Sunday, May 31, 2020


Assassins Inc. 6

coming July 2020

My name is Ion and I'm a handler for the panther council. It's my job to keep the assassins assigned to me safe and informed while they complete their missions. I'm good at my job. I'm just not real good at keeping myself safe so when someone started hunting me, I did the smart thing. I ran.

My name is Storm. I'm a panther assassin. I kill people for a living and I feel no regrets. Ever. When sent to rescue a geeky little human, I was shocked to discover he was my mate. I don't want a mate. I'll keep Ion safe until I can return him to headquarters, but I'll be damned if I claim him, not even when his life is in danger.

I'd known since the moment I was born that I was ordinary. I wasn't fat. I wasn't skinny. I wasn't tall. I wasn't short. I wasn't manly. I wasn't effeminate. I wasn't even overly muscled or frail.
I had basic brown hair. Not light honey brown hair or deep chestnut brown. Just brown. Mouse brown. I had brown eyes, too. They weren't deep chocolate brown or light caramel brown. They were just brown. Mouse brown. All of me was brown except my skin and it was just bland.
There was nothing spectacular about me.
Which made me totally confused as I watched two men pummel each other over me. Me. At least, I think they were fighting over me. That part was still a little sketchy.
I had been standing there drinking a beer when the dark haired guy—who was about to get punched in the face—had walked up to me, leaned in and sniffed, then growled. Blondie had flown out of nowhere and taken the dark haired dude down to the ground and the fight had commenced.
I stood there with my beer in my hand and my jaw hanging down to my chest as the two rather muscular men rolled around on the floor, biting and clawing at each other in between punches.
It really was very weird.
I knew neither of these men. I'd never even seen them before. Maybe they weren't fighting over me. Maybe I had just gotten caught in the cross fire so to speak.
Yeah, that was probably it.
I just couldn't imagine someone fighting over me.
Don't get me wrong. I didn't consider myself ugly by any means, and I'd had my share of dates, and one spectacular relationship that had totally gone up in flames after three months. But I wasn't sitting at home crying into my Cheerios over my lack of love life.
Besides, I was out of Cheerios.
Fight or no fight, the two men were putting on quite the show. It was obvious even to the stupidest man—and I never claimed to be stupid. Boring, yes. Stupid, no—that both men were in very good shape. Muscles were overflowing all over the place.
When they started to roll in my direction, I grabbed my drink and hopped up onto the bar top. I knew I should just leave, but there was no way I was taking off before the fight ended. It wasn't so much that I wanted to know why they were fighting, but more that I was having a hard time tearing my eyes away from all that beautiful tanned skin.
They were really spectacular.
I groaned when my phone buzzed. I wanted to ignore it, but I knew that would be a very bad idea. I pulled it out of my pocket and glanced at the screen. Damn, I knew it. Today was supposed to be my day off, but it didn't look like that was going to happen.
I stared at my drink for a moment before setting it on the counter. I'd like nothing more than to guzzle down the last of it, but if I was headed to work I had to be sober. I wasn't sure why I was needed back to work, but the nature of my job demanded a clear mind.
I glanced at the two men fighting one last time, wishing I could stay and congratulate the winner and maybe console the loser, then hopped off the bar and started for the door.
I was grabbed before I took two steps. I glanced down at the hand on my forearm then up to the man who that hand belonged to. It was one of the guys who'd been fighting. The blond stood behind him.
The man shot me a grin. "You're not leaving so soon, are you, sweetness? The party's just getting started."
I jerked my arm out of his strong grasp. "Sorry, I have to go to work."
I frowned at the tone of the man's amused chuckle. I reared back when he raised a hand toward my face. I didn't know this guy. He had no right to touch me.
"And what's a pretty little boy like you do?'
"I bet you have some rich sugar daddy somewhere, don't you."
I took a step away only to back into another body. I knew without looking it was his buddy. Why the two of them had been fighting, I had no idea, and this point, I no longer cared. They were both quickly losing their appeal.
I stepped to one side and tried to walk around the man in front of me. I frowned when he stepped in front of me. "Excuse me."
"Don't leave, sweetness," the brown haired guy said. "Things were just getting interesting."
"Like I said, I have to get to work."
There was something about this situation that I wasn't getting. I wasn't the sort of man that two guys fought over. Like I said, I didn't think I was ugly, but I wasn't all that either.
This didn't make sense.
"Please, excuse me."
"Hmm, I like the way you say please."
"I'm not interested." I raised my voice so everyone would hear me. I wanted it made clear that these guys had nothing I wanted. Well, they did. It was just too bad their attitude went along with the gorgeous bodies. "Please, move so I can leave."
"Naw." The brown haired guy chuckled. "The party is just getting started."
As soon as he started to pick me up, I lashed out. One kick to the balls and one sharp jab to the throat, and I was released, only to be grabbed by the blond behind me. I jabbed my elbow back into his gut. I heard his breath come out in a quick gust of air. I lifted my leg as I spun in a round house quick and nailed him on the side of the head.
He went down.
The brown haired guy roared with outrage as he reached for me. I shot out with my hand, two quick jabs. He gasped as he grabbed his throat and dropped to his knees.
"No means no, asshole." I stepped around the two men and walked out the front door. I hurried down the street to the bus stop.
After checking to make sure I hadn't been followed, I used my phone to check in and make sure I wasn't being called into work for something life threatening. That would require a cab and not a bus ride.
Nothing seemed blaringly apparent, but looks could be deceiving, and often were, as the two men back at the bar had just discovered. I was small, but I was scrappy. My father had been teaching me self defense since I was in diapers. I knew how to take care of myself.
I just wish every other person on the face of the planet taller than five foot seven inches tall would figure that out as well. My mother had been five foot four inches tall. My father stood at five foot ten inches tall. I didn't have a chance in hell.
Being short sucked.

Monday, May 18, 2020

FINISHED & SUBMITTED: Crashing Into Forever


Hot Mess; Friends & Family 3

coming June 2020

I'd wanted Sam Brodsky for ages, but because I didn't trust many people, I'd placed him firmly in the friend category when we first met and I was having a hard time pulling him out. I wanted him in the lover category. I just didn't know if he wanted the same thing.

Angelo Delvecchio was a great friend. He'd make an even better lover. I was positive of it. I just had to get him to realize how good we could be together. When he invited me to spend the weekend at his house on the beach, I knew this was my opportunity to prove it.

It seemed as if the fates had something else in mind. When we received an emergency call from a friend, we jump on Angelo's jet to fly home, only we didn't make it. Surviving a plane crash is the least of our worries. We need to survive the people hunting us while we try to figure out who they are and what they want, but at least I got a kiss out of it.

I glanced at Sam's phone when it rang. I thought about not answering it, but my avid curiosity—and maybe a bit of jealousy—got the better of me.
It said private number.
"Who is this?" I asked after swiping my finger across the screen.
"Who is this?" came the terse reply.
I bristled with indignation. I couldn't remember the last time someone had talked to me like this. "This is Officer Sam Brodsky's phone and—"
"I know who's phone it is. That's who I was calling."
"Who is this?" I repeated.
"This is Lyn. Who is this?"
"Oh, Lyn." I blew out a relieved breath. "This is Angelo. Sam is in the shower. Can I take a message?"
"Do you think you could go get him? This is kind of an emergency."
"Yes, of course." I started walking toward the guest room. "Give me just a moment." I pressed the phone to my chest and rapped my knuckles on the bathroom door. "Hey, Sam? Lyn is on the phone. He says it's an emergency."
I caught a flash of naked skin and rounded ass as Sam turned off the shower, opened the stall door, and reached for a towel.
I was sad to see all that skin covered up.
I handed the phone over when Sam held out his hand.
"What'd Lany do now?" Sam asked. He was silent for a moment as if he was listening to Lyn talk and then he asked, "Lyn?" He chuckled. "Okay, just making sure." Sam put the phone on speaker then set it on the counter. He reached for an extra towel and began drying off.
I had no shame.
I leaned against the doorframe and watched.
"Sal and Lany are busy because Lany fell and hurt himself," Lyn said in a harried voice. "David is on his way to the airport to fly back from visiting his aunt. You're next on my list."
"I'm in Martha's Vineyard, Lyn."
"Martha's Vineyard?" Lyn sounded confused.
"What are you doing there?"
Sam grinned at me. "Angelo wanted to show his beach house."
I wanted to show him more than that. I just wasn't sure how to go about it. I had carefully cultivated my friendship with Sam Brodsky over the years, wanting to make sure he was a man I could trust.
I'd met a lot of boneheads in my time.
Unfortunately, my hesitation pushed us firmly into the friends category and I'd been trying for ages to move us into the boyfriend category. I thought this trip to my beach house might do it, but it looked like I might have hoped for too much.
"Did you all get the week off or something?" Lyn asked.
I was confused for a moment until I remembered that Officer Lyn Philips had resigned from the SWAT unit Sam served on. He'd gone to work for the FBI's cyber crimes division. Both were dangerous as hell. I'd rather run my corporation. At least there, if someone tried to stab you in the back, it was usually financial and not lethal.
"Sal gave us all a three day weekend so he could spend some time with Lany and the kids."
I waved my hand until I caught Sam's attention then quickly mouthed that I could fly him home in just a few hours if he needed to go. I understood Sam's dedication to his job and his friends. That was the world I wanted to belong to.
"Angelo says he can have his jet fly us back," Sam explained to Lyn, "but it'll still be a few hours. Can you hold out that long?"
"Probably not."
Sam's eyes were pinched with worry when he shot me a look. "Have you called Clarke?"
"No, not yet. I still have a few people I can call."
Sam rolled his eyes. "You can call Clarke, you know. He was a little bent out of shape when you quit, but I'm sure he'd still help you if you're in trouble."
"I'll call him if I can't find anyone else."
"I'll have my pilot get the jet ready. We can fly out as soon as you're dressed," I whispered before pulling my cell phone out of my pocket and quickly typing out a message to my pilot. He was new so I didn't know how long it would take him to get things going.
"Okay, Lyn." Sam sighed. "Angelo says he'll fly us back tonight. We should be there in a few hours."
"Let me see if I can get a hold of Vinnie first. I don't want you to have to cut your trip short. I'll talk to you later, Sam."
Lyn hung up before either Sam or I could say anything more.
"What was that all about?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't know, but Lyn usually isn't the one in trouble. Lany is."
Oh, I'd heard about the things my brother-in-law did, and they made me shudder. My brother should get a freaking metal.
"How much time do you need to get ready to go?" I asked.
I guess it was a good thing we hadn't gotten unpacked yet.
"Ten minutes tops."
"Okay, I'm going to grab my bag and call for a driver." I glanced at my watch. "We should be to the airport in about thirty minutes."
"Hey, Ang, I appreciate you doing this. I know you wanted to spend the weekend here. I'm sorry we have to go back early."
I shrugged so he wouldn't know how much I wanted this, and how much I hated leaving. "We can come back another weekend."
"Yeah, but how many weekends do you get off from work and have a sitter for Cole?"
Not many.
It had pretty much taken having all the planets aligned just to be here now.
Still, my thoughts went back to how much Sam cared about his friends. If I wanted in his life in a more permanent manner, I had to accept that about him. I even appreciated that about him.
Sam Brodsky was made loyal.
"I'm sure we can figure out another weekend."
I'd tell Sam Brodsky anything he liked as long as he kept smiling at me like I mattered. 
"Get dressed."
I turned and walked out of the room before I could stay and beg.
I was close.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


So, this is a plea from a mother.
My youngest daughter is a CNA in a retirement home. The facility where she works is on lockdown. No one in, no one out. The only people allowed to come and go are the staff and the person who comes in to test them to see if they have Covid-19. Even the doctors are doing their check-ins by video call.
Her facility practices safe procedures. They wear gowns, gloves, eye protection, and facemasks. It's the facemasks I want to talk about. Her facility has issued each staff members four (4) N95 masks due to the shortage of masks across the world. Four. Why four? Because current believe is that Covid-19 cannot live on N95 material for more than three (3) days. So, they get four, and they rotate one out every day. They masks are sprayed with alcohol in-between uses and they are not allowed to leave the facility with the workers.

My daughter is on the frontlines, giving care to those who cannot care for themselves. While I am so proud of her I could bust, I'm also terrified for her. Quitting her job isn't an option for my daughter. She needs her income to pay bills and put food on the table. With so many people out of work, holding onto her job is very important to her.
Her fiancé is also an essential worker. He works in a grocery store and faces new obstacles every day from people fed up with how things are in the world right now. People are frustrated. I get that, but he is just doing his job. The same job he's had for several years. The same job he had before this chaos started. It is not his fault that there might not be something stocked on the shelves. It's not his fault you have to wear a mask when you go into the store. It's not his fault that any of this is happening. He's just trying to support his family, my family, the best way he can.
I have not been able to hug my daughter since the stay-at-home order went into effect. I've had to stand six feet away and tell her how much I want to hug her and that I love her more than the air I breathe.
I've had to do this with all of my children and my grandchildren. Six feet apart, masks on, wave through the window, video call. I fear that this is the way of life currently and pray it ends soon. I only ask that you all remember that there are those out there doing the best that they can, and appreciate the sacrifices they are making to make sure our world continues to go round.
And as my daughter says, the signs and honks and Air Force flybys for frontline workers are wonderful, very much appreciated, but if you really want to thank us, wear a mask and adhere to safety guidelines.