All posts by Rebecca Lovell

Writer of romance fiction. I love happy endings, friends turned lovers and the long game.

Rediscovering Cross Stitch

Like a lot of people who enjoy crafty hobbies, I have accumulated quite a stockpile of supplies over the years. One of the things I had lovingly and meticulously purchased and catalogued was embroidery floss.

This isn’t even all of it. There are a number of colors missing, along with my finished pieces and my fave pattern book, leading me to believe that somewhere in the pile of stuff at my dad’s house or in my storage space is my big project box. When it gets cooler I’ll look for it. Pinky promise.

For reasons I can’t remember, I felt like doing a little cross stitching again. I used to be fairly good at it and enjoyed large, complex patterns. I was trying to decide whether or not to start up again when I saw my friend Joelle of Sparkle J Designs was doing an embroidery round robin and I thought it would be fun to do it too. Unfortunately I only have one local friend who does needlework, but she and I decided to just pass one back and forth.

I spent several days making a grid and let’s be honest, mistakes were made. It’s been almost five years since I cross stitched so I’m going easy on myself. But the finished project will be equally split between the two of us and that’s what matters. There’s no theme to this one but we aren’t counting it out for next time.

The little tulips were my first contribution and Amanda countered with a cozy tea and book motif. I think this is going to look really nice when we finish! I’ll post progress pics on Mondays so you can follow along. I also just bought the cutest pattern for $3 and can’t wait to make it.

I forgot how much I enjoyed doing cross stitch. It’s very relaxing and I like being able to sort of paint with thread colors. I’m hoping to work up to another big piece but that’ll be if I can find my pattern book.

See you next Monday with what may or may not be a tiny duck…

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The Absence of Intellect – Four

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Irritated with himself beyond belief, Hunter slammed the car door when he got back to his house. It didn’t matter that it couldn’t change anything that had happened, it made him feel better. The worst part of it was that Emily seemed to always be getting the brunt of his temper, even though she was the one who was going to try her best to help him. He should have been thanking her, not snapping at her, but he seemed to be getting more emotional lately and he didn’t particularly care for it.

He unlocked his door without incident and walked past the alarm keypad. He’d stopped setting it after the third time the police had come out because he couldn’t remember the alarm code or the security password, so there was no need to stop. Hunter threw his keys into the bowl on the table so he’d remember where they were in the morning, took off his jacket and tossed it over the back of one of the dining room chairs, then went into the kitchen and opened the freezer. His phone rang in his pocket as he was pouring himself a glass of vodka and he took it out, fully intending to turn it off, then saw who was calling and put it to his ear instead.

“Hi, Robin.”

“Hi, Dad!” His daughter’s voice came through the phone and made him smile. He could always count on Robin to be relentlessly cheerful. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”

“No, sweetheart, I just got home and was pouring myself a drink.” He took a drink and heard her sigh.

“Are you supposed to be drinking with your medication?” She didn’t give him a chance to respond before she spoke again. “What am I talking about, of course you aren’t. You’re the most stubborn person I know, and I work with toddlers.”

“The way you say it makes it sound like a bad thing,” Hunter said, deciding not to go into the details of why he was at Emily’s house. He’d gotten so excited about the idea of the neural bridge that finding out it would take years to develop felt like he was getting diagnosed all over again. “And before you ask, I wasn’t at work, I was at a friend’s house.”

“Good,” Robin said. “You don’t need to stress yourself out. I know—” She was interrupted by a crash loud enough to make Hunter jump. “Itsy! I’ve got to go, Dad, Itsy just knocked over the fish tank and there’s gravel everywhere.”

“Go take care of it before your carpet gets ruined,” Hunter said, picking up his glass. “I told you that dog was a mistake.”

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” Robin said. “Good night, Dad.”

“Good night,” Hunter said, then hung up and set his phone on the counter. As much as he loved his daughter, she had developed a maddening tendency to treat him like one of her students since his diagnosis. He tipped a little more vodka into his glass and took a drink.

Hunter leaned on the counter and thought about how he’d left Emily’s house. This time he had not only bitten her head off, but he’d run away from her house as if he was trying to escape his failing memory. He’d gone there to apologize and ended up making himself feel even worse. The dementia wasn’t her fault. In fact, she was trying to help him. It would have been easy to look up her phone number to call and apologize again but going to her house had already felt like an invasion of privacy. Instead he swirled his drink around in his glass and looked into it.

The most unexpected part of the whole thing had been her saying she thought he was attractive. She’d said it so casually, as if she handed out compliments every day, and it had made him feel better than he had in months. Hunter chuckled.

Good-looking, huh? I haven’t heard that in a long time. He tried to remember the last time someone had said it, and the only thing he could come up with was his wife telling him he looked handsome on their wedding day. He was fairly sure she’d said it before then, and certain she’d said it since, but she’d been gone long enough that time and Alzheimer’s were starting to steal little chunks of the days they’d had together.

He hardly knew anything about Emily, apart from her work on the cholinesterase inhibitor and now her neural bridge concept. He knew she liked cats, and that she had questionable taste in music, but he didn’t know why the other scientists at the lab were so happy to be rid of her, or why she was so interested in dementia treatment in the first place. All he knew was that she wasn’t bad-looking herself and she seemed kind. She almost always wore the same clothes under her lab coat, and her hair was twisted up in an unassuming knot, but the simplicity made it more appealing to him. Hunter finished his drink and set his glass in the sink.

First thing he’d do when he got to work in the morning was apologize to Emily for real. He didn’t want to alienate her the way he’d been doing to the rest of the people in his life, and he wanted to show her that he didn’t only want to be around her because of what she could possibly do for him. She was the only person who knew about his disease, and he trusted her. Hunter went up the stairs to his bedroom, then turned around and went back down to make sure he hadn’t forgotten to lock the door. It had become something of a nightly ritual for him, one he was tired of. By the time he finally got into bed, he’d checked the front door three more times.

As he started to fall asleep, Hunter’s mind began to wander and he wondered if it was the dementia or the normal driftings of a tired mind. He rolled over so his back was to the window. He would give anything to be free of this disease. Anything at all.

Free Things Are Kind of Exciting

img_3861If you’ve been reading the pieces of Absence of Intellect that I’ve been posting on Wednesdays, I hope you’re enjoying the story! I’ve had an idea about it and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy that as well.

Once Absence is completed, I’m going to re-edit it and put it up on Amazon and in KU. It’ll be e-book only and permafree, so if you missed a chapter or just want to read the whole thing from the beginning, you’ll be able to own it and read it at your leisure. It’s going to be novella length, probably around 30-32K, and hopefully it’ll spark interest in my other books.

So far I’ve written 15 chapters and have 3 more to write, so it’ll be a couple of months before any of this happens but I’ll put all the news here so you’ll be the first to know when it does. I’ll likely release it around Christmas with no preorder, so no pesky waiting!

I hope you’ll keep reading the chapters of Absence as they’re posted, and give me your feedback on them. I’m looking forward to doing this and possibly started a new story after this one is concluded. I’ve got a bit of an idea sort of rolling around in my head that seems like it could be a good novella.

There’s always the possibility that I’ll get impatient and start updating twice a week or something like that, but we’ll see where this goes. Writing is a wild ride and sometimes all you can do is hold on and hope the brakes work.

Camp NaNoWriMo, Week 4

It’s the final countdown (80’s synth sounds go here)!

I crushed it last weekend with a 5K day and a 3K day to put me over the top and into winner land. Unfortunately, since then I’ve kind of let the story languish. I really need to finish it, though. I have a book to edit, an entirely different book to write before November (!!!) and I really need to re-edit my Spring 2019 book.

I had a great weekend last weekend and while I won’t hit 40K, I still did the thing. I’ll write a debriefing on August 1st and hopefully have some fun news this week!

The Absence of Intellect – Three

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At least three times a week, often more, Emily’s neighbors had friends over. Since she shared a wall with them, she got to hear their muffled voices shouting about sports, games they were playing, and once or twice she’d heard them singing. That wasn’t even counting the dancing or the smell of marijuana that sometimes came through her vent. It didn’t really bother her unless it went on past midnight, which was rare.

She was in the kitchen washing the cat’s food bowl when the doorbell rang, and she turned off the water and dried her hands on the kitchen towel before going to answer it. Once in a while her neighbors came over to apologize for the noise or offer her a beer, but she still checked the Nest app on her phone to see who it was. To her surprise, it wasn’t Rich or Evan on her doorstep, it was Hunter Chambers. She opened the door immediately.

“Dr. Chambers,” she said, at a loss for why her boss would be at her house at eleven at night. “What are you doing here?”

“Mind if I come in?” Hunter looked exhausted. Emily nodded and stepped aside. “Thanks.”

“You want something to drink? I just made cinnamon cocoa.”

“Sure.” He seemed preoccupied, but followed Emily into the kitchen. She poured two mugs of cocoa and handed him one, then leaned on the counter. She felt more than a little self-conscious in her flannel pajama pants and tank top, especially since he was still wearing the same suit he’d been wearing at the lab, but if Hunter noticed he didn’t mention it.

“So what can I do for you?”

“I’m sorry to come by so late,” he said, lifting the mug to his lips. “I got your address from your HR file. It’s inappropriate, I know, but there’s something I wanted to talk to you about and I don’t feel comfortable discussing it at work.”

“It’s no big deal,” Emily said. She couldn’t help being a little excited. She’d never even considered the idea that he would be helping her with her laboratory, much less coming to her house. “I’ve always wanted a late-night visit from a good-looking doctor.” Emily felt herself instantly turning red. She had no idea what had made her say it but Hunter didn’t seem to have noticed. “What’s going on?” He took a deep breath and looked down at his cocoa. “Dr. Chambers?”

“I want to apologize for the way I behaved earlier. There was no excuse for my taking my stress out on you.” His words made Emily smile, glad that he was at least acknowledging what had happened.

“It’s all right,” Emily said, smiling. “The doctor I used to work for used to throw things at the wall when he was mad, and I was just glad I got out of there before he started throwing them at us. I suppose it’s the price of working with geniuses.”

“That’s a joke,” he said bitterly.

“What is?”

“What’s the first thing you think about when you think of me, about Apogee Labs?” It was an odd question but Emily didn’t want to push him too hard for fear he’d shut down.

“Let’s see, the first time I saw you speak was at a conference in Evanston. It was right before I applied to Apogee. You were talking about the use of anticonvulsants to treat other conditions because they targeted similar areas of the brain, and the potential for creating a next-generation medication. I was so impressed. I applied to Apogee before I even checked out of my hotel.” She smiled. “That’s probably what I associate you with the most.”

“If I told you that I not only don’t remember that lecture, but what area of the brain seizure medication affects, that would change your opinion of me, wouldn’t it?” He was finally getting at it and Emily shook her head.

“Not really. It was three years ago. It’s impossible for everyone to remember everything they’ve ever done.” She nodded toward the living room. “Come on, let’s go sit down.” Hunter didn’t argue. He followed her through the kitchen and into a rather spacious living room. It was, however, the wall she shared with her neighbors and they seemed to be getting rowdy.

“Sounds like they’re enjoying themselves over there,” Hunter commented and Emily sighed as she sat down on the couch.

“I honestly don’t think there’s a time when they aren’t.” A muffled roar of laughter came from the wall and she gestured to it. “That guy in particular. I wish I could get as excited about anything as he seems to get about everything.”

“You were pretty excited about the neural bridge earlier,” he said, sitting on the opposite end of the couch. His closeness was distracting and Emily attempted to focus on her work instead of the blueness of his eyes.

“Of course I was,” she said. “Being the one to create a new treatment for such a devastating disease is exciting; it could impact so many people.” She debated telling him about Melissa but decided not to. The last thing she wanted was for him to question her reasons for creating the neural bridge, especially since he seemed to have single-handedly found the funding for her lab. He had apologized for yelling at her but she didn’t want to push her luck.

“Yes,” Hunter said, looking away from her. “I’m one of them.” Emily frowned slightly. She was on the verge of asking which of his parents had Alzheimer’s when he turned his eyes back to her. “I’m in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.”

“You are?” Emily couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Hunter nodded. “How bad is it?”

“I’m starting to forget things that have happened in the past. Sometimes I can’t remember peoples’ names when I’ve just been introduced to them, and depending on the day I have trouble planning out things at work.” He took a drink of his cocoa. “It gets worse as the day goes on. I make a lot of lists in the morning.”

“Are you on medication?”

“Yes, but as I’m sure you know it doesn’t stop the progression of the disease, only slows it down.” Hunter sighed. “The medication gets better every generation but I’ve exhausted all the options. It’s getting to the point where I don’t know how much longer I can work. That’s why your neural bridge therapy is so important.”

“Dr. Chambers,” she said, trying to be as kind as possible. She hated letting people down. “I’m years away from clinical trials. I’d be happy to pull strings to get you into one but by that time the majority of the damage may be irreversible.” Hunter looked as if she’d punched him. “I’m so sorry. I’ll do my best but I can’t guarantee anything.” To keep from seeing the look on his face, she picked up the cat bowl and filled it with food. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to feed my cat. You can see her if you want.” Hunter was silent and she went up the stairs to her bedroom with him on her heels.

Her closet door was partially open and she pulled it open all the way to reveal a cat laying on its side with five tiny kittens nuzzling into her belly. Emily squatted down to put the bowl near another that had water in it. Hunter finally smiled.

“I found her a couple of weeks ago and brought her home. She’s really skittish, though, so she’s spent most of her time hiding. I wasn’t expecting to open my closet a couple of days ago and find this.” She put her hands on her hips. “They’re cute, aren’t they?”

“Yeah,” Hunter said. “Of course they’re cute. They’re…” His words trailed away and Emily looked over to see him frowning, as if he was trying to figure something out. Emily’s body went cold. She knew without asking that he was trying to remember the word. “They’re…”

“Kittens?” Emily supplied the word gently and wasn’t surprised to see Hunter’s face flush.

“I don’t need your help,” he said harshly, and Emily suddenly felt guilty. “I have to go,” he said, turning around and walking quickly down the hall. Emily stood up and hurried after him, taking the stairs two at a time but she’d barely reached the bottom floor when her front door closed. She put her hands on her hips and looked at the floor, disheartened. She waited until his car drove away, then sighed and locked the door.

Emily went back to the kitchen and picked up his mug, then poured out the last of his cocoa. She couldn’t believe that her boss, the man who had made Apogee Labs into one of the top pharmaceutical companies, couldn’t remember the word for kitten. There had to be something she could do for him, she just had to figure out what that was.

 

Training Journal – Panic Mode Engaged

16 WEEKS UNTIL SKYLINE CHALLENGE

Mistakes were made today.

Yesterday I made the mistake of looking at a calendar. I was immediately struck by a bone-deep horror when I realized that I only have 4 months to train for the Skyline Challenge. I’ve got to go from being a lazy slob to running 22.5 miles in 5 hours. That means I have to sustain a pace of 13:20 or less to finish the Challenge. Consider me kicked in the ass.

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I spent some time last night working up a new training schedule that includes three runs a week, two spin classes a week, two swims a week at minimum. On Saturdays that I don’t work, I can take an extra spin class, and some Fridays I can do a short track run like I used to on Friday nights.

The marathon itself is further away – 6 months – but if I can complete the Skyline challenge (and that’s really all I want), the marathon will be a piece of cake. I’ll have an hour to run another 4 miles, and I’ll have 2 more months to get ready. It’s still scary and I can’t believe I’m considering doing either of them, but I’ve done scarier things and come out the other side in one piece.

superherolandingToday I went to spin class, which was rough considering it’s been like a month since I’ve been to it, followed by a nice easy 3 mile run. In 96 degree weather. If you don’t believe in climate change I’m not sure what to tell you except go outside and run in this heat that was definitely not this intense last summer. I know, I was running in it last year too.

I came very close to heat exhaustion today. Scratch that. I fell victim to heat exhaustion today. By the end of the run I was dizzy and my face was dry, in large part because the (only) water fountain that’s at my halfway point was either turned off or broken so I ran 3 miles in the heat with zero hydration besides the two bottles of water I drank at the Y. I was too overheated to even finish walking to my car so I laid on a bench in the shade until I felt better, then went back to my car and chugged another bottle of water.

Lesson learned, I guess. This weekend when I get paid I am definitely getting a hydration belt. I even know which one I want. I cannot get through another distance run without one, especially one longer than 3 miles.

Camp NaNoWriMo Victory 2018

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Yesterday around 5:30 PM, I officially won the Camp NaNoWriMo July 2018 session. Cue the confetti and party hats, because I earned another year’s worth of winner’s flair. After my epic failure in April, I’m quite glad that this turned out well.

Even though I’ve officially won, I plan to keep going until my story is finished and updating my word count along the way until the end of the month. There’s no way I’ll make it to 50K in 8 days and I probably couldn’t stretch the story that far anyway – it’s looking more like a novella – but I might be able to get it to 40K with a little coaxing.

I’ll update with my now-customary Friday post at the end of the week, then a sort of debriefing on August 1st. Then, I’ll be in NaNo hibernation until November 1st at 12:00 AM. I can’t wait for the next big thing…NaNo Prep Season! Woo!