Tag Archives: holidays

Merry Christmas!

All my attention is focused on family just now, so I decided to be a minimalist with words and share a couple of my favourite pics taken at this time of year:


Wherever you are, however you celebrate (or don’t), I hope this day is exactly what you want it to be.



Filed under holidays

Celebrating the day . . . on a different day

I’m trying to distract myself from the fact that I think I’m coming down with a cold. And also from the memory of what I was doing one year ago today (rest in peace, Mitty).

I’m feeling thankful for so many things, but today I’m especially thankful that I’m not the one in charge of making a huge Thanksgiving Day feast. After a couple decades of doing that, it’s been a relief these past few years to have an extended break from it. And it’s highly entertaining to “watch” as my daughter in Boston does it instead.

Here’s a series of text messages she sent me last night:



I’m exhausted just reading it. She told me today that she’s planning to not only make turkey soup with leftovers, but also turkey and Andouille sausage gumbo, which is what her in-laws in New Orleans do with their leftovers. “They eat maybe two turkey sandwiches and then use the rest to make gumbo.”

All of this is truly hilarious given that this is the child who would eat only six things when she was young, while her brother ate everything. Really, she was impossible.

Her husband the MD and a couple of his also-MD friends are working a series of night shifts at the moment, so they all are having their feast bright and early on Friday morning (hence the inclusion of breakfast food on her menu). My son and his wife are spending today with her family and we’ll have our “Thanksgiving” dinner Friday as well, though not in the morning. We’ve all adjusted our concept of holiday to fit the circumstances. You figure out pretty quickly that celebrations are more about the spirit of the thing and happiness is not constrained by a date on the calendar.

But I won’t be making turkey, thankyouverymuch. I’m planning slow-cooked BBQ pork tenderloin and scalloped potatoes and asparagus and . . . whatever else comes to mind. Maybe that marinated tomato/cucumber thing I haven’t made for a while. Maybe even some Brussels sprouts (my daughter sent me a great recipe) (who knew they could be delicious?).

I think I have some ice cream, if anyone has room for dessert. Highly unlikely, in my experience. But I suppose it’s not really Thanksgiving without some kind of pie, so here, enjoy the apple pie my daughter made. Doesn’t it smell good?



I hope you all are finding things for which to give thanks, whether you celebrate this particular holiday or not. If you’re reading this, please know that I’m thankful for your presence in my life. On all the days.



Filed under holidays

Random thoughts in December

This is a rambling post full of random thoughts. I know you’re used to that over here and probably I don’t even need to mention it, but whatever.

I have somehow ended up with an iPhone. I’d say I’m not sure how that happened, but I know exactly how it happened.

Several months ago, my daughter decided we were paying too much for cell phone service (she and her husband are on my plan). So I told her, fine, you find a good plan that’s less expensive and we’ll switch. Because I hate dealing with that kind of stuff.

Of course, being an intrepid adventurer who did not inherit my gene for procrastination, she did just that. Only problem was, my very old cell phone was so old that it sent the new plan into paroxysms of laughter before it said, “No. You need a new phone. One from this century.”

Here’s a picture of my old phone (on the left, if you couldn’t tell), next to the new one. With bonus coasters, because I’m too lazy to crop them out.


Oh, stop laughing. The old one was functional. I was able to check the time and date and send text messages and even set an alarm. I’m pretty sure I could make phone calls with it. Probably. It’s not like I have first-hand knowledge of that.

Sigh. I guess all good things come to an end.

I looked at the options for new non-smart phones (I wasn’t impressed) and decided I might as well accept the inevitable sooner rather than . . . even later. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to get a phone that could launch missiles and connect with the ISS and negotiate world peace through predictive text.

Now, I’m not a complete Luddite, but the adaptation has been predictably hilarious. And pitiful. Here’s an example of a typical text conversation with my daughter (we had been talking about the pic she sent of her Christmas tree):


And then there is this inexplicably recurring nonsense from Siri, which I have transcribed from memory:

Siri: Hey, I learned a new trick! Just say “Hey Siri” to learn more.

Me: . . . [silent, wondering whether there’s a way to opt out of being spoken to like a three-year-old]

Siri: I’m not sure what you said.

Me: That’s because I’m speechless.

Siri: I’m not sure I understand. Did you say, “How do I write a speech?”

Me: Not even close.

Or I’d hit some weird combination of buttons and get this:

Siri: How can I help you?

Me: Sorry, didn’t mean to summon you.

Siri: You do not need to apologize to me.

Me: I’m going to disconnect you now.

Siri: Okay. Bye!

I decided Siri might be less irritating as a male, so I changed the voice preference the other day and haven’t heard from her, er, him since.

But I did discover — completely by accident, due to my tendency to click on stuff despite not knowing what it does — that I can text from my laptop. This is so cool, I can hardly believe it. Totally awesome to type a text message on a full keyboard rather than a tiny phone screen. This thing is really more computer than phone.

Another plus, the camera is light years better than the one on my old phone. Here’s a pic of The White Ninja, which is what my son calls her [it has been pointed out that I can’t really call her The Intruder Cat anymore, since the cat-intruded-upon is no longer with us]. See how she’s being all cooperative and shedding on a white blanket? That’s only because I moved my black sweater.


As you might suspect, I’ve been feeling sad the last several weeks, missing my ancient kitty. She might have been ornery, but she was mine. There was a significant amount of time both before and after she died during which I didn’t write. At all. But I’ve been trying to get back to it in the past few days. Not easy, with the distractions of the holidays.

Speaking of distractions, my son just sent me this text message:


I laughed SO HARD. That child definitely inherited his mother’s irreverent sense of humour. [I’m sorry if you don’t get the reference, and really sorry if no one forces you to watch that South Park episode every year at Christmas time, but I am not going to be the one to explain it.]

Where was I? Oh, yeah.

I’ve heard quite a few writers say they don’t like to talk about what they’re writing while writing it. As if doing so saps the words of their energy, deflating the story and rendering it lifeless. I’ve discovered over the years that I fall squarely into this camp.


I will say that an interesting thing has happened with my writing in the past several months. “Interesting” being open to interpretation, I guess. I’ve been actively writing two stories at the same time. While making notes on a third. And there’s a fourth one, a short story, that is completely developed in my mind.

I’ve never attempted this before. I’m sure it’s a Very Bad Idea. There is no “right” way to write, but if there’s an inadvisable way or a convoluted way or a way that is more difficult, you can bet that’s what I’ll manage to do.

Is this procrastination? I don’t know. Maybe. I’d be worried if I completely stopped writing one story in favour of another. That’s a big red flag. But this is different, this switching back and forth and writing two at once. Yes, it means the entire process is taking a bit longer, but I’m not sure I could write these two stories any other way. They’re both proving to be . . . difficult. In different ways. It helps to alternate, for one to lay fallow while the other percolates words, and then back again.

The interesting thing, to me, is the discovery that writing straight romance has helped me see that thriller manuscript I set aside more clearly. I don’t mean “straight” as a sexual definition. Is “pure” romance a better term? No, that has other connotations as well. I mean straight-up romance without a thriller plot or a conspiracy woven though it.

One thing that bothered me about that story was that the tone was uneven. Most of it sounded like a thriller, but large sections of it sounded more like a romance. This is not a good thing. But, somehow, writing romance has made it easier for me to really “feel” the genre differences between romance and thrillers. Mind you, I’m an avid reader of both genres. I understand the differences. I just couldn’t always manage to separate them in my writing. And even though I want to write both, I had come to believe I’d never have what it takes to do justice to a thriller. So it’s encouraging that I’ve been thinking about that thriller again in stray moments. Getting excited about it again. That story will require intense and exclusive focus, when it’s time, but that time might come sooner than I anticipated. We’ll see what transpires.

Anyway, due to this weird new process, it might happen that I finish several stories at the roughly same time. But who knows. I’ve learned to stop making predictions. Life has a way of thwarting even the simplest plans and there was plenty of that this year.

I’ve decided to announce new releases first via my newsletter, well ahead of mentioning them here on my blog or elsewhere. So if you want to be among the first to hear about the publication of new stories, at a discounted price, go sign up for my newsletter (here’s a link, or see the sidebar). I won’t share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time. No pressure. You do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

Good grief, I’ve rambled on longer than even I thought I would. I do want to mention that I’m going to take an extended break from the internet after Christmas, in spite of this new iThing that insists on connecting me every time I move. I have at least two stories at the point where they need my complete focus. And another one, perhaps two, that are impatient to burst forth onto the page. Seems like a good idea to mute the distractions for a while.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, if that’s something you celebrate. Regardless of holiday preferences, I wish everyone peace and calm and clarity as one calendar year draws to a close and a new one begins.

I hope you are able to take a few days off from the ordinary and make them extraordinary. I hope you manage to share space with people you love, or at least find tolerable the ones you’re stuck with. And I hope you make time to read.

As for me, I’ll be wishing for an encore of this:




Filed under blogging, holidays, miscellaneous bits

Are we scared yet?

I wasn’t going to write a Halloween post this year, it not being my favourite holiday, but then this happened:

I haven’t been sleeping well lately, which means I’ve been exhausted and generally worthless, so the other day I decided to take a nap. Just a quick nap on the couch, maybe 20 minutes. Heh.

I woke up roughly two hours later, about the time the sun was starting to go down, feeling all groggy and worse than before my nap. I went to use the downstairs bathroom and noticed a weird reddish glow on the wall of the back stairs. Still feeling mostly out of it, I stopped and looked up the stairs at the glow and thought, “Wow, must be a really gorgeous sunset going on.” Not wanting to miss it, I backtracked to look out the windows by the deck, but the sky looked very ordinary. No red at all. No orange or even any pink. That was weird.

So I used the bathroom and then looked again and there was still this weird red glow coming from upstairs. Groggy, I briefly wondered whether the bonus room was on fire. But it wasn’t that kind of light. No flickering, no smell of smoke. No sound at all. Fire is noisy.

Then I wondered whether maybe there was something red up there and the sun was hitting it or reflecting off it. Like maybe a red vase. Or maybe my daughter had hung something in a window last weekend when she was home. But I couldn’t remember seeing anything up there that might do that.

Now by this time, the sun had pretty much gone down and there was no way the red glow was being caused by sunlight. And it was definitely still red. Very red. And it was sort of starting to freak me out. Normally, the staircase leading to the bonus room is completely dark at night.

This is what it looked like, as if maybe a portal had opened to the ninth circle of hell up there:


It didn’t help that I’ve already been a bit jumpy for the past week or so. The oak trees have produced a bumper crop of acorns this year and the damn things have been hitting the house and deck with great force at irregular intervals. The ones that land on the deck bounce up and hit the French windows and it sounds like someone is trying to break in. Startles me every single time. Sort of like an ineffective mash-up of The Lottery and The Raven. Smooth, round acorns, carefully selected, gently rapping, rapping . . . tapping my house to death.

In fact, I can easily imagine both Jackson and Poe, sitting in their respective houses being pelted by acorns, thinking, “This sound is irritating; I wonder how I can make it horrifying, so that years from now some woman with a wild imagination . . .”

I did mention I’ve been sleep deprived, right?

I stepped up onto the bottom stair, to get a better look. I craned my head as far off to the side as I could and— the neon Budweiser sign my son brought home from college and hung on the wall was lit up!


Okay, now I was TOTALLY FREAKED OUT. Not to mention finally wide awake. I know that sign wasn’t on before then. I definitely would have noticed the red glow. I was the only one in the house. Who the hell had turned it on? Had someone come into the house while I was napping? I’d been totally zonked out, dead to the world, but surely that would have woken me. Wouldn’t it? And why would anyone even DO THAT? Who breaks into a house and TURNS ON A LIGHT?

If someone was gaslighting me and using a neon sign to do it, I could appreciate the pun, I guess, but that would be beyond bizarre. And unlikely.

I remembered that while I was drifting off, Cauliflower (my daughter’s cat who now lives with me, because allergies) had been spazzing out, running around downstairs and then charging up the back stairs and thumping around up there before coming back down and racing around some more down here. This is nothing new. It’s what she does. But now she was sitting in the back entry, all tense and alert with her tail puffed up like she was scared, and swiveling her head every once in a while to look up the stairs before looking expectantly back at me.


I almost called my son to come over and investigate. Because he’s 6’3″ and strong and athletic and . . . I am not. But probably it was nothing. Probably. And given that he inherited my sense of humour, I’d never hear the end of it. Except, how could it be nothing? I can understand a light going OFF unexpectedly, but not one that turned on for no reason. Someone or something had to have turned it on. And then, predictably, helpfully, of course I had this bit of movie dialog running through my head:

Cowardly Lion: I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I do believe in spooks, I do believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I do!

Wicked Witch of the West: Ah! You’ll believe in more than that before I’m finished with you.

I would have scared myself silly and fled from the house by now, if I had a tail to pull.


Forget the tail, the acorns hitting the windows were going to finish me off.

Not yet ready to abandon all hope, I screwed my courage to the sticking place and decided to go upstairs to check it out. It’s not like I could just ignore it. At the very least, I had to go turn off the glowing red light. Never mind that I was starting to feel like the too-stupid-to-live heroine who goes down into the basement at night, wearing a diaphanous nightgown and carrying only a lit candle, to check out the strange noises after the power goes out in spite of knowing there’s an escaped serial killer in the area. But it was either go up there or put a sign in a front window, advertising hourly rates.

I don’t think there are any escaped villains in the area, not that I’d watched the news recently, not with an election imminent. And my power wasn’t out – obviously, given the sign was on – and I did arm myself with my cell phone. I mean, really, what kind of weapon would even be useful, let alone necessary, when confronting someone who entered a home with the sole intent of turning on a neon beer sign? I half expected to find some vagrant passed out on the couch, empty longneck dangling from his fingers, waiting for someone to come shoot a few games of pool with him.

Yes, there’s a pool table up there. If worst came to worst, I absolutely know my way around a pool cue. I am fucking proficient with a pool cue.

I went up the front stairs. If there was something in that room that was going to startle me, I didn’t want to be teetering at the top of the back staircase when it happened. I checked out all the other rooms first. Nothing seemed out of place. The house was quiet. Very quiet. Other than the sound of acorns hitting the roof from time to time, making me jump. And the stampeding feet of the cat thundering up the stairs behind me.

I cautiously made my way to the bonus room. If there was an intruder, it was the quietest intruder, ever, in the entire history of intruders. And also invisible. There was no one in the room. Believe me, I checked thoroughly. The only living things in the house were the two cats and me. And the big-ass spider that got away before I could smash it earlier.

My elderly cat was downstairs on the living room couch, blissfully deaf in her old age and sound asleep. The spider was somewhere in the depths of the hall closet, never (I hope) to be seen again. But Cauliflower was now sitting in the middle of the pool table, tail all puffed up and eyes gone dark, staring intently at the neon Budweiser sign. Which was still glowing.


Well hell.

Sure, I was relieved not to find an intruder. Of course I was. But that had been the obvious rational explanation for this mystery . . . and now . . . I didn’t know what to think. I don’t like unsolved mysteries and I don’t like feeling afraid. Not that I had a choice. It’s not like anyone asked me whether I wanted to participate in a locked room mystery for the evening’s entertainment.

Seemed like the only thing to do was turn off the sign and go back downstairs and, I don’t know, remain hyper-vigilant. For the rest of my life.

So I started looking for the off switch. I assumed it was one of those wheel-type things on the cord that you spin with your thumb. Standing at what I considered a questionably safe distance, because I’m now more than slightly leery of this thing, I ran my hand along the entire length of cord but couldn’t find a switch. Fuuuuck. There had to be a switch because, in my dogged pursuit of reason, I had decided probably it was faulty. I wasn’t giving up until I found it. No way was I willing to believe that some unknown force had picked up the cord and plugged the damn thing in.

I looked again, moving even closer. I’m telling you, this is as brave as I get, standing alone at night in a silent house with a freaked-out cat at my back, an eerie red glow painting my face, trying to figure out how to turn off an apparently possessed neon sign.

And then I saw it:


The World’s Most Perfect Cat Toy, dangling right there in front of me.

If you think there wasn’t some choice profanity at this point, you don’t know me very well.

I figure Cauliflower must have been messing around with that string attached to the pull chain when she was racing around earlier, probably got a claw stuck in it, and turned on the light. Idiot cat. I don’t have absolute proof or anything. But that’s the most likely, the only reasonable, explanation. Right? It’s not like there are ghouls running around loose and making mischief this time of year. RIGHT?!

The only consolation was that the experience seemed to have frightened the cat as much as it did me. I turned to look at her, still sitting on the pool table, still completely intent on the sign, still all puffed up and tense. If she could talk, I imagine at that moment she would have said, “See? I discovered how to make light! And it is fucking scary.” Yeah, tell me about it, cat.

So the Budweiser sign has now been turned off. And unplugged. I swear, if it happens again I’m calling an exorcist.

Enjoy your Halloween, all. Sweet dreams.


Filed under holidays, just for fun

A Place to Start, part 2

Hello! If you’re just joining us, I’m in the process of posting a 25,000-word novella on my blog. In however many installments it takes. As a gift to my long-time readers over here. Clearly, neither they nor I are daunted by the prospect of a story being delivered in the most cumbersome and drawn out way imaginable.

The first post is here, if you’d like to go back and start at the beginning. It’s entirely possible the story might make more sense if you do.

This is the second installment. I hope you enjoy it enough to come back for more. And perhaps even feel compelled to share the link with others. Sharing is good.

A Place to Start

A McIntyre Novella

Book One:  Winter

by KD James

When Jo woke the next morning, she mentally added one more item to the list of things she hadn’t been prepared for: a grouch of a man named Mac. She’d never known a man who could scowl with such ferocity, not even her grandpa.

Last night, he had fed her and shown her where the bathroom was and then positioned the huge couch so it was directly in front of the fire, moving the heavy solid thing around like it was doll furniture. By the time he gruffly told her to get some sleep before firmly closing the door to the sole bedroom behind him, Jo had been almost entirely sure this was not her grandpa’s cabin.

It had been 20 years since she’d seen the place, and she’d only been eight at the time so maybe her memory was a bit sketchy, but things didn’t change that drastically. Not even over the course of two decades. Like the fact that her grandpa’s cabin had once had three bedrooms. And a nicely equipped full-sized kitchen. And a second story.

But she’d been exhausted and had drifted off to sleep before she could make sense of it.

Squinting now at the morning sun streaming in through a window, she lay snuggled in the warm cocoon of blankets and wondered what this place was. And why Mac had seemed willing to let her think it was John’s cabin. Clearly it wasn’t. He must not know she’d ever seen the place. She thought back over what she remembered of their conversation the night before, but it had been mostly just her rambling on, unable to stop talking.

Maybe he hadn’t wanted to upset her further. That must be it.

Well, today was a new day. The sun was shining and the storm had passed and she was eager to go see the old place again. Her new place. She was struck with a familiar pang of regret. She’d always thought she would be seeing her grandpa again as well. She’d waited too long, had hesitated too many times over the years, thinking there’d be plenty of time, later. Now it was too late.

She moved to get up and groaned in pain. Every single muscle and bone in her body hurt. She sat up and was hit by a draft of cool air as she remembered all she was wearing was her underwear and a t-shirt. The fire had burned down to embers during the night.

She pulled the blankets back up over her shoulders, wondering where Mac was this morning. The cabin was quiet. The bedroom door was closed so maybe he wasn’t awake yet.

She stood up, wrapping herself in a blanket, and winced as she put weight on her left foot. She looked down and saw her toes were a lovely shade of dark purple and swollen to twice their size. She’d known tripping on that step was going to hurt eventually. Then she realized she was standing on a neatly folded pile of clothing. Sweatpants, a flannel shirt and a pair of thick wool socks. All men’s size extra large. One touch confirmed that her own clothes were far from dry and she put on the items Mac had left for her, grateful for his consideration.

“Mac? Are you awake?” No answer.

She hobbled over to the bedroom door and knocked quietly, not wanting to disturb his sleep, but wanting to get on with the day. “Mac?” Still no answer. She gently turned the knob and pushed the door open slowly, just a couple inches. And was hit by a blast of bitterly cold air. The room was empty, as was the bed, with just a sheet pulled over the top of it.

Good lord, the man had slept in here with the door closed, shutting out heat from the other room, with only a sheet as a cover? Was he insane? Why would he do that? He should have– well, she wasn’t sure what he should have done instead. Maybe he normally slept on the couch by the fire. Great. She couldn’t wait to see his scowl after a night spent freezing to death because of her.

She pulled the bedroom door closed just as the front door opened, letting in a fresh gust of cold air and a fully bundled, broadly smiling Mac. The transformation was incredible. Maybe it was just seeing him in daylight instead of shadow, but Jo didn’t think so. She’d thought he was reasonably attractive last night, and impressive just based on size and strength alone, but seeing the man smile . . . he was devastating. And much younger than she’d thought. Mid-thirties, at most.

She wanted the scowl back. She desperately wanted him to frown at her again. Oh, this was not fair, for a man to be as gorgeous as Mac was when he smiled.

“Good afternoon,” he said, stomping snow off his boots on the newly cleared threshold before coming in. “We ended up with about six inches. Looks like we’re stuck here until the plows can get through.”

“Afternoon? But the sun . . .” She looked at the rays of light slanting through the window. How long had she slept, anyway?

He gave her an odd look. “That window faces west.” Then he smiled again. “I brought us dinner.” He raised one arm and it looked like– she gulped audibly. It looked like he was holding a pair of freshly skinned rabbits.

Oh, dear God. Her stomach lurched sickeningly and her hands felt suddenly clammy, but she forced a smile. “Rabbits. How nice.”

And then she mumbled a quick, “excuse me,” turned and took two hobbling steps in the floppy too big socks and shut herself in the bathroom, sitting down before she passed out right in front of him. She had a feeling it would be a very bad idea to show this man any weakness. And they were stuck here together for the foreseeable future. Add one more item to the steadily growing list of things she hadn’t planned for.

“I can do this,” she whispered to the small cold room, “I can eat rabbit.” It wouldn’t be the first time. But she promised herself it would be the last.

* * *

Mac watched Jo turn pale at the sight of fresh game and almost regretted he hadn’t washed off more of the blood before he brought the rabbits inside. Almost. The goal was to get her to leave, not to coddle her or shield her from the reality of life on the mountain. He conveniently dismissed all thoughts of the well-stocked country store a few miles down the main road. A road that had already been plowed. And never mind the delicious breakfast he’d eaten at Maybelle’s diner at the crack of dawn. Nope, Jo was getting rabbit stew. There was nothing wrong with a hearty rabbit stew.

It had been a long hike into town, stopping to set snares along the way, but he needed to let Charlie know not to plow the private road leading to his cabin. Not for a few days, at least. He hadn’t planned to eat while he was there, but Maybelle had dished up a plate the minute she saw him. It would have been rude to refuse. Besides, a man needed nourishment if he was going to put in a full day’s work roughing it in the wild.

He heard the rattle of protest as water surged through the bathroom pipes for the first time in months. Heard water splashing and a startled gasp as she realized “frigid” was as warm as it was going to get. Maybe he should turn up the temperature setting on the water heater just a bit. No, he decided. Hot water was a luxury. Hell, even indoor plumbing wasn’t something to take for granted up here.

Any lingering regret hardened into determination. Things on the mountain could turn tough at any given moment. Lives could be lost just as quickly. She needed to know it. Before she made some dewy-eyed decision to live up here on her own.

He took the rabbits into the kitchen to finish cleaning them. He sensed Jo come up behind him before he heard her. She was quiet in stocking feet. He gave her an appraising glance. She should have looked ridiculous in his oversized clothes. Instead, she just looked like she was . . . his. Where the hell had that thought come from?

“Do I smell coffee?” Her voice had that same edge he always felt before his first cup of the day.

He nodded at the pot he had made hours earlier and watched her limp over to pour some into a cup he’d left out for her. He liked it strong, but it had to be thick as tar by now. “I can make fresh,” he said.

She took a tentative sip and he could tell she fought a grimace. “No. This is good.” She smiled, a bit too brightly, and took another sip. “Do you have cream? Or sugar?”

“Why are you limping?”

“What? Oh, I bumped my foot last night. It’s nothing.”

He put the rabbits aside and washed and dried his hands. “Sit. Let me take a look.”

“Really, I’m fine.”

He pulled a chair out from the table. “Sit.”

She heaved a big sigh, but set her coffee cup on the table before she eased slowly into the chair. She moved like every inch of her was in pain. Probably was. Damned foolish thing she’d done last night, setting off alone in the dark in a snowstorm. But it wasn’t for him to scold her. He knelt in front of her and pulled the sock off her left foot. She winced and he swore when he saw why.

“This was more than just a bump. What happened?”

He could see her weighing the possibilities, as if considering whether to lie, then she shrugged. “I tripped on the front steps. It didn’t even hurt at the time. I don’t think anything’s broken.”

He clenched his jaw, ignoring both her assertion and her sharply indrawn breath as he flexed and straightened each bruised and swollen toe himself, before carefully sliding the sock back over her foot. He examined the right foot as well, but it was uninjured. “You’ll heal.”

He stood up and retrieved a bag of frozen peas from the small freezer compartment above the fridge. He pulled out the second chair, moved it close enough for her to rest her leg on it, and then handed her the peas. “Elevate and ice. Let me know when this melts, I’ve got more.”

She gave the bag an odd look before she took it and he realized it was a bit battered. An ice pack was the only good use he could think of for frozen peas and these had seen their share of duty. Maybe it was time to invest in new ones.

“There’s ibuprofen in the bath–”

“I saw the bottle on the counter. Thanks, I already took some.”

He nodded approval and turned back to the rabbits, furious with himself that she’d been hurt. It didn’t make sense, he knew that, he hadn’t even found her yet when it had happened. But that didn’t matter. She was in his place and that meant he was responsible for her. John wouldn’t have expected less.

He heard her make a small noise of distress and turned quickly. She was staring apprehensively at the sharp butcher knife in his hand. No doubt his anger had caused him to be a bit too forceful while cutting the rabbits into pieces. He very deliberately set the knife down, washed his hands and got out a heavy skillet for browning the meat.

“I think I’ll just go sit on the couch for a while. Unless,” she hesitated, “do you need any help in here?”

“Nope. I got this.”

“I could maybe peel a few vegetables. If you have any?”

He heard the question in her voice and ignored it. “I like to cook. It relaxes me.”

“Okay then. Great. That’s good, relaxing is good.”

She stood and took a tentative step, wincing again. Goddammit. Before she could protest, and he knew she would, he put one arm around her back and the other under her legs and four long strides later set her and her bag of peas on the couch. Seconds later he was back, handing her the cup of coffee.


He nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Definitely not trusting himself to stare at the pretty blush on her smooth cheeks. What the hell was wrong with him?

He stalked back into the kitchen. She wanted vegetables in her stew? Fine, he’d peel her some damned vegetables. And while he was doing it, he certainly wouldn’t be thinking about how good she smelled. Or how good she’d felt in his arms. He hoped she liked carrots and parsnips. He hadn’t stocked up on vegetables, since he hadn’t planned to stay here again until spring, and didn’t think there was much else left in the root cellar.

This was going to be one hell of a long week.

* * *

Part 3 has been posted; check the sidebar for a link.


Filed under A Place to Start