books, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta 2: Hustling

Fedelta Excerpt 3
Image via Pixabay

*Warning Language*

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away in front of a laundromat, Cassandra was hunting for new clothes.  In most people’s eyes, she was loaded but in reality, she was asset rich and cash poor.  She couldn’t just walk into a store and pay with her jewelry, no matter how nice and expensive it was.  So in essence she was broke, so Casssandra did what she always did when she was broke, she stole.  First, she cased the joint for security guards but only found surveillance cameras on the outside of the building as well at the register.  The rest of the place was free of interference.  Relieved, she began looking for women who were about her size and observed their alertness.  The last thing she needed was someone putting up a fight.  However as she scanned the place, Cassandra noticed only one woman who fit the bill and she seemed to be a young woman with three small children.  It didn’t feel right, so Cassandra decided to make it right.  Sitting in one of the plastic neon orange chairs near her target, she began taking off her diamond earrings.  She figured they were worth around $10,000, way more than anything this woman owned and slipped them into the woman’s purse. With the flick of the wrist, Cassandra slid the goods into the woman’s bag and began her scheme.

Appearing to be busy on her phone, Cassandra patiently waited for the woman to be distracted and it didn’t take long when her kids began fighting.  Completely overwhelmed, the woman snatched one of the boys by the arm and began yelling.  As she did, the baby next to her started crying.  The woman sighed and commanded, “Come on!” as she headed off to the lady’s restroom.  It was the diaper change sent from the gods, and without arousing any suspicion, Cassandra went over to the dryer and plucked out a damp t-shirt with a pair of jeans from the load.  Then without saying a word, she left the laundromat before the woman could return.  When she got to her car, she began putting on the lavender peasant top and cropped blue jeans.  Now the look was complete, no one would ever think of looking for her driving a dirty SUV while dressed in Boxmart style clothes.  Even though she wasn’t dressed like her normal attire, it was still way better than the sweaty and dirty evening gown that she was nearly murdered in.  When Cassandra got to the nearest Mc Restaurant, she threw the gown in the dumpster.  Smelling the food inside her stomach growled.   It had been over 6 hours since she last ate and though it would kill her family to know that she was eating food cooked under a heat lamp, it was cheap and convenient.

None of that mattered because she still had no money, and the only thing Cassandra had left to give away was her engagement ring.  There was no way she would ever part with that.  So she had to find another way.  Looking through her purse, she desperately looked for anything but all she had was makeup, tissues and gum.  Then her phone vibrated.  Looking at the screen, Cassandra noticed the call had a local area code with an unfamiliar number.  She knew better than to answer.  In fact, she knew what to do next, she had to pawn the phone.  But before she did that, Cassandra deleted all the contact info as well as all the apps.  She had another phone in her suitcase, she wasn’t going to miss this one.  Before Cassandra left the restaurant, she looked around for a fencer.  Usually, they hustled on corners or in parking lots.  She knew there would be interest in her phone because it was brand new and had a brand named.  Scouring the block for her new buyer, she noticed a man in front of a gas station.  Checking him out, she noticed he was dressed in a newish football jersey and jeans so he wasn’t homeless.  Cautiously, she scanned the block to make sure he wasn’t a cop.  Cassandra couldn’t see any unusual cars parked on the street and decided to take the risk.  Casually, she walked over to him and smiled then, asked for the time.  Returning the smile he said, “Baby, I got all the time in the world.”  It was the corniest thing she had ever heard, and couldn’t help but roll her eyes.  Seeing the ice had been broken, she straight up asked him, “Hey, I’m looking to unload a phone, is there a pawn shop ‘round here?”

“Naw, baby girl, but lemme look.”

From a distance she held up the phone and his eyes bulged, “That’s the new Andromeda 10!”  Hearing the excitement in his voice, Cassandra asked, “Yeah, you interested?”  And before you knew it, she had closed the deal and scored an extra $40 in her pocket.  It wasn’t a lot but enough for food and little bit of gas for her ride.  With this Cassandra ordered her McSlop which she ate in the car because she was too embarrassed to eat inside.  As she inhaled her food, Cassandra wondered about her next move.  It was the first time in nearly 8 hours she had time to sit down and think.  She could flee the country but she had to do it quickly before she was named a suspect or a person of interest by law enforcement.  And since she stuck a gun in a cop’s face, they were more likely to just book her on that.  Then there was Stephano’s killers, she would have to deal with them sooner or later.  She needed to get her hands on Danny Marchesi, the man who ruined her life and took Stephano’s.  Angry, all Cassandra could do was fantasize about what she would do with him and his crew once she got a hold of them.  But for now, she was just some chick in a fast food parking lot and wasn’t riding with any crew.  In fact, she had to assume that everyone had turned on her.  It was the safest thing to do.

Feeling all alone, the tears streamed down her face but Cassandra decided to shut that part of her brain down in order to survive.  She needed to survive this attack on her life, Casssandra needed to survive the police and their bullshit, and more importantly, she needed to survive for Stephano.  She was the only one who could deliver justice for him now.  With her mind already made up, she threw what was left of her lunch out of the window and started the car.  It was reckoning time.

 

Thank you for following along with the Fedelta series, if you need to get caught up here are the first two posts:

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Cereal Authors, Romance

DECONSTRUCTING ROMANCE NOVELS

LAST MONTH I TALKED ABOUT COZY MYSTERIES THIS MONTH I TAKE ON THE ROMANCE GENRE.

WIKIPEDIA DESCRIBES THE ROMANCE NOVEL AS FOLLOWS

The romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-market literary genreNovels of this type of genre fictionplace their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”[1] There are many subgenres of the romance novel including fantasyhistorical romanceparanormal fiction, and science fictionWalter Scott defined the literary fiction form of romance as “a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents”.[2][3]

A thriving genre of works conventionally referred to as “romance novels” existed in ancient Greece.[4] Some scholars see precursors to modern genre fiction romance novels in literary fiction of the 18th and 19th centuries, including Samuel Richardson‘s sentimental novelPamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740) and the novels of Jane Austen.[5]

Austen inspired Georgette Heyer, the British author of historical romance set around the time Austen lived, as well as detective fiction, who technically created the subgenre Regency Romance.[citation needed] Heyer’s first romance novel, The Black Moth (1921), was set in 1751.

The British company Mills and Boon began releasing escapist fiction for women in the 1930s. Their books were sold in North America by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, which began direct marketing to readers and allowing mass-market merchandisers to carry the books.[citation needed]

Category romance[edit]

Harlequin novels

Category romances are short, usually no more than 200 pages, or about 55,000 words.

To write a successful novel of this length, the “author must pare the story down to its essentials. Subplots and minor characters are eliminated or relegated to the backstory.

Single-title romances

Single-titles novels are romance novels not published as part of a publisher’s category. They are longer than category romances, typically between 350 and 400 pages, or 100,000-110,000 words. Publishers may release the novels over a shorter period of time for sales and publicity reasons, but on average authors write 1.5 novels per year and have one each year published. Single-title novels remain on the booksellers’ shelves at the discretion of the store.

Despite their name, single-title novels are not always stand alone novels. Some authors prefer to write several interconnected books, ranging in number from trilogies to long-running series, so that they can revisit characters or worlds. Such sets of books often have similar titles, and may be labelled as “Number 1 in the XXX Series”, but they are not considered series romances because they are not part of a particular line.

Contemporary Romance is define as any romance taking place after WWII. There are several subgenres in this category.

Romantic suspense 

Romantic suspense involves an intrigue or mystery for the protagonists to solve. typically, however, the heroine is the victim of a crime or attempted crime, and works with a hero, who tends to be in a field where he would serve as a protector, such as a police officer, FBI agent, bodyguard, or Navy SEAL.By the end of the novel, the mystery is resolved and the interaction between the hero and heroine has evolved into a solid relationship.These novels primarily take place in contemporary times, but authors such as Amanda Quick have broadened the genre to also include historical time frames.

Like all romances, romantic suspense novels must place the development of a relationship between the protagonists at the heart of the story. The relationship “must impact each decision they make and increase the tension of the suspense as it propel the story. In turn, the events of suspense must also directly affect the relationship and move the story forward.” Romantic suspense novels tend to have more “clean” language, without the “emotional, intimate” descriptions often used in more traditional romances.Because the mystery is a crucial aspect of the plot, these novels are more plot-driven instead of character-driven.

This blend of the romance and mystery was perfected by Mary Stewart, who wrote ten romantic suspense novels between 1955 and 1967. Stewart was one of the first to seamlessly combine the two genres, maintaining a full mystery while focusing on the courtship between two people. In her novels, the process of solving the mystery “helps to illuminate” the hero’s personality, helping the heroine to fall in love with him.

ONE OF MY FAVORITE ROMANTIC SUSPENSE AUTHORS IS AN INDIE AUTHOR DELLANI OAKES 

 

THEY CONTAIN FANTASTIC PLOTS WHERE THE GOOD GUY ALWAYS WINS, THE BADASSES GET WHATS COMING TO THEM AND THEY ARE ARE FIREWORKS BETWEEN THE LEADS. THE WOMEN ARE STRONG CHARACTERS BUT DO NEED GUYS LIKE TEAGUE MCMURTRY, AN EX-MILITARY TO SWOOP IN AND LEND A HAND.  THERE IS OFTEN STEAMY SEX IN THIS NOVELS AS WELL.

YOU CAN FIND DELLANIS ROMANCES AT AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A

PARANORMAL ROMANCE

This genre can be contemporary where their is a supernatural aspect like shape shifters, vampires, werewolves and fey oh my. 

DEFINITION FROM WIKIPEDIA

Paranormal romance blends the real with the fantastic or science fictional. The fantastic elements may be woven into an alternate version of our own world in an urban fantasyinvolving vampires, demons, and/or werewolves, or they may be more “normal” manifestations of the paranormal—humans with psychic abilities, witches, or ghosts. Time travel, futuristic, and extraterrestrial romances also fall beneath the paranormal umbrella.These novels often blend elements of other subgenres—including suspense, mystery, or chick lit—with their fantastic themes.A few paranormals are set solely in the past and are structured much like any historical romance novel. Others are set in the future, sometimes on different worlds. Still others have a time-travel element with either the hero or the heroine traveling into the past or the future.Between 2002 and 2004, the number of paranormal romances published in the United States doubled to 170 per year. A popular title in the genre can sell over 500,000 copies.

Many paranormal romances rely on the blend of contemporary American life with the existence of supernatural or magically empowered beings, human or otherwise; sometimes the larger culture is aware of the magical in its midst, sometimes it is not. Some paranormal romances focus less on the specifics of their alternative worlds than do traditional science fiction or fantasy novels, keeping the attention strongly on the underlying romance.Others develop the alternate reality meticulously, combining well-planned magical systems and inhuman cultures with contemporary reality.

PARANORMAL ROMANCES I LOVE  BOOKS BY DARLENE KUNCYTES

 

DARLENES PARANORMAL ROMANCES ARE AVAILABLE AT AMAZON

 https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Kuncytes/e/B00BIO0EJY

HISTORICAL ROMANCE AS DEFINED IN WIKIPEDIA

Historical romance (also historical novel) is a broad category of fiction which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past, which Walter Scott helped popularize in the early 19th-century, with works such as Rob Roy and Ivanhoe. Literary fiction historical romances continue to be published, and a notable recent example is Wolf Hall (2009), a multi-award-winning novel by English historical novelist Hilary Mantel. However, the focus here is on the mass-market genre.

This subgenre includes a wide variety of other subgenres, including Regency romance. Mass-market historical romance novels are rarely published in hardcover, with fewer than 15 receiving that status each year, less than one-fifth of the number of contemporary romance novels published in that format. Because historical romances are primarily published in mass-market format, their fortunes are tied to a certain extent to the mass-market trends. Booksellers and large merchandisers now sell fewer mass market paperbacks, preferring trade paperbacks or hardcovers, which prevents historical romances from being sold in some price clubs and other mass merchandise outlets.

In 2001, 778 mass-market historical romances were published, a 10-year high. By 2004, the annual number had dropped to 486, which was still 20% of all romance novels published. Kensington Books says they receive fewer submissions of historical novels, and their previously published authors have switched to contemporary.

I HAVE READ MY FAIR SHARE OF WHAT I LIKE TO CALL BODICE RIPPERS, A GOOD FRIEND REFERS TO THEM AS TRASHY NOVELS WHERE THE DAMSEL IS KIDNAPPED BY SOME KIND OF ROGUE LIKE A PIRATE AND OUR HERO A MUSCLE BOUND BARECHESTED MAN RESEMBLING FABIO OR SOME GREEK ADONIS SWEEPS IN TO SAVE THE LADIES VIRTUE ONLY TO RAVAGE HER LOVINGLY LATER IN THE STORY. THERE IS A HAPPILY EVER AFTER AND THE COUPLE IS WED AND MAKES LOADS OF BABIES.

Image result Related image Related image

THATS THE ABCS OF ROMANCE THERE ARE OTHER SUB GENRES OF ROMANCE THAT ARE DEFINED IN WIKIPEDIA

books, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

Fedelta 2: Hardball

Fedelta 2 Second Excerpt

Meanwhile across town, Detective Amato was back in his cubicle with the other detectives in the financial crimes unit.  It was his own personal nightmare, a desk job  he had to do from a shoe box but at least he had a job.  In the last year, he went from fugitive, to being welcomed back into the fold and it was all a complete mystery to him.  Well not really, he knew that someone called in a favor and he was let back into the force through the cat flap.  Amato managed to keep his nose to the grind and keep out of trouble but it was secretly killing him.  He wanted more and Amato wasn’t even sure if this is how he wanted to live his life.  Looking at spreadsheets and nitpicking over ledgers was not what he dedicated himself to at the academy.  It was pathetic, he didn’t even have a gun anymore.  The last time he discharged his firearm was when he was taking the marksmanship test.  He felt like a dog that had been neutered, a ball-less wonder.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t the gun that was bothering him so much.  Maybe it was the fact that he knew that the only reason why he was back on the force was because of Cassandra Fenetti.  The woman who he owed his newly resurrected career to and the woman he wanted dead for betraying him.

With blurry eyes, he did his best to read the rows and columns of financial data that graced the screen.  His job was to flag any inconsistencies and send the documents off to his supervisor.  Rinse and repeat, all the day long.  It was soul crushing for a man who was used of being out in the field taking risks and chasing bad guys.  He didn’t know how long he could take this, in fact, he had already started looking for another job in another town.  There had to be someone, somewhere, who needed a cop?  As his mind wondered off, his boss, Agent Nicholson, yelled from his office, “Amato, get in here.”  Startled, he nearly tripped over his own feet trying to exit his work station, God he couldn’t wait until this day was over.

Once in the office, he noticed Supervisory Special Agent Cohen from the Organized Crime Unit was sitting across from his boss’ desk.  “Shut the door,” Nicholson ordered.  Doing as he was told, Amato shut the door and approached the desk.  Pointing to a folding chair, his boss commanded, “Take a seat.” Once seated, Cohen addressed Amato, “There was a hit this morning on Columbus Avenue and 96th Street.  Double homicide, both males.”  On the desk was a folder which he reached into and pulled out several photos of two men in a vehicle, shot multiple times.  Handing them over to Amato, he asked, “Recognize, the vics?”

Stunned, Amato answered, “Yes, the male behind the wheel is Lucus Hobbs, driver for Stephano Rimaldi, the very dead gentleman in the backseat.”

“Right,”  Cohen said as he pulled out a tablet and handed it to Amato, “Press play.” Doing as instructed, a grainy surveillance video played the final moments of the unlucky occupants in the car.  “This is overkill” Amato remarked as he saw four men shooting at the vehicle.  He watched as the assassins fled the scene and the patrolman approached the vehicle.  Pressing stop, Cohen corrected him saying, “No, keep going.”  Not certain as to what he meant, Amato pressed play again and watched as Cassie appeared in camera range.  “Recognize the female?”  Cohen asked.

Hesitantly, Amato answered, “Yes, it’s Fenetti, Cassandra Fenetti.  She’s the fiancé of Rimaldi.”

“Interesting,” Cohen said staring at Amato.  “Those of us in homicide would appreciate any assistance you can offer in our little investigation.”

“Of course,” Amato replied.

“We’re looking for the female suspect,”

“Suspect?”

“She couldn’t have done this.”

“No, we don’t believe she’s the mastermind of the hit, but she did threaten an officer with a weapon and we would like to talk to her.”

Chuckling, Amato answered, “Good luck finding her, let alone getting her to talk.”

“Yeah about that,” Cohen said sitting back in his chair, “We want you to lead the fugitive task force.”

“Wait, what?” Amato exclaimed, “This is the wrong way to approach the case.”

Smirking, Cohen looked at Amato, “It’s not your call.”

“I’ll provide intel but I’m not leading any task force.  It’s a waste of time.”

“Why?”  Cohen asked.

“Because she’s probably halfway to Timbuktu already.”

“Are you saying you can’t do it?”

“I’m saying she’s one of the richest women in this town and it will be a million times harder to trace than she was before.”

Questioning his loyalty Cohen asked, “Why should we believe you?  Word is you had a relationship with Fenetti during your excursion away from the force.”

A rush of heat hit Amato’s face from the insinuation that he was protecting some girlfriend.  Nonetheless, he took a deep breath and as calmly as he could, Amato responded, “I stepped in to protect a witness when our agency was unable.  There was never any inappropriate relationship between myself and Miss. Fenetti.”  He kept referring to her by her last name to keep his distance emotionally but also to show that he was not on friendly terms with her which, at that point, he wasn’t.

“If you don’t trust me, then find another agent to do the job.  Problem solved,” Amato said, calling Cohen’s bluff.

“I don’t like your attitude, no wonder they put you in the shitter.”

“Hey!” Nicholson interrupted, “I run this shitter and right now I’m flushing you right back to OC (Organized Crime).”

Without a word, Cohen stood up and gathered his tablet as well as his folder and walked out of the office.

“God, I hate those guys.” Nicholson said with disgust.

‘Yeah, me too.”

“You’re dying to get back in OC ain’t ya?”

“Yep,” Amato said as he stood up.

“So what was all that, I’m not the guy for the job shtick?”

“I’m gonna make them beg.”

Rolling his eyes, Agent Nicholson said, “Get the hell out my office.”

 

 

books, Fiction, Rachel Rueben, Romance, Thriller

She’s Back…

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Image via Pixabay

Warning: Language

Stephano quickly returned with her shawl and his jacket which he draped over his arm.  Fortunately for them, the gala was held on the first floor of the hotel so Cassandra didn’t have to endure the elevator.  God only knows what would happened there.  As they got to the front door, their Bentley Bentayaga was already waiting for them.  While Stephano opened the door, she noticed a man who looked out of place, he was wearing faded jeans and a white t-shirt.  With a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, Cassandra figured he was just of the hotel employees, a poorly dressed one at that.  Nothing to look at here she thought to herself until, he gave them the side eye.  Okay, so he was a badly dressed hotel employee with an attitude problem.  However, Cassandra’s gut told her there was something more to this perceived slight but she wasn’t feeling well and figured she wasn’t thinking straight.  Maybe it was the wine?

As the driver opened the passenger door, Cassandra happily got in while Stephano followed.  Once they pulled away from the curb Cassandra started to relax knowing they were only ten minutes from their apartment.  When they pulled up to a red light, Stephano remarked about the lack of traffic and just as he made that statement, the car behind them turned up their high beems, blinding the driver.  Cassandra’s heart stopped as she realized what was going on.  Looking at Stephano, she grabbed his arm but before anything came out of her mouth, several men approached the car from the front as well as the side.  Two of them pulled out guns, and started shooting, “Oh God!” she gasped as a hail of bullets started showering the car.  In an act of utter selflessness, Stephano pulled her down to the floor and covered her with his body.  Though it only lasted seconds, it felt like an eternity for the shooting to stop.  Shaking to her core, Cassandra said not one word as she heard footsteps approaching the car.  Hearing the driver’s door open, she heard a raspy voice announce, “Yeah, they’re dead.”  Listening as the others approach, Cassandra had to fight the urge to shake.  Closing her eyes, she controlled her breathing and lied as still as she could. “Good job fellas,” said one of the men.  This voice she recognized, it was Danny Marchesi, Stephano’s best friend.

“Dump the car and the bodies in the river,” Danny instructed one of the henchmen.  However before they could follow through, Danny groaned “Aw shit!” Listening closely, Cassandra heard several footsteps running in the opposite direction of the car.  As she remained motionless, she heard a car slowly pulling up and to her relief it was an elderly couple who stopped when they saw the driver slump over the wheel.  Thinking he was having a heart attack, they called 9-1-1 and within minutes, a patrol car arrived.  When the officer assessed the scene he knew immediately he was not dealing with a motorist in distress, this was a shooting.  Cautiously, he approached the car, and as he inched closer, he drew his weapon just in case the perpetrators were nearby.  Observing the driver, he nudged him with his hand and asked, “Sir, are you alright?”  After two attempts to communicate with the driver, he stepped back and noticed a black heap of clothing in the back seat area.  With his weapon still in hand, he opened the back door and realized it was yet another male.  Again, he repeated the proper procedure and tried to make contact with the male.  When he nudged Stephano, Cassandra popped out from under him.  Pulling back in fear, the officer nearly fell backwards into the street.  Drawing his weapon on her, he demanded, “Hands in the air.”  However, instead of complying, Cassandra pulled out her Glock 26 and yelled, “Fuck off!”

As the officer took cover behind his car, Cassandra got out of the passenger door and without taking her eyes off the guy, she retreated to a nearby alley.  Calling for backup, the officer could only watch as Cassandra disappeared from his range of vision and when assistance finally arrived, it was already too late, she was long gone.

author, books, Cereal Authors, Fantasy, Fiction, Musings, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Teens, Uncategorized

Watchdogs Part 3

by R L Davis Hays 2017

WIP copy

“Tori, honey? Could you come in here when you get a sec?”

My mom’s voice sounded strained and I had just walked in the door. What could it be so soon? The bittersweet smoke lingering in the air screamed to me of the presence of Derek, her cigarette-toting man-thing.  By God, he had the worst taste in smokes.

I used to love the smell of my grandfather’s pipe, stuffed with the butt-ends of his cheap cigars, a sweet hickory scent that infused my grandparent’s log cabin with the trappings of comfort and acceptance.  Not the same as Derek’s at all.

Clutching my backpack, I hurried to my room, briefly catching the sight of dark hair on curled toes peeking out of two Birkenstocks that had seen better days.  Through the door to our living room, I could see his pajama clad legs as he sat in the same spot he had claimed the first day mom brought him home.  What little sunlight that floated through the window draperies caught in the cloud of clove smoke and was prevented from intruding further.

“Did you hear your mother, Victoria?”

I dropped my backpack to the floor, my hand on the handle to my bedroom.  So close.  I almost went five seconds without Derek parenting me.

“Yes, Derek.  I heard her.  Can’t I just put my stuff up first?”

“You don’t have to backtalk.”

My eyes rolled out of sheer habit.  Tossing my pack to my bed, I moved into the kitchen to see my mother, her walker against the counter, trying her best to reach up into a top cupboard.  A stack of groceries covered the counter-top, the bags littering the floor, and the back door was standing open.

“Why doesn’t Derek help you with the groceries?” I asked for the millionth time as I lowered her off her tiptoes and placed the soup cans onto the shelf with ease.  Perhaps I was born for the simple task of reaching high areas for my tiny, middle-aged mater.   Seems as likely as any reason.

“He doesn’t come over to do chores, Tori.  He works hard. Let him relax,” she mewed.

I sighed.  It was the same line she used for my absent father who watched her body disintegrate until he had had enough of “taking care of a mooch” and decided to leave her.

“He could at least shut the door if your arms are full, couldn’t he? That wouldn’t take any of his precious energy.” I mumbled so she could not hear too much as I closed the wooden door.

“I’m perfectly capable of–”

“No, you’re not, Mom.” I heaved a sigh and grabbed the plastic handles of a floor-dwelling bag. “You have a freaking walker to deal with. You shouldn’t have to carry groceries from the car by yourself.”

“No, she shouldn’t.” Derek magically appeared at the arch to the dining room. It was like the click of the back door summoned him.  His gravel choked voice continued to scold me as if I had been the one squatting in the other room listening to her struggles this whole time. “You should be more helpful for your mother.”

After the day I had just been dealt, something in me snapped. “You’re right, Derek. I should’ve known my mom was at the store and should’ve dashed home like The Flash to help her with the bags! Utterly brilliant!”

“Tori.” My mom admonished me with her tone. “Just put the things away for me, please? I need to lie down. Can you do that without yelling at anybody? Please?”

I wilted. “Sure, Mom.”

She shuffled to the arch where Derek ushered her to the hall with a waiting arm. He was such a freaking hero. I resumed sorting the items from the bags, muttering to myself. “I wasn’t yelling at just anybody. It was still a pretty stupid thing to say. How am I supposed to help when I’m not even home, Derek? Tell me that. Like you tell me everything else; you’re so smart and so wonderful. Why can’t you tell me that? Huh?”

Meaningless, pointless venting.  Eventually my grumble petered off to silence and I was absorbed in organizing the shelves, the frig, and the small pantry closet near the back door.

An hour later, I realized Derek’s true genius. I had cleaned the kitchen without being asked.  Pure evil, that’s what he was.

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

A Work in Progress — Watchdogs

Part 2

High school locker rooms.  Every kid’s favorite place.  The arena to expose our physical flaws to our worst critics like exposing our jugular to a vampire.

I may not be the tallest girl in my class, but I’m gangling enough to pass as a teenage boy if I wanted.  All shoulders and elbows.  Stupid pseudo-ectomorph body type.  My breasts popped out in seventh grade, but quickly gave up the fight against gravity.  Now they are just two medium ski slopes dangling above a small paunch of “baby fat” that refuses to go away no matter how many sit-ups my coaches tell me to do.  I don’t want a six-pack; I just want to be able to button my jeans without lying flat on my bed.

If having attention being called to my body’s disproportions during (not one, but two) gym classes each weekday and giggled about by my peers was not enough, I was sure to be reminded of my “budding womanhood” by my mom’s creepy-ass boyfriend when I get home.

Geez, why can’t we just be prepubescent one night and burst forth from a chrysalis two days later as a legal adult?  Why must we suffer for eight to ten years like this?

I hate high school.  So what? I’m sure everybody does.  I’m not a whiner.  It’s just that transitioning to a new school mid-semester because my old school burned to the ground puts me in unfamiliar territory.  I’ve known some of these kids most of my life, we just went to different schools for a lot of that time.  Now I’m in their world, uncertain and vulnerable.  It takes every aspect of myself that I was comfortable with and sticks it under a new microscope to be poked and prodded by narrowed eyes that are less than impartial.

Gym is the worst and the best.  The coaches push me to join after school athletics and I usually get picked right away for team sports. This is because of the way I look, not because of any proven skills.  I’ve had to adapt over the years, so as to appear that I know what I’m doing.  Example:  I can hit a ball hard enough; I just don’t always know how to make it go in the right direction.

I would much prefer to be in an art class or computer lab.  Thus, I suffer through my typical day.

Also, I’m the type of person to use the word ‘thus’.  Enough said.

Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Dellani Oakes, Excerpts, Fiction, interviews, publishing, Ramblings, review, Romance, So Much It Hurts, Social media, Uncategorized, writer's life, Writing Process

‘So Much It Hurts’ ~ Another hit by Dellani Oakes

Dellani Oakes

Many authors hold multiple positions in other areas of our lives. However, regardless of how busy we are, nor how many books we have written, it does not change the fact that each time we have a new release we feel the same as any other author exposing themselves to the world for the very first time. Feelings are often are the combination of joy, nervous anticipation, excitement, and a slight element of fear (at least for me). Dellani Oakes is no exception to the rule of a woman with multiple roles; she is a busy wife, mother, Blog Talk Radio host, publisher, and an author. She lives in Florida, grew up in Western Nebraska, has lived in multiple states, and being a people watcher by nature, this has given her the opportunity to gather information over the years for her work.

She’s written multiple novels, but now has a new romance, set to release November 1, 2017, from Tirgearr Publishing, titled – So Much It Hurts. I’m thrilled to say I had the opportunity to interview Dellani about her work and her new novel.

The main character, Pia Donovan, Pia has just moved to the City from a tiny town in Nebraska. Overwhelmed by the fast pace, and after a long day of getting lost in the worst part of the city possible, she finally arrives at her destination, a historic, grand hotel in the downtown area. Picking her way across the rutted ground in front of the building, she loses her balance, practically falling into the arms of Flynn Chancellor. Handsome and friendly, Flynn presents a happy distraction for a girl who’s trying to recover from a broken heart.

Questions:

Amanda M. Thrasher

Amanda:

1) You have written several novels. Is this your first romance?

Dellani: I have written other straight romances, but this is the first published romance. The others are either romantic suspense or sci-fi.

2) Does Pia resemble anyone you know?

Dellani: She resembles me in several ways. First of all, she’s an academic brat. My father was a college professor. For Pia, it’s her mom. We both grew up in Nebraska, though she’s from the east and I grew up out west. It’s still the small town girl vibe. Also, her musical loves are mine – hands down, exactly like me.

3) Is the protagonist, Pia, a heroine, victim or neither?

Dellani: She is certainly no victim, though she has some hurt in her life. She does suffer a little in the story, but she rises above. I wouldn’t call her a heroine, as there is no real villain. However, she is a strong female lead.

4) When I think of romance, I often think of love stories. Is this a typical love story?

Dellani: It is a love story, with a bit of a surprise. If you’re asking if this follows the standard romance formula, no. But it is a sweet story of loss, love and redemption.

5) I am sure some scenes maybe steamy. How would you rate them, R rated or X?

Dellani Oakes

Dellani: This particular story is very mild. There are some heavy make-out scenes and certain acts are mentioned, but there is no graphic sex in the story. It’s more of an understood thing. Because there are some sensitive people out there, I would give it a light R. It would be appropriate for 17+

6) Being a visual writer (myself), do you have to visualize your scenes. If so, how fun 🙂 but on another note, is it emotionally draining at times being in someone else’s relationship?

Dellani: Yes and yes. I see the scenes play out in detail. I hear them talking in their individual voices, and try to capture their individual styles.

There are times when character’s don’t get along. That’s inevitable. It’s hard when the actions of one character adversely affect another. Sometimes, there’s reparation. Other times, there’s an irreparable split. Those are hard, especially if I really like both characters.

7) I know by nature you are an observer; the material is all around you, but writing romance, is it hard to find good relationships to mimic these days?

Dellani: I don’t really try to mimic any relationships. If anything, their couple dynamic is similar to my own marriage. We’ve been together 35 years and still have fun together. Our style is a little avaunt-garde but it works for us.

8) If you had to tell your audience/readers one thing about this book that you want them to know?

Dellani: Don’t pick it up expecting a “typical romance”. Anyone who knows my work already knows this, but new readers don’t. I have never followed the boy meets girl, boy and girl fight, boy and girl makeup and live horribly ever after. I can’t even imagine people hating one another throughout a book, then realizing they are in love. I give it a year—maybe.

My couples meet, feel a spark and work together against conflict. They resolve their issues and work through them together.

9) Flynn sounds as if he is gorgeous and delightful, but is he a nice person? Don’t answer if it gives away your story 🙂

Dellani: Flynn is a great guy, but he has some baggage that even he doesn’t recognize. He’s learning and growing as a person. I love Flynn. (I love Yancy and Pia as well) 🙂

10) While writing romance is hard to put original spins on twists that are already out there and make them your own?

Dellani: Yes, it can be. People have certain expectations for romance, which I don’t give them. I do my best to find ways to bring my characters closer, not drive them apart. Not to say they don’t have problems, but at least they try. Finding a new spin isn’t easy, but I hope I still deliver a good story.

11) Greenlee honestly could have been any kid, in any town, anywhere in America. Could Pia be any woman, anywhere, in any small town or is she special?

Dellani: She’s very universal, in my eyes. Although she is a musician, she could be anyone, anywhere—a displaced small town girl in the big city. I love that she’s like that, but retains her individuality – just as Greenlee did. (I love her)

12) Who is your favorite character in this book, and why?

Dellani: I love all my leads, but as far as favorite – I’m gonna have to go with Oz. He’s not a major character, but he is pivotal. Oz is special, a young man with Asperger’s, who lives down the hall from Pia. He is fiercely loyal, intuitive and sees into a person with a great clarity. He talks to Pia about seeing the pattern. At first, she’s not quite sure, but when she sings for a group of the residents, she sees it quite clearly. Glancing at Oz, she realizes that he knows what she’s seeing. It’s a cool moment.

13) What would you tell your fans excites you about this release?

Dellani: I love this book! I fell in love with the characters, I love the plot twists and I can’t wait for it to be out so that they can enjoy it too.

So Much It Hurts by Dellani Oakes

14) Did you learn anything about your self while writing this piece?

Dellani: Yes, I learned that I’m very sarcastic and have bizarre sense of humor. Oh wait, I knew that already. Let’s say that the dialogue made that abundantly clear.

15) I cannot go back and reread my pieces for a long time. I would change too many things (it is a personal author/writer thing). Now your new book is ready for release, is there a single thing you would have written differently and will you ever go back and rewrite it?

Dellani: Usually, I’m the same way. I read my books later and find things I’d change. This time, I can’t say that. I am really pleased with how this came out. Of course, five years from now, I might feel differently, but right now, no.

16) Will you write a sequel to this piece?

Dellani: I’m not sure about a sequel. It’s possible, but I think I tied up the loose threads successfully. However, I’m very likely to bring these characters into other books set in the same city. There are a few incidental characters that the three core characters encounter, who are featured in other of my books (which aren’t published yet).

17) Is there an element of mystery to this romance?

Dellani: For once, there is no real mystery involved. Since I mostly write romantic suspense, I thought it would be interesting to break away from that for once. I think I was successful.

18) How do you define success as an author?

Dellani: If I get positive feedback from readers, I feel I’ve been successful. I would love to be the writer making millions (who wouldn’t?) but I’m realistic. Those contracts are rare. If I make even one reader laugh, cry or sweat, I have done my job.

19) Define the best makebelieve day as a writer?

Dellani: My best makebelieve day would be to have a movie company call me up and tell me they want to turn one of my books into a movie and I can pick the leads.

20) If you could speak to a stadium full of Dellani Oakes fans about this book, what is the very first thing you would say after the initial introduction?

Dellani: I think I’d channel comedienne Minnie Pearl. I’d walk onto the stage in a big, flowered hat, wave my hand and say, “Howdy!” Once I had everyone laughing, then I’d start to talk.

Excerpt:

“You weren’t kidding about how close it all is. I’ll have to explore Making Music soon. I can’t go long without a fix.”

“We can go in now, if you want.” He turned to face the store.

The front window was filled with shiny saxophones, sparkling flutes, and tantalizing objects Flynn couldn’t name. It caught his artist’s eye, drawing him in.

“Today’s goal is campus.”

“As the lady wishes.” He swung her around to face the way they’d been going. “I should see if they’ll let me do a camo piece there. I could have fun with all the shiny objects. Matching things like metal and leather is tricky.”

“I imagine so. The textures and the way it catches the light. And suede versus tanned hide would be an additional challenge.”

“You must have taken painting classes.”

“A few. Mom thought we should all have a well-rounded education. Her granddad was an artist in Mexico. Quite well known. Maybe you know the name. Rafael Dominguez?”

Flynn stopped in his tracks. “No! Really? Shit!” His hand flew to his head, searching for a cap that wasn’t there. He grasped his hair instead. “I am the hugest fan of his work. My first copies were of his Santa Rosada Sitting. The colors are so hard to match, I couldn’t do it justice. It’s phenomenal.”

Pia’s eyes watered and she sniffled. “That was my great-grandmother. He painted that of her just before she died.”

“The play of light…the textures…his use of bold colors. It just leapt off the canvas. Incredible! Is it true he made his own paints?”

“Yes. Mom even has some containers of his original paints. Would you believe, they’re still good? We don’t use them, of course, but Mom has his recipes. Virtually unintelligible, though. We’re hoping someone will be able to read through them and figure them out. He used a very bizarre shorthand, since he couldn’t read or write.”

Flynn dug his hands into his pockets, biting his lower lip. “I need a project for my final semester. I chose the work of Rafael Dominguez. Do you have copies of the notes, or could you get them? Because I would be honored to try to translate them.”

“I do! Well, Mom does. We loaned the originals to a museum, along with some of his paintings, and sketches. They scanned them for us and put them in a display case. I can make that happen.”

Swept away by the moment, Flynn grabbed her face and kissed her. It was brash and impulsive, but he didn’t even think. As soon as he realized what he was doing, he considered stopping, but Pia took his face in her hands and kissed him back. From there, it took on a life of its own and he couldn’t stop. Sighing contentedly, Pia disengaged and smiled up at him.

“Unexpected,” she murmured. “Nice.”

“I’m sorry. I got carried away…”

“Don’t apologize unless I rack your balls.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He pulled her close, resting his forehead against hers. “Does that mean I can hope for another?”

“We’ll see.” She cut her eyes at him, grinning. Swishing away, she walked down the street.

© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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Blog post by Amanda M. Thrasher

author, Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, paranormal, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

So New, It Doesn’t Even Have a Title

A work in progress:

The juice box was definitely against me. Its resistance was punctuated by a taunting titter.  My efforts to open it were futile, it mocked.

 

WIP copyNo, wait. The snickering was not the juice box. It came from down the lunch table.  I didn’t even have to look their way. I knew who was laughing, and I didn’t want to see if it was me they were laughing at.  In my heart, I knew it was.

 

I continued to stab at the little cellophane covered hole with the sadly beveled end of the hard plastic straw like Van Helsing at the climax of a bad B movie. The final strike bent my straw, but rewarded me with a squirt of lukewarm apple juice in the face. An arterial explosion worthy of the best special effects artist in the business.

 

The laughter from the perfectly coifed girls at the other end of the table could not be ignored this time.  My life was not a bad horror movie; it was a comedy and I was the hapless victim of a situational schtick.

 

Staring down at the lunch tray, I watched the juice drown my stale, rectangular pizza slice.  At least, I wasn’t hungry anymore anyway.  My appetite was ruined by the whispered jokes about me destroying the little paper box with my brute strength.

 

I closed my eyes and swore that if I heard one more comment from those four makeup-slathered, social media celeb wannabes about me being a “she-male”, I’d flip this table on their heads.

 

Not that I hold any direct animosity for She-males, or what have you, but I do resent lies being spread about me.  And, I resent those who start the lies.  Namely, Brittany.  My mom says I spend way too much time worrying about Brittany, her crew, and what they think or say about me.

 

Mom says it doesn’t matter what others think, only what I know about myself.  Yeah, she’s full of inspirational poster stuff like that.

 

Sorry, Mom.  But, it’s hard not to see myself reflected in the eyes and jeers of my fellow students.  My peers.  What a joke.  I have so very little in common with them that I hesitate to call them peers of any sort.  Alas, for the next year or so, I must.

 

Of course, using the word ‘alas’ in casual conversation is one of the things these girls would tease me about.  Can I help it if my grandfather read Shakespeare to me for the last fifteen years of his life?

 

The siren-like bell blared from the hall to announce the next class would begin in five.  I gathered my sloshing tray and stood, never glancing at Brittany once.  Fifth period was next.  Gym class, right after lunch.  Brilliant scheduling.

 

When was this nightmare going to end?

*****************************************************************************

I woke up the other day recounting my dream several times as I did to try and remember it. The sights, the feelings, the familiar trappings of high school. I often dream that I’m back in school, but never had I wanted to write them into a story. This one was fun.  Well, to me, running for my life and fighting creatures while possessing an unnatural strength in a dream is fun.  Others may call it a nightmare.  Either way, it spawned this new character. This is a little beginning snippet from what I will call my first Urban Paranormal Young Adult story.

It is such an infant at the moment that it has no name.  Heck, I just came up with the protagonist’s name this morning.  I hope you enjoy!

Cereal Authors, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Literary, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — a fanfic continues

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. — Ruth Davis Hays

 

After an exhausting and confusing time of “follow the leader”, the two found the front door and had gone inside.  The house seemed to unfold, with each room larger than the last and offering more doors that led to more and more rooms.  Each one stranger and filled with more interesting little things than the one before it.  Indeed, it could take an eternity to wander and explore the whole place.

In one tall library that had a fireplace larger than they were high and a long polished wood table, they had come across the kender, Gintilli Dibbertill.  She was a slender and muscular girl with a long, blonde topknot tied in the same fashion as Tasslehoff’s.  She looked much like Tas, only feminine in all the right ways.  Her manner was very similar to Tas’s as well.  She talked excitedly, moved around almost constantly and was intensely interested in anything new.  Frodo guessed that this was just the way kender acted and made the best of it.

Tasslehoff had scolded her for changing the entrance to the tree house while he had been away, though he had complemented her on the “merry chase” she had led them on while trying to find the way in.

“I thought you might like it,” She had simply said.  She was evidently undaunted by his first reaction.

Frodo explored part of their house with them.  The fascination that they showed in many of the twists and turns made him wonder if it was the first time that they had seen some parts as well.  Then he remembered how kender like to find new things and realized that they must change the house constantly so that it can always be new to them.   At times, they bickered like siblings and at other times they seemed to titter and giggle like ‘tweens in love.   He was curious as to what their relationship actually was, but thought it improper to ask.

At length, they all settled in the tall library again to eat.  That was when Gintilli introduced her half-sister, Glorianthea.  They had overlooked her the first time through the room as she had been sitting in a far corner silently.  Now, she was sitting at the long table, silently.

She was very different from the other two kender.  Though she had the same size and features, she was thinner and paler than Gintilli.  Her dark brown hair was braided in a single long braid down her back and her slanted, chestnut eyes stared vacantly before her.  She also did not seem to move, nor register that they were present in any way.  She just stared.

Tasslehoff called her unnerving.  Gintilli called her annoying.  But, Frodo simply found himself staring at her curiously, almost as if he was waiting for her to move or look up at him.

Dinner was a bit odd, as Tasslehoff and Gintilli seemed quite used to ignoring Glorianthea, but Frodo felt it rude leaving her out of the conversation or not acknowledging her presence in the least.   After he had offered her something to eat for the third time, Gintilli finally said not to bother.

“She won’t take it even if she can hear you.  Believe me, I’ve tried.  She will eat but, only when no one else is around.  She must feed herself because I leave food with her and when I come back, it’s gone.  I just never have the patience to sit around long enough to see her eat it.  It gets too boring,” She said in her soft, high, almost sing-song voice.

“Why is she like this?” Frodo asked.  He looked at her wide, almost sad eyes.  Her face was smoother than Gintilli’s with the small pointed ears making her look as if she were a tiny, petite elf maid. He felt his pulse race and remembered a similar feeling long ago in the presence of another elf maiden.

“She’s been like that as long as I can remember,” Gintilli began.  “I think she saw a dragon once and this is what happened.  I don’t know why, though.  I’ve seen a dragon or two myself and I was never scared stupid.”

“Dragons do tend to make one’s stomach feel funny,” chimed in Tas,  “But, I’ve been around a ton of them.  I got used to the feeling.  Maybe it tried to eat her.  That might make her not want to go outside.  But, we keep telling her that there are no dragons here.  At least none that I’ve seen yet.”

“Perhaps there is more to it,”  pondered Frodo.

They talked late into the evening around the fire in the huge hearth, but Frodo’s eyes kept straying back to Glorianthea’s still form in the tall chair at the end of the table.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, childrens stories, Excerpts, Fantasy, Fiction, Life, Literary, Musings, Ramblings, Romance, Ruth Davis Hays, Sci-Fi, Uncategorized, YA

Realms of Light — A fanfic

Hello, before I return to Jorthus or undernoticed artists, or even rambling creative thoughts, I thought I would present a portion of a fan-fiction story I began many years ago. I had read some Fanfic, but had never tried it. I heard that it is a good writing exercise and a way to get the creative juices flowing when stuck on one’s own work. I gave it a try.

Now, I must say upfront that THE RACES, NAMES, OR PLACES MENTIONED ARE NOT MY OWN. (I elaborated on some concepts presented in two of my favorite bodies of work, THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES.) That said, there may be some spoilers to those who may have never read the books or watched the movies/cartoons. But, mainly, this was just for fun.

Again, a disclaimer:  I do not own, nor did I create, these characters. I wrote this as homage to my favorite writers, J. R. R. Tolkien as well as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Chapter 1

It seemed that weeks, or months, had passed since his arrival here.  It was difficult to trace time.  Daylight came and went with no real sense of urgency.  Here he was just beginning to understand the concept of eternity.

Existence carried on much like it did in life in this Resting Place, as it was referred to by its inhabitants.  One could sleep if tired, or eat if hungry.  Though the need was not as strong as it had been in the previous life.  Here one did things out of habit rather than necessity.  Food and drink were delicious and would fill the stomach, but there was never a point of real hunger.  Only the enjoyment of taste and smell would drive one to partake of the bounteous harvest of this peaceful land.  And of course, the mere love of eating is all the motivation a hobbit needs to eat his fill.

The Resting Place, a spirit realm that reaches to all of creation, was the mingling of many races from many worlds in peace and harmony.  Here to rest, to recover from pains of both mind and soul.  The physical pains were left behind on other planes.  This was a place of healing and learning, if one was willing to heal or learn.  Some residents in this land of glory were still clinging to old ways and seemed loathe to give them up.

This realm was extraordinary.  It was a reality, in form and feel like the physical realities that the inhabitants had left behind, but clearer and brighter.  Only spirits dwelt here, but not as a ghost or haunt might in the physical worlds; here all things were spirit so that when one reached out to touch a tree, it was actually the spiritual form of a tree and therefore tactile to one.  The clothes and manners of those dwelling here were the forms chosen by them from their memories.  They had homes that suited them and lands that were pleasing to them.  They dwelt in happiness and contentment, for the most part.

The only discontent here is what they brought with them and would not release.  That is why most were still here.  Some spirits learned to move on to other realms, to find other greater places to dwell.  Some remained here out of fear, some remained out of ignorance, and some remained out of loyalty to those that were not ready to move on.

Those that feared what was beyond this realm, quailed and shrank from learning how to move beyond.  Those that did not wish to move on out of loyalty were allowed to visit both realms, and those that did not learn how to move on, were allowed to stay as long as it would take to learn.

But, some here stayed out of shame.  They are those that could not or would not let go of their hurts.  They did not feel that they should move on.  The light beyond gave them little comfort, mainly guilt.  They had a choice to make.  To let go of their pain and move forward into the light of the Realm Beyond, or to fade into the comfort of the shadows and stay here forever.  Or worse, to slip into the darkness where no hand or light could touch them.

On this particular day, the sun shone through the round window of a hobbit hole.  Not an extravagant hole, a modest hole.  Tastefully decorated, and just the right size for a single, male hobbit. The hall branched off onto a study, a bath, a bedroom, a sitting room with a large fireplace, and most importantly, a well-stocked kitchen.

Frodo Baggins sat quietly in the patch of sunlight that streamed in his sitting room window.  He had been reading one of the books from his shelves.  Books he had remembered from his youth in Bag End.  As his desire to read the story he had picked out dulled, the words on the pages had dimmed to nothing.  Now, he sat with a book of blank pages lying open and forgotten on his lap, staring out the window into the meadows and forests beyond.

He had wandered that countryside when he had first arrived, as most souls do.  Exploring with an insatiable curiosity and undisguised wonder over the beauty and glory of these lands.  But, over time, he had grown weary of the same sights and paths.  He had settled into this little home and began to study other things.  Things closer to himself.  Things about himself.  Things, he was not altogether comfortable about dealing with alone.  Avoidance had been his next tactic to pass the time.  He tried to occupy his mind with other things so that it would not stray onto paths of the soul that he rather not tread.  He wrote stories.  He read stories.  He took short and frequent walks, baked large amounts of food, and even learned how to do his own gardening.  He gave many dinner parties and had tea with Sam and Rosie every day that the weather allowed.  Which was practically every day.

He tried to limit the time he was allowed to sit alone and think about the things that had passed, or what could have come to pass.  When the dark moods came upon him, he would retreat into his comfortable little hole and hide from the queries of others.  They wanted to help him feel “better”, but could not.  Only he could do that, though he did not know how.  At these times, he felt restless, though venturing out seemed impossible.  He wanted company, but all those he knew would know too much about his troubles.  He felt lost and alone, and the brighter the day shone outside his house, the darker the shadows seemed inside.

He was in one of those moods now.  The books had lost their appeal.  The meadow seemed too bright, a brightness that would expose his darkness to all that saw him.  He wanted to hide.  He wanted to escape.  He wanted something.  Something else.  Something that was not in this small, close hole and something that he had yet to find outside.

Slamming the blank book closed, Frodo kicked his footstool aside and went to the bookshelf to replace the book.  As he slipped the book into place his eyes fell on his hand.  Though spirit matter, his third finger was still missing.  He had thought it odd at first.  When he had asked about it, some spirits had suggested that perhaps a strong power had separated the finger even at the essence level of being and that the matter would regrow with time.  That had confused him.  Although the ring had been on the finger at the moment of separation, Gollum had thrown the digit away.  It would have been burned to nothing in Mount Doom.

Perhaps as I should have been

Sam had suggested that he had grown accustomed to not having it and the spiritual form was simply adjusting to that perception.  That was too kind and, Frodo felt, too easy an explanation.  It was easy enough to hear those around him say that he was forgiven for any wrongs, for they only knew as much as he had told them.  It was easy for them to say that the missing finger did not mean anything, for they did not know what was in his heart.  They had not been in his mind at the moment it had been lost.  They did not know, could not know.

But, there was one here in this realm that would know.  The Master of this Realm could see into his heart and lay bare his mind.  He would know.  He did know.  Although Frodo had not faced Him yet, he felt that perhaps he had already been judged.  Some dark part of his heart whispered to him that the finger was gone forever to be a reminder of what he had done.

How can I forgive myself …

His musings were cut short by a noise at his door.  It was not a knock.  It sounded as if someone were trying to pry open his door lock.  Curiosity stirred inside him for the first time in months.  He moved to the door and placed his hand on the center knob just as the thing swung open.  He jumped out of the way with a startled cry.  He was not sure what to expect on the other side, but the form that met his eyes took him by surprise.

There, crouched in the center of his doorway was a Halfling.  But not in form nor dress, a hobbit such as himself.  This being was slender, slightly taller in height than Frodo himself, dressed in an outrageous colored tunic, leggings, and boots with a fur vest.  His ears had small points, similar to an elf’s and a wide, child-like excitement in his brown eyes.  He had chestnut colored skin that wrinkled as he smiled up at the astonished hobbit, and his long, brown hair was tied up in a topknot that overflowed down his back.

At the sight of Frodo, the figure leaped up with one hand extended and introduced himself in a frenetic, high-pitched voice.

“Hello! Pleased to meet you.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  Your door is fascinating.  Too bad it wasn’t locked.  Nobody locks their doors anymore.  It’s terribly frustrating.  I heard there were other halflings about, ones that I’m not related to and came looking.  There seem to be a lot of doors in the ground around here.  Do you all live underground? Is it hard to keep the grass roots from dropping dirt on your head?  Are there any tree roots in there?  Do you live alone? Are there a lot of others like you?  What do they call your kind?  I’m a kender.  We come from Krynn.  It’s not around here, but we seem to end up here anyway.  Where are you from?  Which world, I mean.  There are so many.  I’ve met a lot of fascinating people around here, wherever ‘Here’ is.  Why do your feet look like that?”

This strange individual had barely stopped to breathe in his excited speech and had shook Frodo’s hand and pushed past him to explore the hobbit’s hole uninvited.  Frodo was momentarily at a loss for what to do or say.  He stood by the open door with his mouth agape, watching the kender manhandle just about every item in his home.

“Oh, I…uh, who are you? And why are you here?” he stammered, as he closed his front door.

The strange little fellow waltzed up to him again and smiling, shook his hand again.  He spoke very slowly and with exaggerated clarity.

“I’m sor-ry.  I did-n’t kn-ow that you were fee-ble-mind-ed.”

Frodo almost laughed at this but felt a little insulted as well.  He pulled his hand out of the other’s grip.  “I’m not feebleminded!  You just took me by surprise is all.”

“Well, then.  I’m Tasslehoff Burrfoot.  I’m a kender from Krynn.  I died, I guess.  And after spending some time with my friend Flint, he’s a dwarf, we came here with the rest of my friends.  Except Fizban wasn’t around at the time, which kind of disappointed me.  But, he’ll probably get around to it later seeing as he’s busy being a god on Krynn and all.”

Frodo saw his eyes begin to wander onto the shelves again and decided to keep the kender’s ramblings on track.  “You died on Krynn, you say.  Where is Krynn?” he asked conversationally.

“I don’t really know.  It had three moons and was far from here, I think.”

He stopped to think hard on the subject and this allowed Frodo a moment to get his bearings on this intrusion.  The fellow did not seem to be hostile and neither did he seem to be in a hurry to leave, so Frodo decided to find out as much as he could about him.  He had heard mention of other “little folk” in this realm, but after extensive wanderings and never seeing any halflings other than hobbits, he had given up the search.  Now, out of the blue pops this kender.

“I’m sorry, I do not mean to be rude.  My name is Frodo Baggins.  I’m a hobbit.  That’s the name for halflings in Middle-earth.  That is from where I hail.” He tried to be polite for he had no idea what kind of temperament a kender might have if insulted.  Had he known a kender’s temper, he would have counted himself lucky that he had chosen the course of diplomacy instead of ordering the creature out of his home.

Tasslehoff came back to the present with a snap.  “Baggins!  I’ve heard that one before.”

“You have?” Frodo was astonished and intrigued.  A faint cloud of paranoia slithered under his heart as well.  What was being said about him?

“Yes, I met a Baggins fellow just yesterday.  Is it a common name?”

“Well, no, not as common as some.  Did you meet Bilbo?”

“Yes, that was his name.  Slightly older than you.  Likes to talk about dragons.  He walked with me for quite a while, then said he was hungry and went home.  If I’d known that he lived in a hole, I would have gone with him.  I’ve never met anyone that lived in a hole before.  Well, no one that intentionally lived in one, anyways.  We were so busy talking and walking that I didn’t really see how odd his feet were.  Do all hobbits have feet like that?”

Frodo smiled, his suspicions gone.  “Yes, I believe they do.  Are there other…kender?  I had thought that I had explored this land well enough, but I’ve never seen one of your kind before.”

“Well, that doesn’t surprise me!” Tasslehoff said knowingly as he plopped into Frodo’s favorite chair and placed his colorful boots on the ottoman.  “We kender rarely stay in one spot.  Besides, something that I’ve noticed about this place is that if you don’t expect to see something or someone or somewheres, then you probably won’t.  It’s kinda like the Abyss in that way.  You have to Think about going somewhere new before you can get there.  Me, I’m always looking for someplace new, so I usually find it.”

Frodo found himself being pulled into this conversation as he sat on a small, wooden chair near his fireplace.  This lively visitor had certainly gotten his mind off his troubles.  Now, his interest peaked, he was anxious to learn more of these other halflings and this other world.

“Abyss?” he queried as he started to brew some tea out of habit. The kettle hung from a small hook in the front of the hearth so the tea-water stayed warm.  “What is the Abyss?”

Tasslehoff seemed astonished.  “You’ve never heard of the Abyss? Well, let me tell you about the time….”

The kender went off on a long and rambling tale of a land of the dead that he had visited by accident where dwelt, at that time, a dark goddess of great beauty and power.  He told of gnomes and mages and a time-traveling device.  There seemed to be no end to the kender’s ability to talk.  One tale seemed to blend into another and Frodo felt that he might need to take notes in order to keep things straight.  Little did he know that with Tasslehoff, repetition of a tale was par for the course.   Though, the tales often varied with the mood.

The time passed so quickly listening to the kender, that when Tasslehoff finally came to a halt in order to put a sweetcake that Frodo had given him into his mouth, the hobbit was shocked to see the window behind Tasslehoff was dark.  Frodo jumped up, “Oh, It’s night.  I’m terribly sorry, I didn’t notice the time.  I’ve kept you far too late, Tasslehoff.”

“Call me Tas, all my friends do.” He hopped up as well, though he seemed confused as to why he was being ushered to the door.  “Am I late for something?”

Frodo was taken aback. “Oh, I assumed that you would want to be home by dark.”

“Oh, no.  I don’t really have a home.  I’m staying with my cousin, Gintilli*, for right now because she’s new here.  Her place is huge because she hasn’t decided whether she’s staying or not, yet.  She takes care of her half-sister, who doesn’t go anywhere, so she made a big house so she could explore without leaving it.  But, I don’t have to be there all the time.  I’m trying to get Gintilli to leave with me, but she feels bad about leaving her sister alone.”

“So, you are not expected somewhere for the night?” Frodo asked cautiously.

“Oh, no! I can stay all night if I want.  Don’t worry about me.  I don’t really get tired much anymore, so I can talk all night and all day!  In fact, that’s why Flint went to visit some gully dwarves he’d met a few months back.  He said that I needed the rest. Though, I thought it strange at the time, since Flint can’t stand gully dwarves.  But, I’m not a bit tired. So, I went exploring.”

Tas settled back into the sitting room and began eating again. Frodo was not entirely sure how he felt about the prospect of Tasslehoff staying all night in his home.  He was not properly prepared for a guest.  He did not wish to be a bad host, but he was not really ready to be a host in the first place.  At least, not to an overnight, and possibly indefinite, guest.   He had enjoyed the kender’s company and his tales were new and fascinating.  The kender, himself, was cheery and talkative, albeit a little intrusive and blunt at times, but Frodo was flustered, nonetheless, at this sudden turn of events.  He hurried to the kitchen to check his cupboard for proper meals.  He could not let a houseguest go hungry.  Then he looked for fresh linens and inquired about the kender’s sleeping and bathing needs.

“I’m fine.” Tas grinned. “I’ll just stay awake.  And I bathed before I left the house.”

Though, from his description of who he had visited in the last few days, there was no telling when he had “left the house”.

Tasslehoff watched Frodo bustle about the house for a while, then decided to follow him in case he went anywhere interesting.

“You don’t need to make all this fuss over me!” Tas chimed in behind Frodo, who seemed startled to find Tas there.  “I just came to visit.  The food is delicious though.  Do you make it yourself?  Gintilli and I usually just ‘think’ stuff up.  Did you know that you can do that here?  Just think about something hard enough and it shows up.  Like magic.  Though, I daresay the cooked stuff you gave me did taste better than the food we got.  Maybe we didn’t think about the flavor of the food hard enough.  Do you have anything to drink around here?”

“Yes, of course.  I have some ale and some mead.”  Frodo led him to the kitchen where the two settled for a while.  Frodo started a fire in the small fireplace where he heated his pots.  Tasslehoff took one sip of the offered ale and began another tale of his world that told of an inn that was renown for the best ale in the land.  The Inn of the Last Home, it was called, and it was in the town of Solace where he had lived for a long time with his dwarf friend, Flint, and a half-elf named Tanis.

Frodo listened intently, spellbound by the kender’s enthusiasm and descriptive tales.  Krynn was a world of dragons that talked, some good and some evil.  Humans, elves, gnomes, dwarves, and kenders fighting draconians, dark mages, and minotaur.  He told of his adventures with his closest friends, Flint and Tanis, along with a pair of brothers, Caramon and Raistlin, a knight named Sturm, and an elf maid called Laurana.

They had saved their world from the dark goddess by blocking her from entering the physical plane of Krynn and killed the bad dragons with ancient weapons called Dragonlances.   He talked about the love between Tanis, the half-elf and the young, beautiful Laurana that was a scandal among the elves, and of the sultry relationship Tanis shared with a captivating human woman named Kitiara, who was a half-sister to the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  He even went off on a tale about a wooly mammoth that he encountered as well as sharing a few stories that he knew of the adventures of his Uncle Trapspringer.

Frodo learned quite a few things out about Kender during all this talk as well.  They love to tell tales, they get sidetracked easily, and they seem to have no concept of personal property.  He listened and asked questions until he found himself fighting to keep his eyes open.  He was in the habit of getting a good night’s sleep, though he did find that he was not as tired or sleepy here as he had been in life.  The need for sleep seemed to rise out of habit rather than necessity, as many things did in this realm.  As he realized how weary he was, he also looked around to find that they had eaten nearly everything he had had in his larder.  He had not really been aware of time passing as he listened to Tasslehoff’s tales but they had been sitting for quite some time. Looking into the sitting room, he saw that the sun was shining into the room.  How long had they been talking, he wondered.

Tasslehoff was about to launch into another tale when a knock came at the door.  Frodo jumped up with a hasty, “Excuse me” and went to the front door.  He noticed that his legs did feel a bit odd.  Not as though as they had been asleep, like they would have if he had sat for an extremely long time in Middle-earth, but like he simply had to get used to walking on them again.

As he reached for the doorknob with his right hand, he stopped cold.  For a brief moment, he thought that he had seen his missing finger.  His heart skipped a beat.  Then it was gone again, as if he had imagined it.  He began to ponder this odd phenomenon, when the knock came again and jogged him back to the moment.

He opened the door, and there stood Samwise Gamgee.  He looked a bit worried, wringing his hands and shuffling from side to side as Sam used to do when he was upset.  As soon as he laid eyes on Frodo, he seemed to relax.

“Oh, there you are, Mr. Frodo.  I thought something had happened to you,” he said with an exhale of relief.

“No, Sam.  I’m fine.”  Frodo ushered his old friend inside with an outstretched hand.  “Come in, come in and will you please stop calling me, ‘Mister’ Frodo.  We are all equals here, you know that.”

“Of course, I know it, but it’s hard to remember it.”  Sam tried to explain his reluctance to give up what was a comfortable habit.  “I’m just so used to thinking of you, and referring to you like that, Mr. Frodo.  If you get my meaning.”

Frodo had tried to break Sam and Rosie of the habit ever since he had seen them again and knew that it was probably futile.  They would call him that until they no longer felt the need to do so and there was nothing he could do to change it.  He smiled and sighed as he led Sam into his kitchen.

“Well, there is someone I’d like you to meet,” he was saying and then stopped.  The kitchen was empty.  “Now, where’s he gotten off to?”

“Who, Mr. Frodo?” Sam asked, curious at his friend’s good mood.

“Tasslehoff.  I wanted you to meet him.  He’s a fascinating fellow, Sam.”  Frodo was peeking around corners and behind furniture as if his visitor was playing a game of hide and seek.  He had wandered from room to room and after peering inside a wardrobe and finding nothing, he stopped with his hands on his hips.  He suddenly noticed Sam staring at him as if he were completely insane.

“He was here a moment ago,” he said in his own defense.

Sam decided to try a new topic.  “Not to interrupt, but I came over to see if you were alright.  Rosie and me was worried about you, seeing as how you usually come over to tea before dark.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, Sam.  I meant to come over last night, but I met Tas and we started talking and he started telling his tales.  I lost track of time.  Please give my apologies to Rose.” Frodo halfway gave up his search for the kender, though he wondered where he had gone so quickly.

“Well, we don’t expect you to live your day around us, mind you.  But, seeing as how it has been two days, I just thought that I would pop by and see if you were …well…”

Frodo stopped in shock.  “Did you say two days?”

“Yes, Mr. Frodo.  When we didn’t hear from you.  Well, we got worried.”

“Two days?” he repeated to himself in wonder.  Then he laughed.  A full-hearted laugh.

Sam smiled to see Frodo in such a wonderfully good humor and began to chuckle as well, though he did not know what they were laughing at.  It was just good to see Frodo laugh again.

“No wonder I was running out of food,” Frodo wiped a tear from his eye.  “We sat and talked for two days!  And I didn’t even know it.  No wonder I’m so tired.”

He sat down on a nearby bench and held his head in his hands as the laughs became less hysterical, then rubbed his face and scalp to wake himself back up a bit.

“You mean, that you haven’t slept in two nights, Mr. Frodo?”  Sam seemed worried again.  “That can’t be good for you.”

“I don’t think it really matters that much in this realm, dear Sam.  Don’t worry over me.  You did that enough in life.  But, I do apologize for missing tea, and not giving any notice or explanation.  It was just that Tasslehoff talked almost non-stop and all he had to say was so very interesting.”

“If you say so, Mr. Frodo.”  Sam sounded as if he was beginning to doubt if this Tasslehoff really existed.

“I’m not crazy, Sam.” Frodo chuckled, he began to doubt that statement himself, though.  “I found him trying to pick the lock on my front door.  It seems that is a common thing that kender do.”

“Kender?”  The tone implied that Sam had heard of them before.

“Yes.  Have you heard of them?” Frodo jumped up.  “Where have you known that name from?”

Sam looked as if he were caught with something that he should not have had.  “Oh, I believe that Gandalf had mentioned that name to me.  Just a few days ago.”

“Gandalf?”  Frodo contemplated this new information a moment, then shrugged it off.  “Well, he did say that he had met quite a few new folk around here.  And he did say that if one is not expecting to…”

He got a sudden thought and shouted.  “Tasslehoff?  Are you still here?!”

This outburst startled Sam, but he was even more startled when a voice from two rooms away answered.

Frodo smiled triumphantly.  “Sam, I want you to meet Tasslehoff Burrfoot.”

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*Gintilli Dibbertill is a kender created by my best friend for role-playing the DRAGONLANCE role-playing world by Wizards of the Coast. The Player Character claims relation to the Burrfoot clan, though that is unsubstantiated. She and her sister do not appear in any books or movies.

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That is the beginning of my fanfic. I hope you enjoyed it. It was fun to write and it filled a need in me to give Frodo a place to deal with feelings over his ordeal and possibly move on to a relationship as the other hobbits had done. Yes, it is a love tale. I had a crush on Frodo ever since seeing the 1978 animated movie The Lord of the Rings.

If you liked it or would like to read more of it, please leave a LIKE or a comment to let me know. Thank you for joining me in this little experiment!