Friday, July 22, 2016

Let's Take a Look: Book 2 Sneak Peek (chapters 1-3)

I want to thank my fans for being so patient. You'll never know how much it means to me when I open an email asking me when book 2 will be released.  Unfortunately, real life has gotten in the way of my fantasy worlds, and I haven't been able to write as much as I'd like. But I'm remedying that now. I've been in my writing cave, typing, typing, typing away! I'm hoping to get book 2 out to you soon.

 My last post gave you the prologue for book 2: Resurrecting Valentine.  Now I want to share the first three chapters of Resurrecting Valentine.

Book two gives us a look into JAMES & TANGY'S love story.  I would appreciate it if you give me feedback in the comments section below, with your thoughts of the first three chapters.  Thank you for sticking with me on my writing journey!

Chapter 1
 Twelve years, eleven months, two days A.T. 
            “Wake up, baby.”
          Cool air brushes across my forehead as the sweetest voice I’ve ever heard whispers to me. My eyes open slowly at the feel of it. Realization sets in and I jerk up in bed and look around in hopes that some part of her still lingers. Her scent . . . maybe she’ll speak again . . . any sign that I haven’t completely lost my mind.
I’m convinced everyone in my family thinks I’m one sway away from falling completely off my rocker. Even though they are too kind to verbalize it, I see it in every pity filled glance, every embrace that is held longer than needed.
No one can understand our bond. No one ever did.
I know that love has no boundaries, no walls tall enough to confine it, no ceiling to close it in. Even death can’t destroy it. One day I will see her again.
That day is not today.
I arch my back and stretch as my arm snakes out to the cold empty space next to me. No one’s there. No one ever will be.
            But she’s here.
            She’s always here.
            I look at the alarm clock, it’s 5:45a.m. I didn’t set it last night. I still remember the first time I forgot to set the clock. It was at the beginning of my freshmen year in college. I was awakened by the softest brush of lips to my forehead, followed by a cool breeze. It wasn’t my imagination, it wasn’t the alcohol I attempted to drown in the night before.
It was her.
For a while, every time I forgot the same thing occurred. So I started to “forget” on purpose, praying that I would open my eyes and catch a glimpse of her before she disappeared. I think God caught on to my trick. My attempts at catching one of his angels before she eludes me were pointless. She no longer comes to me when I feign forgetfulness. It doesn’t stop me from trying.
It’s been twelve years, eleven months, and two days A.T.
 My life has been broken down into three very distinct time frames:  The first stage of my life is B.T. or Before Tangy, which refers to the thirteen years I lived before I loved Tangela Hope Somers. During this time I had friends, I played in my band, I laughed, I thrived . . . I thought life was perfect. I was a normal teenager, clueless to the beauty yet to come, who would forever change my entire state of being.
Then there is the last stage, A.T. After Tangy. The purgatory I’m currently stuck it. I go to work. I come home. Most nights I play in a band called Cover Me, cleverly named because we only play covers of other people’s music. After Tangy, the lyrics that used to swirl around in my head nonstop just . . . evaporated. Considering most of my songs, after I met her, were inspired by her, I can’t imagine what I’d write about now. So, After Tangy, I robotically make my way through the motions of ever day life. I exist. 
Those magical moments in between . . . those five years, six months, three weeks, twelve hours I spent with Tangy, I call my Awakening. There is no other way to describe it. Having Tangy in my life opened my mind and my eyes to the world around me.
Unfortunately for me, my awakening was a small blip in time. It came and went so fast I often wonder if she really existed. Maybe I conjured her up in one of my dreams and she disappeared the moment my eyes opened. It would confirm my family’s “off his rocker” diagnosis.
I smile weakly at my wayward thoughts as I force myself to rise out of bed. It’s a challenge every day to face the world. A world without her in it. A challenge, but a necessity, if I want to do things like eat and wear clothes. Those things require money.
As my feet hit the floor I run my hand across my closely cropped auburn hair. I walk to the sink, turn it on, and splash some water on my face. I look into the mirror and frown at the reflection that stares back at me. The dark circles under my eyes somehow compliment the dull blue of my irises. I remember a time when they use to sparkle.
I look away when I hear the phone ring. I walk slowly towards it, hoping whoever is calling will hang up before I get to it. Two rings, three rings, four rings, no luck, whoever it is isn’t getting the picture.
I sit on the edge of the bed and lift the receiver off my chestnut nightstand.
Leannan, did I wake you?”
I tense at the sound of my mother and her Irish greeting. I glance at the clock and it’s 6:00a.m. Whenever she calls me sweetheart this early in the morning she is softening the blow for whatever request is coming next . . . and I already know I’m turning it down.
“No, màthair. I’m awake.”
“Good. I didn’t want to wake you, but I really need you.”
“What do you need, ma?”
“I need you to come home as soon as possible.”
I pinch the bridge of my nose, close my eyes and count to five before I respond to her.
“Why, màthair?”
 “Your father fell off a ladder and hurt his back unloading merchandise.”
“Oh no,” I exclaim. The thought of my dad being hurt, hits me hard. Maybe it’s the guilt of not seeing him for over a year that pummels me.
“Is he okay? Why didn’t you call me sooner?” 
“He fractured his wrist when he reached out his arm in an attempt to break his fall. Then he landed on his back and stirred up that injury from when he fell in the cellar last year.” She takes a deep breath. “But, Jacob is Jacob. He won’t sit still and follow the doctor’s orders, so I’m afraid he’ll hurt himself worse.” I hear the love and pride in my mother’s voice that is always there when she talks about my father. I smile and before I can stop myself a soft chuckle escapes my lips.
“Yeah, that’s sounds like dad.” My mom chuckles too.
“He is the most stubborn man I know . . .” There is a pause on the line, and I rub my hand back and forth over my head. My mom continues. “Well, I’ve hired extra help, but it’s a family business. I’d rather have you dealing with the financial stuff. I was hoping . . . since you work for your best friend, you could take some time off to help me.”
            As I calm from the initial shock of my dad being hurt, I think about my brother Caleb, he only lives a few hours away.
“Why can’t Caleb help?”
“You know Caleb and Trish have only been married a year. I can’t ask him to leave his new bride to help me.”
“And Austin is in his last year at the university. I won’t interrupt his studies. You are my only option.”
I search my mind for a valid excuse for why I can’t help the woman who’s loved and cared for me my entire life. The woman who was my voice when I refused to speak as my world crumbled around me. The woman who’s hand force fed me when I wouldn’t eat. Why would I even search for an excuse to deny my mother anything? I know why . . . she’s there. Everywhere I turn will be a reminder of why she’s there instead of here in my arms right now.
“I have work, my band . . . commitments of my own. It’s not so easy for me to just up and leave because you deem it necessary.” I squeeze the back of my neck and curse under my breath at the tone I just used with my mother. Shit.
Teaghlaigh!” I jump at the increase in tone. My mother never raises her voice. “Do you even remember what that means? Family. I know you like to act as if you don’t have one. But ignoring us doesn’t mean we don’t exist.”
The hurt in her voice, that I caused, slays me. I suck in a ragged breath and rub my eyes. When I exhale, I replay her words in my head.
“I’m sorry, màthair.”
“I’m sorry too.” She sighs. “I didn’t mean to get emotional. It’s the stress of juggling work, while every minute I’m away is spent worrying about your father at home. You know what that man thinks about idle hands. He’ll take the doctors order of staying at home to mean work on home improvements.” She laughs softly, and I realize how much I’ve missed the sound of that laughter, and her voice.
“Can you give me a couple of days to reschedule some gigs and talk to Langston?”
“Yes, of course.”
“How long should I plan for? A few days, a week?”
“At least a couple of weeks, I’m sorry . . . I’m not sure, maybe longer.” I’m met with silence, and just when I’m about to protest she speaks again. “If there was any other option, I wouldn’t ask. I know how much you . . . hate it here.”
Her softly spoken words are a blow to my gut. I love my mother. I love my family. I just can’t cope with all I’ve lost. I can’t find the words to tell her that. As I’m searching for a response she interrupts my thoughts.
“So . . . will I see you by Saturday?”
I detect the slight hitch in her voice in that hesitant inquiry. I’ve made promises to come home before, and at the last minute changed my mind. I realize I’ve let my mother down more times than I’ve followed through on my word. She has a right to distrust me.
“I’ll see you Saturday, Ma. Geallaim.” I make a promise to her, something I haven’t done before, in the hopes that she will see I’m committed this time.
“Thank you, leannan.”
As the phone disconnects I fall back on my bed and place my arm over my eyes. After the ambush subsides, the worry sets in.
I’m not worried about my job. Langston Fields, my college roommate and best friend, will be more than able to handle our clients while I’m away. Langston owns and runs Treadstone Inc., a web design firm in Seabreeze, Washington. I work on the creative end, and most of my time is spent behind a computer screen or drafting board. I work from home on my computer most days, so working from my parent’s house won’t be that much of a stretch. 
I’m not worried about my band. We’re a crappy cover band that travels from bar to bar, the occasional wedding or graduation party, belting out songs we hijacked, capitalizing on someone else’s talent. I’d stop playing altogether, but music is ingrained in what remains of my soul. Even when I refuse to put my own words to melody, I’m still compelled to strum my guitar. Tad, my bass player can take over lead while I’m gone.
The worry comes from the weight of the situation I just placed myself in. There is no avoiding the past when I’m there. Every corner I turn down, every tree I pass, every building I enter will remind me of every good time and every bad one. Every face I see will remind me of the hate they showed her. I moved across the country, to a city where it rains more than the sun shines, because even a sunny day reminds me of her.
My father’s hurt . . . my mother needs me.
I repeat that to myself over and over again. After listening to the hurt and pain in my mother’s voice there is no way I’m letting her down again. Fuck, it’s been almost thirteen years. I should be over this . . . over her. My head knows this, but I’m having a hard time convincing my soul. It’s still fractured, searching for any tiny glimpse of it’s other half.
I’m going back to Harmony, Nebraska.
The worry intensifies and warps into manic fear.
Images start playing behind my eyelids like a movie reel. Everything is moving so fast. The order I’ve created, the walls I’ve solidified are quaking. I have to keep then in place. The arm covering my eyes, shakes. My breathing increases, the room grows hotter. I clutch my chest in an attempt to catch my breath, but I can’t seem to suck in air. I sit up, release my chest and clutch my throat instead. Panic grips me. Another side effect of my broken heart. He took her away from me, and in her place he left me with insomnia, panic attacks, and hallucinations of a beauty I’ll never see again.
A cool breeze engulfs me like an embrace.
My eyes snap open.
Green eyes meet my gaze . . . air fills my lungs . . . and I’m catapulted back to the beginning. 

Chapter 2
Friday, June 28, 1996
            “Shhh! Hurry up, get down, before she sees you.”
I look over at Fat Danny as his pudgy body rolls on the ground and his khaki covered thigh rustles the bush we are all huddling behind.
“You’re twelve not two; what part of shhh, did you not understand, butthead?” Brady whispers, right before he thumps Fat Danny on the back of his head.
“Ouch!” Fat Danny cries out, and then Skinny Danny starts laughing.
I roll my eyes at my friends. I slowly lift my head to peer over the top of the bush and I see the edge of a yellow curtain covered in white daisies flutter out the window.
“Is someone out there?” Summer Milano clutches the pink tank top she just removed to her chest. The most perfect set of tits I’ve ever seen—the only set of tits I’ve ever seen—are covered by pink lace and mashed together as she peeks her head out of the window. Those bountiful boobs of hers wind up propped on the windowsill. Summer looks around slowly in every direction.
I duck back down, grabbing a prickly handful of the lush bush to balance myself, praying the movement didn’t give away our location. I look each one of my rag tag gang in the eyes as I lift a finger to my mouth to silence them. Everyone attempts to get closer to each other and find more shelter behind the bush, and that’s when Skinny Danny trips over Brady and crunches a twig when he falls on his butt.
“I hear you! I know someone’s out there.” Summer screams. I peek around the side of the bush. Her espresso colored hair is blowing in the breeze with the yellow curtain. She narrows her eyes as they search in our direction. I jerk my head back.
Skinny Danny’s face contorts. We were all balancing on the balls of our feet, so as Skinny Danny turns slightly to rub his sore bum, he starts to rock unsteadily. He falls backwards, his head hits the dirt, and puts him right in Summer’s line of vision.
She gasps.
“Danny Stevens?”
At the sound of Summer’s voice I peek around the bush again just in time to see her ball her fists and plant them on her window ledge. Her cute, freckled nose scrunches up and her honey colored eyes squint at Skinny Danny.  
“I’m so telling your mother, you peeping little pervert!” Summer bellows, arm flailing as she leans through her window to point at him.
“No, no, please don’t tell my mom!” Skinny Danny begs.
On those words we all scramble to our feet and take off running.
“Danny C. . . .  James . . . Brady?” Her voice catches when she sees her brother. “I’m gonna kick your ass you little freak! And then I’m gonna tell Dad.”
The window slams shut.
We all burst into laughter and keep running as fast as we can away from Brady’s house. It’s a hot summer’s day and the sun seems to be directing all her glory my way. I swipe my hand over my forehead as sweat stings my eyes. We make it to Grover Street and I notice some neighborhood kids have opened the fire hydrant again. Water splashes as feet pounce up and down enjoying the cold reprieve on this scorching summer’s day. My New Balance tennis shoes skid to a halt, as I swing my arm out to stop Brady as he rushes up from behind. Skinny Danny is a few paces behind him, but Fat Danny is at least a block away, slowly wheezing his way toward our finish line.
I tilt my head at the hydrant and walk backwards in that direction. Smiles break out on their faces and we race in the direction of cool. We splatter each other as we stamp and jump in the stolen waves. Drenched but markedly cooler, we jostle each other playfully.
“Brady Milano!” Mrs. Johnson’s voice screeches our merriment to a halt. “I just got off the phone with your mama. She wants you at home right this instance!” One chubby finger is wagging at Brady, while her other hand is balled up and fisted on her hip. “What did you do this time?”
I heard my Aunt Kathy say once, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Damn the village! The village of Harmony always has its nose in everybody’s business. I’m surprised we are able to get away with anything in this town.
I glance at Brady and he squeezes his eyes shut. My eyes shoot to the Dannies and we all have matching looks of shame on our faces for the roles we’ve played in getting Brady in trouble. That’s when Fat Danny speaks up.
“Heck. You’ll be in the same amount of trouble if you go home now, that you’ll be in if you go home two hours from now, right?” We all look around at each other and smiles begin to creep across our faces.
“Jasper’s Lake?” I ask pointedly in Brady’s direction.  He is the one being hunted down after all.
“Why not?” His smile reappears, as he looks around our small circle. “Fat Danny’s right. Trouble is trouble. Might as well have as much fun as I can now before my dad grounds my ass for days.”
We take off in the opposite direction of Brady’s house.
“Didn’t you hear what I just said to you?” Mrs. Johnson begins to descend the steps of her porch. “Go home, Brady Milano!”
We ignore Mrs. Johnson as we rebel against obedience and head toward Jasper’s Lake. Each time my foot connects with the pavement, sloshing sounds are heard as my naked feet squish around in my soaked tennis shoes.
We reach Jasper’s and run toward the lake’s edge. Out of breath we fall to the ground, chests heaving, giggling at our great escape. The soft blades of grass prick at my naked calves as I lie with my arm behind my head panting and daydreaming about what I almost got to see. I twist my head Brady’s direction.
“Damn, Brady. Your sister is the most beautiful girl in Harmony.”  I close my eyes and picture her delicate hand reaching for the strap of her bra on her left shoulder. She was going to pull it off, but clumsy Skinny Danny had to fall and mess it all up. My vision disappears as I open my eyes.  They land on a frowning Brady.
“She is hardly the most beautiful anything.” Brady’s nose wrinkles and his lip curls. “She snores, she’s constantly digging for gold pulling those too small shorts out of her ass, and she belches when she thinks no one is watching.” He shudders as if he just got a chill. “She’s gross, and I don’t know why you buttheads were so geeked to see her boobs.” Butthead has become Brady’s new favorite word of late, ever since he went to New York to visit his grandma for a week and saw some show called Beavis and Butthead. Cable is a luxury we don’t have in Harmony. “But now that you mention the troll, cough it up.” Brady’s eyes sweep all of our faces. “Fifty cents a piece. Pay up.”
I raise an eyebrow and cross my arms over my chest.
            “Why are we paying when we didn’t get to see anything.”
            “You’re payin’ ‘cause it’s my sister’s knockers you almost saw.” He turns his head and glares at me before he rolls his eyes.  “Aaaand, you’re payin’ since you dipshits couldn’t even sit still long enough to not get caught!” He bulges his eyes at the two Dannys. Fat Danny drops his head and twists his baseball cap in his hand. Skinny Danny looks away.
“I’m the one who’s gonna get my ass reamed and probably put on punishment when my dad gets home and Summer blabs to him.”
            I pat Brady on the back. I didn’t want my best friend getting in trouble. The thought of seeing Summer Milano naked, completely blocked out the consequences. Brady’s sister is the hottest girl in Harmony High, despite his list of her flaws. Even getting a peek at her in that pink lacey bra was worth way more than the fifty cents he was charging. I dig in my pocket and pull out two quarters. I hand them to Brady. The Dannies follow suit.
“Aw, shit man. We’re sorry.”
            He just brushes it off and smiles.
“No biggie.” He shrugs. “Dude, I was trying to help ya’ll get a peek at some tits before we go to junior high next year. I can’t believe Fat Danny hasn’t got any boob action yet.” He shoves Fat Danny and his cheeks heat up as he looks away.
            Skinny Danny laughs nervously, probably in an attempt to keep the attention off his own lack of boob action. Truth be told, none of us have seen any real life boobs. Brady swears he did at summer camp but he has no way to prove it. We live in Harmony, Nebraska. The poster city for wholesome living. Being twelve years old in Harmony, the list of things we haven’t done or seen is long and comprehensive.
            “So what do you guys wanna do now?” Fat Danny asks. He picks up a pebble and tosses it. We watch it skip across the lake. “Wanna catch some frogs or go skinny dippin’?”
            As sweat drips off my forehead and into my eyes, the slight burn makes me blink. I swipe my hand over my face. “I could swim.” I shrug my shoulders. “It feels like Hades out here!”
            Skinny Danny laughs. “No, Hades is where Brady is going for looking at his sister naked.”
            “Yeah!” Fat Danny chimes in.
            Brady’s skin is tinted red and I doubt it has anything to do with the hot summer sun. “Eww, gross. I was not looking at that troll.” The look of disgust on his face is comical, and it kicks our laughter up a notch. “The only reason I was even there, was to make sure you guys didn’t lie and say you saw boobage, if you didn’t!”
            “So, you were going to look?” Skinny Danny eggs him on.
            Brady lunges forward. He grabs Skinny Danny, and puts him in a headlock. Then he rubs his knuckles back and forth across Skinny Danny’s head. Fat Danny is in hysterics rolling around on the grass holding his stomach.
            “Alright, alright! Skinny dipping it is.” I shout, because now that I’ve laughed so hard, I have to pee. “Last one in is a rotten egg!” That last statement incites our competitive nature. No one ever wants to be the last one in. We all head toward the lake, tossing articles of clothing in the air as we go; creating a laundry shower to fall all around Fat Danny as he rushes to try and catch up with us. Poor Fat Danny . . . he’s always the rotten egg. 
Chapter 3
            Walking home my stomach grumbles loudly reminding me that I’m late for dinner. As I stroll down the tree lined street, I see Lettie Carmichaels holding a basket and three tulips are sticking out of the top.  I also notice the scissors stuffed in her back pocket. She is in the process of turning the corner to go around the side of her neighbor’s house where her neighbor’s peonies are growing. Lettie kneels down and breathes in their sweet, fragrant scent. Her hand reaches around toward the back pocket of her jeans and she pulls out the shears. I sneak up quietly behind her, taking extra care to not make a sound. When I’m right behind her I shout . . .
“Ooo, Mrs. Greenberry is gonna have your hide over cutting her flowers, Lettie.” She jolts and turns quickly, the motion causes her to land flat on her butt. “Then when you get home, your mama is gonna tan it some more.”
Lettie is two grades below me in school. Her stringy blonde hair, long lanky legs and knobby knees are her stand out features. When she hears my admonishment, she scrunches her nose at me and says, “Mind your own business Jamie-Lamie.” Her tongue suddenly juts out and I pretend to charge and lunge her direction.
“Ahhhh!” She screeches and jumps up clumsily off the ground. “You stay away from me Jamie-Lamie, or I’m gonna tell Mrs. Ava on you!” She takes off towards the back of the house. Her arms flail dramatically, tulips scatter carelessly, while screaming at the top of her lungs.
Score. There’s nothing as rewarding as scaring the neighborhood twerps. I turn the corner on Sycamore Street and notice my little brother Caleb sitting on Nona Blumey’s stoop. He’s licking his hand from palm to fingertip, chocolate smeared on the corners of his mouth, his nose, and his chin.
“Hey, James,” he says as he licks the side of his hand. “You missed dinner.”
“Judging by your mug, I missed dessert too.” I toss my hand in the direction of his chocolate assaulted face. As my eyes travel down his torso, he looks like he’s been hosed down by Willy Wonka. His Power Rangers t-shirt and blue shorts didn’t survive the attack. “Whatever you were grazing on, did any of it actually make it into your mouth?”
“Yeah,” he nods his head vigorously. “Nona Blumey made chocolate babka!” Caleb smiles and the remnants of that babka are smeared on and between his teeth. “Mmm mmm, it was yummy!” He shoves his index finger in his mouth and removes it free of chocolate. “Then the ice cream truck drove by, and she bought me a chocolate ice cream cone.” I didn’t realize it was possible for his smile to get any bigger. “I didn’t eat it fast enough though, and most of it melted while I was telling Nona Blumey about the summer camp Mommy and Daddy are sending me to.” Well, that would explain the mocha hose down. I ruffle his hair and smirk at the little chocolate bandit.
Anne “Nona Blumey” Blumental, our next door neighbor, takes care of us every night until mom or dad gets home from our furniture store. We call Mrs. Blumenthal Nona, because she says we are like the grandkids she always wished she had. “Blumey” is a shortened version of Blumenthal created by Caleb, because that is all he could say of her name as a toddler. She laughed every time he said it, so the name kind of stuck. Nona Blumey, is like the dinosaurs . . . ancient and fascinating. She has to be at least sixty five years old. But she’s extremely cooler than any of the other adults in Harmony. She always explains things in a way that I understand perfectly; she doesn’t harass the kids in the neighborhood; and she doesn’t follow rules. For example, our bedtime is 8:30p.m, but on the nights Nona Blumey watches us bedtime is 10:00p.m. Once we had homemade ice cream and raspberry rugelach for breakfast at Nona Blumey’s. Caleb told mama when we got home, and the vein in her forehead nearly exploded. Man, that was funny.
As, I step over Caleb, I reach out and open the screen door. It bounces behind me before it closes completely. I glance around the room. Not only is Nona Blumey ancient, her house is a relic too. I take off my shoes and leave them at the linoleum tiled entryway. As I step into the living room my feet sink into green and black speckled shag carpet. It’s a storybook ranch time capsule, complete with wood paneling and a stone fountain wall. Nona Blumey has a decorative iron railing and a vaulted ceiling. Her egg shell colored sofa and love seat are splattered with bright orange flowers and covered by plastic. Even the bright carroty eye sores, better known as throw pillows, are covered by plastic. The unsightly sofas are finished off with uncomfortable wooden arm rests. 
Nona Blumey, has a thing about time. Every surface in her great room is covered with antique clocks. The walls are decorated with various styles of cuckoo clocks, all of which chime on the hour, some even chime on the half hour. In the corner of the room near the entryway is an ornately carved grandfather clock that also chimes on the hour. Standing in Nona Blumey’s living room when the hour chimes anew, is like being serenaded by a hodge-podge selection of instruments, all playing a different melody, but somehow they manage to complement each other in tune. Each time they chime, I close my eyes and savor their song. Every hour there is a slight transformation in their treble. Somehow I’m the only one who detects the difference in their ditty. Sometimes I make up lyrics to go along with their cadence. For thirty seconds each hour, I’m intrigued and challenged by those clever chronometers.
Once I asked Nona Blumey why she had so many clocks and she said to me, “Lost time is never found again.” Some old scientist guy that created bifocals said that. What in the heck does that even mean, lost time is never found again? I have no clue, but as I attempt to come up with lyrics to immortalize each thirty second tune, Nona Blumey seems sad and thoughtful during the cuckoo’s carol.
The parts of the mantle and end tables not covered by clocks, are covered by ceramic bobble heads and porcelain or crystal animals. I think you’d have to be a ninja to dust this room without knocking over and breaking everything in sight. As old and decrepit as this place is, it’s my favorite place to be. The standout feature of her living room is the amazing picture window/window seat combination. You can see the entire neighborhood from that window.
“I’m here, Nona, sorry I’m late!” I yell my greeting as I walk toward the window, and I can hear her pattering about in the kitchen.
I glance across the street and Lettie is back at shoplifting flowers. Out of the corner of my eye I see Mrs. Greenberry come out of her front door. Her eyes squint Lettie’s direction as she tiptoes down her steps. Her mouth falls open when she hits the bottom step and recognition sets in to what’s taking place in her yard. She doesn’t waste a moment more to rush toward Lettie. Her finger wags in the shrinking girls face, her head whips in the direction of her pirated peony bush and her eyes bulge as she refocuses her anger to Lettie.  Mrs. Greenberry reaches out and grabs Lettie by her ear and then swats her twice across her bottom. Lettie grabs her bum and by the expression on her face, she over-exaggerates her cries as Mrs. Greenberry marches her towards Lettie’s front door. Mrs. Greenberry and Lettie’s mom have a brief conversation right before Mrs. Carmichaels swats Lettie on her butt too. 
Gotta love the village.
“Busted!” I exclaim as I laugh and point at the scene before me.
“Who’s busted?” Nona Blumey asks, as she enters holding a plate in one hand and a glass of milk in the other. She places the dinner she warmed up for me on her wooden coffee table. My mom would have insisted I sit at the kitchen table or in the dining room. Nona Blumey would let me eat in the bathtub if I wanted. See . . . no rules.
“Oh, just that butt-face Lettie Carmichaels.” Nona Blumey squints her eyes and tilts her head at me in a warning. “I mean the flower-stealing-girl-across-the-street-who’s-face-only-resembles-a-butt. Is that better, Nona?”
Nona Blumey tosses her hands in the air and shakes her head as if I’m a lost cause, and moves to the front door to check on my brother. “Caleb, don’t leave this porch without letting me know where you are going.”
“Okay, Nona Blumey.” Caleb answers.
Nona walks back into the living room and the sofa squeals as her bum connects with the plastic. “James, honey, you and your brothers are spending the night with me tonight.” My eyebrows squish together.
“We’re staying here tonight?” I ask mid-chew as I turn to look at Nona Blumey. “Mom didn’t say we were spending the night.”
“Well, she came home for lunch to tell you. But you and your friends were off doing heaven knows what.” She stops and crosses her arms over her chest. “By the way, you know looking into a girl’s window is a violation of her privacy, right?” My eyes widen and my mouth drops open. “Margaret called.” Answering my look. Damn the village! Mrs. Johnson called Nona when Brady didn’t go home.
“After Margaret called, I called Sadie to find out what her son did this time. Sadie is the one who told me her son and his friends . . .” she stops to point at me, “you included—were peeping in her daughter’s window.” Nona shakes her head at me as she reaches into the basket on the side of the orange splattered eye sore and grabs her crochet hook and yarn. “Why were you boys looking in Summer’s window today?”
I think for only a moment before I answer Nona Blumey truthfully. “I didn’t want to be the only seventh grader who hasn’t seen a pair of tits . . .” Nona’s eyes grow wide and I realize maybe I should have used a more appropriate word. “Boobies . . .” that one must not be right either because now she’s blushing but her lips quirk up at the ends. “Breasts! I mean breasts.” Nona breaks into a full out belly laugh. Her head drops to the back of the sofa, her hand clutching the hook manages to grab onto her midsection as her merriment continues.
I’m sitting on the floor eating dinner at the coffee table. I drop my fork and elbow Nona’s knee because I can’t believe she’s still laughing at me.  She looks down at me through her amusement and I pout. She rubs my shoulder.
“I’m not laughing at you, child.”
“It’s pretty obvious you are laughing at me, Nona.” I slouch even more, as my back connects to the sofa. Nona shakes her head as she finally regains her composure.
“No. I’m laughing at the fact that you and your friends believe you are the only twelve year old boys in Harmony, that haven’t seen a set of boobies.” She snickers again, and I look away because now she really is laughing at me.
“My Jamie, always in such a rush to grow up. Never thinking about the consequences.” The playful tone has drained from her voice and I glance her way. She points her hook at me. “Did you stop to think about how Summer might feel about you boys using her body as a hurdle to satisfy some preteen milestone?”
“No.” I answer honestly as I look up expectantly toward Nona, for the jewels of wisdom I know I’m going to get whether I want them or not.
“I didn’t think so.” She frowns at me. “How would you feel if little butt-face Lettie and a group of her friends stood outside your window to get a peek at your little peter?” She points her hook towards my lap, and I feel my face heat. Disgust and embarrassment fill me, as I think about the possibility of someone looking at me naked without my knowledge or permission. As she starts crocheting, she continues her speech, “Yeah, I didn’t think you’d like that. Well I’m sure Summer didn’t enjoy your little experiment today either.”
I drop my head and toy with my shoelace. Nona rubs my shoulder and I look up into the most beautiful weathered face I know and she gives me her priceless smile. “Every human being deserves respect, Jamie, never forget that. Did you give Summer respect today?”
“No, ma’am.”
“Then I think she deserves an apology, don’t you?” Her warm smile and Yoda-like knowledge always makes me view things different.
“Yes, ma’am.”
“That’s my sweet boy, now eat your dinner before it gets cold.” She leans over, kisses my temple, and goes back to her blanket.
“Your mama is helping a friend tomorrow morning,” she pauses and nudges me with her knee. “Your Aunt Kathy has arrived to town earlier than expected because her husband is being deployed overseas. That’s why you all are spending the night with me.” She smiles. I think she enjoys our overnight visits more than we do.
I smile at the thought of seeing my Aunt Kathy again.  She’s not my real aunt, she’s my mom’s best friend from college. It’s been awhile since she’s come to visit.
“She’s has her daughters with her this time. Your mom wants you to keep them company and she needs you to help your dad in the store.”
Great. I’m pretty sure Brady is on lock down for the rest of the week, and now I’m stuck with babysitting duty at the furniture store with kids I haven’t seen since I was eight years old. This sucks monkey balls! I can’t even hang with the Dannies because I’ll be stuck with girly brats all day. I’m dreading tomorrow . . . what a waste of a perfect summer’s day.

Copyright © 2016 by A.F. Diamond
All rights reserved

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sneak Peek: The Pretty Wings Chronicles, Book 2 - Prologue (unedited version)

I knew I would love her. Even my thirteen year old heart detected the skip in beat, when I saw her that first time.  I still can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the skip.

Maybe it was the way she walked on the balls of her feet with a rhythm and sway that made me imagine at any moment she would launch into dance. The grace and flow of her movements creating beats in my head, and making my hands itch to write a new melody, just to see her dance to it.

Maybe it was her smile. No . . . not just her smile alone; it was her smile paired with a look of confidence as she walked down Main Street, where everyone present stopped what they were doing to openly gape at her. She didn’t even appear to notice their glares, although it was impossible to miss them. Instead she added extra pep in her step, a subtle middle finger to the disdain filled faces following her every movement.
Maybe it was the way she gripped her sister’s hand with one of her own while her other arm draped protectively around the smaller version of herself’s shoulder.
Maybe, through all the attention and stares she ignored, my heart skipped a beat because it was my stare she acknowledged.
Looking into those resilient green eyes, I saw it all: That melodic walk of hers falter; her smile fade slowly as her mouth fell slightly open; the grip relax on her sister’s shoulder.
The longing I felt for her was reflected back at me through her eyes. Love at first sight, didn’t seem like such a crazy notion to me now. There is no question, no doubt, no misinterpretation; I always knew I would love her.
I knew she was different. Maybe it was the way she twirled and leaped, her arms and body swaying to a beat, yet there was no music to be heard. I thought I was the only one who walked through life with a soundtrack blaring in my head, as a backdrop to my thoughts and actions. I carried a notepad with me everywhere to jot down the endless flow of lyrics that came to me. She didn’t need a notepad. She created entire symphonies in her mind, but her body translated it into dance.
Maybe it was her ever changing mahogany tresses. I’d never seen or felt hair like hers before. I loved running my fingers through it. One day they were a mass of unruly, springy curls; standing out in every direction, demanding to be noticed. If you were lucky enough to touch them you’d find they were textured and soft. The next day her long locks would be straightened, smooth and silky and you’d wonder if you imagined the massive crown the day before. One day braids . . . one day twists. Always something new to discover.
Maybe it was in the way we were able to complete each other’s sentences. She knew me in a way no one else took the time to. She valued my thoughts, encouraged my dreams . . . we were artistic soul mates. I was the musician she was the dancer. Always completing each other.
            Maybe it was her ability to see the positive, when everything around us was negative. She found the treasure hidden in the trash, the love underneath every hateful word.
            Maybe she was different because I was hers and she was mine.
I knew I would lose her. Loving her wasn’t an option or a choice. Loving her was embedded deep inside of me . . . awakened by her presence. My love for her came as natural to me as breathing. One soul existing in two separate bodies that became whole again when our eyes connected.  My love for her is omnipresent, all consuming, and life affirming.
As much as I felt the love . . . I felt the loss just as deeply. It crept up on us daily. It was inevitable. Even the brightest light will fade one day. Nothing this beautiful lasts forever.
At thirteen I found my soul mate.
Five years, six months, three weeks, twelve hours.
That was the amount of time my heart was full.
That was the amount of time I lived a dream.
That was the amount of time I experienced what it was like to truly love and be loved.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. I finally understood why Mrs. Hildebrand made us read that Dickens book. That quote summed up my life.
Five years, six months, three weeks, twelve hours.
During this time people I knew my entire life became strangers to me.
During this time a place I was born and raised in became foreign.
During this time I learned the true meaning of hate.
“Protecting and guiding humans on earth” . . . that is a defining characteristic of an
angel. She did that for me and everyone around her. At eighteen my life was irreversibly altered. God took my figurative angel and turned her into one literally.
Five years, six months, three weeks, twelve hours. I’d give you the minutes and even down to the seconds if I could, but I wasn’t there when my heart stopped beating.
She was my heart.
I’m certain time stopped when my heart skipped a beat that second time. Even hundreds of miles away I knew. But who really cares about time? Counting our time together no longer mattered. It never did, to anyone except me. The music in my head stopped playing, but why would it continue? She would never dance for me again.
Everything ended when she did.
My heart skipped a beat when I fell in love with her. It skipped again . . . the same night our soul was severed.

Copyright © 2015 by A.F. Diamond
All rights reserved



SNEAK PEEK: Surviving Harmony: Prologue

January 7, 2002

Harmony, NE

 Darkness is defined as the absence or lack of light.

At this very moment, that definition not only describes my surroundings, it describes me. The fact that I’m still breathing is the only light in my life that’s left.  Everything else feels dark. Dead.

I’ve been pulling against the rope so long, I can no longer feel my wrists. All I feel is the wetness dripping down my arm. I don’t know if the darkness is due to the time of day or just the fact that I cannot open my eyes since my face was used as a punching bag by the monsters keeping me in my own private version of hell.

I lie here shivering on the cold concrete floor, and no longer count the seconds going by. I no longer pray for a savior that I know isn’t coming. I simply bask in the nothingness.

I never would have thought that I would long to feel numb, but after being subjected to so much pain, my brain has short circuited and now I feel nothing—and feeling nothing is much better than what I’ve endured for the last two days. Wait . . . has it been two or three days? I’ve lost concept of time. I’m just happy that the monsters have gone away and left me in my darkness. Although I doubt it was their intent, to gift me the quiet. It is a dark paradise I revel in.

We grow up with “stranger danger” drilled into our heads. We learn to fear the stranger who offers candy to lure us to some unknown hideout to do despicable things. Strangers will hurt us and steal us away from our families. Strangers attack ladies who go for jogs alone. Strangers are monsters who possess the power to hurt us.    

But the monster that lured me away didn’t need candy. The lure was acceptance, love, things I thought my friend was offering. 

That’s the problem with “stranger danger:” nothing is ever edified about fearing the monsters we know. The people who live among us, gain our trust and use it against us, doing far worse than any stranger ever could. 

I learned this lesson a little too late.

I understand God punishing me for my stupidity. My mother always said I was too trusting. My sister Tangy used the word innocent. I can accept my fate because maybe I deserve this for being so naïve, and trusting whatever I’m told. But why, oh why, did she have to follow me? Now they are teaching us both lessons we will never forget. I just pray we will get the chance to learn from them. I pray we live through this experience so history will never be forced to repeat itself. If I am ever able to get out of this place, trust will only be granted to the deserving, if it’s granted at all. If I try really hard, maybe I can focus on finding a way out of this hell. 

Warm air blows against my skin, and though I should welcome it, I don’t. Whenever the warm air returns, so do they. 

I try to mentally prepare myself for what’s next. I know I can’t stop whatever they have planned but I can retreat to that place in my head where I don’t feel much. If I survive this I know one thing for certain, I will never let my guard down again. I won’t be so trusting and naïve. I will never leave myself open for another monster to deceive me.
Surviving Harmony
Copyright © 2015 by A.F. Diamond
All rights reserved