Health and Wellness · Writing

When Plans Fall Through

Have you ever worked hard to be where you want to be only to lose it? It doesn’t feel good, at first, to know a job or dream has slipped through your fingers. I had a decision to make this May after a publisher I worked with went out of business. Since I’d only published one book with them (three others, on my own, before that)-I could re-publish the book again as a self-published author or I could inquire for a book agent (I’ve heard they live somewhere over the rainbow) and take my chance again in traditional publishing.

So where have I been since May of this year?

In a dark hole of grief and introspection.

I haven’t re-published. Here are only a FEW reasons why:

I’m sick of re-editing the same damn book a thousand different ways.

I’ve lost my love for the process (at least temporarily)

I’d rather be reading

It probably goes without saying after a publisher ditches several hundreds authors to go out of business, I’m a little distrustful of traditional publishing. In the defense of my former publisher, I know for sure they set out to encourage many authors-and they have certainly been a learning tool for me, showing me how a traditional publisher works.

However, I will not sign-on with traditional publishing anytime soon because:

Authors are expected to invest a shitload of money into marketing and I don’t have time to market myself as much as I’d like.

Until I finish my third novel, I probably won’t see a dime of payment straight out of the publishing gate.

In the mean time, I have a job not having to do with writing or publishing, and I’m quite content. Also, the mess of discouragement has actually helped me to remember a few things I COULDN’T do because I HAD to write.

Reading, for instance:  www.bookescapereviews.wordpress.com  |  Goodreads

And graphic design and web designing.

But as you can see, I’m not COMPLETELY done writing-I’m continuing to blog and who knows, I might put a few stories out there sometime next year. I’ll let you know if I do!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Musings · Relationships · Writing

I’m Leaving Facebook

Two years ago I had started saying no to toxic situations. I’m still developing resolve to purge environments that encourage unfair comparisons, incompetent solutions to overall wellbeing, and speaking straightforward-blatently cause doubt, resentment,  jealousy, and mask support in an undercurrent of money-based deceit.

I don’t feel that I can nurture close friendships there. I no longer feel the need to have one more inbox to check. I won’t miss having to monitor my wall for fear that someone thinks I’m ignoring them. I don’t give a crickey about how someone wants to react to my posts. REALLY FACEBOOK? The new emoji madness is quite literally emotional validation times a thousand. Is it not best for humans to have non-Facebook friendships so as to SEE real faces and reactions? I can just see it now: kids years from now who need to hold up emoji signs in real life because thier emotions and faces are so frozen in emotional confusion.

Okay, okay. Back to not being on Facebook-it isn’t really a revolutionary thing to deactivate my personal Facebook. Actually, I’m still keeping my author page for those who do like the network.

I also love my humble blog here and those who truly care about what’s up in my life and writing can sign up for my newsletter and follow on Instagram and Twitter.

-Laurie

 

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How To Understand Your Author

The triumph of typing THE END on a manuscript never gets old. In some instances it takes years to complete a novel, but even those who write fast generally spend several months homing in characterization, story pace, plots and sub-plots, pesky typos and inconsistencies…etc. For non-writers out there, it’s like tearing a mobile phone apart piece-by-piece. Reconstruction is ongoing. After months or years a writer says, “it’s time.” Meaning: they share every nook and cranny of their writing with the world, for better or worse. It takes commitment!

It is also scary-at first.Tweet: The first book release speaks to a writers confidence in a big way. It's a special time in life. #LaurieWriting  The first book release speaks to a writers confidence in a big way. It’s a special time in life. There are those who are waiting to be inspired to write the book that’s in them; by the way, I’ve haven’t caught on to this saying because I’m not sure quite what having a book in you means. It doesn’t sound too pleasant. Anyway! Then there are those who DO.

For the ones who do, after a while, it’s less about the new book release feeling and more about fortifying their resources and energy for the next project. But I remember the first time I hit “publish” as a self-published author back in 2014. It was a proud moment (wow! This is happening!), a conflicted moment (I’ve double and triple-checked, but what if  some minor detail makes someone hate it?), an elated moment (whoa, momma. My name is on this book cover. I own this. I love this. This is my destiny. Angry unicorns couldn’t stop me from writing), and a trillion other thoughts on top of it. Yet I don’t think anything can replace keeping a sense of humor as we write.

With this in mind, I’ve pulled together a saterical post to capture the humorous side of going through the emotions and thoughts of an author’s book release. This isn’t a meanspirited way of minimalizing the experience, just a lighthearted look into it. I can’t say for sure If I’ve actually gone through this, but to some extent, I have.  🙂  Enjoy!

How To Understand Your Author

Let’s say your author finally breaks through the first book-stage and they want to share the moment with you. The excitement of completing this year-long project makes their demeanor glow. They know it’s possible to keep the big news secret and wait until book-release day, but they trust you with thier pride. The hours, days, and months of writing, editing, and making time to connect with you and others-but they choose you. Aren’t you thrilled for them?

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Left to their own vices however, the ingenuity and happiness of the moment isn’t wasted if you decline to be thrilled with them.

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Your author may begrudgingly treat themselves to one too many McCafe’s and wear strange headdresses while using a rubber-knife as a lightsaber to illuminate their joy.

Or your author may, like this tired pup, seek comfort from a friend who will take time understand what an accomplishment it is to complete a book or project.

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Authors who ruminate over perceived minimization can be pretty tough to re-train through positive reinforcement. They have special requirements for affirmation and acknowldgement. But deep down, they have a lovable side that is loyal to the end. (If the fictional character based on you makes it that far into the fiction novel they write.)

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NEVER FEAR. Here are ways to CURB the odd and inconvenient behaviors of YOUR AUTHOR.

First: Offer congratulations to them and show happiness for their latest achievement. No matter how disgusted you are that they can go days at a time wearing PJs while working from home, remember: everyone, including you, puts their shirts on one arm-hole at a time.

Also-take a minute and remember dancing with your first crush, or attending a favorite concert, or the whiff of accomplishment of getting promoted. Times that feeling by 100. Set differences aside to forgive the bubble wrap (authors are the complete package, flaws and all!) and acknowledge their commitment to finishing their project or writing goals. This will win you mega points for being a great friend.

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Next: Buy their book, tell them you’ll recommend it to others, and actually do it! Word of mouth is a powerful thing. Your author has the ability to give back in a big way to those who help them along the way. It could be signed book-merchandise, an advanced reading copy, or any number of creative ways-but authors rarely lack ungratefulness for support when they truly care about their professional growth!

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Last: Expect to support them from a distance as they continue working on the next project. Tweet: the true nature of many creatives is to preserve as much energy for their art as humanly possible. #LaurieWritingThis may sound harsh at first, but the true nature of many creatives is to preserve as much energy for their art as humanly possible. This means when they are in intensive focus mode, leave them alone, but show support in little ways so they know you’re there. Chocolates, coffee, tea, hugs (for those who like to be hugged), are all acceptable ways to tame your writer when they aren’t intensely focused on their work. When they break out of their creative focus-bubble, you’ll be the first to know because they often reciprocate the support they receive from you (times 10.)

By following the steps above, you are sure to have a HAPPY AUTHOR. 

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Humor · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Directing Professional Growth Through Stress

An author is a force to be reckoned with as they juggle endless duties. From administrative tasks, to marketing implementation; then continuous study/brushing up of the writing craft and publishing; also, reading books in and out of their chosen genre for a well-rounded literary palate. This is only the tip of the iceberg for most authors. For those who are new to reading my blog, I write romantic fiction and multi-genre short stories. In professional terms, I consider myself a newbie self-starter at three years into the journey. For a year I blogged and have continued to blog. The next year I added in self-publishing two works of fiction – Serendipity Summer, a heartwarming and comical romance, was picked up by Booktrope Media and Publishing. October of 2015 Serendipity Summer was re-published by Booktrope. And now as we approach 2016 I’m looking forward to continuing the second book to follow Serendipity Summer in the Riverbend Way series.

In the time I’ve been building a social platform, writing, and publishing, I’ve noticed a majority of authors (including myself) are fueled by the challenge and madness of it all. After three years of being self-published and hybrid-published, there are many writers who are “rich” in giving of themselves even with no immediate monetary success. I think several authors experience what I have experienced at one time or another in their career: we continue to do what we do because our lives are enriched in some way with the process of writing, producing, publishing, and connecting with others who appreciate it, too.

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Whether authors and writers (one and the same, IMO!) want to admit it or not there is an emotionally rewarding “payoff” to the madness. The return on investment (ROI) surely isn’t immediate when we start out and for some unfortunate ones not at all. Then if caught in a weak moment and discouragement sets in, it’s easy to buy into the “art doesn’t pay” trope just about every writer has heard from friends, family, and strangers alike. They do have a point. Tweet: Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. #LaurieWriting Many writers have separate careers from writing and publishing. It takes time. Everyone has an opinion and they have a right to it! Authors know about the right to opinions better than just about anyone. So then the author has a big decision to make each time they are challenged with so much it’s nearly too much to manage: act out or act on the pressure-task-cooker they’ve stewed in for the love of their art.

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Yet there are OPINIONS ALL AROUND. Little is more valuable to a writer than to be able to visit a website knowing that what they read will lift their spirits. Perhaps it’s time to weed out some of the more negative perspectives on the people I follow, like, retweet, and friend to reflect my own positive outlook for writing and author community. I get that authors can sometimes be difficult, moody, and hard to work with-but diverse types of personalities are everywhere. Generally everyone goes through slumps, defeats, and success.

I wonder sometimes when I skim articles shaking their proverbial finger or fists at authors for not doing EVERYTHING if the people writing the pieces have actually re-read their manipulating content of all the things authors could do better. Sure, a lot of the posts hold great writing craft and marketing tips, but at what cost to the writers value of their individual process? Writers, haven’t we heard over and over and over: PROTECT YOUR CREATIVITY.

So why do we (yes, me too-though not as much as I used to because there are times when it doesn’t serve my writing process or motivation) continue to absorb what I like to call “tough-love” information in our precious reading time?

It could be tough-love motivates you (me)? Suggested content of an article screams :”here’s the heart where my art was born, please stab it with your scoured word-spear” -your mouse clicks the link- and the brain replies, “yes, please!”

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img cred: newsnster.com

Facing the negative, not responding to it, and taking from it what serves your writing process is a clear indication of professional maturity. As we continue to write, we allow an internal compass to guide us. This compass is a combination of self-discipline (directly benefits our interests) and what some call a thick skin (directly benefits others interests): Our Interests + The Interests of Others = The Sweet Spot where stress has potential to become a compass for professional growth and direction.

If you take something with you from my ramblings today, please remember it’s okay to re-direct your goals this year and adjust your internal compass. Tweet: Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. #LaurieWriting Stick with what nurtures your health and well-being. Always be writing. 

I’ll leave you with a paraphrased quote from  friend who guided me into the publishing waters:

I realized after nine books, working with an agent, and treading water in traditional publishing -then going into self-publishing and being my own agent-that someone somewhere wanted to read my books. Then gradually many someones read my books. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Next Week on LaurieWriting: 

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Humor · Inspiration · Movies

Sleep is for the WEAK. Unless You’re Human.

A few friends and I joke about being vampires because we work indoors all day, and we love to read all night. It’s a notable quality to have a sense of humor when life is busy or throws unexpected “OMG. Why is this happening?” moments our way. I’d like to forewarn you, this post will be a bunch of weird, rambling musings. I’m pretty sure my head might fall to the floor and roll around at any moment. No worries, it’s detachable head syndrome. I pick it right back up, and it fits back on my shoulders until it falls off again.

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Image credit: pumpkincraze.com 

I’ve undergone a lot of the “OMG” moments while simultaneously also thinking “Wow. This is really happening.”

A month ago, when I had time to watch television without losing sleep, the current season of the show Nashville ended. It may have ended before that, but the fog is thick in memory lately, so go with it. 😉 Anyway. Nashville is an over-the-top drama that I find entertaining and funny. I am sad to see the season end so until next season is on Netflix; I’m watching Monarch of the Glen.

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I found the new-to-me show on BBC and I love it. This thought leads me to an “OMG” : O.M.G. I apparently have the feels for countryside mini-series in whatever country around the world.

Buy me a bonnet, I’m bonnie!

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It’s possible to walk through a pasture used for parking and not step in a cow-pie. For those who aren’t familiar with what a cow-pie is: it is cow or bull poo. My daughter and I walked a half a mile, some of it through uneven pastureland used for parking at the Fall Festival. It was worth it to see my husband cross the finish line in his first 5k race. I wanted a picture of him, but my phone went dead, but here’s his smiling and handsome face. Next to him is my nephew who ran beside him.

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This leads me to another OMG thought: O.M.G. I am so proud of my husband for running his first 5k. I’m glad I didn’t sprain and ankle carrying the cooler with their drinks in it through the field. Thank you, cows, for not leaving your crap in our immediate path.

I knew from the start that writing is a full-time job with minimal pay–if any–until years from starting the journey two years ago. I’m still swimming in the writing waters with an optimistic spirit though some days seem more jaded than others. I know I am meant to write and publish, and I’m at peace with the decisions I make in writing. I’m exceptionally happy to have gotten in with Booktrope Publishing and work with team professionals. All this happening over the course of a couple of years leads me to another OMG: O.M.G. the book that first started as a popular blog series has transformed into viable word-baby novella that a publisher loves.

But to be fair–I loved it first 🙂

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Serendipity Summer — To be released October, 2015

In Laurie Kozlowski’s contemporary romance novella, Serendipity Summer, friends once separated by life’s unexpected challenges discover they have a second chance at love in the charming mountain town of Riverbend, Tennessee. Jake and Anna reunite during a sensual, late-night swim and restoring an old inn together blasts their chemistry off the charts. But as destiny urges their hearts forward, intruding secrets from the past threaten their opportunity to finally have lasting happiness.
Serendipity Summer is the first book in the Riverbend Way series and reflects small-town life, includes some comical relief, and incorporates heartwarming characters who triumph over difficult life circumstances.
Please note: Serendipity Summer contains detailed sex scenes and occasional strong language. This series is recommended only for those 18 years and older.

This post concludes a few O.M.G. meandering thoughts swirling around in my brain. If you have any to share, put ’em in comments (‘omg’ thoughts, I mean. Please do not leave your brains in comments. The comment section of this post is a brain-removal free zone. lol) I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

Flash Fiction · Health and Wellness · Humor · Inspiration · Laurie's Works Of Fiction · Mental Health · Movies · Music · Musings · Uncategorized · Writing · Writing Life · Writing Tips

Go-To Resources To Unleash Creativity

There are times when we need to change up our routine to keep sane. For instance, if you work in the same cubicle doing the same tasks for the same minimal pay–perhaps your life could benefit from creativity. Or if you’ve finally taken time off to use your vacation time and don’t want feel like you need a vacation (from) vacation, simple creative activities could help.

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Check out this list of go-to resources to unleash creativity and use the ones that catch your interest. The lists are in two categories: writing related and non-writing related. I admit most of the recommendations are veered toward introverts because I’m a happy and proud introvert myself. 🙂

Writing Related

The thrill is gone. Once upon a time you had the feels for the book or story you started, but the thrill is gone. Maybe you need a break from a long-term goal. Your imagination can go wild when you write flash fiction. From 100-1,000 words, challenge yourself with a new story trope or idea.

Not sure about where to find ideas? Try TVtropes.org and find tropes from your favorite categories and genres related to movies and TV shows. Finish your story piece and publish it or keep it to develop later. But finish it. You did it! Now go back to that big idea. You can do that too.

No idea where to start or what to do. Do you like movies? Most people have a favorite movie they know or can quote. They are familiar with the story. But have you ever applied your writing to one of your favorite movies? Screenwriting tips from Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” method uses a three-beat system to divide scenes up into three beats. Take a look and print off the worksheets. Then sit down and take brief notes when you watch the scenes in your favorite film or even tv show. You’ll eventually begin to grasp story structure.

Apply what you learned about writing to a short story idea. Perhaps the story could also have potential to become a working outline for a novel (Here is a helpful site to download free resources to outline a novel, when you’re ready.) You’re off to a great start. Keep writing!

Blog? What is this blog thing and how do I do it? A blog is a place of unlimited potential for just about anyone. You can make a blog as formal, as funny, as serious as you want to make it. It can be on any subject under the sun. Blogs are happy places where you can be yourself on your part of the web. You’re able to monitor comments or turn them off. Blogs LAST beyond the ever-changing whims of social media channels. Check out Hubspot’s blog topic generator for ideas on what to post. Visit bookpromotion.com to know how to effectively pimp your blog out. Also, don’t be afraid to go to your favorite blogs and see what they are doing. Copying posts is a BIG no-no without permission from the author, but you may come across content that inspires you to write your own spin on the topic.

“I’m all out of love for ideas.” Yeah. We’ve all been here before. It sucks. To re-vamp your inspiration try Pinterest. Type in some of your interests or things related to your interests. Like if you enjoy cooking, type “recipes” or if you only like to eat vegan type “vegan food.”

Non-Writing Related

Oh my, are the options endless here. I’ll throw a few out for you to explore. Of course, if you think of any others, do those too. You know you better than anyone.

*Love Machines (technology)*

I-Movie is a fun way to create a movie or book trailer. It’s simple to put something together and share it with friends for fun or compile something for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. The music is pre-loaded, but I think you’re also able to upload your own music. Just be sure to use royalty free images and music.

Did you know you can create simple memes, Facebook banners, and jazz up your photos in MS Word and Pages for Mac? You can. It’s time- consuming, but for those who love to tweak (not twirk) until the sun comes up, you’ll love doing this. Here’s a YouTube tutorial for Facebook banners . There is a ton of instructional videos on how to design on Word or in Pages (for Mac.) Go crazy designing and show off your work.

Move to the beat. Playlists encourage movement and happiness. If you’re sad, there’s a song for it. If you’re mad, there’s a song for it. Playlists on Spotify are a fun way to categorize music for whatever mood you want to nurture. If you’d rather bypass the low monthly fee, try I Heart Radio. There will be commercials on your favorite radio stations, but that is why it’s free. YouTube is another way to categorize music videos into stations, and it works sort of like a playlist. If you’d rather not be bothered with ads, the small monthly fee is well worth it.

*Hands-On Hobbies/Occupations*

Crocheting is a skill that can be learned and is a creative and relaxing way to create numerous things. Check out Crotchet Guru on YouTube.

Repurposing home goods is good for the environment, but it also saves money and encourages practical solutions in a creative way. Here are some ideas from a previous post I’ve written. Pick something you like to do and make it your mission to complete it.

Pottery creation is a way to spin ideas while creating original art. You can paint, glue, and design to your heart’s content. Then use the final product later as a centerpiece, stepping stone, or pen holder.

Adult coloring books are a thing now. Check out these free and printable designs. For those who are mentally burned out, coloring is a subconscious way to soothe anxiety and stress associated with burnout.

Cuddle an animal if you have high blood pressure, PTSD, have anxiety or depression, or want a better perspective on life. Local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers to walk and care for the animals. The advantage to volunteering is that you’re able to love on the animals too. When potential adoptive parents come in to ask about the animals, you’ll know their best attributes so they’ll find a loving home. Who doesn’t need more love in their life?


Thanks for stopping by! If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow this blog. I follow back and enjoy keeping in touch through blogs and email. My email is authorlauriekozlowski@gmail.com . I have two FREE flash fiction stories for you to enjoy. The first one is a humor diddy: Undercover Panty Agent . The second story is suspense: Dagger of The Damned. My usual genre is contemporary romance fiction and I write for Booktrope Publishing. More on recent publications can be found >here<.  I have book to be released soon and will set up a newsletter because it will be fast forward from there! 🙂 Happy reading and writing!

Laurie Kozlowski


Fiction · Flash Fiction · Laurie's Works Of Fiction

Dagger of The Damned #FlashFiction #AmWriting

This story is a participant in Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge.
Dagger of The Damned

*This flash fiction story has detailed gore and elements of horror.*

Enjoy! 😀

Daren’s limbs rested in unnatural angles on the damp pavement. Astrid spied the edge of the ancient dagger’s wooden handle that peeked out of a pocket of Daren’s bloodied jeans pocket. The crime scene officer stepped forward to block Astrid’s view.
“Let me pass. I’m Daren’s sister.” Astrid’s vision of the man’s stern expression outlined in emerald green as her eyes filled with moisture. The unusual effect on her vision increased since the news of her brother’s violent death a few hours ago.

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To know she couldn’t tell her brother he means the world to her–was unbearable. Then to see his body, lifeless and limp on the pavement, drove her insane. The officer is in danger to take a swift knee to the balls if he didn’t let her see Daren. Many so-called thugs were dumped into body bags, loaded into ambulances near the cramped and stifled alley.
Druggies. Dealers. Prostitutes.
“We’ll take care of your brother.” He glanced down past the tip of his nose to her. A silver rectangular plate badge gleamed as she read the bold black print:
Trent Gusztav, Investigation Supervisor.
“I will call a deputy to escort you to the morgue if you wish to see your brother,” Trent said.
The investigator’s bland concern didn’t placate Astrid. She took a step aside to peek around him. A forensic team taped off the area while a female in paramedics’ uniform made haste and pressed a fingertip on Daren’s mangled wrist. She wrote something down—the time of death — then twirled her finger and a body bag appeared, damp from previous rainfall.
Perhaps waiting for another poor soul to suck into the depths of the morgue.
They didn’t know her brother. For all they knew, Daren is another misguided young man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Please—,”she glanced at his badge again. “—Officer Gusztav. Don’t take him away until I say goodbye one last time. I’m the only family he has left. He’s not like all the others. My brother doesn’t use or deal drugs. He doesn’t deserve this.”
Trent put his hands on her shoulders as a couple of men shoved Daren into a bag. Astrid noticed no one bothered to remove valuables from Daren’s pocket to confirm his identity. “Ma’am. It’s understandable that you are upset over your brother’s death. No one deserves to die in such a brutal way. The integrity of the body will remain intact. Move. Away. Now.” He demanded.
The integrity of the body.
Not Daren — a human being who had been a lived and breathed. An individual with a sister who wondered why he hadn’t met her at the Pizza Palace a couple of hours ago. A barely recognizable — cold and lifeless piece of mangled flesh, bone, blood, and muscle—body — would keep its integrity intact.
Astrid’s tears fell onto Trent’s hand. The tears made his skin sizzle.
“Ow.” He glared at her, stared at his hand then back to her. The yellow light from a nearby street lamp revealed Trent’s pale face. Distinct worry lines crimped between his brows. “You’re in transition.”
A grin spread over her face. She didn’t know why her tears had burnt him or why his pain made her giddy. Daren had the dagger the woman had given them from the antique shop. The rare weapon had powers that didn’t belong in the hands of the man who confronted her now, or an affiliate to him.
Ambulance lights glared as the Trent crossed his arms. “I could make your life more difficult and report this incident. He held up one of his hands where appeared a second-degree burn in the shape of a jagged line on his palm, “and not fail to mention verbal assault to an officer of the law.”
Astrid wiped the remainder of the moisture from her eyes. She knew this man had the authority to twist their encounter any way he pleased.
Her pulse and anger skyrocketed. Each word and movement Trent made encouraged her to attack. Intuition ached. She felt the instinctual urge to protect but closed her eyes for a moment to remember hope hinged on the antique artifact her brother carries with him. She has a chance to retrieve the dagger, but it is vital to not cause unnecessary chaos. Distractions would cause her to not be able to obtain it.
Astrid climbed onto her motorcycle; the soft seat conformed to the curve of her leather-clad bottom. She’d lost Daren tonight by way of something dark and violent. Her heart twisted into a million pieces of battered fragments as she spoke to Trent. “You’re an asshole. I’ll escort myself to the morgue.”
The echo of the Trent’s frigid laugh sliced through the night. “Good luck, Healer. You’ll need it to keep yourself out of a morgue soon enough.” His figure faded into the darkness. A blood-curdled growl vibrated too close for comfort.
The green tint in her vision for the past couple of hours cleared, and the motor roared as she jetted down a bike path beside the road the ambulance drove the hospital. She used side mirrors to ensure she hadn’t been followed.
(c) Laurie Kozlowski 2015