This is a completed manuscript that I haven't sent out yet. Thought I'd share the first part of Chapter One with you
Chapter One (Part 1)
"A tornado warning is now in effect for Charleston County, Berkeley County, and parts of Dorchester County. At approximately 6:45 p.m...."
Nicole switched off the television and gathered her purse and coat from the top of her desk in the back room of her antique shop. She didn’t want to be alone here during a storm. It didn’t feel safe. Few places did. A twenty minute drive would take her home with its tall wrought-iron gates and solid brick structure.
Her cell phone rang. Probably Katya calling to check on her. Her best friend for the past eight years, the woman knew close to everything about her, including the phobias that rendered her semi-functional.
"Hi, Kat. I'm heading out now."
"It doesn't look too bad on this side of town. Want to come hang out there?" Happily married with two small children, Kat had opened her doors more than once to Nicole when one of her fears had kicked in.
"No, I think it'll pass." As she clicked the lock into place securing her antique shop, a chill ran down her spin. A sense of deja vu passed over her.
A severe storm had taken away her security nine years ago, giving her best friend's boyfriend the distraction he'd needed to get close to her. To trap her inside the small office building which held her law practice. And…
"Are you sure?" Worry coated Kat's voice. "Jim doesn't mind. He's draped over the sofa watching baseball. An occasional curse word gets thrown in when the satellite fades out from the wind."
"I thought you said it wasn't bad over there." Nicole made it to her car in record time, the swish of the palm trees rubbing her nerves. She climbed behind the wheel of her comfortable sedan with every bell and whistle she could get for security purposes and punched the ignition button. The doors locked automatically.
"I said it didn't look too bad, and I wasn't lying. A burst of wind every now and then isn't bad." Kat huffed out a breath. "Come on over. I've got stroganoff ready, and the little ones will be in bed within the hour. We could have a glass of wine, chat, and try to tune out Jim's salty language together."
Nicole smiled at the picture her friend painted. She did love spending time with Kat's family. They'd become her own, providing her that familial tie she didn't have through any blood relatives. Caving in, she turned her car in the opposite direction of home. "Okay, but once the storm dies down, I need to get home. I have to be at the shop early tomorrow to get ready for Saturday's sale."
"Sounds like a plan. I'll set out another plate."
Her hands white-knuckling the steering wheel, Nicole said goodbye to her friend and focused on the road. Overhead, the sky had darkened to an ominous gray with streaks of green. Palms slickened with sweat, she tried to remain focused on the road, to ignore the warning signs.
Heart thundering in her chest, she pressed the accelerator and, using her thumb, turned on the radio, expecting the soothing sounds of classical music. Instead, an ominous voice shared the unwelcome news that a funnel cloud had been spotted near Kat's neighborhood.
Panic threatening to choke her, Nicole punched another button to direct dial Kat from her car's Bluetooth. "Kat, a funnel cloud's just been spotted right around the corner from you."
"I know. The warning just interrupted the baseball game. We're taking precautions. Maybe it's best if you do go home and batten down the hatches. I'll call you as soon as this passes." Kat paused before adding in a firm tone. "And it will pass."
With her friend's reassurances ringing in her ears, Nicole took the first exit to backtrack toward home, her body shaking with each mile.
By the time she reached her house, tears coursed down her cheeks, and her hands shook so badly she could barely press the button on the garage opener.
"Get a hold of yourself, Nicole. Nothing is going to happen. You're safe."
The self-talk helped a little, but it was only when she was inside and had bolted all the locks in place that she managed to draw a deep breath. But she couldn't stop herself from turning on the TV to watch the path of the storm.
Storms paralyzed her. And years of therapy hadn't eased any of the crushing anxiety that overwhelmed her with each weather warning.
Hours later, after the storm had moved on, Nicole she pushed herself up off the couch and stumbled down the hallway to her bedroom, one hand covering the scar that bisected her abdominal cavity. Though the night had fallen quiet, she wouldn’t sleep. The bad weather could return, and she had to stay on guard even though her attacker had died nine years ago.
So I wrote a post last year, sharing 9 things about me. A lot can happen in a year so I wanted to share 9 more things you don't know about me, probably because they happened last year or I just haven't shared them yet.
A really great friend of mine, who is also an author, prompted me last week to submit one of my books to Kindle Scout. I have been waiting to decide what to do with Outliving Her Past for a couple of months, and when she emailed me, I took it as a sign and entered!
The nomination period runs for thirty days and will end on May 12th, which, incidentally, is the day before my birthday! This is the kind of present I would love!
I was reading a Dear Abby post today about a woman who'd been conversing with a man online for a few months. She knew the time was getting closer to meet, and she was concerned the man might not like what he saw because she was overweight and had some dental issues. Abby reminded her that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and advised her to deal with her weight and dental issues if they were affecting her self-esteem.
Of course, after reading this, I started to think about why we think we have to measure up to someone else's beauty standards. We've all looked at the popular magazines that feature glamorous models and perfectly-toned women with flawless makeup, and we feel like we're lacking. Honestly, I used to feel that way myself, but the older I get, the more I realize that beauty on the outside doesn't matter if there's isn't any on the inside.
To me, beauty is the person who'll stand by your side no matter what, the smile you get from a complete stranger when you feel like your world is upside down. Beauty is the hand holding yours, the person applauding you for your accomplishments, and the words of encouragement when you're about to step outside your comfort zone.
Beauty is the voice on the other end of the line when you just feel like chatting, the arms wrapped around you to let you know you are supported, and the kiss on the cheek to say goodnight. It's shared laughter and adventures, exchanging secrets, that sense of urgency to share an important part of your day, and the voice of reason when you're out on the ledge.
Beauty isn't how many dimples a person has or the blindingly-white teeth. Yes, we can all appreciate an attractive person, but the interior is far more important because that's the beauty that will last a lifetime.
I was born in 1968 which, now, seems like a very long time ago. I have now lived 17, 841 days. Now it really seems like a long time.
In less than 56 days, I'll turn 49, and it's made me reflect on how different things are now than when I grew up in the seventies and eighties.
I lived in a time where technology was a telephone, a color television, and, if you were lucky, a microwave which we didn't have at all. I never had a microwave until I was in my twenties, and I didn't have cable TV until I was in my late twenties.
I still remember having to pay for long distance on a landline, stopping to use a payphone when I was on a long trip, needing cash to buy practically everything because you could only use your ATM card to extract cash .
When I was born, gas was $0.34 per gallon. Where I live now, gas is $2.04 a gallon. The average cost of a new car was less than $3,000. A new car in 2017 is easily over $14,000, most even higher than that. The hourly wage was $1.60 an hour, and when I was able to work when I was sixteen, the hourly wage was $3.35.
In 1968, you could buy a new house for less than $15,000. Where I live today, it's not easy to find a house for less than $80,000, and those usually aren't in the best neighborhoods.
I didn't get a car when I turned sixteen or even when I graduated from high school. My first car I bought myself when I was twenty. Before that, I took the bus, walked, or rode with friends, but then taking the bus and walking was a lot safer than it is now.
In my teens, everyone knew everyone in the neighborhood, and the neighbors had no problem with ratting you out to your parents if you skipped school. Ask me how I know. The parents all watched out for one another's kids. Most nights and even weekends, we were home because movies and going out to eat were luxuries that didn't happen very often.
We had to find free ways to entertain ourselves, and that's what drew me to reading. I could check the books out from the library and read a dozen in one weekend. I still miss having that kind of time.
What do you remember about your childhood? What do you miss?
I write about killers a lot. When you write suspense, that's not unusual. In my latest suspense release, Last Showing, I introduced you to Stefan Greenwald, a particularly nasty guy who liked killing because he could. I won't tell you what happened to Stefan in my book because I'd like for you to read more about him first.
I like killing. I know what that makes me sound like, but it’s who I am. There’s just something about watching the life drain out of someone’s eyes. It makes me feel powerful. I like to hear them beg me to spare them. If they looked close enough into my eyes, they’d see it wasn’t going to happen. I’m not the sparing kind.
I’ll bet you think I started killing people when my mama walked out on me and Luther. You’d be wrong. It didn’t have anything to do with her. I think I was born this way. All I know is I’ve had this desire inside of me since way before I can remember. And I ain’t interested in it going away.
Having the power to allow someone to live or die is exhilarating. Of course I never let them live. That'd be too merciful, and mercy ain't ever done anything for me. Besides that, I can't leave behind witnesses. I have enough trouble keeping up with my dumb brother who, by the way, is the reason I was caught and sent to prison the first time.
Do I think the cops will get me again? I never really think about it. If it happens, it happens. I’ve already been to prison. I can go back. I killed people in there, too, and I got away with it. It’s hard to prove who killed an inmate when no one’s talking. And no one talked about me in prison. They knew better.
I suppose this will all have to end some day, but until then, I’m going to keep having fun. And before you think you’re safe, I ain’t particular about the women I kill. I’ve even taken out a few guys. No one is safe when I’m in their town. So you’d better hope the cops catch me again.
I was so fortunate to be able to create a series video for Zee Monodee's Corpus Agency ladies. I really enjoyed creating the video, and I'm grateful Zee trusted me with bringing to life her idea!
I read a blog challenge on Tumblr tonight, and the question was: How would your life change if everyone knew your secrets? I cringed and swallowed hard. Wow. That wouldn't be good.
We all have secrets. Maybe it's something simple like you had a crush on your best friend's boyfriend back in high school, or it could be something more sinister. Either way, can you imagine how your life would change if all your secrets came to light? Could you stand in front of a room full of people while your deepest, darkest secrets were read aloud?
I know my life would definitely change. Even my closest friends don't know all of my secrets because, let's be honest, that's why they're called secrets. Would knowing all of my secrets change how they felt about me? Probably not, but I would wonder, and that would change my relationship with them.
So how about you? How would your life change if everyone knew your secrets?
Once upon a time my favorite soap opera was Days of Our Lives. That show could make me call in sick to work, miss lunch with friends, and take the phone off the hook. I watched it for ten years straight until life got too busy. There was so much drama I couldn't peel my eyes off the screen. And the couples were spectacular. Two of my favorites were Shane and Kimberly and Patch and Kayla.
I'll freely confess I skipped class and hung out a friend's house the day Shane and Kimberly got married. When Patch and Kayla got married, I told my boss I had a wedding to attend.
The other day, I was scrolling through YouTube and discovered Shane and Kimberly's wedding from May 4, 1986. Charles Shaugnessy and Patsy Pease nailed these roles.
I watched their entire wedding, first dance, and honeymoon episodes, and before I realized it, over an hour had gone by. It made me wonder why soap operas aren't on DVDs like old television shows and movies.
Have you ever been addicted to soap operas? What was your favorite?
This guy never falls to make me laugh. I've seen him in person once, and I can't remember ever laughing that hard for so long. Listen for yourself!
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!