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Tuesday Tales – Picture Prompt

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Happy Tuesday, everyone!!  Welcome to Tuesday TalesII  Today’s picture prompt takes us back to by other WIP, Breaking the Cycle.  After they leave Max’s nephew’s birthday party, they stop at the state park.  Don’t forget to stop by and check out the excerpt of the other extremely talented Tuesday Tale’s authors!!

bridge

Max and Chloe walked along the trail of the state park.  She looked up at the towering trees, the blue sky that stretched above the loft canopy of green leaves.  In the distance she could hear the rush of water.

They stepped off the trail onto a beach alongside a slow running river.  Buried deep into the course sand was the footing of a rickety, rough wood bridge that stretched across the water to the other side.  Max took Chloe’s hand and tugged her toward the bridge.  As they ascended the steps he nudged his leather sandals off.  Chloe did the same as she followed him.

Max leaned his bent arms against the rail.  Chloe watched him with a smile.  “Did you used to come here often?” she asked.

“All the time.  I used to daydream on this bridge,” he answered.

“About what?”

“Oh, lots of things.  Going to college, my MMA career.  Most of the time I imagined kissing the girl I loved on this bridge.”

“So, how many girls have you kissed here?” Chloe pried with a big smile.

“None.  I wasn’t in love with them.”

“Oh.”  Chloe gazed at the water rushing under the bridge. 

“The ironic thing is that I am now on this bridge with the girl I love and I can’t kiss her.”

Chloe stared at him.  “Me?”

“Do you see any other women on this bridge?”

She studied him in the summer sun.  Max had been her hero.  He protected her.  He was to take care of her after her CVS episodes.  She loved him with all her heart.  She wanted to kiss him badly.  She plunged her hand into her shorts pocket, her fingers wrapping around the tube of lip gloss.  She smiled.  She could do this.

She pulled the tube from her shorts and held it up to him with a smile.  The wide grin on Max’s face made her heart race.  “Really?  You are all right if I kiss you?”

Don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales!!

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Tuesday Tales – Antique Store Picture Prompt

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Hi everyone!  It’s Tuesday – time for Tuesday Tales!  This week we are using a picture prompt.  I’m taking a break from The Thirteenth Knight.  This week’s excerpt is from my WIP, Breaking the Cycle.  Last time we caught up with Max and Chloe, Chloe had just met Max’s dad.  Don’t forget to check the excerpts of the other very talented writers of Tuesday Tales!

antique store

Chloe and Max talked with Max’s dad for a few more minutes before they said goodbye.  They stepped outside and began their trek back to the car.

As they passed an antique store, Chloe stopped and peered into the window.  Her eyes caught an old, brightly painted metal fire truck.  “Max, wait.  I haven’t bought your nephew a gift yet.”  She pointed at the fire truck.  “Will he like that?”

Max smiled at her choice.  “Absolutely.”

Chloe and Max stepped inside the small store filled with all sorts of ancient trinkets.  The room was cast in a soft gold glow.  Chloe gazed at a gold pocket watch then glanced at Max.  I don’t quite see him as a pocket watch kind of guy.  Chloe carefully picked up the fire truck and carried it to the counter.  As the small, rotund woman wrapped the truck, Chloe turned to Max.

“Max, I always wondered.  Why did Jack constantly pursue you to work for Hard Knocks?  You know so much about mixed martial arts.”

“Because I used to compete.”  Max sighed.  “In college.  I was going to be the next Rico, the next up and coming star.  But I tore my ACL apart in a match.  After three grueling surgeries, I gave up.”  He gently brushed a lock of her hair from her shoulder.  “That’s why I admire you so much.  You have gone through so much with your CVS, been hospitalized so many times.  It makes my little injury look pathetic.  And you still get up and live your life after it all.  You are so strong to go through it all and still smile.”

Chloe felt her face flush pink at Max’s compliment as she accepted the bag from the shopkeeper.  He took her other hand in his.  After thanking the shopkeeper, they walked hand in hand back to the car.

Thanks for stopping by!  And don’t forget to stop by the other Tuesday Tales blogs!

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Tuesday Tales – Small Town Picture Prompt

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It’s time for another Tuesday Tales! Today we are working with a picture prompt. I’m veering away from The Thirteenth Knight this week. Today we are catching back up with Max and Chloe in Breaking the Cycle. And don’t forget to check out the excerpts from my extremely talented fellow authors on the Tuesday Tales website!

small town

“Thank you for coming with me to my nephew’s birthday party, Chloe.” Max slipped the car keys into his pocket as he gave her the sweetest, largest smile she ever saw. “I can’t wait to introduce you to my family.”

Chloe trotted beside him as they walked along the sidewalk. “It’s only fair. You’ve met my mom.”

He laughed. “Chloe, sweetheart. I live with you and your mom.”

She giggled in response. As they strolled along the sidewalk she glanced around at downtown New Ulm. It was a far cry from Minneapolis. There were department stores most people in metropolitan areas hadn’t seen since the late 1970’s. There were small town gift shops full of quilting supplies, old books, beautiful Christmas decorations and German knick knacks. There was a stately, formal concrete building that housed the local bank. The storefronts along the street were dotted with family restaurants and corner bars, each with windows leading to apartments built on top.

She jolted to a stop as Max pulled open the glass door to the hardware store. She felt her face flush in embarrassment as she stepped inside. Max let the door shut behind him.

“Max!” An older man who looked almost exactly like Max stood behind the counter wiping his hands on a rag. He strode around the counter and wrapped him in a bear hug.

“Hey, Dad. How are you?”

“Doing well, big city boy. How was your drive?”

“Beautiful day for a drive.” Max gently pressed his fingers to the small of Chloe’s back. “Dad, I’d like you to meet Chloe.”

Max’s dad extended his palm to Chloe and shook her hand. “Hi, Chloe. Nice to meet you. Max has told us a lot about you.

Chloe glanced up at Max. What exactly did he tell his family about her?

This Wednesday, my first release with Sweet Craving Publishing went live!

BlackIrish_SM

Sloan watched from a distance as Aubrey fought to keep Abbey from dashing away, a frightened doe in the terrifying forest named New York. Apparently, up to this point, the vicious predators of the city hadn’t sent her fleeing home.

Until he entered her world, obviously.

Sloan had to admit something about her alarmed him too. He knew many women and had been with several. But none of them like her. Innocent. Naïve. True. Or so she seemed at first glance.

He couldn’t pull away from her wide-eyed, burning, hazel gaze. He wanted to free her shining, brown tresses from her ponytail and bury his fingers in the locks. He wanted to taste her plump, rose lips. He wanted to caress her curves, feel her warmth.

Sloan could hear Abbey beg for another illustrator. He heard Aubrey counter that there was none better. He was part of the deal, or there was no deal. She was ready to walk away from a contract worth potential millions over a fear of him.

He wouldn’t let her do that. He wouldn’t let her leave his life before she ever became a part of it.

Slowly approaching the two women at the end of the hall, Sloan asked, “Aubrey, can I have a moment please? Let us talk it out and see if we can come to an agreement.”

Aubrey looked uneasily from him to Abbey then nodded. “Sure.”

Sloan waited for Aubrey to return to the conference room. He shot a warning glare at the associates that had gathered to watch the scene unfold before turning his attention back to Abbey.

“What’s the matter, miss?” Sloan took Abbey’s hands in his as he smiled encouragingly.

“I’m sorry. I’m sure you’re very talented. But I don’t think I would be comfortable working with you,” she confessed.

“You don’t even know me.”

“I know. And I’m sure you are a perfect gentleman. But, you see, I don’t think Michael would be very happy with me working with a…gifted man such as yourself.”

“Michael?”

Abbey blushed. “My boyfriend.”

Ah. There it is. A boyfriend. Sloan silently berated himself. He should’ve known a woman so beautiful would have already given her heart to someone. He couldn’t, however, allow her to get away so quickly. Perhaps he couldn’t have her, but that didn’t mean he had to let her go.

Thinking quickly, Sloan pressed one of her hands to his lips. “No worries, luv. I’m no threat.”

“How can you say that?”

“I’m gay.”

Her face brightened with relief. “Really?”

“Yes, Abbey. Gay.”

She blushed pink. “I’m so embarrassed I overreacted. Please forgive me?”

“Of course I forgive you. Now, will you stay and undertake this project with me?”

Abbey beamed. “Of course. I would love to.”

Sloan motioned for her to precede him back to the conference room. He watched her walk before him, his gaze transfixed on her hips, her slim waist, and her luscious curves. A little white lie. She’ll never know.

See Black Irish on Sweet Cravings Website!

 Don’t forget to stop back and check the rest of the Tuesday Tales!

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Breaking the Cycle Post Seven

Being Friday night it is kickboxing Friday.  Get well soon, Keoni!!

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Max drove down the interstate barely paying attention to the road.  For the last week and a half he couldn’t get Chloe out of his mind.  Her laughter on their date echoed in his ears.  Seeing her so sick she couldn’t recognize him twisted a knife in his heart.  Seeing her running from Roadie’s Gym in tears made him feel helpless and pathetic.  Not knowing how she was, what she was doing was driving him insane.

He glanced briefly at his smart phone for the time but instead caught the date.  Thursday.  He quickly ran dates in his head.  He paused for a moment.  Should I see if my hunch is right?  Can I handle what I’m going to find?  He nudged his turn signal on as he caught the next exit out of the corner of his eye.

Max turned the car off and stepped out.  He stared at the old, large white house for a moment before he jogged up the porch steps.  He knocked on the door and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  He heard the television on inside.  Someone was home.  He knocked again.

The front door was wrenched open violently.  It’s the witch.  Chloe’s mom glared at him.  He could feel her eyes sear through him. 

“Is Chloe home?” Max asked, his voice cracking weakly.

“Now’s not a good time, Mike.”

“Max.”

“Whatever.  Get off my porch.”

He glanced down at the stains covering her sweatshirt.  “Is she sick?”

“She’s in the bathroom.  Check for yourself.”

Max squeezed past her and wandered into the house.  His neck snapped around at the sound of retching from upstairs.  He took the steps two at a time and came to a stop at the bathroom door.

Chloe laid on the cold tile floor of the bathroom with a bucket near her.  Her head laid on a rolled up towel.  She didn’t turn to look at him.  She looks about aware of me as she was in that alley.  Her body started to writhe as she vomited again.

He knelt beside her and held her in his arms, helping her to the bucket to keep the mess off the floor.  When the retching stopped she slumped against him weakly.  He pushed a sweat soaked lock of brown hair from her forehead as he gazed at her pale, sunken face.

“So, want to stick around?” Chloe’s mom hissed from the doorway.  “She’s not done yet.  Are you all right with your precious expensive athletic wear getting all messed up?”

Max held her tighter to him as he scowled at woman.  “Yes.  They’re just clothes.  They wash.”

Chloe’s mom stared at him dumbfounded for several moments.  Max felt Chloe jerk against him again.  He supported her as she vomited again.  “So, this is what happens every three weeks.”

“Yes.”

“Do you have to take her to the hospital?”

“Hopefully not.”  Chloe’s mom watched him silently for a few moments as he settled Chloe back into his arms.  “My name is Liz.”

“Nice to meet you, Liz.”

She smiled at him.  “Can I get you a soda?”

“A glass of water would be fine.”

“Sure.  I’ll be right back.”  Liz disappeared down the hall.  Max listened to her footsteps pat down the steps.  He turned back to Chloe, gently stroking her cheek.  She relaxed, the tension that once ripped through her now dissolving.  Max shifted, crossing his legs to get more comfortable on the hard floor.  Liz reappeared, stepping over the two of them to sit on the edge of the bathtub.  She handed the glass to him.

“She seems to have relaxed,” Max murmured.

“That’s good news.  Hopefully she’s done.”

“Then?”

“She’ll be out for a little while.”

He glanced around at the puddles on the floor and the fluid in the bucket.  I can see why.

They sat in silence for nearly a half hour.  Liz smile.  “She’s done.”

Max cradled Chloe in his arms and carefully stood.  He glanced down at Liz.  “Where’s her room?”

Liz rose and motioned to him.  “Follow me.”

He followed her to a white painted room.  The furniture was also painted white and the bed was covered with a rose colored quilt.  Max pulled the quilt back and gently laid Chloe on the sheets.  He covered her with the quilt then pressed a kiss to her forehead.  He glanced at Liz as he strode from the room.

“You’re leaving?” Liz asked incredulously as she spun to follow him.

She stopped short as he walked into the bathroom and knelt on the floor.  He looked at her from over his shoulder.

“Do you have a towel or scrub brush or soap or anything for this?” He motioned to the puddles.

He met her stunned gaze evenly then smiled as she rushed down the hallway to get him a scrub brush and soap.

Breaking the Cycle – Post Six

my foot

I went to kickboxing class tonight.  We sparred with the punching bag as I learned to kick.  Unfortunately I haven’t quite grasped the concept to connect with my shin, not my foot.  So now, as you can see, my foot is swelling and a bruise is forming near my big toe.

I really, really love my kickboxing class!! ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

So with it being kickboxing night I am inspired to post the next part of Breaking the Cycle.  Unfortunately, like my post for Tuesday Tales this week, it’s not a happy one…

Max stared into space, distracted by his thoughts.  He snapped back to attention as he heard his name called.

“Max, dude!  A little help here please?”

Max shook himself back to reality then grasped the bench press bar, lifting it from the hands of the struggling body builder.  The muscle bound man turned and glared at him.  “You Ok, buddy?”

“Yeah, fine,” Max answered.  But he was far from fine.  All he could think about was his date with Chloe.  Epic disaster.  He felt like a complete jerk for not going back to the hospital to see if she was all right.  Not that her mother would let me.  That witch would have thrown me out herself.  On top of all that the doctor’s warning to get as far away from Chloe kept ringing in his ears.

Maybe the doctor was right.  Maybe he needed to get as far away from Chloe as possible.  She certainly didn’t want him.

He turned as he caught something out of the corner of his eye.  Speaking of the devil…  Chloe shuffled across the fitness area towards the employee locker room.  She was ghostly pale and her shoulders were hunched.  Her eyes, shaded with dark circles under her eyes, were glued to the floor.

“Chloe, can I talk to you a minute?’ Roadie called.

She raised her head.  Slowly she crossed the fitness center floor to him.

“You are a valuable asset to this company,” Roadie began, his booming voice silencing treadmills and weight machines.  Max looked around at all the faces focused on the scene.  “But I need you here to be that asset.”

“I know, Roadie,” Chloe protested.  “I’ve been sick.”

“It seems you are always sick, Chloe.  Which makes me question how someone so physically fit can always be so sick.”

Chloe couldn’t answer him.  She bit her lower lip as tears filled her eyes.  Roadie continued.

“I’m going to have to let you go, Chloe.  Please clean out your locker.”

Chloe sobbed as she spun on her toe and dashed for the locker room.  Slowly the whirl of elliptical and stationary bikes filled the air again.  Max stormed towards Roadie and grasped the older man by the shoulder.

“That was uncalled for, Roadie,” he growled.

“What, Max?  You’ve covered enough of her classes to realize she had to go.”

“You publicly humiliated her!  And for the record, she was sick.  She was in the hospital.”

“Yes, her mother informed me quite loudly.  What would you want me to do?”

“She was sick every third Thursday like clockwork.  Even I figured that out.  Maybe you could have picked up on her pattern and just given her that day off?  Or was that too simple?”

Roadie’s eyes drew to slits as he glared at Max.  “If you’d like to join Chloe on the unemployment line keep it up.”

Max stared angrily at him in silence for several moments before he stalked off to the free weights area.

Breaking the Cycle – Part Three

sandals

Got lots going on.  It’s crazy…crazy…crazy!  My muses have decided to come out to play and are working me overtime.  I really wanted to post another segment of Breaking the Cycle before the chaos really begins.

Max put the car in park then glanced up at the two story white house with the wide front porch.  His heart raced in his chest.  He watched as the front door then the screen door opened.

Max scrambled for the umbrella sitting on the passenger seat of his ’57 Ford Mustang.  He left the car running as he flung open his door and opened the umbrella.  He jogged to the base of the porch steps and smiled as he greeted Chloe.

He gazed up at Chloe as she stopped on the top porch step still protected from the rain by the porch roof.  Her brown hair was held up on her head in a mass of curls by a barrette.  She wore a burgundy spaghetti strap sundress that ran down her fit body and ended at her knees.  Her feet were nestled in a pair of strappy sandals.  He stared at her in fascination for several moments.

“Are you alright, Max?” Chloe asked concerned.

Max shook his head, bringing himself back to reality.  “Yeah, sure.”  He leapt up the stairs to her.  “You are so beautiful.”

Chloe’s cheeks flushed pink.  “Thank you.”

Max took her arm in his as he held the umbrella over their heads.  He escorted her to the waiting car being careful to maneuver her around the puddles.  Once she was comfortably inside and the door was shut he walked to the other side and climbed in.

“I hope you’re hungry,” Max began.  “I thought we’d try that new Italian restaurant near the gym.  I hear the lasagna is incredible.  What do you think?”

“Sure.  That would be great,” Chloe answered weakly.

Max gazed at her for a moment stifling a sigh.  She really isn’t into me I guess.  He slid the car into gear and pulled away from the curb.

Eight, Nine, Ten…Let’s Do It Again!

My life has been chaotic.  Between the Black Irish series and Sorceress of Savon plus the husband, three children and all the blessings and tragedies that go along with them I don’t have a lot of free time.

There are, however, things that have to be done – or in my case stories that need to be told.  And I can’t wait any longer with this one.

If I learned anything with Black Irish I learned I have two major motivators:

– a deadline or

– family, friends and loved ones demanding to know more of the story.

And the latter usually gets me moving faster.

Before I invite you to step inside my rabbit hole I offer a warning: this story may contain situations that might make someone uncomfortable.  This is a zero flame kind of story.  However the heroine has a chronic medical condition – and those rarely are pretty.  

Thank you for coming along and keeping me on track.

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A Very Special Thank You to Keoni and everyone at Hard Drive MMA in Cedar Rapids for being patient with me and teaching me the ins and outs of Mixed Martial Arts.  Hopefully my version of a MMA gym will do you proud.

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If the blessed day arrives that this book is published along with my others, I am sure the publisher will have to cut off all my dedications.  But on this blog I dedicate this to just one:

To my Sissy – until we find a cure

roadies

Breaking The Cycle

It was the sound of machinery and iron, the smell of sweat and strong disinfectant.  Max bent under the dead lift rack to pick up a couple of discarded towels.

Max loved his job at Roadie’s Gym.  The place was modern and state of the art.  The exercise equipment was calibrated and perfect.  Roadie made sure of it himself.

Roadie wasn’t his real name.  Truthfully Max wasn’t sure what it was.  Roadie’s wife signed the paychecks.  Roadie got the nickname from working on the road crew of one of the big time pro-wrestling companies.  He learned work out tips from the trainers there and when the time was right he quit and opened his gym.

Max smiled as he gathered the roaming disinfectant bottles scattered around the free weights area.  This is the life he wanted- Roadie’s life.  Not that the constant travel all over the world assembling and disassembling wrestling rings appealed to him.  Max wanted to own his own gym.  He wanted to know he made a difference when it came to someone’s health.  Max envied Roadie.

Max spun as he heard a long string of curses come from Roadie’s office.  Roadie stormed from his office, his face and nearly bald head growing redder by the second.

“Blast it!” Roadie fumed.  “Chloe called in sick again!”

Max slowly exhaled as the rest of the personal trainers he worked with started to gripe.  Chloe called in sick a lot, at least once a month.  Everyone at Roadie’s Gym was sick of covering her classes and personal training sessions.  Even Max used her name in vain a time or two especially when he was stuck training Mrs. Rozinski.  The rotund woman liked to flirt a little too much and stunk of cheap perfume.

It didn’t make sense to Max.  Chloe seemed to love her job.  The petite brunette was always happy, always energetic when she was at the gym.  Her big deep brown eyes were always sparkling.  Her shoulder length brown hair was always in a neat ponytail.  The clients all loved her when she was there.

Max sighed.  The clients weren’t the only ones who loved her.  He had to admit he had a huge crush on Chloe.  He had since she started at Roadie’s.  He worked up the courage a couple times to ask her out.  It always happened on those inevitable days she called in sick.

Max looked at the nearest calendar, a puzzled look etching on his face.   Thursday.  Chloe always called in on Thursdays.  What bar in Minneapolis had ladies night on Wednesdays?  And why was Chloe only getting drunk every third week?

Roadie’s voice broke Max from his thoughts.  “Max, you are going to have to cover Chloe’s kickboxing class.  And her appointment with Mrs. Rozinski.”

Max groaned as he threw the dirty towels he held into the hamper.