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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's that time again!!

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 ~ Chapter Twenty-Seven ~

The four adults sat in the living room around the coffee table, silent. Chance was long asleep, and it was late, but still they sat.

His mom sighed.

He sighed.

Mary Jo cleared her throat. “Can I get anyone something to drink?”

Justin coughed, looked at Arianna. “Are you thirsty?”

She gave a wordless nod.

She looks scared. I need to break the ice before we all suffocate under its weight. He went for the one subject he knew they would have in common: Motherhood. “Mom, I’m sure Arianna is going to love any advice you can give her for Chance. She’s a new mother and I bet she’s not been around too many little ones.” He looked down into his wife’s face with a smile.

She returned his gaze, cleared her throat. “Y…yes, that’s right. I don’t remember ever being around children.”

Janet Hollander nodded. “That won’t be a problem. I can answer any question you have. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it.”

Arianna laughed.

The ice was broken.

“Thank you. I appreciate the help. I’m sure my mother will help.” She hesitated, said, “Well, if my father lets her, that is.”

Justin’s mom threw him a questioning look.

He decided to answer. There was no point in keeping it quiet, at least not to his mother. She was part of the family and needed to know. “Arianna and I…we, have decided it’s possible her dad had something to do with her abduction.”

His mom gasped. “You can’t be serious.”

He nodded. “I am.”

“But that’s awful, Justin.”

“I know, Mom—but…”

“Yes ma’am, it is.”

Justin and his mother looked at Arianna, both surprised she’d spoken.

“I don’t know what to say, child. What happened to you was horrific. I can’t think what to say, how to begin helping you heal. To think your father has something to do with it makes it unbearable.”

“Arianna nodded. “Yes, it does. But it makes sense. He wasn’t happy about me involving Justin at all. He wasn’t helping try to find my son, or encouraging me to do so. When we did find him, instead of helping me get settled back at home, he tried to take my son away from me, claiming I was unfit.”

The last words came off watery and full of hurt. Justin leaned over and put an arm around her shoulders. He whispered, “It’s okay. You’ve got me and Chance,” only loud enough for her to hear.

She put a hand on his, turned and smiled. “Thank you.”

“You poor dear, I’m so sorry. What about your mother? Is she standing beside you?”

Arianna shook her head, letting her chin rest on her chest for a moment. “I don’t know. She’s saying she will, but I’m not so sure I believe her. Chances are it’s partly her fault this happened?”

Justin’s mom looked up, gave him a quizzical look, then returned her gaze to Arianna. She leaned over and patted her tiny, bony hand. “It’s fine, child. We can talk about this tomorrow. If I’d realized you’d be bringing home so many people, I wouldn’t have come Justin. I’ll just drive back tonight and return tomorrow.”

Before Justin had a chance to reply, Mary Jo said, “You’ll do no such thing. You take the extra bedroom and I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“I can’t ask you to do that—I…”

“Nonsense. You didn’t ask, I offered. It’s no big deal.”

Justin’s mom studied the nurse for several moments then agreed. “Fine, but I want you to know I feel bad.”

Mary Jo shook her head. “No need to. I’m a nurse. We’re used to standing on our feet for hours and hours. It’s not gonna kill me to sleep on an over-stuffed sofa. In fact, I’m looking forward to it.” She gave a smile at the end of her speech.

Justin’s mom returned it. “Well thank you. You’re very kind.”

Mary Jo dipped her head in acknowledgement. “Justin, I’m gonna search out the bathroom. Will you be okay helping Arianna with the baby?”

“Of course. It’s down the hall to the left.”

“Thank you.”

Justin got up and walked over to his mother and gave her a hug. “Thanks Mom. Have I told you lately how great you are? Or how much I love you?”

She chuckled. “I’m sure you have Justin, but you can tell me again.”

Arianna laughed. “I think I’m going to love it here.”

Justin nodded. “I think so, too. Now let’s get to bed.”

Suddenly quiet and looking shy and scared, Arianna said, “Okay.”

Knowing what her issue was, Justin said, “Don’t worry, Ari. I won’t touch you. In fact, I can sleep on the floor if you like.”

She shook her head so hard reddish-blond hair flew from side to side. “No, I don’t want you to sleep on the floor, just give me some time to get used to you first.”

“Of course.” He held out his hand and without another word, she took it and he led her down the hallway.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The next chapter is here!!

Don't forget to visit the Mine and read an exciting Interview with Nancy Shew Bolton!!


 ~Chapter Twenty-Six ~

Harry sat on the edge of the hard cot, his mind moving a million miles an hour. He had to get out. It was his number one priority. Number two was getting Arianna back.

He pushed a hand through disheveled hair, wishing for the mask he’d used to disguise himself from Arianna. Had it only been days since she’d been gone? It seemed like years. His eyes began to burn and he rubbed one with an impatient finger.

“Stop yer blubbering, you blathering fool. You let her go. This is all your fault. What were you thinking; Bringing in another girl? Arianna is a woman. How did you think that news was gonna go over? And did you honestly think about offing her? We love her, you idiot.”

His hand swiped through greasy hair once more. “Shut up, Adam. Your whining isn’t helping this situation.”

The figure hunched over on the bed twitched and twisted with the inner battle going on in his mind. Anyone watching would’ve thought he was crazy; And indeed he was. At least by the world’s standards.

Adam pulled an arm up and punched Harry in the face. “Shut-up, right now. I’ve had about all I’m gonna take of yer mouth-spoutin’, and I mean it.”

Harry reached up and punched Adam in the face. “No, you shut-up. I’ve had years and years of your bossy ways, and it stops right now.” He continued punching Adam, glorying when blood spurted and ran down his mouth and over his chin.

Harry’s cellmate watched the display, his face contorting into a mask of horror and disbelief.

When Harry noticed his fascinated audience, he stopped punching Adam and faced him. “What are you staring at you sniveling little idiot? Can’t you see this is a private moment?”

“Y…yes….s…so…sorry, sir.” The cellmate turned over on his bed and rolled into a fetal position.

Harry threw his head back and laughed. “That’s what I thought. You better turn over and mind your own business.”

With the cellmate turned over, he went back to the task at hand. “Now, where was I?” He rubbed thoughtful fingers across his chin, stopping in surprise when he felt wetness. “Well, what in the world?” He rushed over to the scratched piece of plastic that was the mirror and stared into it. Blood covered his face. He screamed. And screamed, and screamed.

The next few minutes flew by in a blur. He was aware people came running to his cell, of being moved, and then a doctor, and maybe a nurse, standing over him.

“Harry, can you hear me? You need to stop fighting the drug and let it calm you.”

“No, I don’t want it! I don’t want it!” He screamed even louder.

The doctor laughed as the gurney Harry had been placed on began to roll down the hallway.

 Adam came out. “Shut your mouth, you pig,” He yelled, and punched the doctor right in the mouth.

The doctor disappeared out of sight and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Alone at last. His eyes drifted shut, and he was out.

When he awoke some time later, he was disoriented. Where was he? What was going on?

He tried to sit up, but his hands were restrained. Panic set in and he began struggling.

A voice out of his sight said, “Stop struggling, Harry. It won’t do any good, only harm. The cuffs will cut your wrists.”

The voice was pleasant, and he pictured a field of Sunflowers blowing in the breeze. He shook his head to get the fruity picture out of his mind. “What’s going on?” He raised his head up as far as he could move it, and just barely spied a blondish-gray head sitting at the foot of his bed. “Why am I tied up? What are you going to do to me?” His voice rose, half-hysterical.

“Calm down, Harry, or we’ll have to dose you up again.”

“What did you give me, anyway?”

A soft chuckle.

“Just something to make you calm. Are you calm?”

Harry thought for a moment. He didn’t feel calm, but if he said no, they’d give him more and he’d be out again. He didn’t want that. “Uh…yeah. I’m calm,” he lied. His mind was spinning like a twisted top. He could use this situation to gain his freedom.

As soon as the thought popped into his head, he stopped fighting. He needed to get out of here. So he needed to think. He took a deep, calming breath, and smiled. “Yes, I’m calm.”

“Good, good. Now, let’s get started.”

“What do you mean, “get started?” Paranoia raced through his veins.

“I’m going to ask you some questions, and you’re going to answer them.”

The voice was still pleasant, but matter-of-fact.

“Oh, is that right?” He challenged.


“That’s more like it. This will go a lot better if you don’t try to hide things from me.”

“Wh…what do you mean?”

“It means when I ask a question, you answer it truthfully. I don’t want a load of bull so thick I have to scrape it off with a snow shovel.”

The answer made him snicker. He licked this doctor. “What’s your name?”

“Dr. Ashwall, Harry, but you can call me Wanda.”

Harry gave an inward snicker. Could it really be this easy? All he had to do was play nice with the doctor and she’d probably let him loose herself. He laughed, and began to talk; “Okay, Wanda. What do you want to ask?”

“For starters, how many of you are there?”

The question couldn’t have stunned him more if it’d been full of electricity. Hwe decided  to play dumb. “What do you mean?”

The voice became angry now. “Don’t play me, Harry, or you’ll never get out of here.”

This was great news; Just great. “If I tell you what you want to know, you’ll let me go?”

There was a long pause, as if the doctor was thinking, and then, “Yes.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The next chapter is ready...

Don't forget to stop in at the Mine today!!
I hope everyone is okay with me changing the time I post my blog. I noticed if I post it later in the day I get more views. :)


~ Chapter Twenty-Five ~
The streetlight outside the apartment shone brightly. Justin’s eyes popped wide, the glare wakening his senses. He didn’t remember much of the drive home. The thought scared him. What if he’d wrecked? Having a family was going to change his perspective on a lot of things.
He switched the car off and turned to the back. Arianna insisted on sitting with the baby. He smiled. She was so lovely, even in her emaciated state. Something swirled in his gut. It was love. He turned to the passenger side. “Mary Jo, we’re home.”
Mary Jo jumped. Her head came up and she wiped at her mouth where slobber had begun to dribble down her chin. “Whu…what’s wrong?” She sat up and looked around.
Justin laughed. It’s fine, we’re here.”
She gave a laugh. “Oh, okay.” She pulled her handle and stepped out of the car.
Justin followed suit and they helped Arianna unbuckle the baby from his hospital-issued car seat and walked up to the door.
Justin stopped his arm midway to the door. The lights were on. And so was the television. What in the world…?
With his extended arm he gestured behind him. Step back, someone’s inside. The women stepped back and he tried the door knob. Locked.
Heart pounding, he stuck the key in the lock and pushed the door open, staying outside. After a few seconds of silence, with no one coming out to kill him, he stuck his head in the door and gazed around the living room. His eyes stopped on a figure sitting on the sofa in front of the TV. His heart went into overtime, beating so hard he figured he could see it through his shirt.
The figure turned.
Sweat poured down Justin’s stomach and back. He was half-afraid to ID the interloper, but forced his eyes to look. He must’ve been holding his breath because it whooshed out, leaving him light-headed and dizzy. “Mom…” Then the ramifications of her being there pushed through his fuzzy brain. “Mom!”
She arose from the couch and walked toward him. “Justin, I know you said to only use the key in case of an emergency, but I wanted to come apologize— for how I talked to you. I…” She stopped mid-sentence, her mouth falling open in surprise. She looked at Justin, questions plain on her face. “Son, what’s going on?”
Mary Jo led Arianna and the baby through the door.
Justin turned to watch as the came into the room. Mary Jo led with a protective arm around Arianna, and Arianna had the ‘deer in the headlights’ look.
“Mother, I’d like you to meet Arianna; my wife.”
Janet Hollander gasped. Her mouth fell open.
Justin couldn’t help thinking for the second time that night he’d laugh if the situation wasn’t so dire.
Brows knit in confusion, Janet said, “I don’t understand, Justin.”
He shrugged. She’s the one I tripped over in the park. I married her.” He gestured to the car seat Mary Jo held like a shield in front of them. “This is your new grandson, Chance.”
Janet shook her head. “Son, you’re not making sense. How could you have a son? Didn’t you just meet this young woman?”
Justin nodded. “Yes Mom, and she has a newborn son. Come look at him.”
Janet Hollander hesitated then began taking small steps toward the women.
Mary Jo stepped back, but Justin stayed her with a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay.”
She stopped and pulled away the light blanket shielding the baby from view.
Janet looked down into the car seat.
Justin saw many different emotions cross his mother’s face. Finally, joy settled there. She looked up at her son. “Is he really ours?” Her hands came together, fingers interlocking.
“Yes. Do you want to hold him?”
Her eyes brightened and the smile she shined lightened the tension in the room. “Yes, could I?”
Mary Jo moved forward and sat the car seat on the oak coffee table in front of the sofa. She went about unstrapping the baby.
Arianna smiled at Janet Hollander and held out one bony hand.
Janet gave her son a look of surprise, the unspoken question hanging between them: What happened to her?
Justin walked between the women and whispered into his mother’s ear. “In due time, Mom. Please welcome her.” He stepped back and let his mother step closer.
“Arianna, I’m so glad to meet you.” She pulled the younger woman into a bear hug.
Justin smiled. That’s more like it. His mom was a good woman.
Assured everything was okay, he looked to Mary. Can I ready a bottle, or is not time?”
Mary smiled and nodded. “That’s a good idea. You’re going to make a fine daddy.”
Pride swelled within him. “Thank you.” He took the bottle and headed for the kitchen.
He heard his mom ask, “And who might you be?”
Mary Jo gave her low chuckle. “I’m the nurse/nanny. Your son was smart enough to realize they might need one.”
His mother’s reply warmed him to his toes; “Yes, my son is a smart man. He’ll be an awesome dad for this little boy.”
He could hear the smile in her voice. She was in her element. Maybe he’d helped out in more ways than one with this marriage. Smiling, he returned to the living room with a bottle for his son.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's that time again...

Don't forget to Check out the Mine today!! We have an awesome interview with Nicola Furlong!!





~ Chapter Twenty-Four ~

Arianna’s head twisted to the side, her mouth open in a gasp. Temporary custody? Why? Turning toward her mother, who wouldn’t look her in the eye, she demanded, “Why mother?”

Shaking her head, she didn’t answer.

Arianna looked at her father. “Why dad?” Tears of grief fell from her already scratchy eyes. “How could you do this to me?”

He shrugged, not looking the least bit sorry. “I tried talking sense to you, but you ignored me. How could you go off with some man you don’t even know, especially after what you’ve been through? I would think you would’ve learned your lesson after that— I mean…”

Arianna’s mother interrupted, “That’s enough, Lenwood. Hasn’t she been through enough? Isn’t anything ever enough for you? She’s your daughter, for Pete’s sake.”

“Shush Esmeralda. Let me take care of this.”

Justin stood up, straightening his shirt. Knowing he was being rude, but the anger within him unable to be contained at the man’s audacity, he yelled, “That’s enough, sir. You will not speak to my wife in such a manner.”

Lenwood Rathburne shook his head, stunned, and returned, “Your wife?”

The tall, skinny lawyer pulled the papers from Lenwood’s loosened grasp and ripped them in half.

Lenwood turned to him. “Now just wait a minute.” He grabbed the papers and tried to stick them back together.

If the situation hadn’t been so dire Justin would’ve laughed at the man’s idiocy. He stepped in between father and daughter. “There’s no minute to wait.”

The baby had wakened and his weak cries twisted the strings of love even tighter around Justin’s heart. He looked up at Arianna’s father. “Now look what you’ve done. If you can’t be more responsible than this I’m afraid you won’t be allowed contact with my wife, or our child.”

Arianna turned surprised eyes toward him and he smiled.

Esmeralda Rathburne gasped.

Justin raised both hands in supplication. “No worries, Mrs. Rathburne. You’ve not done anything yet. The same wouldn’t go for you unless you decided to harass Arianna, too.”

The older version of Arianna burst into tears. I won’t. I’m just so glad she’s home after all these years. I don’t understand what’s gotten into Lenwood.” She sniffled and threw the man in question a dirty look.

With the break in conversation, the lawyer took the opportunity to speak. “I’m afraid the temporary custody papers aren’t any good, sir. They were only drawn up with the understanding your daughter wasn’t physically or emotionally able to care for a child. With her being married, you’d have to take her husband to court and prove him unfit as well.”

Lenwood Rathburne rushed Justin. Grabbing his shirt he shoved him against the wall and stuck his wrinkled face in his. “I don’t know what your game is pal, but you won’t win. You’ll be very sorry if you don’t turn around right now and walk out that door.”

Spittle found its way through the older man’s clenched teeth and landed on Justin’s face. He wiped the spit away with his hand, his eyes never wavering. “I’m not walking away from my wife, or my child. I don’t know what kind of man you think I am, but it’s obvious you’re way off base. I care about your daughter. In fact, I love her. I stick by those I love.” His mom’s face popped in his head at that moment, but he shrugged it away. He loved his mom, they just didn’t see eye to eye on everything.

Lenwood let go of his shirt and Justin stood up, straightening it.

“I’m sure your little ‘mock marriage’ isn’t legal, so I’ll have it annulled.”

The lawyer shook his head. “Again sir, she’s married. Even if she’s incompetent, he doesn’t seem to be. In any case, you’d have to take him to court to find out.” Voice heavy with emotion, he continued, “Land sakes, Lennie, she’s your only child.”

“Shut-up Marcus. You don’t have the right to give your opinion just because we’re brothers.”

The situation became too much for Justin and he began to laugh. The little group stared at him.

“I’m sorry. This is all so bizarre.”

Esmeralda Rathburne shook her head in agreement.

“It is,” Mary Jo said, patting him on the shoulder. “We’ll get through it, though. The main thing is Arianna’s health and safety. And the baby’s.”

“Yep, you got that right.” He looked around, trying to locate an officer. Oddly, they’d all disappeared when the argument broke out. Apparently there was more than money in Lenwood Rathburne’s pockets. When he spotted a policewoman trying to squeeze out of sight through a half-closed door, he motioned her toward him. “Miss, could you come here please?”

The cop nodded, her reluctance plain. Arriving behind the desk, she asked, “What can I do for you?”

Justin gave a long stare then demanded. “I want the paper work required to take our child home.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that, sir.”

Justin shook his head, sure now they’d been bamboozled by dirty, money-hungry nurses from the hospital, and now by these cops. “Just get the papers, lady. I want to take my family home.” My family. He smiled, not able to recall anything sounding quite so appealing.

Arianna put a hand over Justin's and smiled. “Yes, home.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Chapter Twenty-Three of Broken Dreams!!

         Don't forget to stop in at the Mine today for our interview with Sandra Merville Hart!!




~ Chapter Twenty-Three ~

Justin reached over and patted Arianna’s shoulder, pulling her into his embrace. Kissing the top of her head with tender lips, he whispered, “It’s okay, babe. They’re going to try to get him here for you. That monster will never touch him again.”

With a strength that surprised Justin, Arianna jerked away from him and gazed into his eyes. She grabbed a handful of his shirt, twisted it in small hands and demanded, “Promise me that, Justin.”

Too late, he realized his mistake. He should never have promised something he wasn’t sure he could deliver. He stuttered, “I…pr…” he took a deep breath and admitted, “I can’t Arianna. I don’t want to lie to you.” Her face fell and misery rushed through him at her disappointment. “What I can promise is I’ll do everything in my power to make sure he doesn’t.”

She studied his eyes for a moment, gave a nod. “I know you will. Thank you so much for being loyal to me.”

Tipping her face with one long finger he brushed a kiss across her trembling lips. “You’re welcome.”

Arianna leaned toward him and he gathered her back into his arms. The rush of protectiveness flowing through him robbed him of words. How can I feel such love for someone I barely know? The answer eluded, but he didn’t loosen his tight grip.

The policewoman behind the counter gave a noisy cough. “They’re bringing the baby down in a few minutes.” She looked down at Arianna, her mouth a hard line of suspicion. “I can’t begin to tell you how bad it will be for you if you aren’t this child’s mother.”

“I am.”

“Well for your sake I hope you’re telling the truth.”

“She is, and she’s also very tired. Do you think it would be okay if we took a seat?” He gave a nod toward a scarred wooden bench sitting against the wall.

The policewoman waved one pudgy hand. “That’s fine.” Her head returned to a stack of papers in front of her and the three hastened to the bench.

Once settled on the hard wood, Arianna looked up at Justin, the look on her face indicating she had a question.

He raised one dark brow. “What?”

“Do—uh.” She gulped. “DO you think they’ll let me take him home since they’re going to let me feed him?”

He shook his head. “I just don’t know. You’d think they would, but it’s hard telling with these guys.”

Her face crumpled and Justin rushed to say, “Honey, don’t cry. I really don’t know. What I do know is Chance needs you. I read somewhere a long time ago babies can feel their mother’s stress. If you don’t want to upset him you have to pull yourself together.”

Arianna sniffled, brought a tissue to her eyes and dabbed. “I know you’re right, but it doesn’t make me stop feeling the over-powering urge to take him home with me. How can I leave him here with these people? He doesn’t know them.”

She had a point, but he had no answers. Instead of replying, he shook his head, pulling hers to rest on his shoulder. “Why don’t you try taking a nap until he gets here? You’re pale as a ghost.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

Mary Jo added, “That’s a good idea.”

Justin began to doze. People talked, sounding as if they were in a long tunnel. He fought the urge to sleep, but lost. The last few days had been so tiring.

A commotion at the desk woke Justin some time later. Popping his eyes open, he rubbed at them trying to look awake. He didn’t know why but didn’t want to look vulnerable to these people.

He sat up and cleared his throat. His eyes fell on the bundle in a blond woman’s arms.

“Is that Chance?”

The woman jerked toward his voice, looking startled. “Are you the father?”

He shook his head. “No, but this is his mother. He must be starving.”

The woman said, “He was earlier, but we fed him. He was screaming so loud it woke up some of the other children.”

Arianna’s arms reached for her baby. “Can I see him please? Is he okay?”

The woman smiled and settled him in Arianna’s arms. “There.”

Tears streamed down Arianna’s cheeks, but she seemed not to care.

Chance didn’t wake up, probably because he’d already been fed. Why had they brought him to her if he didn’t need to be fed?

Another commotion at the doorway caught Justin’s attention. When he looked up, his question was answered.

Arianna’s mother and father pushed their way through a growing crowd of reporters and people wanting to be part of the furor.

“Arianna,” Her mother cried, rushing to them.

Her father followed at a slower pace, as he was talking to an older man. He was tall, thin, and balding. When he came to stand in front of her, he said, “Come Arianna. It’s time to go home.”

Arianna’s face went through a barrage of emotions, and then settled on an angry glare. “My home is with Justin now.”

Her father’s lips turned up with a triumphant smile. “Not if you want to keep the kid, it’s not.” He reached down, trying to pull the sleeping infant from his mother’s arms.

Arianna screamed, “No, you can’t have him,” and tried to pull him out of her father’s reach.

The older man pushed a folded sheaf of papers toward Arianna. “I’m afraid you’re wrong, child.”

She opened the papers, keeping her arms tightly wrapped around her son.

Justin’s heart sank when he read the first line: Temporary custody is awarded to…