Thursday, August 30, 2012


Moira shivered and hugged her arms against her chest.  The dampness of the alley seemed to seep into every  pore in her body and she checked her watch again.

They were only five minutes late, but it felt like hours that she'd been standing there. Every second was closer to discovery.

A change in the light caught her eye.  Looking up, she watched a single figure cut through the fog and approach the entrance to the alley.  She was alone, but Moira knew she wasn't really.  There would be guards no one could see.

Moira bowed as low as she could. "Madam Archilada."  She kept her eyes lowered. Madam Archilada's ties to the royalty were strong and her power was great.

Madam snapped, "Get up, I don't have all night, girl.  Did Mother Elizabeth explain what is expected of you?"

"Yes, ma'am.  We're to go into the forest, but I'm to raise the queen's child as my own."

Madam looked into the girl's face, searching for something. Finally, she snapped her fingers above her head.  A guard rushed forward out of the mist, placing the bundle from his arms into Moira's.

Moira parted the blanket to look down at the naked babe.  She looked up in surprise.  "But, it's a boy!  I don't understand...  I thought the King was waiting for a son."

"It isn't the King's son."


"Look at him in the morning light and you'll see.  What do you think would happen to the child... and the queen... if the King knew this?"  Madam's eyes narrowed.  "Leave at once.  I expect to never see your face here again."

"Yes, ma'am."  Moira curtsied and backed away toward the other end of the alley.  She looked back once to see Madam and the guard shrouded in mist as they disappeared toward the castle.  A dark form melted from the shadows to walk in step with her.

"Did you get the package?" the figure asked in a low voice.

"It's a baby, Jeffrey.  Not a package." Moira ran a finger along the child's cheek with tenderness.  "A sweet innocent baby."

A warning came into the man's voice.  "He's a pawn, Moira, not a child.  Don't get too attached."

Moira narrowed her eyes.  "You can tell the Duke I have his son and he will have his precious war."

"See to it that he does, Moira."  Jeffrey's voice softened.  "We're counting on you."

Friday, August 10, 2012


It was a low place.

My kids were in this tough pre-teen phase. I'd walked away from some friendships that needed walking away from. Someone I had a lot of respect for changed from what I thought they were, leaving me disheartened and confused. And mostly, I just wasn't who I had set out to be, and I was lost.

I sat there, amongst all the rubble of my life and relationships and self, surveying all the damage and wondering how on earth I could stand up and make something beautiful once more. How could I start again when everything, including myself, was so broken?

When there is so much to be fixed, where do you start?  I felt like a little kid, thrown into her very messy bedroom (admittedly, messy by her own actions) with the instructions to "Get your room clean!"  You know that feeling, don't you?  You look around and there is mess everywhere.  It's not that you don't want to clean it, or aren't willing to clean it.  It's just that there is SO MUCH that you don't even know where to start.

You can start over.

Even amongst all the rubble, you can start over. Dig deep inside of you and you will find the strength.  You don't get rid of the rubble in one fell swoop, it doesn't happen that easily or quickly.  But you deal with the rubble in the same way that you deal with the messy room.  One piece at a time.

Maybe you're even lucky and you have someone who is willing to come alongside of you and help to pick up the pieces.  They are the people who love you when you need to be loved, but also push you when you need to be pushed.

Rebuilding a life, a relationship, a self...  it takes time. But you can start anew and build something beautiful once again.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


"Oh, that feels so good," I murmured aloud as I stretched out on the picnic blanket and let the sun seep into my body. It was almost sensual the way the warmth swept over and nearly overdosed my skin's ability to take it all in.

It had been such a long week, so as soon as the sun rose this morning, I'd packed myself and a picnic to take with to go find some wilderness, some secluded place to be by myself.  Finally, I was here on this little hill above the meadow, just me, some sandwiches, and the sun.  Blissful!

I laid my hand to the ground next to me and smiled as it seemed to thrum beneath my touch. This must be what it's like when they say you're "one with nature."  The thrumming continued.  Actually, the thrumming got louder.  Until it became more of a rumbling... and then a thundering, and it just kept getting louder and more insistent.  I scrambled to my feet and looked below me to the meadow.

This was not good.  A herd of cattle, spooked by who-knows-what, was hurtling itself up the hill right toward me!  Hurriedly, I tried to throw all of my lunch back into the picnic basket when a voice in my head yelled, "No, stupid!  They are going to run you down, who cares about your lunch?  RUN!"


Turning on my heel, I fled in the opposite direction of the herd. This was futile.  I don't even like to run to the mailbox, and I thought I was going to outrun a herd of raging cattle?  Stupid girl.  I could feel them getting closer and closer, and I started to scream.  This is what happens when you want to be alone and you pick outside to be alone in.  You get run over by cows.  My headstone is going to read "DIED FROM BOVINE ATTACK."  How embarrassing.

It was like I could almost feel them breathing down my neck now.  Just as I was about to give up and accept that Bessie the Cow would be my murderer, I felt two hands grab me by the waist and hoist me in front of the body they belonged to on a horse.  And we galloped off.  Saved by...?

I struggled a bit to turn around and get a look at who had rescued me from my almost-demise, but the arms that wrapped around me to hold onto the reins held me tightly in place.

"Would you sit still? You're going to knock us both off this horse," the voice said in my ear.  It was low and husky, and the mouth it belonged to was a breath away. I tried to sit still and behave myself, despite my curiosity  I just couldn't figure out where to put my hands.  He had the reins. I tried to put them at my sides, but his thighs were there, wrapped tightly in dark blue jeans.  Finally, I settled on the horn of the saddle until he stopped galloping and jumped off the horse.

"Come on, then," he instructed, helping me off in turn, and I finally got a good look at him. He stood about six feet tall, jeans that clung to his hips, a short sleeved plaid shirt buttoned halfway, muscular and tan.  Oy vey. His cowboy hat shaded everything else.

"Thank you," I offered weakly.  "I don't know what I would have done if you hadn't..."

The mystery cowboy smiled. "It's alright, Miss." He moved a step closer, pushed his hat back to reveal the most beautiful blue eyes I've ever seen, and nearly stopped my heart. "I do believe, though, that the savior is entitled to a Thank you kiss." Somehow his hand was at my back and his lips were....

I suddenly broke out laughing.

Mr Cowboy frowned. "Did I do something funny?"

"I'm sorry," I apologized. "It's not you.  It's just-- This feels like a bad romance novel, doesn't it?"

"I don't understand, Miss.  This is a bad romance novel."  He turned and gestured up at the sky.

There it was... written in big bold scripty letters in the clouds:

"The shrew??  I'm the SHREW??"

"Lady, I don't write it. I just do what I'm told.  Now, this kiss..." He leaned in toward me again.

I pushed him away and headed toward the man's horse. "Well, I am not going to just 'do what I'm told,'" I mimicked.  "Come on...  We're going to go find this author and give her a piece of our minds!"

Mr Cowboy groaned and shook his fist at the sky. "A million books and I get the only heroine who won't play along.  I bet James Bond doesn't run into this problem!!!"


The evening's fire crackled under his expert hands.

"So, how does this usually work, Adam?" We'd introduced ourselves on the afternoon's ride across the meadow.  "You swoop in on damsels in distressing cattle stampedes, swoop them off their feet, make them fall in love with you and live happily ever after?"

He looked at me with his blue eyes.  "Something like that. Except for the happily ever after part.  We usually part after the epilogue.  That's always a trial... all the crying and caterwauling."

"Well, what do you expect? You make them think you're in love with them and then -- BAM-- nothing. Do they even know that they're in a book?"

"Not usually.  Most of them think they're in a dream."

"Well, I think that's terrible," I lectured. "Getting a girl's hopes up about a handsome cowboy being in love with her and then breaking her heart. You should be ashamed of yourself."  The wind whipped across the plain and I moved closer to the fire, wrapping my arms around myself.

Adam shrugged. "It's just a job, Sara.  It was romance hero or pig farmer.  Here."  I looked up to see him holding his shirt out to me. "Put it on, you're cold."

I stared.  "And you're..." Beautiful. 

His eyes crinkled up at the corners. "Tall, handsome, broad shoulders, a torso that tapers down into slim hips, tan, six-packed, virile?"

"Well, I would have added 'enough chest hair to be salivatingly manly but not so much as to be gorilla-like,' but you're amazingly close.  How'd you do that?"

"It's in my character bio."  He laid himself on the ground and put his hands behind his head, gazing into the sky.  "Go to sleep, Sara. We have a long ride tomorrow if we're going to get you to Authors Village."

I did the same.  In the quiet of the meadow, underneath the millions of stars, it was easy to slowly slip into sleep. But before I did, I heard Adam murmur, "It isn't always stampedes.  Sometimes it's bandits."

I smiled and dreamed of bandits, pretty cowboys, and kisses.