Thursday, March 30, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Forced Autonomy Phase 2

Today's Throwback is Forced Autonomy Phase 2. You can grab your copy HERE.

Chapter 1


                I’d been away for a week, concreting myself in Colorado, the furthest I’d allow myself to travel from camp. The heart of the city of Pueblo was silent and unbeating. For seven days straight, I’d perched atop the Wells Fargo Bank building, shielding myself from the blaring sun with the ugliest fishing hat I’d ever seen—but I’d found it near a creek once and it fit the bill. It even smelled like fish.

                Scanning the crowd, I saw none of the anomalies I was looking for, and decided, by the glare of the two o’clock showing sun, that I wanted to go back home. I wanted to go back to Petra. And if Odin even quivered a sinister muscle in her direction, I’d take him out. I swore it to myself. He was a leader only in name and he’d royally pissed me off.

 I’d convinced myself she was just another girl, just another grainer I’d picked up on the way. She was nothing special. She was nothing to put my head through the guillotine over. And then thirty seconds later, all of those thoughts were retracted. I’d told her goodbye in my own way. While she soundly slept, I kissed her forehead and spoke to her so many things I wanted her to know.

What kind of asshole threatens a girl he supposedly values?

Because that’s how he spoke of her—like she was a prized 4-H heifer, not someone he cared about.

                Odin had pulled me aside after I’d returned from hunting. He’d told me I was no good for her and that the only reason he’d taken me into the group was to pick up those who fit in with us, not to find a girlfriend or compromise his plans. He’d alluded to telling her about my criminal past which I didn’t even know he knew about. At first I’d fronted him, butted him, chest to chest, and demanded to know what business of his it was. I’d demanded to know what the hell his problem was. He never did answer my inquiry. Instead, he’d gotten in my face and with spittle stringing out in webs from his mouth, and threatened to hurt her if I didn’t begin to spend more time travelling than I did hanging around.

                What would happen if I’d just beaten him to the punch and told her myself.

                I could’ve done that. I should’ve done that.

                We all had a past, right?



                Letting out a tempered sigh, I stood up from my haunches and lifted my bag, preparing to leave the city and return to camp and to Petra. I hadn’t spotted any anomalies in the crowds—only zombies. Even before Petra, the numbers of real people had dwindled. I’d only picked up maybe three in the past six months. I really didn’t think there were any more out there.

                I looked out one more time into the ants just to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone. It was feeding time. The almost brain dead citizens lined up for their bowls of gruel. I couldn’t help but mentally compare it to those old starving children commercials. They used to line those children up in droves and feed them milky grains and call it proper nutrition for our monthly contribution of only thirty dollars. Now Africans and Haitians ate like the once rich and famous.

                “Hands in the air, subject.”

                Double Shit.

                I raised my hands in the air slowly, closing my eyes and counting to ten. If I was going to get out of this, I had to think slowly, move fast and then run like hell.

                “Follow me, or I will shoot,” his almost computer generated voice commanded.

                I was off my game. I usually could predict where and when the Pinocchios would show up. I needed rest. I needed more than stale bread and smoked venison.

                I took three side steps in his direction and it threw him off. Most people simply froze in the presence of a firearm. But I wasn’t going down like this.

                Hell no—not me.

                “Halt, subject.”


                Crouching on the hot roof, my palms flattened on the ground, I swiped one foot into his legs at the point where his calves met his ankles and he toppled over; no instinct to defensively respond. The only thing they had were their guns. I heard the crack of his helmet as it hit the hardened asphalt. That was my cue to run. Strapping my pack on to my back tighter, I ran for the nearest exit, grabbed the sides of the long ladder hanging from the edge of the building once used as a fire escape, and slid down, no time or patience for the rungs. Ignoring the sting of burning rash left by the heated railings, I dashed towards the mountainous area outside of the city. I needed to get home. I’d considered it the day before, but the tanks entering the city had piqued my interest and I’d had to investigate the source of their invitation. However, they’d vanished into an underground parking garage which was secured after they passed through.

                Finally reaching the truck on the other side of the hill, I tossed my bag in the back and gunned it headed south.

                Screw Odin, I needed to get home.

You can find all of my books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swoon Sunday

Today's Swoon Sunday comes from Caught In A Jam. This story follows Nixon and Journey. It is book 4 in A Love and Skate Series.

 I turned to walk out and before I reached the door he laced his warm, calloused fingers in mine and I turned around, startled by the feel of him, even though I’d just been holding his hands seconds before. 
 “If you never come back—if you decide I’m not worth it—I have to kiss you just once.  I’ve needed your mouth on mine for almost my whole life.  Please…”
 My body swayed towards his at once, there was no way I could resist this, even if I didn’t come back.  He grabbed my face in his hands and ran his thumbs over my cheeks, memorizing the feel of me.  He smiled the slightest bit before closing his eyes and touching his lips to mine, softly, gently at first.  The heat from his kiss seared my lips and then branched out through the veins in my face and down in my neck.  Nixon walked us back until I felt my back against the wall behind me.  His hips rocked against mine as his tongue nudged my lips open.  My mouth opened to accept it.  Our chests rose and fell as one.  I could feel the pounding of his heart against me.
 He pulled back once and moaned, “I knew you’d taste like heaven.”
   He sucked and nipped at my lips until I broke away hastily, ducked under his arms and left.  If I stayed any longer, there would be nothing to think about. I would give in without any sound thought or judgment. And it was obvious I’d done enough damage to him for a lifetime.

You can find all of my books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Burden

Today's throwback you meet the amazing Alpha Hawke and his mate Echo. Burden is the start of my bear shifter books. Each book is a has its own happily ever after. You can find a copy HERE



“I need a minute, file out please,” I commanded, sitting back in my tattered leather desk chair, scratching my almost full beard. Rubbing my belly, I tried to scour away the itch of frustration, to no avail. Frustration was my leech and its teeth penetrated deep.  I really should take better care of myself.  But my appearance reflected my attitude of late, ragged, teetering on the edge of mania. I’d gone too long without a haircut, opting instead for buzzing the sides myself and letting the top grow longer than I’d ever let it before.  “Yes, Alpha,” they all replied, swiftly moving from the cedar paneled office—except River. As more than my beta, my best friend, he always thought himself exempt from most orders, and he was. I frequently needed an ear that felt like it was on my side, and not just because the rules told him he had to be.  My father had been Alpha before me, and his father Alpha before that. Every day I uncovered another piece of the effed up puzzle—the real story of the turmoil my clan was in—the legacy they’d left me. And it seemed while they were excellent Alphas in terms of protecting the lands and growing the clan—they weren’t proficient at financing or piddling things like paying property taxes. They allowed their females no say over anything, which went against everything we were taught as young males. They failed to practice what they preached. Their mates had to grin and bear it. A female probably would’ve pointed out the details that my father and his father ignored. And now, one year after my father died of cancer and my mother followed soon after, I stood in a falling apart house, up to my eyeballs in debt with every male and some female clan members working two and three jobs to help out. My clan was crumbling through my claws. Something has to give. River was the same age as me, though our appearances aged us considerably. He growled out a sigh and plopped down in one of the huge chairs, built specifically for us, thick and sturdy. He beat his hands on the top of his head to some rhythm. He was deciding how to tell me something. “Hawke, we can barely handle what we’ve got. Let’s face it, we are up to our muzzles here. Clan members are paying for bills usually taken care of by clan funds. We are working ourselves to the bone. We do what we can, but it’s just not enough. And now the LaFourche Clan Alpha wants to merge? I don’t know, boss.” I hate when he calls me boss. “I can’t help it. I have no money left after paying over two hundred thousand dollars in property taxes, insurance, flood insurance and everything else we were up to our asses on. The effing government was about to auction off our land. I have little to nothing left.” I stood and took the two steps to the window to face the swamp. I could almost hear the fluttering of the catfish’s fins in the murky bayou, the teeth of the nutra rat chattering, and the bowing branches of the Cypress tree in the beginning winds of a Louisiana thunderstorm. The swamp called to me, begging me to allow it to soothe the beast and the stress. I wished it could. But I didn’t even have time to run anymore—I hadn’t shifted in weeks. The neglect of my inner animal made my skin crawl and itch.  Let me out, he pleaded. He didn’t answer my rhetorical plea for him to further his rebuttal, so I continued my side of the debate, “What else can I do? Have you seen the other clan members? They’re as mature as a newborn cub. If I don’t take over as their Alpha, they’ll scatter to the winds. And with the other clans vying for our
land already—they would take over the LaFourche land and be a heartbeat away from our boundaries. I won’t have it.” He grabbed the arms of the chair and leaned forward, and I could see his reflection in the window. “Then something has to give. Things are getting out of hand. We respect you, Alpha and will obey anything you ask of us. But the Betas and clan are restless, the males and the females. You know our ways dictate that our inner animal obey an Alpha pair, not just a male. We need the strength of a pair. If you intend to do this, we should be stronger, at least.” Didn’t I know it? If they were restless for a pair to oversee them—if restless was the word they were using, then I was downright violent with my need for a mate.  The craving almost consumed me. My bear needed a mate, and I as an Alpha, needed the balance of a female—plus, even with my warmer body temperature; my bed, of late, seemed to grow colder and colder. But who had time to seek out a mate when the clan was in a spiral of disorganization and failure? It wasn’t like there was a dating and mating website for bear shifters. If there had been, its mascot would have been that yellow Care Bear with the heart on its stomach. The commercial would have him doing the Care Bear stare or some shit. I hated Care Bears.  Why am I thinking about Care Bears? I knew he could feel my malcontent over bringing up the issue of a mate, so he relented and moved on. “There’s another issue, Alpha.” I turned to my friend with a fake smile, “Oh great, what more?” “There’s been a report of a black bear, a rogue, in South Dakota. She seems to be part of a grizzly clan, but is not mated. They have seen her working on clan lands and running perimeters on their boundaries at all times of the night.” I shrugged, “It’s the female’s choice if she wants to keep clan with grizzlies.” “The thing is—she’s thin—worn. The wolf pack Alpha who reported her says she’s unhealthy. He says he can see her ribs when she shifts and she’s maybe eighteen or nineteen but none of the kids in his pack have ever seen her in school. And they all attend school together up there, shifter and human. He assumes—he assumes she’s being held captive. He sent a formal request that you visit and see for yourself as the Alpha over all bear Alphas.” I snorted in his direction, “I’m sure the grizzlies would be much obliging.” “They don’t have a choice. We outrank them. Black bears outrank Grizzlies, you know that. They have no choice but to grant you entrance.” Of course I knew that. I was just grasping at straws, trying to talk my way out of going to South Dakota for any reason. “How can I leave now, with the clan in turmoil?” “It will take us three days. It’s not gonna fall apart in three days. If she is what the wolf says she is, then we have to save her. We protect our own.” I slammed my fist down on the table, more in frustration with the entire situation than towards my Beta. He jumped anyway, “I know we protect our own. Make the arrangements with the rest of the clan. I want you and Flint on my flank. Three days, no more.” He didn’t answer with words, simply bowed his head in acknowledgement. I couldn’t believe this. I was in the middle of a turf struggle, on the verge of taking on a new clan, and trying to calm the mate-craving animal inside me—and there was a lone female in cold South Dakota who’d gotten herself kidnapped and enslaved. Perfect.

All of my books are a part of Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday News

I will be at Booking In Biloxi on March 25th from 12am until 3pm. So if you are in the area come see me as well as the NOLA Writer Gals. You can follow the NOLA Writer Gals on our Facebook group. Come and see us and get some great swag and awesome books.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Doves For Sale

Today's Throwback is Doves For Sale. You met Ezra and Aysa in Sparrow for Free. This is the continuation of their story. You can find your copy HERE.

Chapter 1


My psychologist is the devil. She wears red all the time, straight skirts, stripper heels, and lipstick—sometimes all together and sometimes separately. My brother, the priest, is scared of her too. Not scared enough. My brother and I came to an impasse in my counseling exactly three days after we started. For the future, I will keep in mind that my brother and I cannot talk without shouting, even in the rectory. I had a session the day before Halloween and she was dressed up as a devil girl, red glittery horns and all. She opened the windows halfway through the session to get some air in the place—or to let her demon minions in. Or to let the smell of brimstone and sulphur out. That’s right, I pick the only therapist in the nation who smells like rotten boiled eggs. Because that is my luck. And here I am, entertaining one of the things on her list. Dating more. I hate every second of it. “So, Ezra is an interesting name.” What the shit is this woman talking about? She can’t just let the jazz quartet play and the Bourbon get into my system before she starts the trip down ‘awkward first date conversation’ road, could she? This is why I don’t date, devil woman. I tip my chin at the waiter and after a double glance at my date, he complies. From the way his eyes bulged out, I think he’s gonna bring me the bottle this time. Her name is Andy or Jesse, some boy turned girl name—if only it fit her personality. I’m supposed to be observing her apart and separate from any—comparisons. Which is the closest thing to impossible I’ve ever attempted. Comparing her to anyone in particular was out of the question according to the bride of Satan. “It’s Biblical.” I reply, aloof yet polite. I don’t want her to get attached to me in any way, not that I was a catch, but it is therapy in itself, all this dating. I don’t even want this one as a friend or a sour look in passing on the street. I’d prefer she just get up and leave while I’m still sober. She looks to the side, ignoring my reply, as a cart with the dessert offerings pass us by, more interested in that than anything I have to say. Which is fine with me. I give the place a once over while she pretends not to be with me. My suit is itchy and I’d much rather be home in a pair of basketball shorts, playing Xbox and pining over—you know. But I suppose the devil knows what she’s talking about. At least, that’s what the degree on the wall says about her. In my opinion, she’s full of shit all the way up to her
eyeballs. Hearing a noise akin to a squirrel opening an acorn, I zero in on the woman in front of me and try to focus on the task at hand. The noise, now a fuse, lit and gaining ground at a rapid pace toward a bomb of a headache, was her—clacking her teeth on her black, chipped, and artificial looking fingernail. When she pulls her finger away from her mouth, a sliver of the black is caught on her eye tooth, but I don’t have the heart to tell her. Besides, it serves as a form of entertainment. It mesmerizes me. I’ve never tasted nail polish per se, but I can’t imagine how she isn’t hacking and gagging on that taste in her mouth. Sitting back in my chair, I inhale, trying to take in all the senses of this girl who I’d asked out in the Starbucks line. She doesn’t smell like—wait—I’m not supposed to compare—she smells like fermented rain. Like someone left a piece of bread in the rain to get soggy and then it molded and got rained on again. Speaking of bread, she’s eaten all the bread. Who does that? It’s a whole basket of bread. Would it kill her to share? She—she—she. I really should know her name at least. “So where do you work?” I always squirm at this question. Girls like this with perfected bodies and less than perfected manners don’t get what I do. I work for a paycheck. I’m not, nor have I ever been, interested in status, socially or financially. The factory pays me for eight hours and I leave my work at the time clock. I don’t have to pull long hours and come home with a briefcase and there’s no client dinners to take me away from anything or anyone. “At a motorcycle parts factory.” I shrug, pre-excusing myself from whatever criticism she’s sure to offer. “Oh. That sounds interesting.” The waitress appears and though I’m not supposed to, I mentally compare her to the one on the pedestal. The devil woman said I couldn’t compare my date, not the waitress, or the lady sitting at the table next to me, or the hostess or anyone else within a breath. “Hi Patty!” The waitress apparently recognizes the woman across from me and now I know her name—Patty. Patty is not really a boy turned girl name, but it’s close to Pat, so I let myself slide. When Patty answers the waitress’ question about what she’s been up to, she rolls her eyes toward me while she responds. She must be having as much fun as I am. A girl with strawberry blonde hair passes outside. Her hair is straighter than—and her hips aren’t quite as rounded as—and she’s not hiding like… I push back a thought, vowing not to allow her name to fill my throat and try to escape. It escapes too often—it doesn’t escape often enough. I hate not talking about
her. It feels like she died instead of killing me. Like she drowned instead of filling me with emptiness. Like she tipped over the edge of a cliff and took me with her. “Evan, what will you be getting?” Patty is poking the hell out of the laminated menu in front of me as her recently reacquainted friend tapped her pen on her notebook, needing to move on to her next table. “It’s Ezra. And the chicken marsala.” This was an Italian place. I hoped they had chicken marsala. Then again, nothing about the whole scenario was right. Nothing in my life is quite right anymore.

You can find all of my books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Swoon Sunday

This weeks Swoon Sunday comes from Burden.

Finally on the road, I took the time to replay the moment I first saw her laying in the grass, her jet black hair seemed like it went on for miles and miles, breaking free of its hairband as soon as she woke. She pounced like a feral cat when she heard us, and that’s when I knew that my mate was probably the bravest, fiercest bear I’d ever laid eyes on.   Then her eyes, the color of a turquoise stone, connected with mine and my world shattered. Everything in my body seized, including my heart, and with an exhale of bated breath, it began again, beating with hers, in time with the female I was created to love. And now here I held her. Her breathing was steady but I longed to see her spring to life. It twisted my chest to see her passed out in reaction to pain. She stirred in her sleep and shivered a bit. Pulling the blanket so that it no longer separated us, I lifted my shirt and hugged her closer, sharing every bit of warmth I had with her.   This was it.   She was here with me, the promise of our Creator, a mate to call my own, to share my life and my troubles with. To tell my secrets and listen to hers, to stand with me, equal in rank—a female to love and bear my cubs—to build a family and a legacy with. In my arms was my lifelong wish, my dream come to fruition. Echo was my mate, my heart, my love and hope for our clan. 


In the depths of the Louisiana swamps, clans of bear shifters roam freely. Hawke Turnclaw, the Alpha over all of his kind, is drowning in the legacy left to him by the Alpha before him, his own father. When he goes on a rescue mission to save a rogue Black bear from the clutches of a Grizzly clan, he finds more than just a Black bear, he finds his mate.

Echo has always been told she's an anomaly, a fluke. She's the only bear of her kind and that makes her a hindrance to her clan. She's tried to run away, but they keep her tethered through guilt and a shock collar around her neck.

And then someone shows up claiming he's her mate.
Now belonging to a new clan, will she ever be able to understand that she's so much more than just a burden?

You can find all of my books on Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Beholden

Chapter 1


“Aspen. What kind of name is that? It’s like his butt owns a writing utensil. Or is a writing utensil.”

Aspen's name is now synonymous with vomit.

I swear to all that's holy if Dahlia says Aspen one more time I'm going to projectile blow chunks all over her. It can't be helped. The physical reaction to--him--is involuntary and violent. She's across the room trying to console me and it's not working. Nothing works. Her precious shifting and running, swimming--none of it do a damn thing to get him out of my head. Eating certainly doesn't help--my stomach rejects it all.

"Cia, you have to get out of here. Tarrow says that As.."

I jump to my feet and point in her direction. "Dahlia, I can make it the five feet over to you and my aim has become extremely precise over the last few days. I could puke into a straw from a mile away. Go ahead. Say the name. But you've been warned."

She rolls her eyes. They are going to get stuck like that sooner than later the way she’s been pulling that move on me lately. She knows nothing about what I’m going through. None of them do.

She has this beautiful mate who is loving and caring and takes care of his shit.

I have Ass-Pen.

That’s the only way I will say his name.

Like he corrals donkeys for a living.

Like himself.

Because he’s the biggest jackass of them all.

“He wants to come see you.”

Well, guess what? I want a lot of things-like a punching bag with Aspen’s face on it. Do I get it? No…

This is the hard part. The part where my bear and I are having a Mexican stand-off. Because she’s fighting herself too. It’s like having a dream about a dream—except it’s a nightmare.

She wants at him—to rake his eyeballs with her claws but also to have him near her and tell her it’s going to be okay.

That one day she and I will be able to forgive him.

Mostly me—the human part of me holds grudges as long as the Mississippi river—maybe longer.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t even sure if I wanted it to be okay.

I wondered if this feeling would ever go away. Would I be sitting next to him while we were surrounded by grandchildren and still not be able to see anything except him with that tramp at the very moment when he was supposed to be only mine?

Because right now that was all I could see.

“I’m not surprised. He likes to see a lot of girls.” I turned to the window before wiping away the ever-present wetness from my cheeks.

“Don’t do that.” Her voice carried concern. All of their voices were laden with worry.

“What? Lia? Don’t tell the truth? Don’t say that he is a two-timing, three-timing, maybe even a twenty-five-timing man—slut?

In the reflection of the window I saw her pull the collar of her shirt over her mouth to stop me from seeing her smile even though my back was turned,

My sister clears her throat and shakes her head. “A man slut. That’s a new one. I almost want to write that one down and tell Tarrow.”

“You should. It’s a new one.” One side of my mouth pulls up into an almost grin. Almost is the closest it gets lately.

The silence that followed choked me.  I couldn’t help it. There I was on the verge of something great-something that I’d wanted my entire life and he ruins it.

He ruins the Precious.

Oh, Creator, I was starting to sound like Gollum. If my hair falls out and I start that hacking and gagging thing, Aspen’s ass is mine to beat.

It was time to move on. I’d known it for a while, but, to be honest, I’d run out of foul names for my beastly mate. That meant the holding out was over.

“I’ve decided some things, Dahlia.”

She got up and I could hear the squeak of clothes hangers as she filed through my outfits in the closet. Aspen had even ruined shopping for me. I went out a week ago and tried to buy a dress to console myself, but it didn’t work. “Oh yeah? Tell me.”

“Tomorrow I’m going to register for the Fall semester and get a job on campus—and if it’s not too late, try to get a dorm room.”

The last hanger stopped dead.

“Come on, Cia, you’re taking this too far. At least speak to him before you decide to run out like this.”

The vomit bubbled up in my throat again. “No, taking it too far would be moving to Chile and becoming a professional cliff diver. This is preserving my sanity—whatever is left of it. I know I’m going to catch hell from everyone else. Can’t you be the one that doesn’t give it to me? Please?”

She sighed, heavy and long. “So that’s it? You’re ending the mating?”

“There never was a mating.”

Thank the Creator my sister couldn’t sniff out a lie.

 You can find your copy of Beholden HERE.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday News

The NOLA Writer Gals now has a Facebook Group. So make sure you join us to keep up with everything we have going on. NOLA Writer Gals Facebook Group.

I announced that I had a new cover for His Haunted Heart last week. It finally went live on Amazon. So you can grab your copy HERE.

Also, I want to remind everyone that I will be at Booking in Biloxi on March 25, 2017. Here is the Facebook Group if you want more information on the event and the amazing authors who will be there.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Caught In A Jam

Today's Throwback is from Caught In A Jam (Love & Skate Book 4)

Caught In a Jam

Nixon Montgomery Black

Three years later

She only wore pink on Sundays.


      I swear, if it weren’t for coffee and Aunt Sylvia’s food, I wouldn’t survive.  I actually had two coffee pots.  One for home with the largest capacity carafe I could find.  And another at work which I bought myself since they didn’t provide coffee.  Seriously, what kind of construction site doesn’t have coffee?  I woke up to it, I used it as a crutch during the day, and as soon as we got home every night I’d push the flashing red button and listen for the drip. 

      Tonight was especially exhausting.  I worked a ten hour shift and then went to derby practice for an hour.  Yes, even zebras go to practices sometimes just to keep their skills in check.  But after lifting and walking all day it wasn’t my first pick of activities.  We ate dinner, thanks to Sylvia I didn’t have to cook, and went through our nightly routine.

      Now here I sat on living room couch alone while she slept.  I was supposed to finish a slide show for my Econ class but the longer I sat here, the more it didn’t get done.  I sat back into the cushions and closed my eyes as the last sip of coffee ran down my throat.  And like they did every night, my thoughts drifted to Journey.

      I’d heard things through the proverbial vine, some I treasured and some I despised.  I despised hearing that she’d married Justin after finishing school.  But she’d given up on her dream of being a nurse in favor of the title of Mrs. Conrad; never even stepping foot in a hospital.  But then again, I’d also heard she had quit school to become a stripper and Justin had moved on.  Who knew what the real truth was?  I’d only heard one that I really believed.  That she’d decided to start some rebellion against an administrator at Duke University—now that sounded like her.

      I got up and made another cup, stirring in way too much creamer, so much that my coffee was now cold.  I peeked into the bedroom and she was sound asleep. When I closed the bedroom door it squeaked and she rolled over but remained dormant.  It was a shame to feel this way.  I felt guilty every night when I sat here alone and completely reveled in just the state of being alone with my thoughts of Journey.  But I needed it and felt the withdrawals if I shied away.

      I sat back on the couch and let the heels of my palms dig into my eye sockets, shutting out the light so I could focus on her.  It was getting more and more difficult to remember what she looked like or how she smelled.  But I remembered the little things.  I remembered she called all Coke products Coke and didn’t get how some people called it Soda or Pop.  She always took out one strand of hair and wrapped it around her hairband proclaiming it made her ponytail look good.  She constantly stole my boxers to sleep in, even though she had a slew of boyfriends to steal from.  She had a triangle of freckles on her right earlobe.  I could tell the difference between her ‘pissed off’ whine and her ‘feelings hurt’ sob from oceans away. 

      I heard footsteps from the girl in my life as she entered the room but I wasn’t ready to let go of Journey just yet and rejoin reality.  Her hands, soft and warm pulled mine from my face.  I could smell the shampoo that Reed insisted I buy for her.  At the time I had no clue what girls liked.  I’d had to learn quickly.

      She huffed out a tired but annoyed sigh at me and I opened my eyes to see red curls and freckles everywhere.  She literally was covered scalp to feet in clusters of light brown freckles and I’d seen every inch of her.  She wiped away tears I didn’t know were there and then wiped her fingers on my pajama pants.  Before me was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on. 

      She finally knew she had my attention and I knew by the smirk on her face it would be good, whatever came out of her sweet mouth.

      “What is it button? It’s late.” I asked her, rewiping my face.

      She batted her big eyelashes at me and put her tiny hands on her hips.  “Daddy, I think I need a bunny wabbit.  Parker said he has a bunny wabbit.  I need one too.”

      I sucked my lips in between my lips and bit down desperate not to smile at how damn cute she was—especially when she was as drop dead serious as she was right now. 

      “Scout, we can’t have a rabbit in an apartment.  They don’t allow pets.”  This probably wouldn’t have flown with a regular three year old.  But did I have a regular three year old—No. 

      I blame Falcon.  Let me reiterate—I blame Falcon.

      He came in one day when she was about eight months old and gave me this huge pack of DVDs, flash cards and books.  I didn’t even look at it for months. I was too busy being a zombie and trying not to completely suck at the ‘Dad’ thing. But what I didn’t know was that Storey and Aunt Sylvia were using it when they kept her.  It was some kind of “I Taught My Baby To Read” kit.  Well, it turned out my baby could freakin’ read.  By the time she was two, she could read an entire first grade book front to back and write her name, which was difficult since I named her Scout Alessandra Black.  But she could. 

      A few months ago her four year old preschool teacher told Storey, who usually picked her up from school, that she was too advanced and needed to be moved to the five year old Kindergarten class.  Storey and Aunt Sylvia were excited.  But my Daddy worry force field kicked in immediately.  She was only three years old.  I wasn’t ready for her to enter into anything that remotely resembled real school.  Preschool is one thing, playing kitchen and nap time, but the word Kindergarten threw me off.  I relented and allowed her to enroll—but I didn’t like it one bit.

      “When we move to a big house we can get one,” she told herself more than me. 

      “If you say so, now is that what got you out of bed, dreams of big houses and rabbits?”

      That cracked her up.  I touched the cluster of freckles on the tip of her nose, “Back to bed.  Do you need a ride?”

      She giggled and climbed up on the arm of the sofa.  I backed up to it and she climbed on.  This was our thing.  I don’t think the kid had ever walked herself to bed.  I was incredibly lucky.  She was so precious to everyone.  And Aunt Sylvia never treated her like she was anything but another one of her own grandchildren. 

      I dropped her off on her bed and she snuggled in.  I noticed her toes touched the footboard of her pink toddler bed now.  I’d have to remedy that soon. 

      “Daddy, turn my music on.  I know I can go to sleep if my music is on.”

      Any other kid probably wanted Laurie Berkner or that Raffi cat.  That’s what she complained was played when she went to preschool.  But then when she started Kindergarten, she complained they didn’t play music at all.  She had me buy a cello CD, apparently influence of Aunt Sylvia, and give it to the teacher.

      “Name it,” she put a finger to her chin and feigned deep thought but she and I both knew she was going to pick The National.  I showed her the band on the iPod and she agreed—The National it was.  I bent down and kissed her forehead.

      “Get to sleep, Scout.  You’ve got a spelling test tomorrow.”

      She nodded, “Sleep, S—L—E—E—P.” 

      The P was masked by a yawn and I knew she would soon be back to sleep and I would be alone again. 

 You can get The Love & Skate Series on Amazon for $2.99 or its Free with Kindle Unlimited.