Enter the Jack Ketchum Giveaway!!!

Halloweenpalooza IV:
Win the secret life of souls
Yup! It’s Jack Ketchum time!!!
Here’s your chance to win an autographed paperback of his soon-to-be published release THE SECRET LIFE OF SOULS!!!

This is not your only chance to win an autographed book donated by Mr. Ketchum, but it is your only chance to win THIS ONE!!! The other will be given away on his featured day, so you have to be around on that day!!!

I put this one in a Rafflecopter drawing because:
1.       I wasn’t sure how many people would enter; and 
2.       I wanted to give everyone a good chance!!!
So here you go!!! There are lots of ways to earn extra entry points!!!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


A gripping family drama that brilliantly explores the
relationship between a young girl and her dog—and the mysteries that lie
At the heart of this psychological suspense novel is the
haunting depiction of a family’s fall and the extraordinary gifted dog, Caity,
who knows the truth. As the drama unfolds Caity evolves from protector to
savior, from scapegoat to prop, and eventually, from avenger to survivor. She is
an unselfish soul in a selfish world—and she is written with depth and grace by
authors Ketchum and Mckee, who display a profound understanding of a dog’s
complex emotions. With her telling instincts and her capacity for joy and
transformative love, Caity joins the pantheon of great dogs in contemporary
Eleven year old actress Delia Cross is beautiful,
talented, charismatic. A true a star in the making. Her days are a blur of hard
work on ­set, auditions and tutors. Her family—driven, pill­-popping stage
mother Pat, wastrel dad Bart, and introverted twin brother Robbie—depends on
her for their upscale lifestyle. Delia in turn depends on Caity, her beloved
ginger Queensland Heeler—and loyal friend—for the calming private space they
share. Delia is on the verge of a professional break through. But just as the
contracts are about to be signed, there is a freak accident that puts Delia in
the danger zone with only Caity to protect her.
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HALLOWEENPALOOZA 3: Author Announcement

Halloweenpalooza 3:


Hey, Halloweenies, Halloweenettes, and all you friends of unrelenting horror!!! 

31 Authors are ganging up to bring you the best Halloween of your lives!!! We won’t stop until the top of your head blows off!!! It’s why we’re offering up our best original fiction, blog posts, and free copies of our books all to make you happy!!! You’ll be so distracted that you won’t even think about toilet papering the bushes of those neighbors that have been giving you a hard time about carrying around that chain saw. But remember, it’s all good ‘cuz that’s what got you arrested the last time, Bucko!!!This year we’re featuring giveaways, prizes, original fiction, blog posts, and interviews … oh, didn’t I mention that I got some to sit still for an interview? Oh, yes, I did, my little Ghostie Toasties!!! I tried the gambit I learned from SCREAM!!! I called a couple of authors and asked them to answer a few questions. Then I messaged them a picture of their car with some duct tape over the front grill. They cried like little girls and begged me not to hurt their hunk of metal before answering every single one I asked!!! Now that’s Halloween entertainment at its finest!!!!   

In case you’re new to this event, this is how it works. Every day in the month of October, I’ll be posting a link to this blog on the Official FB Event Page. The blog post will feature either an interview, blog post, or an original short story written for this event. It will also include the name of the book being given away as well as how many copies and in what format. To enter, click back over onto the FB Event Page (the Halloweenpalooza 3 picture at the bottom of the page is linked to the event for easy navigation), and follow the instructions. It’s that simple. To get you completely psyched, I’m listing all the participants in
quasi-alphabetical order. Remember, this is me putting them in that order and I’m the one that got hammered last night—literally!!! So here are the names linked to their respective Amazon Author pages. And remember, after you get done reading, JOIN THE PARTY by clicking on the pic at the top and bottom of this post (didn’t I just say they’re linked?)!!! Consider this your #OFFICIALINVITATION!!!!
Ready, set, here’s the list of 28 (3 more to be announced)!!! And, hell no, we’re not telling you on what day who is appearing!!!  That’s why you have to join!!! So you don’t miss a thing!!!



J.D. Horn



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THE RECKONING is undergoing final edits. The projected publishing date for the third and final installment in the Addune Vampire Trilogy is June 11th.

newthereckoning_4a copy

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What’s an Author to Do?

So I just finished the last in a vampire trilogy. There were about a million characters, all of whom had something to say—and do!

It was the most complex endeavor I’ve undertaken thus far, and last summer, I was screaming, shouting and tearing my hair out to get it right. I thought of Celtic knotting while putting the novel together, and in case you don’t know, it’s basically weaving a braid. So it’s “over, under, over, under.” For some reason the visualization helped, but there were still all those details to get straight. And to add to the mix, there’s a trip through time and characters existing in different centuries. Yes, these are crucial to the plot or I would have axed them

After cursing at myself for thinking this story up, I realized that my writing by the flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants method didn’t help. It was during this tumultuous project, that I thoroughly got the usefulness of outlining all the action before even attempting to write, but I’m still confused as to how that would work.

There were about a hundred twists in the story that I didn’t plan on. A couple of the characters I would have banked on giving me trouble, but there were these others—nice, safe, reliable characters—that got totally out of hand and did the most outrageous things. I was shocked, but like the good court reporter that I am, I merely documented the action and tried to keep up with them. Not an easy task. That was the summer I lost two of the plastic lettering casings off the keyboard. Yup, they died from overuse. Flew up into the air and dissolved into the atmosphere. The “A” and the “I”. Made typing a byotch, but when the book comes out, if anyone has a lot of time on their hands and wants to count how many times I used them, I’d be curious to know. Then there are the revisions. The book is 562 pages and, at last count, was revised seventy-two times! *gulp* I believe that’s a record for me.

But the point is this outlining methodology vs. making it up as you go, I’m just not clear what would have happened if I’d spent a month outlining and then have the whole thing be useless because Rachel (and I’m not naming names here *Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!*) goes and does some outrageous thing that usually involves murder and the tearing off of someone’s head—yes, literally! I mean, what would I do? Put her on a leash and not have her comport herself like the common piece of baggage she is because it’s not in the now inaccurate outline? Or spend another month outlining the new story that includes this plot twist?

If anyone has any sage advice or partiality to one method or another, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I do have one crucial piece of advice as concerns writing trilogies or sequels and that is: Don’t wait to finish them! Write one right after the other!

I wish I had known that. I took breaks in between where I’d work on different books and then I’d come back a year later and wonder what the heck happened in the previous book. I tend not to remember my stories. Once I’m finished—buh-bye! This penchant makes it fun trying to promote these stories because I’ve already moved on. Sort of like having to give toasts to an ex when you just burned all his photos and ripped up all his clothes—except for the t-shirts that you’re still wearing. Boo-yah!!!

I look forward to your thoughts. As for me, I’ve promised to limit all future novels to having two characters! While it may not be much fun for readers, it’ll save me a lot of headaches.

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This blog is devoted to our mysterious universe. Does it conspire to help us fulfill our dreams? I know that most of the time I feel it might be working against me, but then these thoroughly mystifying events occur and I’m no longer so sure.

I remember working on one of my early stories. While I loved the plot, it needed something … a bit of zing. It was a book about The Devil and I thought a bit of folklore would be just perfect for all the elements to gel. The next afternoon, I took a break from writing and went to Barnes and Noble. I was browsing through some books, and as I leafed through a five-hundred page tome, I found the buried little secret that grew up to be The Man with the Blue Hat. I almost felt as if my hand was guided to find that page.

Most of the incidents have been restricted to this kind of finding “things.” Thus the paranormal help was reserved for an article, a class or information needed to put the polishing touch on a tale. Once or twice, there was a “people” aspect—like the running into someone that was to have a positive effect on a goal I was trying to achieve, but that type of occurrence was rare. However, never say never because yesterday something astounding happened that I just had to blog about. To say it was downright weird is an understatement; I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this one.

Last Wednesday, January 7th, I was walking to Uncle Buck’s, my favorite coffee shop. It was after dark, and as I traversed the gritty streets of New York, this really creepy idea for a story came to me in the form of the opening scene of a book. I had plenty on my writing plate and wasn’t even planning on starting anything new. Nonetheless, when I got to Uncle Buck’s and settled in at a table, the scene was the first thing I wrote. Without giving the entire story away, it concerns a fictional movement starting in NY. The underground tunnels and hidden places around the city play a huge part in the storyline, as does the notion of the leader of this group using “recruiters” to enlist new converts into their fight. The scene I wrote down concerns one of these recruiters.

Skip to Saturday, January 10th. I went to Uncle Buck’s around 3PM. I took another stab at rewriting the first chapter of one of my WIP’s and wrote a chapter in a second work that’s close to being finished. While I was working on the chapter, a gentleman came into the cafe. He was looking under the chairs and benches, and I figured he was looking for an outlet so he could recharge either his phone or laptop. Sure enough, he was. I showed him where the plug was and he squeezed into a spot two seats away from me and began working on his computer.

I didn’t think anything more about the encounter, and continued on with my writing. I was so engrossed that I didn’t even notice dark having descended. When I finally came up for air, the young man sitting next to me left the cafe. The gentleman who needed the outlet, moved over and took that more spacious table that was directly next to me. After another hour or so, he suddenly asked me if I were a writer. I said I was trying to be and we got into a conversation as to when one can rightfully claim that title for themselves.

After we hashed that subject out, he explained why he’d asked the question. He said it was because he’d happened to notice the word “camera” in the chapter I was working on. I laughed and explained that, yes, the protagonist is an amateur photographer and that her taking photos has something to do with the storyline. He said he was a photographer and then asked me what sort of stories I wrote. He didn’t seem the type to be into horror, but that’s what I do so I said, “I write horror and mysteries.” He looked at me strangely and I figured the stare was his opinion on my choice of genres.

He was quiet for another moment or two—as if thinking about whether to say something or not. I gave him his space and sipped some coffee. After a few more seconds, he said that about a month ago, he was on the subway, and that while he was sitting on the train, he’d noticed someone that made him think, “Oh, no!” and do a double take. He said that it wasn’t uncommon for him to notice people who he thought were up to something because he was in law enforcement. But even with that background, this guy weirded him out to the point he wrote a paragraph describing him and what his impressions were on what he was up to.

He said he’d shown his daughter his thoughts, and that a couple of weeks later, while with this daughter, he’d again crossed paths with this same man. It was on 34th Street, one of the busier areas in the city. He was curious about whether his daughter could pick him out of the crowd by relying on the description she’d read. He told her, “He’s here. I want you to look around and tell me who you think it is.” She looked around and picked someone out … and—it was the man he’d seen on the train.

I was fully vested in the conversation, but here’s where the story veers into  strange. He said he wanted me to have the paragraph he’d written as he was curious as to what I could do with it. He said, and I quote, “Maybe you could turn him into a character in one of your stories.” The minute he said that, the new story I’d started on Wednesday popped into my head. I said that it might work since this new novel I’d begun was set in NY, and that since it was about a group, I’d have a lot of characters.

“Group?” he asked. He said that’s funny because his impression was that the man on the train was part of a group. In fact, he’d written down in the paragraph that this man was not only a member of a group, but that he was some sort of “recruiter.” Inside I went “Whoa!” My eyes widened as he went on. He said that he also intuitively picked up that this group held meetings underground. He said he didn’t know if I knew, but that NYC was filled with these tunnels and hiding places where people could gather and live. He also went on to describe an anomaly in Central Park that I will use in this upcoming story.

I nearly fell off my chair. He was describing the story I was writing to a T. I’d never mentioned anything about recruiters or underground tunnels and yet through symbiosis we’d managed to sit next to each other at the same time in the same place. Further, I’d written a word that was key in triggering this conversation. How unlikely is that? I’d say impossible. I took his card and said I’d email him and read what he’d written since the character would most likely be perfect.

So there it stands. I’m going to find out what this man saw—and wrote. I’m wondering if the character aligns with the one I started writing in that first scene, or whether this is a different one. If it aligns, it’ll give me validation that someone like that actually exists. If different, it’ll infuse the story with a firm foothold in reality since there is someone like that out there. Of course, there’s another way of looking at things, and that is whether this “story” I think I’m writing is actually happening. Did I psychically pick up on something that is going on?

I should also mention that the fact this man is in law enforcement is something else I’d called to me. I want this story to be wedded in the language that officers use as they hunt down and try to infiltrate this group. I’m hoping that he’ll be intrigued enough to continue on this journey of two minds connecting in a very unique way.

This is the whole of my strange experience—so far. I’d love to hear about yours. If you’re a writer, please comment and tell me if you’ve ever had things “fill in” this way—or perhaps a different way. And if you’re not an author, have you ever called something to you? Perhaps to aid you in a project you were taking on? Do you believe that this means you’re onto something important? Or that there’s some significance to it beyond what you feel and think?

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts and hear your experiences.






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  1. What inspired you to write?

I am a huge Outlander fan and I was reading Diana Gabaldon’s book, Outlandish Companion, where she describes her unorthodox writing style. She develops chapter ideas and writes them, then later connects the pieces like a patchwork quilt. I have spent a lot of time writing for my various jobs, but never considered writing a novel. After reading about Diana’s strategy I was inspired to give it a whirl. Knowing that Diana could be wildly successful with such a creative (and not anal) strategy was a perfect fit for me.

  1. What’s the one thing that surprised you the most about finishing your first novel?


I’ve spent the last nine years working on my novel. I never thought it would take me so long to get to the end of it. Granted a move halfway across the country, a baby, major surgery, AND writing most of the second book before I decided to make it a trilogy took up a lot of that time. But seriously, nine years?

  1. Where did the idea for Stealing Time come from?


The basic story concept was pulled from my own experience. I moved to Florida in 2004 and three days later, on Friday the thirteenth, Hurricane Charley hit. Within six weeks four major hurricanes hit Florida. It was a very exciting summer to say the least, and the following June on a long trip up the coast the idea hit me to have that as the setting for Stealing Time. I’ve always loved the possibilities with time travel and to be on the other side as the writer of time travel was irresistible.


  1. What audience do you feel this would appeal to?


I’ve worked hard to make this appealing to both men and women, and have succeeded in hitting several genres. It is a science fiction novel at the heart of it because of the time travel element, but it is not your typical sci-fi novel. It weaves historical fiction elements throughout and delivers a punch of hurricane disaster tension and keeps you on the edge of your seat with a thriller mentality. Stealing Time is not a leisurely read. I hope to keep you awake way later than you intended because you can’t wait to see what happens next, and I guarantee I will make you laugh. I hope to surprise you and bring you to your knees with the ending, making you beg for more.


Book two continues with the time travel and weather themes and delves deeper into the mechanics of the traveling. I have added depth to the second book by including multiple religious and scientific theories that try to explain how the time travel works, allowing the reader to choose the one that fits their schema. Book two has a few of the same characters while adding several rich personalities including one inspired by Gerard Butler.

  1. What’s the one thing you want the readers of Stealing Time to take away?


I hope to steal their breath away.  I also hope Stealing Time sparks the reader’s creative juices with my unique spin on time travel while bringing a sense of what it is like to live through a powerful hurricane.  After writing Stealing Time I appreciate the modern trappings we all take for granted and thank my lucky stars I’m not stuck in a time where women are treated like bargaining chips to further their family fortunes, at the mercy of men at their greediest and most perverse forms.



Stealing Time Synopsis

As Hurricane Charley churns a path of destruction towards Orlando, Ronnie Andrews and her best friend, Stephanie McKay, scramble to prepare for the storm. The women separate and Ronnie seeks shelter at her boyfriend’s weather lab while Steph invites her friend Nick to stay at her house.

During the peak of the storm Ronnie is hurtled back in time to eighteenth-century London where she is caught in a web of superstition, deception, and lies in a life and death struggle to return to her own time. Steph is thrust into the middle of the hurricane to rescue her cat, but it quickly turns into a living nightmare as Steph is faced with losing everything.
Stealing Time: Book 1 in the Stealing Time Trilogy.



Chapter 1 – Stormy Weather

August 13, 2004 4:30 pm, Orlando, Florida

When Ronnie Andrews sat down on the red velvet couch, a cloud of particles let loose and floated in the sunlight like fairy dust. Her real name was Veronica, but she hated it with a passion and had changed it to the shorter version in high school to get away from the formal, stuffy sound. Now, the only time she heard it was when her mom was upset.

“Seriously Steph, how can a hurricane hit here today on my birthday?” Ronnie said to her best friend Stephanie McKay. She was one of the reasons Ronnie had moved 1,200 miles away from her mom in Virginia Beach. “I’ve only been in Florida for three days!”

“Listen,” Steph said turning up the volume on the TV. “They’re telling us where it’s going to hit.”

“Hurricane Charley is completely devastating Punta Gorda on the southern Gulf Coast of Florida as we speak. Here is the current trajectory of the storm.” The suit-clad Terry James pointed at a map of Florida. Was he wearing a toupee? His hair didn’t look quite right. “Charley is projected to hug the coast moving north and entering Tampa Bay. Governor Jeb Bush has issued mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas surrounding Tampa. If you’re in an unstable structure such as a mobile home or manufactured house you need to evacuate now.”

“Hey weather dude, tell us if it’s coming to Orlando!” Steph shook her fist at the TV.

The power and danger of Charley intoxicated Ronnie who was both excited and terrified by the storm. Part of her wanted it to be a raging nightmare, just for the dramatic effect. The other part of her wanted to go back home and hide under her childhood bed.

“Steph, that reminds me. Jeffrey has to be at the lab all night to monitor the storm and he canceled on me.” Jeffrey Brennan, Ronnie’s boyfriend, was the other reason she had moved to Orlando. They’d been dating for the past year and a half. Last March Jeffrey moved to Florida for his job in a weather lab or an applied physics lab, or something like that. Her mind usually shut off when he began talking about it so she wasn’t completely certain what he did.

“Jeffrey canceled on your birthday?” Steph made that familiar Scottish ‘auch’ of the Glaswegian variety. “Remind me again why I’m supposed to like him?”

“Steph, c’mon, I’ve moved down to be near you both. Can’t you make an effort to be nice to him? You’re the only two people I know here,” Ronnie said crossing her arms.

“I’m sorry, love, I just wish you’d find someone who isn’t so …” Steph smiled at Ronnie. “You know.”

“What, smart and handsome?” Ronnie said. It really bothered her that Steph and Jeffrey didn’t get along.

“No, I was thinking you should find someone who isn’t such a tadger.” Steph’s Scottish slang still took Ronnie by surprise, even though they’d been friends for nearly seven years.

Steph sat down and put her arm around Ronnie’s shoulders. “Listen, why don’t you pack an overnight bag and we’ll go to my house.” Ronnie’s cat Fluffy jumped on the couch wanting some love, too. Steph pet her long white fur. “It probably won’t even hit here. Just some rain and a lot of stramash over nothing.”

“You remember what happened to me during Hurricane Isabel? I don’t wanna to go through that again!” Ronnie said. That storm had hit her home town of Virginia Beach last September and power had been out for ten days with temperatures over ninety every day.

“Yes, I do. I was glad to be down here,” Steph said while giving Ronnie’s shoulder a squeeze.

The phone’s ring made Ronnie jump. She looked at the caller ID. “It’s Jeffrey.” Steph made a face and turned away to focus on the cat.

Ronnie stood up and walked a few steps into the kitchen to get a little privacy. “Hello.”

“Hey baby, Happy Birthday!” Jeffrey said. “I’m sorry I had to cancel our dinner plans for tonight.”

“It’s okay, I understand.” Ronnie said, not fully understanding but not wanting to sound hurt.

“Can you come here and spend the night?”

“You mean the lab? A few hours ago you said it was against company policy,” she said.

“Things have changed. I really need you here.”

“Oh, so now you need me there, huh? That’s an interesting way to put it,” she said. “Steph invited me to her house.” Ronnie peeked around the corner and stuck her tongue out at Steph who rolled her eyes.

“But Ron, I have a special birthday dinner for you,” Jeffrey said. They were supposed to go to Del Frisco’s, a fancy steak and seafood restaurant for her birthday. Now it would probably be sub sandwiches or something equally uneventful. Not that it really mattered. “And I have a special present for you, too.”

The heat rose in her cheeks. “I thought I wasn’t allowed to be there.” She covered the mouthpiece and whispered to Steph, “He wants me to go to his lab.”

“He does? The wee bastard,” Steph said not looking up from Fluffy.

“Ronnie, you coming or not?” he interrupted.

“If you’re going to shower me with food and expensive gifts, I might consider it. But what about Steph?” She glanced back at her friend who looked away scowling.

“Come on, the lab is a lot safer than Steph’s,” Jeffrey said. “It’s underground with its own generator, and I have all the supplies we need.” Typical of Jeffrey to miss the point about Steph’s feelings.

“Hang on a sec.” She covered the receiver. “Are you okay with me going to Jeffrey’s lab instead of your place?”

“I wish he’d make up his mind. He’s on, he’s off. Bloody hell,” Steph said.

Jeffrey always seemed to know how to get his way. “Yeah, I guess,” Ronnie said.

“So you’re definitely coming over? You’re coming here now?” he said.

“Yes, I just said I was coming. Why are you so worked up?” Usually he was cool, calm, and collected.

“I just need to know. I have a few things to prepare for you, babe.”

“I still don’t understand why you have to be at work today. Most companies are closed for the storm.” She was a little mad at him. He had hardly spoken to her since she set foot in Florida.

“Look, I’ve got one shot at testing the equipment with a storm this size and intensity. There is no reason you can’t be here testing out my equipment.”

She laughed. “Oh, you’re dirty!”

Steph set Fluffy down on the couch, stood up, and turned her back on Ronnie as she gathered her purse and the birthday gift she’d brought for her.

“But babe, you’ve gotta leave now. I’m looking at the radar and the outer bands of the storm are really close,” Jeffrey said.

“Are you sure? We just watched the news. It sounds more like it is heading north of here.”

“Charley is wobbling right now so it’s hard to say exactly what it will do. Listen, babe, I’ll make it worth your while.”

Worried about Steph now Ronnie said, “I gotta go. Tell me how to get there.”

He gave her directions and they exchanged “I love you’s.”

“So,” Steph said walking towards the door with her purse over her shoulder. “You’re going to the gobshite’s mysterious lab, are you then?”

Ronnie never completely understood her dislike of Jeffrey. “Steph, I’m sorry. Are you going to be okay?”

“I’ll be fine. Been through hunners of storms. Just don’t get yourself into a palaver over that man of yours.” She hugged Ronnie. “You’ll get your birthday pressie from me tomorrow. And for God’s sake take the K-Y this time. You don’t want your fanny sore.” They had always laughed about that word, especially when anyone talked about their fanny pack. In Scotland it meant something different.

“You’re horrible!” Ronnie smacked Steph’s arm and laughed. “But you do have a point.”

“Love, I gotta get on the roads before the skies open up and drown me.” Steph opened the door.

Ronnie hugged her friend. “I’ll call you in the morning to be sure you’re safe.”

“You be careful.” She gave Ronnie one of those hard looks that made her feel like she’d better listen.

“Ta-ta.” Steph walked quickly to her car. Her dark gray pencil skirt and crisp white sleeveless blouse flattered her hourglass figure. Ronnie wished they were parting on better terms.

The wind picked up and blew Ronnie’s long blonde hair in her face. She waved at her friend, but Steph ignored the gesture and drove away. She was mad. Ronnie would have to make it up to her tomorrow.

The sky was spectacular—a third of it was clear blue and sunny. A dark boiling cloud took up the remainder like a science fiction movie with poorly done special effects. Every shade of gray swirled and raged looking like she could reach out and touch it. The edge of the cloud, one of the outer bands of the hurricane, appeared razor sharp as it cut its way through the sky.

A combination of panic and excitement buzzed around her head. Hurricane Charley was at her doorstep—she better get out of here. Ronnie went back into the apartment and found the small bag she’d just unpacked that morning so she could fill it with a change of clothes and her toiletries. Fluffy looked at her with beautiful blue eyes framed by silky fur. What she needed was to be comforted rather than left alone in a strange new place. They had only been there a few days and Fluffy didn’t take well to change. Would Jeffrey let her bring Fluffy? Probably not. He didn’t really like cats.

For a second Ronnie considered waiting out the storm with her precious kitty, but the thought of Jeffrey’s teasing words and tan chest convinced her otherwise. She quickly set up a safe place for Fluffy to ride out the storm, “Bye, sweetie, I’ll be back tomorrow. You be good.” Fluffy stared at her with her giant sad eyes. She shut the door and tried not to think of what a bad owner she was.

Ronnie climbed in her 1996 Thunderbird, set her overnight bag on the passenger seat and pulled out the directions she’d scribbled on a scrap of paper. West on I-4—that was the one road she could find since the exit was right outside of her apartment. She backed up and nearly ran over a man, who flailed his arms angrily at her before trying to open the car door. In a panic, she leaned on the horn. This had the desired effect of startling him so he would let go. She jammed it in reverse and then peeled out of the apartment complex. When she looked in her rearview mirror she saw the man running after her.

“Well that was weird!” Ronnie said trying to calm down. Bad enough a huge storm was about to hit, but to have a crazy man attacking her car only made things worse. She turned on the radio for a distraction as well as an update of the storm. The weather report provided a snapshot of Armageddon so she turned it off while she fought to steer through the increasing winds.

On I-4 she drove towards Jeffrey’s lab and tried to shake the feeling of impending doom. A few large splats on the windshield startled her, followed by a gust of wind that shoved her car out of the lane. Ronnie overcompensated the turn and hydroplaned on the slick highway. “Crap!” She jerked the wheel in the other direction while the car fishtailed down I-4, barely missing a white Toyota and the guardrail. The driver honked at her and gave her the finger. Her heart nearly beat out of her chest.

Panic returned in full force. Would she make it there without crashing? Did the lab have a covered garage to protect her car from the storm? How would Fluffy deal with the stress of the move and now the hurricane? Who was the weird guy and did he live in the same complex as her? The questions assaulted her and she was fully worked up by the time she pulled off the highway at Jeffrey’s exit and called his cell.

He led her through a few turns to a huge building. A wave of excitement washed over her when she saw him—all six feet of his fit, lean body. His dark curly blonde hair plastered against his face from the rain and wind. It had been a month since they had been together and she felt giddy thinking of what they would do later.

She rolled down her window. “Hi honey, I’m here,” Ronnie said.

“Hi Babe.” Jeffrey leaned in to kiss her, his face wet from the rain. He smelled great. “I’m so glad you made it. It’s getting bad out here already.”

“I know. I almost got blown off the road,” she said.

“Blown, eh? That gives me an idea for later.”

“Jeffrey! You are such a perv!”

“Here scoot over, I want to drive.”

Ronnie climbed over the center console to the passenger seat and Jeffrey took the driver’s seat. He reached a security gate and inserted an ID card in the box. He parked the car in the covered employee lot and took her in the back entrance using the card to open the basement door.

“I’ve paid off LT at the guard desk to turn off the camera just while I sneak you in.” He took her bag and hoisted it over his shoulder before grabbing her hand.

They walked quickly through several corridors and reached a metal door. Jeffrey used the keypad and his security key once again. The room was about the size of her apartment living room and full of computers, monitors, and cabinets. There were no windows and there was only one door in the back of the room. Out of place in the back corner, squished between the desk and the wall, sat an inflatable mattress with sheets, pillows, and a blanket. A TV on top of the desk had weather coverage on.

Terry James, the local weatherman, nearly frothed at the mouth with excitement. “We have a new trajectory. This is very important for those who have just evacuated from the Tampa Bay area.” His face was serious, but the mystery of toupee or not toupee as Steph said, was distracting. Jeffrey set her bag down near the bed as they both listened intently.

“The mandatory evacuations from low-lying areas for the Tampa Bay area are no longer in effect. The new trajectory is here.” Terry pointed to a cone-shaped path in red and orange covering a huge swath with Orlando in the center.

“If you are in coastal or low-lying areas anywhere in the path of this storm you need to get to a shelter immediately. This is a dangerous storm, in fact, it is one of the strongest to hit southwest Florida since 1960 when Hurricane Donna devastated the area.”

Jeffrey took her hand and kissed it. “Babe.”

“Shhhhhh!” Ronnie said. Excitement and dread bubbled up in her chest.

Terry continued, “Hurricane Charley has sustained winds of 145 and gusts up to 175 miles per hour. This makes Charley a Category 4 storm. We are expecting it to weaken over land but by the time it makes it to central Florida it will still be a Category 1 or 2 hurricane with sustained winds from seventy to 120 miles per hour.”

Jeffrey stood behind Ronnie and pulled her close, his arms around her waist while they watched. “A Category 2 storm would result in damage to roofs, and poorly constructed buildings. We can expect trees to be down with extensive and perhaps total power outages. There is a potential for loss of potable water as well so fill containers with clean water to last three days.” Terry went on to detail the areas that would likely be flooded and what kind of damage to expect. Ronnie drank it in, feeling the pull of the storm, the seduction of its power.

Jeffrey turned her around. “Do you know what this means, babe?” He hugged her and picked her up off her feet. “With a direct hit I can try out my equipment and see how it handles hurricane force winds!” He set her down and kissed her. He pulled away and muted the TV. “Babe, this is really big! I’ve only used lab-simulated hurricane-force winds. The original path of the storm was supposed to miss us.” He walked a few steps to his desk. “With a direct hit I’m going to get funded as long as the equipment holds up.” He picked up a bottle of champagne and opened it.

“I’m glad you’re excited. It scares me, Jeffrey.” Ronnie jumped at the sound of the cork popping. “Dom Pérignon! Jeffrey, you’ve really gone all out!” Although it did seem like he was celebrating the storm as much as her birthday.

He handed her a plastic glass, filled another for himself, and lifted it, “A toast to the birthday girl.” Ronnie touched her glass to his. Plink. They laughed at the pitiful noise the plastic made. She took a big sip and the cool bubbly liquid slid down her throat, adding to the electricity running through her veins. “You go wash up and we’ll eat. I have a special dinner for us.” He nodded to the door at the back of the room.

Ronnie opened the door and found a small sterile bathroom with a brass drain in the middle of the floor. It smelled like paint and bleach. She closed the door behind her.


Jeffrey opened the desk drawer and pulled out a small medicine bottle and twisted the top off. He walked to the food that sat on the edge of the desk in take-out containers. Opening the Styrofoam lid, he took a plastic fork and gently lifted the crusty top of the twice-baked potato and emptied the contents of the bottle into the steamy pocket. He could hear the toilet flush. With his finger he mixed it around and gently put the potato back together. With his fingernail he marked an ‘x’ on the top of the Styrofoam and closed the tab on the container.


Ronnie washed her hands and dried them with the paper towels and opened the door.

“Here sit down.” He held out the chair. On the table sat carry-out containers from Del Frisco’s Steakhouse, the same place he was going to take her to before the storm interfered. He opened the box in front of her to reveal a feast of lobster tails, veggies, and a twice-baked potato.

“Oh man,” she said, “my absolute favorite. Thanks, babe.”

He leaned down to kiss her. “Yes, nothing but the best for Miss Andrews. Jeeves, get the lady more champagne.” Pretending to be a waiter, he poured her another glass, napkin draped over his arm.

This quelled some of her fears about moving so far from home. The awkwardness between them since he left Virginia started to evaporate. She could feel the knot in her stomach unravel a little. The champagne was helping, too.

They enjoyed the feast and talked about the storm and the new job she would be starting on Monday. Ronnie watched his hands and his mouth as he talked and ate and couldn’t help but imagine them on her. After dinner Jeffrey handed Ronnie a small box wrapped in gold foil paper.

“What wonderful wrapping, did you do it?” she asked.

“What, are you kidding? Of course not. It would look like crap if I had. Open it.” He looked like the Cheshire Cat with a huge smile and mischief in his eyes.

She slowly unwrapped the box and opened it. It was the watch—a rose gold antique watch she found in London in June with Steph on her post-graduation trip. She had just finished her master’s degree in business and wanted to tag along for Steph’s biannual trip to Glasgow, Scotland where her family lived. They had taken a long weekend and visited London. In a quaint antique shop they found this watch. She couldn’t afford it but Steph had taken a picture of her wearing it.

“It is beautiful!” Tears stung her eyes while she moved to sit on his lap so she could hug and kiss him.

“Where did you find it?” she asked. “I can’t believe it.”

“I didn’t. I stole your picture and had a replica made. It’s not exactly like the one you saw since all I had was the 2-D picture.”

“They did a great job, Jeffrey. It looks exactly like it.” She put it on her wrist and he helped fasten the safety clasp. “Definite brownie points, Jeff. When did you steal the picture?”

He smiled triumphantly. “I took it when you were in the shower the last time I was up in Virginia Beach. You didn’t notice it was missing, did you?”

“No, you sneak!” She kissed him again.

“I had the idea when you came back from your trip. I tried to get the one you saw in London but it sold before I could buy it. This one is better though—waterproof to eighty feet, extra clasp to make sure it doesn’t ever come off, and brand spanking new.”

“I wouldn’t want to swim or go spelunking with it on.” The rectangular face was made out of the rose gold as well. It was a beautiful piece.

“Oh, you can swim with it. It is not going to come off. I’d like you to wear it all the time, maybe not spelunking in a muddy cave, but all the time.” He kissed her softly again. “Think of it as part of me protecting you from the world. It’s especially made to give you good luck!”

“Aw, that’s so sweet. I’ll wear it all the time.”

Neither of them were ready for an engagement. This watch was about the closest thing she could think of to a commitment. It must have cost a lot just in gold alone not to mention the price for someone to replicate it.

“Hang on, I have to check something.” He walked over to his computer and typed for a few minutes. She watched TV but they were just going over the trajectory again. She wondered how Steph was doing and remembered Fluffy. She felt a bit sick to her stomach. Was she freaking out? And what was Steph going to do during the storm?


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Webpage: kjwaters.com

Blog: Blondie in the Water: http://kjwatersauthor.blogspot.com/

About me page: http://about.me/KJWaters


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So I was sorta thinking of putting together a promotional video to showcase my work when I ran across a song that said it all.

Here it is all completed. You’ll get an introduction to me, my stable of horror chiller-dillers all while you rock out to a stellar tune!


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