While I had to give some serious thought as to what I was grateful for it was a relatively easy answer. Some people yearn to go back to childhood and fantasize about easier times I know that crap isn't true. While it is easier in some respects, you aren't the one paying for the bills depending on how your parents handle it you can be made acutely aware of it. Now's no different. I never worried I would go hungry as a kid. At least I thought I didn't. But my battle with my weight now speaks to a whole host of issues.
But I'm complaining. I said I was grateful. But for what? Good friends in adulthood. Especially my best friend Missy Goodman. When there was and is no one she is there with a shoulder to cry on and and easy ear to listen. Whether it's in celebration or decimation she's my sister from another mister.
I'm also grateful for my passion for the arts and the ability to string words together in order to form a tale and be passionate about my stories when no one else might care I give thanks for. (And a special shoutout to my friends Pam and Elise for their friendship.)
To my publishing house Muse and everyone there, you all are the best. And while I wait to hear back on GLADIATOR and work on REBEL you wait to hear with me in a way.
That being said I am most grateful to these people for fueling my creative imagination:
They often serve as the hero and heroine models sometimes with different colored hair in my stories. Sometimes their even the villains instead. Of course I'm most grateful for my sanity and I it to these people for being so open about their own story for that.
Now to top it all off I'm running a contest this week and sharing an excerpt of REBEL. Leave a comment and be in the running for a free copy of my newest release: NO ORDINARY LOVE! And as my friend Elise would say, happy scribbles!
It was night time and like the odd weather the Great Healing was want to do it was making the night more difficult to get through than the day. Blu had managed to find another cave but finding dry wood had proven more difficult. And now, as he worked the bullet from the half delirious rebel the little fire he’d managed to build was barely enough of a heat generator to keep either one of them warm, let alone both of them.
“There we are,” he said extracting the bloodied bullet. “Nasty little bugger.” He went back in to see if any clothing or other objects had been driven into the wound. “And there we go,” he exhaled pulling out a piece of red cloth with a pair of tweezers.
He did his best to disinfect the wound and patch it up. The wind howled as it ripped through him and her, putting out the fire completely. He lifted her up and moved her into the cave. In the past he had encountered bats and bears as well as other humans hiding or camping out. Fortunately they were alone this time.
Her teeth were chattering. And she was pulling at him and murmuring, “No, you can’t go Cain. You can’t go.” She thrashed about, pulling and pushing at him. Starting to cry she was shouting now, “We can’t leave him! I don’t care he’s my husband! Ian! Ian! Ian!”
Her whole body shook as he tried to calm her down. Her body was scorching hot to the touch. His heart broke for her even though his heart normally broke for no one, not even himself. Finally she stopped fighting and she clung to him murmuring, “I won’t let what happened to him, happen to you. I won’t what happened to him happen to you. I won’t let what happened to him happen to you.”
He just held onto her. She was lost in her own grief stricken world and reaching her would be pointless. She had went out in search of her husband, a dead man, and in his place, had found him. He almost felt guilty. If only because the feeling of her soft form against his hard one was a welcome sensation.
He wrapped her tight against him for the warmth but when she relaxed against him he leaned to the wall of the cave and cradled her head gently. She turned and rested her cheek to his chest.
“I may have watched him take the bullets to his chest but I just wanted to bring him home.”
What did he say to that? People died all the time in this world, even with climate changing for the better and the Queen in exile. He said nothing and just kissed the top of her head.
“I was supposed to die. I was primary. But he shoved me out of the way at the last second. I held him you know. I watched all the color drain from his face and…the others in the unit dragged me kicking and screaming back to camp.”
He bunched her hair at her neck and pressed his lips to her temples. “You have a reckless streak a mile wide. You were willing to die for those men today. I don’t think they felt the same way about you.”
“It happens. Familiarity breeds contempt. They don’t really support the Healer out here. I’m an anomaly. It’s why they have me in such a leadership role. I represent what they think is coming. They’re hedging they’re bets.”
“Do you really believe in the Healer and her Gladiator protector?”
“I don’t know what to believe. I know I was gladiator. Favored by one of the Queen’s outlying lieutenants I fought all the time. I never knew rest until one day the Earth shook, the skies opened and everything was just washed away.”
“How’d you survive?”
“Ian found me unconscious and left for dead by the lieutenant and nursed me back to health. From then on it was just us. We were never officially married, but you know we lived it so we were married.”
“No wonder you still miss him.”
“I can’t get the final image of him out of my mind. It blocks everything else out.”
“Do you think had the Healer been there she could have saved him?”
“There’s always talk of that, but at what point do you say enough is enough? Each time she heals someone or thing it nearly kills her, right? I can’t imagine what her protector would feel if suddenly she were gone.”
“Do you imagine it less or more than the pain you feel now?”
“Don’t know. And I wouldn’t care to put that on anybody. It’s cold.”
He rubbed her arms and back and held her close. He felt the goosebumps rise against his touch.
“I just miss him. And I thought if I could just bring him home it might fill the hole he left when he died.”
He said nothing. Holes like that rarely ever got filled. Even he knew that. He stroked her hair.
“You ever wonder if what else they say about the Healer is true?” he asked.
“What? That there’s an Oracle out there somewhere that will change the game all over again.”
He laughed softly, “That’s a crock. There are no such things as oracles, let alone the Oracle.”
“I said the same thing about the Healer until the day everything turned upside down.”
“How old are you, Amelia?”
“Too old for my thirty years. What about you?”
“Too old for my forty-one.”
They both chuckled. “Making it back to headquarters is going to be risky, we should probably get some rest.”
“Moving you now? Too much of a risk.”
“Blu, what’s your real name?”
“Honestly, I dunno. I woke up in the middle of the desert one day and it was the only word about myself that I could remember.”
“I’m going to call you by the name on your tattoo. I happened to see when I was staring at your back.”
“I don’t have a tattoo on my back.”
“Yes you do. I have one too. Only when they branded me they branded me with my name, Amelia. I’m going to call you Luke, because Blu is a stupid name conjured up by stupid people.”
“You calling me stupid?” He asked playfully taking her hand.
She finally looked up at him with a flame of desire in her eyes. “No, I’m calling you too sexy for a stupid name like Blu.”
She was shivering against him but her clothes had long since dried. And in the cave they were buffeted from the wind. The only explanation for the look was that she might be going into shock and think he was her deceased husband.
She took his hand and guided it to her breast and said, “I’m cold.”
His cock, if not swollen before was stiffening now. And although he was not above using a woman for a purely physical release there was something to this girl that wasn’t with the others. He wasn’t in love with her and she certainly was needy. But from the moment she’d looked down at him she’d proven more powerful than the visions that often overtook him and left him unable to speak or move.
She cut him off. “I don’t want to think. I just want to feel. I just want to forget.”
At first he hesitated but when she buried her fingers in his hair he lowered his mouth to hers. He slid his tongue through her lips and began to squeeze and stroke her breast.
He drug his mouth down her chin pressed his lips in soft, heated kisses along her neck. She moaned as he slid his hand up her shirt and unclasped her bra.
Cupping her breast he warmed her skin as he stroked her nipple into a hardened peak. She sank her teeth into his neck and he moaned as she reached between his legs and stroked his cock through his pants. He pinned her to her back and unzipped her pants. Pushing them off her hips he fumbled with his own jeans and kicked them down to his ankles.
His cock sprang out from a nest of dark, moist curls and she spread her legs. Her scent invaded his nostrils and a yearning filled his chest and beat throughout his whole being. He wanted to be with her, he wanted to heal whatever grief or guilt that resided in her. He wanted to help her feel. He wanted to help her forget and find a reason to want to go on instead of just breathe.
She touched his face and looked at him with such pain and desire he couldn’t hold back and buried his cock inside her tight, hot, pussy and pushed in to the hilt. A cry broke from her throat and he noticed tears running down her cheeks as they moved together he brushed his lips to hers.
Her movements were rushed and desperate as she dug her fingertips into his back. He suckled at her breast and she sobbed but he couldn’t tell whether she was in ecstasy or in grief. He released her breast and he placed a brutal kiss to her mouth and she seemed to offer everything but her heart up to him.
Normally that didn’t bother him. It usually suited him. As he stroked out and pushed inside of her he found he wanted more of her. He wanted to brand her the way she had branded him with his name, Luke.
He lifted her thigh over his hip and moved inside of her more possessively. Her eyes burned and flickered with erotic desire.
“That’s right,” she whispered hoarsely, “make me come, make me forget.”
Her words drove him mad. She crushed her mouth to his and suddenly he was surrounded by visions of a time gone by. He was young and a teenager girl dressed in a diaphanous silver dress was staring at him with such hate it chilled him to the bone. He went soft just as Amelia cried out his name. But it wasn’t in release. It was in terror. In worry. In concern.
He opened his eyes and found himself staring down at her. Her hands were at his face. He saw genuine fear there. He rolled off of her and redressed himself. He felt like a fool. He’d fucked plenty of women and never had a vision and gone soft in the middle sex. That was often his only respite in this world.
She dressed and walked over to him and looked down at him. “You went somewhere.”
She stooped down and pulled her hair back into a ponytail.
“You should leave your hair down. It shows just how pretty you are.”
“Times like these I’m not too concerned with how pretty I am.”
There was an awkward silence before he said, “Tell me you at least got off a little bit.”
She laughed, “Would it crush you terribly if I hadn’t?”
“It wasn’t for lack of wanting it to happen.”
“Chill. I had the big O,” her features softened, “it was just nice having you inside of me. Made me forget how lonely I’d been since Ian died.”
He reached out and tugged her into his embrace. It was easy to forget his troubles with her.
“He was a lucky guy to have someone love him as much as you loved him.”
“Where’d you go that made you freeze up the way that you did? Something tells me the bedroom is your forte. Not your Achilles heel.”
He laughed. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so transparent.”
“Well, you were definitely enjoying yourself.”
“The only other person I’d ever been with was Ian.”
“And I take it he was fantastic.”
“Not really, but our love was like this enduring, slow kind of love. He wasn’t exactly a passionate kind of guy. Except for when it came to saving the world and man he believed.”
“Is that why you believe?”
“It keeps him alive in a way, right? He was the only one who ever gave a damn about me. Nothing more passionate than dying for me right?”
He didn’t say anything. Anyone could die for you. It was who had your back while you were breathing that showed what kind of character you had.
“How was your marriage?”
“He protected me. I believed in him. He never failed me. I miss him. It’s like someone’s ripped a giant hole in my soul.”
“That’s hard to get over.”
“I’ve been so busy trying to save the world it’s been easy to keep him alive. But after today I wonder if I’m even doing the right thing.”
A vision opened up before him. It was of him gazing down into her face. Of her in a veil and gown. They stood before a Court of soldiers making an aisle with their swords. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes.
“You did it again.”
“I did what?”
“You went a million miles away.”
“I stayed right here with you,” he said. “Now c’mon, let’s get some sleep. We’ll need to be on the move in the morning.”
She snuggled against him and he cradled her close. Leaning his head back he allowed himself to close his eyes. Amelia was grieving, but being with her was triggering everything about himself he hated dealing with. It wasn’t the first time he’d seen the redhead in his visions. But it was the first time he’d felt the fear of a child looking at a monster. A flaming haired green eyed demon. And he wondered as he drifted off to sleep if she wasn’t just a demon, but one of the keys to his past as well.