MM8: Brynna is Brynna-ing Me Again.

BRYNNA IS being particularly Brynna this morning. I try to remind myself that she doesn’t intend to be annoying, but…she’s twenty-five now.brynnagoofie

I’ve had twenty-five years to get used to it. So far I haven’t.

Still, she looks seriously cute today. She’ll make me an aunt again in less than fourteen weeks. She’s wearing one of the hats I knitted her (ok, so it was meant for the baby, but I did something wrong and it fits Brynna and looks like it’s supposed to, but…I’m going to make the baby a better one soon) and she waddles. So cute.

Now if she’d just get out of my hair and back to her own office…

I have a book to write. Houghton’s found the Barratt family journals and I’m reading my way through them. The history is so rich it’s amazing. And I don’t mean money.

The Barratts seriously believed in documenting everything. As far back as settlement in the area.

Finley Creek, Value, and Barrattville are named for Houghton’s family and their connections.

Finley Creek…well, it’s definitely an ironic story, that’s for sure.

Just after the Civil War a family named Finley had relocated to the Barrattville area to escape a horrible neighbor who wanted to hurt a widow. She and her brother and their combined children (twelve girls!) settled on a small ranch right in the middle of the current Barratt’s property. Unfortunately, the Finleys had bought it illegally.

The Barratt at the time had six marriage-aged sons. Four of them rode over to the Finley’s ranch and basically took four of the older daughters. They married them that night and they all literally lived happily ever after. (Trying to wrap my head around that one, but…well, after what Houghton did, how can I say that it can’t work?)

The story doesn’t end there, though. The older Barratt man was also a widower, and he decided he wanted the girls’ aunt!

I have to say that I’m truly enjoying reading both their journals. Jude, the girls’ aunt, was wounded before coming to Finley Creek and struggled to walk and faced daily pain. I have to say I’m definitely identifying with her. (Physical therapy did not go well today!)

I want to explore who she was. By the time she was a year older than I am now, she was widowed with four daughters. I can’t imagine how frightening life must have been for her back then.

I can’t help but look around at what her family has built since then.

Houghton wants me to rewrite the journals into a novel form. Just to see what happens.

Even if I never publish it, I think it will be fun. A good way to practice writing romances–I used to write horror when I was younger–and I think it’ll be something fun for him. Fitting that my first romance be about his family, right?

And I’m a Barratt now, too.

Anyway, I’m putting the chapters up here on my blog. Take a look and tell me what you think. I’m really trying to capture a historical voice.

Brynna’s over in her office, finally. She should stay there for a while. We both have a lot of work to do.

Gabby may come over later. I need to call her and confirm. If she is, I may call Dad and get the girls over here.

We can have dinner out by the pool. It’s unseasonally warm today (not that that matters, the pool is heated and enclosed!) and I want to celebrate.

Carrie is supposed to call soon, too. Something about coming down for Dad’s birthday next week. Though I don’t think she should.

She’s weeks away from delivering, after all.

Not that I can talk any sense into her. She’s as stubborn as Brynna sometimes.

Seems like stubbornness is a real Beck trait, after all.

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MM4: Jillian Lied…

SHE LIED to me. I knew she did. She knew that I knew. But I let it go. As much as my heart hurt for her, Jilly had to find her own way to deal with what happened.

But I couldn’t look at my baby sister and not want to help. “I still have the nightmares, Jilly. It’s going to take me a while to learn to deal with them. Everytime I touch Houghton’s scars, I remember. I’m afraid that I probably always will. But…none of us went through this alone. I’m here, even if you just want to yell about what happened.”

She stared at me out of eyes that looked just like mine, like Brynna’s, and Syd’s, and Carrie’s, too. The sadness in Jilly’s broke my heart. “I know. I’ll be ok, Mel. You don’t have to worry about me, or fix me, or anything like that. I’m…not going to let him win.”


“Ari’s starting a therapy group at the hospital. She somehow talked Fin into getting the board to approve initial funding. For now. I think she asked Luc to subsidize it.”

Ari–Jillian’s best friend, and younger sister to our friend Luc. Who was almost as wealthy as my husband. And just as incorrigible. He and Houghton seemed to search out ways to push boundaries–at least in their shared field of tech development.

I have no doubt that some of Luc’s designs had made their way into the infamous drones Houghton and Chance had been playing with.

“For those who have been the victims of violence against women.” Jilly slammed the bottle of Brynna’s favorite salad dressing down on the table. I jumped. “I hate this, Mel. I hate being a victim. It’s not right, and when does this feeling end? I’m not sure how much longer I can take it!”

I didn’t know what else to do–I wrapped my arms around her and just hugged her tight.

Jillian was the smallest of my sisters. She was almost four inches shorter than I was, and tiny. Dad often called her his evil little leprechaun. It was a nickname that fit. Jillian was quiet and sweet most of the time. The rest of the time she was a real terror.

I would give anything to have her back to being a terror. Rather than being constantly terrified.

I pushed my own anger at the bastard who’d hurt us all aside. I’ll have to deal with that anger someday, and I know that.

I really do. But…Jilly needed me to be strong again. So that’s what I am going to do.

Houghton came in when I was still holding her. “You two gorgeous women ok? Do I need to send the driver out for chocolate? Ice cream? A big shiny bauble the size of Jillian’s fist? There’s this little place over on Summit that sells those ring pop suckers. Even in cherry…”

Jillian laughed and I smiled at my husband, knowing exactly what he was up to. He could be really sweet sometime. Especially with my sisters.

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MM1: Houghton, Chance…and the drone.

IT WAS the drones that did it. I hadn’t even known what the man was up to. I guess I should have. I just didn’t know that he was going to involve Chance in it. You would think my sister’s husband would have at least had more sense than mine, right?

Thankfully the complaint had gone into the Finley Creek TSP post. After a strict warning to keep their toys in their own backyard, Chance and Houghton were fined. With a ticket signed by none other than the Chief of the Finley Creek TSP himself.

Elliot, Chance’s brother, had probably enjoyed that moment, hadn’t he?


“I didn’t mean to get Chance in trouble,” my husband said as he wrapped his arms around my waist. “Do you forgive me?”

I wasn’t angry with him, to begin with. But I wasn’t about to tell him that. I’d been gone for three days—Brynna and I had flown to St. Louis to stay with Carrie while Sebastian did a conference at Quantico—and I had missed the feel of the man’s arms around me.

“You’re corrupting my brother-in-law.” Not that it would have taken much. Since he and Brynna had married and Chance had taken the job as Houghton’s—and the entire family’s—Chief of Security, Houghton and Chance had gotten into tons of trouble.

Supposedly all in the name of developing safety measures for one of Houghton’s businesses.

I knew the truth—they were two little boys enjoying coming up with new toys. Add in their friend Luc, who flew down regularly from St. Louis, and they were almost incorrigible. Almost. Elliot rode heard on them pretty well, at least.

I didn’t care. It made them happy.

Just like it made  Elliot happy to bust them.

They had all been unhappy long enough.

“I’m sorry. But in my defense, it was Chance’s idea to fly the drones over the hospital. I didn’t know one would land in their heat vent.”

“Uh-huh.” Thankfully the hospital in question was the one where Houghton had already made many generous donations. The hospital admin had seemed amused by it. “Got to be more careful with your playthings.”

“I know what I want to play with now.” His hands snaked around my waist, and he grinned. Houghton had the best smile of any man I had ever seen. But I might be a little bit partial. “You were gone for an eternity.”

“So was that what it was? You and Chance missed us so you thought you’d do something to get in trouble?” Gabby, Elliot’s wife, had called me to tell me exactly what the men had been up to.

“Hardly. Come here.” He scooped me up. Carrying me around was a thing of his. One I indulged.

He carried me through the monstrosity of our house and toward our suite on the fourth floor. I clutched his shoulders tightly when he bypassed the elevator and headed for the stairs.

“Houghton, if you drop me, I’ll make you pay for it.” The stairs were marble, for heaven’s sake.

“I’ll never drop you.”

And he didn’t.

Next Post: MM2: My Family