NaNo…Day 29

And the Curse continues…

2010…My first Nano – I began The Re-Awakening. My computer broke on day 7 and I lost 10+k words…and quit.

2013… Priestesses of the Goddess…I wrote 63+K words…and WON…and I still have not finished that novel!

2014… My Country Tis of Thee – Again on day 12 with 15K words written my computer broke…and all was lost.

2015… I don’t even know why I tried then since I was on holiday for most of the month. I don’t even remember what I was working on either.

And with just two days to go in NaNo 2016…

  1. I have finally broken 40K+ words
  2. Ægir’s is mostly finished (an Epilogue and perhaps a serious rewrite with Sven to go…but the bare bones are there)
  3. Half of Sergeant Mike book 4 is complete…but a bit lost on it
  4. And blogs are well…working on it.

Yes, I COULD in theory hit 50K words…IF I totally ignore PanKwake, Cookie Monster and the house…and stayed up most of the night.

But is it worth it?

Answer: NO!

But as Cookie and I talked about over breakfast…that does not mean NaNoWriMo was a failure. Not at all!

I came close. And more importantly…I re-established the daily writing habit…amid the chaos of a possible move, carpet men, a broken dryer, an autistic ten year old, a new relationship, a huge house, a parent’s conference…AND my massive Thanksgiving. Even then I wrote 3 words…just so I could say I wrote all thirty days.

But more importantly this month gave me a real feel for my priorities going into planning for 2017. What is realistic expectations….and what is just not worth it. And that is priceless.

The good news…as I told Cookie…I can no more stop writing than I can quit breathing. I am a writer. It is not a career choice. Or a job. It is not what I do. It is who I am. And even during the roughest of times when I don’t have two minutes at the computer they are all clamoring in my head to let them all…to put their stories to words…to tell them to you.

So breath easier…yes there will be more in 2017.

And I am also confident that some day…one day…I will be a ‘success’. That my books will make those lists. But that takes time, work and effort…as well as some luck. For right now, those first three are just things I do not have enough of.

Thanks to NaNo 2016…I know that now.

And I am going into planning soon…will keep you all posted as to what you can expect from Tara.

But for now…these are what is most important to me…

20160930_201716_resized

And that is how it should be!

So off now to get some REAL work done on restoring our lives and cleaning this house that I have let go for way too long. Like my beloved Scarlet says…

NaNo…Day 27

And Kirsty, Bjorn, Mikael and Sven…

Well, I am old enough and wise enough to know there is no such thing as ‘happily ever after.’

But I know something more important…

Love is the only thing that can save any of us. 

There is a tiny bit left to finish up but it is more of an epilogue than anything else. Just wrapping up some things and setting up some more stuff….assuming some of you wants more that is…

Goddess bless you all with the life changing love that I have found with Cookie Monster…and that Kirsty, Bjorn, Mikael and Sven share.


Sven smiled down at Kirsty as his mother finished cleaning and straightening her and the bed. He could barely focus upon his wife’s face through the blur of tears that he made no attempt to hide as he held the tiny wriggling blanket in his arms.

The baby had an impossibly fine sprinkling of blondish-red down upon the top of her tiny head and the most piercing blue eyes that seemed to stare directly into his soul…and found him wanting. He had not released her since his mother had wrapped her in the blanket and passed her to him before turning back to deliver her little sister.

He was not sure if it had been minutes, seconds or hours before her heard the lusty cry of her sister join the chorus with the whimpers that had begun to quiet as he rocked her gently in his arms. The passage of time had meant nothing then. It reminded him of that thing his mother had tried her best to teach him something about relativity, but all he had been interested in then was the sea.

But everything was changing now. And as he had stared into those old eyes of their newborn, he knew it was time that he did too. Past time in fact.

The three of them had barely made it back to her bedroom before this tiny bundle had made her surprise entrance into the world. It had taken everything inside of him to allow Mikael and Bjorn to practically carry him up the stairs with one on either side and his arms wrapped about their shoulders. His legs, despite all these months of therapy under her less than tender care and supervision, had been virtually useless as they dragged behind them.

He bent and kissed the fuzzy head as his eyes met Kirsty’s. The lump in his throat felt the size of a fist and he had trouble swallowing around it. But he forced a reassuring smile to her anyway.

It was more than just his legs that was broken…and he knew it. Those steps had broken the pride that had been his warrior’s shield against the perversities of this life. But sitting there holding his baby daughter, surrounded by all the people that he loved and loved him, he knew that it was worth it.

He might not know where he went from here. How he would overcome the insurmountable challenges that loomed over him like the cliffs of the fjord that surrounded the Holding. But he knew that those same cliffs were what had protected this land from invasion and kept it safely in their family’s hand for hundreds of years. And he was determined that it would remain that way for these little girls too.

“I know they are not the sons you wanted, Sven.”

He shook his head and laughed as he reached for her hand, “It doesn’t matter. You are safe and they are healthy.”

She smiled and nodded with that all too familiar look that he had come to know meant that she was drawing a line, “I am glad you see that. Because some things are changing around here. This family has three daughters, who will grow into three strong shield maidens,” she paused for just a moment as she held out her arms for the baby.

He did not want to release the tiny package that weighed heavier than ever upon his shoulders. But he was coming slowly to realize that it was not just his shoulders anymore. That this was a family. A team. Together they would make a way through the turbulent waters.

He kissed the baby’s head one more time before surrendering her to Kirsty’s arms. She smiled at him before holding out her other arm to take her sister from Bjorn’s arms. His heart stopped when Kirsty nodded to Mikael to sit with Monika on the other side of the bed next to them.

She looked from one brother to the other, “This is not just a new decade or new century. It is a new millennium, a new world. And these girls have as much right as any sons we may ever have to choose their destinies. Njord and the Holding are their heritage too. If they want to fish, that is their right.”

She looked him directly in the eye when she spoke again, “And no more primogeniture. Who captains the boat is decided on ability not age. Leadership and responsibility is shared. Not just for them but for us too from now on.”

She smiled at Petrine then, “I think one of your country men said it well. ‘A house divide against itself cannot stand.’ From now on this family fights to save our way of life…not against one another. Am I understood?”

Bjorn was the first to nod. Just as he had been the first to see this one’s potential. Mikael smiled as he too nodded, “Ja, lilla gumman.”

Sven tried his best to use his sternest Dom face when he replied, “Seems to me, someone is forgetting again who is the sub and who are the Doms.”

She shook her head and sighed, “No, that I shall never forget. But I am not that shy, confused and inexperienced girl you met in that café in Tilbury anymore, Sven. Time, experience and your loves most of all have crafted her into a shield maiden.”

“And while in this room she will always be yours to command, to dominate, she has become so much more than that. I am your wife, the mother of your children and your partner. Your full partner in all that life throws at any of us,” tears spilled from the corner of her eyes as they pleaded with him.

He would have continued the teasing except that he recognized she did not realize that was what he was doing. Instead he too nodded as he bent and kissed her softly on the lips, “And I would not want it any other way.”

“Now you figure this our?” It was her turn to tease him. “Oh and one more thing. These girls are ours. All of ours. Monika too. Children are meant to be loved not claimed like package at an airport. There will be no more…mine or yours in this family. Only ours. Do I make myself clear?”

Sven considered her words carefully. For the first time in history, they possessed the technology to painlessly settle the argument of who’s your daddy. No need to look for eye or hair coloring, signs of paternity that were tenuous at best among brothers. A simple swap and there would be no doubt.

But she was right in this too. It just did not matter. Biology and DNA mattered less than love and responsibility. Shared as one. “Yes, elskling,” he replied.

She laughed as more tears slipped down her cheek, “That was easier than I thought. Only one thing left to decide. Names.”

Monika jumped up and down excitedly on the bed next to them. “Elsa. Elsa. Elsa and Anna,” she cried out.

“Oh no,” the three brothers sighed in unison, knowing they had all been bested by a five year old.

Mikael kissed the top of Monika’s curls and looked over it firmly at Kirsty, “I blame you. It’s all your fault for teaching this one to talk. Now she never shuts up.”

Sven chuckled as he fought back tears of laughter and joy. He tried to remember a time when he felt closer to his brothers, his family. But he could not.

She had done this for them. In the space of a year, she had taken three shockingly different and damaged men…brothers…and united them as a family. Her understanding, patience and especially love had healed them all…even their mother. She had brought them together as nothing else ever could.

He leaned in and kissed her again, “Æ ælske dæ.”

She smiled as both girls began to fidget and cry louder, “Æ ælske dæ. You too. All of you. But I think right now, I need to feed these babies.”

Petrine stepped from behind her sons’ shadows with tears streaming down her cheeks, “Yes, and then get some sleep.” She began to fuss and help arrange the pillows and babies to make Kirsty comfortable as she shooed them all away.

NaNo….Day 25

No, I have NOT forgotten my Ægir’s…and hopefully you won’t either…


Kirsty tossed things into the suitcase without even noticing what they were. Two days…and two incredibly long nights alone…and she was still fuming. She had done her best to finagle them all. Well, except for Bjorn. She knew he was completely hopeless. But the others she had taken a divide and conquer approach, beginning with Petrine, the weakest link. But none of them had broken ranks. Not even one had been prepared to stand with her against Bjorn silly and unfounded fears.

“Damn them, damn them all to Helvetia,” she cursed as she threw the matching baby quilts that Petrine had sewn for the girls in the bag with goddess only knew what else. It would serve them right if she had forgotten half of what she should have packed. She smiled at the thought of all those late-night trips to the stores in Oslo on a wild goose chase for one thing or another. Oh, yes, she felt a brilliant plan for revenge coming on.

She grimaced and stifled a low moan as that catch in her back that had been bothering her the past couple of days started to act up again. She would have loved to share this monstrosity of a bed with one…two…or all three of them. If for nothing more than to have someone to massage her back when it hurt like this. But she was not giving into their silliness that easily.

“Almost packed, sweetie?” the soft feminine voice intruded upon her plans for justice.

So, they had been so churlish as to send their mother to do a man’s job? Good. New ideas for their comeuppance blossomed in her fertile mind. As she turned with a frown to her mother-in-law, not even sparing the older woman one of her stone-cold glares.

“Does it matter if I am or not? Like Bjorn said, they will carry me to the boat kicking and screaming if they must,” she pouted.

Petrine just smiled and shook her head, “I know you are not happy about this, Kirsty. But please understand, my sons love you. None of them can stand the idea of something going wrong…of anything happening to you or those babies.”

She sighed as she clutched one of the girl’s little pink dress to her bosom, “Petrine, you know they are over-reacting. I have not had a single problem this whole pregnancy. Not a single one,” she emphasized as she tried one final time to sway the woman.

Petrine closed her eyes and sighed as she nodded, “I know, sweetie. Honest, I do. But between what happened with me and this being twins, can’t you bend just a bit? I mean what is a couple of weeks in Oslo when compared with the rest of your lives here on the Homdling as a family?” Her green eyes that were so much like her youngest son’s were pleading when she spoke again, “They love you so much, Kirsty.”

Kirsty blew out a deep breath as she saw her last hopes going up in smoke before her eyes. If she could not budge even Petrine, she had no chance against their united front.

She turned to toss the tiny dress into the suitcase with everything else but she must have moved too quickly or the wrong way, because this time that nagging pain in her lower back was more like red hot knives slicing through it and spreading around like fingers of agony to grip her lower abdomen. She could not hold back the cry as she clutched her abdomen and gripped the wooden column of her bed until her knuckles were tight.

When the pain began to subside enough that Kirsty could focus again, Petrine was by her side. Her arms wrapped about her back and supporting her as she struggled to remain standing. “Was that the first one?”

Kirsty shook her head in confusion as her struggled to clear her mind, “First what, Petrine?”

The older woman chuckled, “The first contraction, sweetie.”

She shook her head in denial, “No, the babies aren’t due for another five weeks. That was my back. It has been bothering me the past couple of days. I must have turned the wrong way and pulled something then.”

She was not prepared for the laugh that erupted from the other woman’s throat, “You may pull one over on my sons yet, darling,” she replied before turning towards the open bedroom door and calling for them.

Kirsty was confused. None of what the woman said made much sense. What did this nagging back ache have to do with anything? She was still trying to put all the pieces together when Bjorn’s blond head appeared in the doorway, followed shortly by Mikael’s darker one. Sven had yet to conquer stairs, but she knew that those two would relay whatever was said to their older brother.

She glared at them both and placed her hands upon her hips as she felt some strange and unknown pressure between her legs burst. She stared in shock at the dark stain spreading on the rug at her feet.

Her mind rifled through the possibilities. Over the months, she had become accustomed to female ejaculation…but she had not orgasmed. She frowned, then what? Had she wet herself? But it did not feel like she had.

Petrine was laughing even more now as she moved back to her side, “Sorry, boys, but it looks like she has bested you this time. Bjorn, get me my medical bag from the cabin. Mikael, help me get your wife into the bed and comfortable so we can see how far along she is.”

Kirsty opened her mouth to argue with her but instead a scream erupted as pain ripped through her lower abdomen and spread upwards until she could watch her whole stomach tighten like something out of a horror film. All that registered was… ‘I’m in labor. I’m really in labor.’

***

Bjorn raced back to the Holding with the over-stuffed, heavily laden, multi-colored and flowery denim bag that had been his mother’s trade-mark as the herbalist, natural healer and sometimes midwife in this community for almost three decades now. Logically he knew that she had delivered half of the children in the village.

But that was not how this was supposed to go. They had discussed this. Had it all planned. Kirsty had promised. She had sworn that if they came back here now she would go to Oslo with its well-equipped and modern medical facilities to have their babies. She had assured him. And look where they were now.

Maybe they could still get her on the boat and make the trip safely. After all, labor took hours, sometimes days. Especially first ones. Yes, that was the solution, he smiled as he threw open the door and rushed straight into Sven’s scowling face.

“What is going on up there?” he demanded.

Bjorn would have laughed at the obvious distress written on Mister Cool’s face. Except that he knew his was just as fraught with worry.

“How am I to know anything more than I told you five minutes ago when I came down the stairs? Kirsty is in labor. That is all I know. Now get the hell out of my way so I can go find out,” he demanded as he tried to shove his way past his brother and the walking sticks that allowed him to get around with a great deal of effort.

“Damn it, kid, those are my babies too. And I am stuck down here with no idea of anything that is happening to any of the people I love.”

His words stopped Bjorn cold. He could only imagine how frustrated and helpless his oldest brother must feel. “Okay, I understand. Just let me take Mom’s bag up there and find exactly what is happening then I will come back and update you,” he promised.

“No, you will help me up those stairs now. I have every bit as much right to be in that room when those babies are born as you and Mikael.”

“Yeah, well, right now I am hoping that they won’t be born in that damned room. I’m hoping like hell that we still have time to get her to the hospital in Oslo,” Bjorn tried to barrelling past Sven one more time only to be greeted with a metal stick blocking his path.

“Enough, you two,” bellowed a gruff voice behind him. “Let the boy past, Sven, so he can take the medical supplies to your mother. That is our priority,” Olaf reasoned as he pushed the cane away. “Then we will figure out a way to make sure you are part of this too. You have my word on it.”

Sven glared at them both for a moment but then nodded his head almost imperceptibly before stepping out of the way.

Bjorn took the stairs two at a time as he left their uncle to calm his older brother. Not that he blamed the man. He knew that these past few months had been living hell for Sven. At first he had even thought that perhaps it was justice. The gods punishing him for the stubborn way he had treated her and them…for all the pain he had caused everyone. But as he watched his brother’s struggles Bjorn had realized…no one deserved this living hell. Not even Sven. Especially not this.

He burst through the door to see her face red and sweat pouring down it. But when she opened her mouth and screamed his knees almost gave way. Bjorn gripped the door handle to remain upright. It was not that they had never heard her scream. Hell, they all quiet liked it. But not this. This visceral and primal eruption of the soul ripped out his heart and shattered his mind. Especially when he realized that he was as completely helpless as Sven.

“Bring me the bag, Bjorn,” his mother crooned. How could she be so calm and undisturbed in this utter madness and chaos?

Somehow or the other he managed to cross the vast sea between the doorway and bed. She took the bag from his hands as he simply stared down at his wife as she collapsed back against Mikael’s broad shoulders. “Good girl, elskling,” his brother kissed away the perspiration from her brow and brushed wet hair out of her eyes.

He was frozen. All he could do was stand there and stare down at her. Every single one of his darkest fears coming to life and playing on the wide screen in his mind. Losing the babies…or worse yet…her. He tried to swallow the fist that had lodged in his throat but he could not.

When she looked up at him with tear filled eyes, he almost crumbled again. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. I promise. I thought it was just a back ache. I’m so sorry. So, sorry….” she cried. “I didn’t mean for this to happen. Please forgive me…. please,” she pleaded.

He could not even manage to force the words past that lump even as much as he wanted to…as much as he knew that she needed to hear them.

“It’s okay, Kirsty,” his mother reassured their wife at the same time she was pulling on a pair of sterile gloves. “Bjorn knows you would not do anything like that. But right now, sweetie, we all need to focus on getting these babies born. Especially you.”

He shook his head as his mother’s words reached some dark corner of his addled brain, “No, Mama, we need to get the boat started, her on it and sail for Oslo as fast as we can,” he asserted.

His mother shook her head without even looking at him as she rearranged the quilt. His befuddled mind could not even grasp what he saw when she did, “That’s not…No! Labor takes hours…days.” But he could not deny the evidence of his own eyes.

Petrine shook her head as she pulled their wife out of Mikael’s arms, “Get your brother out of here.”

Mikael reluctantly released his tiny burden with a nod as he bent and kissed Kirsty’s still damp brow, “I’ll be right back, lilla gumman. You’re doing just perfect. Always our good girl,” he reassured her.

But the stony glare that he turned on Bjorn was anything but reassuring, “Come on, kid. Let’s go update, Sven.”

Her face reddened as a deep guttural keening filled the silence, “Please, please forgive me, Bjorn. I promise I did not do it on purpose,” Kirsty pleaded as he felt the scalding tears slide from the corner of his eyes.

***

Mikael wanted to shake his little brother until his head exploded. Instead he whispered, “Tell her that you forgive her,” as he gripped Bjorn’s upper arm so tightly that there would be bruises.

But it must have done the trick because his brother shook his head as if waking from a bad dream. Mikael thanked the gods as the man forced a weak smile and took their wife’s hand that she held out for him, “There is nothing to forgive, sweetheart.”

Mikael sighed and loosened his grip a bit, but did not release his brother. “We just need to help Sven, elskling. You do exactly as Mama says and I will be right back, I promise.”

He was forced to tighten his grip once more as he tugged Bjorn towards the door. Not that he could blame his brother. He did not want to leave her side either. But he also needed to talk…or beat…some sense into Bjorn.

And maybe Sven too, he thought, as they reached the top of the stairs. His father was struggling to steady him as he dragged himself up the steps. Half using his arms and the other half by sheer will and determination over his virtually useless legs. “What in Helvetia are you doing?”

Sven did not even bother to look up. He probably could not risk breaking his concentration as Mikael noted that his oldest brother’s brow was as damp as their wife’s. “What does it look like I’m doing? If the two of you won’t help me up these damned stairs, then I will fucking dragging myself up them on my stomach if I have to. I am not going to miss my daughters’ births.”

Mikael looked over Sven’s shoulders to his father with pleading eyes as he maintained his grip on Bjorn’s arm.

Olaf nodded, “All of you just settle down. None of this is doing that girl or those babies a damned bit of good.”

He looked from one of them to the other slowly, “Do you want to need up a bloody mess in the fighting fields or be there for her and those babies? Your fathers and I have done both. And trust me…it is much better to be there than angry and bruised.”

Bjorn nodded his head slowly and Sven paused, leaning heavily on the bannister. “Mikael, what exactly is happening?”

“She’s having those damned babies,” Bjorn blubbered but the stern look from his father squelched any further outburst.

Mikael nodded, “Yes, Kirsty is going to have the girls. Here and now,” he squeezed Bjorn’s shoulder, partly to keep his brother under control but mostly to reassure him. “Mama thinks that she has been in labor for a couple of days now. She’s been having back pains that she thought was normal given this stage of pregnancy. Evidently it was back labor.”

He left unsaid the guilt that he bore, that they all shared. They should not have allowed her to pout the past couple of days. If they had pushed her, demanded that choose one of them, not left her alone in that monstrous bed then perhaps they would have known. Could have spoken to Petrine about the back pain.

And none of this would be happening. But they could think and talk about that later. Right now, she and those babies were all that mattered.

His father nodded his head, “So it is too late to take her to Oslo then?”

Bjorn turned white as the snow that blanketed the ground outside. Mikael gripped his arm tighter as he felt the weight shift, knew his younger brother was struggling to remain on his feet as much as his elder one. “Yes! The baby is coming now. I saw…”

Any other time Mikael would have burst out laughing at Bjorn’s clear distress. And later he would make certain to remind his baby brother of this. Often. But not now.

“Papa is right. She needs us. All of us,” he looked from one to the other. “But she does not need us angry at one another, blaming each other or falling apart. She need us together and united.”

“And strong,” Olaf added. “She needs her Doms to get her through this. All women do but especially a sub. When their world is turned upside down and torn apart. When they are afraid and don’t know what to do. That is when they need you the most.”

His father’s gaze was steely hard as he looked into each of their souls, “The question is…are any of you up to that job? Are you capable of putting your own bullshit aside and being there for her when she needs you the most? Or are you going to act like a bunch of little boys bickering and fighting still?”

Mikael nodded, “So what you say? Bjorn, I know you are scared. But like Kirsty and even Mama told us, she is not the same. There is absolutely no reason to think that she will have any trouble birthing these babies naturally. And you know as well as the rest of us that even if she does, Mama is the best. Maybe even as good as those fancy doctors in the city. So, can you pull your head out of your ass and help me get Sven up these steps before we all miss our little girl’s birth?”

NaNo…Day 21

Some more Sergeant Mike for you…


Mike laid in the cold, hard bunk staring at the wood of its mate over his head as he listened to one of the other Marine volunteers snore. He chuckled sardonically, it was just like Parris Island. Right down to the chill that would not leave your bones…and his were much too old for this shit now. He swatted at something in the dark, yeah, bugs too.

It was his own damned fault. He could be snuggled up next to her in a nice warm double bed. But oh no, his god damned honor had to choose that moment to assert itself. He had been so fucking worried about compromising her in front of his friends.

He shook his head against the lumpy pillow and chuckled, like sleeping together, even having sex outside of marriage, ‘compromised’ anyone these days. They were both adults. Consenting adults at that. What did it matter? How cared?

Still some part of his mind…his warped honor code…always heard those words…’take care of Mama, promise me, Mike.’ Would Tommy have asked if he had known? More than likely he would have taken his head off.

But what worried Mike most was how quiet and withdrawn she had been today. Was she already regretting the decision to follow him? Had she already discovered what a fuck up he really was?

And what if she has, buddy? What can you do about it? Not a hell of a lot.

If the idea of her seeing him for the messed up Devil Dog that he was frightened him, then the idea of her going back there…back to Sebida…bothered him even more. A woman like that…intelligent, caring, with so damned much to give…did not belong in that hell hole with its small town minds.

What was he going to do about it? It was not like he had anything to offer her really. He was a man without a future. This final tour of duty for him was a one-way trip to a place he had not been since he was a boy of seven. A bleak and lonely graveyard in Boston.

But not before he kept his promise to Tommy. Not before he saw Esther safely and happily settled somewhere besides Sebida, Texas. Was New Orleans that place though? It was for certain that Matt could use her help here. Even once he got this community center built he would need lots of help running it. Maybe she could tutor the children after school? Or cook for the homeless? She was certainly a good enough cook.

Still, this was the first place she had seen after spending a quarter of a century, most of her adult life in that hell hole. What if there were better options on the road ahead? A place where perhaps she could be happier, even find…

His throat tightened on the word love. Of course, it was what he wanted for her. She deserved the kind of happiness that his friends, the Hernandezes, (add the others) had found. The kind of love that sustained you through the hard times that always seemed to come. The woman had raised Tommy alone, being both mother and father, forming a fine young man. She had struggled all alone for so long. She deserved someone special.

So why then did he want to hit something at the thought of her in another man’s arms? Or some other incredibly lucky bastard falling sleep and waking up next to her every day?

And what the hell was he really doing….really thinking? If this was just temporary, only until he found a place where she could be happy, why was he wasting even a single night in her arms?

“Because you’re a fucking fool,” he whispered to the dark as the threw back the blanket. He would move his stuff tomorrow, but for tonight the only thing that mattered was righting a wrong. If she would still have him ofcourse…

NaNo…Day 16

OK, so I have not gotten loads written this morning. But sometimes a girl has to clean her shit up in order to concentrate and get down to the REAL work. So after leaving with this teaser from Mike and Esther (Homes for Heroes – Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour) I am off to do just that. As Scarlett says…

Did ya’ll know that is where I got my name? But that is another story for another day.


“I know this place looks hopeless but the deal that I struck with the city to revitalize it could be a real turning point in our work here. Most of the people that are going to return and rebuild have done so now. So, we have a better idea of where we stand. And with dozens of abandoned houses slowly rotting and being reclaimed by Mother Nature,” the young man shook his honey blond head as he nailed another piece of sheetrock into place in what had once been an elementary school.

“With tens of thousands homeless Vets…” The futility was evident in the crack of his voice as he finished driving the last nail into place before turning his wheel chair towards Esther. “Well it does not take a genius to figure this one out.”

Esther smiled at his infectious enthusiasm. Matt Duggan was a remarkable young man. Her chest tightened, the kind that any mother would be proud of. She swallowed back tears as she turned and looked around the entry way of the building that had remained vacant for over decade.

They had spent the whole morning just clearing out the rubbish including old mattresses, condoms, needles and worse. Even after a gallon of bleach the smell of human and animal refuse still lingered, but she was not certain if that was coming from the other two dozen or so rooms in the building that they had yet to tackle or if it was merely stuck in her nose and throat now.

She admired this young man’s determination and ingenuity. She was certain it took more than a bit of his sweet talking to arrange for the city to sell his charity this whole building for five dollars. Although some people might think they took advantage of him. But while there was lots of work to be done, much more than they could accomplish before the Thanksgiving grand opening of the community center portion of it, the three-storey brick building was fundamentally sound. It was mostly cleaning, repairs to the internal walls that had been soaked in the flood waters and cosmetic repairs.

In addition to her, Mike and a dozen or so of the local residents, who idealized Matt for his stalwart support of this community, several other Marines from around the country were there to help a friend, including two who were an electrician and a plumber. The plumber was a retired Vietnam Vet who along with his wife was touring much the same as Mike was except in the comfort of an RV. They had been here for a couple of weeks now. As a result water service had been restored to the derelict edifice already.

Esther noted that the back wall which might have once been used as a bulletin board for the children was almost completely finished now. But this was just the scratching the surface. The real work would be in the cafeteria and the gym. Those three ground floor rooms were the goals for the next three week before the grand opening, celebrated with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for the volunteers, community members and the homeless. But even that seemed an impossibly large task in such a short time.

But then too these people had already done so much to rebuild their community and their lives. Of course, it helped that the Marine contingent did not know ‘quit.’ As daunting as it all seemed this morning, Esther considered it a pretty safe bet that it would all be finished in time.

“Ooh-rah,” she chuckled as she watched Mike lift the final piece of sheetrock into place as Matt began to nail it into place on the studs at the bottom while an older teen on a ladder put a few more into the top near what would become the ceiling once they finished.

Her fists clinched at her sides as she felt the heat rise up her neck towards her cheeks and ears. Damn, the man.

After a week of the most earth-shattering sex of her life, better than the crap that was in her favorite romances…after giving up her home and everything she knew to hop on the bike of his motorcycle and follow him across the country on this mission…after all that when Matt winked at Mike last night and teased, ‘So, Master Sergeant, is that one room or two?’ The man had blushed, looked at his boots and mumbled, ‘Two will be fine.’

She sighed as the feeling of being adrift, lost and alone once more swamped her. Perhaps flooded would be more accurate. Despair had been her best friend almost for so long that she did not know anything else. Then he had come and pushed back the clouds, shone light into her screwed-up life and given her hope that things could be better.

Only to snatch it all away with a few words. Cutting her loose from the only anchor she had felt in a long time.

‘So where do I stand with you, Master Sergeant?’ she pondered as the two men laughed at something she could not overhear.

NaNo…Updates…

No, I have not forgotten NaNoWriMo. I have not given up or given in. I have not disappeared back into the loving arms of my Cookie Monster. Well, I have but He keeps kicking me out and telling me to go write some more.

But I am trying to keep balance here.

With sewing and cleaning and studying for my driver’s test.

I have been writing every day. Maybe not as many words as I would like. And maybe not in the story or genre that you want most.

But in addition to this writing blog, I am also doing two others…

FrugalFam is my very first blog. I re-started it this month. It is about all the stuff that is making me happier than I have ever been…cooking, sewing, cleaning…being a HOMEMAKER. Making this beautiful house into a home for Cookie Monster, PanKwake, me and our friends and family. That is not as easy as it sounds. It can be a full-time job in itself…but like I said…I LOVE IT!

I also broke down and decided to start another blog for all those ‘heavy’ philosophical, political and psychological meanderings that did not fit neatly anywhere else. Tara’s Musings is just that…my weird thoughts, ideas and insights into life. For whatever that is worth. Look at it this way…at least I won’t be clogging up your good smut with high- and-mighty BS anymore.

So if you are wondering what I have been up to, that is pretty much it. And if you are wondering when I will get back to Esther and Mike…or Kirsty, Bjorn, Mikael and Sven…then the answer is probably not tomorrow…but definitely the next day. But I’m not telling which…

Mostly because I don’t know myself yet. I don’t plan these things out…just everything else in my world.

NaNo Day 12…Remembrance Day…

A couple of days ago in honor of Veterans’ Day, I posted a bit of the new Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour novella. As some of you may realize I am an American expat. For the past decade, I lived in London…and now happily transplanted to Wales with Cookie Monster. Today is Remembrance Sunday…the time when the UK honours its war dead.

So I wanted to do something to honour the fallen protectors of my adopted homeland as well. Luckily, I have a great excuse…Sergeant Major David James Smith, Four-Two Commando, Her Majesty’s Royal Marines. The dead husband of Jill, The Arrangement’s heroine.

One day I plan to write a novella, a retrospective detailing their tempestuous love and marriage. But with Ægir’s Wife and Home for Heroes in the works…now is NOT the time to start another project. Instead I thought I would give you a glimpse of the man through the eyes of those who knew him best…


Jill swiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her hand as she watched the moving van pull away from the curb. She was going to miss her new best friend Simone. And all the promises in the world to stay in touch via social media and video calls would not be the same as sitting around the kitchen table over cookies or cake with the woman.

Even if it was only for a few months while Daniel finished out his time with the U S Navy and made a smooth transition of the SEAL team to Travis, his lieutenant. Then they would all be reunited at the eco-village in West Texas owned by Dr. Brent Masters, Daniel and Samuel’s new boss.

Things were changing again. So fast that it left her head spinning. Leaving the Navy, another set of twins added to their family and now with Simone and Samuel’s news. Well, she only hoped that the Apocalypse that Brent was preparing for was a long way off…another lifetime maybe.

She sighed as she felt more of those tears gathering…as she replayed Samuel’s parting words to her, “You know he’s damned glad that you’ve found the happiness you deserve again.”

She turned and smiled up into Daniel’s blue eyes as she gripped their little girl tighter. He smiled in reassurance as he lifted their son. He shook his head and grimaced, “Someone needs changing.”

She chuckled and held out her arms. Men. Somethings never change. But Daniel shocked her by scoping their daughter Darcy out of them. “I got this one, darling,” he chuckled as he bent to kiss her forehead.

It was another reminder…as much a like as her husbands were, they were totally different men. She reluctantly relinquished her hold on the child. Her arms felt incredibly empty and she wrapped them about herself as she leaned against the column on their front porch.

Since…well just since everything that had happened, all they had discovered of the past, she and Samuel had had more than one talk about him. About David. Her first love. The father of her adult sons. The man that she had spent close to twenty years loving.

Her throat tightened and she gave up the battle, surrendering to the tears. As happy as she was with Daniel, his four girls and now their own babies, she knew that a part of her heart would always belong to David. How could it not after all they had gone through, all they had shared?

In the blink of an eye, their lives flashed through her mind. Watching him rise up out of the clear water of Cancun, his brown eyes laughing at something his mate had said as he shook his short brown waves. The look in those eyes when he had first seen his son…wonder, awe and fear. The way he had held tighter and longer on that last good-bye…as if some part of him knew…

Not that everything had been perfect. Far from it. They had been kids. Kids with more responsibility than sense. And sometimes the pressures of serving Her Majesty and raising four rambunctious boys had seemed bigger than both of them. One time in particular still felt raw after all these years.

But in the end they had gotten past that. They had explored hidden desires together, grown closer as a couple and shared more than another decade of happy and sexy memories.

Duty, honour and love. The things that both of her husbands did have common. The very things that had brought her back across the pond to follow another warrior just as she had once followed David.

Whether it was the good old red, white and blue or god, Queen and country, her men were the last of a dying breed. Men for whom the duty to serve outweighed their own needs for money or glory. They were both remarkable leaders in the field…or the home front. When they gave their word…they kept it. Even when it was hard. Hell, even, when it was impossible, they found a way.

Talking as she had over the past couple of months with Samuel, listening to his stories of David’s final days and hours, how she and their boys preoccupied his thoughts, brought him happiness and comfort as he planned the future that was never to be, it was painful at times. But it brought solace and closure that she had craved for so long.

“I’ll always love you,” she whispered into the sea breeze and for the briefest moment it felt as if it were his caress upon her cheek. More tears spilled from her green eyes as her reverie was broken by a scream from the living room.

She shook her head and brushed away the tears with the back of her hand. it seemed that Ashley and Britney were at it again. She had almost forgotten the jealousy of older siblings that always meant weeks and months of misbehaviour after the birth of a new child.


His brown eyes danced as he watched her perhaps rounder bottom jiggle a bit within the confines of tight jeans.

Regrets…a life time of them. Maybe that was what tied him to this realm now? It certainly was not concern for her as it had been for so long.

As his friend had told her, he was delighted that she had found new purpose for her life. He was even more pleased that her calm, orderly and loving manner had brought so much to the new officer that he remembered as honourable but troubled.

The woman was certainly in her element with a house full of boisterous children that was for certain. She had done such a brilliant job with their boys. It was not like he could take much credit for that. He had been away serving Her Majesty more often than not while they grew up.

Despite that DJ, Declan, Damien and Darren had turned out to be pretty decent men…and Royals. Well, except for Darren. Of course, DJ still had his demons, but most of those were his fault.

Even if it he had it to do all over again, there was not much he would change. One foolish mistake…but even that had not turned out so bad. Thanks to her love and understanding.

The truth was…he had had a good life. He had a career he loved with men and women he respected and trusted. He had lived in a country that he had been honoured to serve. And he had loved and been loved by a remarkable woman. Not bad for an old bootneck like him.

David glanced into the house as the other man joined her as Jill separated the battling tiny terrors, ‘Sometime during the rest of your time here, you better learn to share, Commander. Because I am not spending eternity without her either.’

He watched them laugh and his heart or where it would have been caught just a bit…maybe even this tiny bit of jealousy was enough to taint his soul and tie him here? Whatever it was did not matter that much as long as he got to check in on her every now and then.

‘Until next time,’ he whispered though he knew they could not hear or feel him as he disappeared out of the nothingness from which he had materialised. He’d just check up on his boys…or maybe some old friends.

Especially the young man who had lost his leg in the explosion that killed him. Sometimes he thoughts maybe dying was easier than living to come home…to a world that was not as you remembered it.