Retainer

The first thought that went through his head when Taylor walked through the door of his lawyer’s office was that he knew where his money was going. He’d never seen a koi pond indoors before but there it was behind the desk, black marble and just deep enough for a couple of fish that were, oddly enough, nowhere to be seen.

His aunt had kept fish and her house had always hummed with filters and aerators. It had been a calming sound for him, but there were no sounds coming from the aquariums around the walls of the office. It didn’t matter. He was already calm.

He was alone in the room, left there by an anxious young man that had introduced himself as Ms. Dayton’s personal assistant. That had surprised Taylor; he had been expecting a paralegal. The assistant seemed to be hovering on the edge of telling him not to touch anything but for twelve hundred dollars an hour he was going to touch whatever he damn well pleased.

A gang of tiny, colorful fish flitted into their plants when he approached the tank and he pressed a finger to the glass, daring them to come out and savoring the power he held over them.

“Don’t touch that.”

Taylor turned around, expecting another assistant, and found himself face to face with a woman whose every motion felt as if she was carving herself out of ice. He took his hand away from the tank and the assistant hurried forward to wipe his fingerprint off the tank. The woman came over to him and looked him up and down.

“Natasha Dayton,” she said, extending a hand. “Your credit card says I’m your attorney now, so let’s get down to business.”

“Nice to meet you,” Taylor said, shaking her hand. “I’m—“

“I know who you are,” Tasha interrupted. “I watch the news, and unfortunately so does most of America. If they don’t watch the news, they read blogs. Everyone knows who you are and what you did, so let’s dispense with the dance and discuss how I’m going to make sure you keep sleeping in your own bed.” As she passed the tanks, the fish came out of hiding and followed her to the edge of their small, shifting worlds until they had nowhere else to go.

“Are those real plants?”

“Of course they are,” Tasha sighed. “They help keep the water clean. We aren’t here to talk about my fish tanks. We’re here to create a plan of action.” She sat down behind her desk and pulled out a piece of paper. “First things first, tell me your version of the truth.”

“I killed the guy,” Taylor said with a shrug. “I watched his house for years, I waited long enough so that no one would immediately connect me to his death, and then I slit his throat while he was watching trash TV. What else do you want to know?”

“At least you’re honest,” she said, shoving the paper away from her. “Try not to be that honest with the judge. We’re going for a winning verdict here. A dismissal, to tell the truth. It may not be pretty but I think we can get you off with most of your career intact.”

“I don’t care about my career,” Taylor said. There was a fountain pen in a wooden holder on the side of the desk closest to him and he focused on it for a moment until the thumping in his ears subsided. Blood. Just like Kinsey’s. “I’ve got plenty of money, I don’t need to work.”

“Well I care about mine.” Tasha shook her head. “How much dirt are you willing to let me dig up? Are you a big fan of morality or are you all right with my making witnesses cry? I hear one of them has cancer and the other is mentally ill.”

“You know,” Taylor said with a grin, “I think I’ve definitely picked the right lawyer.”

Advertisements

Summer Sunshine Afghan

As promised, here are some pictures of the first friendship swap I did! It was called the Summer Sunshine swap and the theme was all colors of yellow, no set pattern. Unlike the last two swaps I’ve done, I actually made the correct number of squares, which led to a square blanket.

Summer Sunshine 1

This one was a little different! We had 18 participants, so everyone got 2 squares from each other. Nowadays the group is a little smaller so we each get 4-5 squares from each other and usually still end up with about 36 squares each. Then you can overmake squares like I do, ha ha ha.

Summer Sunshine Border

Originally my border was going to be a sage green (that doesn’t photograph well), the same color as the joining. When I was a couple of rows around it, though, it was kind of boring so I added a butter yellow stripe that I think really made a difference.

Summer Sunshine 2

The finished blanket! Please ignore the clutter and my husband standing over at the edge, we still had kind of a mess from moving. Crocheting is a great way to de-stress when there is a living room full of boxes and bags in your living room, though! I highly recommend it.

So that’s the first friendship afghan I ever made! I’m very proud of it and you can bet I carried it around in a shopping bag with me for a while and showed it to everyone. Now it’s folded up in a project crate in my closet but if I come across a family member or friend who really likes yellow I might consider giving it to them. Maybe not, though. I’m kind of a project hoarder.

Knock

The sound was so soft that he almost didn’t hear it over the television. It was a scratching, scuffing sound that made Tom think of knocking the mud off his shoes when he came in through the back door. It could have been anything and he wasn’t the sort of man to jump at strange sounds so he settled deeper into his chair.

He was dozing, wrapped in the sort of warmth that came from security and nearly good health, and was almost asleep when he heard the sound again. The same scuffing, just underneath a green and fragrant crackling that he knew was coming from the side of the house.

“Dammit, Lee,” he muttered under his breath. He was sick of his neighbor letting that damn dog nose through his bushes. It always preceded a massive bowel movement and left both his bushes and backyard in a sorrier state than before the dog arrived, and Lee refused to do anything to stop it. Tom had spent the better part of a year trying to figure out the best way to confront his neighbor but he didn’t have the stomach for conflict anymore.

The sounds stopped abruptly and he let his eyelids droop again. It wasn’t worth it. He’d take the scooper out the next morning and get rid of the evidence so he could spend another day pretending it wouldn’t happen again. He’d give just about anything not to have to deal with it anymore.

“And now to our red carpet coverage,” the host of the celebrity news show said amidst an exciting sting of music that forced Tom’s eyes open. “Kima Carpenter is wearing a daring dress by one of the newest, hottest young designers, and doesn’t she look fantastic in it?”

“You can say that again,” his co-host said in a bubbly blonde tone. “Not many people can pull off those sorts of patterns but Kima sure does. Wow.” Tom reached for the remote control. He had zero interest in what the next big thing was wearing, and not just because he didn’t represent her. It had no bearing on whether or not he wanted them in his stable, and if he was being honest he preferred potential clients to come in dressed as simply as possible.

“Now here’s a good looking couple,” the host said. “Alyssa Duvall and Taylor Kyle, who still won’t tell whether or not they’re a real couple or just a pair of friends who like to keep us guessing. They’re both wearing Versace, making us wonder whether they do their shopping – and anything else – together.”

“I hope not,” Tom muttered. Taylor Kyle’s style left plenty to be desired as far as he was concerned, and always had. Bright colors were one thing, especially now that everyone was wearing them, but the man had some sort bizarre attraction to patterns and it seemed like fashion was determined to accommodate him.o The tuxedo jacket he was wearing had lapels of shocking red paisley and Tom groaned. “Thank God I dropped you when I did,” he said, turning the channel.

To his dismay, Taylor Kyle was on that channel as well. There was something about his smile, something too-wide and deep-rolling to express that gave Tom the shivers. He was handsome, no two ways about it, but there was something else there that he just didn’t like.

At first he thought the knocking he heard was at the front door, but it was too close. It almost sounded like it was coming from the kitchen, then the hall. It was soft and traveling, and by the time he figured out that it wasn’t knocking but the snaps of shiny, shiny shoes on his hardwood floor the knife was already at his throat.

Polka Dotty

Oh my goodness you guys, this turned out so cute! 

 Here are all the squares lined up! There are twenty-five altogether, 13 of one color group and 12 of the other, and I’m glad I started with the purple/white instead of the white/purple. Not sure why but it felt right. They didn’t come out exactly square, which I was a little disappointed about since I worked exactly to the pattern, but I figured they’d straighten out when I joined them.

 I was right! Here they are all joined up. One of my Facebook friends said they look like eyes, then we agreed that they look like a record collection. I told my husband that it reminded me of turntables. A LOT of turntables.

  
Here’s the finished blanket! It ended up about 2 inches shorter than the pattern indicated because I crochet a little tightly. I usually go up a hook size but thought I’d go with the pattern this time. Oh well, it still came out cute and would look great over a baby.

  
Here’s a little detail of the edging. I wasn’t entirely in love with it, especially the slip stitching around the border, but it’s grown on me.

This is the first time I’ve ever used a pattern that I got for free at the store. Usually I just kind of walk past them and think “oh, that’s cute” and maybe even take one, but don’t actually do anything with them. This one was just too cute to pass up, though. There’s also an adorable one on the back of this skein of yarn I’m using, and I’ve got a LOT of extra purple and white baby yarn that I could use but I’m going to be working on the mystery project next, and I’ll be getting the finished Christmas squares sometime this month. Busy, busy, but at least I’ll have plenty to update on Crochet Mondays.

If you’d like to try this pattern for yourself, you can find it here. I might suggest you just buy two skeins of each color rather than the one-pounders but that’s just me. I have a whole lot of yarn left over.

NaNoWriPost!

NaNo-2015-Participant-BannerToday is the first day of NaNoWriMo and I’m off to a great start with almost 3000 words! I had planned to stay up until midnight and get right to business but I got sleepy after binge-watching Sons of Anarchy and crocheting.

So here’s a little bit about my novel.

A few years back I started writing a story about a teacher, two men, and the unexpected bond between them. It was a contemporary romance before I discovered my love of historicals, and I really had a great time with it for about 30 pages. Then I just sort of stopped. I put it away in the virtual drawer and went about my business.

Then one day I decided I was going to write a story set in the Old West about two detectives and a suspicious series of events, and that became The Detective’s Brother. I discovered that I really enjoyed writing historical romance and enjoyed reading Western history and researching it just as much. I wrote another story called Framed that needs a bit of polishing but will probably be my next book, and then turned my attention to If I Hadn’t Met You, the story I’m rewriting for NaNoWriMo.

I’m not sure what possessed me to rewrite it in 1880s Texas but I kind of reworked the characters, wrote a comprehensive outline, and went over some of my old notes. I’m really enjoying rearranging things to fit my 1885 Fort Worth setting, and coming up with names from that time period is especially fun.

A lot of people say that you can’t really produce anything of quality in 30 days and to be honest, I don’t expect to have the story completely finished in just a month. Detective’s Brother took over 70,000 words to tell the story so I’m assuming this will be about the same. But if I can get 50,000 raw words down, I can finish it up in December and get the first editing pass made, then send it to my beta readers.

I’m excited to get this story told the right way and excited to be a part of such a wild and crazy group of writers! I’ll post some excerpts as I’m writing if you promise not to hold the first draft against me.

I’m Seeing Spots!

I’ve been a busy bee when it comes to crocheting! I thought this blanket was going to take longer, and I fully intended it to be a relaxing if somewhat more challenging project before NaNoWriMo. Then disaster struck. Well, not really disaster. Our swapmaster decided to do a mystery crochet-along for the holidays, starting November first. It’s supposed to be relaxing and non-challenging but trying to do two projects at once? I don’t have a good track record with that. anyway, on to the squares! 
The blanket is made of 25 squares that are supposed to be 7 inches but mine ended up being 6 and a half inches because I crochet tightly. There are going to be 12 of this color combo…

  
…and 13 of this one! They kind of aren’t exactly square, which I kind of think is a flaw in the pattern because if you use double crochet in the corners instead of treble it comes out square. But much like Hermione in Half-Blood Prince I was determined to follow the instructions.

  
And here are 20 squares that I finished last week! The blanket is supposed to be a polka dot patter but I swear they look like turntables to me. Anyway, I measured what I have so far and it’s going to be a bit smaller than the pattern but I can make up for it with an extra row on the edging. Once I sew them together they’ll be a lot flatter and more even, so I think it’ll come out really cute.

I actually made a couple more squares last night but 20 make a much nicer picture than 22 so you’ll have to wait for next week’s update to see the finished project! If you want to try this pattern yourself you can find it on the Michaels website under projects. It’s fun!

Hero

It was perfect. Everything was going according to plan.

Ten years. Ten years he had been planning, sitting on these feelings while he wove a protective cocoon around himself. He had volunteered at animal shelters. Made surprise trips in costume to the children’s cancer ward. Given money and – this had really won him points with the mommy bloggers – knitted blankets for critically ill children. Hell, he’d learned to knit so he could do it.

The cancer kids had been the most fun. They couldn’t believe it when their favorite superhero showed up to spend the day with them, give them flying lessons, and make the appropriate sounds over their paintings of him. He’d actually enjoyed seeing them, especially the dried-up leaves of children who couldn’t leave their beds. Maybe it was because they were close to the edge, the earth crumbling under their feet while they were too weak to even grasp a ledge to save their lives. It wasn’t quite what he was looking for, but it would do.

He inhaled slowly, hoping that with this breath he would be able to remember the way the grass smelled and the bite of the anthill at the edge of the house. Anthills had a unique smell, one he remembered well from when he was a boy and used to destroy them for fun. They had been on the edge too, but he supposed insects always were. Their bodies may have been designed for hard work but when it came to the bottom of a giant’s shoe they were powerless.

Powerless. Like the man behind the window.

He allowed himself a grin as he leaned against the house, which smelled like it had just been painted again. They never kept it the same color for more than a year or two and once the change had been so dramatic that he’d had to check to make sure the address was the same. That had been early on, though. Now he would have been able to tell the difference even if they’d painted it eggshell instead of ivory.

The glass wasn’t double-paned, not like the windows at his house, and he could hear the muffled voice of the critic extolling the virtues of his latest movie. He tuned out after “his best work since Plasma Man” but his grin got wider. The timing was just as perfect as the weather. No mud to make plaster casts of his shoes, no wet clothes to point the finger at his being outside, and now the compulsory red carpet photo of him with his arm around a woman who would kill to be his girlfriend.

Kill. Yes, that was right.

It seemed as good a time as any to get started, to slide into the house just as his face was disappearing from the screen and behind the chair where he was sitting on the edge, waiting for his push even though he had no idea it was coming.

The last thing Kinsey would see before his life soaked into the carpet was the face from the red carpet, a face that had come to be associated with charity and goodwill, kindness, and one spectacularly bad attempt at pop music. No one would believe it. There would be articles throwing doubt on the charges, protests with signs demanding his freedom, and hundreds of blog posts and tweets proclaiming that they knew he was innocent, that he was framed, that the justice system had it out for him.

He kicked the anthill on his way to the back steps for good measure. One or two thousand more lives wouldn’t make a difference tonight.

The Chex Mix of Romance Fiction