Interview with Aaron Speca & Cover Reveal for “Dying Embers”

Hey y’all (I can say that since I live in Texas). I was interviewed by Aaron Speca, an amazing, amazing person. The interview went live today. I have to say, this is was the funnest interview I have done so far. He did a great job on it.

ALSO!!!!! On a more exciting note, there’s a cover reveal for DYING EMBERS in this interview. So go check it out and see what my new cover looks like. I’m totally in love with it.

Find the interview here!!

Here’s a preview of the interview…

If there is one character you would really like people to meet, who would it be?
This is such a hard question because I have a lot, though many die (NOT a spoiler, I swears it!). Only one? Yeesh. I’m going to have to say Peter from For by Grace. Mostly because he reminds me of me in one sense, and in another someone that I would be best friends with. It’s a tossup between him and Addison from the James Matthew’s series. Addison stole my heart and hasn’t given it back yet.
.
.
.
The tagline on your website says “A Torch in the Wind”.  I’m wondering if this phrase has some sort of special meaning to you?
The meaning is symbolic. There is always a light somewhere, and something is always threatening to put it out. However, if the light is strong enough, tenacious, willing, and brave enough, it will always prevail. Yet, it must also come to an end and die out. I don’t expect writing to always be this close to my heart. I do have a career that I’m working toward which is my number one passion.

Goals for June

Each month I have a writers group meeting in Arlington, TX where we discuss what our monthly goals are. I think I might be a little overambitious this month, but I need to get it done. This group hasn’t met since March, so it was great to finally get together again, with someone new AND with great food.

My goals:

1. Edit DYING EMBERS
2. Write ASHES FALL
3. Write ACROSS WORLDS: COLLISION
4. Finish FLASH OF DEATH

I mean wow! I’m insane right? DYING EMBERS is already edited by me and the editor. I just have to go through her comments and make one plot point. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right? ASHES FALL is another story. I started this in January and got three chapters and the prologue done before switching my attention to another novel. ASHES FALL is the third and final in the James Matthews Series and I really need to get it written. I want it to come out before I go to Rainbow Con next April. I want both of them out, actually.

ACROSS WORLDS: COLLISION is the novel that I’m co-writing with Sirena. Yes, we finally decided on a name for it! We’re about 15k-20k words away from it being finished and ready for editing–which is another chore that I’m not looking forward to. We’re so close, and we plan on writing on it today. Maybe we’ll finish. We have had 10k word days before.

FLASH OF DEATH is the ghost story that I have been working on and was featured in my last WIPpet Wednesday. I can’t tell you how much I love CL and her spunikness. It’s about halfway done; I just have to add in the twist, and the fight, and maybe the sex!

Feel free to keep me on task and ask about it all. I’m sure I’ll need help in the motivation department to keep going!

Dying Embers: Take Two

I can’t tell you how nervous I still get when emailing my publisher (or the fact that half the time I’m still in wonder about having a publisher!). I’m not kidding. My first book, FOREVER BURN, has been out since March 1, coming up on three months now, and it seems to be doing fairly well (at least, the publisher says so). Before that book was released, in January (really, really early January), I emailed my publisher DYING EMBERS, which is the prequel to FOREVER BURN and Addison’s story.

She loved it, but said she wanted to wait until I had FOREVER BURN in my hands. However, she sent it back with the edits.

So now…five months after I got it back from her and three months after FOREVER BURN’s release, it was high time that I emailed her about it. I really needed to figure out if she was still planning on going through with publishing it, or if I needed to find someplace else. STILL THERE ARE NERVES! I had to call my bff, Katherine (who makes a wonderful side one-off character in DYING EMBERS, it’s hilarious really), and tell her to yell at me to send the email. Talk about ridiculousness.

Here’s how my email went.

Hey,I just wanted to double-check and make sure that you were still interested in this book. I was going to start editing it soon (crazy semester). I wanted to add in one more plot line in the beginning of it, to give some more edge and action through the first part of the story. I can easily do that as it’s not a main plot point, but it will add to the world Addy is coming from and to the issue of her transition to no longer being part of her old life.

I was also going to start writing the third and final one in June (Ashes Fall).

Thanks,

So…I waited at my computer, impatiently wanting that little number to appear at the tab so I knew I had a new email. The thing about my publisher, is she gets back to me like none other. She’s always getting back to me within a couple hours (unless I send it in the vast wonders of the night, then of course I have to wait a few more than usual).

One hour.

I’m not kidding: just under ONE HOUR!

That’s all I had to wait for the reply. The reply that basically gave me exactly what I’m going to be doing for the next two months and most of the summer. The reply that I really needed to get to boost my energy level.

Yes!

I was just thinking about Dying Embers this morning, while putting some paperwork together. I’m ready for the new project. When you’re done editing. :) Sounds like you’re taking on a lot!

Best regards,

That’s it. “Yes!”

Best feeling in the world–at least until I went and participated and helped a good friend propose to his girlfriend with a whole song and dance. Elation surpassed by elation.

However, I am going to make a ploy. Check out FOREVER BURN and buy it if you want. If you do, and you read it, a review would be AWESOME. Right now, the launch date for DYING EMBERS is March 1, 2014. My guess is that will be bumped to September or October. So stay tuned for updates.

WIPpet Wednesday — May 22 “First Kiss”

Hmmm…hope I’m doing this correctly. WIPpet Wednesday, get a look at what I’m working on. 22 lines from the 5th chapter of the yet to be titled piece.

All you need to know: Jane, human-born from Alabama; Usnavi, alien-born, sex-shifting Xanthain. They are still getting to know each other and live on a space station, and they are there to procreate to save the Xanthian race. Yes…I do quite understand that this is some good randomness going on here!

***

The aromas filled her nostrils as she wandered closer and closer to the kitchen. Usnavi gave her a few glances but said nothing as she picked up a small vegetable and popped it into her mouth. She smiled at him, their eyes locking for seconds on end. Giving in, Jane reached out and grabbed zher arm, tugging zhim down. Usnavi moved down, zher neck bending. Jane raised up on her toes, sighing when their lips connected.

It was exactly the same and completely different all at once. Physically, zher lips were exactly the same as any others she had kissed. The tingling was even more intense. It blazed over her lips and scurried down her neck. She sucked in a gasp and wrapped her arms around zher, dragging zher down to her. Jane’s hands clenched at zher sides, and zhe staunchly refused to either touch her or return the kiss.

Jane ran her tongue over zher soft lips, gently asking for access. Usnavi sighed deeply and reached down to grab Jane’s wrists.

“If you wish to meld, you had only to ask.”

Jane screeched in frustration. “I don’t want to meld! I want to kiss! I want to touch, and explore, and figure out what we like and what we don’t. We’re stuck together for the foreseeable future, and I can’t go forever without human contact.” Her eyes darkened with desire. “We tried things your way. Maybe I’m not fertilized because I can’t get pregnant that way. Did you ever consider that?”

Zhe looked at her blankly. “How else would you create a fetus?”

Exasperated, she stalked across the kitchen, backing zher into a corner and pinning zher against the contraption she suspected was a stove. She batted Usnavi’s hands away when zhe tried to keep Jane from touching.

***

Hope that gives you some fun goodies to hold onto

Struggling Artist #indie

It’s hard to struggle. I think that, and then at the same time I think that struggling just adds that much more to the story. I have officially been unemployed since December of 2011. That’s sixteen months and heading right into the seventeenth. Yes, I currently work at a church twice a month doing children’s church but that doesn’t even pay me enough to feed my cats on a monthly basis, let alone me.

Struggling sucks. Flat out–it sucks. I have sent in dozens of applications to entry level, low level, crappy, good, educated jobs–just about anything one can think of, I’ve applied for it (except McDonald’s and Walmart, the two I will NEVER apply for).

I’m a writer. I’m even a published writer. It’s like people think that once published, everything takes off. Well, it doesn’t. To live off my royalties the amount of books I would have to sell is a number so large that my brain can’t compute it. My goal is to sell 60 ebooks a month. Which would be totally awesome if it did happen (and it did, for at least the first month). But the problem is that it still takes anywhere from four to six months for me to see that money. There is a gigantic lag.

This is the not so pretty side of publishing. The money isn’t instantaneous, there is a seriously long wait to get it. And getting it right now would be awesome! This is also why so many authors and writers have day jobs. People think it would be awesome to write all day and to only worry about the damned loud characters in my head that shout at me second after second to get their story written, but I’m not so sure about that. It gets pretty boring to sit by myself in my apartment all day, writing. I’ve done it–for the past sixteen months. It ain’t so pretty at all.

The day job gives me time to think, time to work through problems and people to talk to. Now, it doesn’t have to be the day job of my dreams or one that takes over my life. Something that is sufficient enough to give me something else to think about–that’s what I want. Something to ease the tedium of writing (never thought I would say that).

Now, go write and read peoples!! Support those indie authors!

Forever Burn Collage

Forever Burn Collage

I finally put the collage together that I’ve been meaning to do. These are a few photos from people who bought “Forever Burn” and were kind enough to send me the photos of them holding it. I love the community, love, and care that this shows, and seeing all these smiling faces just makes me grin in response.

If you buy it, post a picture with you and the book (either print or ebook) on my facebook page. I’ll make a new collage with all the additions.

Abundance of ideas…

I have an abundance of ideas. This is not abnormal for me. I’m currently in the middle of three novels, two being edited and one that I just started writing. I am also working on, in my head of course, the sequel to Forever Burn, called either Ashes Fall or Blaze, Fire, Blaze and the sequel to For by Grace, called Fallen from Grace.

But I’m here to talk about the newest novel, which I am writing with Sirena Robinson (she’ll yet at me later for starting that sentence with a conjunction). This novel is not like anything either one of us has written before. First off, it’s taken on a sci-fi element. It’s happening on a space ship and a space station. OH MY! (please say that in your head like George Takei). Secondly, this novel is a complete erotica. Although, the first chapter does not have sex in it yet.

This novel is my “on the side” novel, the one that I will only work on one day a week because I do not want it to detract from my other writing. That seems to be working rather well thus far. I think it helps to have someone else who is writing something else and keeping me on track with it. I would love to share more with you about this piece; however, I’ll leave it to you to guess. I don’t want to spoil it or have anyone steal my ideas. We will probably self-pub this novel under a combined pseud. I’ll keep you updated!

For by Grace TIDBITS!

“It is. I’m holed up in the security office if you ever want to stop by.”

“My section is on the other side of the mall. You know, that part by Santa. Why do parents have to go all insane? Why can’t everyone just stay calm and have a good time anymore? It’s all about being first in line and being the best—it’s ridiculous.”

“Hey, Grace?”

“Yeah?” Grace stuffed a few more morsels of fruit into her mouth, chewing.

“I’m in my uniform.”

The smile that broke out on her face was huge. Grace settled the phone on her shoulder. “Are you, now?”

“I am. So, stop complaining about society and park those cars.”

To continue on romance…

In my current novel, from the first few chapters, it should be pretty obvious that this is NOT a romance novel. I work with a website called Project Team Beta to find my beta readers and editors. This is the third novel that I have pushed through their site and it might possibly be the last. While I love working with them, and they do often catch many mistakes, often times, I feel as though the entire point of the story is missed.

For example: after explicitly stating that this was not a romance both when asked the genre and when describing what I wanted the beta’s to look at. I still get comments like this…

“I enjoyed the slice-of-life feel of this chapter, but I felt that too much time was spent on the run-in with the drunk man and the woman with the flat tire, especially in comparison with the scenes with [REDACTED].”

and

“I also would like to have seen more interaction between Grace and [REDACTED].  As the first run beta said, if this story is meant to be about them and their relationship, I’d spend more time focused on their evening.”

Their evening takes up the last thousand words of the chapter (which is about 7 thousand words long). It is not a large part, but it is necessary for the rest of the novel to move forward. This book is about Grace and her life, which includes romance, but is not solely focused on Grace’s romantic interests.

Romance is a part of life, not the entirety of it.

On romance in a not romance novel….

Okay peoples! Sirena wrote this in a blog post, and I feel the need to reiterate the fact that NOT EVERY NOVEL HAS TO BE ROMANCE! and that NOT EVERY NOVEL IS A ROMANCE NOVEL.

I have some wonderful beta’s right now. Before I got them, I had to send my chapters through “transit.” Basically, I don’t know who will be getting my piece to beta and who will not. In the novel, FOR BY GRACE, there is romance but it is NOT a romance novel, by any means. There was one chapter I got back where all my beta’s said was, “Oh, well the action is great, but we don’t care so much about that. We want to see the relationship and interactions between Grace and [REDACTED] because it’s what the story is about.”

I really wish they could have seen the look I gave the computer screen. This girl was not a happy camper. That is not the point of my novel.

While there is no sex, currently, in said novel–I don’t think their relationship has developed enough to get to that point yet–there is romance. They hold hands, they get flutters in their belly. But it is NOT the point of the novel. The novel is about a Sheriff’s Deputy who works hard to keep her cool in the face of the negative events she is sent to on a daily basis and who suffers through great loss.

Read Sirena’s post: she’ll say much the same.

Sirena N. Robinson: On romance in a not romance novel…..

Good things come in small packages…

I just got home from one of the longest days at school. I’m looking forward to tonight and relaxing with a good friend and a great meal (that she’s cooking for me!). So, I checked my mail and in it was a really small, inconspicuous letter. I open in up and WOW! I feel so blessed.

It amazes me what people say sometimes about something that I put so much work into. The letter was a response to Forever Burn. My mom (who is my secret book pimp) handed out one of my books and this is the response of that person to reading it.

My mom and I were discussing my writing. She’s has a theory that as I continue to write, my characters will become deeper and have far more complexities than they even do now. I don’t want it to sound like my characters are only surface level, because they’re not. But I’m inclined to think that she’s write. She has yet to read the super secret project that’s not so secret–so, maybe her “theory” will change.

Anyway, if you want to read what the letter said, here’s a link to my FB page where it’s typed out for you.

Letter from a reader

The Next Big Thing: Blog Hop March 20, 2013

Hey y’all (yes, I’ve been living in Texas far too long). This is a blog hop. Don’t know what that is? Good, I didn’t either for a bit. Basically, this is a way to learn about some awesome and cool indie authors. I answer a few questions and give them a shout-out! I want to thank Sarah Hart for taking the time to explain to me exactly what this Blog Hop entails.

I will answer some questions and then give some shout-outs. Shall we begin? (Yes, that is a blatant Sanctuary reference, and if you have NOT seen that show go watch it. It’s amazing!)

1. What’s the title of your book? Forever Burn

2. Where did the idea come from? I worked security for three plus years and I worked very closely with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and Central Pierce Fire and Rescue. Everyone thinks that firefighters go to fire calls…well, that’s really NOT the case anymore. After seeing how many calls that CPFR came out to where I worked, I started asking how many fire calls they went to. The answer was usually every 1 out of 10 or every 2 out of 10 calls were fire calls! I was a bit shocked. And, btw, those are fire alarm calls, not actual fire calls.

Needless to say, there was a house fire when I was working one night. Eight engines came out. EIGHT! and they were all so excited about it being an actual fire and what they had trained for. This book comes from that idea–that firefighters don’t really do what we think they do anymore.

3. What genre does your book fall under? This is an urban fantasy, lesbian novel, with a hint of crime and romance. As my friends father calls it…this thing is romancey! I do want to point out that it is NOT a romance novel, though; there is love, but that’s not the purpose of the story.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? My friend asked me this one time, and I actually sat down and did it all out. Now, if only I could remember it.
a. James–Jaime Murrey
b. Addison–Polly Walker
c. Max–Aleks Paunovic
d. Heath–Robert Lawrenson
e. Rob–Robin Dunne
f. Norma–Emilie Ullerup
g. Jean-Pierre–Eddie Redmayne
h. Cameron–Gabrielle Rose

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Nightmares, supernatural powers, firefighters and love–James has it all.

6. Is your book published by an independant publisher? It is! It is published by Supposed Crimes, LLC. My publisher is a fantastic and amazing woman, and we get along splendidly. Oh! And she’s always accepting submissions and is currently looking…so if you have an interest, check it out.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? So…um…it took my 19 days to write the first draft of this. I want to follow that up with the fact that it took me seven weeks to edit it (but I ended up on a deadline).

8. What is in a name? Is there a significance to the names of characters in the book? I am a strong supporter of deeper thinking and of causing questions to be asked. I want to not only tell a good story, but I want to make people think about something that they might not have thought about before. The name for James came quickly. I’ve always had an affinity for it. To give the name to my main female character was a bold decision that I have yet to regret. It causes a momentary confusion for the reader, an “is James really a woman, or is that typo?” After, I hope that either the name suits the character to where the gender of the name no longer comes into play, or the question is asked, “why not?” Why can’t we have characters with mis-gendered names in our stories?

Addison was far more difficult. I certainly wanted an androgynous name for her; I wanted a slight mystery behind who she was. I have a certain affection for all names that begin with the letter “A” and can never resist adding at least one character in a story with a name as such. Addison, and subsequently, Alyssa (Lily) were these two characters. Addison’s name is androgynous by nature, and I wanted an assumption to be made that she was a man. This was helped along with her title and position at the Fire Station.

9. What is your writing process? I write every day. Okay, well, I try to write every day. If I’m not writing; I’m editing. If I’m not editing; I’m writing. I might not be working on novels; I might be working on shorts, or papers if my instructors decide to have an assignment due. In the world of no classes and no school, I wake up in the morning and edit until noon or one. I always finish the piece or part I’m editing. Sometimes it is one piece, sometimes two. Sometimes my own work, and sometimes it’s for a friend. After editing, I write. I write for hours. When I want to get through a chapter or a certain part before bed, I’ll turn all electronics possible off. No twitter. No television. No facebook. I’ll turn my music up as loud as is appropriate (my playlist ranges from Ice-T to movie scores to gospel to country). I type as fast as possible. Editing can and will always happen later.

My motto is two-fold: I cannot edit what has not been written, and I cannot improve without continuing and practicing.

10. What are you working on now? Currently, I’m working on an entirely new series. This is not an Urban Fantasy novel and is slice-of-life crime, following around a patrol officer on her daily routine with a few snippets into her personal life. She meets up with the Law Enforcement Chaplain, and they become close very fast. I’m over halfway done with writing this at the moment, and by the time this blog hop is posted, I plan on being done with the writing and on to the editing.

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog hop and my answers to the questions! I answered far more questions than I had to (so, if I shouted out to you and you end up posting this, you do only have to answer five questions). Forever Burn was a blast to write and will always have a special place in my heart.

Forever Burn is out and available worldwide now. Feel free to check it out.
Amazon: Kindle and Paperback
Smashwords (for all the ebook goodies)
Barnes and Noble: Nook and Paperback

The following are my shout-outs! Some are aspiring and some are published. Please check them out and support all Indie Authors! (that’s because we’re the best)

1. Graham Powell
2. J.M. Cataffo
3. Sirena N. Robinson
4. Elizabeth Delana Rosa
5. Carolyn Gray
6. Victoria Rivers
7. Jenn Monty

The Downward Spiral

So…I finished writing my 85k word novel yesterday in a massive rush of typing away during spring break and now…now I’m not sure what to do. Spending so much time on one project, where my entire focus is only on that, is fantastic but when finished leaves a very odd feeling. It’s like a large part of my life has ended. Yes, yes, I know there is still editing and hopefully publishing, which means more editing down the road, but right now? Nothing.

Today, I went to church, taught my kids all about Palm Sunday (yes, I know it’s not Palm Sunday yet), went to the yarn store (aka Joann’s), crocheted half a Luna Lovegood scarf, cleaned my kitchen, dining room, and living room (rearranging part), watched about seven episodes of Eureka, went to McDonald’s (because really, who after spending three hours cleaning wants to cook), played with the kitties and sat here staring at my computer screen trying to figure out what to do. Needless to say, my life is never one of idleness. I’m still sitting here trying to figure out what I should be doing. Part of where this blog is coming from.

Maybe we should create some sort of writers support group for when everything is finally finished and complete and DONE. It seems so final, but it’s not. Nothing is ever final. It has been suggested by fellow writer and friend, Carolyn Gray, that I start the next book. My response? “Oh, hell no! No way!” It’s been suggested I write on some fanfic. My response? “Yeah….no.” Relax? “Obviously, I do not relax well.”

So, after all of that, I’m still left with the feeling wrapped in the center of my chest that I should be doing something, that my fingers should be typing, my head working through plot points and my heart pounding because of the scenes. But I shouldn’t. It is finished. At least for now (I feel like Jesus should have said that, he would have sounded in the groove). My deadline for editing this recently completed novel (the super secret project that’s not so secret) is May 1, so I will have to get on the editing band wagon asap. However, for the rest of today, I’m left with such an odd and strange feeling. Perhaps tomorrow with more work it will fade into the background.

Best wishes to all,

Adrian

oh! and go get my book Forever Burn…*stares you down until you get it*

Book Lauch Party rehashed

Welcome! I had to cancel the original party due to the flu-like cold and ridiculously high fever I had. This one will NOT be canceled. I’m bound and determined that if even sick, I will still go!

So, come and join me in celebrating the launch of Forever Burn. There will be cool swag that I’m giving out and I know some people want some things signed. Come one, come all!

When: March 26, 2013 at 6pm
Where: Gingerman Pub Fort Worth (right off Camp Bowie)
What: CELEBRATION!

Yes, I know it’s a bar. If you are under 21, you can still come. They stop allowing underage in after 9pm. We’ll probably be hanging out outside. Also, Tuesdays are Pint Nights at the Gingerman. Drink one and you get to take your glass home with you! Isn’t that awesome (no, I do not spend too much time at this bar).

Facebook Event Page

Writing and Book Launching!

This world has been crazy the past few weeks for me. I am writing, though not on fiction (unless you are atheist, then maybe it’s fiction to you). I am sermonizing. It’s actually quite like writing a short story. I’ll share it when I’m done. I’m also adding in music to it.

Secondly, if you happen to live in the Fort Worth area, come to Gingerman off Camp Bowie on Thurs night. 9 pm. I’m having a book launch party. There will be give aways, and if it is quiet enough, maybe a bit of a reading too. So come on out! I’ll be there!!

Writing is a crazy adventure. Like the best roller-coaster ride EVER!

Alien Arrival

This is what I’ve been working on most of the day. It’s got one of my favorite scenes! The scene is based in truth. I worked with law enforcement and heard a call similar to this one. Although, the way it’s written is from a very different POV and its greatly exaggerated.

20130215-183338.jpg

One up, One down

I finished writing chapter 4 of the super secret project that’s not so secret yesterday. It took longer than I expected and the chapter itself is a bit shorter than I thought it would be (my guess is that’ll change in edits), but it is finished for the first draft.

This chapter was incredibly intense to write. There was a point where my heart pounded so hard in my chest that I had to stop typing for a bit because it flat out hurt.

Anyway! Here’s your picture!

20130215-091711.jpg

20130215-091732.jpg

Oh, and Rusty the wonder kitten had surgery on Monday, so that’s part of why I haven’t been around. =P

Fucking Fucks! (Cursing in exposition)

I need to preface this post with the fact that I am NOT against cursing in books. So, I am NOT against cursing in books.

Have you every seen the movie “Good Will Hunting”? I read something recently where it started to turn into that movie. For the first ten pages there were no curse words, not harsh or crass language. Then suddenly, it was like WHAT THE FUCK? <== see what I did there?

Anyways, suddenly the word “fuck” was used in every other sentence. The word lost its meaning.  I am not opposed to using curse words in exposition or in dialogue, but you have to make them worth while.

For example: I have a scene in “Forever Burn” were Max is freaking out because he feels completely helpless and pulled in ways he never thought possible. He didn’t know what to do and the frustration just continued to build. EXCERPT TIME!

In frustration, he tossed the piece of paper with Rob’s name and number into the trash bin and stood up glaring at the telephone.

“Fucker.”

The word slipped through his lips.  It was rare that he cursed, but the harsh word sounded throughout the deadly silent room and filled him with a sense of pleasure.

“Mother fucker!”  He shouted it louder this time.

The knot that had been held tightly in his chest and stomach released and everything tumbled down.  He sat back in the chair, his hands covered his face, and his mind reeled with the reality.

The tears fell unbridled.

See, the cursing plays to the mood of the character and exactly to what is going on in that moment. But if the word overused, if the meaning behind it is overdone, then it loses all its impact.

Just food for thought.

James meets Heath

This is one of my favorite scenes. Mostly because James is extremely annoyed.

‘Mr. Sheriff’s Deputy with the extra smelly cologne’ had his hand on her leg and a soft look on his face. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Her brow narrowed and wrinkled between her eyes. It was a look she often gave when trying to figure something out. There was something off about him, yet something overwhelmingly pleasant as well. “You good?” She didn’t know why she asked it back, but she couldn’t help herself.

He nodded and smiled, his white teeth showing and his eyes crinkling in the corners. “Yeah, for now. Don’t ask me tonight though.”

James cocked her head to the side reading his name badge. She hadn’t seen him around and in a town this size she knew all the officers of law. “Deputy Taylor.”

“Heath Taylor, at your service ma’am.” He bowed his head slightly.

“First off, don’t call me ma’am.” James jumped down from the truck and started for the back to check on her supplies. “Second, I’m James.”

“James? What’s your first name?” He followed her and stood closely as she opened a storage hold, the hinges swinging up until she set the metal leg in its locked position so she could dig around inside.

She was having a slight issue with how close he was to her, but let it slide without comment. “James Matthews. My mother liked jokes.” The last statement was bland and obviously not the truth. She shut the door and looked to her left noting that the people from her station were starting to come back; she could feel their adrenaline running around and their minds whirling. She knew what each was thinking and feeling without looking at their faces. Adrenaline was always a good sign and one that she took to steady herself. The boys started to round up all the supplies, used and un-used while cleaning up the area as best they could.

“What you did today was really brave,” his voice was hushed and his eyes cascaded across her face, tracing the lines of her cheeks and jaw.

Taking a moment to pause, James realized that she had no idea what she should say. She was never good with compliments, but this one was extremely odd coming from him—he didn’t seem like the type to give out compliments. “Ummm… thanks. Just doing my job, you know.” And really, she was. This time she had done little outside of her job description. “You know we’re not just fire anymore, we’re fire and rescue.” Giving a quirk of her lips and showing some teeth in the smile, she hoped it was enough for a quiet hint.

“I love your eyes.”

James stepped back and blinked: obviously not enough for a dismissal or a hint. She really had no idea how to reply to his comment, and she was beginning to feel rather uneasy.

“I mean, they’re so unique and expressive.” He amended, trying to explain away his sudden outburst that had clearly made James uncomfortable.

Air was slowly pulled into her lungs and she let it out in a rush deciding on what to say. “Yeah, everyone says that, try to be a bit more original.” Turning on her heel, she made for where her Battalion Chief was standing and away from the nosy and creepy deputy.

All Rights Reserved Copyright 2013 Adrian J. Smith