Caveat Emptor (story one): Mark buys a house for half the market value. He’s thrilled with the deal, but he has no idea he’s about to discover the full cost. As they say, “Let the buyer beware.”
The Meaning of Life (story two): Eric obsesses over discovering the meaning of life. Given how thick-headed and self-absorbed he is, it will take someone else to spell it out for him in big, bold letters.
In the Sand Beneath the Dawn (story three): Carly has just about given up on life, but she’ll learn Fate isn’t finished with her, and is shuffling the cards to deal her new hand.
See You in My Dreams (story four): Arthur teeters between two places at once. Reality has split his existence into two parallel realities, and he doesn’t even know it. Unfortunately, life will only offer one solution to his problem.
Planet 94 (story five): Senja and Petre make the scientific discovery of a lifetime—a planet teeming with life. Among the ruins of a lost civilization, a new discovery will make them rethink everything they know about their own history.
The Gift that Keeps on Giving (story six): Samantha works hard and makes just enough money to get by with little to spare. When her company has a big celebration and she needs to buy a gift for her boss, she’ll get a taste of buyer’s remorse when she ignores her instincts and buys a gift from a strange little shop that hadn’t been there only yesterday.
The alarm clock blared. Sunlight filtering through the window shades cast a sickly grey hue about the room. Three open moving boxes sat on the floor near the closet, their contents sorted into piles waiting to be moved to their appropriate places. Mark had moved in just four days ago.
The divorce had been bitter. His ex-wife got the house, the kids, and half of everything else. He got to pay the mortgage, alimony, and child support. He never would have been able to afford this place if it hadn’t been for the circumstances. Three previous owners, all young men, had died in this very bedroom. All had died in their sleep of unknown causes within days of moving in. Mark had laughed at the idea that the house was to blame. The first time he walked in, it had felt so welcoming, drawing him in. When he made a ridiculously low offer for the place, he’d been shocked when the bank accepted it without counter. Now, he lay motionless on the bed, beads of sweat glistening on his ashen face. Mark was dead. Number four. He wasn’t laughing any longer.
Jim Proctor has been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy since high school, bitten by the Sci-Fi bug while reading Frank Herbert’s Dune. He has worked as an engineer and laboratory scientist for almost forty years, and uses his expertise to create believable frameworks for his science fiction stories. He is married with four kids, all adults now, who remind him he was born before dirt was invented. He enjoys sitting down with his laptop and his new writing partner, Bailey, a two-year-old yellow Labrador.
For those who might not be familiar with you, would you be a dear and tell the readers a little about yourself? How did you get your start in the writing business?
(Ernest)Hi Kameron and thank you so much for this opportunity! A little bit about myself? I’m not sure where to start. On a daily basis I am a Professor of Special Education and Literacy at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. As far as how I got started in the writing business, I think I have always been a writer. Growing up I had a severe speech impediment, which made it difficult for me to talk. So I turned to writing. As a kid I read so many comic books and I would often take stories from the comics I read and re-write the story but with my own characters. I would then share the stories with my mom. From there I think my passion for writing and telling stories just grew.
As the years went by I submitted short stories and received many rejection letters. When I started my Master’s program and then my Ph.D. program in special education I put my creative writing on hold. For obvious reasons. During those programs I learned how to become a more efficient and confident writer. I also started to receive acceptance letters for my academic writing in professional journals. Once I completed my Ph.D. and had some free time on my hands I started submitting my creative pieces once again and started to find some success.
It wasn’t until recently did I discover that I tell a lot of stories. As an educator, I teach by sharing personal stories and experiences I had in the classroom when I was a special education teacher. I believe this helps my students connect the content of the classroom to real-world experiences.
(KAM) Before I became a writer, I too worked in the special education field. It was one of the best jobs I ever had.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, please share how you handle it.
(Ernest) I think all writers suffer from some form of writer’s block. However, the writing block manifests itself in different ways. For me my writer’s block is time. As a full-time professor, husband, father of five, and helping with the care of my elderly parents I’m surprised I find time to sleep; let alone write. Therefore, when I do sit down and write it is important for me to be efficient in order to get my thoughts and ideas down. I also think when I am away from the keyboard I am always thinking of my stories or manuscripts that I am writing so when I do sit down to write I already know what I want to say or have worked out the scene in my head and have just been impatiently waiting to get it down on paper. I also have journal notes, post-it notes, draft emails with thoughts and ideas that I want to add to my stories. Sometimes I often wonder how much writing I could get done if I actually had six hours of uninterrupted time to write? But honestly, how I write now works for me.
(KAM) Wow, you are a busy man! And, your creative process sounds like mine. I have notes everywhere. 😀
Will you please share with the visitors what genre(s) you write? Also, when you’re not writing, how to do you spend your time?
(Ernest) What genre I write? That is a really good question. In many ways I am still trying to figure that out myself. I like to tell people I write realistic fiction. Then I get a funny look and they ask me, “You mean you believe in Bigfoot?” Yes, of course I do, that’s why I wrote Spirit of Sasquatch. Maybe a lot of authors don’t admit this (or maybe they do), but we often pull from our own experiences. Most of my stories have some element that happened to me or someone close to me. With that definition I could probably argue my writing is creative nonfiction. However, because my stories contain elements related to the paranormal or cryptid animals most people would have a hard time accepting my stories as creative nonfiction. If you want a technical boring answer, I suppose I write science fiction and paranormal fiction.
When I am not writing, how do I spend my time? I spend a lot of time with my family. My wife and I love to go hiking and camping. We spend a lot of time in the woods. My time in the woods also includes searching for Bigfoot or any other cryptid creature or mystery. I also study mindfulness meditation. Through mindfulness my connection to nature and the world around me has grown deeper over the years. Lastly, I love to read. I’ll read anything. And I love to research ideas and thoughts and learn new things.
I know many writers, such as myself, keep their pastime/career a secret. Do those close to you know you write? If so, what are their thoughts?
(Ernest) Oh I’m an open book! Everyone I know, knows I write. Knows I search for Bigfoot. Knows that I am believe in aliens and that a ghost, named Julie, lives in our house, and that I meditate daily. Even my students know that I write, meditate, and search for the unknown. It’s just who I am. I have nothing to hide.
Granted it took me a few years to get to this point. When I first got into the paranormal and searching for Bigfoot only my close friends and family knew. I never really shared my writing with anyone, except for my wife, Christine. And then one day it all switched. This is who I am. Why hide it? In many ways I think my mindfulness (and Christine) helped me with this switch. To be authentic. To be genuine. To be open. It is honestly a liberating feeling.
(KAM) That’s fantastic news. A good support team is always appreciated in whatever path we choose for ourselves.
Will you share with us your all time favorite authors? If you’re like me, it’s a long list so give us your top ten.
(Ernest) Great question! And it is honestly, an unfair question. However, my list, in no particular order:
If you could choose one book to go to the big screen, yours or otherwise, which book would you choose and whom would you love see casted in the parts?
(Ernest) I believe it is every author’s dream to have their book or books optioned to be a movie. As much as I would love to pick one of my own books I am actually going to pick an obscure book. The book is titled, Voices in the Wilderness by Ron Morehead. This is the true story of how Ron Morehead and some of his friends “captured” the sound of Bigfoot in the Sierra Nevada mountain range back in the 1970’s. The story is captivating and the evidence is intriguing. However, I would want the movie made with a serious intention. Not a half-hearted, half-joke mentality. As far as an actor goes, not sure. I’m not up to speed on current actors and Hollywood stars. It’s been a few years since I watched TV or the movies.
Would you care to tell us what you’re working on now? That is if it’s not top-secret information. If so, just whisper it in my ear. I swear it’ll go no further.
(Ernest) Nothing is top secret. However, I won’t tell you the story because I would then lose the motivation behind writing the story. I am working on a novel that takes place in the world of Spirit of Sasquatch. I always liked how Robert Heinlein and Stephen King have their novels set in the same world and sometimes characters and places bleed over to other stories. In Spirit of Sasquatch there were a couple characters I wanted to develop further. In truth, they were knocking around in my head and wanted me to expand their stories further after I finished Spirit of Sasquatch. So with this new writing project I am doing just that. They will be stand-alone stories, but could be read in sequence.
Where can we find your stories and is there a particular reading order?
(Ernest) There is no particular reading order for any of the stories I currently have out on the market. Spirit of Sasquatch is available as an ebook for Kindle and print. The ebook can be found on Amazon.com and the print book can be located with any of the booksellers. Readers can also contact me through my Spirit of Sasquatch Facebook page if they want to purchase a signed copy.
The Well Houseis a different kind of ghost story and is currently only available as an ebook for Kindle. A print version will be released later this year at the annual Mothman Festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia.
Lucy is a young girl who loves her Pa, their cow, and the little farmhouse she calls home. She also loves the red bicycle that Harvey gave her as a present. But not all is idyllic, and she struggles to steer clear of the local transient, Joe-Michael.
Gannon and Farrah move to Lucy’s family farm many years after Joe-Michael became Lucy’s father’s farmhand. Together, Gannon and Farrah hear Lucy’s voice for the first time on an audio recorder hidden in the woods near the old family homestead. Even though their lives are separated by decades, they intersect at the pond where the secrets have been submerged by Joe-Michael.
Blurring the lines between time and space, Lucy shares her tale with Gannon and Farrah in an unconventional turn of events.
And sadly, Two Moons Rising is currently out of print. However, I do have limited copies. I’m hoping to bring Two Moons Rising back on the market by September of 2019.
Would you please share how your present and future fans can contact you?
(Ernest) Ha ha! Fans. That makes me smile. I’m just thrilled when someone reads my stuff. Honestly, I love chatting with my fans about writing and books in general. To talk about my own work is still unbelievable to me. I can be reached through my Spirit of Sasquatch Facebook page or on Goodreads.com. But let’s be honest, my name is pretty unique and a Google search will probably lead them to my teaching position at the Mount. Either way works for me.
Before we conclude this enlightening interview, do you have anything else you’d like to share? The stage is all yours.
(Ernest) Thank you Kameron for taking the time to ask these wonderful questions and giving me a stage to share a small part of my story. I am truly grateful for your love of books and wanting to help authors gain a wider audience.
(KAM) Now that you’ve read Ernest Solar’s interview, we ask that you stick around to read my review of Spirit of Sasquatch and to learn details on how you can WINASIGNED PAPERBACK.
~~ PRIZE ~~
Trevor Blackwood lost his wife to the mythical creature known as Bigfoot and never came to terms with her disappearance. It’s been over a decade since she vanished, but time hasn’t stopped Trevor and his sons Darius and Brock from searching for her and the creatures responsible for her disappearance. In fact, their adamant hunting has given the Blackwood trio a reputation – one that’s caught the attention of government forces with ulterior motives.
After the youngest Blackwood goes missing, like his mother, the line between myth and reality is quickly blurred. Brock soon discovers the secrets that shroud the feared beast. Hunted by the government and sought by his father, the young boy discovers the truth behind his mother’s disappearance at the hands of a menacing Sasquatch. The true nature of the Blackwood family legacy is revealed when the threads of Brock’s life crashes together in a devastating confrontation with the government and the legendary creature known as Bigfoot.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
There are a multitude of individuals who believe Sasquatch is real. Teams hunt for the elusive creature. People share captured images of the mysterious beast. However, there’s no solid proof it exists……yet.
Whether you believe in the legend of Bigfoot or not, I think you’ll enjoy reading Spirit of Sasquatch.
There were some interesting theories regarding their classification and abilities. We also learned how the “hairy giants” were feared and respected by all Native American tribes.
Despite the fact I found the story drab at times, one thing I did appreciate regarding Spirit of Sasquatch was some of the humans were the real beasts of the story and the Sasquatch were the loving protectors of the forest.
Now, time for a few of my favorite moments.
Sookum (Bigfoot) skipping rocks with Brock (human). Sookum tossed a boulder though. 😀
Numyc versus the bear.
“Next time be a damn tree!”
You’ll understand #3 once you’ve read the book.
With that said… Don’t be a tree, leave and go get this book.
Ernest will be gifting ONE SIGNED COPY to a lucky person who comments on his interview. Say HI, tell us if you believe in Bigfoot or not, or tell us if you have every encountered the mysterious creature.
One entry per person.
Due to shipping costs, this contest is only available to those living in the continental United States.
Contest ends: May 23rd, midnight (central time)
Winner selected: May 24th via a comment from me on this the comment thread.
If you are not comfortable giving out your mailing address, you can always choose a kindle copy instead.
Now, whatcha waiting for…. LEAVE US A COMMENT. Tell your family and friends to enter. And, GOOD LUCK to you all!
Firefighter Jackson Donovan doesn’t look back—as a rule. So when his past comes roaring back to life in the form of not-so-damsel-in-distress Becks Benning, the last thing he wants to do is relive old times. No matter how tempting she makes it seem…
Now thanks to his two interfering brothers, Becks is living with him while she looks for a new place and tries to pick up the pieces of her tattoo business that went up in flames. Which means a grown up, smokin’ hot Becks is in his house, digging up old wounds. And despite his better judgement, the more time he spends with this smart, artistic, incredible woman the more he wants her in his bed—and his future.
Becks always had it bad for Jackson. Unfortunately for her, not much has changed—he’s still honorable, hard-working, sexy as sin—and closed off. But there’s more than one way to get to a man’s heart and if Jackson doesn’t want to recall old memories, she’ll just have to help him make new ones. Because now that she’s found Jackson again, she’s not letting him go.
They’d gotten separated from the rest of the group when the downpour started, but that happened sometimes. Jackson hoped the rest of them were okay in the tents. For tonight, it was just him, Rafe and Kal.
They’d been lucky to find this abandoned piece of junk house, so they could have a roof over their heads during the storm. Jackson was on lookout tonight, because you never knew who might be prowling for space, or the cops might come and bust them and the last thing they needed was to be dragged back into some shitty foster home worse than the last one.
Foster homes were a crapshoot. Sometimes you got lucky and they were decent. More often than not you got people who were in it for the money, or the system was so overburdened with kids you ended up shuffled from one home to another and you couldn’t even remember anyone’s names. They sure as hell didn’t remember yours. And then sometimes you got the mean ones. At fourteen, Jackson could handle himself. Rafe was getting there at thirteen, but Kal was only twelve. As the oldest, Jackson was responsible for looking out for the younger ones. His brothers. Not by blood, but they were still his brothers.
No, they were better off on their own where they had each other’s backs and no one could ever hurt them again.
Tonight they gotten lucky and had a place to sleep out of the rain. They’d scored a whole pizza some jerkoff had left uneaten on his back porch while the dude was inside having an argument with his girlfriend, so they had full bellies. Rafe and Kal were asleep on the floor in another room while Jackson stood watch. He gazed out the living room window of the old beach house, watching lightning arc across the Atlantic Ocean. The storm was a bad one tonight and the rain was coming down hard.
He walked away from the water view and made his way to the front of the house. He scanned the street out front to make sure it was still clear. Because of the rain, no one was wandering around, which made him feel more secure.
Not that you could ever feel completely safe. Not when you lived like they did.
He pushed off the wall to wander around. Lots of windows in this place. He’d bet it was killer when the sun was out. But tonight the rain made it cold, so they’d shut all the windows earlier. His boots creaked on the worn wood floor. As he moved from room to room he could imagine a family with a couple of kids and maybe a dog running this joint. They’d probably have nice furniture, some cushy-looking couch where they’d all cuddle together and read at night.
He could still remember what it was like to have a family, though that had been a long time ago and there was no point living in the past. He wasn’t gonna get that life back.
Anyway, this was a decent beach house, and maybe someday it would get fixed up. Or maybe torn down. But tonight, it was their shelter and they didn’t have one of those very often.
Having made a circuit of the place, he returned to the living room and sat down in the corner. He leaned back against the wall and settled in.
Jackson woke up coughing, something burning his lungs so badly he couldn’t breathe. He tried to open his eyes, but when he did they burned.
He fought to suck in air, found his voice so he could call out for Rafe and Kal. They didn’t answer. His stomach tightened as he saw flames lick up the wall across the room.
Oh, shit. Fire. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want his brothers to be dead. Tears pricked his eyes as he tried to see through the thick, black smoke. He pushed himself onto his hands and knees, trying to remember where the door was, what room the boys were sleeping in. Had they been right next to him, or had he moved into another room? His brain was fuzzy and he couldn’t remember.
He coughed, the smoke entering his lungs with every breath he took. He pulled his raggedy T-shirt over his mouth, trying to stifle the smoke. He had to get to Rafe and Kal. He was the oldest. It was his job to save them.
He called out to them, rasping out a cough with every few words. But he kept at it. They had to hear him. If he could hear them, he could get to them. Then they’d figure a way out. Because no way were they dying in this piece-of-shit building today.
Finally, he heard voices. The sound was faint, but he wasn’t imagining it. He’d definitely heard it. It was them. It had to be them. Which meant they were alive. He crawled toward the sound, his own voice hoarse as he yelled out in response.
“I’m here! Hang on.” The smoke grew thicker and he could feel himself slipping away, but sheer determination kept him conscious. He was their brother. They’d been through so much together, had survived so much together. This fire wasn’t going to get them.
When he saw the light and the tall shadow looming over him, he thought maybe it was too late. He was dead and this was some dark angel come to take him away. But then strong arms scooped him up.
“It’s okay, buddy,” the dark angel said. “I’ve got you. You’re safe now.”
Jackson shook his head and gripped the angel’s arm, barely able to stay conscious. “My . . . my brothers.”
“They’re safe, too. They’re outside. Come on. Let’s get you out of here.”
Jackson sighed in relief and let himself fall into the darkness.
Take a wild megalomaniacal trip into the American spiritual and Cultural Revolution of the 1960s-1990s, as a young southern man gives fresh perspective to the propaganda, bad marriages, a collection of strange gurus and some bizarre mystical places. For many years, author W. Boone Hedgepeth was a magnet for unusual occurrences of an ethereal nature which vigorously affected the world around him. Suffering a life threatening illness and after a near death experience, Boone goes on an adrenalized journey from the American south and across the country seeking answers. Here, force of will and prayer are the proven best weapons against very unusual circumstances. Literally seeking the face of God, the author plunges into the magical medicine of his native ancestors, the new age metaphysical movement, Christian fundamentalism, and other wild and life-changing experiences before coming out of the fires to the other side.
(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique)
There is so much I want to touch upon regarding Wild Willful Heart. Please be patient with me as I share my thoughts on many aspects of Boone’s story.
I’m not too familiar with Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I grew up in a Pentecostal church and my minister only spoke of our beliefs. While reading Wild Willful Heart, I learned both religions believed in the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit.
However, Boone disclosed some bizarre facts about Mormonism that had me shaking my head.
1.) For over 100 years, Mormons believed there were six foot tall beings living on the moon because an early church leader named Orson Pratt had said so. This was debunked after the moon landing.
2.)Mormons believed their “magic underwear,” which had Masonic markings on it, was knife proof and bulletproof. It had to be worn everyday to protect the righteous wearer from evil.
I’m not sure why anyone would believe such nonsense but, then again, atheists wonder why people believe in GOD so to each their own, I guess.
Like many people, Boone questioned organized religion. He used words like hypocrite and hypocrisy more than once. I can understand why he used these key words. I’m not saying all churches or church members are hypocrites. What I am saying is I can fully understand why some people are losing their faith in GOD, churches, and religion as a whole.
As Boone embarked on his vision quest, he discussed troubling times from his past. At thirteen, he began to hear voices in his head, which instructed him to end his life. He assumed every teen experienced these voices as they transitioned into adulthood. As a teen, I began hearing voices too. I didn’t speak of them. The voices are scary. You feel alone, afraid of your own mind. Like Boone, I also live with bipolar disorder, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I truly believe MORE people should discuss mental health because we need to end the stigma of mental illness. If we don’t, if we shame those with mental health problems, people who are suffering won’t seek help. A person who thinks there’s no help, no understanding, will end their life. I, personally, don’t want to see that happen. Everyone needs the opportunity to feel safe to discuss their issues, to get the help they need, and to live a long, happy life.
As for Boone’s experience with drugs and alcohol, it happens with most teenagers. IMHO, I don’t believe illegal drugs and liquor should be consumed if you’re battling a mental health problem. It can and will make you more self-destructive. Boone discussed this during one of his flashbacks. Boone, I applaud you for being so forthcoming with your struggles with mental illness, mental health hospitals, liquor and drugs.
Apparitions and UFOs
Many people have claimed to see sprits and UFOs. I’m not sure if spirits are real or just a play on eyes, a figment of our imagination. However, if you believe in life on other planets, then the possibility of UFOs is plausible. Maybe, just maybe, spirits are real. And maybe, those sightings of UFOs do hold some merit as well. Bravo Boone, you made me stop and evaluate their validity.
Vision quests are popular because many people seek enlightenment, a connection to all things. They want to find answers, peace, or a purpose in life. Boone went on several and he spoke of the physical, emotional, and mental toll it took on him. It changed his life; it was cathartic. After I read about his time on the mountain, I began to wonder if I could benefit from one. Maybe after reading his trials, you’ll consider participating in one as well.
You don’t have to be a religious person to read Wild Willful Heart. You only need to have an open mind and few hours to spare on this (under) 300-page story.
W. Boone Hedgepeth studied history at the University of South Florida for four years. He spent 35 years in business and copywriting, with 11 years as a lay minister in his free time. His favorite places are the mountains of North Carolina, and any good waterfront restaurant in South Carolina. His hobbies include classic cars and RVs, listening to swampy blues, and reading the Bible. W. Boone Hedgepeth lives with his wife on the coast of South Carolina.
Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.
As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.
Alone and exhausted after her month-long sojourn as a shooting star, Solina Mundy flees to southern California to lie low, recuperate, and plot a survival strategy. The one person she trusts to watch her back is her best friend, Skyla Ramirez. But Skyla has been missing for weeks. The arrival of a dangerous stranger and the discovery of a legendary weapon of mass destruction force Solina out of hiding and back into the fight for her life.
Solina knows she won’t last long on her own. She must find out what happened to Skyla and unite her contentious allies if she hopes to track down this devastating weapon before her enemies use it to burn the world to ash.
While recovering from a devastating betrayal, Solina becomes increasingly drawn to Thorin as he helps her hunt down Skoll, the mythical wolf who vowed to kill her. If she can find and destroy the beast, she’ll bring a swift and brutal end to her enemies’ schemes. But nothing ever goes as planned in Solina’s strange new world.
During her search for Skoll, Solina uncovers a plot to unleash a battalion of legendary soldiers and launch an apocalyptic war. Before she and her allies can locate the fabled army, several ghosts from her past return to haunt her. Solina must fight for life and the fate of the world, or her hopes for love and a peaceful future will go up in flames.
As if he sensed my reticence, Val made the move that he must have thought would convince me to agree. But it was the wrong move. He swooped me into his arms and kissed me, hard and possessive. For a heartbeat I saw an image of the earth sinking into a sea of fire, but reality returned in the next moment. Val’s kiss was brutish, like he was trying to claim me. I didn’t care for it at all, and I shoved at him. “Val, stop it,” I said, turning away to gasp for breath. I reached for my fire, but I never got the chance to use it.
This time when Thorin appeared, it wasn’t in his usual silent and sudden way. His arrival was loud, like a steam train roaring into the station, crashing against Val and slamming him into the wall. I gasped and jumped out of the way.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing, Val?” Thorin raged like an angry giant. Fee-fi-fo-fum, indeed. “She made it clear that she wants you to leave her alone.”
Val shoved against Thorin, his biceps bulging from the effort, but Thorin held him in place.
“She came to me,” Val said. “Apologizing, hoping to make up. Why don’t you ask her what she wants?” Val’s eyes darted to mine. “C’mon, Solina, tell us. You want me to keep my hands off?”
Thorin shoved him again. “It was a lot more than your hands.”
“Who do you think you are, Thorin? Her father? Her jealous lover? I know for a fact she’s never laid a hand on you.”
“You don’t know anything,” Thorin said.
Val’s certainty wavered for a second, his eyes flickering between me and Thorin. “Bullshit,” Val said, finally working up the force to push Thorin away. Val stormed over to his bed, grabbed the messenger bag containing his things, and slid the strap across his chest. “This is all bullshit.”
Fire simmered just under the surface of my skin, pushing like shaken champagne strains against a loose cork. The little devil on my shoulder urged me to let it out, convert all my feelings into a messy conflagration and burn down both Val and Thorin. Fortunately my voice of reason spoke louder. By the time I recovered my composure, Val was already out the door and making his way down the hall, so I turned my indignation on Thorin.
“What the hell?” I said. Thorin glared back at me, his eyes black and bottomless. “Who asked you to interfere?”
“Last night you announced to the whole house you were finished with Val. Then I come around the corner to find him plastered all over you, and you didn’t look like you were enjoying it.”
“Irrelevant!” I screeched. Thorin was intent on making me the damsel in distress, and I was sick of being underrated.
Thorin folded his arms over his chest and glared at me. “Who knew you were such a fickle creature, Miss Mundy?”
“It’s irrelevant because I was perfectly capable of handling Val on my own, but you always underestimate me. I’m not helpless. And stop calling me Miss Mundy. We both know you only do it to get under my skin.” I raged at him over the inconsequential because I didn’t want Thorin to know the depth of my confusion and hurt. Val’s insistence on treating me as some trophy to claim felt like a metaphorical fist squeezing my heart.
Thorin stepped closer and leaned down so that we were nose to nose. “And you continued to humor Val just to get under my skin.”
“Why won’t you understand that what happens between Val and me has nothing to do with you?”
Thorin leaned in even closer and dropped his voice. His warm breath brushed my cheek when he said, “Why won’t you understand just how wrong you are about that?”
“What are you saying?” My voice went dry and raspy as Thorin’s closeness filled my senses. My heartbeat changed from a frantic gallop to an anticipatory lope. My body was so quick to betray my convictions.
He brought his lips mere millimeters from mine and then stopped. His scent was thunderstorms and burnt sky. He cupped my face in his hands and rubbed a thumb over my lower lip. His touch was lightning, and it brought forth images of boiling clouds the color of bruises and winds like artillery, tearing into an army of shadows bearing claws and teeth. He growled, cursing in a language I did not recognize. If I’d had to guess, it probably translated to something along the lines of “damn it to hell.” Then he shook his head, and in a rough and broken voice he said, “I’m not like him. I won’t make his mistakes.”
Karissa lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, super heroes and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s curled up with a good book.