rocky road with pistachio me somewhere else, and some poor lactose intolerant me further down the line. The dominant me is my subjective reality. In CrossTown, the probable mes collapse into the dominant wave, but all those wandering Ways continually wash other alternate lives, lives meant to be lived in CrossTown, up on its jagged shores.
The names of roads are choices; the turning and branching of roads are choices; roads are physical manifestations of their builders’ decisions…
Everywhere, every place and every time where man or something like him has lived, roads run into one another, branch, disappear here and reappear over there as if they were quantum tunneling. They run, meet, part, cross again, and form a bewildering Mandelbrot set of linked probabilities.
Beware the road outside your front door, for it is both old friend and passing stranger.
All those choices, all hooked together, comprise a vast sea of possibility. A knowledgeable traveler can ride the currents in that sea to unimagined destinations…
CrossTown is the crossroads of probability.
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged CrossTown, fantasy, Loren W. Cooper, Science Fiction by firstname.lastname@example.org with no comments yet.
Give a warm welcome to Cat Dubie, author of The Queen of Paradise Valley!
Pull up a chair, grab a drink of your choice from the cooler, a Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter cookie from the plate, and let’s find out a little about Cat Dubie and Del and Dianna from The Queen of Paradise Valley.
Thanks, Tena, for hosting me and my characters on your blog today! Del and Diana are ready for their interviews –
Great lets start with this handsome hunk sitting next to you.
The name’s Delaney Russell, Del to my friends.
Tells us about the real you— What event in your past has left the most indelible impression on you?
[short hesitation] When I was ten I watched my Pa die in a cold, lonely cave. He was sick, couldn’t work, so we packed up a wagon and headed to Colorado to see if his old partner would help us. He flat out refused. I spent a long time planning vengeance for Pa. But when I met the old partner’s daughter, everything changed. And not for the better, not for a long time.
What do you most value?
[Smiles] Well, my wife would say my property, my horses, then her. I’d say the reverse. [another smile] But I’ll add honesty and trust, two things worth fighting for.
What is the type of woman you want to spend the rest of your life with?
I once loved the sweetest, kindest, truest woman I’d ever known. We planned a life together, but she died too soon. I later discovered it was a dream, never meant to be. Now I found a new reason to live and love with an unpredictable, exciting, passionate, stubborn, ornery-at-times woman who sure lives up to her royal nickname. It was a hell of a hard road getting where we are now. She almost killed me, but she also saved my life. And yeah, she’s my forever woman.
What do you consider most important in life?
Well, it’s different for everyone. Some say family, some say wealth, some say power. These days, I say it’s most important to be alive, to wake up every morning beside someone you love.
What is your biggest secret?
Most of my secrets were revealed in the book. Read it to find out. [winks]
Thank you Del, we appreciate your time. Now Diana, it’s your turn in the barrel, so to speak.
I’m Diana Rennie, now Mrs. Russell.
Who are you really? Who were the biggest role models in your life?
Ha! I didn’t have any growing up – when I was three my mother whisked me from the ranch where I was born to New York city. She wanted only to sit on the top rung of the Society ladder. Her frantic pace eventually killed her – liquor, morphine, belladonna. Could say my role models were my teachers, especially my piano teacher. Also the house servants, who took pity on me and were wonderfully kind. I didn’t have a real role model until I met my father again. [sighs] But he was far from perfect, as I sadly discovered.
What kind of man do you want to spend the rest of your life with?
You know, in New York I never had an ideal man in mind. Mother groomed me to marry a wealthy man, even a titled European one. I had other plans. And when I went to Colorado to live with my father, I had no thoughts about spending my life with a man. I was happy to live there and learn all I could about him. Then I met – you could say butted heads with – the one man who completely changed my life. I disliked him at first, we argued about everything, and when I discovered he was my partner I was determined to get rid of him. But he saved me again and again, from outward forces, from myself! Even when I sure didn’t deserve his help. I could easily say he’s strong and handsome, but he’s so much more. And amazingly he loves me. I can’t bear to think of life without him.
What kind of man would you never choose?
I’d never choose a man whose life revolves around his belongings and riches, or who had no compassion for others.
What is most important to you in life?
At one time it was my ambition to become a world renowned pianist. Then it was my father, who I thought was the greatest man in the world until I discovered he was only human. Now it’s Del, the ranch, and the family we hope to have someday.
What is your biggest fear?
[laughs] I used to fear many things but had perfected a way of hiding it. It took some harrowing experiences and a special man to shrink those fears enough to kick them away. Now my biggest fear is probably waking up and finding the last years were only a dream. If it’s a dream, I never want to wake up.
Cat it your turn. Tell us a little about writing this story. Was it fun or difficult? Do your characters always act as you expect? Are you a plotter, or fly (write) by the seat of your pants?
I wrote The Queen of Paradise Valley over several years. The first draft was over 200,000 words. I put it away for years, and dusted it off every now and then to do rewrites and editing. The writing part was fun, the editing was harder, as I had much to learn about the process. My biggest problem – I started the story too early, made complex [I thought interesting] lives for each main character. Several chapters later, the actual story began. I took out those early chapters [killed my darlings!] and it finally made cohesive sense. Each edit I made whittled the word count down until I had less than 100,000 words.
The characters go in the direction I lead them, but then insist on having the final word. They say and do things that alter the plot, but I don’t mind – that’s the fun part! And as I reread my story I sometimes get surprised. Did I write that? Hmm, I don’t remember that paragraph. Maybe I was in a fugue state and someone else was dictating the story? [The joy of writing!] A plotter or a pantster? I’d have to say both. I write scenes out of order as they come to me or as the characters dictate, but then I have a big timeline of events into which I fit the scenes I’ve written, and find which scenes I still need.
Tell us a little about The Queen of Paradise Valley:
Diana Rennie, daughter of a wealthy rancher, attempts to persuade mystery man Del Russell to leave his grievances behind and forgive her father for past mistakes. Her careful plan goes awry and results in a shotgun wedding and a prison sentence for Del.
Four years later, Del is back in her life with a vengeance—back for his rightful share of Diana’s ranch, back to prove he isn’t the criminal she thought he was, back to finish what the two of them started years ago in a passionate daze. And he isn’t going anywhere, no matter what beautiful, treacherous Diana does or says to try to get rid of him.
A Peek Between the Pages of The Queen of Paradise Valley:
“I don’t have much left to wager. I doubt you’d want my saddle, and I won’t part with my horses.” He again rubbed his jaw. “My share of the mine.”
The cards slipped from her hand. “Are you mad? For forty dollars and a pretty—”
“I had higher stakes in mind.”
“What stakes?” Now his eyes were like sunshine reflected on a rippling silver lake. She gathered the cards, and the stones skipped against her skin. Mouth dry, she repeated, “What stakes?”
“If I win, you’ll move into my bedroom, share my bed.”
Thrills snaked down her back, jumbled visions careened through her mind. She forced herself to concentrate on reshuffling the cards. Wind whistled down the chimney, and the flames flared, then sizzled and spit when sprayed by melting snow.
She met his gaze. “If I win, you’ll sign your entire share to me.” He nodded and she went on, “If you win, I’ll go to your bed, but for one night only. Is your share of the mine worth so little to you?”
“Is your pride worth so much to you?” A soft laugh. “Should we put it in writing? Deal the cards.
Maybe your luck will hold.”
You can find The Queen of Paradise Valley at most online retailers including:
About the Author:
Cat Dubie believes she was destined to write. Her love of words began early – she was making rhymes soon after learning to talk. With a crayon in hand she first drew stories, with a pencil she wrote them. As for reading, she was the girl who always had her nose in a book, the one who read with a flashlight under the covers or, when the moon was full, sat by a window for hours laughing, crying, loving characters whose adventurous lives wouldn’t let her sleep.
She has traveled the world in books. She has traveled back in time and into the future in books. Her keen interest in history determined the nature of her books, and the first Historical romance novel she read, settled the genre.
After working for various levels of government, she retired and now lives in the beautiful province of British Columbia, where she indulges in her need for creating stories about romance, adventure, passion, mystery, love …
Social media links:
My blog: https://catdubie.blogspot.ca
It was wonderful having you, Dell and Diana with us today. Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Queen of Paradise Valley.
Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged Cat Dubie, Contemporary, Ranch, Romance, The Queen of Paradise Valley, Western by email@example.com with 23 comments.
Well, I thought I start 2018 off in a blaze of glory! Today I’m joining Chrys Fey’s Flaming Crimes Blogfest: Christmas Cactus Saved From the Flames!
Prompt: The whole idea is the list something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire? Colorado has had it’s share of wildfires in recent years. We posted a list of things to be saved in case of evacuation. Keep in mind, This prompt is not meant to make light of how serious fires are. It’s meant to be different from the traditional question of If your house caught on fire, what’s the one thing you’d grab?
Now, when I say ridiculous, I mean something that is important to you (something worth grabbing), but other people might find odd. After your family, pets, and important items are safe and sound (that includes anything writing related), what is the one odd thing you’d want to grab from your home?
In my case, it would have to be my forty-five year old Christmas Cactus. It’s approximately three feet high, including it’s pot and four feet across. I bought this Christmas Cactus when it was in a two inch pot. It caught my eye because the plant itself blooms orange and red flowers from the day I bought it and still forty-five years later blooms both red and orange. The flowers are approximately four inches long. That Christmas Cactus and I have been through three moves, various family trauma and it enjoys a place of honor in my bedroom in front of it’s own two large west-facing windows. It loves the afternoon sun. My Eclectus parrot enjoys it too.
It might seem strange but I am nearly as attached to the Christmas Cactus as I am to my dog, parrot and turtle. Yes, ridiculous, but still what I’d save! What would you save?
Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304
Digital Price: 4.99
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13)
A little about Flaming Crimes’-
Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.
Donovan escapes what could’ve been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they’re trying to build.
Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.
Their lives may just go up in flames…
A Peek Between the Pages of Flaming Crimes’
Beth’s heart clenched at the sight of the smoke stacks, as if a fist had driven through her chest and was squeezing the meaty human drum, paralyzing it. She gripped the door handle. The faster Donovan drove and the closer they got to home, to those tiers of billowing, dark smoke, the more anxious she became. Donovan’s words replayed in her head.
It looks like it’s right next to our house.
Her heart woke from its coma and punched her ribcage like a boxer attacking a speed bag. Perspiration dampened her underarms and slicked her palms. Please, God, no. I can’t lose my home again.
The smoke stack was soon right in front of them, right where their home was located. Donovan turned down their street, and the tower of smoke loomed above them. Fire consumed the empty lot next to their house. Flames ate their way up the bark spines of pine trees. Orange flickers slithered along the length of the branches, reaching toward the roof. The fire was descending upon their forever home as a raiding army would race toward a city with swords drawn.
Donovan floored it down the street and brought the truck to a jerking stop in the driveway. He jumped out of the truck without taking the key out of the ignition. Beth shoved the door open and stumbled out onto the driveway.
“Call the fire department, pack some clothes. I’m getting the hose.” Donovan raced toward the fire and slipped around the side of the house.
Beth dug her keys out of her purse and ran to the door. Her hand shook as she unlocked it. The heat of the fire beat against her. The rancid smell of burning nature clogged her nostrils. After two failed attempts, she grasped the key with both hands and managed to get it into the hole. She threw the door open, not even bothering to shut it again, and let the smoke roll in after her as she dashed up the stairs. In her bedroom, she grabbed the portable landline headset and jabbed 9-1-1. While she waited for the operator to answer, she hurried to the closet. She yanked down two duffle bags from the top shelf. They fell to the ground. Out the window, she could see red, orange, and yellow flickering sparks drifting in the breeze.
“9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”
“There’s a fire right next to my house,” Beth panted as she rattled off their address.
“We’ve received calls about it. Firetrucks were dispatched. They should be there soon.”
“Hurry,” Beth told her. “Tell them to hurry.” The fire was nearly at their doorstep. If they took too long, there wouldn’t be a house left to save. Their entire neighborhood would be gone.
“Try to stay calm, ma’am. Help is on the way.”
Beth hung up and dropped the phone on the carpet. She ripped clothes of the hangers and tossed them into the duffle bags. Now was not the time to worry about wrinkles. If they lost everything, at least they’d have clothing, wrinkled or not. She shoved in the contents from their drawers—underwear and socks—until she could barely zip the bags shut.
Donovan stood at the edge of their property, spraying the flames burning the pine trees and creeping along the grass, when she ran back outside to her car. The trunk was blanketed with soft dove-gray ashes. When she opened it, they slid back and fell through the crack into the trunk. She hefted the duffle bags inside and dashed back into the house. In a large white garbage bag, she stuffed in their bed comforter and two pillows. Then she snatched a backpack from the closet. Before she left the closet, she grabbed one last thing that hung at the very back—her wedding dress. She wasn’t an overly sentimental woman, but she didn’t want her dress to become ashes. After depositing the garment bag with the bedding, she hurried to the filing cabinet that contained all their important papers and family photos. She tucked the folders into the backpack.
Outside, she found Donovan had brought out their ladder. She craned her neck to look for him and found him standing on the roof, near the edge, attacking the fire with their garden hose.
About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.
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Posted in Authors' Secrets Blog and tagged Chrys Fey, Disaster Crimes, Flaming Crimes, Romance by firstname.lastname@example.org with 11 comments.
Have a seat and grab an insulated mug. I’ve got hot chocolate, hot cider and coffee. Choose your pot, they’re labeled. Pick your choice of a Snicker-doodle, Chocolate Chip or Peanut butter cookie from the plate. Yep, I baked them myself. Lets see what LM Pruitt’s The Damned Series is all about. Thanks for joining us!
Jackson.” She stuck out one hand, something in her eyes daring me to not take
it. “And you are…?”
I took her hand, making my reluctance more than obvious. The second my skin
made contact with hers, a spark of energy shot through me so violently I
couldn’t help but gasp. Swallowing, I said, “What brings you to Savannah?”
for work.” Without releasing my hand, she slipped out of her seat and slid in
to the one across from me. Leaning in, she lowered her voice and said, “I was
fully prepared for it to be another dull, routine trip but now… well, now I
think I’m glad I got assigned this route.”
fluttering in my stomach wasn’t unfamiliar—I was far from a virgin and I’d not
only done Mardi Gras and Spring Break in Miami but I’d also spent a month in
Europe after my college graduation. But this… this was something different. And
not because it was caused by a woman.
Visceral. Almost feral. Like she’d tapped in to some hunger I wasn’t even aware
I’d had and now that I did the idea it would go unfulfilled was almost too much
work with me.” She lifted our joined hands, brushing her lips over my knuckles.
“I have a feeling you would be… amazing.”
as if all my attention was focused on the small bit of skin where she’d kissed
me, tendrils of lust spooling out through the rest of my body in lazy ribbons.
“What do you… what do you do?”
souls.” Her eyes darkened, her breath catching in her throat and I realized for
the first time I wasn’t the only one affected by our contact. “Or rather the
energy from them. The actual soul is taken up by someone else—it doesn’t
matter, the details can be explained later.”
I trailed off, part of me sure she was joking and an even larger part of me
sure she wasn’t. “Really. Why?”
She flicked her tongue over her lips and I sucked in a shallow breath. “Because
This time when she smiled, a dimple appeared in her left cheek and I was caught
with the sudden urge to kiss it. “More specifically a succubus.” My confusion
must have shown because she laughed. “I fuck people for their energy—sometimes
to death, sometimes not. It all depends.”
do that to me?”
shook her head, her hair sliding across her shoulders, the tips curling over
the swell of her breasts. “I told you. I want you to work with me and my
sisters and Lilith.” She leaned closer and I breathed deep, the scent of her
perfume almost painfully exotic. “I want you to join the ranks of the Morning
Star and spend eternity tempting the weak and the wicked.”
suggesting was lunacy. Madness. Even if I believed her, the idea of giving up
my life to be some sort of demonic minion was ridiculous. Although….
giving up? A lifetime spent catering to David’s whims, denying myself the
things I truly enjoyed because it would be bad for his reputation or his
political chances or his weight? A lifetime attempting to please my parents and
knowing it would never happen because nothing would ever overshadow Joanne’s
sacrifice? A lifetime being nothing but the substitute?
would I be giving up?
nickname I hated hearing from David sounded and felt like a caress coming from
Lacey. Lifting our hands again, she ran her tongue over one of my fingertips
before nipping lightly. Her voice was heavy with promise when she spoke again. “Come
play with me.”
breathed out the single word before leaning over the table and crushing my
mouth to hers.
When you died, what did you see? And please don’t insult us or waste our time
by claiming you saw nothing.”
for a moment, torn between doing just that and telling the truth. There was
something about meeting the be-all-end-all as far as the creation of everything
went which made me want to keep our conversation to ourselves. On the other
hand, I didn’t relish having to go through the whole dying thing again and I
had a feeling the key to my miraculous return rested in those few minutes when
I was, to quote the younger dead, all dead.
white room. And a woman.” I paused, hesitating another moment before
continuing. “She said She was the Power.” I took a deep breath, holding it a
few seconds before exhaling. “And when I asked if She was going to kill me, She
said no, it wasn’t my time to die. And then I was back here.”
enough.” Joanne shook her head, her hair sliding over her shoulders. “Michael,
it’s not enough. You know how She is. She could have been playing one of Her
fucking word games and any minute now—.”
The almost giant next to her knelt down, kissing the side of her head before
murmuring something in her ear. Whatever he said reassured her enough to have
her letting up some of the death grip on my hand although she still didn’t let
go. Michael turned to Gabriel, standing silent and watchful in the back of the
room. “Can you speak with Her?”
less likely to lie to me?” Gabriel snorted. “You know She doesn’t play
that’s a lie. She was willing to sacrifice innocents to keep you whole, if not
happy.” Gideon’s gaze flicked to the tall redhead who, if I was keeping up with
the names being thrown around earlier, had to be Lucinda. “She’ll answer your
questions, even if She doesn’t want to.”
She wouldn’t answer me. I said there was a good chance She would still lie to
me.” Gabriel sighed. “But fine—as the patron saint of women and children—.”
your resume.” Joanne’s voice was so acidic every person in the room, archangel
or not, flinched. I lifted my brows but stayed silent. This Joanne wasn’t the
one I remembered. This Joanne seemed as if she could not only reduce a person
to tears with a few words but she would enjoy doing it. “Now go do your job.”
Gabriel offered a bow which was just a shade shy of mocking, his smile dying
away when he glanced at Joanne. “Right. I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
flash was enough to blind me but thankfully sulphur free. Although I was
feeling less and less like death with each passing second, I wasn’t quite ready
for the scent of brimstone.
him off, didn’t you, Mom?” Olivia widened her eyes, blinking rapidly. To be
fair, the majority of the people in the room were reacting the same way, the
only exceptions being Joanne, Barry, Raphael, and Michael. “You know how he
feels about being ordered around.”
you feel.” Joanne’s face softened ever so slightly, her lips curving upward.
“In case you wondered where you get that particular quirk from.”
on my brother.” Michael kissed her cheek again, tucking her hair behind her ear
and studying her face. Whatever he saw there had him nodding. “Why don’t we all
go in to the other room for a few minutes? Leave the two of you alone?” He
glanced over at Raphael and Gideon, standing silent and watchful with matching
looks of suspicion. “Do you think that will be a problem?”
human, hell, yes—she had multiple seizures leading up to a massive cardiac
episode and she was dead for damn near ten minutes.” Gideon paused, sighing and
shaking his head. “But I’ll admit, I don’t have a goddamn clue what’s happening
here. Even when the Power is generous enough to provide a miracle, She still
tends to make it hurt, just so you don’t mistake her kindness for weakness.”
please.” Joanne’s voice broke and once again the entire room responded,
although this time there was a definite degree of panic. People all but tripped
over themselves in an effort to exit the room, the sole exceptions once again
being Michael, Raphael, and Barry. “Just a few minutes.”
Fine.” Gideon shoved Lucinda toward the flap which apparently served as a door,
nodding rapidly. “If anything happens, yell.”
we’ll be outside.” Olivia scooped up Douglas, ignoring his whines to stay with
Nana. She paused with one hand on the flap, glancing over her shoulder. “Do you
want me to go get the others?”
Joanne shook her head, clearing her throat before continuing. “I need a few
shifted her gaze to Barry. “Are you coming?”
Striding across the room, he nudged his way between me and Joanne, kissing the
top of her head and then mine. “Let me know if you need anything.”
as to who his statement was directed toward and right then it didn’t matter.
Joanne nodded, stretching up and kissing his cheek. “I don’t know why you were
there but thank you.”
was a nod before he followed Olivia out of the room.
next door.” Raphael leaned across the bed, giving Joanne a hard, brief, almost
possessive kiss. Glancing at Michael and lifting his brows, he said, “Call if
you need anything.”
hero, girl.” Michael didn’t kiss her, instead simply pressing his forehead to
She glanced at me, her smile clearly forced. “I promise.”
exchanged another look before leaving the room, the flap dropping shut behind
him. For long minutes, there was only silence. Finally, Joanne sighed and shook
fuck have you gotten yourself in to?”
Cam strapped the saddle bags he’d somehow managed to stuff all my clothes in to
the little bike—not quite a motorcycle but bigger and less dorky than a
scooter. When I didn’t answer right away, he stepped over to me, grabbing my
face in his hands and squeezing. “Coniglietto. Is it done? Did you take care of
own ears my voice sounded dull and lifeless. Considering the fact I felt high
as fucking kite, I could only assume it was shock. “I took care of her.”
he meant, not exactly, but I’d taken care of her the best way I knew how.
of horrible things, on purpose and accident, and I had no doubt I would do more
horrible things still. But I’d be damned even more than I already was before I
actually killed my sister.
pressed a quick, hard kiss to my forehead before steering me toward the bike.
“I have little doubt the archangels will be here soon—so we shouldn’t be.”
going?” It didn’t matter. I had, for all intents and purposes, hooked my wagon
to his. If anyone threw doubt on my commitment to the so-called cause, all Cam
would have to do was point out what I’d done to Joanne. Sure, there might be
trouble when it came out she wasn’t actually dead but it could all be explained
away as yet another newbie mistake.
taught us how to not kill people. Not the opposite.
Prague.” He settled himself on the bike, gesturing for me to do the same. He
handed me a helmet, his lips curving upward when I stared at it blankly.
“Safety, little rabbit. And a disguise. It’s safer for us to blend in at the
hands felt thick and clumsy as I struggled to strap on the protective headgear
and I cursed under my breath when Cam finally took pity on me and did it
himself. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
little rabbit.” He brushed his lips over mine before flicking the tip of my
nose. “Now, let’s go take over the world, hmm?”
around, continuing to study the skyline. “I’m fine.”
the morning. You should be asleep.” He didn’t sound angry about the fact I
wasn’t or the fact I was standing outside in late September in sleep pants and
a thin cotton tank. If anything, his scolding sounded as if it was for form and
nothing else. “It’s been a long day for all of us.”
turn around, studying Barry with the same intensity I’d shown the various
buildings of Prague. “Why are you mad at me?”
He pulled a cigar from the pocket of his sleep pants but didn’t light it,
staring at the tip for a moment before sliding it back in his pocket. “I’m
tired, Julie. As I said, it’s been a long day. The next few days—weeks,
rather—promise to be equally long. We all need to sleep, to keep our strength
up for what lies ahead.”
touched me since we got back.” Since he stood in front of my sister and ripped her
heart out and then walked away without a backward glance. “You’ve barely said
anything all night long.”
tired.” He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a
long sigh. “There’s been quite a bit of upheaval in the last thirty-six hours
or so. Quite a bit. Forgive me if I’m not my usual charming self. You have more
than enough people here to pay you attention if you’re feeling uncared for.”
I meant.” I turned back to the city view, widening my eyes and blinking rapidly
in an effort to keep the tears at bay. I didn’t have a problem with using tears
as a weapon when they were called for but I wouldn’t use them with him, ever.
“You’re right. It’s late. Go to sleep. I’m fine.”
I’m not going to sleep until you do.” I heard the sound of metal scraping over
concrete and glanced over my shoulder to find he’d pulled one of the patio
chairs free of the table. Sitting down and stretching out his legs, he said,
“As long as you’re here, I’m here.”
only frustrate us both, Julie Elizabeth, and we’ve had enough frustration for
the day.” He slid further down in the seat, almost slouching, and crossed his
arms. “As long as you’re here, I’m here.”
out before I even realized it was in my mind and I bit my tongue, already
regretting it. “Never mind. You don’t have to answer that.”
When I didn’t move, he uncrossed his arms and held out one hand. “Please.”
balcony, I took his hand, curling up in his lap and resting my head on his
shoulder. We sat in silence for a few minutes before he cleared his throat. “I
don’t know any other way to say it. I can simply say as long as you’re here,
I’m here. When you want to leave, we’ll leave.”
we go?” Joanne’s face in the instant after Barry verbally sucker punched her,
Asmodeus’s face the second after I shot him, flashed through my mind and I
hunched my shoulders as if the memory carried a physical blow. “There’s no
place left. We burned all those bridges today.”
bridges is they can always be rebuilt and when they are, they’re stronger than
before they burned.” He brushed my hair away from my face, stroking one hand
down my back and pulling me tighter against him. “But since you don’t want to
leave, the discussion is moot.”
done the wrong way is no longer the right thing.”
way to do this differently, we would have taken it.” We’d tried to take it.
We’d tried to meet the others halfway. Nobody—Lilith, Asmodeus, the Power,
Morning Star—wanted to bend.
to break them.
begin today, there is no turning back. You and your supporters will be branded
traitors. There will be bounties on your heads.” He pressed his lips to my
hair, breathing deep. “On all our heads. You’ve never lived through a war.”
question but I answered anyway. “No, I haven’t.”
through more than my fair share, even considering my age. When it’s impossible
to die from manmade weapons, you tend to fight in wars simply to alleviate the
boredom.” He turned, pressing his face in to my hair. “And they’re nothing
compared to supernatural wars. So far you’ve only seen the pretty side of Hell.
There are things which will be unleashed which should never exist out of
shook as he stroked my back and I wasn’t sure if he was trying to comfort me or
himself. “Some things can’t be unseen or unfelt. You’ll carry it with you until
the day you die.”
to scare me?”
warn you. Up until now, everything about this war has been theoretical. Until
today, no true shots were fired.” He drew back, his face unnaturally somber,
even for him. “I know you did what you had to do and I don’t fault you for that
officially started the war.” I nodded. “I know. I’ll live with it.”
worse.” He pressed a kiss to my forehead. “They always do.”
get better.” I had to believe that. If I didn’t, then there was a good chance I
was wrecking and ruining lives for no reason at all. I pressed my lips to his,
lightly, for comfort more than anything else. “Things will be better. We’re
going to make them better.”
We didn’t have any other choice.
It was wonderful having you with us today LM Pruitt. Please feel free to stop by anytime. Good Luck with The Damned Series!
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