Monday Mayhem – The 4%

Been doing a lot of writerly soul searching lately. I haven’t discovered much other than the fact that my thoughts are about as shallow as a mud puddle in July. You see, a couple of years ago I made a plan for my writing career…. If you know anything at all about life, you know that it likes to scoff at plans. This time it was no different. Oh, I did all the things a person is supposed to do: targeted goals, set deadlines, mapped my expectations. I rolled through some major changes to my day job and navigated the shifting sands of the home life as best I could. In the end, I made 96% of those goals (actual percentage for the stats nerds like me) a reality.

Not bad, huh?

Yeah…That 4% is driving me crazy.

You see, that tiny percentage represents a major portion of what I thought I would accomplish. But try as I might, it’s not happening. I’ve been beating myself up over that 4% for the past 6 months. You see, that 4% represents Containment.

I’ve circled, poked, and prodded this novel, but I can’t make it take shape. The story is all in my head, but my usual panster ways weren’t working, so I turned to plotting device after plotting device in hopes of finding the key to unlock the story. I’ve tried The Hero(in)es Journey method. I tried to Snowflake and Beat Sheet the darn thing but let’s face it, my stories aren’t that hip. I’ve even attempted to go all Dom/sub on it, but it just laughed when I pulled out the flogger. I’ve even written a synopsis for it. If you know me at all, you know I despise writing synopses. But I did this one voluntarily. Desperation does funny things to people.

A few people have asked when it can be expected. The answer is simply, I don’t know. All I know is that for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to have to set it aside for a while. I’ve hardly written anything this year, and I’m afraid that if I don’t find a horse that’ll run, I’ll forget how to ride.

Those who know me personally know it kills me to say this. I hate not being able to follow through. There’s nothing worse than feeling like I’ve let people down. But I’m not abandoning it. I still intend to write Shel and Josh’s story. I just can’t seem to do it right now.

Bear with me, okay?

So, how about a little good news?

Long Distance Love is done and coming soon! The week of August 26th soon. Yay! I just did the final galley read-through and I have to say, I still love Jack and Ellie. I hope you will too!

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be back next week. Oh! And keep your fingers crossed for Commitment – the GDRWA Booksellers Best Award recipients will be announced later this week. 🙂

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Monday Mayhem – From this day forward….

Hi! I’m back from my excursion to the annual Reader & Author Get Together in Ohio. It was a great time, as always. The team of volunteers Lori Foster and Duffy Brown have assembled is top notch, and the staff at the Marriott spoiled us as usual.

The best part of the RAGT weekend is the casual atmosphere. I met so many awesome readers and fellow authors this weekend and also had a chance to catch up with some friends. I thought I’d share a few pics before I got down to today’s post.

Look! It’s Evelyn Jules! Squeeeee!

Evelyn

My fabulous editrix Lola del Sol!

lola

I photo bombed Julie Anne Lindsey during the signing

JAL

And pillaged my favorite Viking princess, Renee Vincent

renee

I also got to show off the beautiful cover art for this week’s TMP release: The Wedding Day Collection!

WeddingCollection_MD

Love, love, love it!

Want a taste?

“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, Maggie. I don’t care about the dress or if your hair isn’t perfect.” He smiled when she automatically reached up to tame her wild mane with her palms. The owner of a successful salon and day spa, beauty was no joking matter to Maggie. “You can’t tell me you don’t have make-up in your purse or the diaper bag. I’ve never once seen you leave the house with less than three shades of lipstick.”

“Not true,” she whispered. “I went into labor with only a Chapstick on me.”

“And you never looked more stunning.” The statement of fact came equipped with a charming smile. “You said you’d marry me, Maggie. I let you put me off and put me off—”

“Put you off? It’s been two weeks!”

Actually, it was three. Three weeks since another stick turned pink and his inner Ward Cleaver roared to life. He couldn’t help it. She was going to have his baby. Again. And damn it, this time he wanted to do things right. As right as he could make them at this point. Seemed the not-so-good Catholic boy in him joined forces with Ward to bring him to his knees. Literally.

That’s all I’m going to give you. I mean, it’s a short story. If you want to know what happens next, you’re going to have to buy the cow story.

Or catch a one of the copies my co-authors and I might be toss out there like a bouquets.

Last week, Louise won the drawing for an advanced read copy, and you can do the same!

All you have to do is comment below,share your favorite part of a wedding celebration, and I’ll draw another winner. Seriously, it can be nothing more than:

I’m in it for the cake!

See? Easier doing the Hokey Pokey!

Don’t be a Chicken dancer! All comment posted before 11:59 Wednesday, June 12th have a chance to win. Speak now or forever hold your peace….

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Monday Mayhem – Turnabout, fair play, and breakfast cereal

I do a lot of talking about me on this blog, but let’s face it, I’m not that interesting. This fact was hammered home over the weekend as I tried desperately to come up with topics for blog posts that weren’t complete snoozefests.

Then I realized something. I may be boring (wake, work, eat, write, sleep – lather, rinse, repeat), but I find YOU infinitely fascinating. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to turn things around.

I want to interview you.

Comment below with your answers and I will draw the name of one lucky commenter on Wednesday, June 5th and send them an Advanced Read Copy of The Wedding Day Collection.

WeddingCollection_MD

This anthology includes Always a Groomsman – the story of Tom Sullivan and Maggie McCann’s (Commitment) wedding day!

You game? Let’s do this thing!

What’s the title of the last book you read?

What is the worst job you can imagine having?

What is your favorite breakfast cereal?

Name one thing you own that you wish you didn’t.

If you were famous, what would you be famous for?

 

Happy Monday, my darlings!

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Monday Mayhem – Memorabling

The Gilmore Girls fans in the crowd will know that the title is no typo. The rest of you should go watch season 1. At least, I think it was season 1….

It seems my memory is shot these days. As a matter of fact, I’m feeling pretty proud of the fact that I remembered to do this post, since I’ll be car-bound most of the day. So before I forget, here are a few things I want to share with you:

Coming in June from TMP – The Wedding Collection. Includes my story, ‘Always the Groomsman’
WeddingCollection_MD
Want a taste?
Things weren’t going the way he planned, but Tom Sullivan was getting used to the phenomenon. Life as he once knew it went kerblewie the first time he kissed Maggie McCann. This latest spin in the cosmic Cuisinart should have been a cakewalk. Still, he stood there at the end of the counter befuddled, betrothed, and—if the woman currently kneeling on a grimy Dunkin Donuts bathroom floor had anything to say about it—possibly soon-to-be-beheaded.
Just finishing edits on Long Distance Love – the collection of Jack and Ellie stories. I think you’ll like the way their story comes full circle. Look for it in August 2013.
Working on Containment. That’s the best I can say at this point. It’s been a difficult story to write. I’ve hit a couple of walls, but I think I might have found a way to smash through. Stay tuned.
And last, but certainly not least, I want to take a moment to honor the memory of all the brave men and women who have given their lives to protect our way of life.
One day seems a humble thank you, but your legacy beats in the hearts of a grateful nation.
honor-guards-stand-on-duty-at-the-tomb-of-the-unknown-soldier-in-sept-2012-in-arlington-county-va
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Monday Mayhem – Holly G in the house!

I’m messin’ with Texas, so my friend Holly Gilliatt was kind enough to step up and keep you all entertained in my absence. Her new release, ‘Til St. Patrick’s Day is atop my TBR pile. She’s talking about girlfriends – a topic near and dear to my heart. Please give her a warm welcome. I miss you all!

****

Thanks so much, Margaret, for letting me hog your blog today! First of all, I want to say that I LOVED your books Commitment and Contentment. So I’m a little star struck that I’m actually on your blog. J

I know in the book world, we need to categorize what our writing is, but to me that can sometimes limit readers that would otherwise enjoy it. I suppose my new release, ’TIL ST. PATRICK’S DAY, is technically women’s fiction, some might call it chick lit…but in my mind, it’s in the vein of a good romantic comedy. You know, the kind of movie that makes you laugh along the way and root for a happily-ever-after. And in my opinion, most good romantic comedies are as much about the friendships as the romance.

When I write female friends, I have to confess that it’s a piece of cake. That’s because I’ve been lucky enough in my life to experience some amazing friendships. I absolutely love my family, but I also love my three best friends that I consider my hand-picked family.

Have you ever met someone and knew within an instant that you were going to be good friends? That’s how it was with my friend, Angie. With her welcoming smile, warm brown eyes and easy laugh—I think it only took about two days of working together as bank tellers to know she would become my best friend. That was more than twenty years, millions of laughs, hundreds of tears and countless hugs ago. We’ve shared relationship disasters, weddings, job problems, pregnancies to each of our three kids (but she had to showoff and have all three babies at once!), and our deepest, most intimate thoughts. And when things go awry in your life, that’s when you find out what true friendship really is. Whether it was taking off work early to drive me and my newborn to rent the only available breast pump in the area as I panicked (!), or being there with me as my oncologist delivered the worst news of my life…she’s there for the fun times, but helps carry me through the bad ones. I wish everyone could have an Angie in their lives.

Then there are my friends Kara and Leigh. Sometimes good things come out of bad experiences, and that is how the three of us came to be best friends. We worked together in a hostile environment that gave us a shared sense of having made it through the trenches together. At times, it was akin to working in a war zone, and as we emerged on the other side, beautiful friendships blossomed. We first bonded over drinks and inside stories that only the three of us can truly appreciate. But soon enough, it was about the friendship instead of the war. The wonderful thing is that as lousy as the job situation had been, it allowed the three of us to meet, and I doubt if our lives would have ever crossed paths otherwise. But now I can’t begin to imagine my life without them and the laughter and love they have filled me with.

In ’TIL ST. PATRICK’S DAY you’ll see the importance of having a sisterhood as they navigate their relationships with their boyfriends, husbands and potential partners. And I hope you’ll laugh and maybe even get teary-eyed along the way—as any good romantic comedy should make you do.

 Til St Pats

If you’d like to watch a trailer for ’TIL ST. PATRICK’S DAY, click here:

http://animoto.com/play/05FrnC06NsNzx6g04wOwIw

Here is a blurb:

For three best friends, one winter will change everything.

Chronically optimistic Jayne is surprised she’s still single at twenty-eight. But as always for Jayne, there’s hope. This time his name is Gray—a successful, gorgeous marketing VP that she can’t believe is going out with her. She’s never given up on the belief that the right man for her is out there, somewhere. Maybe Gray could be the one…if she just works hard enough to make it happen.

Her cynical friend Karen is suspicious of Jayne’s new guy with his model looks and over-inflated ego. She’s concerned for Jayne, but has her own relationship to worry about. Not that anything’s wrong with her boyfriend. He’s actually perfect for her, which is why she’s terrified. Not sure she can ever fully trust a man again, she considers bailing on yet another relationship.

Claudia is always there for her friends, no matter what they’re going through. She mothers them like the children she craves to have, relieved she’s no longer navigating the dating world. Happily married, Claudia can’t wait until the day her husband finally agrees it’s time to start a family.

‘Til St. Patrick’s Day is a novel exploring the depths of friendship and what happens when love doesn’t go according to plan.

You can buy my book at your favorite online retailer!

TMP Bookstore

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

HollyG 

And if I haven’t bored you too much, here is more about me and my other books:

www.hollygilliatt.com

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Monday Mayhem – Acting Contrite

Hello, my friends! I’m in the great state of Texas again, but I haven’t left you lonely. My friend Linda Rettstatt is here to talk about her new release, Act of Contrition! Please make her feel welcome!

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I’m a juggler. It all starts first thing in the morning when I open my eyes and juggle the desire to close them again and snuggle back into the blankets with the desire to pay the rent. Most days paying the rent wins and I haul myself out of bed. My day job (which is how most of us authors refer to the work we do to pay the rent because we then write well into the night) is that of a social worker. And, again, I juggle my way through the day, determining who needs what, how to help them get it, and who might be feeding me their own brand of fiction to get unneeded help. It’s always a judgment call that requires a good measure of investigation and whole lot of faith.

Evenings are a whole new juggle—making dinner and taking the time to eat it without a thousand distractions, then deciding between something interesting on TV versus the writing or editing I need to do versus the laundry waiting in a pile.

When I started writing, I delved into writing women’s fiction. Well, they say write what you know and I know being a woman. Most women I know are jugglers, even if they’re not writers. It’s a fact of our existence. (In fairness, men may also find themselves juggling, but I can better speak to the female experience.) Women can make a sandwich while feeding a baby and taking a phone call all at the same time. Some call this multi-tasking, but juggling is, I think, a more descriptive term. Don’t drop the sandwich, the baby or the call. Some days you feel you’re juggling Nerf balls and other days it’s butcher knives.

Now, let me try to juggle two truths and lie for you.

1.  I used to play guitar for a folk group and worked as a semi-professional musician for over ten years. We recorded one album during that time, but mostly had a blast playing live concerts in small venues. Once we played a ski resort where we were paid with drinks, ski equipment use, and lift passes—not a good combination.

2.  I’ve been married and divorced three times. Number One was a college jock who never quite made it to pro sports and took up drinking instead. Bottoms up and bye! Number Two was a nice guy who taught math on a college level. In the end, we just didn’t add up. Number Three—well, let’s just say he had a wandering eye. And I don’t mean an optical problem. I’m staying happily divorced now.

3.  I got over my fear of heights by flying (in a window seat) to the Grand Canyon to stand on the edge and look down into that beautiful, terrifying abyss, and then to take a hot air balloon ride over Sedona, Arizona at sunrise. Whew. I’m cured.

But back to juggling. In my women’s fiction novel, Act of Contrition, Jenny Barnes has to learn to juggle grief, guilt, love and forgiveness. Here’s a blurb:

The argument ended as blinding headlights bore down on her. The steering wheel spun beneath Jenny’s fingers. A horn blared, and then…nothing. Jennifer Barnes wakens to learn she is the sole survivor of the crash that claimed her husband and eight-year-old son.

Why did she survive? The question haunts her even after she retreats to her cottage on the coast of Maine. She’s seeking a place to grieve and to escape the guilt that eats at her. Instead of the solitude she anticipates, Jenny comes face to face with her past.

AOC_LRettstatt_MD 

Here are the links to Act of Contrition:

Turquoise Morning Press  http://www.turquoisemorningpressbookstore.com/products/act-of-contrition-by-linda-rettstatt

Amazon.com   http://www.amazon.com/Act-Of-Contrition-ebook/dp/B00B1HGWNU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1363565119&sr=8-1

B&N.com   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/act-of-contrition-linda-rettstatt/1114146466?ean=2940015999747&isbn=2940015999747

And you can find me on the web at www.lindarettstatt.com and at my blog at www.onewomanswrite.blogspot.com

Thanks so much, Margaret, for having me here today.

Linda Rettstatt

****

Now see if you can guess the lie! Ready? Go!

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Monday Mayhem – Smoke & Mirrors Edition

That’s right, I’m about to use a little trickery to distract you from the fact that I have nothing prepared. Are you shocked? This is supposed to be mayhem, right?

I’ve been working on stuff, I swear.

Every day I write, edit, redit, and then edit some more. My life is dedicated to eradicating the mysterious words I swear I did not type but show up in my manuscripts anyhow.

I’m about knee deep in Containment and psyching myself up to wade in deeper. This book is already an emotional rollercoaster.

Did the final read though on Always the Groomsman – the short story I’m including in TMP’s Wedding Day Collection due out this summer. Did I tell you about my story? It’s Tom and Maggie’s wedding! Squee!

I’m also compiling the Long Distance Love short stories for release later this year. Remember Jack and Ellie? Well, I’m tweaking the older stories so they flow and working six new stories over until they come up to snuff. Want to see the line up so far?

Concourse Christmas

New Year, New Expectations

I’ve Got You to Talk to Me

Be Mine

Kiss Me, I’m Full of Blarney

Going the Distance

The Feeling is Pari-Mutuel

Declarations of Dependence

Labor of Love

A Voyage of Discovery

Hallowed Eve

Veterans of Domestic Wars

Thanks Be to Grandma

Taking Off

It was so much fun to spend some time with those two crazy kids again. Oh, who am I kidding? It was fun to crawl inside Jack’s…head again. (Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter!). I missed Jack. Oh, I love Ellie too, but there’s something about Jack Rudolph that tugs at me. So…You want a taste?

I figured you might. Just to bring you up to speed…When last we saw our couple (Declarations of Dependence), Ellie’s reticence had poked a few sizable holes in Jack’s ego. This is taken from Labor of Love

Before the whole debacle at her parents Fourth of July cookout, he would have called her. Hell, there would have been at least two or three messages waiting on her phone if she hadn’t called until ten o’clock. But not these days.

These days he only called her when he was calling her back. Despite the new job with the Chicago field office and a schedule was more flexible than hers, he hadn’t come to see her in eight weeks. Eight long weeks. As a matter of fact, he hadn’t even suggested a visit. That was the straw that broke Ellie’s back.

He answered the phone and she said only, “I think we need to talk,” in greeting.

His sharp intake of breath cut the silence that hummed between them. He let it go with a hiss and punctuated the sentiment with a low grunt. “So talk.”

“I’m downstairs, but I can’t find a parking spot.”

“What?”

The shock in his tone triggered a smile. For once, she got one over on her very special agent.  “Surprise.”

“You’re here? In Chicago?”

“Right in front of your building, Rudolph,” she confirmed. “Do you think you can come down and guide my sleigh to a parking spot? I might need your nose to scare off the creepy guy lurking in the alley a couple of blocks over.”

Jack hesitated for a moment. Her stomach dropped to her toes as she heard the rustle of bedclothes. He juggled the phone. “Uh, hang on.”

The echo of a woman’s voice sent shivers down her spine and alarm bells started clanging in her head. Mortification burned hot in her cheeks. It could have been the TV. She hoped with all her heart it was the TV. She was almost one thousand percent certain the voice came from the TV. Still…

“Maybe I should just go to Laurie’s.” The thought of turning up on her sister’s doorstep in a flood of tears wasn’t particularly appealing, but it beat the crap out of coming face to face with the infinitesimal chance that he wasn’t watching TV. Oh God, what if he wasn’t? Why did she ever think it was a good idea to just show up?

Jack’s derisive snort yanked her back. “Are you kidding me?” The exasperation in his tone stoked the dying embers of hope in her heart. “Come down the alley. I’m opening the gate to the lot. My neighbor’s out of town this weekend. You can park in his spot.”

The TV. The voice had to be coming from the TV. Surely Jack wouldn’t be cruel enough to invite her in if he was…entertaining company. Niggling doubt chased her taillights. She held her breath as she made the sharp turn from the narrow alley into the crowded lot.

“Joe’s space is next to mine,” he huffed.

Ellie pulled into the spot and killed the engine as the back door opened. Fluorescent light spilled into the parking lot. He stood silhouetted in the doorway. The gate rolled shut behind her, trapping her there. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to open the door. She cast a glance over her shoulder as she climbed from the driver’s seat, keeping her hand wrapped around the top of the door. She had questions she needed to ask, and she was hoping the reinforced steel could shield her from any answers she didn’t want to hear.

Pressing the phone tight to her ear, she stared straight at him. “Do you still love me, Jack?”

****

Dun dun dun!

That was fun, wasn’t it? You know what else is fun? Talking about book boyfriends.

Jack is one of mine. I’m also partial to Jamie Fraser, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Roarke from JD Robb’s In Death series, and pretty much every Eversea and Redmond male from Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series. Oh, and Morelli. I know, I know. Ranger is hot, blah blah blah. I like the guys who are the keepers, and that’s why I’m a Cupcake.

You?

 

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Monday Mayhem – Influenza Edition

I’m ill. The dog ate my homework. There was flood. Fire. Famine.

Only one of the above is true. I’ll leave you to your conjecture.

I’ll also share this fabulous promo shot for Inamorata.

Come on. Tell me you don’t want to spend a little quality closet time with Frank DeLuca….

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Monday Mayhem – Let’s Play Catch-up

It’s bullet point day! I know you’re all as excited as I am, so let’s get to it. Here are the pertinent facts in the order generated by my highly disordered brain:

1) I just realized that Inamorata releases in two weeks! Woooot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Went to a beginner yoga class on Saturday and it almost killed me. Seriously, my abs haven’t hurt this bad since I tried to follow Denise Austin’s Pilates tape (Yes, I said tape. I’m old.) I remember the night I was afraid I’d never pull myself out of the bathtub like it was yesterday. I saw myself dying there, shivering and shriveled, and still without a six pack. Oh, wait. That was yesterday…

3) Still running. Still hate the process and love the results.

4) Got the nicest email from a reader about Spring Chickens. Want to make an author’s day? (Any author – not just me) Drop a line, write a review, Tweet, FB, Pin, or smoke signal them and tell them that you appreciate their work. We are delicate little flowers. We need sunshine and love and a constant sprinkling of reassurance. Seriously, something as simple as ‘I loved it’ makes us want to dance. Sometimes I even jitterbug.

5) I’m moved into my new daytime digs and feeling my way through the new job. I’m on the opposite end of the building from where I spent the last 7 years. My parking routine is completely out of whack.

6) Monday. *sigh* I miss Castle.

7) Leo Sayer is playing on my iPod. Don’t judge.

8 ) I may or may not (that’s my oh-so-subtle way of playing it coy) be planning to write a little short story involving Maggie McCann and the Sullivan clan for an anthology. They’ve all been chattering in my head, making plans, vying for dialogue…the usual.

9) I’m heading to the Annual Reader and Author Get Together in Cincinnati June 1-2 at the Marriott north. I’ll be signing books Friday, June 1from 7-9PM. If you’re in the area, please come by and say hi! Here’s the 4-1-1!

10) Long weekend coming up! I plan to sleep, eat, and write. What are your plans?

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Monday Mayhem – Guilt Offering

The dog ate my homework!

Okay, maybe not really, but the result is the same: I don’t have a post prepared. What can I say? I’ve, uh, been…busy. I am prpared to offer appeasment, though. No, I don’t have a Central-Eurpopean country to hand over, but I do have one more novel releasing this year. How about a sneak peek from Inamorata? Will that get me off the hook?

Warning: Frank DeLuca was never PG-13 and probably never will be. The potty-mouth…

Anyhoo…Here’s your bribe. Let me know what you think, and have a happy Monday!

Inamorata – Coming June 2012 from Turquoise Morning Press

After twenty-five years of cooling his jets in a wall sconce, Frank DeLuca figured the afterlife owed him a break. Hadn’t he been a model ghost? He didn’t possess little kids, screw up the television reception, or throw random objects across the room just to get attention. Hell, he never even made creepy noises in the dead of night.

All he asked was a peaceful existence where someone would turn him on every once in a while. The light, that is. He needed just a little bit of light in his afterlife.

Instead, he got a sullen, silent little boy who cried for his mommy every night. The kid came with a set of hyper-tense grandparents whose marriage was crumbling under the weight of old insecurities and words left unspoken. As if that weren’t enough to drive a guy to hide out in his light fixture, providence tossed in a little a spitfire of a girl who flipped his switch in every way. Gina Ferro turned out to be the kid’s mother. She also happened to be a ghost.

Thrown together by Fate and bound by history, Frank and Gina must learn to trust each other with the keys to their pasts in order to unlock their eternity.

Excerpt:

He let go, allowing the soul-crushing pain to swamp him, plummeting to earth once more. He couldn’t crash and burn any worse than he had before. Twice before. Once when he was living, and once long after he’d been dead. Frank blinked the glare from his eyes and focused on the blank wall in front of him. The rosebud wallpaper was gone. The sheetrock had been stripped, sanded, and painted blue. A blue that was just a half-shade lighter than the blue that coated the walls in nineteen-eighty-seven.

He shook his head to clear it. Finally, his gaze tracked to the right where he spotted a bookshelf loaded with books, games, and stuffed animals. At the very top, a collection of trophies like the one he once kept in this very room was proudly displayed. Tiny gold men holding bats glistened in the soft amber glow of evening. He gaped at them perched atop their faux marble and fake brass pedestals.

He could see it so perfectly in his mind’s eye. A spotless trophy, gleaming bright gold in the light cast from the cheesy 70s directional sconce mounted on the wall. His mother running her fingertip over the engraved plate bearing his name.

“Francis DeLuca.”

The name rolled off his lips even though he hadn’t spoken it aloud in nearly two decades. Not since the night he introduced himself to the little girl who moved into his room. Not since he fell in love with Cam.

His eyes locked on the gilt batter glued to the top of the tallest trophy. He couldn’t look away. Obviously they didn’t belong to the little guy snuggled into the race-car shaped bed. But something told him they belonged here, just like him.

He stared hard at that trophy, seeing his mother’s wind-up, flinching just as he flinched when she hurled it across the room, smashing the bulb in the brass-colored wall sconce to bits, stealing the last wisps of breath from his lungs, and sentencing him to an eternity as the middleman.

On August nineteenth, nineteen-eighty-seven, he died. That was the day he broke his mother’s heart. That was the day his fate was sealed.

Shaking his head, Frank glared at the woman perched on the side of the bed. She was tall and slim, her hair so blonde it was almost white, her skin as pale as milk. Long, graceful fingers fussed with the edge of a Thomas the Tank Engine quilt, but the backs of her hands were veined and dotted with sunspots. It was her face that called to him. Stoic. Silent. Stone-faced.

“Fuck. Here we go again.”

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