Monday, February 9, 2015

Scene #1: Valentine Mission

Author Note: This scene is Jack at his best. I have been beyond excited to write Jack, the husband, after JINGLE MY WAY.

“Hurry it up,” Jack yelled as his crew filled their small conference room. “I’ve only got twenty minutes. Eve, Pam, and Liddy up front.”
The ladies took their seats as Dale was the last to squeeze in.
“All right, looks like I have everyone. First off, I want to thank you all for the hard work you’ve been doing. This quarter is shaping up to be our best ever, and I’m so proud to be a part of such a dynamic team. Naturally, you’ll all understand why you were the first people I thought of for this very special project.”
Jack turned to the dry-erase board and wrote “VALENTINE’S DAY.” The crew grumbled.
“Not another promotion,” Dale said. “We’re still recovering from Christmas.”
Jack turned back to the crowd with a smirk. “It’s not a promotion. I need your help coming up with ideas for Nina.”
A second of silence was followed by flying Styrofoam cups. Jack failed to dodge them all.
“I cannot believe you pulled us off our jobs for this,” Richie said as he stood. “My team, get back to work, now.”
“Guys, come on. It’s our first Valentine’s Day outside of ICU. I really wanna make it special.”
The guys all paused.
Richie took a second to think about it, before sitting back down. “You’re lucky I like Nina way more than I like you right now.”
“Thank you.” Jack turned back to the board. “Now, let’s hear what you’ve got.”
“How about a vacation?” one of the guys suggested.
“That would be nice, but Nina’s appointments don’t really leave her with much time to travel. What else you got?”
“A romantic dinner,” Dale said. Jack wrote it with a red marker.
“Okay, that’s a start. What’s the best restaurant in all of Colorado?”
“Ooh, Michel’s in Vail,” Liddy said, and the girls agreed.
Jack figured anything that could get the three of them to agree was worth looking into so he wrote down the resort name.  
“I heard they have a private terrace and the best view in the entire state,” Eve said.
“And a helipad,” Pam added.
Jack wrote down “HELICOPTER.”
“This is good. Helicopter ride, dinner. What else?”
“Well what has she done in the past?” Pam asked.
Jack paused when he realized he’d never even asked Nina about her past valentines. There was still so much he didn’t know about his wife, but he tried not to bring up anything that would make her mind travel back to the life she had before him, especially the memories with her ex.
Jack wanted to love her enough to erase those years and most days he felt pretty confident he was succeeding, but the holidays were something he wanted to make the most memorable of all for her. He’d almost lost her so many times: The car accident on Christmas, her open heart surgery, and then the scare last spring with the blood clot.
It felt like they’d been through a lifetime of tragedies in less than three years and now that Nina was well enough to remember it, Jack was determined to make this the best Valentine’s Day of her life. Jack rarely let his mind travel to his fear that this could potentially be Nina’s last holiday. Her heart was much stronger now, but he’d deluded himself into thinking that before.
“Jack?” Eve called snapping him out of his dark thoughts. He turned to find them all staring at him. They were all aware of Nina’s heart condition and were great at keeping the remorseful glances hidden whenever she dropped by, but they couldn’t hide them from Jack.
“Guys, she’s fine,” Jack said when he noticed the worry on some of their faces.
The girls all sighed.
“Do not scare us like that,” Liddy stated.
“Yeah,” Pam added.
“I just really wanna do something out of this world for her.”
“Ooh, a shopping spree,” Eve shouted as she bounced in her seat. “Shoes, jewelry, and you could hire my cousin Stacey’s glam team for the day.”
“Eve, I’m trying to plan Nina’s dream Valentine’s Day, not yours.”
“What girl wouldn’t want a shopping spree?” Eve forced Jack to think about it.
“Jack, Nina is a simple girl,” Pam said. “I’m sure anything you decide will mean the world to her.”
“Have you asked Angie?” Dale asked.
“No,” Jack said. “I want it to be a surprise.”
“Sounds to me like you have some pre-work to do before you go booking helicopters,” Liddy said. “First you need to talk to your wife, ask her about her favorite Valentine’s Day so you know yours is original. Then talk to Angie, I guarantee she knows exactly what Nina wants.”
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

All I Want Is You-Publication Day

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Scene #10: Lost and Found

Author Note: Here are a few more secondary characters who helped make Jack and Nina's story unforgetable.

Nina had colored, played blocks, watched cartoons, changed diapers, and even washed a load of clothes while Angie was napping. Now she was exhausted. Nina was attempting to keep Justin occupied in the dining room while Angie got dinner started.
“I’m home,” Jason announced.
Justin wiggled off of Nina’s lap and speed-crawled down the hall.
“Look at my dude on the move,” Jason said.
Nina observed how he so effortlessly scooped Justin up, and sought out Angie to give her a kiss. “Hey babe, where’s my princess?”
“Watching cartoons, as usual.”
“Oh, she can’t even come give her daddy a kiss?” Jason yelled, and Alice came running to greet him.
“Daddy, Auntie Ni-Ni and me colored and played and read stories and played Barbie’s and Justin knocked down allthe blocks. And mommy took a long, long, long nap.”
“Oh really? Ang, you feeling all right?”
“I was just a little tired, but I’m good now, thanks to Nina.”
Jason turned, finally noticing Nina setting the dining table. “Thank you.”
“It’s no problem. We had a blast,” she said with a yawn.
“Well, I’m home now. I can take the kids if you two wanna go do something.”
“No, you just got home. Hang out with your family. I’m going to get a run in before dinner. There’s a trail near here right?”
“Yeah, you just take a right as soon as you’re out of the yard, you can’t miss it,” Jason said.
“Do you wanna wear my coat?” Angie asked. Nina was flattered by the offer. She’d been at least fifty pounds heavier than Angie all their lives.
“Sure,” Nina said with even more motivation to work off the animal crackers she’d had with the kids. Holidays or not, she always had to be mindful of her weight for her heart and herself. She felt stronger now that she was healthier. There was no joy compared to the day she learned she was no longer labeled as obese or overweight. Losing the pounds was far from easy and chart-wise she was still twenty pounds heavier than ideal, but as far as Nina was concerned, she was there.
Nina borrowed a pair of gloves and earmuffs from Angie and headed out. It was pretty chilly, especially with the sun setting, but the view of snow-capped mountains and Christmas decorations all over the neighborhood immediately warmed her soul. Beautiful bows and glittery signs adorned the streetlights and signs. It was a real community, something she missed about growing up in Palos Verdes.
Nina couldn’t have been prouder of her little sister. Angie had a beautiful home, a loving husband, and two adorable kids. Some people probably would’ve expected Nina to be jealous, but she was honestly so happy to see Angie’s life and to be a part of it. The weeks following her heart surgery, all she could think about was leaving her sister alone in the world; they had a few cousins sprinkled around the country, but no one they knew. As far as she and Angie were concerned, it was just the two of them. At least her sister would always have Jason.
Jack hadn’t been back to the house all day, and Nina sure didn’t miss him after how rude he was to her that morning. It went to show she had the most screwed up taste in men. Her entire dating history was comprised of one asshole after another and then she ended up marrying the guy that could’ve been their leader. If she ever did leave Michael, she’d have to make sure her man radar was rebuilt from the ground up.
By the time Nina stopped to catch her breath it was too dark to see the mountains anymore. She turned to head back, but couldn’t remember from which direction she’d come.
She reached in her pocket and realized she’d also forgotten her phone.
“Dang it.”
Her horrible sense of direction was what led Michael to hire a full-time driver, so he didn’t have to be bothered by her calls. “Come on, think, Nina.” She paced under a streetlight. It also didn’t help that she was nearly night-blind. The street names looked like Rorschach’s. “I could follow my footprints.” She jogged along the path, grinning at her genius, until she saw two sets of footprints heading in opposite directions. Why hadn’t she been paying attention to the signs? And why couldn’t she remember the name of Angie’s street? The cold started to set in as she walked block after block, looking for something familiar.
When her teeth started to chatter Nina knew it was time to ask for help, but she felt weird just walking up to someone’s door. Luckily, she spotted a worker’s van in one of the driveways. A friendly looking construction worker was on his way inside.
“Excuse me!” Nina called as she approached the portly man with salt and pepper hair.
“How can I help you?” he asked with his mouth half full.
“I’m visiting my sister. I’m a little lost, and was hoping I could use your phone to call her.”
A gust of wind felt like an icy slap to her face. “Oh my god, it’s cold.”
“Please, come inside.”
Nina raised an eyebrow. He didn’t look dangerous, but she’d seen too many Lifetime movies not to be suspicious. “Oh, no thank you. If I could just use your cell phone. It’ll only be a minute.”
“I could go inside and get it, but you might be frozen by the time I get back. Please, come inside. My wife would kill me if she knew I left a young woman standing out in the cold. I’m Dale by the way.” He extended his hand.
Nina pulled off her glove to shake it, and boy was she sorry. Her whole hand numbed immediately. “Okay, maybe just for a few seconds.”
She stepped inside a lovely foyer. The rest of the rooms were taped off.
“Can I get you something to eat, a cup of coffee, my retirement fund?” Dale asked.
Nina smiled. “Just a phone, please. I really want to get back before my sister starts to worry.”
“Sure thing,” he said, openly staring at her. “I think I might have left it upstairs. You stay right here, and I’ll go grab it.” He nearly tripped three times looking back at her as he rushed up the stairs.

Jack was happy to see the leak wasn’t as bad as he’d expected and the crew had really hauled ass to get it fixed, but now there was a problem with the new rain showerhead. “It’s dented,” Jack said.
“Don’t look dented to me,” Richie, his newest project manager, said, measuring the showerhead.
“What’s that supposed to tell you?” Jack asked, whacking him with his clipboard. “Go get a damn level.”
“Boss!” Dale yelled out of breath.
Dale paused in the doorway clutching his chest. “There’s a…pretty…lady…down…Merry Christmas.”
“What are you talking about?”
Dale was too out of breath to speak so he used his hands to mime a pair of breasts before giving two thumbs up.
“Are you saying you left a strange woman alone in a client’s house?” Jack asked, rushing past him. “You have seriously lost your mind.”
Jack rushed downstairs and paused when he saw Nina standing in the foyer.
Dale crashed into his back and pushed him the rest of the way. “Told you,” Dale whispered.
Nina looked up, and immediately scowled at Jack.
“My bad, abort, abort,” Dale whispered, trying to pull Jack back upstairs.
“How did you…what are you doing here?” Jack asked as he ripped his arm free and approached her.
“I got lost and needed a phone to call Angie. What are you doing here?”
“This is one of my jobs. You didn’t see the big Spears Construction van outside?”
Nina huffed, looking embarrassed. “I have really bad night vision, all right? Now if you’ll be so kind as to point me in the direction of Angie and Jason’s, I’ll leave.”
“Are you crazy? It’s like ten blocks away and ten degrees outside. I’ll drive you. Just give me five minutes.”
“That’s all right I’d rather walk.”
“Damn, she is not into you,” Dale chimed in.
Jack turned to see him sitting on the stairs shaking his head. “Dale, go make sure the showerhead is leveled,” Jack barked. “Nina, would you please let me drive you? I can’t have you walking around here in the cold.”
She looked like she was thinking it over. “Fine,” she said as she stomped past him and sat on the stairs.
Jack didn’t even know where to begin with an apology. He hoped he had at least another hour to figure it out before he went back to the house. Angie was easy, she’d shut up as soon as she got what she wanted, but Nina didn’t look like she was in a forgiving mood at all.
“I know you’re mad about how I acted earlier. I’m really sorry. I’ve been thinking about it all day, which is sort why I’m here instead of at dinner.”
“Save your apologies for my sister. She was having a really rough morning and didn’t need your antagonizing. You would think you would’ve picked up on that, instead of making it all about you,” Nina snapped. Her nose got even redder. Combined with her puffy jacket and earmuffs, Jack thought she looked like Alice after one of her tantrums.
He fought the urge to grin. “You’re right. I was wrong for yelling at her like that, which is why I went ahead and put the order in for the skylight this afternoon, and I really didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“We’re all set, boss,” Dale said, coming back downstairs.
“Good. You and Richie lock up while I get Nina home.”

Jack extended his hand and she actually took it. “Are you ever not freezing?” he asked, blowing into her hand. “How long have you been out there?”
“I’m not sure,” Nina responded in a calmer voice.
Jack opened the passenger door and spotted Dale and Richie giving him a thumbs up as he helped Nina into his SUV.
“Joy to the world,” Dale sang as he went back inside.

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Scene #9: Nobody puts Eve in the corner

Author Note: Another cool thing that happens when you’re writing a novel are the surprise characters. In my mind Eve was one of those no name easily forgotten characters, but even her small appearances were larger than life. Everytime I think about her I laugh and this scene is big reason why.

Jack had been replaying last night in his head for hours and he still couldn’t figure out what he said to make Nina so upset. “Eve!” he shouted.
“Yes, boss?” she entered, wearing a pair of pink snow boots with a matching sweater.
“Can I run something by you?”
“Lord, I thought you’d never ask.” She locked the door and sprinted toward his desk.
Jacks eyes widened when she gripped the bottom of her sweater. “Whoa, whoa, what are you doing?”
“I thought you wanted to…”
“No, no, no. I wanted to ask you a question. And remind me to schedule you another one of those sexual harassment classes for the New Year.”
“Hey, a girl in my position always needs to be prepared.”
“No, you don’t,” he said, shaking his head. “Not ever…in that way…with me…at all.”
“All right. You’ve made your point,” she said, folding her arms. “So what was this question you wanted to ask?”
“Okay, have a seat, which is not an invitation to my lap. I mean the chair sitting on the opposite side of my desk.”
Eve rolled her eyes as she sat. “One little accidental lap dance at the Christmas party and suddenly everybody’s got a problem,” she whispered under her breath.
“Say you’re babysitting, the kids are screaming their heads off and everything is just madness, and I come in.”
“What are you wearing?”
“Eve, please.”
“As I was saying, I come in, help you get the kids to sleep. I make a joke about you being glad you don’t have any. Is there anything about that scenario that would make a woman cry?”
“Me personally? No, but I can’t stand kids. They’re so little and sticky.” She made a sour face.
“Okay, but is there a type of woman that would be offended by that joke?”
“I don’t know, maybe to somebody who wanted one, but couldn’t have any.”
Jack slapped his forehead. He remembered Jason and Angie saying Nina couldn’t have kids after her heart attack. “I cannot believe I said that to her.”
“You mean the streetwalker Dale found for you?” Eve asked sarcastically.
Jack felt like steam was about to burst from his ears. “She is not…,” he paused to check his temper. Eve had gotten the brunt of his wrath over the past month; he’d already doubled her Christmas bonus as a result. One more outburst would’ve sparked him to write a whole new check. “You can go.”
“It was just a joke,” she explained as she headed for the exit.
“Well, it’s not funny, and I don’t want to hear it again.”
“Whatever you say. By the way, what are you even doing here?”
Jack looked down at his empty desk. He really didn’t have a reason to be there. He just didn’t want to risk hurting Nina’s feelings anymore than he already had.
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Scene # 8: Nurse Jack

Author Note: There are too many swoon worthy moments of Jack’s in JINGLE MY WAY, but this one always stands out to me.

“What am I going to do?”
“Let’s start by drying you off. We can go from there.”
Jack helped her out of the shower and lifted her to the bathroom counter, while he grabbed the stack of guest towels.
Nina murmured to herself and counted on her fingers as he dried her hair. “That still wouldn’t be enough.”
“What wouldn’t be enough?”
“I have nothing.”
“Is that what he said?” Jack hadn’t heard anything other than her throwing her phone.
“He’s right.” Nina covered her face. “I have no place to live, no way to pay my medical bills, and even if I did find a job, there’s no way their insurance would even take me.”
“Wait, he threatened to stop paying your bills?” Jack’s nostrils flared as his fists clenched. He wished he could’ve talked to that jerk in person. Jack would’ve loved to knock his teeth out for saying something like that to her.
“Listen to me.” Jack forced Nina to meet his eyes. “You don’t need him. I can help you get a place, cover your bills, and anything else you need.”
“Jack, you don’t even know me.”
“You’re right. I don’t know nearly as much as I want to, but I’m willing to wait as long as you need, just for a chance to know more about you.”
Nina looked more stunned. It saddened him when the simplest things amazed her.
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Scene #7: The Jingle Kiss

Author Note: Here’s another one of my favorites scene’s with cute little Alice:

Nina was in her own world with Justin asleep in her arms. She wanted to close her eyes and pretend his kissable cheeks and perfect fingers where all hers. If she could love her nephew this much, she couldn’t even imagine how she would feel for her own child. She couldn’t resist kissing his cheeks again and again.
“Nina, do you want me to take him?” Angie broke her spell.
Nina had completely forgotten about the tree, but it looked like Jason and Alice had it covered. “No, I’m good. I’ve got a year of catching up to do.”
“Okay.” Angie went back to the tree.
Nina spotted Jack watching her from across the room. He didn’t make any attempts to hide it.
“Mommy, can I ring the jingle bell now?” Alice asked.
“Oh yeah, where is the bell, babe?” Jason asked.
“Right here.” Jack gave it a ring.
“Ooh, you gotta give a kissy,” Alice said as she ran over to him, sticking out her cheek.
“No, remember a kid has to ring the bell,” Jack said. “But just because you’re so cute, I’ll give you one.” He placed a big smack of a kiss on Alice’s cheek before giving her the bell.
Alice quickly ran over to Nina and rang the bell in her face. “Careful, Alice, you don’t want to wake your brother,” Nina whispered and quieted the bell. “But I’d love to give you a kissy.”
Alice shook her head. “Not me. Uncle Jack.”
Nina’s eyes widened.
“No, no, no,” Angie said, grabbing Alice by the hand. “The jingle bell is only for couple’s sweetie, like mommy and daddy.”
“But what about Auntie Ni-Ni?”
Nina’s throat tightened at the thought that even her four year old niece knew she was alone. The air suddenly felt thick with pity as Aaron Neville’s Please Come Home for Christmas blared from the surround-sound speakers.

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