Sunday surprise!

Here is a little treat for you. This is a never before published flashback :)

(The past)

 

Tommy sat in the kitchen while he waited for Julie to get home from school. Jack was getting dressed and they were going to the studio for a family portrait.

 

He straightened his tie and looked at the image on the wall of the family just a few years ago. His parents looked so happy and he and Julie were as far away from each other as possible.

 

Maybe this was stupid. Maybe he was trying too hard?

 

“You okay?” Jack asked as he walked into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water.

 

“Yeah. I just wonder if this is a bad idea?”

 

“Why would it be a bad idea? I think you’re right. We talked last night and I agree with you. I think it will be great.”

 

They both jumped when the front door slammed and Julie came in. She looked at them in the kitchen and sighed.

 

“What did I do wrong?”

 

Tommy raised his eyebrows.

 

“Who said you did anything wrong?”

 

She scratched her head and shrugged.

 

“You’re both all dressed up like you have an important meeting. The only thing you would do together dressed like that would be about me, so what happened?”

 

Jack sat down and smiled.

 

“Jules, don’t you remember? We have an appointment with the photographer for this afternoon.”

 

She was quiet and then looked at Tommy.

 

“Oh, well no thank you,” she got up and went into the family room.

 

Tommy looked crushed and Jack walked after her. Tommy reluctantly followed.

 

“It’s not really something to respond to in that way. You need to go get changed so we can go,” Jack said.

 

Julie looked at him and picked up he bag.

 

“I have homework, sorry,” she said.

 

Tommy sat next to her and looked at his hands.

 

“I would really like for you to come and do this, okay?”

 

She looked at him and her eyes filled with tears.

 

“It won’t make them any less dead.”

 

He sighed and nodded.

 

“I know. That wasn’t my plan,” he said and stood up. “It’s fine. I’ll cancel.”

 

Jack watched him walk out and he sat down next to Julie.

 

“There was no reason for you to do that. He never asks anything like this and it is important to him.”

 

Julie wiped her eyes and crossed her arms, not saying anything.

 

“He wasn’t doing this to replace your parents. He was trying to keep you from losing more.”

 

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

 

Jack sat back and sighed.

 

“You’re 14. He wants you to grow up and have pictures and memories. He doesn’t want to replace your parents, but he doesn’t want you to grow up and not have the things you would have had with them. It’s not about making it like they are still here; it’s more about giving you pictures to commemorate your life, our lives, as it is now. Years from now, he’s hoping you will look back and know you were loved. He wanted you to have pictures, Jules, memories.”

 

Tommy walked in and looked at them.

 

“I can’t cancel without losing the deposit, so I guess I’ll just eat that. I’m going out for a drive.”

 

Julie looked at him and shook her head.

 

“No, give me a minute to get ready and I would like to go and have our picture taken.”

 

Tommy was surprised.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because I’m a teenage girl and I’m allowed to have mood swings, so let it be,” she said and ran upstairs.

 

Jack grinned at him and shrugged.

 

“Just go with it.”

 

******

(Preset day)

Stephanie wiped her eyes as she listened to the story.

 

“So how come I’ve never seen this picture? You just have Julie’s picture from that time.”

 

Jack smiled.

 

“We had the picture of the three of us framed and put on the wall in the house. It was there for a while, maybe six months and something really bad happened.”

 

Stephanie wasn’t sure where this was going.

 

“Did someone take it?”

 

“I wish,” he sighed. “I hit a drought. Tommy and I both did, but with him, it wasn’t that big of a deal. For me, it was tragic.”

 

“A drought? A sex drought?” Stephanie asked and he looked at Bee.

 

“Shh, she doesn’t need to hear this.”

 

“You have got to be kidding me,” she laughed. “But how does the picture fit into your ‘drought’?”

 

He blushed and shrugged.

 

“Julie actually figured it out after one of her friends pointed it out.”

 

“She was 14 and knew about your um, exploits?”

 

“No, of course not,” he said. “I mean, she knew when I brought women over, but not about the drought of 2002.”

 

Stephanie tried really hard not to laugh.

 

“You named it?”

 

He looked her dead in the eye.

 

“It was profound.”

 

She nodded and bit her lip to stop from giggling.

 

“Anyway, Julie came home one day and told us her friends were talking about us. I thought they were talking about my looks, because you know, I’m me.”

 

Stephanie nodded.

 

“Naturally.”

 

He rolled his eyes.

 

“You can laugh.”

 

She shook her head.

 

“Never. I will never laugh about the great drought of 2002.”

 

He looked at her and flashed his dimples.

 

“Very nice. And it wasn’t the great drought, just the drought.”

 

“Sorry,” she laughed and then coughed to mask it

 

“Anyway, apparently, because of the picture, everyone thought Tommy and I were a couple. The way we were posed made it look like we were Julie’s parents and the stupid photographer had me put my hand on Tommy’s shoulder and it looked very suspicious. When we brought women home, they saw the picture and ended things.”

 

“And you didn’t think about that?”

 

“Well no,” he sighed. “I mean we never thought about it because it wasn’t true and we were just trying to give Julie a nice memory.”

“And you did,” Stephanie smiled.

“Well, the drought ended when the picture came down and it never came up again.”

Stephanie was quiet and he rolled his eyes.

“Fine, let it out. Go ahead and laugh.”

She looked at him and walked over to kiss his cheek.

“That story might just start another drought.”

He looked horrified.

“What? Why? What did I do?”

“There’s nothing that gets a wife going like hearing about all the sex her husband used to have before he met her,” she said and walked to the couch.

“But I was just telling you a story from long ago. I love you and don’t want a drought, please,” he said and moved to her.

She giggled and looked at him and he crossed his arms.

“Very funny.”

“Oh Jack this is the best story ever,” she said and broke out in a fit of laughter. “I’m sorry, but I’ll never understand how you and Tommy didn’t realize what a handsome couple you made. How could people not assume you were together?”

“Well, looking at me, it’s clear that anyone would want a piece of this,” he said and sat down next to Bee. “But I’m out of Tommy’s league, really.”

She rolled her eyes and he grinned.

“You know, some women actually like to think they’re the prettiest in the relationship.”

Jack pulled her onto his lap and held her as she pouted.

“You are by far the prettiest in our marriage. In fact, you bring things to the table that no woman has ever brought before.”

“The stomach for your arrogance?”

He laughed.

“Maybe, but I was thinking about the ability to make me feel lucky to be alive. You make me happy to be in this world and I look forward to each and every moment with you. You’re brilliant and sexy and beautiful and tolerant. You are the most amazing mother and doctor and I adore the way you work with chocolate,” he wiggled his eyebrows and she laughed.

“You’re pretty beautiful yourself,” she said.

“Well yeah,” he said and they both laughed as they kissed.

 

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Feeling so many emotions!

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My favorites… Bill

As I’m winding things down, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on each and every character I created throughout this series and I’ve come to the realization that I have made quite a family. The idea of where this series began and how it has evolved is quite amazing to me and I can’t imagine what the story would look like with any one of them missing.

That doesn’t mean I think they are perfectly developed or have no more story to tell, but I feel like they have all contributed to the growth of the series and the evolution of the family.

I’d like to take some time and go through the characters and spotlight some of my favorite moments. Some are monologues they said, others are things they did, but all are moments that speak to who they are at their core.

This family is my family, the good and the bad. I identify with parts of all of them and I’d like to think those of you who read the series identify with them, too.

I am going to place a separate entry for the villains, but I have a unique take on them and how the came to be.

For now, I’d like to start with Bill because he is the character who I think Is incredibly complex and real. He is so strong and brave but when it comes to his family, he is vulnerable and sensitive and romantic. One of my favorite books for Bill was book 9 “A Son’s Anguish” and it wasn’t because of the introduction of Chris, but it was a moment of great realization for Bill. He had to face the possibility of losing Julie and it wasn’t to an evil force, but to a medical issue and he couldn’t fight that. It was a time in Bill’s life where I was able to explore a different, more sensitive and vulnerable side and it was an amazing journey to take with him.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

“Everyone I spoke to, including your brothers said this would be temporary. You will get your voice back. In the meantime, I’ll make sure you have pen and paper to write down anything you need to say. Your surgery went great and once your kidney heals, you should feel so much better,” he stroked her cheek. “I’m so sorry you have been in so much pain.”

She shook her head.

“Yes you have. You just never complain,” he grinned.

She rolled her eyes and he smiled.

“Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know you and you never take time for yourself. You always make sure everyone else is okay, but now it’s time for me to take care of you.”

She looked around and he handed her a pad of paper and a pen. She wrote and showed him.

He sighed. “You are not a burden. You are my wife and the love of my life. You are the mother to my children and this is simply another hurdle we will overcome. I love you and I need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

She wrote again. “Always.”

“Good answer,” he grinned and moved to the side of the bed, lying on the covers next to her. “Now all you need to do is rest and let me hold you and for once, you have to listen to what I say.”

She playfully smacked him and he grinned and wiggled his eyebrows. She turned gently and placed her head on his chest. He put his arm around her and linked his other hand through hers. “So here’s how I see it.”

She sighed as he spoke. “You and I were made of tougher stuff than most people. I think that’s why we fell in love,” she looked up at him and smiled. “Okay, so it might also be because of our amazingly good looks,” he felt her smile and he continued. “I know we have both spent time in our lives wondering why. Why are we put through so much heartache and sadness? What did we do to deserve this and why can’t we just be happy?”

He ran his fingers up and down her arm. “But I think I’ve figured it out. It’s because whoever designs the grand scheme of things knew we were stronger than most. We were made to show the world what is possible when you truly believe in your soul mate. Because of that, I am able to be here with you, holding you and loving you. Because of that, we have the most beautiful children. Our son is kind and caring and already knows how much he is loved and wanted. Our baby girl is the embodiment of strength and tenacity just like her mom. They will both be a handful, but I think we have shown we can deal with that.”

She exhaled and kissed his chest as he spoke. “I also think it’s why we were given the blessing of our two boys.”

She looked up at him, her eyes swimming.

“The doctors said that because of them, your kidney issues flared up. If not, you could have died and we would never have had the chance to save you. They were sent here to make sure you made it. They were the ultimate gift to us. They gave us the gift of time and even though they had to leave, I will never lose sight of the blessing they were. They gave me back my wife and I can’t put into words what that means.”

She reached up and stroked his cheek. “I know, I should stop talking, but I need you to hear me. You can do this. You can get through this and I am right beside you, always.”

She smiled and he leaned down to kiss her, holding her and watching her sleep.

 

 

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A few thoughts

When you’re here, my world is a lot less scary.

This was one of the first lines I wrote for Tommy and Brittany. I go back to it a lot because it stands for something I really feel grounded the series.

Of all the fear and loneliness and doubt, the ultimate connection between them was simple.

Their world was better with the other in it.

It’s kind of my safe place, too. My world became a lot less scary when I began to bring these characters to life. Tommy and Brittany and Jack and Stephanie came from a place in my life that was still full of optimism and hope. I had been through a lot of sadness and struggle and in creating their love stories, I remembered that nothing is impossible.

Bill and Julie came as a result of my parents. Their story of love and commitment was far from perfect, but there was always love and respect. One of the lines I use for Bill and Julie came directly from my mom when I was worried they were going to divorce. (I think I was 7 or 8).

“When you’re stuck, you’re stuck.” also “What you see is what you get.”

It was so true. Sarcasm and truth was always the standard in my house and it’s the standard in my writing. There are times I must laugh when I want to cry and there are times I am brutally honest because it’s what is needed.

Who I am doesn’t change no matter the company and I think that’s also important. Being a genuine person is important and trusting- what you see is all we have.

So, since creating this series and these characters, I have felt safe. I have felt like I have a voice in this world and I hope, more than anything, these characters have brought solace to some of you. Laughter at times, heartache at others and overall, a sense of comfort and family.

Moving forward, book 17 begins the end of the series. It’s been a challenging time for me as an author because I don’t know that it’s right. I do know the part of the story I have been waiting to tell for all this time must come out and it’s going to be a game changer. There are loose ends that will be forever tied and there will be characters who will inevitably have to end. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions as I’ve been writing and as much as I can’t wait for you to read it, I’m nervous about what you will think.

I will be posting a preview to book 17 soon, and I hope you are ready to get on the final rollercoaster with me.

As Brittany says in book 17

“You can live a happy and productive life and just like people with any kind of ailment; it simply becomes a part of who you are, but it is never all you are.”

I believe that. I believe in this family and what they can do. I believe in my readers and the strength you bring to the table. I believe in love and hope.

When you are all here, my world is a lot less scary.

 

 

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Answers

Here you go! Everyone who responded is eligible to win. I will have another set of quotes tomorrow!

1. “I don’t think you need to do anything to deserve her admiration or friendship. Brittany doesn’t look at people like that. She demands respect and accountability and doesn’t feel sorry for herself.” Stephanie speaking to Tommy in “If Only”

2. He moved down her torso and gently peeled her pants and panties off. He smiled at her as he ran his hands up her legs. “You are so beautiful,” he said sincerely. “I still don’t know what you see in me,” he said, not meaning to say that aloud. Tommy to Brittany in “The Unexpected”

3. She looked at him and stroked his cheek. “You know what? For what it’s worth, I think you are such an amazing man. You are brave and sensitive. You are tender and funny. You love fiercely and you are my best friend. You have nothing to worry about. Your dad was wrong.” Julie to Bill in “The Unexpected”

4.“We truly want to be able to do this. We spoke to the pediatrician and we know the risks, but David is healthy and happy and if he is a match, it would be the greatest blessing for us to help you.” Julie and Bill to Brittany and Tommy in “Heaven’s Tiny Tears”

5. She looked at him and her eyes were angry, although her body trembled with fear. “Who talks like that? Do you really think the best way to get your point across is to bully people? What are you going to do? Force yourself on me?” Julie to the boy who was attacking her friend Taylor at the party in “Thundering Silence”

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Almost…

You guys are awesome but you still need number 5- It wasn’t Stephanie and it wasn’t Josh- although it certainly reads that way :)

More tonight for you!

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Fun game part 1

Okay, for the following quotes, tell me who said them and if you can, who they were talking to and what book was it from? I will pick a winner from all of the correct entries received!

1. “I don’t think you need to do anything to deserve her admiration or friendship. Brittany doesn’t look at people like that. She demands respect and accountability and doesn’t feel sorry for herself.”

2. He moved down her torso and gently peeled her pants and panties off. He smiled at her as he ran his hands up her legs. “You are so beautiful,” he said sincerely. “I still don’t know what you see in me,” he said, not meaning to say that aloud.

3. She looked at him and stroked his cheek. “You know what? For what it’s worth, I think you are such an amazing man. You are brave and sensitive. You are tender and funny. You love fiercely and you are my best friend. You have nothing to worry about. Your dad was wrong.”

4.“We truly want to be able to do this. We spoke to the pediatrician and we know the risks, but David is healthy and happy and if he is a match, it would be the greatest blessing for us to help you.”

5. She looked at him and her eyes were angry, although her body trembled with fear. “Who talks like that? Do you really think the best way to get your point across is to bully people? What are you going to do? Force yourself on me?”

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Some fun

I’m going to try something new. I will be posting some quotes from the books and I want to see if you can recognize who said them.

We’ll start soon!

I will be giving away a signed copy of my not yet released book “Perfectly Imperfect”.

Get ready!

 

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So…..

It’s been a week! What do you guys think? Talk to me about Jade and Mike and all that happened :)

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Thought for the day.

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