Wednesday, April 21, 2021

WEP April Challenge When Love Takes Your Freedom Away

Greetings. It's April 2021. How is your year going? I trust it's better than last year. 

It's time once again to post for the Write, Edit, Publish Challenge. Thank you to the host, Olga, Renee, Laura, and Nila, and a special thanks to Denise for starting this fun group. 

Today's theme: Freedom Morning. I struggled with this challenge. I'm American. Freedom is part of our identity. We are the home of the brave, land of the free. We sing about freedom, march for our freedoms, argue policy based on freedom, and refuse to comply with mandates which some perceive as taking away their freedom. Every war we have ever fought in is to preserve our freedom. Or, so we are told.

I'm also white. No one has denied me service based on my skin color. No one has ever charged me with a crime based on my skin color. So while these things sadly happen to minorities in America, they have never happened to me. How could I possibly write anything about Freedom Morning? 

With this frame of mind, I talked to a friend about this challenge and she reminded me that freedom was also about things that you overcome in your life, like her story. And so, dear friends, for the first time ever I'm going to tell you a true story. The story of Akina. The names have been changed.

When Love Takes Your Freedom Away

I went back.

          Akina studied her image in the mirror. There was nothing about her auburn locks or hazel eyes to indicate that she was lost. Nothing. But she was…lost.

          From the moment she saw Pete and heard his voice she’d been lost. Her need to be loved coursed through her veins to this day. Her memory of the events, hazy even now.

          She had woke on the floor of her apartment. Pete was tuned into the football game, ignoring her. Her four-year-old son, Rob, sat on the floor beside her, holding her hand and patting it. His large dark brown eyes studied her face.

          “Mommy,” he said when she looked at him.

          “I’m okay,” she said to reassure him even though she couldn’t remember what happened.

          She sat, and then stood. A little light-headed. Pete continued to ignore her, guzzling the last of his 18-pack of beer. The carton lay empty at his feet.

          Akina went to the bathroom, did her business, and glanced at her reflection to see one eye swollen, and the bruise extending down to her cheek. And her lip was cut.

          Then it all came to her. She’d been working a crossword puzzle while Pete cheered or bellowed at the football team on the television.

          The crowd roared, she looked up, the home team made a touchdown. Pete hated the home team. He stood, grabbed her arm, and yanked her up before punching her in the breast and on her face. Her body twisted away and turned to fall, landing on their son. Everything went black.

          How long had she been out? What should she do? She didn’t know and so she went to bed.

          In the morning after Pete left for work, she called her mom. Rob was too young for school, and so her mom came and they all went to the hospital. From there, the police arrested Pete and he went to jail for domestic abuse.

          Now, close to a year later, as she stared at her own reflection in the mirror, she argued with herself. Follow your heart.

She’d let Pete move back in. She loved him. She needed him. She did it all for her son. He needed his father in his life. Right?

Her mother had spent an hour on the phone trying to dissuade her from this course. But, Akina knew what she wanted. What she needed. And that was Pete.

Her happiness didn’t even last a month. Pete quit his job, refused to do any housework, drank beer continuously, spending her money on it. He didn’t even babysit Rob, her mother did. Pete slept all day and drank all night and wouldn’t let  Akina sleep. Instead, needling her to stay up with him. Exhausted, she started making stupid mistakes at her job.

But she needed him, right? She loved him and he loved her. They had a son together. He’s changed!

Football season started. Pete stood and threw a beer at the TV and then turned on Akina sitting on the sofa next to him.

In the morning, she stared at her bruised and battered face.

But I need him. He will change.

She was trapped. She couldn’t feel anything anymore. And she knew, her love had robbed her of her freedom to choose. Her love had taken her freedom away.


Word Count: 563

As of this writing, Akina has turned her life around. With her mother’s help, she returned to school and is now a nurse living her best self and supporting her son, now 14, without Pete. 

Let me know what you think.

I'm pleased to announce that my epic fantasy, the Treasures of Carmelidrium is now available everywhere. 

Link to my website:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Kiss, WEP blog hop

It's February, and that means love is in the air and on your lips. Write, Edit, Publish has an inspiring blog hop challenge this year. The Kiss. Inspired by the artwork of  Gustav Klimt’s, entitled the same, The Kiss. My thanks go out to Denise Covey, the original creator of Write, Edit, Publish, and to the other host, Laura, Renee, Nila, and Olga. All gifted and talented writers. The good news is, you still have time to post something for the challenge. From poems to photos, stories true or fiction, share your talents with all of us. 

To read what others have written for this challenge, go here

Now for my story and more exciting news below that. Enjoy.

The Kiss

Jessica put the garlic bread into the oven, the spaghetti sauce was simmering, the cheese ready to grate, the noodles in the pot after going through the press, and the salad already on the table. The kitchen was a complete mess, but it was worth it, Todd was coming over.

            The door ringer chimed. She went to the speaker and pressed down.


            “Hi,” Todd said.

            “I’m on the third floor.” She pressed the buzzer to let him enter. She grabbed the mask from the table below the speaker and turned, surveying the table. Her dinnerware was out flatware, glasses, and napkins.

            A knock at the door. She put on the mask and opened it. Todd gave her a bow, stood again, and held out the wine and some flowers. She could tell by the crinkles around his eyes that he was smiling despite the mask he wore.

            “Come in.” She took the flowers.

            “Thanks. How was the drive?” She led the way to the kitchen to retrieve the corkscrew and he followed.

            “Uneventful.” He glanced at the kitchen. “Smells wonderful.” Then, he uncorked the Merlot, while she filled a vase with water. They both returned to her small table and he poured the wine while Jessica put the flowers on a side table.

            “Happy Anniversary,” Todd said handing her the glass of wine.

            They separated,  standing six feet apart, lowered their mask and took a sip.

            “Five weeks ago, you stumbled into my life,” she said.

            He grinned. “Literally, I almost knocked you down when you turned with your coffee in hand.”

            She laughed. “Then that old woman scolded us for not being six feet apart. And me, with my mask down sipping my coffee.”

            “Here’s to coffee.” He raised the wine glass again. They took a sip.

            Jessica went into the kitchen, drained the noodles, and put them in the sauce. Pulling the garlic bread out she used a spatula to put them in a basket. Todd took both from her and went to the table. He sat while she grated parmesan cheese over the sauce.

            “It pays to fall in love with an Italian,” he said.

            She laughed. “No Italian is named O’Leary. I just like to cook.”

            “No, you and your red hair are Irish?” He grinned.

            They ate and he told her all about his new job as a computer programmer. “There’s a greater need,” he continued. “With so many working from home on their computers these days custom software is required.”

            She nodded. “Things are getting better.”

            “Yeah.” He wiped his mouth with the napkin. “This was delicious.”

“Glad you like it.”

She stood and cleared the table but didn’t do the dishes. He leaned on the kitchen door frame watching as she put the remnants of their meal in the trash.

“Did you get your second vaccine shot.”

Jessica paused to look at him. “Yeah, yesterday.”

“That’s a relief. I’ve worried about you these last few months with your patients all COVID positive.”

She nodded and put the plate in the sink then grabbed the towel to wipe her hands.

“I got my second one today.”

Jessica’s eyes got a little bigger. “Really?”

“You know what that means don’t you?” He stood straight away from the wall.

“Neither of us will die.”

“That, and…” He took the three steps between them, grabbed her, and pulled her against his body and then…the very thing she’d longed for all this time. The kiss!

Her arms slid around his strong shoulders. He pulled back only to kiss her again.

Jessica had been kissed many times in the past. But never had she experienced the electric rush that spread along every nerve from Todd’s kiss.

He pulled away from her and she looked up into his handsome face. Brown hair touched his forehead and he pushed it back with one hand.

“I have something else for you,” Todd said.


He reached in his pocket and pulled out a ring box. Opening it he showed her a diamond ring.

“It’s not as big as I want but I’ll get you another on our fifth anniversary.”

“It is our fifth anniversary.”

“I mean, let’s get hitched.” He grinned.

She slugged his arm. “So romantic.”

“Will you?”

“Of course.”


The next morning Jessica glared at the messy kitchen while in her bathrobe. She put the coffee on and started doing dishes. Todd joined her, dressed with wet hair from his shower. She handed him the first clean dish and he dried it.

            “Where does it go?”

            “Right there.” She pointed.

            “I want to marry you right now.”

            She smiled. “Tempting, but no. I have a big family. We have to wait for everyone to get their vaccine. No reason you can’t move in, though.”

            “My place is bigger.”

            “I can walk to work from here.”

            “I’ll give notice, put my stuff in storage, take about a month or so.”

            She stopped washing, turned, and went to him. “I need a kiss.”

            He put the towel down and pulled her close. The pressure of his mouth wanted her to return to bed.

            “I’ll never get tired of your kisses. They’re the best,” she said when he pulled back.

            Todd ran his hand in her brilliant red hair and gave her the kiss again.

Word count 887

What did you think? Let me know. 

In other news, I have a website.  Take a peek. The monster is called symberveen. 

And, my short story, Loren's Choice is included in Sci/fi & Fantasy's new Anthology, The Depths of Love, available as soon as Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Paperback: $12.99, e-book: Amazon Prime free and $3.95 after that expires. Here's the link: The Depths of Love.

Plus, I updated and re-released my first book in the series, The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, The Treasures of Carmelidrium. Book 1. Will be everywhere and soon in paperback! Links aren't live yet.

Coming this year is:

The Beginning of a Legend, A Gillael Book, this summer.

The Riise of Lord Sinon, Book 2 in The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, this autumn.

The Emperor of the Moon and Stars, Book 3 in The Chronicles of Gil-Lael, winter 2022.

All currently with my editor or soon will be. 

You might say, I've been working hard. 


If you'd like to join my Facebook page, here's the link.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

WEP Challenge, Grave Mistakes


Write, Edit, Publish (WEP) challenge for October 2020. WEP was started by Denise Covy, my Aussie friend. Anyone can join and post real-life stories, pictures, poems, or fictional stories. I’m in the last category. Co-host with Denise are Laura, Renee, Nila and Olga. Thank you, ladies.

This year the challenge for October is Grave Mistakes. While considering this, I struggled because the world seems upside down to me. Between politics (I’m an American), and the fires worldwide it’s a scary time and has affected me mentally and physically. My blood pressure is too high and I’m having trouble bringing it down.

So, I took inspiration from a Bible passage which I’ve never done before. I’ve included the passage after the story. Once I wrote my story, I realized it wasn’t very ghoulish, so I’m giving you a bonus story titled: Dark Shadows and Ghosts.

I hope you enjoy and as a reminder, every year on Halloween, I put up my two Halloween stories for free on Amazon. Also, you can check out other stories I’ve written in the ‘Pages’ above. Thanks for coming by.


Grave Mistake

Wayne Uptight stood on the 12th floor before his window peering out at New York City. He owned the office building and had converted the entire 12th floor into his home. The style he chose was classical Greek, with marble columns, floor, and walls. Replicas of various Greek gods were in abundance.

            He turned aside and saw his wife, naked eating at the table. This didn’t surprise him. He required her to be naked whenever he was at home or he’d withdraw her million a year allowance.

            “Going to work,” he said, entering his private elevator that took him to the  11th floor where his office was located. The style he had chosen there was dark, polished mahogany. His employees weren’t so fortunate, sitting in cubicles on the phone or on the computer talking with customers. There pay was a pittance of his own. The many factories he owned were all in third world countries were the workers were happy to take home a couple dollars a week. He sold every product he made for 5 times its cost. Life was good.

            This day he made reservations at an upscale restaurant to meet one of his many mistresses. Despite the pandemic, this plush establishment reserved private tables for the rich, in separate rooms, free of any airborne illness. He often spent $1,000 or more per meal.

            At the noon hour, he rode his personal elevator to the ground floor, and walked through the lobby noticing every out of place object, what everyone did in their offices and those who manned the security/information desk in the lobby. He had camera’s set up in his office so he could view it all if he wanted to, even private businesses that leased their space from him. If a business was unable to pay their extravagant rent, he had them evicted. He was fine during this health crisis; they should be too.  

            When he left the building, he noticed the homeless man sitting close to the door. He’d had the police remove him many times, but he always returned.

            “Mr. Uptight, sir. Please can you give some change?”

            Wayne Uptight walked past without a glance. No way would he give that loser money even though he had plenty of cash in his pocket. He slipped into his  limousine and then placed a call to his office lobby desk.


            “Yes sir, Mr. Uptight.”

            “Get rid of that homeless man outside my building.”

            “Yes sir, right away, sir.”

            Uptight hung up.

* * *

Three days later, Uptight left his building at the noon hour once more. He stopped just past the door. The limousine wasn’t there, and the homeless man sat against his building.

            “Please sir, Mr.---”

            Uptight turned. “Shut up you sniveling beggar. I work for my money. You do the same.”

            Screeching wheels roared from behind. Uptight turned just as an out of control car hit him and the impoverished man dead on. Glass shattered as the car sped into his building. He rose out of his body, staring down at his dismembered body and that of the homeless man too. When he lifted his eyes, the poor man hovered before him.

            Angels appeared, surrounded the poor beggar, and took him into the light filled tunnel.

Wayne frowned. No angels came for him. Hadn’t he given plenty of money to his church? Then as he reflected upon that, two black shapes appeared on either side of him and one before him.

That one said, “Who’s the loser now?”

Wayne screamed as the demons pushed him all the way to hell.


Word Count: 601

Luke 16:19–31

19“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”


And of course, we all know that Jesus rose from the dead, and there are many who don’t believe in him or that he did, in fact, rise from the dead.


Dark Shadows and Ghosts

Larry grinned. “Double dare ya.”

            “So, let me get this straight. You’re going to give me $100 to spend Halloween night in a graveyard?” Alex asked.

            Larry laughed. “Yeah, you won’t be able to and then I’ll get $100.”

            Alex smiled. “You’re on.”

            A week later, Alex packed his sleeping bag and drove to Hollows Grove Cemetery. They never locked the gate there and entrance would be easy. The cemetery was a couple miles from everywhere.

            He parked his VW Bug off to the side and hid it from the street. No cop would make him leave if they couldn’t see the car and he wanted that $100.

            The cemetery itself was quite large and had a section of war dead. Some graves went as far back as the American Revolutionary War. But he didn’t head in that direction. His grandparents were buried here, and he headed toward their graves which were close to three mausoleums.

Once there he stood before his grandparents and said, “I’m spending the night to be close to both of you. I miss you so much.”

There was no response. He didn’t expect one.

Between his grandparents graves and the mausoleums was a grassy knoll. No one was buried there. He laid out his sleeping bag, sat cross legged before it and pulled out his smart phone. Now he’d document with pictures that he was in the cemetery so Larry couldn’t dispute it later.

He watched the sun set between bare trees and heard a few birds fly off. Without a second thought he returned to his phone and documented the sunset before heading into Facebook and posting pictures of his night at a cemetery.

Now it was dark. Really dark, so he used his phone as a flashlight. Removing all but his underwear, he folded the clothes, unzipped the sleeping bag, and got in. Snuggled securely within, he had a marvelous view of the night sky and smiled at the beauty. This was the easiest $100 of his life. He took a picture of himself in the bag and then several more around the dark cemetery. Without checking the photos, he put the phone in the bag with him and fell asleep.

A noise woke him. He frowned and looked around. A creepy sensation rose along his spine and then he saw them. Black shapes, moving from tree to tree and coming closer. A creaking door made him look toward the mausoleums. All three doors were open a crack and lights were on.

“Larry,” he yelled. “It won’t work.”

There was no response. He rolled over and shut his eyes.

Someone whispered close to his ear, but he couldn’t make it out. He sat up. The black shapes were close. One spread along the ground and then a dozen or more where all around him. Red eyes, monstrous expressions, sharp teeth.

“I’m here to make some money.” His voice calm but his heart was thudding.

They began to touch him. Ice cold fingers and claws that broke his skin. He unzipped the bag and stood in the chilled night air Now the shapes started screaming. They ran right through him. He shivered; his body so cold made colder by whatever these things were. He peed and had to remove his boxers. Now naked, the creatures came toward him and put icy fingers on his private.

He started rolling up the sleeping bag and then had second thoughts. He’d been double dared, and he wasn’t giving up even though his fear roared in his ear.

“Leave my grandson alone!”

A familiar voice. He turned and saw his grandparents, all white standing between him and the black shapes. Grandma had a cross and she held it out.

“Leave our grandson alone,” his grandpa repeated.

The dark shapes screeched at the cross fleeing. The lights in the mausoleums went out and the doors slammed shut. When they had gone his grandma stepped closer.

“You’d better take the cross dear. And for heaven’s sake, put on some underwear.”

Larry reached out his hand. The effervesce of the cross vanished as soon as it passed from her spirit to his mortal body and he held substance in his hand.

His grandfather joined her side. “Whatever possessed you to come here and spend the night?”

“And on Halloween night?” Grandma added.

“A $100 bet.”

“You never could turn down a bet.” Grandpa said.

“Now Alex, dear, do something with your life. You only get one you know.”

He nodded. “I know, it was stupid, but I’d do it all again just to see both of you and to talk to you.”

“You’re a good lad,” Grandpa said.

“We can’t stay any longer,” Grandma said.

“We love you son.”

Grandma nodded, and then they turned together and holding hands went back to their graves where they slipped below the ground.

As soon as they were gone, the screeching started, and he saw the first of many black shapes. He held up the cross. “I’ve got the cross. You can all get lost.”

He climbed back into the sleeping bag, kept the cross around his neck and fell asleep.

The morning light woke him. Had it been a dream? No, he had the cross and nearly every exposed place on his body was scratched, and those scratches burned.

He dressed, rolled up the sleeping bag and kept the cross around his neck. He remembered that grandma had been buried with her favorite cross and now he had it.

He found Larry at his job, Jack’s Hardware Store.

“Dude,” Larry said. “Your hair is white.”

Alex ran a hand through his locks and then presented Larry with the pictures in the smartphone. As Larry scrolled through, his mouth opened, and he stepped back.

“See the last pic.? Those are my grandparents. It was great to talk to them again.”


Word count: 961

I hope you enjoyed my stories. Please let me know in the comments.

To read what others have written go here.

Happy Halloween!


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