Well, I knew November would be hard, but it’s been even harder than I expected to get the words in I needed to stay afloat for my NANOWRIMO 2017 goals. I’ve written a measly 11,000+ words, but I’m not giving up!
I’ve run 37 miles so far, and work has been a bit imposing (report cards were due last week), and last but not least… I volunteered to host my family Thanksgiving for the first time!
It had always been my mom’s role to host, and I’d always imagined taking it over in her honor. My mom passed away three years ago and my grandma this past summer. I hadn’t expected to take it on THIS year and only one week before the holiday, but I did, and I couldn’t be happier about that decision. As an only child, it’s beyond important for me to be able to see at least some of my aunts, uncles, cousins and their kids during the holidays. I’m so thankful we’ll be together now!
Our house is getting fixed up in ways it needed to be FOR YEARS. We are painting spots on the walls that chairs had marred and left chipped. Cupboard doors that had fallen off hinges have been rehung. Pictures that have been lying around collecting dust are being now in frames and displayed on walls. Piles of papers collected from school and writing are being sorted and saved or pitched. The refrigerator and pantry have been empty and scrubbed. There’s so much more than can be done, but we’ve made a lot of headway to having a fresh home!
It’s been a good, good month… and it’s not over yet!
That said, I thought I’d leave you with a little reading treat! (Book #3 Teaser Below!!)
I’m thankful that you’re hanging around waiting for me to finish my novels and hope you all plan to read the conclusion to Julia’s story as soon as its ready for you.
If I didn’t think anyone would read it, it would make it that much harder to write it. I need my readers. I’d finish her story for myself, but your patience and enthusiasm is much more motivating than my personal goals to write each day. So… thank you for letting me know, via emails and Facebook comments, that you’re enjoying the series and impatient for When Fire Rains Down. Writers are insecure creatures, and we love our readers to interact with us. ❤
THE UNEDITED BEGINNING OF WHEN FIRE RAINS DOWN‘S FIRST DRAFT:
Everything is golden. Even the air shimmers with a light unlike any I’ve ever seen. No matter how many times I sit in a meeting with angels, I’ll never get used to this place’s ethereal beauty. It’s hard to focus on what Michael is saying.
“The demons have definitely taken an upper hand. Missing Guardians and poisoned humans are probably only the half of it. I fear there are more unpleasant surprises ahead…”
Archangel Michael. I shake my head. It’s so unreal to be in a room with someone I’d heard about all my life, but didn’t always believe was as real as I was supposed to. Rather, he seemed more like a myth or a legend than reality.
Yet, here he is—in the spiritual flesh.
I look around the meeting space, a glorious cave on the outskirts of the Training Ground Nicholas and I’ve been training at for the past few months, and marvel at all the very real saints and angels.
“You alright?” Nicholas sits next to me, rigid and upright, his hands on the wooden table. Even though they’re still, I can feel energy in his fingers, and sense that he’s frustrated to be sitting unmoving. Without a weapon in his hands, without performing some physical task, he’s, let’s face it, a cranky individual. His eyes now, though, are warm and concerned.
I nod and whisper, “Fine.” His shoulder isn’t touching mine, but I can feel him beside me. The air between us is charged. Ever since our kiss, I’m very aware of his presence. Of course, then he saw Cole kiss me—even if it was only to transfer Glory stones to me—and everything’s been… awkward at best.
Cole, having recently returned from a trip through the outskirts of Hell, looks about like someone who took a trip to Hell and back. He’s dark and moody, casting furtive glances at everyone around the table, especially at the dark-haired girl, Mila, who is sitting across from him. I sit between her and Nicholas. She’s the only one moving anything but her eyes, fidgeting with a bracelet and sighing from time to time. What Nicholas holds in, she expresses.
Suddenly she leans over to me. “Here,” she whispers, holding the bracelet out to me. “I forgot to give this to Rach when I was her substitute Guardian.” She pauses uncomfortably. I smile. Since Rach is here at the table now, there’s no reason for her to feel guilt or remorse for what happened at the Homecoming Dance, when a demon killed Rach. Mila shrugs. “It was meant to be yours all along anyway.”
I hold out my hand and the bracelet slides from her fingers into my palm. Now, I wonder, what will she fiddle with? She puts her hands in her lap, and turns her attention toward the head of the table where Michael is leaning across to speak with Rach. Seeing her here, smiling, exuding peace and joy, is surreal. More than anyone else in this dazzling cave, she’s alive.
Death is not the end, she’d told me. Now I believe her, but understanding is not as easy.
The bracelet Mila handed me is thin, three gold strands connected at the clasp. A closer look, however, reveals tiny peridot stones embedded in the strands. Glory stones. I suck in a breath, my eyes flying to Cole’s. He’s watching me and gives the slightest of head shakes before turning to look at Michael. Closing the jewels in my fist, I follow Mila’s lead and drop my hands to my lap.
Since the day Cole returned while I was with Nicholas in the Training Ground, he’d told me to tell no one about the Glory stones. Trust no one. His voice, deep and shaky, as he’d transferred even more to me in secret, frightened me, so as soon as I’d returned home, I’d dug them out of the shoes, crown, bracelet, and even my childhood necklace to place every last one into a silk pouch I’d found in Mom’s sock drawer. The pouch held Dad’s wedding ring.
Mom had found me, but rather than be upset, she smiled and rushed to me. “Don’t worry,” she’d said, as if reading my mind, that I feared her knowing about the stones. I’d exhaled, relieved. I wanted to tell her, needed reassurance I was doing the right thing. “Here, take Dad’s and mine too,” she’d said. She took a pair of sewing scissors and used the tip to dig the stones out that lined the inner circle of their rings.
Once the stones were all safely tucked in the tiny, thin bag, we sliced an opening into Dad’s belt, the one Cole had placed around my waist during our non-kiss kiss, and slipped the pouch into it, sealing them in the belt. I’ve not taken the belt off but to shower, wearing it now in the loops of my jeans, a sweatshirt hiding it from the world. The belt itself is made from Glory stones. Each peridot stone shimmers with the light of angels’ songs, with Heaven’s Glory.
Glory, holds the power and courage to provide justice and protection, to defeat all the evil ones.
These stones Mila handed me are too tiny to dig out. When I’m alone later, I’ll wrap the bracelet around the belt and clasp it there until I can think of a better way to conceal them.
Rach sits back in her seat, her posture pristine, as it was during her lifetime. That she left Heaven to help humanity by serving in battle under Nicholas is just like her, always thinking of others, putting herself last. And yet, it’s like Heaven is inside her. She’s so calm, so happy.
“We should form a team, then,” Dad is saying, louder, to address the group. We all take notice that the meeting is convening and sit up to lean in toward the table. “We need to ransack Lucifer’s domain and rescue all the Guardians he’s captured and find out anything else we can about his plans.”