Tuesday, April 28, 2015

1 year ago today...


This time last year I hit publish on my very first book, Fiendish. It was a nervous and exciting time as I sent my labor of love out into the world. Over the course of the year I've learned new things about the self-publishing business and I've 'met' many great people.


I do plan to continue my journey as an author, but it's going slower than I would have imagined. Life...life is full of surprises and unpredictable moments. At the end of Fiendish, I said there would be a continuation of Calida's story. Her full recovery and her life with Malcolm. That is still happening, it's just been slower going than I could have ever thought. :( Not Broken will be out this year, that I promise, I just can't give an exact time frame currently. I do have plans to lock myself away in a cave, well as much as my kiddies will allow, and focus on finishing their story so that Calida can get her happily ever after.

I would like to say thank you to everyone that has given me support in one way or another.

Now for an anniversary treat. The first look into Malcolm's thoughts. Enjoy!!!

***PLEASE NOTE THIS IS UNEDITED AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE**

Chapter 1

Sitting on the gray, wooden steps of the front porch, I nervously waited on Calida. The words I wanted to say replayed in my mind countless times, and still I feared I’d mess it up when the time came. For most people this was a typical July day in the city, but that wasn’t the case for me. Today I planned on our lives changing, hopefully for the better.
Yesterday's rain made today's humidity that much worse, and as I wiped away beads of sweat from my forehead I considered going inside to wait in the cool AC. Time ticked on slowly as I continued to wait outside so I could see Calida when she arrived.
Reaching into my pocket, my fingers closed around the ring. I’d thought about getting an engagement ring, but that wasn’t what this was about. When I saw the Infinity ring, I knew it would be the perfect symbol of the promise I planned on making to her.
My thoughts went to Macy. She was so pissed at me when I’d first talked to her and our parents. She didn’t think I needed to push Calida into anything, telling me that Calida needed time to deal with things on her own terms. Macy still hadn’t want see how keeping my feelings hidden behind flirtatious joking, all to appease her, had left Calida vulnerable to fall to that man. If she’d not been so hell bent on keeping me from ‘screwing over’ her friend, Calida would have never gone through all that pain. She wouldn’t have fallen victim to that bastard. She wouldn’t have been hurt. Calida needed this as much as I did.
I’d waited, been patient for the last two years. I’d tried to be there as much as she’d let me. It hadn’t been easy to watch the woman I’d known for so long be a shell of her former self, but she’d gradually gotten stronger. Not a hundred percent, but she was getting there and I could help, wanted to help get her the rest of the way.
Shawn’s happy babbling drew my attention. He played in the front yard with his little toy cars, crashing them into each other. The older he got, the more he looked like that asshole. I didn’t think I’d be able to love him; he was a living, breathing reminder of the hell Calida and Macy went through, but I did. When I looked at him, I only saw Calida’s son, and I loved him like my own. He even called me daddy; I was his father in every way that counts. Or I wanted to be.
A couple walking up the sidewalk smiled and lifted their hand to wave and I returned the gesture. The woman held a leash, controlling a large, black Great Dane, while the guy pushed one of those jogging strollers. That could be us, minus the dog. As much as I loved animals, my allergies did not.
Seeing them just reaffirmed my belief that this location was perfect. The Ansley Park neighborhood was the best of both worlds. Suburban feel with the varying home styles, sidewalks and nearby parks all within walking distance, but located in the city. The house had a rocking chair front porch, and cobblestone walkway. Hell, it even had a white picket fence. The perfect family home. I wanted this for her, for us, if she let there be an us.
Calida’s red SUV turned the corner, my heart started racing and I felt beads of sweat trickle down my back. “Gentle pushing…but proceed with caution.” Dr. Carr’s words repeated in my head. Calida wanted to be loved, she was just scared. I wouldn’t hurt her, I’d never hurt her.
Calida climbed out of her car, I stood when I heard the beep of lock of her doors. My palms were sweaty; my pulse raced thinking about what I was getting ready to do. I’d never been nervous around women, and especially not around my Ginger, but seeing her in that moment, knowing everything was about to change, I was nervous.
She looked so different now, and it wasn’t just that her red hair was not cut super short. From the moment she woke up in the hospital, there was something off about her. At first I thought it was because of what she’d just gone through, but it never went away. As much as she was more active in life, she still didn’t seem whole. I wanted to change that. I wanted to be that missing piece.
Calida smiled as she walked towards me. She’d never been one to flaunt herself, but now she had settled into wearing what Macy not so affectionately called ‘mom’ wear. The loose fitting, lime green polo shirt and khaki, knee-length shorts she wore today were a typical representation of her wardrobe.
The moment she was within reach, I wrapped my arms around her soft body. She smelled sweet, like cherry blossoms. Calida stiffened. I thought about letting her go for a split second, but, with her so close, desire took over and my lips connected with hers. Calida’s arms initially hung by her side, but after a moment, I felt her respond. Her lips parted and I took the open invitation. Her arms wrapped around my back, and I got excited. My mind wandered back to our kiss shared so long ago. Kissing her now was better than I remembered because I’ve waited so long for this moment. I’d waited so long to be with her, and it was finally happening.
When I pulled away, the look on her face didn’t show happiness.
“I’ll take silent shock over being slapped because that’s the reaction I thought I would get.”
I waited for her to say something, but she didn’t. Instead, she walked over, picked up Shawn, and headed towards her car.
“Where are you going?” I asked, following behind her.
“Home,” she answered without looking back.
“What? Why?” I asked, reaching for her arm to stop her.
“Because, Malcolm, I’ve already told you…don’t do this.” I heard a faint tremor in her voice.
She kept pushing me away, keeping me at arm’s length. All I’ve wanted her to do was let me in. I’ve tried to be by her side every step of the way these last two years, trying to prove to her that I was in this for the long haul, but she still wouldn’t let me in.
“Well too bad. I am doing this. I’m done waiting, Calida!” I replied.
 “I never asked you to wait; in fact I’ve told you there was no hope here.”
“Well, I say that’s bullshit. It’s been two years Calida. That bastard is dead and gone, yet you are still letting him control your life. That ends today!” This holding pattern she’d placed herself in the last two years frustrated me because she deserved happiness. She just wouldn’t let herself see that fact.
Her eyes widened, she opened her mouth to speak but closed it again. Shit! This was wrong. I was handling this all wrong. “Gentle pushing…but proceed with caution.” I was not proceeding with caution.
Calida hit the unlock button on her key ring and started trying to put Shawn in the car. It was all falling apart. She was running from me, from what we could have. Shawn started crying, he didn’t want to go, his little arms reached out for me. He arched his back, fighting against her attempts to buckle him in and she pleaded with him to stop crying. With her frustration apparent, I stepped around to take him in hopes of settling him down for her. He called me Da-Da again, and she corrected him again. I hated when she did that.
“Not, Da-da. There is no Da-da.”
“There could be if you’d stop being difficult,” I replied snuggling him close. “Hey, buddy, stop fighting with your momma.”
“Ma-ma wing,” Shawn said happily. “Ma-ma wing.”
 “I don’t have any wings baby, but we do have to go,” she said, trying to take Shawn back. “And I’m not being difficult, I’m being realistic.”
“You know I won’t hurt you, ever, so that fear you use as an excuse will no longer work. And he’s not saying wing, he’s saying ring.”
“Well, I don’t have that either,” she replied wearily. “And it’s not an excuse, Mal,” she replied.
I could see she remained in flight mode. This whole thing was about to go down the drain fast. All the meetings I’d gone to, all the books I’d read, all the preparation I’d done for this moment was going right out the window. I needed to get things back on course.
“Do you like this place?” I asked, changing the topic.
“What?”
“This house, do you like it?”
“Yes it’s cute, very homey looking. Craftsman style homes are my favorite. Why? Why are you here anyway?”
I smiled, it was working. “I know they are, so I wanted to get your opinion.”
“On what?”
“The house. Just come inside and tell me what you think.”
She voiced her objections, but after a little back and forth she conceded and slipped her hand into my outstretched one. Calida needed out of the house she’d shared with him, surrounded by those bad memories, she needed a fresh start. We’d all talked to her about moving, but she refused. She said it was her home, Shawn’s home. I felt it was a lie, an excuse to keep herself surrounded by things she shared with him. She was intent on paying some sort of penance to him for taking his life. She was still sacrificing her happiness for him. I wouldn’t stand for it any longer. He didn’t deserve her, he never did.
“Dr. Carr said you went to see her,” she commented as we walked hand in hand towards the house.
“I did.”
“Why?”
When she walked into the house, she immediately gravitated towards the fireplace in the formal living room. I’d viewed at least ten homes, but when my agent brought me here, I knew this was the one. I hadn’t signed the papers to make an offer yet, I wanted to make sure she loved it first.
A smile pulled at Calida’s lips as she ran her hands over the wood-carved mantle. Her eyes went to the large picture window; it was the perfect location to place the Christmas tree. The dreamy look on her face told me she thought the same thing. She loved this place, I could feel it.
“I wanted to talk to her,” I replied, sitting Shawn down. “I was very confused on how to go about doing something.” I loved this woman, and I wanted her to know how much.
“What were you confused on that you needed to go see my shrink?” she asked, keeping her back to me.
I walked up behind Calida and wrapped my arms around her. She tensed up from the contact; I knew she didn’t like being touched often. I respected that most days, but I needed to touch her. I needed and wanted to hold her, if just for this moment.
“Let go, Malcolm,” she whispered.
“I don’t want to. Not now, not ever,” I replied.
I reached into my pocket and fished out the ring. I slid the platinum and diamond Infinity ring on her delicate finger. Calida started shaking, and it pained me that she was scared. I pulled away and turned her to face me. She looked down at the ring I’d placed on her.
“It’s not what you think,” I stated quickly. “You have been hurt in unimaginable ways, and I know you think you are damaged goods. You’ve told me that plenty of times, but I’m here to say you’re wrong. When I look at you I don’t see broken…or damaged. I see a woman who is beautiful and strong. A woman that has suffered, but survived. And most importantly, I see a woman that needs to be cared for and loved unconditionally. You deserve that and so much more. This ring is a sign, a symbol, of my promise to you; my promise to never let you be hurt again. I’m not asking you to marry me, I’m just asking for a chance. A chance to show you how much you mean to me; a chance to be the man you deserve.”
She tried to pull away from me, but I kept her close. I lifted her face so I could look into her beautiful emerald eyes. I could see fear in them, and it saddened me. She had to know I would never hurt her.
“Calida, Ginger, my Ginger. I want to love you and cherish you in the manner you deserve. You just have to let me.”
The front door opened and she turned back to see our families. I’d asked them to come for support. She needed to see that she was not alone, that we all loved her. That they all supported her; supported us.
Calida turned back to look at me, she closed her eyes and took a breath. “Okay,” she whispered.
That one word made me the happiest man on Earth in that moment. I picked her up and spun her around before kissing her again. She stiffened. I stepped back, shoving my hands in my pockets.
“So, let me see,” Macy said to Calida, handing London to Mitch.
My niece was only nine months old, but had her father wrapped around her little finger, much like his wife did.
“Mal wouldn’t let me see the ring beforehand,” she continued, grabbing Calida’s hand and frowning up at me.
“It’s not an engagement,” Calida stated quickly before Macy started going off on me about the lack of bling.
The platinum band was topped with one carat worth of diamonds embedded within the symbol. It was simple, yet classic. Perfect for her.
“Welcome to the family, son,” Collin said, giving me a pat on the back.
“Thank you, sweetie, for getting him to settle down,” Mom said, pulling Calida into a hug.
Calida smiled in return then walked over to her mom, gathered up Shawn, and walked farther into the house. I stayed talking with everyone deciding where we should go for dinner. After a few minutes, I went to see where she’d gone. I found her standing out on the back deck. I wanted to hold her, but refrained.
“Did you see the rest of the house?” I asked, stepping up behind her.
She shook her head. “No. I needed some air, so came out here.”
“Well, do you want a quick tour before we head to dinner?”
“Dinner?”
“Yes. The crew inside are all complaining of being hungry. We were going to have dinner over at Front Page.” Calida nodded, but didn’t respond. “Unless you want to go somewhere else,” I added.
She turned and gave me a smile. “No, that’s fine.”
“Okay, what about seeing the house?”
She walked down the steps to pick up Shawn who sat playing in the sandbox the previous owners had left behind. The backyard was well shaded thanks to the mature trees. Not overly large, but it just big enough to give Shawn room to run around as he got older.
“I don’t need to see the house, Mal,” she commented, heading back inside.
“You don’t like it?” I asked, touching her arm lightly.
She shrugged. “It’s fine.”
“I don’t want it just to be fine, Ginger. I want you to love it. It, or some place, will be my home. Our home.”
A strange look crossed her face when she heard those words. I cussed at myself inwardly. I wanted her and Shawn to live with me, that’s the reason I was looking for a home. However, I knew that would be moving too fast. I was supposed to take things slow, but my eagerness to be with her overrode my behavior.
“You’re right. Sorry. It’s been a busy day. Can you schedule a tour tomorrow or something? We don’t want to keep everyone waiting.”
Her answer surprised me. She was open to it, to the possibility. The day just got better. I reached for Shawn then took her hand, bringing it to my lips.
“Yes, I’ll call my agent and set something up.”
She nodded before pulling her hand free.
During dinner, Macy and our moms talked excitedly about the house, and possible wedding, and how life was finally moving in the right direction. Collin joked around about needing to have ‘the talk’ with me. The mood was festive, but I’d look at Calida, and at times, she seemed to be elsewhere.
“Shawn can stay with us tonight, dear,” Sandra said to Calida before looking over at me.
Calida’s brows furrowed together for a moment, before her face turned red when she picked up on what her mom meant. She signaled for the waiter to refill her wine glass. Was that the third or fourth?
“That won’t be necessary, but thanks,” she replied before excusing herself, heading off in the direction of the restrooms.
Sandra moved over, taking Calida’s recently vacated seat. “We’ll take him home with us just in case,” she whispered with a smile. “We look for any and all excuses to have him over.”
I laughed. Being their only grandchild, Shawn got spoiled often. Sandra and Collin even had a nursery set up for him at their house so that he always had a second place to call home. Calida returned and Sandra gave me a wink before sliding back over to her own seat.
After dinner was finished and the bills were paid, Sandra and Collin picked up Shawn, gave Calida and me hugs, said their goodbyes, and left with him. Calida shot me an accusatory look, and I shrugged in response. Everyone else parted ways, leaving only us. She let me hold her hand as we walked towards the parking garage.
The air was still a bit stifling even with the onset of nightfall. Boisterous laughter wafted down at us as we passed South City Kitchen on the way to the parking garage. Calida didn’t say anything as we walked; instead she actively looked at the passersby, focusing her attention anywhere but on me. The door to the nightclub across the street opened, briefly filling the street with the music coming from inside. The nightlife in Atlanta was always active, even on weekdays, although some saw Thursday as the official start to the weekend instead of Friday.
The moment we got to her car, Calida pulled her hand free of mine, digging into her purse to retrieve her keys.
“Come home with me.”
She stopped rummaging, hesitating a moment before looking up at me. “Malcolm, I…”
“It’s not what you think,” I replied, seeing the distress wash over her face.
As much as I would enjoy making love to Calida, I knew she wasn’t ready for that step; she barely wanted me to hug her. Right after everything, she shied away from all physical contact. She wouldn’t even let her parents hug her in the beginning; that bastard had her scared of everyone.
“I just want you to spend the night with me.”
 “Malcolm, today…all of this. I need time…to process it all. I just need time.”
I’d already gotten more than I’d expected today, so I didn’t push. I wanted to go to sleep holding her in my arms, but she wasn’t ready for that either. I took a step towards her, she took one back.
“I understand,” I said, backing up from her.
“Thank you,” she replied, looking relieved.
Relieved. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t personal. I tried to tell myself it was because of what he’d done to her, but it still stung to see her looked relieved over not spending the night with me.
Calida unlocked her car, and started to climb in but turned back to me. She hesitated for a moment before she walked over, and stretching up on her tiptoes, put her arms around my neck and hugged me. Closing my eyes, I let my arms wrap around her slender waist, holding her tight, reveling in the moment of Calida initiating contact with me. Something she hadn’t done in two years.
“I love you, Ginger,” I whispered.
She tensed then pulled away. “Goodnight, Mal.”

I stood in the parking lot until after she’d driven off. The day hadn’t gone exactly as I’d hoped, but I guess it could have been worse. She could have turned me down, so I counted today as a victory.

4 comments:

  1. Congrats hon!

    I like being able to hear and feel the different sides of stories. Or should I say the different views.
    I smiled through the entire read of it, because we've seen and read this from Cal's POV and now I was ghosted to the other side. The good sexy side... *sorry*.... but yeah!

    Hope you get some time to yourself to finish it... RL can get over-consuming when it wants to!

    XoXoX

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    1. Aww thanks JM!!! Those of you that were Malcolm fans should enjoy getting to hear his side of things in this and see him in action. So happy to hear you enjoyed this little sneak peak.

      I'm going to try and focus and try to finish this up soon!

      XoXoXo right back at cha :)

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  2. I finished the first book! And I don't know if I'm in the minority or not but I am so sad that Seth is dead. I know he's evil and awful but I was (in my insanity) rooting for them to somehow make it work. I hope you write more books with Seth-like characters and look forward to reading about Malcolm and Calida. Who knows maybe they'll be a book about Shawn when he's older *hint hint*. I love your writing!

    Love Kiran | www.alittlekiran.co.uk

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    1. Well I was sad that he died. Yes, I know I killed him off, but I was still sad. I tried and tried to think of plausible ways they would work, but couldn't find one. :( Seth is a one of a kind (to me) so not sure I can channel another guy like him, but never say never right? I need to get to book two, but man who would have thought it was harder to write a 'good guy' over a psycho killer. What does that say about me??? hahaha Shawn huh? You think he'll follow in his father's footsteps? That would be interesting for sure.

      Thanks for much for reading and commenting.

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