Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Last Letter

Today is Valentine's Day. The day of love, romance, candy, and cards. But sometimes words from the heart can be more powerful than gifts.

The following is a scene that proves just that. It's a scene I wrote for a blog a while back. But no matter when it was written or how long it's been, Ryder from Promise Me Darkness, proves that his love for Maddie will go on and on.

The Last Letter

I stared across my desk at the imperfect, pain-in-my-butt, bad boy of Promise Me Darkness, Ryder Delaney, refusing to flinch when he frowned at me.
“It’s Valentine’s Day, Ryder. Give me something,” I pleaded, resisting the urge to beg.
He scowled, his blue eyes piercing and full of fire. I recognized the hardness lining his face and turning his lips down. He wasn’t going to talk. Hell could freeze over first.
“Pleeease,” I said, almost begging. “For the readers of your and Maddie’s story.”
He sighed and leaned further back in his chair. I tried to ignore the way his crisp shirt outlined his muscles and the sexy way he reclined in his seat, relaxed like he didn’t have a care in the world. But I knew beneath that façade was a man ready to attack at the first sign of trouble. Without an ounce of remorse, he would take out any danger, leaving nothing but bruises and blood in his wake. The man was a living, breathing specimen of raw sexuality and dangerous power. The combination was lethal.
The desire he invoked by just walking in a room - overwhelming.
“I need something romantic,” I said, forcing myself to focus on the conversation, not on the effect of him.
“Romantic?” he scoffed. “Do I look like someone that spews romance like a damned fool? No.”
“Please?” I asked again, begging now.
He stared at me with those cold eyes, making me uncomfortable. The clock ticked, counting the seconds until one of us gave in. Finally Ryder broke the silence.
“Fine. For the readers.”
I smiled. He could be an ass sometimes. But that’s why I loved him.
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his jean-clad knees, taking his time. And I would give him all the time he needed. This man was dangerous. The ultimate badass. He could tear a man apart with one hand or make a girl melt with only one glance. He was the epic bad boy with not a care in the world. He had no rules and no boundaries. He cared for no one and nothing.
Except for Maddie.
She was the only woman that could bring him to his knees. His best friend. The love of his life. They were inseparable but I knew the world had tried to tear them apart.
And only succeeded in pushing them together.
“You ended the story too soon, Paige,” he said with a rough voice meant to scare me. “There was more, so much more that happened between Maddie and I.”
“I know…” I said. “But I had to stop somewhere, Ryder. The book couldn’t go on forever.”
“But my love for Maddie has.”
I opened my mouth to respond but no words came out. I mean, what do you say to that?
He pushed back his chair and stood up. Without missing a beat, he started pacing, wearing a path on my floor.
Memories played out across his face. Darkness. Suffering. The hunger that ate at a person’s insides until they went mad. It was all there for me to see. He didn’t hide any of it.
Finally he stopped in front of the window, staring outside, seeing another place. Another time.
“The day that the war hit, hell came to earth. Death and destruction were everywhere.” He paused. His throat worked hard to get his next words out. “But that hell gave me something. Something I can’t leave without. It gave me Maddie.”
With two strides he was back in front of me, resting his knuckles on my desk and forcing me to look up at him.
“I spent weeks in that terrorist prison,” he said with disgust. “I was a dead man walking, full of bullet holes and almost beaten to death. But I thought of Maddie morning, noon, and night. It’s what kept me alive. The only thing that made me want to live.”
I didn’t say anything. How could I? What did you say to a man that had been shot and nearly killed? That had dragged himself - bleeding and dying - back home in the middle of a war-ravaged land. And for what? Just to get to Maddie. The only person he had ever loved.
He reached into his pocket, drawing my attention to his low-riding jeans that hugged his hips perfectly.
“I came back home with something else besides those bullet holes and nightmares,” he said, pulling out a piece of paper that looked like it had been folded many times over. There was a red stain in one corner and black smudges in another. It looked like it had been to hell and back.
But maybe it had.
“What is it?” I asked.
“A letter. Note, I guess. I wrote it when I was sitting in the terrorist camp.” He put the paper down on the table and pushed it toward me. “It’s for Maddie.”
Before I could respond, he picked his hat up from the desk and slapped it on his head, pulling the brim down low. His eyes blazed down at me, hidden in the shadows of the ball cap.
“Show it to the readers,” he said. “Tell them it was all I needed to let the person I love, the person I would die for, know how much she meant to me. I didn’t need candy or roses or a damn Hallmark card.” He pointed to the paper. “I just needed that.”
Without another word, he turned on his booted heel and walked out of my office, leaving nothing but a heavy quietness in his wake.
Slowly I picked up the piece of paper and unfolded it. Ryder’s long, elegant handwriting looked shaky, forced onto the page. I imagined him sitting in a makeshift prison, beaten, bleeding, and barely holding on. That place had almost broke him but I knew what was in that letter had made him live on.

Dear Maddie,

As I write this, my body is bleeding and my heart is hurting. I miss you, Maddie. God, I miss you so much.
I dream at night of pastures and slow moving creeks. The sun is bright and the air is warm. I can feel it on my skin, heating me from the inside out and making me feel alive.
I see a girl with hair as dark as midnight, smiling at me in the sunlight. She is my best friend. My childhood playmate. She tells me to live and to never give up. Her smile alone makes me want to stay alive.
So I follow her, running through the tall grasses. I swim with her in the creek, watching as water runs over her body. I touch her and come alive. She is beautiful, perfection in my imperfect world. Just being near her makes me see things in a clearer light. She is everything to me.
That girl is you, Maddie. You are my heaven in this hell. You are my heart and soul. I ache for you. I crave your touch like a dying man craves a miracle. I want to hear your voice just one more time. I want to feel you next to me, whispering my name. It’s the only reason I want to survive. Each breath I take is for you. Each moment I stay alive is for you. Only you. I’ve begged God to take me home. Just take me back home to you…
But if he doesn’t, I will die a happy man. I’ve loved my best friend, loved her more than life itself. Time cannot change that and death will not take that away from me.
I love you, Maddie, with all of my heart.
Always and forever.
I love you…


Monday, January 9, 2017

Goodbye and Hello

Hello 2017. Goodbye 2016. (Can I get an amen?) I’m glad it’s over. Catch you later 2016. Adios.

You might have noticed (or maybe not because you have a life and - really – who cares what I do) but I’ve been kind of AWOL for a while. Well, most of 2016. I’m here to tell you why.

(First let me say, I usually don’t spill my guts on social media. It’s just not me. But since this is my website and damn it, I'll do what I want, I'm going to spill.)

It really started in 2015. I was writing around the clock. Seven days a week. Sometimes 15 hours a day. You might wonder if that was the case, why I wasn’t putting out book after book. The truth is, I’m just a slow writer. There I said it. I’m sloooow. I want every detail to be perfect, to be the things that readers feel, live, experience along with my characters. Maybe that's a bad thing. I don't know. And by the way, I'm not saying that authors who manage to put out book after book don’t put out great books. It's just how I do things. And that’s okay. I do what works best for me.

But back to 2015…all those long hours in front of a computer were starting to take its toll on me. I started suffering from insomnia, migraines, neck problems, backaches, my doctor said I had carpel tunnel. Not fun. But I wrote Promise Me Forever at a whirlwind speed and published it right after Christmas 2015. Some said it was my best book to date and I was elated about that. But after it was published, I hit a wall. Smacked right into that sucker. I spent the release week sick and weeks after the release sick. One illness after another. Not such a great way to spend Christmas or start the new year of 2016. Nope. So for the first time in three years, I told myself it was time t0 take a break.

But that bothered me, this break thing. Who did that? I was writing and people were loving my stuff. They were asking for more! I had hit all the big lists and was successful at my dream. I was crazy for taking a break! But I needed it. Big time.

So I spent time with my kids. I read, oh my gosh, how I read. I gobbled up books faster than my Kindle could download them. For years, I had focused on my own writing but I missed that quiet time between the pages of someone else’s books. I yearned for it with all my heart and gave into what I needed.

I’m also a big crafter; something most people don’t know about me. I love to sew and cross stitch and find things on Pinterest I’ll never be able to copy perfectly. So I returned to that, picking up stuff that was stuffed back in my closet. There is just something about working with your hands that calms the soul. At least, it does for me.

I enjoyed life again and didn't freak out if I didn't get my word count in for the day. What once was an enjoyment became a job. I had to write faster and faster and faster. I was giving myself headaches stressing so much then.

The break was supposed to be for two months but things just kept on happening. My daughter was sick again and again. Pneumonia, not once but twice. Partly collapsed lungs. I lived at the doctor with her. Then I lost my grandmother. She was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader. The woman meant everything to me. That was hard. Still is. My husband ended up in ICU with pulmonary embolisms. Something that happened out of the blue. It’s a miracle he’s alive today. And other things happened. Things that were hard to deal with and made me really look at things. I had to learn the hard way that sometimes people can just be mean and terrible and I had to take a deep breath and move on.

2016 just seemed like it was shaping up to be the year of terribles. Between sicknesses and losing someone close to me and the physical problems along with some other things, I just needed to refocus and take a step back. I did write. I promise. I’m too much of a pushover to just ignore the characters that live in my head. I started a story on Wattpad just out of the blue. I knew about the site and had been pushed by a few industry people to write on it. So My Dirty Little Secret was born.

Now we’re in 2017 and I’m ready to start fresh. Books are coming. More writing will be done. In the past, I only posted book-related stuff here on my website but I thought what the hell. I’m going to change things up. Get more personal because why not? If people don’t like it, they can move on (but I hope you like it and stay).

Maybe you’re asking why any of this matters. Why I decided to let you know what’s been up with me. I mean, I’m not that important. I’m just a girl who writes some books. But I wanted to tell you, a) so you know I didn’t fall off the planet and that yes, I’m still writing, but more importantly, b) that we all need a break sometimes and it’s okay. It really is. Life doesn't end if you don't check in once a day on Facebook or Instagram. They will still be there, I promise. So just take a breath. Find some quiet time. When life gets too demanding or anxious or just too much to handle and our bodies say enough is enough, return to the basics. Read a good book. Spend time with close family. Find some quiet. Remember what’s important. Just be. If I can do it, so can you.