Read More from Calle J. Brookes

Free Stories from Finley Creek and more…

Things are going to be a bit chaotic and messy around here. I’m doing some spring clinging/migrating, etc. Just to make things a bit easier to find before I start getting back into the free reads. Updates will come soon!

On a side note, Searching, (Jac/Max from PAVAD) is coming along nicely. A little later than planned, but it’s also 100 pages longer than anticipated! Stay tuned for details!

Wow. It’s all I can say right now, after everything that has happened. It’s going to take us a year to get through all of the things that are going on with these storms.

I’ll post more about what happened to Fin, Nikkie Jean, Annie, and Izzie–not to mention the guys involved–soon. We’re still waiting for the details.

In the meantime:

I’ve made it through another chapter of the journal. It’s Jude & The Barratt Eight!

 

It has done nothing but rain here for days. Weeks. The counties around us have been kept busy preventing people from doing something stupid in the floods.

The road that leads to Lacy and Travis’s place has completely washed out. They’re using the old service road that connected her ranch to his for most of the traffic in and out of his ranch now. People have only been leaving when they have to.

She’s been staying with Jillian and Rafe so she can be certain she’ll make it to the hospital for her shifts. I don’t think she and Travis are too thrilled with that idea. Usually, Finley Creek isn’t this wet, but ever so often Mother Nature weeps above us.

Things will have to dry out, that’s for sure.

Barratt County is just as bad, and to top it off, I heard they found a body. Bailey’s been back to W4HAV but she refuses to give me too many of the details. Totally understand, since it’s an active investigation, and all.

I’ve been keeping myself busy going through the sheer amount of journals that are hidden throughout the Barratt Ranch. One of Houghton’s cousins is moving in permanently to take over the place, and Houghton’s been collecting what he and his father owned before that happens.

We’ve been separating Handley’s journals from the rest of his family’s. We’ll be reading them soon.

I’ve been reading one that belongs to Houghton’s great-great-great-great-grandfather Hughes, and another that belongs to Hughes’ second wife. She was actually a Finley.

Fin Coulter and Houghton are very distant cousins, I think.

But this  particular journal is full of four brothers who decided to ride to the next ranch over and take four daughters as brides.

Apparently, Barratts really do just find a woman and keep her. No wonder Houghton…well…

I’ve posted the next event in chapter form. You’ll have to take a look. It’s Jude & the Barratt 7.

If you’re not familiar with the story, you may want to start at the very beginning...

 

Well. It’s official. Rafe, Travis, and Marc are all aliens. And Houghton and Luc are in bed together.

The Snotty Garlic struck again.

This time it was relatively tame, though the articles mentioned aliens. Aliens–the little green kind–are always a favorite of the Garlic. I think that’s why Brynna and Gabby enjoy it so much.

We were mentioned again, but not too badly. Nothing wild or crazy, unlike the week when it was speculated that baby Sara Anne was…you guessed it…an alien.

I thought Brynna was going to never stop laughing. Chance…wasn’t quite as amused. Especially by the fact that they’d gotten a photo of the baby somewhere. But…the photo looked strangely familiar. As if I’d seen that exact photo somewhere before.

I’m more and more convinced that someone on the Garlic is someone that we know.

Anyway, I’ve linked to the issue we’re in. Take a look for yourself. They also mention some of the latest that’s been going on with Value. Apparently the sheriff–Houghton’s second-cousin Clay Addy–and one of his deputies, Bailey, found two bodies somewhere in the county.

I can’t wait until Bailey comes to W4HAV for her next therapy appointment. I have so many questions…

Sometimes I miss solving the puzzles. CSI video games just are not the same…

 

Anyway, here it is…

snotty garlic issue 1

Well, not much to say. It’s been months since I even thought about blogging. But I’ve been kept very busy. W4HAV has been the primary focus, but Blessed Reunions is getting a lot of my attention too.

As is Houghton. That man, he’s always up to something. The project he was so worried about during the early days of our marriage is complete. His investors—of which Luc is one—are all very pleased with what he came up with. I knew they would be. My husband is nothing if not brilliant.

But Luc and Houghton are working to bring a branch of Lucas Tech down here to Value specifically. And we’re facing more opposition than I would have thought. Marc, too, as governor, is struggling to get backing for his initiatives.

Me, personally—I’m fully behind what Marc is trying to do. Barratt County is one of the smallest in the state. And it’s never been a factory-town kind of place. It’s mostly agricultural. But jobs are scarce. Marc, Houghton, and Luc are trying to change that. But the opposition’s stating that the area doesn’t need another factory to pollute the area.

Which is ridiculous—Luc has dedicated years to developing cleaner industrial technologies. Tech that’s designed to actually clean up the industrial process, as well.

It’s not a miracle cure, of course, and I understand the desire to protect the environment, but people around Barratt County need decent-paying jobs, too.

It is a delicate balance, I suppose. But Luc is throwing himself into it. Marc, and even Houghton, too.

When the three of them get into cahoots like this, I honestly think there’s nothing they can’t accomplish.

It’s all Payton, Ari, and I can do to keep them contained at times.

It’s Ari that worries me. Adjustment to the fishbowl has been tough for her since she married Marc. Payton had her baby, a boy who looks just like Ari and Paige and not like his father at all, four months ago. Patrick is a beautiful little man. They’re supposed to be coming down here tomorrow; it’ll be the first time they’ve traveled with the baby. I can’t wait to get my hands on him again.

Houghton and I visited St. Louis a month ago. Houghton was fascinated with the baby—like he is with all the kids in our life—and I could see the wishes he wasn’t going to voice. Not to me.

The doctors don’t think I’ll be able to have a child. And Houghton doesn’t want to try; at least not yet. Not until I get stronger. I’m not certain how I feel about it yet. Adoption is a strong possibility, but that’s a discussion for when we’ve been married longer.

In the meantime, there are plenty babies and kids around that I can cuddle when the urge hits.

Sara Anne looks so much like Brynna’s baby photos. She’s absolutely beautiful. And we’d unofficially become aunt and uncle to Marc and Ari’s two. Ari is a beautiful mother, and thankfully is healing after what happened to her.

But the best part is that Jillian and Rafe have decided not to wait. And those two overachievers have already managed to make me another niece or nephew.

Dad is over the moon.

Jillian, too. Rafe is terrified, but I think he’ll do just fine. Once his morning sickness subsides, anyway… Jillian says he deserves it. Something about him not wanting Jillian to play on the W4HAV softball team I organized. We played against the local chapter of a popular charity organization in a fundraising event.

We won, too.

But Rafe didn’t think Jillian needed to be pitching that day.

I’m inclined to agree. But my sister has a stubborn streak a mile wide. And she’d worn padding over the baby. I suppose I have to trust Jillian at this point, right? I mean, she’s darned good at taking care of herself–and whoever else is in her sphere.

In the meantime, I’ve been kept busy. I’m still going through the journals I found at the Barratt Ranch. I’m reading a bunch from the late 1800s. It’s where Jude’s story came from. I hope to have another chapter or two rewritten by the end of next week.

I also found a trio of journals from three women in the 1920s. I’m really looking forward to reading through them, as it looked like something ominous was going on at the Barratt Hotel in 1926…

I have to go. Gretchen Reynolds, from St. Louis, is supposed to call me in fifteen minutes.

So…apparently I was wrong. Marc and Ari were together the last time I wrote. Or they were getting together, anyway. What happened to them, especially Ari and Katie, sickens me. That the man responsible was just so casual about causing such terror.

I don’t think I will ever understand it.

Marc and Ari are getting married in the morning. It’s going to be a beautiful wedding. Her sister and brother from St. Louis are flying down, and I think the ones from nearby Garrity are driving up. Ari and Pen have been getting a lot closer since what happened to them.

Syd seems to like Pen a lot, but something is so going on with my youngest sister. I just can’t figure it out. I’ve cornered Syd twice. But only her friend Gracie from St. Louis seems to know the whole story.

I don’t like her not talking to me. I was a big part of her life for so long. I feel like I abandoned her for Houghton sometimes. He understands, and we’ve been trying to bridge the gap, but it’s not been happening. I honestly don’t know what to do.

I think something happened to Syd. Besides the crap that’s happened to all of us recently. But she won’t tell me what.

I may have to do some asking around–but maybe that would be considering interfering? Syd is technically an adult. Capable of living her life on her own. I should probably mind my own business until she’s ready to talk…

I just don’t know how long that will be.

I do have some wonderful news, though.

I’m going to be an aunt again. Ari is also going to be an aunt. And so is Lacy. 😉 Give you one guess which couple got busy!  (Hint: Ari gets to be a double aunt, through Marc…and…)

Yep. Jillian. Apparently one of his brothers put the idea in Rafe’s head, and the big guy went with it.

Jillian is thrilled with the baby, not so thrilled with the morning sickness.

I’m pretty certain Rafe has her carried into the ER each day on a throne, he’s so gone over her.

Lacy is fully healed, as are both Jillian and Rafe. Ari is doing better after what happened to her. As are Katie, Isaac, and Marc. They are such a beautiful family to see.

I think the entire state of Texas thinks so, too.

We’re having the wedding here, so Chance can keep a handle on security. Everyone from the papers out of Austin to that damned Snotty Garlic have practically been hounding Ari.

It’s taking her some time to adjust to being in the fishbowl with Marc, but he’s made it absolutely clear to everyone to give her space–or they’ll deal with him.

He’s beautiful with her. I love watching all this happen to the ones I love–though I can certainly do without the danger and drama that seems to follow my family everywhere!

In the meantime, I have some other things brewing lately. I’ve been doing a lot of work for Blessed Reunions, and Gretchen Reynolds (Gracie’s aunt from St. Louis) has said that I can hire someone to help me part-time. My Dad has agreed to take the position!

After he tracks down Houghton’s missing father.

Apparently, my father is almost 100% certain he saw my father-in-law snooping around W4HAV the other day…

Well, I have neglected this blog, haven’t I? I’ve really intended to keep up with it, but Houghton constantly manages to distract me. I have gotten several new chapters written in my historicals, but with everything else that’s happened lately, I’ve not been able to get nearly as ahead as I wish.

For one thing, Jillian and Rafe—it was horrible! We could have lost them, and Ari, so easily. That we didn’t was a miracle in itself.

Jillian is healed now, and living with Rafe. It’s strange, going over to Dad’s now. Syd is hanging out in St. Louis more and more. She’s going through something; whatever it is truly scares me. And I can’t get her to open up at all.

Bryn is happily nested across the road, but she’s still in and out, I think. Same for Jillian next door. It’s like they’re there, but not.

It’s still a bit strange seeing Jillian and Rafe together, but they really fit each other well. Same as Lacy and Travis. Those two were married two days ago, in a little meadow between their two ranches.

It was ridiculously cute. I never would have pictured the two of them together, but when I see them now it’s obvious they are so right for each other.

It’s Ari and Marc that are worrying me tonight. (Why do I always write more when I’m worried about someone?)

Not that they’re together or anything like that. At least I don’t think they are. If they are, it is a surprise to me!

They are very pretty together, though.

Marc has been hard at work at a new jobs initiative and a quest to find the traffickers of that drug Solpalmtraln that nearly got both Lacy and Jillian (and Travis, Rafe, and Ari) all killed.

Marc’s gone all rabid over it. Not that I blame him. There are times I just itch to get back out there and do something again.

Managing Houghton can be a full-time job, of course, but it’s just not the same.

Even Gretchen has very little for me at times. It’s a real hit-or-miss in the lost loved ones business.

Houghton and Luc have been really busy lately. It involves Gab and Bryn, so I have had a front row seat for most of it. The two have designed something that Luc and my husband are squabbling over. They really are a couple of little boys at times.

Adorable, in their own special ways, but when it comes to technology, they are ruthless with their competitors—even when that means each other. I just managed to stop Houghton from paying one of his people to hack Luc’s system last week.

But this device is a bit different. It’s Gabby, Brynna, and Carrie’s idea. They’ll split the profits, once they decide who to sell it to. It’s funny, watching Luc and Houghton court the three of them. I think Houghton will win out, because of the family connection and all. But who knows?

It’s this nifty little tracking device that also monitors vital statistics. It’s extremely small, and fits in a small piece of jewelry. It recharges from the heat of the wearer’s skin. Very revolutionary.

It’s basically better than GPS. I don’t fully understand what makes it so special, but Gab and Bryn have been super excited about it.

They even have prototypes. I’m testing one out now. We’re currently at our home in Mexico. My device is installed in a waterproof ankle bracelet. I haven’t taken it off. Even when in the pool daily. They wanted to see how it would hold up submerged on a regular basis.

Gab and Bryn will analyze the data later.

I think Lacy’s wearing one right now, too. In Wyoming. She and Travis took off up there yesterday, even though they were supposed to be on their honeymoon. Something to do with Travis’ breeding program.

Ari and Jillian were tapped for this little experiment, too. Gabby and Brynna like to use the three of them when they can.

Jillian gets to be the control subject. She got a bit miffed when Brynna told her it was because she never got to go anywhere exciting or fun. Lacy gets to wear one because it monitors vital stats in high stakes situations. Like surgery and trauma.

Ari travels more than the other two—she still goes between Austin and Finley Creek, with a few side trips each month up to Luc’s. They are going to see how the device performs at a distance.

It’s going to be interesting, once it’s finished. And very useful. After all that has happened to my family—and me—over the last year or so, having a way to track each other could very well be worth it.

I hope Barratt wins with this. I may talk to Houghton and see just what it is he’s offering. Then talk to my sisters and Gab. Find out exactly where we stand…

 

Previous Post: MM19: Jillian

 

 

 

 

 

 

I…don’t know what to say today. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been able to blog much. Houghton has been dragging me to various conferences and workshops and summits around the region, for one thing.

For another, Gretchen Reynolds has been keeping me busy hunting for lost loved ones.

We’re focusing on Luc, Paige, Ari & Simon’s siblings now. I didn’t realize we’d find one as close as we did, but…

Well, he doesn’t want the connection. I’m still looking for others. Part of the problem is that we don’t know exactly how many children Denise Daviess birthed, or even under what name she did it.

She was extremely clever and horribly mercenary. If she was still alive, she’d be facing human trafficking charges for selling her own children.

She still disgusts me whenever I think about it.

Between the search and my husband, I’m exhausted.

And then there is Jillian.

Lacy is doing well, healing after her ordeal at FCGH. Jillian was there that night, along with Travis’ brother Rafe.

I don’t think Jillian is sleeping well now. She’s jittery again, like she was after what had happened with the lt. governor. I hate that she’s suffering this setback.

And everything else that has happened to her since Lacy was hurt? I just don’t understand it.

Hasn’t my sister suffered enough?

 

Previous Post: MM18                    Next Post: MM20: Tagged

So much has happened I don’t even know where to begin.

It’s just too much, after everything that happened with Albright and Benny and all the others. Lacy is mending. Thank God. We came so close to losing her. And we never even suspected something more was going on.

It all could have ended that night at the hospital.

Houghton and Chance have tightened security overall, which I knew would happen. Houghton is terrified something else will happen soon.

It’s his go-to reaction whenever anything like this happens.

How can I blame him?

We could’ve lost Jillian, too. That night on the road. Jillian, Lacy, and Ari–all three.

If Travis hadn’t been so close… if they hadn’t been able to get Jillian to help, my little sister could’ve bled to death.

I’ll never forget that.

Everyone is quiet now. Just giving the three of them room to heal again. They hadn’t deserved this. None of them had. But Lacy… I’ll never forget what happened to her.

She’s getting out of the hospital soon, and there’s some debate about where she’s going.

It’ll probably be with Travis, of course. That man — Elliot and Chance’s cousin — absolutely adores Lacy. I knew that the night of the banquet.

It was in the way he looked at her.

Of course when a woman gets looked at with that much heat it’s hard not to see it.

I should know, Houghton still looks at me that way. I hope he always will.

We’re headed to the hospital, to check on Lacy for ourselves again.

Rumor has it, they are moving her out of ICU today. We all want to be there, to take turns sitting with her. Maybe someone can actually get Travis to go take a shower.

He doesn’t want to leave her side.

I want to see her for myself, too. I remember what it was like to be lying there with holes in your body. Wondering.

Lacy’s fortunate, they don’t think there’ll be any lasting damage. They don’t think so, anyway.

It could have all ended so differently.

Jillian has been so jumpy, and it’s obvious she hasn’t been sleeping lately.

And how could she?

What she’d seen…I’m not some sure how much longer my little sister can hold on. Can keep going.

Still, Jillian’s one of the strongest people I know. But…

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what’s going happen next? Who is going to get hurt next?

Ari, Jilly, and Lacy showed up tonight. Something was bothering them but none of them would tell me what it was. They ended up hanging out in Houghton’s music room. I’m not entirely certain why the man has a music room, considering he’s completely tone deaf, but…

It makes a good hang out place with the three of them. The three are remarkably talented, especially when they sing together. Jillian didn’t show a lot of her talents as a kid. She’s always been the quietest of us, and I understand why.

Brynna required a lot of energy when she was a kid. And I was the oldest (at the time) and always doing things first. I was athletic and outgoing. Jillian was usually in the shadow, I guess. If not mine, then Brynna’s.

But with Lacy and Ari, she’s got people who don’t see her as Brynna’s sister, or Mel’s baby sister, etc. I think Jilly needs that.

She’s really been missing our mother lately. I can tell by the way she talks about her. Mom and Jilly had a special relationship. I was always with Dad, you know? And Brynna spent a lot of time in her room, lost in her own little Brynna world.

But Jillian…she and Mom were close.

We lost her when Jilly and Bryn were seniors in high school and Syd was in middle school. We were all so worried about Brynna and Syd we kind of overlooked the fact that Jilly had lost her center, too.

I wish I could be that center for Jilly, but I just can’t.

I wish I knew what was going on with the three of them.

Lacy was quiet. Something weighed heavily on her mind.

Jillian is more short-tempered than she’s ever been. I know something’s bothering her.

Ari…Ari is hard to pin down. She’s our resident space cadet—Jilly’s words, not mine—but there’s something else going on. I’m pretty certain it has something to do with the benefit Margo has talked her into organizing, but there’s more than that…I think.

I wish I knew Lacy and Ari well enough to figure it out.

As for Jillian…I keep reminding myself that she’ll come to me when she’s ready, and if she thinks I can help.

Jilly goes back to work tomorrow and I think she’s dreading it. It hasn’t been easy for her to be around large groups of people since everything happened.

I’m really starting to worry about her…