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I hope you are all enjoying your day! I might have a little surprise later…
Thank you all for your support! I hope you’re enjoying “Our Legacy”
Our Legacy is available for preorder! It will be ready for both the Nook and Kindle on Saturday! Please click the link to preorder for your nook:)
This particular scene from “No Surrender” was one I wrote long before I wrote the book. I had always envisioned Jade and Mike as being kindred spirits, both so deeply wounded- one by society and one by another person- that it would take a drastic event for either one of them to make a move.
I always wanted Mike to find Jade at the campgrounds and realize the depth of his feelings for her. I wanted it to take him completely by surprise and I needed it to hit him like a ton of bricks. I also needed Jade to be in a position that was vulnerable and allowed some of her true feelings to come out.
It was also very important for me to show Jade’s insecurities in everything she did. Her shame at how her body looks is something she never let go and I adored the fact that Mike never, ever saw that. He didn’t understand her need to cover herself and he immediately attributed it to his own insecurities and shame that Rebecca had instilled in him. He was grotesque and unlovable.
I will have more to post here about Mike and Jade and their individual creation, but for now, here is one of my most favorite scenes with them…
Enjoy! Only a few days until “Our Legacy”
Mike made his way through the campgrounds and worried about what Rebecca had done to Jade. It wasn’t like her to not be back when she said, or at least to call. He knew she went camping to clear her mind and try to figure out what to do about work, but when he ran into Rebecca, again, it made his senses go into overdrive.
Something wasn’t right.
He walked through the beautiful grounds and could easily see why Jade liked it. The scenery was beautiful and calming and the people around seemed nice and comfortable with each other. He walked to the area where the office said she set up her campsite and looked around. He saw a few people sitting out by the bonfire and he walked up, smiling.
“Hi. I was wondering if you knew if Jade was anywhere around here? I think her campsite was close by, but I can’t find her.”
The young family smiled at him and nodded.
“Jade was here, but I think she left last night,” the woman said. “She wasn’t feeling well and told us she was going to head home. Her tent was down the end of the block. I thought she was gone because we usually see her for dinner. The kids love her.”
Mike smiled his thanks and walked down the street. He was getting increasingly worried and thought back to how many times she had seemed to be feeling off lately. His heart raced as he walked quickly down the street.
He saw the tent set up where the woman had told him and he called to her. There was no answer so he decided to check if she was inside. He unzipped the side and looked into the plush tent. Her things were still set up and the sleeping bag and pillow looked untouched. Her bag and clothes were neatly in the corner, but she wasn’t there. He stepped out and zipped it closed. Maybe she was in the bathroom?
He walked to the picnic table and sat down. He would wait a few minutes and see if she came back. He realized it was getting much cooler out and he thought about starting a fire in the pit, but waited. She should be back by now. What should he do?
“Jade?” he called out as he walked down the wooded path towards the bathrooms. It was getting dark and he felt a small sweat break out over his brow. This was wrong. Something was terribly wrong. It occurred to him that over the short time he had gotten to know Jade, he had fallen for her, hard. He didn’t even know when it had happened. It was like one moment she was in his life and everything was simply better. He never had that before. What he thought he had with Rebecca was nothing compared to what he felt when he thought about Jade.
The more these thoughts occurred to him, the more panicked he became. What if something serious had happened to her? What if Rebecca had hurt her? What if he never saw her again? He reached the bathroom and ran inside, startling a few women.
“Sorry, I was looking for someone,” he said and walked back out. “Jade?” He raced behind the wood bathroom and found a couple of teenagers making out.
“Did you see a woman with long blonde hair, late 20’s, about 5’6, pretty,” he described and they shook their heads before moving to continue their make out session.
Mike ran back towards the campsite and checked his phone, knowing there wouldn’t be any service. His eyes filled as he felt his despair grow. Maybe she went home. Maybe he was overreacting. Maybe he was right and he had led Jade into a terrible situation. Rebecca wouldn’t care about Jade if it weren’t for him.
It was getting much darker out and he watched as the people gathered around their bonfires and he felt such a longing to be one of them. He wanted to be with Jade. He had been so blind.
“Mike?” a quiet voice called to him as he stood in the middle of the path.
“Jade?” he turned and saw her standing there. “Oh thank God!” he pulled her into his arms and hugged her, not thinking about anything other than her being safe.
“What’s wrong? Is everyone okay?” she asked worriedly after he stepped back.
“Yes, I mean everyone is fine, but I didn’t know where you were. I thought something happened to you,” he looked at her and there were deep circles under her eyes and she looked incredibly pale, even in the sunset.
Was she shaking?
“Oh, I’m okay. You should go,” she said softly and went to walk when she wobbled and he caught her.
“Hey, hey, what is it?” he held her and felt her trembling.
“I just need to sit down,” she said tearfully. “I’ve been a bit off balance all day and I was trying to get back to my tent to leave, but it seems to be taking a long time. Maybe you could help me?”
He held his arm around her and they walked the short way back to the tent. He unzipped the door and she went in, sitting down and putting her head in her hands. Mike came in with her and took the lantern, lighting it and illuminating the area.
“Okay, so tell me what’s going on,” he said as he looked at her.
“Nothing. I’ve just been feeling a little off lately and I think I lost track of time. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble,” she wiped her eyes.
“It’s okay, we’ve just been terribly worried about you,” he took her hand and she pulled it back, not meeting his gaze.
“Can you go? I don’t think you should be here,” she was sweating and shaking, two things that shouldn’t be together. “I’m so hot,” she pulled off her shirt, revealing a tank top underneath.
“Jade, please let me help you,” he ached to hold her, to comfort her.
“No, I’m fine alone,” she tried to cover her body, obviously embarrassed. She saw him staring and grabbed a towel, covering her chest. “I’m sorry.”
He was so worried about her and had no idea why she was covering herself.
“You don’t have to look at me,” she held her head and sighed. “I don’t want you to be grossed out.”
He didn’t know how to respond to that.
“Gross? I hardly think that word comes to mind when describing you,” he reached and tentatively smoothed her hair back.
She finally let her tears fall and curled up on the sleeping bag. “Did I really just say that out loud? I think I need to rest,” she closed her eyes.
“Jade, you’re scaring me here. You aren’t making sense and you’re obviously sick. We need to go to the hospital.”
“No, I’m just going to stay here. You should go back. I’ll be fine.”
He sighed and watched as she shivered. He was really worried. It wasn’t that cold out. He was confused by her sweating.
“Jade, look at me,” he smoothed her damp hair off of her face.
“I think something is really wrong,” she said fearfully as she opened her eyes and they seemed to almost roll back into her head. “I’m cold and I’m tired.”
“I’m going to call for an ambulance,” he went to get up when she grabbed his arm.
“No, please don’t leave,” she said softly. “I’m scared.”
He felt his eyes fill as he nodded. “I won’t leave. I just need to get help.” He quickly got out of the tent and raced to the people sitting at the bonfire nearby. He told them there was an emergency and they needed to find a way to call for help. He turned and saw Jade trying to move inside the tent.
“I’m here,” he rushed back to the tent and got in, gently gathering her in his arms and holding her to him, trying to get her to stop shaking. He pulled the towel off of her and held her against his chest. “We’re going to fix this.”
She lay in his arms and fought the darkness that threatened to envelop her.
“Mike?” she whispered, her face against his shirt.
“It’s okay. I’m here. I’ve got you,” he said softly.
“You’re such a good man. I always wondered what it would be like to lie in your arms,” she murmured before she blacked out, her head rolling back.
He held her to him and felt his heart breaking. “You just hold on for me, okay? Jade?”
There was no answer and he prayed that help would get there in time.
Bringing Bill’s father into the story was a tough one. I get asked a lot about why so many of my characters have bad relationships with their fathers. It’s weird, because my father was incredible. He was my best friend and my biggest champion and there is nothing in my life that would be the same without his influence. I miss him so much and I loved him to pieces.
That being said, a lot of Bill’s self doubt comes from Chris. I had to make him evil. I had to make him so unlike Bill that it made Bill’s torment that much worse. He tried and tried to come up with a reason as to why his father was so horrible, and really, there wasn’t one.
The kicker, of course, was the connection to Brittany and to her attack. That was a twist even I didn’t see coming at first.
And then there is Janet.
I struggled with having a woman be the mastermind behind such a vicious attack. I will post more about her soon.
This passage is a flashback to when Julie first found out about the horrors Bill lived through, and it was a chance for us to see the dynamic of Bill and Chris. It was hard to write and tough to read, but it ultimately made Bill and Julie a stronger couple.
(Seven years earlier)
Bill was on his way to pick Julie up for their fancy date when he saw he had missed a call. He was still getting used to his new phone and he checked to make sure it wasn’t Julie. His heart dropped when he heard his fathers voice asking, no, telling him to come by his house. He called Julie and told her he would be a few minutes late and he made his way to the house he hadn’t been back to in three years.
Should he knock or just walk in? He smoothed his suit jacket and knocked on the door. He jumped when the door flung open and he stood facing his father.
“Didn’t know if you’d remember where you came from.”
“What did you want? Is it mom?”
“Come in, if you can spare the time,” his father growled and turned to walk away.
Bill took a deep breath and wiped his brow, opening the door and walking in. He saw the mess the house was in and he felt sick. He made his way into the room his dad was in and stood there. “Is mom okay?”
His father stood facing him and crossed his arms. “She’s lost her mind because of you. She can’t take care of herself and she can’t take care of me.”
“Maybe it’s time you took care of her for once?”
He felt the sting of his father’s hand before he saw it happen. He held his cheek and turned to leave.
“Why? What the hell do you want from me? I have been nothing but a disappointment since I was born and I’m no longer your punching bag. I am a member of the United States Army and I have learned to have respect for myself.” He tried to hold in his tears, feeling like he was once again five years old.
“I’m divorcing her and you will have to make all of the decisions.”
He thought he had heard everything. “You don’t want to help her? You would divorce her instead of being with her?”
“I didn’t marry her to clean up after her. She doesn’t know who I am half the time and I don’t care to deal with it. I still have a life to lead.”
Bill was disgusted and then he narrowed his glance. “Is there someone else?”
His dad paled and Bill laughed. “Nice. You’re a real piece of work, you know that? Does mom know? Did you even try to hide it?”
This time Bill was ready. He caught his dad’s hand as it came to his face. “Goodbye, dad.”
“You will be called when it’s time to move her. I’m through. She can be your problem.”
“Whatever, I’m leaving.”
“You know it probably runs in the family. Wait until you start forgetting things,” his dad yelled.
“I will never forget Julie. I will never treat her the way you treat mom.”
“Julie? Is that the name of your whore?”
Bill froze and took a deep breath, “She is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
His father chuckled. “You’re still such an idiot.”
Bill turned around and went to leave when his dad shoved him and he fell to the floor, smacking his face against a table. He tasted the blood in his mouth and walked out, never looking back.
He sped away and called Julie. “Hey, I need to cancel, I’m sorry.”
She was worried. “You sound like something is wrong. What happened?”
“I just need to cancel, I’m sorry.”
“You can cancel our dinner, but you need to come and pick me up so I can help you. If you don’t, I will go out in my fancy dress and walk to find you and that would be a bad idea.”
He smiled despite his anger and sighed. “Okay. I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Good choice,” she said and hung up, making her way out of the dorm to meet him. She held her long dress in her hands and saw him pull up. She made her way to the car and he got out, walking to her.
“Bill? You’re bleeding? What the hell happened?” She took a tissue out of her purse and held it to his lip. “Baby your cheek is red. Did you get into a fight?” She knew that wasn’t the case, he never hit anyone.
“I’m fine. I would just like to go home and forget everything today. Can we please just reschedule?” He was trying not to fall apart, but it was getting extremely hard.
Julie wiped his face and shook her head. “Take me to your apartment. I’m not leaving you until I know you’re okay. Please; I love you.”
“I love you, too, please believe that,” he said, his voice breaking.
“I do, always,” she said softly. “Come on, let’s go.”
He nodded and they drove to his place in silence. When they got there, he went and changed while she got some ice. He came out in an Army t-shirt and sweat pants, his lip swollen. She motioned for him to sit down on the couch with her.
“I love you, and that’s not something that will ever change. You don’t have to talk to me, or tell me what happened, but if we have any hope of making it, you need to believe you’re worth it. I’m not leaving and I won’t be scared away. You can talk to me,” she gently wiped his face.
“I went to see my dad and he was angry.”
She felt sick. “Baby your dad did this? He hit you?”
He put his head in his hands. “Jules, please, I just need to be alone.”
She shook her head and pulled him to her. “No you don’t. You’ve been alone too long; I think it’s time you let someone take care of you.”
He turned and pulled her into his arms, crying into her shoulder and feeling like maybe she was right, but his heart broke for his mom and in a strange way, for his dad. He sat up and wiped his face, looking at her.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
She snuggled against him. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I’m not always easy to deal with, so the fact that you tolerate my pushiness is kind of remarkable.” She rubbed his chest. “You don’t have to talk or be anything you don’t want to be. I just want to be here with you, okay?”
He looked at her and wondered how he could feel such love for another person. “It’s more than okay, and you aren’t hard to deal with or pushy, you’re my everything.”
They sat in silence and held each other.
More thoughts and favorite scenes coming tonight in anticipation of “Our Legacy”. Any specific questions you want answered?
Here is another scene that means the world to me. Introducing Naomi into the series was something I thought about for a really long time. It wasn’t so much that Brittany was HIV positive, because many women who live with this disease have healthy children. With Brittany, there was so much more going on. She hasn’t been healthy in so many ways, and the reality of what a pregnancy could mean for her was crushing.
I had planned on having her miscarry soon into the pregnancy, but I began to fall in love with Naomi as she fought to survive. I found her to be a worthy addition to the strength of her parents and with Tramp there, I knew she would have a fierce protector. I also wanted to stay true to the medical issues which would need to be handled with a child born so premature. Her kidney issues were done with a long term goal in mind that will slowly be revealed in book 12.
This particular scene is one of my favorites. Not only is it a profound moment for Tommy and Brittany, but it was the introduction of Naomi’s place in this family. She has always been and will continue to be a force to recon with.
They sat in silence, not knowing what to say or what to do. The options were little if any and their hearts were broken. Brittany looked at her husband. “Let’s do the kangaroo touch again and ask Naomi what she needs.”
He wiped his eyes as he nodded and went to tell the nurse to bring their baby in. Brittany got into the bed and pulled her gown off, covering herself with the sheet. She looked up as Tommy came in with the nurse who wheeled Naomi near them and nodded before leaving them alone. Tommy closed the curtains and picked up his daughter, placing her gently onto Brittany’s chest. He got into the bed with them and they all sat there.
“Little Naomi, mommy and daddy are here.” She spoke softly to her baby as she stroked her back. “We love you and we are so very proud of you.”
Tommy exhaled as his tears fell. He didn’t want to do this. He couldn’t do this. He stood up and Brittany looked at him. “It’s okay.” She said.
“I can’t do this. I’m not like you. I’m not strong enough.” He said brokenly.
She smiled sadly at him. “You don’t have to do anything, Tommy. It’s okay. I just want to hold her for a little while. You can go home for a bit if you want.”
“I don’t want to go home. I want our daughter to be healthy. I want something in your life to be filled with happiness.” He ran his hand through his hair. “I just don’t understand this. I don’t know what we did to deserve this. I look at the people who come and go from the hospital with healthy and happy babies and I look at us and can’t figure it out. Haven’t we suffered enough sadness? Haven’t you been through enough hurt for 12 lifetimes? What is the point of this?” He yelled.
Brittany kissed her daughters’ head and rubbed her arms and legs gently. “I wish I knew what to tell you. I ask myself that all the time, Tommy, but there comes a point in time when you have to look at the reality of the situation and try to figure out where to go from here. Naomi is here and she is looking to us to do right by her. As her parents, we need to be able to make decisions that are in her best interest while not discounting her ability to fight. I don’t know what that means, but I need her to tell me. I need her to know that she is the greatest blessing of my life and I need to believe she is here for a purpose. I have to believe that, Tommy.” She sobbed.
He shook his head. “How can you believe that? What has happened that makes you think anything good will come of this? How can you remain positive when nothing good in your life has lasted?” He crossed his arms, having a meltdown and not knowing how to stop it.
She moved a little and adjusted her baby girl, who was motionless, but breathing. She looked up at her husband and shrugged. “You happened. You made me see that no matter how horrible some parts of my life had been, there were amazing and beautiful things out there for me. Tommy, you forget what miracles we have already experienced. How many times did they tell you to give up on me and let me go? How many times did I face down my fears when attacked and come back to you? How many times did they tell us to terminate this pregnancy? How close did I come to losing you when you were in the car accident? How many times did we think Bill wasn’t going to make it?” She wiped her eyes and looked at their baby girl.
“You ask me how I can remain positive? How can I not?” She raised her voice back at him. “It kills me to hear you so defeated and so lost. You have always been my strength, Tommy, and if you don’t feel like you have any left, let me be yours. Tell me what you want.”
“I want her not to hurt anymore, but if we allow her to go, how will we ever stop hurting?” His voice cracked and Brittany let her tears continue as she listened to him get his thoughts out.
“Okay, I hear you, but I don’t know what you want me to say or do. Why don’t you take a minute out of the room? Go get some air, call Jack, get some perspective, anything you need.” She cried as she looked at him. “I just want to spend some time with Naomi. I need to know what to do.” She looked at her baby. “Please tell me, baby girl. Tell me what’s right.”
“Stop it,” Tommy said to her. “Stop trying to make this okay.”
“No, you stop it. You said your piece; now let me do what I need to do. Let me be with our daughter and you go do what you need to do.” She yelled at him and her voice was full of passion and intensity.
“Why? Why do you insist on protecting me from this?” He raised his voice again.
“How exactly am I protecting you from this? How is there any way for me to protect you from this? If you figure it out, please let me know, because I would give anything to not go through this.” She yelled back at him and suddenly there was a noise that neither of them recognized.
“What was that?” Tommy asked and Brittany stared at her daughter when suddenly something else happened.
“Tommy, come here,” she said excitedly.
”What?” He ran to her side.
“She peed all over me.” Brittany said and looked at him with tears streaming down her face.”
“She did? She went by herself?” Tommy asked.
“Well I didn’t do it?” Brittany laughed and looked as Naomi kicked her feet and let out the unfamiliar sound again. “She’s crying and she peed.”
Tommy shook his head. “I don’t believe it.”
“Did you get mad that mommy and daddy were yelling? You made yourself known little girl.” Brittany said and laughed through her tears. She grabbed her sheet as Tommy went to get the doctor. “You are my special baby girl sweet Naomi. You are my angel.” She kissed her soft head and let a sob escape her throat. “Please let this mean she is going to be okay.” She said to the sky. “Please let her live.”
After writing so many books about the same people, I have developed some attachment to particular scenes which showcase both the serious and sensitive nature of the characters. Some of the hardest moments I’ve written have been with the characters of Bill and Julie. I think it is the hardest at times because they have been the core couple. They were together before the series began and reliving their love story has been a blast for me.
This scene comes from “Courage Lies Within” and it is when Julie comes to see Bill after he has been critically wounded. She is pregnant with triplets and has basically been told to go and say goodbye. This was a terribly difficult scene to write, but one I’m very proud of.
Julie walked into the room and up to the bed. She felt like she was in a fog, almost like she was watching the scene in front of her. She shook her head as she approached her husband and when she saw him, she felt all the air go out of her lungs. She leaned down and kissed him softly on the forehead before she sat down and took his hand in hers.
“I love you,” she said simply and brought his hand to her lips. “I need you to be okay. Baby this wasn’t the plan.” She took a deep breath and closed her eyes for a minute before looking at him.
“I know we’ve been here before, but I think maybe this time it’s simply too much,” she sobbed and then quickly pulled herself together. She put his hand down and moved closer to his face, running her finger over his chiseled features. “Do you remember the first time you kissed me?” She traced her finger over the part of his lips not impeded by the breathing tube. “Do you know what I thought?” She smiled a tiny smile. “I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought that those lips should be the only lips I ever kissed for the rest of my life. I knew from that instant, that you were my everything.”
She put her head on his chest and heard his heart beat. “O Bill, I hear you, baby. You’re still there and your heart sounds strong.” Her tears fell as she laid her arm across his chest. “What am I supposed to do now? How do I live without you? I don’t think I can do it, Billy. I simply can’t live without you.” She felt like she was going to throw up and she put her head in her hands.
“This can’t happen. How can I say goodbye to my soul? How can I live in a world where you don’t hold me when I cry or soothe me when I’m scared? How do I live never falling asleep again in your arms?” She felt her panic grip her chest as she fought with her fear.
“Where will you go? Will you be alone or will you wait for me? What if you’re scared or hurting? We never talked about this. How could we have never talked about this? How could I be so arrogant to think we would never have to? After everything we’ve gone through? I’m so stupid.” She moved to the garbage and vomited. She sat there for a minute and held her stomach before she returned to his bedside.
She ran her hand over his chest and his strong arms. “How will I make it through life never feeling your body against mine as you love me or laugh with you as we lie together and watch some stupid movie? Who will hold my heart as gently as you always have and how will I ever see the world the way you showed it to me?” She took his hand and placed it on her belly. “How can these babies come into the world never knowing their daddy?” She cried as if her heart was breaking, which it was. She held him and rubbed his chest.
“My love, my life. I don’t want you to hurt anymore, but it’s too soon. We have so much more to do and your job isn’t done. I can’t do this. I can’t tell you it’s okay because it’s not. Nothing is okay and nothing ever will be without you.”
“Julie?” Tommy and Jack stood there.
She sobbed. “No, don’t come in. Don’t tell me it’s time. I can’t do it, please. Let me die with him, please. Oh God,” she wailed as Jack came to her and held her as she sank to the floor. Tommy had trouble getting his body to move. The despair was crippling.