A Sad Day For a Sun Worshiper

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Sad dog rain  2016The weather rolled in.  For a dog that is part yellow lab, loves to run and leap. Play in lake and pool.  When it falls from the sky, it’s just wrong.  Not even her favorite toy of a (No longer) stuffed penguin will perk her up to the happy dog that she normally is.

Honey, the honey colored dog sulks like no other puppy we have ever had.  Even the cats don’t hold a candle to the sad look of a dog that misses the sun like a flower in winter.

She can (and does) lay in the sun when it is set on “Roast”.  The only solar-powered dog I have ever owned. I have had some that would lay in the sun, but when it got too hot, the pooch would move to the shade.  Not so the chilly girl.  Heat and sun, that’s her thing.

Sadness falls with rain, as you can see.

 

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Failure of the Heart

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If Only… The failure of the heart

 It seemed like a lifetime ago, he knew her as a young man and broke her heart. Three words he never said, the phrase withheld with a hesitant heart. 

She once looked him in the eye and used her willpower to get him to speak his heart, and then he changed the subject. In the months that passed, they began to see less of each other. Then school, career and the end of innocence came after that

Then came separate lives.

Years later, after a friend (now no longer such) played mind games with the knowledge that friends share in matters of the heart and served only to increase his guilt while he kept her in the front of his memories.

Thoughts of a life that could have been, a smile never forgotten, a sad look that never rose above the pain of his immaturity.

Often he could look back and recall her expectant smile. The words she never heard in life he now whispered as he knelt at her headstone.  Another victim of domestic abuse that could have had her path changed for the better with but a single expression of emotion from a college-bound ex-boyfriend. A phrase that could have changed their lives.

Could he have changed the world with three words?

“I love you.”

Silence. Granite and bronze are as unresponsive as the teenage heart that has plans of school and career. Could this young man have saved her from the pain and years of domestic abuse?

Perhaps.

Then again, perhaps not.

With a heavy sigh, the ex-boyfriend stood and walked away from his agony of failure. The weight of ten-thousand nights that he relived his choice that condemned them to separate lives.

Could their lives have been different? The world will never know.

But the answer was known, deep in his heart.

The deepest wish of a simpler time, the teenager, now aged with laced with white hair and a slight limp from a long-ago accident that also left him widowed had come to visit, just fifteen months too late.

News in the way of gossip around a school reunion came to him of her current address on this quiet lane, lined with headstones. Only an apology on his lips and the sob that escaped his soul.

As the salt and pepper haired man held hands with princesses and left the lane, the curious voices of the grandchildren echoed among headstones. Soft sounds of life were all that they left for those that slept the forever slumber.

Married by Mistake Chapter 53. Singapore

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Chapter 53. Singapore

After he left Hiroshima, Japan, Tom’s plane traveled over the expansive eastern Pacific Ocean, the early day was clear and broken clouds. The Pacific Wizard’s upgraded twin engines operated so smooth and so well-balanced, one would hardly know they pushed the big plan at hundreds of miles-per-hour as he wandered around the open expanse of the big jet alone.

Tom walked the length of the plane, using the restroom. At his designated altitude, he still flew slow compared to the commercial airliners.

Not meant for blistering speed, his craft and home was a yacht, after all, a flying boat. And even with the upgrades in the engines, it still traveled at a sedate speed of a little less than six-hundred kilometers-per-hour, about thirty-percent slower compared to commercial passenger jet.

But, it was his home.

He passed over the water, the autopilot followed the path programmed in the flight computer. The Japanese were sticklers about accuracy and with the unusual private jet, made good and sure that he had the proper data set logged into the computer.

He stood behind the pilot’s seat, he did not sit back down, just stood there and watched the machine fly on itself with the automatic guidance system engaged. He had spent a lot of time in the plane in recent weeks. Although his arm was no longer oozing blood, he kept applying new, clean dressings, if the air-pressure changes caused some unexpected problems. The last thing he wanted, to lose the use of his injured arm.

It would have a scar for some time that would be impressive to show off. But for now it was an angry line that crossed his forearm, as if someone hit him with an ax.

It was quite impressive to the unprepared, if he could show it off. But there was no one to show it to while being on the Pacific Wizard in mid-flight.

Tom took a deep breath and let it out in a controlled slow exhale, it felt so good, he stretched a second time before he went to his desk and picked up the tablet computer. It was the one he used so often to write on and sat back in the pilot seat, where he could keep an eye on the displays.

Radar indicated several aircraft above and below, a heavy jet was passing over him going the same direction. He read the display and looked the specs up on his computer and shook his head at the numbers it displayed on the size and speed of the larger plane.

Laughing, the engines on the passenger jet was larger by far than the two that powered the Wizard. Even with the engine upgrades when he purchased the big jet through his company, the specs made him a tiny bit envious.

If he could get another upgrade and put those on his yacht.

Laughing out loud again, he realized he would have to have the engines out on longer stalks or have divots pounded into the fuselage of the plane to fit the big fan-powered blowtorches.

A man could stand up inside the big airliner’s engines if he had a mind to.

He could spend all day in the air with Kaylee if he had the plane like those. Except for the cost, some twenty-five thousand US dollars per hour!

She would have to paint a lot to sell her creations to help offset the cost of flying a privately owned seven-eight-seven.

*Even if it is just a fantasy.* Tom shook his head. *There was no way to buy one of those wide-bodied birds.*

The memory of the woman echoed in his head.

His shoulders sagged. He had spent almost the last two hours not thinking of that raven-haired artist.

She had made him laugh, and even if she had not intended to do so, she had hurt him to the core of his heart.

More than he would ever admit to anyone except himself. It was important to him that she kept her promise to… He forgot the other man’s name except he was a congressional aide of some kind.

Shaking his head, he returned to his writing, trying to keep Leonard the Leafy Sea Dragon and his friend Weeds, on a child’s level of understanding. This story had become one about keeping promises.

“A promise kept, makes a person’s word valued.” He typed on the screen in the word bubble of Wendel, the Weedy Sea Dragon.

Still, as he wrote the adventures of Leonard and Weeds his mind drifted to the mote of loneliness in his mind.

The autopilot computer chimed, it was time to make radio contact with Singapore and begin his descent.

Checking his fuel, he was still had a third of his operational fuel left. Traveling the way he had of late, the service techs in San Francisco had fitted his yacht with fuel cells and turned the luxury jet into a virtual gas-can with wings.

Tom, hopped from one city to the next from book-con to comic-con for signing of books and traveled alone, he had flown the great circle route with no one to talk to in the big plane.

Still, he had the computers and could video chat with anyone he chose. But he had no one to call. So he followed his schedule, his eyes settling on a the event that he had attended after Dr. Manga’s installation, the event where the sponsor set him up with a date-for-hire.

He laughed sadly at his perception of the date, that woman came from a company the organizer hired at the Frankfurt comic-con to escort him so that he would look even better with the beautiful woman on his arm.

Tom laughed as the night had progressed and the escort was in fact, more than an escort. With a Master’s Degree in biology and organic chemistry. She was wonderful to talk with an ability to see both sides of an argument, a quick wit and the ability to shut down the probing questions on her relationship with Tom.

Even when one person tried to prove that she was some gold-digger with no brains.

‟I hoped you would slap down that SOB from the vomit-rag tabloid, but jeeze!” Tom commented when they were alone and he laughed. The sight of the tabloid reporter made to look like an imbecile tickled him. “That was beyond good!”

She called herself Krystal with a slight Saxony-German accent, and Tom immediately doubted that was her real name. As far as her education, he could not prove she lied about a Master’s Degree, and she could talk with anyone about nearly any subject. Even the most recent journals of learned circles of chemistry.

When Tom started to talk to her the next morning, she picked up the phone called someone, then told him to get dressed.

‟We are going to breakfast.” She smiled. Taking him by the hand and led him out the door of the hotel.

‟Sorry about last night, I have a lot of things…”

‟Shhh… Mister Harte. Things happen, sometimes they don’t. You are awesome and you did a lot of public interaction at that event. In total, I am very impressed with your work.”

‟You have read my books?”

‟I’ll read the rest tonight, but I read all the children’s books while you slept.” She tapped her phone.

‟Wow. That’s a lot of books, I’ve written for a quite a few years now.”

‟I can read two-thousand words per minute. That’s measured, sir.” She smiled. ‟I can type one-hundred words-a-minute, and I speak five languages, there is little that gets by me.”

‟Anything else? Why are you with me, why not at your own convention?”

‟I’m still in debt for school and a chance compete for a place on the Olympic Archery team.” She said as they stepped into the elevator, alone. “I need to purchase some equipment to keep up with the other competitors.”

Tom laughed, then she kissed him deeply.

‟That’s for being wonderful.” She said softly, coughing with a guilty sound.

‟You said you couldn’t kiss me last night.”

‟Yes, I broke the rule. Sue me.” She chuckled as the doors opened. No one was there to snap pictures or talk to them. She knew the way around the crowded hotel.

‟You are good.” Tom said, looking around. They had come out of an elevator facing away from the foyer and walked out a side door.

‟Logistics and protection. Part of the job.” Only then did Tom notice that Krystal’s eyes were quick to take in everything.

‟We can walk out now. We have reservations at the Meadow. It is where we will meet some of your cohorts in crime.”

‟My cohort… What?” Tom looked sideways at her.

‟The other authors. Each one has an escort to get them there and on time.”

‟So you are a babysitter?”

Krystal laughed. It was a musical sound.

‟I am an escort, but our company requires special skills that is beyond the typecast Hollywood version.” She said softly. As they got into a dark-windowed limousine. ‟I am here to make you look good and to keep you safe.”

Tom boggled.

‟And I thought you were just smart.”

‟Not bad for a call girl?” Crystal said. ‟Don’t worry about my emotional state. I am well compensated to keep you safe.”

‟Who would want to hurt me? I’m just a storyteller.”

‟You don’t know?” Her face became serious, no longer a tall, Nordic beauty that graced the floor, but a military-esque hard look of a bodyguard. ‟There was a threat to the convention. Because of your novel and movie, it is felt that you are a high-value target.”

‟Oh crap…” Tom boggled. “So you are a bodyguard? But just not armed.”

“Oh yes, sir I am.”

“Please for the thousandth time? Call me Tom.” He said.

“Yes, Tom, I’m armed. I carry devices always within reach.” She slid up her skirt, where he could see she carried four knives and two small pistols with silencers in thigh holsters. “Point two-two caliber with sound suppressors. Power is not as important as placement.”

Tom could not get his mind off what was under her skirt for the rest of the trip in .

That was over a week ago. Today he stood inside the Wizard far above the eastern edge of the Pacific Ocean descending into Singapore. Here, he was to meet with a local publisher and distributor for children’s books and he received an invitation to stay at a high-mountain villa. He would to try to get his stories published in the island country. A fresh market for him.

The autopilot chimed and returned control to the human pilot and Tom guided the big jet down into the approach lane.

Slow descent and a perfect touch down with mild weather, the Wizard rumbled down the taxiway to where the crews indicated with their long, bright-colored batons.

The engines powered down with the typical sound of jets and Tom stood out of his seat. Opening the door, and stepped out into the sunshine of the beautiful southeast Asia day.

A few hours later, Tom would wish to never see such a day again.

Married by Mistake Chapter 32. Jaw Drop

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Chapter 32. Jaw Drop

‟What do you mean it won’t be accepted?” Kaylee’s eyes widened..

‟Clerk of the court is exacting and by law can not help or give advice. It is outside their scope.” Tom smiled while he pulled at his ear while looking where she had initialed and signed. “I have had experience with court papers in the past.”

‟So… We have to fill another set of papers out.”

‟Well, yes.” Tom stopped smiling. ‟If you are still wanting the annulment, we can go there tonight and be there when the court opens in the morning.”

‟Can you fly?” Panic grew in her soul like a fire. “It’s not so much wanting it. I don’t want to divorce you.”

‟I can be flown. I have healed pretty well, we are changing the dressings regularly and I have no infection showing. So. Yes. I can go.”

A wink meant to put her at ease just made Kaylee think he was hiding something.

Kaylee turned to the steaming pot of her own recipe of dark chocolate and fresh pomegranate juice she had crushed with a spoon, dribbling the liquid into her creation.

“I think you might have done this on purpose.” Tom pondered as he looked over the papers that his wife signed. “You are sure you signed these carefully?”

Shaking her head, her hair swayed in the soft light of the galley while she moved around the steaming pot.

A makeshift double boiler, chocolate, essence of pomegranate infused into the molten mass, a pinch of powdered chili pepper that she found in his pantry of the large jet.

*Flying boat.* She reminded herself for the umpteenth time, while she moved about the galley wearing his pajamas and t-shirt, yipping slightly when she stirred the wine into the sauce to energetically and splashed a drop on to her bare skin to Tom’s amusement while he sat in the dining area. .

*The reason people do not cook while half asleep.* She thought to herself.

“And I did not make an error on purpose.” She said, taking a dab of melted chocolate out of the pot and rubbing it on his nose, licking it off. “Mm, good.” And turned back to her “Operation-Starved-Lover” at hand.

Tom moved so he could watch her from his perch on the edge of the table. He didn’t want to sit down again, he missed some moves and bends she made.

For Kaylee , the shock of the news that she signed and initialed the wrong places had thrown her off her mood. She wanted to do something constructive that she had skills in, cooking up sweet and savory things was a knack for her. Sometimes she used a little weed in her mixes to enhance things.

A slightly spiced dark chocolate-pomegranate sauce with a pinch of Australian pink river salt.

“No, I need to go home, anyway. My pops would not take kindly to us getting married the way we did.” She spoke softly as she leaned over and kissed him again with chocolate on her lips. After she pondered for several minutes, looking in his eyes and seeing a sadness creep in to his eyes, she went back to work on her creation.

He struggled to keep her from seeing the hurt, but Kaylee was a student of observation and art. It did not get past her.

Slicing up bananas into a bowl, she dribbled her dark-chocolate wine sauce over the coin-sized medallions of the fruit.

‟There.” She smiled. ‟Only 15 minutes and I am just now getting some feeling in my legs.”

‟You have moved okay from my point of view.” He said, smiling at the way she moved around the chair to him. “You are enjoying yourself making that so much, I bet that must be a practiced snack.”

Sitting on his lap, Kaylee scooped up a banana slice with a spoon and gave him first bite of her impromptu morning meal.

‟That is good.” He smiled. ‟Salty, sweet, peppery.”

‟Like me?”

‟You. You are just a pepper.” He kissed her chocolate flavored lips. “A beautiful one.”

‟What do you mean?” She sat back, giving him a quizzical look.

Tom kissed her, causing Kaylee gasp playfully.

‟You are hot.” Tom smiled. Tracing the tip of his tongue over her sensitive vermillion zone of her labial oris.

‟You are going to make me spill this.” She whispered with her eyes closed.

‟Just wait. You might want to put the bowl down for this.” He winked with a glint of humor in his eye.

Stealing a slice of a banana dipped in the chocolate Tom then put both in his mouth and kissed her deeply, enjoying the blend of flavors.

Kaylee returned the kiss with eyes closed, dreams tickled her soul. Passion filled her heart. Images of brilliant color danced with the muse of her mind.

‟Ouch…” She rubbed her lip.

‟Sorry.”

‟No, please. It hurt, but in a good way.” She whispered in his ear. “Don’t you dare stop.”

She shifted her position so she was astride him, Kaylee fed him more of her chocolate-flavored creation from the shared spoon.

Taking a smear of breakfast on her finger, she traced the chocolate covered digit over Tom’s lips, kissing him as his good hand caressed her body as if for the first time. Her body was a playground for his muse.

When the kiss broke, Kaylee leaned back slightly, putting a spoonful of the fruit and chocolate into her mouth with a smile while Tom kissed the void just above her collarbone, his hand supported the small of her back.

‟Mm… I like that.” She whispered as he small dribbles of chocolate that flavored her skin, then blew gently to give her a thrilling chill.

“Oh… I like that. A. Lot.” She bit her bottom lip, she held the bowl in one hand and ran her fingers through his hair with the other.

Balancing the bowl in her hands, she leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him holding him, his breath, tears from his eyes both alarmed her and made her smile at the same time.

A moment passed as she kissed his neck and earlobe.

‟You should have stopped when I told you to.” Tom said when he could talk again.

‟Take a bite.” She said offering him another spoonful. ‟Why should I deny myself the fun of making you squirm? I like watching you struggle for control.”

‟Because I was admitting to something.” When he could talk after swallowing the offered morsel.

‟Mm…what?” She still had not realized what he was saying.

‟You.” He whispered. “You… are the sole reason I smile.”

His words finally making sense, her eyes got big for a moment and put the bowl down on the table.

‟Oh, uh oh! Don’t you dare say that.” Kaylee tried to stand but her legs were refusing to flex properly and she had to help herself with her arms from the chair. ‟Tom, I didn’t want to have this.” 

Tom thought about that for a moment, then he nodded. 

“Nothing like complicating matters.” Tom chuckled. 

“Don’t make me love you back.” She said, a tear filled her eye with a sad laugh.

Married by Mistake Chapter 21. Night In the ICU

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Chapter 21. Night in the ICU

The constant, subtle sounds made an undertone that kept Kaylee from a sound sleep. Tom constantly moaned in his drugged-sleep state which further kept her popping her eyes open to check on the wounded man she was growing fond of.

Even with the heavy-duty narcotics in his system, Tom’s sleep was without rest, the arm was kept elevated with external hardware that looked like scaffolding on a building. To help the wounds to heal, wrapped in multiple layers of surgical gauze, the room was too warm for his comfort which kept him from resting and the IV fluids went into his good arm kept him from turning over.

Kaylee was over-warm, too. She could have slept naked in the room and not wish for so much as a sheet. But the compassionate nurses brought a fan in that blew across her to keep her from overheating. She still felt sorry for her husband.

Tom, stuck in one place and, for an active sleeper this was a fresh hell to live through. Plus he slept on his stomach almost always.

She asked the night-shift nurse, a skin-and-bones woman who wore a sweater that had more acronyms and abbreviations on her name-badge than anyone she had met in the ICU, if they could turn the heat down a bit.

“I’m sorry, doctor’s orders, we don’t want patients to have cold-related problems with the injuries, so we keep it close to their body temp in here.” She smiled, the wrinkled face that had seen many shifts and had answered the same question a hundred times, lit up in a comic smile and her eyes sparkled as if she was about to reveal a secret. “I am still cold, even with it as warm as it is.”

The two women hit it off, Elda, was the nurses name, offered to get Kaylee anything she needed during the night, supplying pillows hand over fist and showed her how to inflate the vacuüm packed, plastic covered items without anyone watching.

Kaylee moved the reclining seat and make-shift bed that family members used for sleeping in the same room while loved ones recovered from what life-challenges they recovered from.

Now with the makeshift pile of blankets and pillows closer to Tom, she reached out and held his good hand while she dozed in the chair next to his bed. It was an awkward arrangement, but it seemed to settle the wounded husband and author of children’s books so that he had a quiet sleep.

As his sleep became restful, she would decide that was the best thing she could do, this was the connection he needed to heal.

Starting awake when a nurse came in to check on a misbehaving IV pump, although he slept, Kaylee did not get much rest that night.

*In and out of the room all night,* She shifted in her sleep-spot. *The nurses do their checks on Tom with their rounds and wake me up.*

Like practiced witches and wizards with their practiced motions over complex and arcane machines, the magic fluid that kept her Tom…

There it was again, ‟Her” Tom. What was this that he was to her? What was she to him?

It was almost funny, in a sad sort of way, she thought as she faded to sleep again for the countless time, so tired she missed the next round of checks by the silent ninja nurse.

Kaylee woke up next and the night outside the window had gone from black to a midnight-navy-blue, becoming lighter as she stared at a flock of pelicans, illuminated by the city lights, flew in a “V” formation towards some unknown destination.

Sunrise would be soon and Tom was still asleep, but his thumb was caressing her hand as he mumbled something in a dream.

Not about her, he mumbled a man’s name, and a tear leaked out of his eye. That was odd, why would he dream about a man so much as to mention his name and weep? Then it hit her— it was not a man’s name.

It was his dead son.

Tom was having a nightmare about the night his family died, she choked and thought she might cry for his agony.

She stood and leaned over, a gentle kiss him on the forehead and he took a deep breath and opened his bright eyes.

‟What are you doing awake?”

‟That’s funny you should say that, I think you were having a nightmare.”

‟I was? Yes, I guess so, but I can’t remember what it was about, but I think I’ve been crying, is all I remember.”

‟You were trying to speak, you were saying a name I could not make it out. It sounded like…”

‟No, please. If it was a nightmare and I can’t remember, let’s leave it there.” His hoarse whisper did not sound as ragged as a dozen hours before.

Kaylee gave a soft smile and nodded, he was right. Why make a nightmare more real in the midst of the current waking nightmare of tubes, wires and synthetic fluids that dripped into his arm?

As the sky outside slowly changed from venetian-blue to more azure-grey, the fog seemed to roll in more, fighting the light of the sunrise in a futile effort of resistance against the summer sun. Patches of the dark blues giving way to indigo that surrendered to the cool blues of the new day.

Kaylee would have thought it would be romantic if not for the soft hiss of the oxygen, beeps of the monitors and distant alarms of some demanding pump that had run its course or had an error.

And Tom’s snoring. He had dropped off again.

*Men! They don’t know when to watch something of beauty.*

Another graveyard nurse, Suzanne, a nurse from South Carolina came in and did a last check and smiled at her.

‟We will be going off duty now, we are giving report in fifteen minutes, your next nurse team is led by Randy, he took care of your husband yesterday.” She smiled. “Would you like some coffee? We have fresh made.”

‟Yes, thank you.” Kaylee smiled when the small, round smiling woman walked quickly and quietly out the door. Kaylee never knew anyone who could walk with such silent speed.

She had to get up and out of the way while the men and women in white coats poked, prodded, inflicted pain making Tom yelp and made him wiggle fingers that had swollen during the night. The swelling seemed to make the team of medical magicians worried.

Arcane questions and language were tossed around. Someone poked at Tom’s hand who yelped again and uttered a profanity.

Randy came in after reports had been given and doctors filed in and out.

‟We need to get you breakfast, how did the night go?”

‟Tom had a bad night. Some nightmares just before dawn.” Kaylee reported. “Then the doctors came in and hurt him.”

‟Yes, that happens, they keep to the first rule of medicine, to do no harm. But they can inflict as much pain as they deem necessary.” The nurse chuckled. “Sometimes they get carried away. I think they like test the limits of tolerance.”

“The drugs he gets are known to cause some sleep disturbances.” Randy said with a teacher’s wisdom. ‟Sleeping here, does not help, either. Strange bed, strange sounds, odd smells and pain. Not a good combination, like the old saying, there is no place like home.”

‟That reminds me, how long will he be here? What things do we need to buy to help him heal?”

‟That.” Randy smiled like a hospital’s own Santa, ‟Is the purview of the Doctor, I cannot say. Every time I do, they make a liar out of me and I get in trouble.”

‟When will we see him, again?”

‟Doctor Tribbing? He is making rounds now. You should see him again, maybe with his team in a few hours or so. Right now, we have to take another reading of Tom’s fingers to make sure of the circulation is still there, I can look and see that it is normal color, they left notations that the hand is swollen, and they want to document numbers. So I will be back in with another tool, it’s busy elsewhere at the moment. I read he did well during the night. They took a measurement and the numbers looked good, but his fingers were swollen slightly.”

‟I saw her do that, but I was half-asleep and didn’t ask.”

‟She would have loved to talk to you, she is a wonderful lady.”

‟You two are keeping me awake.” The voice from the bed was barely above a whisper. ‟You know what time it is?”

‟Good morning to you too.” Randy laughed. ‟And yes, I know, I just got here. Your wife is giving me a report on your night, she said it was kind of rough.”

‟Yeah, I couldn’t sleep, I’m a stomach sleeper and y’all don’t have me any kind of close to that.” Tom voice was stronger.

‟Well, talk to the doc. He is the master of this domain.”

‟Okay. And the pin-happy doctor who poked at me was not helping.” Tom took a deep breath. “I’m kind of hungry, too. Is there breakfast?”

‟Sure thing. The menu is on the TV control attached to your bed. Follow the prompts on the screen and the food will make it here as long as you order in the next twenty-minutes.”

‟Okay, I want a pizza from Alioto’s on the Wharf.”

‟Hah. Good luck with that, but our kitchen makes great food.”

‟I’ll buy pizza delivery for the entire floor today.” Tom croaked out.

‟That’s nice of you Mister Harte, but the Department, I think you mean.”

‟No, I mean the floor. And remember, my name is Tom.”

‟The floor has a dozen stations, you are talking a lot of pizza.”

‟Party hardy Marty. Pizza is coming, I need my phone.”

Laughing Randy left the room.

“I don’t think Randy did not believe I can do that.” He laughed. “He does not know Thomas Harte has both the resources and, even drugged as I am, the will to do it.”

“Kay, dial this number for me please?” His voice was stronger, the power of his soul danced in his eyes. She enjoyed looking into those emerald-green eyes of the writer.

She could see what he had in mind and it made her laugh.

*He has a surprise for everyone on this floor.*

The Healing Heart

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He wore a hat these days, his hair had thinned, turned white in most of the remaining hair.

Often he would laugh when his friends complained about going grey, redheads do not go grey.  They just fade to white. But he wore his cowboy hat, the one that his daughter brought back from her travels as a good-will Ambassador several years before.

Today, he walked with his grandson, holding hands with the blond-curly vessel of non-stop questions.

“What kind of bird is that?”

“Why do cats live here and not at home?”

Nicholas the Second (Named after his grandfather) answered Nicholas the Third (Named after him) did his best to answer each question before the next one erupted from the single-digit aged young man.

For a couple years Big Nick walked this path alone, weeping at the loss of his daughter. His wife long divorced him, married another man with a position in a large company and moved out of the country.  She had abandoned them in favor of a new life, as far away from the husband, a daughter, a disabled son and a grandson as she could get.

The son, disabled with profound Down’s syndrome, played with Little Nicky and loved his nephew like no one could love another.

On days that Robert went to school, Big Nick went for a walk along the wooded lane. No other family for a thousand miles, Child Services checked in on them once a week and spent an hour inspecting cabinets, laundry and playing “endless questions”.

His finances, also under scrutiny on a regular basis, stretched to  the breaking point every month, he often held his breath. His retirement depleted early on with private care for Robert before he found a program to accept him that worked best. The stress over the years since Maggie left built to profound levels.

Then AnnaMarie’s plane went down in the ocean, there was nothing to bury, no survivors, no body. Just her and his son-in-law were gone. Nicky, too young to make the business trip for just an afternoon meeting with some politician who promised her a possible posting in a desirable location.

They talked of Japan, or Ireland, Sweden and the Nordic country names they bandied about with excitement.

But they never got to the meeting, a volcanic eruption a hundred miles away spread ash, harder than metal, in the sky.  What looked like light haze, was in point of fact, volcanic dust.

Jet engines, a spinning, flying blowtorch, ingested the abrasive salad of silica, crystalized carbon and thousand other ingredients that rapidly destroyed the internal parts of the jet engines.  The investigators discovered one engine detonated, shrapnel separated from the central hub, destroying the wing controls, then at just under five-thousand feet, the wing separated from the fuselage, sending it into a one-way trip into non-compressible water at two-hundred miles-per-hour. The ocean, there almost three miles deep, prevented proper recovery.

Hellish as it was, Big Nick had performed harder jobs at some time in his life.

Pretty sure, anyway.  He just could never remember when it was so miserable.

Explaining to Little Nicky what happened was, perhaps, the most difficult.  They both cried, Big Nick for his losses, Little Nick because he never saw the elder cry before.

Today, they walked together Little Nick and he. The young man had a spirit that pulled on his soul, so much like his mom.

He pulled his grandfather’s soul into the wind like a kite. With steely-blue eyes and a curiosity that knew no limits, the once red-headed giant of the boy’s life drew his breath again and answered the next questions while they walked, holding hands.

“How much to clouds weigh?”

“What are clouds made of?

“Why do they float….”

He loved his grandson.

Chapter 35. Familiar Face

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Chapter 35. Familiar Face

They left the office and as soon as the door closed behind them, Barbara spoke first.

‟I don’t think that person was happy with you. She was quite upset about just filing the plan.”

‟She’ll recover.” Tom nodded. ‟Right now I have to call the exchange. Did you like the crew on the last flight?”

‟Yes, what was her name.” Barbara grumbled at her senior moment.”

‟Watson?

‟YEAH! That’s her. Captain R. M. Watson.”

‟Good woman. She flew in Iraq and other places. Multiple ratings. I request her a lot, the company knows my account number and gives me a list on who is available. She is the only woman on their staff who is jet rated.”

‟They only have one woman on staff.

‟No, they have others, she is the only one rated for multi-engine jet.”

‟Oh.” Barbara laughed. ‟I was going to use another company if they didn’t hire women.”

‟Oh no. Lettie, my NorCal Limo owner is a major investor. I would doubt that they’d make a glass ceiling. Could happen, but if that woman found out? I’d run if I were them.”

‟OH! I know Lettie! She picked me up from when we hit the birds.”

‟Oh yes. That was a special favor, normally they don’t take limos off the pavement.” Tom smiled. ‟She is a rare one.”

‟She said you helped them get a start?”

‟Not precisely. I just keep them on retainer and speed dial.” Tom said. ‟I direct business their way. They only have a few cars and I think only four drivers. Lettie and her cousins.”

‟They have a post-grad psych major working for them. A guy named Kaikane.”

‟Sounds Hawaiian.”

‟He is. You get points for paying attention.”

‟I don’t know Kaikane.”

‟He knows you.”

‟I get that a lot.”

‟You are likeable.”

‟Am not.”

‟I’m going to slap you.”

‟Promise? We won’t have the chance for a mile high fun time.”

‟Seriously. You need to relax on yourself, you need someone to keep you on your best, but keep you from being so dark. Your books will show that and if you are writing children’s stories, you need to keep them light.” Barbara looked at him evenly with the soul of a woman who would protect the one she cared for, even from himself. ‟You can write like no one I know. Probably as good as any of the great writers. Even like Joyce and Steinbeck or Hemmingway. But you don’t have to become Edgar Allan Poe to do it.”

“Tom, do not go back into that hole you locked yourself up into for a while.”

‟What makes you think I am going back into anything?” Tom smiled. ‟You have given me light and passion. We are ending a contract in a way that protects you. I am not emotionally broken-hearted, I could have invested in it, emotionally, if I had thought that you were sober and we spent some time together. Not baked, drunk and horny. I am fond of you, but that extends into friendship. I want you to stay, but not at the cost of a future.”

Barbara thought a minute as they waited for Lettie to show up with a limo. Tom’s speed dial rang her phone directly and he had told her of the situation.

‟You are the best man I know, next to my dad.”

‟I would like to meet him, someday.”

‟Are you kidding? He would die to meet you. Steam Land, if there is anything written by you on that series, he has it.”

‟Heh, I bet he is almost my age.”

‟I think you are older.”

‟Oh. Um. Yikes.” Tom laughed. ‟He might greet me with a shotgun.”

‟No, I think he’d be happy to have you in the family even if you banged his dog.”

‟TMI sweety.”

‟Kidding.” Barbara laughed.

A dark limo wheeled in. It was Lettie.

‟Tom, Barbara, it seems like we just left you both in the Sea Dragon.” Lettie was all smiles.

‟We need a ride to the Executive Airport to the private entrance.”

‟Let’s go. Traffic is good, I can get you there in thirty minutes.”

‟I will pay you for two hours. The plane won’t be ready until then, take us to San Fran to drive through the park and down the beach.”

‟Hm. Tom, if I may suggest. From here? Let me take you to Half Moon Bay and then up along the coastal highway. We can pull in, then you and Barbara can walk on the sand.”

‟We…”Tom stopped for a moment as if something caught in his throat. ‟We are heading to Vegas to get an annulment.”

‟WHAT? Tom, Barbara.” Lettie caught herself and the professional woman came back to grips. ‟Sorry. But my opinion, she makes you smile. Barbara, for a girl who was so mad at him, you have a glorious soul that’s touched by Tom.”

Motioning the couple into her limo, Lettie wore a strained smile.

‟That is all I will say on the subject. I apologize. Not my place and I’d fire anyone who did what I just did.” Lettie said. ‟One trip through Golden Gate Park, back to Executive. Do you have your transport taken care of?”

‟Yes, thank you.” Tom smiled.

The door closed and Lettie moved to the front of the long vehicle.

‟What was that all about?” Barbara asked Tom.

‟Lettie is kind of protective. But she has a point. I can switch companies if it would make you feel better.”

‟No, actually, it makes me smile. Tom. Only someone special can evoke that kind of emotion in people, someone who people would stand up for. If I can come back and marry you?” Barbara’s eyes shined with tears. ‟I want to invite all your friends. From pilots, to writers, to limo drivers and everyone I can find that calls you by your first name.”

‟Um. That is everyone I meet. I insist to dispense with formality. I am no better than anyone.”

‟You are a great writer. Not many people can do that. PLUS!” Barbara raised her index finger. ‟You do more for the fire fighters with your fleet of water bombers.”

‟How did you know about that?”

‟I.” Barb bit her lip. ‟I looked on your history in your computer back at the Pacific Wizard.”

‟You’re kidding?”

‟Ah. No. I was mad and curious and alone. You have internet on your computer at the Wizard and I logged into the guest accounts. Your name is all over the net.” Barbara said.

‟Ah. No problem. So you know about my firefighting air-force that some states won’t use.” Tom smiled. ‟It works in most states, California is a bit more… Picky.”

‟You have changed the subject on us. We need to have this understood.”

‟Well, technically, you changed the subject.”

‟Don’t change the changed subject.” Barbara laughed. ‟The point is, you deserve more happiness than you have. And we can do it together if you and I start on a proper friendship and wedding.”

‟Okay, I think we can do that. But you go take good and well care of Glenn. I’ll be your little secret.”

‟Little? Little would be if you were a janitor, you are a successful writer.”

Tom chuckled.

‟Well, tell you what. We split the sheets on this and you decide that this accident was a good thing to happen. We’ll have that wedding for you.”

‟Not for me. For you. You need a party. My family and friends couldn’t fill four benches in a church combined. I tend towards the shy side.”

‟Shy? Like a hurricane. Let me see, weddings are for girls- generally speaking.” Tom smiled. ‟You have skills in karate…”

‟Eskrima.”

‟Yeah, that.” Tom smiled. ‟You like to lay naked on a beach, you are a bartender and you would not bow to a man with a knife. If I recall, you kicked the crap out of him.”

‟Heh! Yeah, I did.” Barbara laughed. ‟Felt good, too. He wanted to hurt me, and I was in the proper mood to return the favor.”

Tom laughed softly.

‟I would have not ever missed that show for anything. It was fun to watch, shocking, but fun to watch.” Tom said. ‟I might write about it someday.”

‟I would like to read that. Make me as an avenging angel.” Barbara smiled.

‟You can be sure. I would make you more than that.”

The limousine pulled into the park and drove around the green strip. Tom pointed out an archery range and the windmill as they drove by.

Talking excitedly with each other, two people enjoying their hearts and souls. Knowing that it would come to an all too soon end. They learned more about each other as Tom poured wine in glasses for the both of them.

Two people celebrating friendship and the strange path that brought them together.

‟Let’s go get unmarried, the plane will be ready, let’s go check in.”

‟Okay.” She said, looking down into the glass of her wine.

‟This has been very enjoyable, Tom. You make this more difficult by being so nice.”

‟You want to stay?”

‟Yes. And no. I want my chance with Glenn.”

Tom stopped the conversation and toned Lettie to drive them to the airport with the phone from the back of the limousine.

‟Time to go, thank you Lettie.”

They rode in silent stress to the airport, the atmosphere in the limo becoming darker and increasingly stressed.

‟It will be okay.” Tom said, holding Barbara’s hand.

‟Thank you.” She smiled, sadly.

Dark Heart, Pure Soul 21. A Life Left Behind

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21. A Life Left Behind

Over the next few months, Kane met with other clan leaders who said that the other island across the channel had more raw materials that could be traded for and they needed a metal worker to replace one that had moved south with a daughter of a king. Kane thought it a good move, they could go across the water and then be lost in the mill of people of the age.

Bronwyn wept as she packed. This time was leaving for good. They had tried it once on the mainland, but the violence was testing both their tempers, highwaymen appeared time and again, attempting to take what they had traded for.

Kane carefully bundled his tools together in fine, waxed linen and placed them on the chariot that he had built to transport when he heard a small, familiar voice behind him.

Uncle Kane, are you leaving?” It was Daigh, still carrying his favorite sculpted toy bird.

Yes. Bronwyn and I are moving closer to where they mine for metals. We can trade much more cheaply there and make our useful wares and pretty things to sell.”

Will you come back?” the eleven-year-old asked. His curly brown hair framing his sapphire-blue eyes.

Only if you be good. You will know I have been here on that one night, when you have waited all year for new toys. I’ll sneak in and leave you and your friends something.” Kane winked.

You ever break a promise.” The bright eyes of the young man who believed in the demon-in-hiding.

Have I yet failed you?” Kane kneeled to look in the boy’s eye on his level.

Daigh softly laughed and shook his head, cheeks blushing as Kane found him out in doubting the hero of the village. Kane was one to keep promises. If Kane said it, gave his word. It would be so. If he did not give his word, he would do his best, but in the words of Kane “No promises.” which meant that there was a chance that he would not be able to do what he had hoped to do.

Kane stood up, checked and tightened down a braided leather rope, immensely strong, Daigh once saw Kane use what he called a pulley to lift a log on to a chariot to move it into the village where he made a huge dugout canoe, for the bonfire that year, with the death of a nearby King, they placed the body into the hollowed out log and then floated out on the sea. An arrow was lit and shot into the oil-soaked pile of branches upon which the King’s body lay. A funeral to which there was no equal that day.

But now, Kane and Bronwyn, the creator of such tasty treats in the kitchens and on holidays would go with Kane and live a life in another part of the world.

One woman who had whispered to Daigh’s mother one evening when they thought that there was something wrong with Kane and Bronwyn.

They are not with children and are not getting old. It is strange I say.” She whispered one night.

They could be tricksters among us.” She was one that was always having babies, so Daigh did not understand how they had tricked her into having another one. But Daigh told Kane who had pulled on his ear with an amused look.

Well, the best trick is to teach you to keep your word. Never make a promise that you cannot keep or do not want to keep. If you give your word, you keep it even if you do not want to.”

Daigh and the other kids, Aed, Muirne, Cuinn all nodded. Always they kept their words to each other and told their parents the truth. Even if it would cost them some trouble, they knew that Kane would know, and then he would be mad at them.

THEN, he would be too busy to make new toys or mend old ones.

But today, he was leaving, many people would leave and some would return, others would move from other villages or change where they lived after gathering cattle at the end of the summer to bring the livestock in for protection of the cold and feed them. Calves were often born during these months and would often need feeding by hand. Older kids milked cows and goats, next year, it would be Daigh’s start to care for some of the beasts.

Okay,” Kane said as he finished the knot and all the items were tight in the covered wagon. “We are good if it rains, we will have a sleeping area if we get stuck and we can get to the trade goods easily.”

Daigh stood there for a long moment as Kane tied the ponies to the draw bar of the wagons. The leather harnesses were something that Kane had put together with Daigh’s help and suggestions.

Kane again knelt, closer to the level with the pre-teen boy.

This is what we have to do, Bronwyn and I. We came here the year after you were born. I have helped you learn things and you have learned well. You have a great mind, be a poet, tell the history of your people. Sing of the great things that will be. Kings will come, brave heroes. Even creatures that have come before people and now live in the forests and underground. I will be around,I will sneak in at harvest time.” Kane winked. “Think of me as a gnome or some other small spirit that will sneak around one night of the year and leave you something nice.”

Then Kane held up his index finger in admonishment.

“BUT! If you do not do your chores or do wrong to someone? I will leave you nothing, or worse, you will find a gift of twigs and rocks.”

With that, Daigh’s eyes got big.

I will not forget! You will see Uncle Kane! I will be the best poet that history will ever know. I will sing songs about you that the world will think you were a great Brehon.”

Thought I already was.” Kane said with a wink.

Bronwyn’s voice echoed slightly in the now-empty shop. She was ready to leave. All things that families were to take were so placed in order. Things remaining she had marked with strips of cloth in different colors that indicated different families.

Hello Daigh. Come to see us off?” Bronwyn’s copper-colored hair hung down around her shoulders like a waterfall. She bent down so she was as tall as the eleven year old. “Kane has favored you. You do make him proud when you grow up?”

Yes ma’am! He will hear about my stories and songs all over the world.” Daigh smiled. “I promise I will never stop telling stories about you and him.”

Daigh, you are a wonderful young man.” Bronwyn kissed him on the cheek.

A gasp, Daigh was without words as, first his ears, then his entire face turned red.

Bronwyn laughed softly and hugged him.

That is our little secret. You make me feel pretty.”

Time to go, Bronwyn, climb up.” Kane said.

Daigh was still blushing as their wagon trundled out the gates and disappeared. Feeling a little sad as he turned to walk away. His heart was hurting and, in a small way, lonely, until he remembered, they would be back in a few months at harvest time!

Daigh skipped back to the center of the village where the other kids were. His embarrassment forgotten as his attention span was that of any child.

End Of Book One? (who wants more?)

If Only… The failure of the heart

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If Only… The failure of the heart

 It seemed like a lifetime ago, he knew her as a young man and broke her heart. Three words he never said, the phrase withheld with a hesitant heart. 

She once looked him in the eye and used her willpower to get him to speak his heart, and then he changed the subject. In the months that passed, they began to see less of each other. Then school, career and the end of innocence came after that

Then came separate lives.

Years later, after a friend (now no longer such) played mind games with the knowledge that friends share in matters of the heart and served only to increase his guilt while he kept her in the front of his memories.

Thoughts of a life that could have been, a smile never forgotten, a sad look that never rose above the pain of his immaturity.

Often he could look back and recall her expectant smile. The words she never heard in life he now whispered as he knelt at her headstone.  Another victim of domestic abuse that could have had her path changed for the better with but a single expression of emotion from a college-bound ex-boyfriend. A phrase that could have changed their lives.

Could he have changed the world with three words?

“I love you.”

Silence. Granite and bronze are as unresponsive as the teenage heart that has plans of school and career. Could this young man have saved her from the pain and years of domestic abuse?

Perhaps.

Then again, perhaps not.

With a heavy sigh, the ex-boyfriend stood and walked away from his agony of failure. The weight of ten-thousand nights that he relived his choice that condemned them to separate lives.

Could their lives have been different? The the world will never know.

But the answer was known, deep in his heart.

The deepest wish of a simpler time, the teenager, now aged with white hair and a slight limp from a long-ago accident that also left him widowed had come to visit, just fifteen-months too late.

News in the way of gossip around a school reunion came to him of her current address on this quiet lane, lined with headstones. Only an apology on his lips and the sob that escaped his soul.

As the salt and pepper haired man held hands with princesses and left the lane, the curious voices of the grandchildren echoed among headstones. Soft sounds of life were all that they left for those that slept the forever slumber.