“I just don’t like Brittany. I didn’t connect with her at all. I didn’t care what happened to her.”


I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately, and today, things kind of came to a head.

I went to a writers conference today and sat down with an agent who had critiqued the first 10 pages of If Only. I sent them ahead so she could read it and take notes and let me know what she thought.

I’ve never done that before. I’ve had so many people read the story, people I know and people I don’t. Obviously, it’s been out in the public for a while now, so many people I’ll never talk to have read it.

But I have never had an agent sit down and critique the story the way I had today.

I wanted feedback.

I need feedback.

But after listening to her speak, I came to a few conclusions.

Listening to someone pick apart your heart is soul is hard.

Writing is subjective.

I’m a really sensitive person.

When I sat down and began listening to her, I was happy that she felt my writing was well done. She commented on how I tend to be wordy, which is true. I think my students would tell you I like to talk. I guess I just have a lot to say.

However, sometimes less is more, and I get that. I’ll work on that.

She wasn’t even really upset that the novel begins with a rape scene. It’s jarring. It’s harsh. It’s intense.

She liked that.

I was happy. Things sounded like they were going well.

And then she punched me in the gut.

Okay, not literally, but you get the point.

“I just don’t like Brittany. I didn’t connect with her at all. I didn’t care what happened to her.”

I have heard people tell me that Brittany is cold. She’s harsh. She has too many walls. She’s a bitch.

I have also heard people tell me she is just like them. Guarded. Careful. Sensitive. Damaged.

I don’t always know how to handle criticism. I don’t always know how to be politically correct.

You see, each character comes from a part of me; even the villains.

Next to Jade, Brittany is probably the closest to me, to my personality, and her issues are my own.

For as much as I adore Tommy, Brittany is me. She came from my days of solitude; from my years of figuring out who I was. She was with me through college; through the ups and downs of life. She saw me through a few significant losses and she came to life when I needed her voice.

I know people aren’t always going to love my characters or my story. I know romance isn’t for everyone and certainly, the things I put my characters through can test any reader.

But her critique hurt.

She also had issues with the meeting in the conference room, and that really bothered me.

The conference room is so important to their story. It broke my heart that she didn’t see that.

I went through a few stages after walking out. I decided I was done writing. I figured nobody would ever want to read another word of this series. I was a loser. A fraud. A hack.

But then, I sat down and became aware of the many authors walking around the conference all around me and I did what so many writers do.

I observed.

So many writers. So many ideas. So many opinions. So many dreams.

So many possibilities.

My stories aren’t for everyone. I know that. I write because I have a story to tell, and I want people to feel like they can relate to the struggles so many feel.

I have dealt with issues each and every time I bring up having a romantic heroine with HIV, and I deal with it because that’s simply not all she is, and if people can’t get past it that says more about them then it does Brittany.

I have dealt with people not liking the sexual assault angle and I have defended my choices more than once.

But this was different.

It was like my child had come from school crying because nobody liked her.

I became defensive. I wanted to list off all of the amazing qualities Brittany has and how many people love her.

I wanted to tell her about her strength and tenacity and heart. I wanted to show her Naomi and Tramp and the beautiful relationship Brittany has with Tommy.

But all I could do was thank her for her time, and leave.

It’s up to the writer to tell the story the best way they can.

I’m still learning. I’ll always be learning.

Today was hard, but it was important.

Tomorrow I’ll write again.

A special bond…

“Our Hero” is a story about Tommy, but not totally in the way you might think. It’s true; he’s in terrible trouble, but through his tragedy, I tried to show his life in a way that goes beyond the series. Beyond the Tommy you know.

He is one of those characters that I have multiple stories about. I know what he’s done every step of his life because he tells me. The more I write his story, the more his history becomes clear.

He is the reluctant hero, and I adore that.

It’s the strong silent types who sometimes doubt their worth that are the most fun for me to write. It’s fitting that he married the rock star, because it’s so far from anything he would have ever anticipated for himself.

From their pasts, one might think Jack is more suited to Brittany and Stephanie to Tommy, but that’s why this series is so fun.

One never knows what life has to offer.

One story that had an unexpected bonus, was bringing Desi into the fold. I knew, when I decided to introduce her to David, that she would have secrets.

Her health was the biggest, and I also knew that Tommy had been her doctor all along.

It was a minor connection, but it had major reach into the series.

Tommy was the doctor, but he was also David’s uncle.

Tommy had a wife who was attacked and because of that, he had special insight into what Desi was dealing with; and what her friends and family would struggle with.

Desi and Tommy were a new bond in the series, and I love it. She isn’t a child, but in some ways, having cancer at such a young age caused her to lose some of her innocence.

Tommy helped to give it a tiny bit back.

The following is a scene from “Our Hero” and it is a flashback to when they first met.



Desi sat in the conference room with her mom while they waited to meet the oncologist. She had been to a bunch of doctors, but finally got an appointment here with the best. 

“Sweetie? This is Dr. Williams,” Ian said as he walked into the conference room with Tommy.

Desi sat with Cassie and they were coloring.  Desi looked up and then looked back down. Her six-year-old fears trying to come out in tears.

“Hi Desi, I’m Dr. Tommy,” he said as he walked over and sat down next to her. “What are you drawing?”

“Why did you lie?” Desi asked. 

“Desi,” Cassie said, surprised. 

Tommy smiled at her. 

“It’s okay. When did I lie? We just met.”

Desi looked up through her long blonde hair and twirled a piece with her finger. He had a really nice face, but he was still the enemy.

“My dad said your name was Dr. Williams. You introduced yourself as Dr. Tommy. My dad isn’t a liar, so you must be. I was taught to never ever lie.”

“That’s true,” Tommy said. “My name is Thomas Brent Williams. My friends and family call me Tommy. Adults call me Dr. Williams.”

“Am I your friend?” Desi asked. 

“Well, we just met, but I hope so. You seem like a pretty cool person. Besides, I need some help with something,” he said as took out a small box.

Desi leaned her cheek on her hand. 

“What’s wrong?”

“My daughter is a few years younger than you and I promised her I would be able to help her with this jigsaw puzzle. I’m a little stuck and I heard you’re pretty good at them.”

“You did? I totally am. I do puzzles all the time,” Desi said with excitement. “Let me see what you have.”

Tommy put the small puzzle on the table and showed Desi. 

“This is pretty easy,” Desi said. “You just have the wrong piece here. If you move it over here, everything works out okay.”

Tommy smiled and nodded. 

“Thanks. I don’t know why I couldn’t figure that one out.”

Desi shrugged. 

“Sometimes people need help.”

“You know what? That’s kind of like what I do.”

Ian held Cassie’s hand as they watched their daughter come alive while talking to Tommy. 

“How? You’re a doctor, right? Aren’t you just going to give me bad medicine and make me feel yucky?”

“Nope. I have to look at the pieces first.”

Desi watched him. 

“What do you mean?”

“Each patient I have is like a puzzle. I have to look at the pieces and find the right way to put them together so they can work. Sometimes it takes me a little while to figure it out, but I always do.”

She looked at him and her big blue eyes filled with tears. 

“What if you can’t?”

He smiled. 

“Then I find a way to figure it out. Just like right now. You helped me figure out the right piece of the puzzle. There is always an answer, and I will never give up until I find it. Now I know you’ve had many days where you feel yucky, but I hope to help you so that doesn’t happen anymore. Sometimes I might pick up the wrong piece of the puzzle, but I’ll always keep looking until I find the right piece.” 

He took out a small trinket and handed it to her. 

“I’ll tell you what, why don’t you hold onto this piece for me.”

She took the piece and looked at it. 

“It’s not a real puzzle piece. It’s too small.”

“It’s a different kind of piece,” he said. “It’s a reminder piece for you to look at. Sometimes, the days you have to spend here will get a little scary. You might need a break from the nurses or doctors and sometimes, you might want me to leave you alone. All you need to do is pull out your special puzzle piece. It’s like a code for all of my friends. We will listen to you, Desi. You are the most important piece of this puzzle and I work for you, okay?”

“You’re going to put me back together? Like Humpty Dumpty?” she asked. 

He grinned. 

“Nope. You’re not broken and you don’t need to be put back together. You just have a few pieces that moved a little and we need to straighten them out. That’s all. It’s actually pretty simple.”

“Okay. I can handle that,” she said. 

Tommy smiled. 

“I know you can. Now I need you to pick out a room for the night while we figure out the kind of puzzle you are. I have a helper who can walk through the hall with you and help sniff out the best room.”

“I don’t need a helper. I don’t like to talk to people,” Desi said. 

Tommy nodded. 

“He won’t mind,” he said and called Enid. She came in a minute later and Desi grinned as Tramp trotted in. 

“This is Tramp. He really likes doing rounds with me, but if you take him to your room, he’ll do anything for a belly rub.”

Ian and Cassie laughed as Tramp rolled over for a belly rub. 

Desi laughed. 

“You’re right. I think we should be friends,” she said and Tommy stood up. 

“I agree. Come on, let’s go room shopping.”

“With you? I though the nurses did that,” Desi said and took his hand. 

“Nah, I like to make sure my friends are comfy here. It’s important to me.”

Desi beamed and they walked out, Tramp trotting ahead of them.

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One week left!

We are almost a week out from the release of “Our Hero” and I am so excited for you to read it. This book is unlike any others in the series and I am incredibly proud of it.

I will have another preview for you soon, but in the meantime, I’d love to do another interview with a character.

Anyone you want to see? Any particular questions?

I’m open.


A little more insight

Our Hero

That’s what Tommy has always been to me and for this series, he has been the rock.

It’s not that I like him more than the others, but he represents something different than Jack and Bill and Mike.

He is my ‘normal’ character.

Let me explain.

What I mean is that Tommy is a reluctant hero. He has always been the quiet type who lived to be the family man his father was. He takes immense pride in his work and his life has become everything he ever wanted.

Tommy represents hope and strength. He is the one who everyone relies on. Jack counts on him as his brother and Julie thinks of him as both brother and parent. Tommy was the first person to welcome Bill into the family and he helped bridge the gap between Jack and Stephanie when they met.

He would never say it, but seeing his family happy means that he did something right. That his parent’s would be proud.

That means the world to him.

It’s who he is.

When I started this series, Tommy was my voice. He said what I was thinking and he reacted the way I did in situations. I have had people try to fix me up like Jack did with him. I have had people think I was lonely when I simply preferred to stay at home. He represented a man who wasn’t lonely, but rather he was waiting.

Waiting for something extraordinary to happen.

He just didn’t know it.

This series has taken many characters through ups and downs. Some have had it a little worse than others, but through it all, the family has remained in tact.

Until now.

It’s never who you expect. It’s never the one you plan for.  It’s never fair.

Having Tommy be the victim at the end of “Defining Moment” was something that had been in the works for a while. Ever since Megan died, her brother was in the back of my mind.




It needed to be unexpected and the shock needed to hit all of the characters in a way that stopped them in their tracks.

Evan was consumed with his fear about Liz.

Mike was still coming to terms with what Jimmy had done and how it effected so many, and he and Jade were welcoming a miracle daughter.

Bill was trying to help his son navigate a budding relationship with Desi and he was helping his wife to get ready to go back to work.

Brittany and Stephanie were set on helping Evan and Liz, and Jack was trying to get his brother to let what Jimmy said to him, go.

They were all dealing with Rachel’s death and trying to move forward.

It was time to relax and calm things down.

It was the perfect time to attack.


Much of the drama in the series comes from what happened to Brittany and the people who have been intent on hurting her. There was always an end game; something they wanted.

With Tommy, there was nothing Megan’s brother wanted but to see him suffer.

That’s impossible to deal with, and when Naomi was brought into the situation, all bets were off.

Tommy will give his life for his daughter.

Everyone knows that, and Brittany and Jack and Julie know it’s a matter of minutes before they may be too late.

They have no idea where they are being held.

They have no way of getting help.

It’s a race against time to find them, and when they do, everything will change.

“Our Hero” takes the story to a dark place where the characters we have always counted on are the ones who need us.

The goal is not to break hearts, although I know it will be terribly sad.

The goal is to show strength and to remind us of the power we all have to move forward, even when we think we can’t.

Tommy is my hero. He is my passion and my fear.

He will always be my greatest accomplishment as a writer.

I hope you understand what happens.

Here is another preview…


“You need to eat something,” Stephanie said as she sat with Brittany.

“I’m fine. Do you know if they found anything?” she asked.

“Mike and Bill are going over some things. Jack and Julie are on their way from dropping off all the kids with Ron and Jenny. We will know more soon.”

Her knee shook as she sat there.

“I’m so sorry,” Stephanie said. “I wish I had more news.”

Brittany looked up when Jack and Julie walked in.

“Any news?” he asked.

“Not yet,” Stephanie said.

Julie walked to Brittany and sat down.

“My brother won’t let anything happen to Naomi. He lives to protect his family.”

“I know,” Brittany said. “He would give his life for her. I would do the same.”

Jack looked at them.

“Then we need to find them before he has a chance.”

Mike and Bill came in and Brittany stood up.

“I don’t care what it is,” Brittany said. “I want to know what’s going on.”

“I don’t even know if it’s a good lead, but Megan’s brother has been renovating a cabin near the others they had. The one Tommy was in before it burned to the ground, but he owned the land and has been rebuilding a much larger compound. It takes over more of the land than it did before,” Mike said as they sat in a conference room near Jade’s room.

“We need to go there right now,” she said.

Bill shook his head.

“It could be a decoy,” he said. “We need to be certain before we go in.”

“And what’s happening in the meantime? What kind of torture is my family enduring while we take our time?” Brittany asked.

Bill sighed.

“I can’t imagine what you’re feeling right now, but we have to be smart about this. If we go there and he has them somewhere else, we might be doing more damage than good. It seems awfully convenient that they would be there.”

“And if they are? We have to check!” Brittany said.

“We will. I sent people there to canvas the area and see if there has been any movement. In the meantime, we need to try and figure out who is helping him. He didn’t act alone. He had help and we need to figure that out.”

Brittany shook her head.

“I need some air.”

They watched as she walked out.

“I’ll go with her,” Jack said.


“Daddy? Please wake up,” Naomi said as she tried to rouse Tommy. She looked around for something to help and didn’t see anything. They were in some sort of basement cellar and it was covered with concrete. She went to the door and it was solid steel.

Turning, she saw him move a little and she rushed over.

“Dad? Can you hear me?”

He blinked and smiled at her.

“You okay?” he asked quietly, his body on fire.

“I’m fine,” she cried. “I don’t know how to get us out of here. I can’t find a way.”

“Shh,” he said. “We will get out of here, okay?”

She wiped her eyes and nodded.


“Can you try to untie my legs?”

She looked at the rope and tried to untie it. His hands were tied together and there was a rope connecting them to the tie around his thighs.

“It’s too tight. I need to try and cut it,” she said.

“Can you move it down my legs at all? Maybe try and slide it off?” he asked, fighting to stay alert.

She looked at his legs.

“It’s so tight,” she said through her tears. “Isn’t it hurting you so much?”

“I’m okay,” he lied.

“Can you squish my thighs and try to pull it down?”

She did and he saw stars as the pain ripped through his back. He tried not to make any noise, but he had trouble holding it in.

“I’m sorry! Did I hurt you? I’m sorry!”

“No, Mini Red, you’re doing great. I think it moved a little. Keep going, okay? I need to get free so we can get out of here. My legs will heal. It’s okay.”

She looked around and then leaned in and tried to use her teeth to cut the twine.

“It’s not working!” she cried as she sat up.

“Okay,” he said. “Can you try and help me sit up? Maybe it will help.”

She moved closer to him and wrapped her arms around his upper arm and pulled with all her might.

“Stop, stop,” Tommy said, the pain intense.

“I’m sorry. Are you okay?”

He lay there and closed his eyes, breathing slowly.

“Don’t go to sleep. Please look at me,” she cried.

“I’m here, it’s okay,” he said and smiled at her. “I just needed to catch my breath.”

She looked around and then her eyes lit up.

“Are your keys in your pocket?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “Check.”

She did and felt them.

“Okay, I think I can use this as a saw and cut the rope,” she smiled.

“Be careful. Don’t hurt yourself,” he said as she worked on the ropes holding his wrists.

“Did they hurt you at all? Before I saw you?” he asked her.

“No. They just put me in a room and I was blindfolded until they brought me here,” she said as she worked.

“Okay, good,” he said and tried to ignore his pain.

They heard someone coming and they both froze.

“Put the key back and hide. Please go hide,” he said in a panic.

The door opened and Paul walked in.



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A different kind of interview


A little fun with Tommy for you…….

Interviewer: “Thanks again for talking to us. I know we’ve done a few of these, but this interview is going to be a little different. Did they tell you why we were here?”

Tommy: “I thought it had to do with my job. Is this about something else?”

Interviewer: “Yes. It’s for your daughter.”

Tommy: “I don’t understand. Is something wrong with Naomi? Is she here?”

Interviewer: “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. We are talking to a few of the doctors here for career week. We are compiling information from fun questions and then we are going to have the kids match up the answers they think are from their parent. It’s for the final day of career week. They won’t know any of the questions ahead of time. It is a ‘how well do you know your mom or dad’ kind of game.

Tommy: “Oh, okay.”

Interviewer: “I’ll ask a bunch of ‘this or that’ kind of question for you to answer, okay? Just one word.”

Tommy nodded.

Interviewer: Dog or Cat?

Tommy: Dog.

Interviewer: Netflix or YouTube?

Tommy: Netflix

Interviewer: Phone Call or Text?

Tommy: Text unless it’s my wife.

Interviewer: Toast or Eggs?

Tommy: Toast

Interviewer: Cardio or Weights?

Tommy: Neither

Interviewer: Facebook or Twitter?

Tommy: Facebook I guess, but I don’t really use either.

Interviewer: Ice Cream Cone or Snow Cone?

Tommy: Ice cream

Interviewer: Form or Function?

Tommy: Function

Interviewer: Cake or Pie?

Tommy: Pie

Interviewer: Big Party or Small Gathering?

Tommy: Small Gathering

Interviewer: Football or Basketball?
Tommy: Hockey

Interviewer: Hamburger or Taco?

Tommy: Chicken

Interviewer: Blue or Red?

Tommy: Red, of course.

Interviewer: Honesty or Other’s Feelings?

Tommy: Honesty. Always.

Interviewer: TV or Book?


Interviewer: Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater?

Tommy: Home.

Interviewer: Okay, now we have some questions we want you to answer that we will be presenting to your daughter.

Tommy was hoping this was over soon.


Interviewer: What job would you be terrible at?”

Tommy: Chef.

Interviewer: What skill would you like to master?

Tommy: Cooking. It’s so important to my daughter and she is so good, I would like to share in that with her.

Interviewer: What do you wish you knew more about?

Tommy: That’s a hard one. Life? How to be a good parent? How to relax? How to make sure my child is safe?

Interviewer: What’s something you like to do the old fashioned way?

Tommy: Write letters. I have letters from my parents and it’s something I treasure. I can look at their writing style and picture them sitting down to craft each one. I write to my daughter so she will always know my time was spent thinking of her.

Interviewer: What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?

Tommy: Watching all of the kids graduate and move on in their lives. I want to see them happy and then spend time with my wife doing nothing but being happy.

Interviewer: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?

Tommy: Took responsibility for my 12 year old sister when I was 18. I think that was definitely a win.

Interviewer: Have you ever saved someone’s life?

Tommy: Yes.

Interviewer: What are the top three things you want to accomplish before you die? How close are you to accomplishing them?

Tommy: I don’t know. I guess I want to create a legacy for my daughter. I want to help establish better treatment for pediatric cancer patients. I want to be happy. I don’t know how close I am to those, but I think I have time. I’m a work in progress.

He smiled at that.

Interviewer: Thank you so much.


Tommy has always been my hero. I adore him and this next book will show why. I will be posting another preview tonight along witht he preorder links.

Thank you for reading!



Just like people, when characters are quiet for too long, I worry.

After writing this series for so long, the characters have a way of making their voices heard when I am simply living my life. Sometimes they start talking while I’m teaching a lesson and I make a mental note to write down what I’m hearing. Sometimes they yell when I’m trying to sleep. Mostly, they come to life when I’m driving.

Don’t worry, not literally. I’m always a safe driver. 🙂

There are times where one character is particularly loud, and I know they need me to focus on something.

Other times, a character stops talking to me.

That’s kind of what happened in book 22.

The focus of the story went from Desi and David to Evan and Elizabeth.

Then to Jimmy.

And finally, to Tommy and Naomi.



What happened to the happy young man who we all adored?

Having Jimmy turn into such a jerk was a calculated risk. I have always had a soft spot for Jimmy. I saw him and Naomi together from long before I actually had them go out. I knew that if I had him hurt her, in any way, I would be risking his place in the series.

But he had been quiet, and when I listened to him, I heard his anger and his frustration.

Now, I had to figure out what Jimmy had been doing with this anger for so many months. He put on a good front for his family and Mike and I know he figured Naomi would stand by him.

But when he began to spend time with Rebecca, he was taken in with her lies.

He just needed a reason why his life was so out of control. He needed to understand things. He took what she said as truth because it was different and it gave him an outlook that wasn’t so dreary.

He didn’t realize it was all lies.

An innocent boy looking for a way out of his anger caused irreparable damage to so many people.

I’m not really sure that he will be able to come back from that.

Rebecca had power because she had knowledge. By telling Jimmy about Megan, she gave him leverage he didn’t know he had and what it did to Tommy was break open a wound that never healed.

He hurt Naomi in ways she never saw coming.

He hurt Mike and Jade by bringing up the worst time in their lives and by sending the twins the rice, he destroyed any confidence they had in him.

But what couldn’t be taken back was what happened to Rachel and Brian.

Jimmy’s life is forever changed.

I hear him now, but his words are full of confusion and sadness and remorse.

I’m not sure where he goes from here.

The damage this did to Tommy is something I don’t think I even saw coming.

Megan has always been the one thing he hasn’t been able to reconcile. I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because she was a woman.

Maybe it was because she hurt Brittany so deeply.

Maybe it was because she was able to get to him.

Tommy has been nothing if not protective of his family. I think a lot of it comes from his parents being taken from him at such a young age. He likes to have control over things.

Most of us do.

But Megan hit at a part of Tommy he didn’t know how to protect.

And it left him incredibly vulnerable.

I wanted Naomi to learn about what happened, but I wasn’t sure how.

One of my favorite scenes from “Defining Moments’ is after Jimmy confronts Tommy. Naomi sees just how broken her father is and she does what she can to help him.

“We are in a conference room by Jimmy’s parents. Um, room 4352e. He said he needed a minute, but I think he needs you.”

“I’m on my way,” she said. “Don’t move.”

“Okay,” she said and hung up. She went to the water fountain and got him some water. She went back to him and put the water next to him before she sat down and wrapped her arms around his upper arm, leaning her cheek against his shoulder. 

“I’m here daddy,” she said. “It’s going to be okay.”

I couldn’t leave it there. I knew the Megan story needed to be resolved, but I wasn’t sure where it would go.

Tommy was still quiet. I was trying to hear him, but it was hard.

Of all the characters, I have always been closest to Tommy.

I hope that doesn’t sound weird. 🙂

I heard Naomi and I heard Mike and I listened to the silence and it finally came to me.

We both needed to figure out how this story ends.

Tommy needed my help on this one and I guess I needed his, too.

So I began to write. I had to find a way to make him fight, in the midst of the worst moments possible.

He tends to shut down when talk of Megan comes up. His legs hurt. He has flashbacks.

He just stops dealing.

I was afraid he would give up. I was afraid he would just say that it was too much.

I mean, really, just how much can a person endure?

I needed him to fight.

So I gave him a reason.


Having Naomi brought into the torture gave me a whole new way to look at both characters.

Tommy would never give in if his daughter was in danger.

Naomi could also show how she has grown and her strength was just itching to come out.

But this fight wasn’t going to be fair and the two of them were no match for a crazed individual with nothing to lose.

He wanted nothing but to have Tommy suffer.

That’s a dangerous scenario.

Book 23 will go places I have never taken this series and that says something.

Here is a sneak preview of chapter 1:


“Let her go,” he said. “I’ll do whatever you want.”

The man laughed at him.

“I told you what I wanted. You need to die. But first, you can suffer a little,” he grinned and pushed the stun gun into Naomi’s side.

“Stop it you sick son of a bitch!” Tommy yelled. “I’ll give you whatever you want. Please!”

The man looked at Naomi and smiled.

“Your daddy loves you, doesn’t he? He knows if I do this, with all of your problems, your body won’t be able to handle it. Do you know what will happen? Your body will melt from the inside. It will hurt like the worst pain you’ve ever felt.”

Naomi stood there, crying.

“Naomi? Listen to me,” Tommy said. “Just breathe and listen to my voice. You’re going to be fine, okay? I love you and you’re going to be fine.”

The man let her go and walked over to punch Tommy in the face.

“No!” Naomi cried and ran to him when the man grabbed her arm again.

“Oh, how rude of me. Let me introduce myself. My name is Paul James, or P.J. I used to have a sister, but your dad destroyed her. Now I need to destroy him, so the best way I can do that is to mess with his mind. I am not going to hurt you any more than I have to.”

“If there is any decency in you, please let her go,” Tommy said as he felt the blood fall down his face. “Your issues are with me, not her. Do what you need to do to me, but leave her alone.”

The man looked at Naomi.

“Your daddy wants to be brave, doesn’t he? He knows what this would do to you if I used it. He knows I’m right because he’s a doctor and he saves children, right?”

Naomi tried to move and he held her arm

“Ow, stop,” she cried.

Tommy tried to get up, but he couldn’t move from the ties around his legs.

“Get your hands off her,” he said.

Paul ignored him.

“You see, that’s why my sister fell for him. She always loved helping kids, too, and she was the best. She had everything going for her, until your mom ruined everything.” Paul laughed and looked at them.

“She must be going crazy right about now. Both of you missing and no sign of what happened. That’s what goes on when there is good planning involved. You can do things for days before anyone can find you.”

Tommy pulled on the ties and one of them loosened. Paul turned around and smiled at him.

“Hey Naomi, how long ago was it that your dad almost died? When his heart exploded?”

She didn’t say anything and he turned to her, grabbing her face in his hand.

“I asked you a fucking question.”

“Get your hands off of her! I am going to rip you to pieces!” Tommy screamed.

“Si, six months,” she said through her tears.

“Right, so I bet a huge zap of electricity will probably do a lot of damage, huh?”

Paul moved away from her and faced Tommy.

“What do you think that will do to her? To watch you fry from the inside out? Do you think she’ll ever get over that?”

He walked closer to Tommy and tightened the ropes before he looked at the stun gun.

“Try not to wet yourself,” he said.  Tommy saw Naomi looking at him.

“Mini Red? I need for you to listen to me for a minute, okay? I need for you to close your eyes. Please. Close your eyes.”

She shook her head and he saw the stun gun as the man put it against his side.

“I love you, baby. Close your eyes, okay? Do that for me, please.”

She cried as Paul shot the voltage into Tommy and his body went into shock.

“I’ll be back,” he said as he turned to her. “Better say your goodbyes, although I doubt he can hear you.”

He left and Naomi ran to her father.

“Daddy? Daddy can you look at me? Oh please, daddy look at me!” she cried and held his face as his eyes were open, but he saw nothing.

Thoughts? Questions?