Nemesis by JC Black

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I love you. Three little words which made Chris Caldwell run as hard and as fast as he could from any woman. Love had nothing to do with his desires; he had plenty of women wanting to share his bed for a night of wild abandon. Until Isabella…
She turned his world upside-down with her sexy body and sultry smile. Chris originally thought to just make her the next of his conquests. Instead she turned him upside down and in love for the first time. She made him want the trappings of love and maybe even marriage. Something he has never desired in his life.
But as Chris goes to bring in yet another shipment for the drug lords, his family is betrayed. Will he make it home to his beautiful woman or will the Feds finally take him down in a fiery blaze?

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Just a taste of Nemesis...

Seeming to not take ‘no’ for an answer, she stepped into the shower. As I turned around to face her, she wrapped her arms around my neck, pressing her hot smooth body against mine. She opened her mouth and covered mine with her tender red lips as her warm, wet tongue started dancing back and forth deep inside my mouth. Who did I think I was kidding? I can’t seem to help myself when this beautiful woman is involved. She had gone to such great lengths to deceive me just for the chance to have sex with me. I cupped her ass with one hand as I fondled her firm breasts with the other. My god, she’s so damn hot I can barely hold on to her. The shower stall was small and I pushed her against the wall, letting the hot water spray on my back. She put her hand behind my head to bring my mouth closer to hers. We groped each other like savage beasts; our lips remained in a passionate kiss which seemed like it could last forever. I swear, I’ve been with a few women, but never have I felt this animalistic desire to want to fuck another woman as much as I wanted her. I couldn’t wait another moment, needing to have her right now. So I picked her up, with our lips still locked in a passionate kiss, carrying her off to my bedroom. As I laid her wet body on my bed, she let go of me long enough for me to find the harden nipples of her breasts with my mouth. She started moaning as I sucked on each one and then buried my face between the soft mounds of her beautiful breasts, her hands pulling at my hair. I took hold of her hands and held them above her head as I ravished her body with kisses, biting my way up her neck and finally stopped on her succulent, sizzling, hot lips. She took my lower lip in her teeth and then sucked my tongue into to her mouth for a long passionate, wet kiss. “Oh god Chris, I want you inside of me. Please take me now!” she said, breathing heavily against my mouth. She lifted her knees and spread her legs to give me access. I thought about taking her right then and there; fucking her hard and fast, but the sight of her legs spread along with the beauty of that small patch of blonde hair fashioned in the shape of a heart, beckoned my tongue like a magnet to the soft moist lips protecting her womanhood. I buried my tongue deep inside until I found her sweet spot, and as I tortured her clit with my tongue, she grabbed me by my hair holding me tight against her.

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The Nympho Series, Books 1 & 2

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Christopher Caldwell grew up during a time of fast cars, hi-speed boats and beautiful women. Due to his experience in boats from working in a family own boatyard he quickly became popular with the local smugglers. It wasn’t long before the drug lords found a way to put his talents to work. When Christopher reached maturity he found that he had a strong sexual appetite. His first sexual experience was with a married woman that led him to have many meaningless sexual encounters without the comfort of love. That was until he met Megan and her sister Amber. Megan is a naïve and beautiful redhead who fell in love with Chris right away. Amber was just the opposite of her younger sister, she was gorgeous and had a sassy attitude to match. But, Christopher was confused by the two women, he wanted them both. He also had dreams and aspirations of becoming a lawyer. But before he could pursue his dreams he must first repay a favor from a notorious family friend and bury some deep dark family secrets of his involvement with the drug lords.

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Book Two and Chris is back, along with his love for beautiful women and his insatiable sexual appetite. Amber and Megan still can’t pin him down to just one of them and there are others trying to get his attention. He wants to go to school, learn a trade, and be successful but he soon finds out that he can’t outrun his secrets.
The crime family looks him up, leaning heavily on old relationships and Chris doesn’t want to see that debt hung on either his brother, Frank, or his brother, Tony. Chris agrees to fulfill this one job, with the assurance it will be the last. And can he walk away from Amber or Megan? He knows he can’t tell them the truth. He is torn with the knowledge this could keep him from ever finding a woman he could love, who could accept this part of him.

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A little something about Jc Black

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J.C Black was born in Memphis, Tennessee and grew up in the Florida Keys. I grew up in the ship building trade and became an expert in my field at a young age and made me very popular in the boating industry. I grew up in a time that the local fisherman were losing their homes and boats so they turned to smuggling to make a living. A lot of the people were friends of mine before they chose a life of crime and remained my friends for many years after, until the law caught up with them and put them in prison. I’ve been writing on and off for the last couple of years, but writing romance came from my love of women. Yes, it was a good life with the coconut trees, the great sandy white beaches and of course the beautiful women. I still get inspiration from the beautiful women and the sunsets. I love taking long walks on the beach, riding my Harley and enjoying life. I loved growing up in the Florida Keys, it was like paradise. Beautiful sunsets to inspire my life and beautiful women to inspire my writing. I love fast cars and fast boats and sometimes I would enjoy a race or two. I loved the sea and would spend as much of my time as I could I out in the ocean fishing, but of course that was at a time you could come home with a cooler full of fish. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger, but I had the whole Caribbean to explore so it didn’t matter back then. If you ever find yourself down my way, I will be the guy leaning against a coconut tree on the beach, watching another beautiful sunset and if I happen to say “hi” don’t be shy.
~JC Black

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It’s okay, or it will be.

Full disclosure, this has absolutely nothing to do with books, writing etc.

As I may have mentioned before, I write not only as Kim Mullican, but also as Anita Cox. It seems I can manage one or the other, but maybe not both. Or maybe I can, but I’m not doing very well marketing my Kim Mullican novels.

Okay, this might have something to do with writing. I digress.

Courtesy of Stock Exchange

Courtesy of Stock Exchange

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, where Murphy’s Law seems to be targeting you with laser precision?

Today was beautiful. We finally reached 71 beautiful degrees, so I took a business call outside to enjoy the weather. Elderly neighbor hobbles across the lawn toward me to yell about kMart closing. Dutiful daughter speaks with him while I dart inside so as not to ruin my call. *goodbye sunshine*

After storyboarding, I decided it was time to go to the bank and do my weekly grocery shopping. While out, I decided I was thirsty and made the healthy decision to purchase a 44oz Diet Coke. The bubbly fountain goodness really hit the spot with the first sip. The second sip felt like cool heaven as it graced my tongue. Everything was okay.

So, I get home with a trunk full of groceries, about 43 oz of Diet Coke and my daughter, who dutifully helps me carry everything in. Upon unlocking the front door, the 250lb Mastiff busts through, excited that Mommy is home. He canes me in the ass with his 3 foot long tail. OUCH! With watery eyes, I carry in my purse and drink, placing them in the kitchen so I can go back out to start grabbing groceries. I received two more lashes from excited giant.

Once everything was inside, the dog finally calmed down. I thought…I thought it was safe to start putting things away. Reaching in a bag, I grab frozen goods and open the freezer door, which swings open a lot faster than I had intended, knocking 43oz of Bubbly Goodness to the floor. *Cry as I rush to grab dirty towels.*

Dutiful daughter mops up mess while I continue to put things away. I start emptying out leftovers into 250 lb dog’s bowl, which makes him happy. I dumped Bean Soup in his bowl before I realized what I did, which makes me very unhappy…because I know what’s to come.

Trash now stinks like old cauliflower which is a mixture of rotten milk and sour diapers. It’s wretched. I lift bag out of can and…you guessed it. I make another mess. So, I commence to cleaning said mess, put new bag in can and wash my hands.

Forgetting I turned up the hot water heater. OUCHY!

Make cellphone payment before I forget. Done. Feeling accomplished, I go back to story board, taking fresh can of diet coke outside. I take a sip while staring at story board (my front picture window…) and go to set down my diet coke.

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My nose stinging, I sling can across the yard and start an earth shaking temper tantrum, but I start laughing and cannot stop. (And I begin to wonder if I’m losing my mind.)

I surrender.

So, I make dinner, with a few interruptions and manage, while eating a burger, to squeeze grease all over my sweatshirt. (Take a deep breath and remember, you’re blessed. You actually have a cheeseburger, some don’t have that.)

Everyone goes to bed. Perhaps I can get some work done now. Husband warns me…his stomach isn’t feeling so well. I apologize then go on to work. 250 lb Mastiff now lets loose of the longest, loudest, most obnoxious fart I’ve ever heard. I evacuate the area to prevent brain damage.

When the air clears out, I sit down to work. Big boy went to go sleep with Dad. After an hour, I go to the bathroom and can literally hear spouse and dog in a heated duel of farts and snores.

Okay Murphy. You win. I’ll sleep on the couch.

 

The Perfect High

I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry. I couldn’t tell you why, it just never appealed to me.

But back in the 90s, a cool cat named Ron Barany recited this poem during his gigs at the coffee house where I worked. It was written by Dr. Seuss. I really love this. The moral is there, loud and clear and it’s quite entertaining. Enough out of me.

The Perfect High

There once was a boy named Gimme-Some-Roy

He was nothin’ like me or you,
’cause laying back and getting high was all he cared to do.

As a kid, he sat in the cellar…sniffing airplane glue. And then he smoked banana peels, when that was the thing to do. He tried aspirin in Coca-Cola, he breathed helium on the sly, and his life became an endless search to find the perfect high.

But grass just made him wanna lay back and eat chocolate-chip pizza all night,
and the great things he wrote when he was stoned looked like shit in the morning light.
Speed made him wanna rap all day, reds laid him too far back, Cocaine-Rose was sweet to his nose, but the price nearly broke his back.

He tried PCP, he tried THC, but they never quite did the trick. Poppers nearly blew his heart, mushrooms made him sick. Acid made him see the light, but he couldn’t remember it long. Hash was a little too weak, and smack was a lot too strong. Quaaludes made him stumble, booze just made him cry, Then he heard of a cat named Baba Fats who knew of the perfect high.

Now, Baba Fats was a hermit cat…lived high up in Nepal, High on a craggy mountain top, up a sheer and icy wall. “Well, hell!” says Roy, “I’m a healthy boy, and I’ll crawl or climb or fly,
Till I find that guru who’ll give me the clue as to what’s the perfect high.”

So out and off goes Gimme-Some-Roy, to the land that knows no time, Up a trail no man could conquer, to a cliff no man could climb. For fourteen years he climbed that cliff…back down again he’d slide . . .
He’d sit and cry, then climb some more, pursuing the perfect high.

Grinding his teeth, coughing blood, aching and shaking and weak, Starving and sore, bleeding and tore, he reaches the mountain peak. And his eyes blink red like a snow-blind wolf, and he snarls the snarl of a rat,
As there in repose, and wearing no clothes, sits the god-like Baba Fats.

“What’s happenin’, Fats?” says Roy with joy, “I’ve come to state my biz . . .
I hear you’re hip to the perfect trip… Please tell me what it is. “For you can see,” says Roy to he, “I’m about to die, So for my last ride, tell me, how can I achieve the perfect high?”

“Well, dog my cats!” says Baba Fats. “Another burned out soul, Who’s lookin’ for an alchemist to turn his trip to gold. It isn’t in a dealer’s stash, or on a druggist’s shelf… Son, if you would find the perfect high, find it in yourself.”

“Why, you jive mother-fucker!” says Roy, “I climbed through rain and sleet,
I froze three fingers off my hands, and four toes off my feet! I braved the lair of the polar bear, I’ve tasted the maggot’s kiss. Now, you tell me the high is in myself? What kinda shit is this?

My ears, before they froze off,” says Roy, “had heard all kindsa crap; But I didn’t climb for fourteen years to hear your sophomore rap. And I didn’t climb up here to hear that the high is on the natch, So you tell me where the real stuff is, or I’ll kill your guru ass!”

“Okay…okay,” says Baba Fats, “You’re forcin’ it outta me… There is a land beyond the sun that’s known as Zabolee. A wretched land of stone and sand, where snakes and buzzards scream, And in this devil’s garden blooms the mystic Tzutzu tree.

Now, once every ten years it blooms one flower, as white as the Key West sky,
And he who eats of the Tzutzu flower shall know the perfect high. For the rush comes on like a tidal wave…hits like the blazin’ sun. And the high? It lasts forever, and the down don’t never come.

But, Zabolee Land is ruled by a giant, who stands twelve cubits high, And with eyes of red in his hundred heads, he awaits the passer-by. And you must slay the red-eyed giant, and swim the river of slime, Where the mucous beasts await to feast on those who journey by. And if you slay the giant and beasts, and swim the slimy sea, There’s a blood-drinking witch who sharpens her teeth as she guards the Tzutzu tree.”

“Well, to hell with your witches and giants,” says Roy, “To hell with the beasts of the sea–
Why, as long as the Tzutzu flower still blooms, hope still blooms for me.”
And with tears of joy in his sun-blind eyes, he slips the guru a five, And crawls back down the mountainside, pursuing the perfect high.

“Well, that is that,” says Baba Fats, sitting back down on his stone, Facing another thousand years of talking to God, alone. “Yes, Lord, it’s always the same…old men or bright-eyed youth… It’s always easier to sell ‘em some shit than it is to tell them the truth.”

Shel Silverstein

Pirates…what to do.

Originally posted on Welcome to Anita's Den:

1389971_59002934They steal from us. They take our work and give it away for free. Meanwhile, our children need food, medicine, braces…

As you may, or may not, know I sit on the Board of Directors for the Erotic Author’s Guild. Among our objectives is fighting piracy.  This does not come without repercussion and these lowlifes will stoop to any level necessary. Our founding member, Dylan Cross, had battled with one site in particular. He went so far as to contact the advertisers to make them aware (as if they didn’t know) that they were funding internet pirates. Said pirate got even…by contacting Amazon claiming that Dylan stole his books and his cover art.  Amazon took his books down and threatened to freeze his account.

No. I’m not kidding.

It took him a very long time to get the whole mess straightened out. The entire board sent missives to the…

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What’s new in 2015?

Well, 2014 was probably my worst year as a blogger. I rarely blogged or marketed my work at all, well, not as Kim Mullican anyway. It is a challenge to bounce back and forth between pen names.

Moving along… I did get two of my books transposed into audio versions.

ARe  Yoder's Farm 4

Yoder’s Farm is NOW ON AUDIBLE. It was my first experience working with an audio producer and I must say I was impressed. Ann Simmons did a fantastic job.

So I started searching for contracts on my other books. That was when I found Alexandra Simota to Narrate Thicker Than Water, which is NOW ON AUDIBLE. Both women did a fantastic job.

ARe coverRunning out of Time is currently in production and the gentleman who is narrating has such a wonderful voice that I simply cannot wait to have this one out on audio!

While I’m not into New Year’s Resolutions, I do promise to try to be a better blogger and to entertain you better than I have in 2014.

Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting, Guest Post, Danube Adele

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The best workouts I have ever had in my entire life were the ones I endured for kick boxing and Muay Thai classes in my early twenties. Absolutely fantastic. They were the most fun, the most demanding, and gave me the best physical results I have ever had in my life from exercise as an adult. The unexpected benefit? A sense of badass confidence when walking down the street. This was the feeling I wanted my character Cecilia “Ceci” Bradford to have in Dreams of a Wild Heart.

There was no mercy. There was no pity. There was no empathy or sympathy from my instructors. From the moment I began taking these classes, I was perpetually sore. Push-ups (and not the girl kind because they weren’t allowed) were a challenge, where I could maybe do one or two full and complete ones to begin with. Burning muscles accompanied my every step forward, my every reach. Who knew you needed shoulder muscles to keep your hands up in a fighting stance? I never sweat so hard or slept so well on a daily basis, and before long, I began noticing changes.

I could do more push-ups. Good ones. Strong ones. Then, my legs didn’t burn so much, they started feeling like I was walking on springs. And when I did a roundhouse kick to the heavy bag, it made a great, satisfying, cracking sound that echoed in the gym. Another great result? I could jump rope like a pro, looking all Rocky Balboa-like. The extra few pounds I’d carried for most of my life, not a lot but enough to give a friendly jiggle, just melted away almost visibly, day-by-day until one day I looked in the mirror and saw that I had a faint six pack where my stomach used to be. Okay, and this is wrong of me, I know, but there was a part of me as I walked down the street that silently dared anyone to try and f*ck with me, not that I really wanted anyone to attack me. More than anything, this is just evidence that I walked with more confidence, and from what I’ve been told, most attackers look for someone who has more of a meek, uncertain mannerism. A funny side note: My husband and my first date was to a muay thai fight. It was my suggestion.

In Dreams of a Wild Heart, Ceci worked her *ss off to finish school early, work as a trauma ward physician and immerse herself with anything that would keep her from remembering the tragedy of her past, and one of those activities was mixed martial arts. Her best friend since birth, she and Carlos were inseparable, even moving on to more than just friends as they got into high school, but he was killed when she was just seventeen, leaving her with a yawning emptiness. She filled it with work, study, hobbies, doing everything to keep herself from having to think until Tabron, a dark, brooding soldier, brings a spark back to her life, though he’s got secrets that are from out of this world. Literally.

A few of my favorite scenes in Dreams of a Wild Heart are action scenes and include Ceci using her mixed martial arts skills, kickboxing and jujitsu. I wanted her be a strong, confident, I’ll-do-it-myself kind of heroine, and she surprises the Braussian warriors on the planet Te`re by defending herself with modern moves when they’re a dying culture stuck in what we would call the Middle Ages. She doesn’t wait to be rescued. She doesn’t need to look for the big, strong man to save her. She meets her match with Tabron, a big, strong man who ultimately can’t deny that he’s drawn to exactly the kind of woman she is.

Thanks so much for taking time with me today. I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever tried a martial arts class? If so, how did you like it? If not, would you want to?

cover

Dreams of a Wild Heart

The Dreamwalkers

Book Three

Danube Adele

Genre: Paranormal

Publisher: Carina Press

Date of Publication: 12/15/14

ISBN: 9781426899324

ASIN: B00M6G8MS8

Number of pages: 325

Word Count: approx. 132,000

Book Description: 

Dr. Cecilia—Ceci—Bradford at your service.

I dance, rock climb, and have mastered Mixed Martial Arts, because just being a twenty-six-year-old doctor isn’t enough. It doesn’t keep me from remembering the terrifying night my life changed, the night my true love died. I was nearly seventeen.

Life goes on, but the secret I keep is that I still talk to him in my dreams. That was getting me by until Tabron showed up—or, more specifically, until the six-foot-two brute of a Viking whisked me off to another planet because his leader is dying. And the joy didn’t end there. I’m being forced to choose a mate. The Brausa are facing extinction.

Tabron has no need for a mate, himself, and he’s told me as much. Multiple times. What he does have are hands and wicked lips that stir feelings I thought lost forever. Choosing him (just to play along until I can find a way home) seems to irk him and I find this surprisingly fun. But surviving a hidden conspiracy and the dangers of this alien place might be more difficult than I could ever imagine…

 

Available at  Amazon  BN   Kobo  ebooks.com  

 

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Prologue

There were vicious elbows being thrown, shoulder slams when the ref wasn’t looking and very questionable slide tackles that took out several players. Clearly, the other coach had taught his team to play dirty, but even so, no one could touch number twelve.

The tough-ass, hardcore soccer player wowing the crowd with trick moves and fierce determination was this cute little ten-year-old girl wearing a pink hair ribbon and sparkly pink cleats.

My heart ached a little as I watched her run. This was the kind of kid we would have had, Carlos and me. She was kicking butt and making no apologies, taking the hits, hitching the ball up at just the right moments, jumping over outstretched feet, fighting past the obstacles and punching through the attacks. This kid had guts and a will of steel. I would’ve loved to have a little girl just like her.

It was clear that the coach on the other team was about to have a coronary, his face tomato-red, his body heaving in start and stop sprints up and down the field while screaming at his team to Cover her! Cover her! She’s just a little girl! What’s your problem? You gonna let a girl beat you? He’d obviously expected his mostly boy team, with the few girls on the team being sat on the bench, to have a shutout. Wasn’t happening. The game was tied.

My grin was mocking. Served him right. Schadenfreude to the max.

My pink-cleated girl flashed by in a sudden breakaway move that had everyone jumping up from their chairs.

Her long legs tore down the field. She dribbled the ball left, then right, juked one player, then another. She broke through the group of defenders, to the gasping dismay of parents on the other side of the field, and raced full speed for the goal. No one could stop her. The group of ten-year-olds desperately chased her down the field amid the excited shouts of nerve-racked parents.

Oh my God! How did she do that? My own shout mixed in with everyone else’s as I clapped and hooted.

Go, Jolene! Go! Go! Go! her coach shouted. Don’t hesitate! Take it all the way! Go, go, go! He bounded after her along the sideline.

Damn it! Get ready, Colby! She’s coming! Stay on your toes! the opposing coach shouted.

Take the shot! Take the shot, Jolene! You’ve got this!

The goalie waited. He was a young, shaggy-haired blond boy with knees bent, legs quivering as he balanced on the balls of his feet to see which way the wind was going to blow. Sweating under the hot noon sun in the middle of a November heat wave, he could only watch as she drew back and blasted the ball. It flew low to the far corner. He dove for it. His gloved hands reached out to block.

Missed it by a mile. The net stopped the ball.

Hands cupped to my mouth, I shouted, Great job, number twelve! Way to get the job done!

Piercing whistles, excited shouts, and clapping came from my side of the field while teammates high-fived the girl. Pink-cheeked and glowing with pride, a satisfied grin split her cheeks. She accepted back slaps and trotted back to join the lineup in the middle of the field for the next kick-off. It wasn’t to come. The ref blew the whistle signaling the end of the game, and the little girl’s team cheered, excited to have won.

I’d want my little girl to be just like that. Just like that. The unbidden thought whispered wistfully across my mind once again, but I shook it away before it could cause any major damage. I wasn’t going to have kids, so it was pointless to ponder it. With a flush of self-consciousness, I glanced around, but no one was paying me any attention. I had to remind myself they couldn’t actually see me.

Hey there, Tiger.

Ahh. This was why I was here.

I smiled at my hated childhood nickname and responded as I was expected to. I spun around, gave him a good shove. Jerk. Don’t call me that.

Carlos laughed, not the least bit rocked by my actions, probably because I hadn’t actually been trying to hurt him. He was my forever best friend, confidante, first and only boyfriend, best…everything, and had been since day one. He pulled me in for a quick squeeze, where I burrowed my face into my favorite spot on his chest, before he leaned back to look down at me, dark eyes twinkling with mischief. His black hair had a stubborn lock that liked to droop over his forehead. I brushed it back for him. He definitely had a Benjamin Bratt thing going on.

He winked at me. The little girl reminds me of you.

Me? I studied the little girl, who was grouping up with her teammates to do a 2-4-6-8 chant in appreciation of the other team.

Carlos smiled. You were just like her at that age. Don’t you remember? Absolutely fearless.

Fearless? I scoffed, but he wasn’t kidding.

Seriously. Nothing kept you from trying whatever the hell you wanted to. Always confident, like you knew things were just supposed to work out for you. He paused. They usually did. You were a force to be reckoned with.

You make me sound like a superhero.

I’d meant it as a joke, but he furrowed his dark brows. You kind of were. You acted like nothing could stop you. It was always balls to the wall with you. I wanted to be like that. When we were growing up, you would piss me off and make me proud at the same time with the way you took risks. But of course, it always worked out and usually in a big way.

I gave him my smirky eyeroll. I think you’re exaggerating.

I don’t think I am. He shook his head for emphasis. You were always ready to not just win, but kick ass if anything got in your way.

Where was he going with this? He was being so uncharacteristically insistent. I gave him a covert, assessing look, like I would a patient who seemed…off. He looked the same as usual—handsome, friendly, gentle—but still, his attitude took the edge off the warm memories we were sharing, and I felt my grin sliding as he continued.

Don’t you remember? No one could keep up with you. You’d just get this look on your face, set your chin in a particular direction and anyone who got in your way would be toast. He pressed in a little, and I almost stepped back.

But this was Carlos. My Carlos. I shook the strange feeling off and chuckled at his description of me, trying to just enjoy the feeling of contentedness, warmth and love that I always felt when he came to my dreams. I cocked my head coquettishly and smiled. You managed to keep up with me.

By the skin of my teeth, and not even half the time. My ego suffered.

But you handled it.

He took a moment, studying my face. At the point when it started feeling weird again, his intense expression relaxed into a smile. The best I could. He tweaked a lock of my long, black hair. Calling you names and pulling your pigtails.

We were on track again. You’re going way back in time.

For some reason, I catch myself remembering lately. Times when we did our homework together. Times when we went riding our bikes around the neighborhood, scavenging whatever you were certain we needed for your next project or adventure. I remember calling you bruja.

My look was pointed. What about froggie and…something else. Tom, short for tomboy. I didn’t appreciate that, as I recall. I nudged his arm.

His laughter was immediate, filling the cold, sad places inside me with remembered warmth. I didn’t even mind when he shook his finger at me and announced, You deserved to be called froggie. I got in trouble because of you over that little episode. You told everyone it was my idea. My mom wouldn’t let me go out for a week after that stunt, and it was summer. Do you remember how much that sucked? You still owe me for that.

I tried to look outraged, but couldn’t keep from giggling. But itwas your idea to make a lily pad garden in the backyard with that blue, plastic kiddy pool.

Yeah, but my idea was to use make-believe frogs and grass and leaves from the yard. You were the one who insisted we walk over to Bailey Canyon and find actual lily pads and frogs.

I was doing my part to make it authentic.

He raised his eyebrows. Yeah, well, as I recall, the look on your mother’s face was one of authentic horror when the bucket tipped over on her beautiful hardwood floors and frogs were jumping everywhere.

I snickered. Everyone was suddenly jumping after the frogs. My mom, your mom, my dad, me, you, the dogs…it was mad, chaos. Frogs everywhere. Even a few days later, we found frogs behind the furniture. Unfortunately, they were dead and resisted my valiant efforts to revive them, though I did, very appropriately, try CPR. I’d forgotten about that.

See? Like I’d proven his point. All of us moving to the beat of your drum. You were hardcore, this little girl with a larger-than-life point of view. Keeping up with you was a full-time job. You’re the only girl I ever let give me a black eye.

I shot him a snarky look. You didn’t “let” me do anything. I was tougher than you.

That new, thoughtful expression, the one I was starting to dislike, reemerged. Was it something I’d said? He searched my face for a quiet moment, then nodded, like he’d suddenly realized something.You’ve always been tough. You never needed…anyone. Not even me. You were sure of yourself. You helped me find that for myself. I want you to know I appreciate that.

I didn’t need him? Where was this coming from? It almost sounded like a goodbye. Silly. Where would he go? I brushed a prickle of fear away and managed a smirk. Good.

No really. I mean it.

The kids lined up on the field so they could shake hands with the opposing team.

He held out his hand. Walk with me?

Always. I clasped his hand and made the promise with a warm smile. It’s been too long. I’ve missed you so much. There was no one in my life who could take his place. Certainly not any of the guys I’d tried dating. Being on my own, having my medical career and these visits from Carlos, this was the best I could expect now. You used to come more often, and we could spend time together. Now you only come every other month or so, if that, and our time seems so much more limited. You barely give me the news that someone needs help, and then you’re gone. Why not more often?

He frowned for a moment, then squeezed my fingers gently. How are things?

I let it go. It wasn’t the time to push this. I never knew when he was going to get pulled away from me. So much has happened between the times when we meet that I can’t remember where I left off last time. My family is good. Your family is good.

How are the wicked seven?

I laughed at his description of my cousins. We’d all grown up together, more like siblings. We were all black-haired with the same shade of green eyes, inherited from our mothers and grandmother. This was where bruja had come from. Witch. When we were kids, Carlos had insisted that anyone with black hair and green eyes was a wicked witch, and he’d teased me with that unmercifully for years.

Everyone seems happy and satisfied within their own predictably dysfunctional world. Stephanie is close to being married, Cassie is likely on her way to her deathbed—according to her own self-diagnosis using WebsmartMD—and Amanda’s finished her credentialing to teach. She’s looking for a job now. Oh! Your brother went off to complete a sabbatical in some distant corner of the world where he could study the customs of some obscure native tribes. Not sure of the details. Your mom told me the last time I saw her, which was last week, I think, when we ran into each other at the grocery store.

His smile changed, sort of went heart deep and introspective. He looked down at the ground as though seeing the image within the square pattern blocks of cement. I’ve seen my brother. He’s happy. He’s going to be okay.

Leaving the park, we walked companionably through a suburban neighborhood, the kind you’d find at the beginning of a Steven Spielberg movie, like E.T. or Poltergeist or something like that. Kids were out playing in the street, adults gardened in fashionably strange, floppy-looking hats, and there was a sense of safety and peacefulness. Of course, if this were a Spielberg movie, in the next scene, the shit would hit the fan.

This was the nature of our relationship now. I never knew where we would end up when we dreamed together.

Carlos leaned into me affectionately with a light shoulder-to-shoulder bump. How’s the doctoring?

I love it. The energy of the trauma ward is like nothing else. It’s always go, go, go. Stay on your toes. Be alert. Take charge. Every day is something new. Someone comes in ready to die, and I can fix them, send them back to their loved ones. Every day, I can see the difference I make in the world. The feeling is amazing. Cars drove by, taking carloads of kids from the soccer field. A few days ago, I actually got to do a heart massage, which is unheard of in the ER

You had to pump a guy’s heart?His squinty-eyed wince said it all. There was a reason not everyone became a trauma surgeon. Carlos had never liked the sight of blood.

Yes. It was an amazing moment, having someone’s heart in my hand and pumping it to keep them alive.The remembered excitement of that day had my blood surging with renewed adrenaline, and the story tumbled out. This guy was brought in, barely breathing, and he goes into arrest on my table. So I’m going through the checklist wondering what the hell is wrong with him, right? He looks young and healthy. There was no other sign of major trauma, abdomen was soft, so I could tell he wasn’t bleeding internally, and because he was turning blue, it had to be something with respiration.

Remembering gave me that wired feeling again. Problem-solving at that level of intensity was the best kind of drug. I figured it must be some kind of pulmonary embolus, some kind of blockage between heart and lungs, which was the only thing making sense. We hit a point where even with heart compressions, we weren’t getting a pulse. By then, I’d called a cardiologist, and it was do-or-die. We decided we had to crack his chest and pump his heart manually, which got a pulse going long enough to get him to the OR, where he had an eight-hour surgery to remove some nasty blockage by his heart.

When I finished, Carlos had a funny smile on his face.

What? I asked. Did I lose you in there?

No, I managed to follow.

Why the smile?

You’re living your dreams. I’m proud of you. You kick ass, Ceci. You always have. You’re going to be okay.

Okay? I guess I was, but it seemed weird for him to say it, again like it was some kind of final proclamation. I could agree for the most part, that I was okay, living out some amazing career dreams. The silence stretched while I studied the handsome face I’d memorized long ago. It was a reminder some things were never going to happen. Not all of my dreams will be lived.

He shook his head before I could even finish my sentence. I wasn’t a dream. I get that now. We were just kids, Ceci. You have to know that.

What was this about? We had plans, Carlos, remember?

He shook his head impatiently. We made childish plans. What were you, sixteen? Seventeen?

They weren’t childish to me! I was counting on them. I worked my ass off to finish school early so we could go to college together. Remember? Get our degrees, get married… We’d talked about places we were going to visit together, things we wanted to do in life. Take time to travel, maybe go to Costa Rica.

His look turned stubborn. If you want to go to Costa Rica, you should go.

That was our plan! My irritation was turning to fear. We were going to be all bohemian, remember? You and me. Together. Why in the hell would I want to do that now?

He took a deep breath, but his eyes never left mine. You were counting on life happening. So was I. We don’t always get what we want.

I know it. Every day of my life I know it. I live it! My voice was rising, but I couldn’t help it. The horror of that day came back—the screams, the terror, the sobbing, the sound of the ambulance, the helplessness I swore I would never feel again, the blood so thick and warm, tacky, coating my hands, soaking into my jeans in that deep, deep red arterial color, the color of a deep bleed. There was nothing I could do, and all because of a stupid argument… My eyes burned with shame, but I fought back the moisture. Too hard to think about it.That was the worst day of my life. I’ll never forget.

You aren’t the only one that lost on that day. A surge of anger flared in his dark brown eyes. It faded quickly, but this time I knew I’d seen it.

What? What was that for?

What? He looked off toward the mountains with a neutral expression, not making eye contact.

The look on your face.

What look?

Cut it out. You know what I’m talking about. Stop playing dumb.For the first time ever, I felt a crack in the connection I shared with him. There was distance between us, like he was closed off to me. Like he was pulling away.

He tried giving me a quick smile, but it wasn’t a real one. I knew what his real smiles looked like, each kind he gave. This one didn’t touch his eyes at all. He gave my hand another quick squeeze and let out a sigh. I’m fine. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Yeah, you do. I couldn’t help the sullen tone of my voice. That was a blow-off response if I’d ever heard one.

I’m here for a reason, remember? I don’t get much time to do what I need to do. I’ve got something to show you.

I know, I know. It’s always all business now.

Something was very wrong. There had never been a time when he hadn’t shared what was on his mind. It got my back up and the stubborn child inside of me decided to pout. If he didn’t want to tell me, then I didn’t want to know. He could sit and stew with it. Jerk. Except who knew when I’d see him again?

Yeah, fine. Show me. We’d turned a corner and hit a more rundown neighborhood. The houses had bars on the windows, grass grew in the cracked sidewalks, and fewer kids were out. A feeling of oppression seemed to cast a dark shadow over this neighborhood. It was enough to make me want to back the hell out and find that nice Spielberg neighborhood again.

Look. He gestured to the house in front of us. Somehow, it was even worse than the rest on the block. It was a puke green with falling-down shutters on the front window, a broken screen door that yawned crookedly, and grass so overgrown someone could hide a body in it. It was on a corner, slightly separated from the other homes.

Carlos turned his soulful eyes on me, and I knew it was going to be bad.

Tell me. I braced myself.

She lives here. Our little soccer player.

Irritation with Carlos forgotten, I looked back at the house. No way was that little girl on her way to pizza.

A woman’s scream split the air. A crash. A man’s voice yelling. Another crash. The sounds of violence erupted so suddenly my heart jump-started. A child’s cry bled through the walls punctuated with, No, no! Leave her alone! Don’t touch my mommy! No!

This was a nightmare. I looked to Carlos. What the hell?

There’s nothing you can do. They can’t see us.

The hell there isn’t. I sensed the girl’s desperation and felt a rush of panic. I tried to push through the gate, but I couldn’t grasp it. I had no substance. A frustrated growl came from my throat. I couldn’t even kick that damn fence.

Soon. He caught my arm and held my gaze.

Sudden intuition made me pause. She’ll be coming in?

Yes.

That can only be bad. There was another sound of crashing, and then quiet weeping punctuated by low moans. To stand there and hear the ugliness was painful.

It’ll be bad, but you’ll take good care of her. The intensity was back on his face. And one day, she’s going to want to be a doctor just like you.

I accepted that responsibility with joy in my heart. Part of the girls-kick-ass club. Good.

What was she going to look like when she came in?

The worry fled as soon as it arrived. Carlos was fading on me, about to become one with the ether. He pulled me in for one more tight hug, and the pain of separation hit me as it always did when the blackness smothered us and pulled us apart.

Traveling back through the layers of consciousness, I wondered when I would be able to dream him again. The feel of him faded until I was alone, waking up with the early morning gray and a sense of loss that was always a part of me.

 

authorAbout the Author:

Danube Adele wrote her first romance at the age of seven when she penned the story of her dogs falling in love and having puppies. She’s been dreaming up romantic tales ever since. A lifetime resident of southern California, she spends time playing at the beach, camping in Joshua Tree National Park, and hiking Mammoth Mountain.

Always a lover of adventure, she and her husband took their sons on a cross country road trip to Florida and back in an old VW Westfalia, that had no A/C, in the month of July, and still, it continues to be the best trip they ever took.

Extensive travel and trying new things has kept the creative spark alive. Danube lives in Claremont with her biggest fans, her loving husband, amazing and wonderful identical twin sons, and a teddy bear of a Rottweiler.

Her debut novel, Quicksilver Dreams, Book 1 of the Dreamwalker series, was released January 6, 2014, and Dreams of a Dark Summer, Book 2 of the Dreamwalker series, is set for release June 9, 2014. The  next book in the Dreamwalker series is set to come out in December, 2014.

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Let’s Reunite this Family!

Kim Mullican:

What a great cause!

Originally posted on Why Authors Rock:

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Below I will include a link. It is for a Go Fund Me for a woman who is willing to shave her head bald. That’s right – bald. See, the State of Florida saw it fit to take her kids away while she was in the hospital fighting for her life after drowning.  As you can see from the Go Fund Me, this long and expensive battle has left she and her husband homeless. To make things worse, the state’s lack of understanding of Jonnie as Trans further delayed getting her children back to her.  The great State of Florida has found no reason not to return their kids to them, so long as they get a house completely set up…in a month.

Now I’ve seen authors work together and accomplish tremendous feats. We all work hard to help our friends reach the best seller’s list. We join in anywhere…

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