Flash Fiction #73 – Winter Road

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Rural winter snowy landscape

Welp, it’s the first flash fiction of the new year, and I’m staring at this picture that looks entirely too much like it looks outside and trying to come up with story that’s not me whining about how cold I am and how much I hate to drive in the snow. Both of these things are true, but me whining doesn’t make for good fiction.

*  *  *  *  *

The snow blushed pink under the glow of the early morning sunrise as Ruby walked in the tire ruts of the rarely used road that led to the farthest edge of her family’s contested property. Her boot prints from last night were still clear in the tracks, heading in the opposite direction. She supposed she could have spent the night there at the farmhouse and saved herself the trouble and strain of walking the five miles back and forth from the motel. After all, she had a key to the house.

But the estate had been tied up in probate court since her grandma had died four years earlier, and the gas and electricity had been shut off while the lawyers tried to sort out who got what and when. It was far too cold to stay there in the winter. Besides, it was a little too haunted for her tastes.

Ruby climbed the wide, but rickety, front steps and unlocked the front door. The house smelled like it always did. Old grease, stale cigarette smoke, and underneath it all, old mothballs and decay. The decor hadn’t been updated since the forties, and the whole house looked like a time capsule. Whichever relative ended up with the house could probably make a killing on antiques in this place.

Swallowing thickly, she pulled her supplies from her bag. Just like she’d done every New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, she sprinkled holy water and salt around the perimeter of each room, taking care to lay extra at the threshold of basement stairs. Making sure the dead stayed buried.

It wasn’t just that her grandfather had died down there, it was all the people he’d killed down there. Farm hands. Migrant workers. People from the halfway house looking for work. And she was doing her part to follow her grandma’s wishes–making sure the dead stayed buried.

But this was it–this was the last time she’d do it. The case would finally get a hearing sometime in the spring, and the house and its dead would be someone else’s problem. She’d be on a beach in Mexico, living off the money she’d found hidden in the back of the cupboard last night when she was looking for a can of anything edible and non-expired.

If the ghosts followed, at least she’d be warm while they haunted her.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. 

Siobhan  *  Kayleigh  *  Gwen  *  Kris  *  Jess

Flash Fiction #64 – Ghost

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This month’s song fic was inspired by Ghost by Halsey. If you’d like, you can read the lyrics here and/or watch the video here. 

“What are we even doing?”

Ryan sighed. “We’re trying to get some sleep because we have an early flight.”

A car drove slowly down the street, its headlights bouncing around the perimeter of the bedroom, and I shifted against the pillow I had propped up against the headboard. In the temporary illumination, I stared down at the man in my bed. My husband, I supposed.

It was weird. Like I was looking at him from a distance despite the fact that if I shifted, I could feel him next to me. But it was still as if I were looking at him through inches-thick plexiglass. Trick of the light or trick of my broken heart? The car fully passed, plunging the room into darkness again.

He wasn’t the same man I’d married. Though, to be fair, I wasn’t the same woman I was ten years ago, either. I knew why I’d changed. If you spend long enough kissing someone whose mouth is always full of lies, it poisons you. Changes your perception of everything around you–even yourself.

I missed the guy I’d fallen in love with, but more and more lately, I was wondered if he ever existed. The soul I’d loved had vanished, and in its place was an empty shell I didn’t recognize. And even more important, I didn’t like him.

His breathing had deepened and evened out as another car passed, illuminating the room again. The white fabric of his t-shirt seemed to glow. He was a ghost sleeping next to me.

But I was done trying to sleep. And I was done swallowing lies.

Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ stories. Hopefully, they’re a little more upbeat.

Jess * Kris * Siobhan * Kayleigh * Gwen * Deelylah

Flash Fiction #58 – When the Wind Blows

 

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This month’s song fic is When the Wind Blows by The All American Rejects. Here are the lyrics and the video if you want to give it a read and/or listen.

I stood in the middle of the living room and stared at her. She was playing with the dog. It was always the fucking dog. I didn’t have anything against dogs–even small, yappy ones like that–but the dog had become her way of brushing me off. Any time I brought up something she didn’t want to discuss–or even hear–she’d start playing with the terrier.  Like now.

“Does Bella want a treat? Does she? Does mommy’s baby want a treat?”

Predictably, Bella began dancing and yapping at Shellie’s feet, drowning out everything else in the room, and our conversation would be conveniently forgotten. I turned and went into the bedroom. I knew when I’d been dismissed.

I used to think we’d get back to our discussions–that she’d get a handle on her distractibility. Instead, Shellie would navigate around whatever we’d been talking about in the first place, avoiding it like it was quicksand. Then, she’d just act like nothing had ever happened and expect me to play along. I eventually realized that this wasn’t markedly different than the rest of our relationship. Bella had just made it easier for Shellie avoid stuff she didn’t want to deal with and made it more obvious to me. I supposed that little mutt had done me a favor.

I unzipped my backpack and started packing. It wasn’t like I had a lot there. One drawer in the dresser and half a shelf in the medicine cabinet. Unplugging my laptop and phone I shoved them in my computer case and grabbed both bags.

Shellie looked up at me as stepped into the living room, and her brow furrowed. “Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“I thought we were going to watch a movie.”

I grabbed the bag of dog treats off the end table and shook it. Bella danced around my feet, putting her little paws on my thighs. “Does Bella want a treat? Does she?”

“Karen? What are you doing?”

“I’m giving Bella a treat,” I said, keeping my gaze fixed on the dog. “Aren’t I, girl. Yes, I am. I’m giving the puppy a treat.”

I gave her two. I figured owed her for being instrumental in figuring shit out. Tossing the bag back on the table, I pulled open the front door.

“When are you coming back?”

The dog darted for the open door, but I gently nudged her back. “Who’s a good girl? That’s right, Bella is,” I crooned to her in that same annoying voice Shellie insisted on using.

From the corner of my eye, I could see that she’d stood. “Karen?

“Bye, Bella.” I shut the door and walked down the front steps.

I could breathe again.

That’s it for me this week. Be sure to see what the other bloggers came up with. Kayleigh, DeelylahKris, and Siobhan.

Flash Fiction #55 – Steampunk Dude

 

Octavia turned up the flame in the gas lantern mounted on the wall of the subterranean workshop.  There was barely enough light to see, but she couldn’t risk bringing her work upstairs. If the guild realized what she was attempting to do, they’d stop her. And she couldn’t let that happen–not when she was so close.

Sliding her goggles over her eyes, she turned on her headlamp then wiped her greasy hands on her oilcloth apron. The last thing she needed to do was drop the soldering iron and bust it before she had a chance to use it. Activating the tiny hydraulic arm that swung the magnifying glass back and forth, she moved it out of her way so she could focus on securing it to the base, careful not to let the solder bead up and run onto his skin. Jules was already injured so badly, she didn’t want to make it worse by burning him with molten metal.

It was possible he wouldn’t feel anything no matter what she did. Sudden tears clogged her throat, but she swallowed hard, forcing them away and focused on her repairs.

Once his favorite accessory was secure–he’d be furious if he woke up and couldn’t use it–she gently pushed his hair from his face, exposing the tiny gears that now worked to open and close his left eye. Swapping out the soldering iron for a set of miniature screwdrivers, she made infinitesimal tension adjustments to the the roller chain around the helical cogwheels, until they spun without sticking.

The sound of metal hitting stone echoed above her, and she startled, dropping the screwdriver. It rolled under the workbench Jules sat motionless on.

“Octavia!” he father roared.

She glanced toward the tiny window set high in the heavy wood door. Lights bobbed as her father and several other guild members descended the steep stairwell. She was out of time. Dropping to her knees, she quickly turned the large clock key that protruded from Jules’ chest. It took both hands and all of her strength to fully wind it.

Fists pounded against the aged wood, almost drowning out the sound of the clockwork heart ticking to life. Jules slowly lifted his head, and her hands fell away from him as she sat back on her heels. Lifting his hand, he adjusted the magnifying glass and peered around the room, his left eye opening and closing perfectly.

“Jules?”

Tracking the sound of her voice, he turned toward her and stared, slowly blinking. There was no recognition. He saw her, but there was nothing there. Nothing left of her Jules.

That’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other photo flash fic by clicking the names: Jess, Kris, Deelylah, and Kayleigh.

Flash Fiction #51 – Red Cape

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44148085 - mysterious woman in red cloak

I peered through a broken window in the once spectacular public museum. They were coming. Hooded cloaks and greatcoats hiding their identity as they walked along what had once been the portico to one of the most amazing libraries in the entirety of North America.

It was hard to believe that only three years ago this had been building had been full of life–full of students, professors, families, even tourists. Now, it was a shell. The books that hadn’t been destroyed by the oppressors for containing “treasonous content” had since been used by the homeless as kindling. And we were all homeless, now. Well, more of us than not. There was nothing left for us anymore. No jobs. No way to pay back our mountains of student loans for degrees we’d never use. We were all surviving as best we could.

In the basement of the library, searching for the blueprints for the subways and sewers, I found something else–something that had become our last hope. Shoved out of sight, under a desk in the staff area of the special collections room was a wooden packing crate. I pried it open with the tire iron I never let out of my sight. After society had crumbled, I’d learned the hard way that I could never let my guard down. Not any more.

Inside the crate was a single book–large, ornate, and very, very old. Not having read anything but the propaganda pamphlets the oppressors bothered to drop on us every few months, I couldn’t bear to burn the book. I shoved it inside my backpack and dragged the crate upstairs to burn.

Keeping clear of the oppressor’s foot soldiers and those who’d turn me in for a day’s worth of food rations, I read the book. It was nonsensical–a spellbook–but that didn’t matter. The symbols on the page became words and the words became images in my head. And the images birthed thoughts I hadn’t dared think in far too long. Thoughts about fighting back. Thoughts of resistance. They were so powerful, that were so intense, they hammered on the inside of my skull. They clawed at my graymatter. They slipped into my dreams until I woke, gasping for breath and my heart in my throat, repeating words I hadn’t realized I’d memorized. Repeating the Spell of Gathering. 

The woman in the red cloak stepped over the debris strewn across what had once been a beautiful mosaic floor. She glanced toward the others who’d gathered then approached me. “We’ve been waiting for your call.”

My confusion must have been clear on my face. She pushed her hood back. “We knew the book hadn’t been destroyed. And we sensed when it had been found–when you found it. But until you spoke the words, we couldn’t narrow our focus.”

Swallowing thickly, I pressed the book into her hands, not wanting to relinquish the words I’d come to depend on, but knowing I must.

She cradled the book to her chest. “Can you get us to the roof? ”

I nodded then turned to lead the way to the access stairs in the rear of the building. The woman in red followed me and her companions fell into step behind her. We climbed in near-silence, the rustling of fabric and the shuffling of feet the only sounds. In the darkness, I felt something that felt a lot like hope.

It was a hope I was afraid to examine too closely. Afterall, if the book was to be believed, I’d just summoned an army of witches to fight the greatest evil ever known–an utterly corrupt government led by an egomaniacal despot and his collection of  pet monsters.

As I led the witches out into the moonlight, the woman with the book smiled grimly at me and took my hand. That tentative feeling of hope grew a little bit stronger.

 

Okay, that’s it for me today. Be sure to check out the other bloggers stories, too. Deelylah, Jess, Kayleigh, and Kris.

All the concerts. Well, all the ones I’ve seen anyway.

On August 26th, Jenny Trout, her seven year old daughter, and I drove to Chicago (Well, Jen drove. I covered my eyes a lot and hoped fervently that we’d return home to tell the tale. And that’s nothing against Jen’s driving. That’s because more than three lanes on an expressway and Chicago traffic freak me the fuck out.) to see the Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field.

On the trip we talked about how her daughter was going to have a great first concert story. I mean, how many seven-year-olds have seen Billy Joel, anyway? Scratch that. How many seven-year-olds even know who Billy Joel is?

Anyway, we also talked about previous concerts we’d been to and decided to do a blog post about them. Jen’s might be in chronological order, but mine won’t be because I’m terrible at remembering stuff. Particularly remembering stuff in order.

But here it goes.

Styx  It was the first concert I ever saw. I was a kid – not as young as Wednesday, but pretty young. I was supposed to go with my mom, but she was heavily pregnant and no heavily pregnant person wants to navigate downtown Detroit and the Joe Louis Arena. In retrospect, I completely understand. At the time, I had to go with my then stepfather. We didn’t really get along. This was no exception.

Adam Ant Oh, yes, friends. You read that right. I was a young teen and quite in love with Adam Ant. Yeah…I know. It was the 80s. What do you want? However, I discovered something far better than Adam Ant at that show. And that was the opening act.

INXS opened for Adam Ant, and I learned many important things that night. I learned that a young Michael Hutchence was insanely fucking hot (even with the awful mullet). I learned that INXS should have been the featured band. Most importantly? I learned about lust.

Sister Rosine went on about lust constantly at school. It was a never ending litany of who was going to hell and why. The answer was all non-Catholics and everyone who had lust in their hearts. It was a Catholic high school, so…you know…pretty much everyone. I’d been lectured on the dangers of lust every day for a couple of years at this point and I was lust blah blah eternal damnation blah blah blah.

Then I saw Michael Hutchence. I saw Michael Hutchence sing. I saw Michael Hutchence dance. I saw Michael Hutchence and had a goddamn epiphany in the middle of “Don’t Change.” And that epiphany, you might wonder? It was: “Oh! This is what Sister Rosine was on about. There was lust in my heart. There was lust in my mind. And friends, there was most certainly lust in my pants. If Sister Rosine was to be believed, I was on the fast track to hell. And I was absolutely fine with that.

Marillion You know that show that you end up at because you’re dating a guy who thinks neo-progressive rock is a great idea? This was that show. Hi/lowlight: You pop out to go to the bathroom at the beginning of a song and discover that a bunch of other people had the same idea. It takes 22 minutes to get through the line and wash your hands and you come back and the band is only then moving into the key change before the big finish of that song.

The Who I didn’t actually go to this show. However, I did get tickets for it for my fiance for a wedding gift–he took his best man because I had a paralyzing fear of the Silverdome where they were playing. I now regret this choice. It was back in the day when Ticketmaster had a physical location that you had to go to. And the Ticketmaster employees were grumpy. as. fuck. about opening at 6 am to sell  concert tickets to a bunch of people who’d been lined up all damn night.  I’m including it because my brother and I spent the night outside in line with a bunch of Dead Heads and bikers and there was some chick in line next to me who’d recently changed her name to Cheyenne. Though, she took great pains to tell me that she’d chosen to spell it a better way. “Shy-Anne”. Shy-Anne, if you’re still out there somewhere, you were a fab line mate and I enjoyed talking women’s studies with you. And Spider, the biker, who saved my place in line so I could find the bathroom I so desperately needed at five am because the three porta potties that were there had been barfed all over – there wasn’t a place to step let alone sit. Spider, sir, you were a true gentleman.

Jethro Tull – It was a husband’s choice show that I ended up enjoying far more than I thought I would. Ian Anderson literally never stops moving.

Tracy Chapman – Syd Vicious, one of my daycare girlies, and I used to listen to Tracey Chapman all the time. As a surprise, her mom got three tickets to a show Chapman did at my favorite venue – the State Theater in Kalamazoo. Seriously, look at this place! It’s small – it only holds about 1500 people. But the architecture is gorgeous and the acoustics are great.

The concert was fantastic, too, and Syd, her mom and I had a wonderful time. I think the thing that surprised me the most was how incredibly tiny TracyChapman is. She’s got this giant, gorgeous voice but she’s downright wee.But she puts on a damn good show.

Tori Amos – I’ve seen Tori 4 times – the Little Earthquakes, Under the Pink, Boys for Pele and From the Choir Girl Hotel tours. All of the shows were memorable.  LE because she played the State Theater and there were maybe 200 people there, so she had us all move down front and she sat on the edge of the stage and talked to everyone – it was like having a concert in someone’s living room. For UtP, I was ginormously pregnant with my first child, and I was also a raging hormonal bitch. This concert was where I met one of my very dearest friends. And even though she met me when I was at my literal worst, 22 years later, we’re closer than ever. And the FtCGH was where I very nearly met Jenny Trout. I went to that concert then the next day I went to a writing conference and I was talking about the concert and Jen’s grandma overheard me and said that her granddaughter had been at that concert and she wanted us to meet because she thought we’d be great friends. As it turns out, she was absolutely right.

Rufus Wainwright – He opened for Tori and while he was super entertaining, he was also really drunk. I spent most of his set wondering if there was a way to get him into rehab.

Dar Williams – I’ve seen Dar 3 times and I adore her. Her shows are fun and quirky and thoroughly enjoyable. The first time I saw her, I was pregnant with my second kid. During my second favorite holiday song, The Christians and the Pagans, I felt my son move for the first time. Coincidentally (?), that’s always been one of his favorite songs and it still is.

Ani Difranco – I’ve seen Ani 5 times. Most of those times were with Roxanne, the friend I met during the Tori concert and once was with Jenny and my sister Cait. When I’m in the mood for angry chick music, Ani’s my go-to. She puts on a fabulous show. I do have some serious fucking questions about her opening acts though. I want to have a sit down with her and find out what her criteria is for choosing them, because holy hell, they have been, without exception, the literal fucking worst. Roxanne and I have it narrowed down to one of two choices. Either A.) She wants to make sure she looks amazing in comparison to the openers. Or B.) She feels sorry for them and she’s hoping that on the road, someone out there somewhere will love them enough that they’ll become a real band. I mean, for fuck’s sake, Drum and Tuba was one of her opening acts.

Drum and Tuba – Let me set the stage for you. There is a drum. There is a tuba. There are two gentlemen. One plays the drum. The other plays the tuba. For over a half hour. Maybe even 45 minutes. It’s fucking hard to be sure when your ears are bleeding and you’re praying for an end to your suffering.

Stevie Nicks – We’re not people who win things. Like ever. But somehow, my husband magically won tickets to a Stevie Nicks concert. She was just as delightfully Stevieish as she could be. Scarves. Shawls. Skirts, Tambourines. Spinning. Heels to high to wear safely. 10/10: Would see again.

Catie Curtis – My sister, Cait, took me to this show. It was just a nice little folk concert on the Lake Michigan shore. And I like a lot of Catie’s songs, so that was great. And hanging with Cait is always fun.

Brandi Carlile – Speaking of hanging with Cait, my sister took me to this concert, too. Awesome outdoor concert with lots of singing along and Cait getting the numbers of lots of girls. Literally happens wherever we go. They are moths. She’s the porchlight.

Tony Bennett – Now, I fully admit, this wasn’t a concert on my radar. But Jen really wanted to go and so did her IDK BFF Jill – but neither of them drove at the time. So, I drove and we all went, and it was A.) a really great show. B.) an awesome fun time with Jen and Jill. C.) absolutely fascinating to watch these drunkass 60 year old women hooting and hollering at the stage and threatening to strip. 10/10 would totally do again.

Sarah McLaughlin, Suzanne Vega, and god help me, Miranda Lambert. When my Syd Vicious graduated high school, she wanted to go to Lilith Faire. And she wanted me and Cait to go with her and her mom. I’d never been, so I thought, sure – let’s do it. There were some extra tickets, so Syd’s mom told me to invite someone. So I invited Jen. I believe her response was, “Christ, no! Why the hell would I do that to myself?!” or something to that effect. There were a ton of acts there. But it was hot and beastly humid and you couldn’t bring water into the park and they were charging $9 a bottle for 16.9 oz. I don’t even want to admit how many bottles I bought. But I was dying. And mostly those smaller acts were all on the face of the sun, so we avoided them.

Suzanne Vega was good. So was Sarah McLaughlin. But JM&J, Miranda Lambert sounded like someone was trying to teach a really angry cat to sing. I mean, okay, I admit country music really isn’t my thing. But this was a whole ‘nother level of painful. You might wonder why we didn’t wander away to anywhere else during her set. Well, I’ll tell you. There was shade. There was shade and we were trying to keep from dying. The price of life? Miranda Fucking Lambert live with zero autotuning. Never again the Miranda Lambert times.

Fleetwood Mac – While Stevie Nicks was great and also free, I’ve always wanted to see Fleetwood Mac. I finally got my chance a couple of summers ago when my mom, Cait, of Cait’s BFF, Laura, and I drove down to Detroit. We ate supper in Greektown in my favorite dive restaurant that looks no different than it did when we lived near there when I was a preteen. And while we were trying to find our way to the Joe Louis Arena we drove by Mariner’s Church aka the Sailor’s Maritime Cathedral which meant we all simultaneously broke into song and sang that verse from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (There’s a reason Cait and Laura are BFFs.) Laura belongs in our tribe. But anyway, the show was absolutely amazing. I was surprised by the really diverse age range of the crowd. There were as many teenagers there as there were people my mom’s age. Sadly, I also discovered that my vertigo in places like that is worse than ever. I was probably right to skip The Who at the Silverdome.

Counting Crows – Counting Crows gets a bad rap, particularly from Jenny Trout. But I don’t care, I love them anyway, and I always will. So there.  However, when they were doing lots of touring in the 90s, we were broke as fuck and there was no Counting Crows for me. However, the same summer I saw Fleetwood Mac, I also got to see Counting Crows with Kayleigh Jones, because Kayleigh, unlike Jen, knows what’s up.

It was such a great show. The new stuff was surprisingly just as good as the old. Even the admittedly bizarre mash up of Round Here and Oh, My Darling Clementine worked. I’m not exactly sure how Adam Duritz’s brain works, but I find it fascinating. And I still think he’s brilliant fucking lyricist.

Toad the Wet Sprocket – Toad opened for Counting Crows and they were fab. They also had new songs to go with the old and they were great, too. But I’m pretty sure the lead singer is a vampire. I don’t think he’s aged at all. And I had a really great time with Kayleigh at the show.

Walk Off the Earth – My sister introduced me to WOTE in hopes of getting me off a Mumford and Sons kick because she loathes them. I still love Mumford and Sons, however, thanks to Cait, I love Walk Off the Earth, too! They’re innovative, fun, they write catchy as fuck music, and I absolutely adore them. My daughter and I went to see them a couple winters ago. We had to sit through three fucking AWFUL opening acts (I can only assume they’re following the Ani Difranco school of thought when it comes to choosing their openers.) However, the concert was so great that it erased almost all the memories of the openers from my mind. I remember being annoyed, but I can’t remember by whom. If you get a chance to see them, definitely do!

Billy Joel – Which brings us back to where this post started. I’ve loved Billy Joel since high school, but again. I’ve never been able to see him. That changed in August. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about seeing a concert at a baseball stadium. It seemed like it would be too big and crowded to really feel any connection to the music. It was big and it was definitely crowded, but there was an amazing sense of community there.

Despite my decidedly Catholic upbringing, I’m not religious. Pretty much the only thing I miss about church is singing with a group. I just really enjoy that. There’s a sense of connection that you don’t experience with too many other things. Because nearly everyone in the crowd knew all the words, everyone was singing. I was worried that it might detract from the concert experience. Not even a little. Honestly, I think it made it more fun. And it made it feel a lot like singing with a choir.

And holy shit, can that guy perform. He’s funny, charming, and he honest to god sounds just like he sounds in recordings.I would go see him again and again. But the best part of all was hanging with Jen and her daughter and the look on her daughter’s face when the show started–that was just magical.

Here’s Jen’s concert list. Who have you seen? What were some of your faves?

Behind the Scenes of My Current Project

Before I get to the actual post, I just wanted to say we’ve got a new blogger in our lineup! Torrance Sené has joined us! Yay, Torrance, and welcome!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this year has been rough writing-wise, but things are starting to pick up a little, and in a month or so, I’ll be releasing one of the next Bound books.

My next contribution to the series that Jess Jarman I write, is called The Sportsball Book. 

That is a lie. It’s actually called In Bounds. But I still call it The Sportsball Book. Because I’m not really into any kind of sports. And with the exception of baseball, which I get, but don’t really have any interest in, all the sports are sportsball to me. So I had some research help from a couple friends including Kayleigh Jones. Because she’s awesome. And knows about sportsball things.

The hero, Will Darby, is an injured football player (British football – not American) and his visiting his sister while he’s recovering from surgery. Also visiting his sister is one of her best friends, Ivy Wright. The same woman he had drunken sex in a closet with at his sister’s wedding, twelve years earlier.

Ivy’s in England staying with her friends and tutoring their kids after losing both her elementary teaching position and her husband to his affair earlier in the year. She’s horrified to see Will and is seriously hoping he doesn’t remember her. Unfortunately for her, he remembers everything. Which makes things super awkward since her BFF has noooooooo clue Ivy hooked up with her little brother. The BFF’s. Not Ivy’s. Ivy doesn’t have a little brother.

In case you were wondering, the above is in no way a blurb. I haven’t written that, yet.

In my head, Will looks a bit like Richard Madden. A sportsball playing Richard Madden.

And Ivy looks a lot like Rose McIver.

So…there’s some sportsball that happens in this book. And sex. Kind of a lot of it, really.

And angst. Because, really, what fun is a romance without some angst? And maybe some heartbreak?

The Sportsball Book will be out in about 6ish weeks. And I’ll be revealing the cover later, but trust me – Norris outdid herself. Again.

But here’s a short (unedited) excerpt from The Sportsball Book. 

“I don’t want to do my lessons.” The petulant child crossed her arms over chest and glared balefully at Ivy Wright. “I want to play footie with Uncle Wills.”

Ivy stared down at eight-year-old, Phoebe, her best friends’ daughter and one of her two pupils for the summer holiday. Well—her summer holiday, anyway. The children were currently attending classes, and she was tutoring them in their off hours. “I understand that, but we all have to do things in life that we don’t particularly care for.” And wasn’t that the understatement of the year? “Right now, you need to do your reading assignment. You can play soc—footie,” she corrected herself when Phoebe rolled her eyes, “with your uncle afterward.”

The uncle, in question, was slowly jogging down the hill toward them from the huge manor house. Jogging slowly, she assumed because his knee was in a brace. Ivy forced her features into a semblance of pure, professional detachment as the man drew closer. She hadn’t seen him since Caleb and Charlotte’s wedding reception, and she prayed to the deity of drunken hook-ups that Phoebe’s uncle didn’t remember her. It had been twelve years and zero contact. Chances were good that she might look vaguely familiar to him, but he’d never make the connection. At least, that was her fervent hope.

“It’s not fair,” Phoebe whined, stomping her foot.

“Few things are,” Ivy murmured. “Let’s get this over with, and you can run and sweat to your heart’s content.”

And Ivy could go back to the guesthouse she was occupying for the foreseeable future, crack open a book and a bottle of wine and think of a good excuse not to go to the main house for supper. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to have a meal with her friends and their children. However, she’d prefer to avoid as much contact with Charlotte’s brother, Will, as possible. The last thing Ivy needed to top off this shit sundae of a year was for him to remember her and that they’d had ridiculously tanked sex in a closet at his sister’s wedding. Well, she’d been drunk off her ass, anyway. She wasn’t sure about Will. Hell, she wasn’t even sure if he’d even been old enough to drink at the time.

A little hand tugged on Ivy’s, and she smiled down at Kit, Phoebe’s younger brother.

“Can I take this back to the house to finish reading it?” he asked.

She glanced at the dinosaur book he held. “Sure, honey. Go ahead.”

“Hey, Kit,” Will called to the little boy as he drew closer. “You want to kick the ball around while your sister does her lesson?”

Ivy tried to ignore the way the low timbre of Will’s voice combined with his English accent settled heavily in the pit of her stomach. She couldn’t remember if his voice had been that deep before, but the accent was the same. And there was something stupidly arousing about it.

She needed to shove that thought right away. There was nothing arousing about Will Darby. Nothing at all. Not his soccer—she corrected herself—football-chiseled body. Not the myriad tattoos curling down his arms and legs. Not the honey-streaked, too-long, brown hair pulled up in some kind of ridiculous man bun. Not the brilliant green eyes that currently watched her from beneath dark eyelashes or the short, trimmed beard that covered his beautifully sculpted face. And certainly not the large, broad hand he currently extended toward her.

“You’re Caleb’s friend, from the States,” he said with a devastating smile. “I’m Charlotte’s brother, Will.”

She reached out and shook his hand—his big, warm hand. The hand he’d clamped over her mouth as she’d orgasmed, muffling her scream in a broom closet at the wedding reception.

“Nice to meet you,” she said, forcing a smile and hoping he didn’t notice that she hadn’t offered her name. He didn’t look as if he recognized her, but the oddball name, Ivy, might be enough to ring a bell. Or maybe not. The man played professional football. He’d probably had enough concussions to knock any memory of her right out of his head. Was it wrong to hope that he’d had enough head injuries that was the case?

Okay – that’s it from me this week. Be sure to check out the other bloggers’ posts by clicking their names.

Jess

Kayleigh

Torrance

Gwen

Jessica

Kris

Paige