MM14: I Scared Him…

I scared him. Houghton found me curled up in my office at almost six tonight. I could tell by the look in his brown eyes that I had worried him. “I’m ok, Houghton. Just took a nap after last night.”

“I’ve been texting you for fifteen minutes.”

“Don’t you think it’s a bit ridiculous that we text each other in the house?”

“But at least we’re still the same zip code.” He grinned at me, and he stretched out on the chaise right next to me. His arms went around me. “Our guests will be arriving within the hour. I figured you’d want to be there when they get here.”

“I do.” Paige and Payton—Luc’s wife—are close friends of mine, and have been since I was shot. I am anxious to see the two of them. I like the rest of their group, as well. “I need to take a shower and change.” I always feel so grubby after a nap.

“In a minute. I’ll wash your back…first, come cuddle me. I’ve been lonely downstairs all day.”

“Uh huh, with Pippa and your lackeys all around you? Somehow I don’t think so.”

“None of them are you, Mrs. Barratt.”

“You’re full of it, Mr. Barratt.” I slipped out of his arms. If I don’t get away from him now it’ll be a while before I do. I don’t want to look rumpled when our guests get here. Luc will tease me mercilessly if I do. “I—“

Before I even realized what was happening, everything around me went dark and my head swam.

Houghton caught me as I fell.

**

 

Well. Houghton was staring down at me the moment my head cleared. “I’m ok.”

“Sure you are. I’ve called for a car. We’re taking you to see Lacy right now.” He lifted me off the chaise and walked from my office.

“Houghton, I’m ok. I just didn’t eat much today.” Come to think of it, I didn’t eat anything more than a vending machine muffin at the hospital this morning. “It’s probably the meds and a lack of food. I’m ok, I promise.”

“Melody Beck Barratt doesn’t faint. Even if she hasn’t eaten.”

Houghton, I’m just fine. Put me down. If I feel sick, I’ll talk to Lacy tonight, ok? Or Jilly.”

“Don’t, Melody. Just don’t.”

I knew what he was thinking—Houghton’s biggest fear is something happening to me. I knew that; he’d told me so himself. Multiple times. I put my hands on his cheeks and forced him to look at me. “I’m ok. I promise. I think I just stood up too quickly. Sometimes…the pain pills can cause dizziness. Loss of equilibrium. You know that.” I’m not on a lot of pills now—nowhere near what I used to be—but I still took some for pain management. I will always hurt—or so I have been told.

Sometimes the side effects were worse than the original condition, though.

“I’ll talk to Lacy tonight about the pain pills. See what other options are out there. I promise, I will. Ok?”

He stopped walking. I know what he was thinking. He was thinking he could just carry me out to the car and to the hospital and get every answer he demanded.

Houghton tried to control everything, didn’t he? “Put me down, Houghton. I need a shower.”

“I’m sticking by your side until Lacy gets here. Just deal with it, babe. I’m not taking my hands off of you until she’s here.”

The Desolate Ch. 5.

She had green eyes. Not gold, like a Dardaptoan, but green. Her hair was dark brown and long. She was small, barely bigger than Iahanna—the smallest Dardaptoan female he had ever seen—and skinny. She had almost no curves to speak of.

She was the most beautiful female he had ever seen.

He wasn’t too thrilled with the idea that she was here in the demon world, though. She had been human. She should have been safe back in America. Or wherever she came from.

Not here in the demon world where the three hells were about to erupt and possibly wipe every realm out completely.

And he would be at the front of the fight.

He was Adrastos, and that was his way.

Which meant this poor girl would face the war every single day. It wasn’t exactly what he would have wanted for his mate, was it?

**

Vampire guy must have taken a real knock to the head. M.J. was pretty well stunned into silence—for once—and she just stared at him as Iahanna lectured him on the proper way to treat a female. Especially one who’d been through what M.J. had. She appreciated the other woman’s defense, but, well…

Iahanna looked small enough for the vampire guy to eat if she made him mad enough. “Iah, I’ll deal with him. I don’t want to make trouble for you.”

Iahanna had enough troubles of her own. The second time M.J. had met the other woman a big dude with a black scarf had cornered Iahanna and was trying to force her to…well, he didn’t succeed. M.J. made sure of that with a big stick upside the asshole’s head.

She and Iahanna had kept an eye out for each other when they were both on the streets together, but still respected each other’s space.

Although Iahanna had offered to let M.J. live with her and her cousin, Cayri once.

But M.J. hadn’t wanted to be a burden on the small group of mostly women and children who were dependent on Iahanna to lead them. She wasn’t raised to be a burden.

She was actually raised to keep her head down and always moving.

Well, the demon attack had stopped that, hadn’t it?

Iahanna patted her hand once. “Do not worry about me, M.J. This is one of my Rajni’s brothers. He will not hurt me. Nor will I let him hurt you.”

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The Desolate Ch. 4.

M.J. opened her eyes to something far different than her little cave in the demon woods. For one thing she wasn’t shivering in her thin blankets, hoping the small fire she’d lit was still burning—matches weren’t exactly prevalent in the demon world—or stiff from sleeping on those blankets spread over a cave floor. She’d been in the process of gathering enough leaves and grasses to make herself a bed, but her allergies didn’t like grasses in the demon world either. There wasn’t much else available for her to use.

And she wasn’t alone. Someone held her hand. M.J. looked at the blonde woman quickly. She relaxed slightly, seeing the woman who had did that healing mumbo-jumbo after the first demon had nearly nabbed M.J. “Iah.”

“Well, fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into this time. Demons just seem to love you, don’t they?”

“What can I say? It’s my charm…” She shifted carefully on the bed. Her arms burned, but…not as bad as they had earlier. “So…what’s the extent of the damage?”

Iahanna hesitated. “M.J.—“

“Ok. What did I miss?”

“You died. And we had to convert you to Dardaptoan. You have no business being here. How did you get here and why didn’t you ask someone for help?” A harsh male voice asked from some other side of the bed.

“Marous!” Iahanna glared at him. M.J. turned her head and there he was. The vampire who’d fought off the green demon. “Not now!”

“Who are you? And what business is it of yours?” M.J.’s mother hadn’t raised her to be a coward in the thirteen years she’d had with her. This vampire guy wasn’t going to scare her.

But…M.J. figured they knew. Cat was out of the bag, so to speak.

He leaned over the bed and she struggled to not scoot away—even if it had been possible. He was big and dark and strong and male—and had fangs instead of canine teeth. Not to mention the way he glared down at her. “I’m your Rajni. And you are never to put yourself in that kind of danger again.”

“My what?”

“In your terms and under Dardaptoan law, I’m your mate. Your new husband. And you will never do anything so foolish again.”

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MM 13: Malcolm Kevin Sebastian Lorcan

Seven pounds, thirteen ounces, and twenty-three and a half inches long!

And I got to hold him first, after his parents, of course!

Carrie went into labor fifteen minutes after the last guest left Dad’s party. Less than four hours later, at 11:54, Lacy delivered the baby via C-section at Finley Creek General Hospital. Malcolm is the fourth generation Beck to be born at Finley Creek Gen. Even his mother was born at FCGH.

Malcolm will share his grandfather’s birthday. My dad is pleased as punch.

Carrie is doing well. Sebastian wasn’t too happy that she went into labor in Texas, but Carrie said that it was meant to be. That she is perfectly happy her son got to come into this world with his family all around him. The rest of their family—meaning all those Lorcans and Brockmans—will be here in the morning.

We’re going to be hosting most of them in our guest wing. Luc and his wife, Paige and her husband, Seth Lorcan and his family, and Sin Lorcan and his wife and children.

It’s going to be a busy, busy place around here.  With plenty of babies and kids around to keep Houghton entertained.

Ari’s going to come stay with us to help out, and to visit with her brothers and sister and their families. Her position with the counseling department at the hospital had only been part-time. When she’d been hurt back in February, they hadn’t held the position. In fact, the entire department had been downsized to two full-time counselors.

Ari seemed ok with the change, but I have to admit I don’t know her all that well. Still, Luc has her doing something on his payroll. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but she flies back and forth between St. Louis and Finley Creek at least twice a week.

It’s going to be great to have everyone here. Carrie’s going to be released in two days, and she and Sebastian are going to spend a week or so at Dad’s; Dad turned mine and Brynna’s rooms into an actual guest suite, complete with bath. It’s perfect for Carrie, Sebastian, and the babies.

Babies.

I’m trying not to get all gooey here. I’m not the extra gooey type, but we missed seventeen years of Carrie’s life. We will never have the childhood memories of her, but we can be here for this part of present, right?

Brynna is going nuts over the baby, cooing and ahh-ing. Of course, she’s been fascinated with Maddie since the kid came into the world, too.

She’s going to be such a great mother. Carrie certainly is.

I can’t wait to see them both with their babies, to see Jilly happy again and Syd working on her own future.

I’m starting to feel all matron-y, settled with my husband, our family all around us—doing what I can to make sure they are all happy.

Gives a  woman something to do with her time, doesn’t it?

Not like I’m getting any actual work done. The book isn’t going quite as well as I like. I think I’m starting to hit what’s known as the ‘saggy middle’ or something. I’m going to keep writing through it, of course, but I’d forgotten how hard it was, writing. The horror stories I wrote in high school were a lot shorter and a lot less detailed.

Slash and suspense, that’s what they were.

I can’t bring myself to write a horror, mystery or suspense right now. Maybe someday, when I can put the memories behind me. In the meantime, I’m going to finish this historical I’m writing.

I want it ready and in paperback before Houghton’s birthday in October.

We spent most of the night at the hospital and I am tired. Exhausted, actually.

It’s only two in the afternoon, but…the chaise looks really nice right now.

I think I’m just going to grab a blanket and take a nap. Just for a little while.

Previous Post: MM 12: Sixty!

MM12: Sixty!

My father turns sixty today, and for a man of six decades I think he looks pretty good. I watched him laugh and talk with his friends and our family, but I saw the sadness.

He misses my mother. I have no doubt about that. They loved each other so much.

Carrie and Sebastian and Maddie made it down from St. Louis. Carrie has less than two weeks before her due date. I can’t help but remember the last time she was this close to delivery. Remember the night Maddie was born.

It was weeks before I was able to even see my only niece. Hell, it was weeks before I was even cognizant enough to know what was going on for more than half an hour at a time. They kept me pretty doped up for a while there.

But this time will be different. I am going to be there for the baby’s birth, just like I am going to be there for Brynna’s baby. And Jillian and Syd’s when they have them.

I am going to be the best aunt possible. And I’ll buy them as many expensive presents as I can get away with.

It’s my aunt privilege, isn’t it?

I’ve sit here too long. I need to either get up and move around or I’m going to pay for it later.

I’ve been rambling again, haven’t I?

Dad’s party was a definite success. Brynna hid inside for most of it, but Chance stayed with her, of course. She reemerged in time for the cake and ice cream, at least.

Lacy sang a sexy song, just for my dad. He blushed. Everyone enjoyed it.

I’m glad he’s doing ok. I know what happened weighs on him, too.

We’ll get through this. I know we all will. We’re Becks after all.

Previous Post: MM11: Carrie Wins!

MM11: Carrie Wins.

I’m beginning to think I’m spending far too much time in front of this screen lately. I’m making progress on Jude and Hughes’ story. (Check out the next few chapters here!),

But I’m starting to stiffen up after too many hours at it. There’s always speech-to-text software, but to be honest, talking out my stories weirds me out. I’ll try it eventually.

Imagine it, me spread out over the chaise, talking to my computer clear across the room. Then Houghton will come in, decide the software or my tech set-up isn’t the best possible there is and he’ll play around with it.

Then he’ll want me to demonstrate a scene or two…and of course, I’ll pick the hotter ones.

It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve tried out the chaise, now would it?

Anywayyy…

Off of me and Houghton and back to what’s going on around here…

Carrie won.

They’ll be down here—with the beautiful baby Maddie—first thing in the morning two days from now. They are bringing Simon, Ari’s younger brother, to hang out with Syd for a few days.

Ari has me almost as worried as Jillian. She’s jumping at shadows and so, so quiet. I’m convinced that they both have some PTSD going on, but they won’t let me help them. Not at this point.

All I can do is be here for them, right?

Why is it so hard to just sit by and do nothing when the ones I care about are hurting? Why can’t I just bundle them all up and make the world better for them?

I’m trying not to dwell too much on what happened myself. I’ve been through some crappy times over the past two years, I can get through this too.

Maybe they aren’t the only ones still screwed up by what happened?

I had another nightmare this morning. In it, Jilly and Houghton both died, bleeding out from that damned knife.

Whenever that happens I feel shaky for hours.

There’s another ‘therapy’ group tonight. We’re all going, Jilly, Brynna, Lacy, Ari, and I. Gabby, too. We’ll see.

That’s all I am going to commit to.

Houghton has a full schedule today. There’s still an FBI conference going on at the hotel today. He’s giving them his special presence after the trouble Dr. Dillon experienced.

I may take a car to the hotel and join him for lunch today. Or have Chance drive me. Maybe I could convince Brynna to step inside the hotel this time.

If it has been hard to get Jillian into the hotel, it was next to impossible to get Brynna anywhere near it.

I’ll get her inside eventually. But I get it, I really do. Brynna and Jillian both almost died in the hotel. It makes sense that they don’t want to go there.

I’ll admit, I haven’t gone there without Houghton yet.

Perhaps it is time I do?

I am not going to let what happened keep me from doing anything ever again.

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MM10: Weepy Ol’Me

I spent the day at Dad’s, wanting to be close to Jilly. She knew what I was up to. She called me on it around lunch time. “Shouldn’t you be at home, working in your office next to Brynna? Thought you baby-sat her during the day now?”

“Ha-ha.” Hell, it was the truth, though. I did keep an eye on Brynna during the day while Houghton and Chance were off doing Houghton and Chance things. I didn’t mind—she was my sister. We’d been together practically since the day Brynna was born.

Except for those dark months I was in St. Louis in a hospital bed or in a wheelchair. I don’t think of those days often if I can help it. I am grateful I was close to Carrie, though.

She visited me every chance she could. She’s wonderful, and I am glad I got a chance to know my older sister now, too.

But it wasn’t my older sister who worried me, though she was determined that she would be coming down for Dad’s birthday next week. The first week of April was too darned close to Carrie’s due date for her to even be considering it.

But Sebastian said she was insistent.

“Earth to Mel. Focus.”

I looked at my sister again. Jillian had lost some weight, hadn’t she? It wasn’t hard to see—she had always been the smallest of all of us, and the lost weight really showed. “I’m worried about you.”

“I’m fine. I’m dealing with what happened, Mel. Same as everyone else.”

“When are you going back to work?”

“I’m not sure. As soon as I graduate, I think. They won’t hold my job forever—no matter how big of a donation Houghton made.”

She sent me a pointed look and I shrugged. “You know how he is. Said we spent so much time there, the wing should be named for us. Thankfully, Fin didn’t agree. But the hospital was grateful.”

“And I’ll have a job there when I’m ready to go back. I know that. For now…I  need to focus on getting my degree, and finding a new normal around here. It’s…quiet here. Syd…she’s gone more often than not, now. I see her moving to St. Louis someday, Mel. She and Gracie Reynolds…they want to form a band, and I think they’ll manage it somehow. With Brynna across the street it’s a little different, but she’s still here a lot. But…we miss you.”

“I’m going to try to be around here more often.” Somehow. I wasn’t entirely certain how, but I was going to try.

Truth was, I missed having a large family around, too. I love my husband and the life we are building together. I will never deny that.

But…I miss my family, too.

Damn it, why do I feel so weepy today?

Previous Post: MM9 Goodnight, Laptop!