Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday Sippers in The Locker and a White Russian!

Saturday Sippers in The Locker
Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Welcome to the feature here in The Locker called Saturday Sippers. Each week I’ll post a new, sometimes, skinny cocktail recipe for you to try. Many thinks to my Cali Bestie, Rhonda, for providing me with the deck of cards recipe book. 
Cooler temperatures leave me wanting a cozy drink. Something I can sip and enjoy a richer blend over a refreshing drink of summer.  
GUILT FREE WHITE RUSSIAN!
Ingredients
       1 ½ ounces vodka
       1 ½ ounces light cream
       1 ½ ounces sugar free coffee liqueur-flavored syrup* or experiment and try with a rich shot of espresso
Pour ingredients in a glass, stir and add ice.
200 Calories per serving

Friday, September 27, 2013

Flasher Fiction Friday

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, this Friday I return to my first recurring blog contribution, the Friday Flash Fiction. A group of writers will write exactly 100 words, no more no less, to a picture prompt. After you read my contribution, please read what the other writers have to say, the links follow. Happy Friday!
"He reached forward for the swath of hair cascading down one side of her face, pulled her to him by her tresses and hungrily took her mouth for a deeper kiss.  “That’s more like it, Artemis.

“Yes, my Apollo. Sarah breathed in Isaac’s scent of black pepper and some type of exotic spice. “I could snack on you, you smell so nice.”

“We will be here all night, on this hard floor you make so warm.” Isaac slid his hand around her waist.

“I’ll be your willing body pillow.”

“You would, dear Artemis, wouldn’t you?”

“But, of course I would.”

Be bold and visit these other authors with their saucy take on this photo (heat levels will vary):
S.J. Maylee: http://SJMaylee.com

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just Out of My Grasp - Sjogren's Is More Than a European Name





Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, I’ve decided to use my blog not only to writing, music, and other facets of entertainment, but, also to share my journey. I found out on June 19, 2013 the reason for many of my ongoing health problems is because I have systemic lupus, also known as SLE. I also have Sjogrens Syndrome. 

Thank you for listening, each week I will have a new installment chronicling my journey. Please, please feel free to comment, write, share. I hope to use this forum as a help to all of us, no matter what pain you are experiencing. You may also send stories to me via finlessbook at gmail dot com. I will respect your privacy and maintain your anonymity, if you so desire.
Hugs for today …
Have any of you ever seen the movie Me, Myself, and Irene? This Jim Carrey/Renee Zellweger comedy movie had me laughing with the many off color, obscene, and adult humor jabs zinging throughout the film. Jim’s classic over the top theatrics extend from succinct verbal delivery to his malleable physical stunts.
I’ve learned that my Sjogren’s Syndrome worsens, at times to signal impending sickness. But, anymore, it happens almost randomly and I feel like Jim Carrey’s Officer Charlie Baileygates from said movie.
The character experiences severe dry mouth from the medications he takes to control his multiple personality disorder.
While I do not take meds for MPD, I completely empathize with the character so aptly presented by Jim Carrey. Today, I have 3 beverages at my desk- flat water, large coffee, and sparkling pink grapefruit Perrier. I really hope that one of the three dissolves the cardboard so stubbornly lodged in my mouth. As soon as one is empty, I will add something else to reconstitute my tongue.

Possibly, even though my sodium levels are within normal ranges, that eating salty foods before bed causes some of the dryness. I will try the experiment to leave off salty foods in the evening.  However, my hands, especially my cuticles, are so dry, it feels as if I’ve been washing dishes non-stop for hours or working with clay or mortar- drawing out all the natural moisture in my hands. So, not sure I can really control this phenomena.
Maybe it’s why I rarely cry…I just don’t produce the tears.



 



Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tales Takin' It To The Bridge...

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! This week's Tuesday Tales prompt is the monthly picture prompt. Please see how I use this photo in my new WIP sweet Young Adult romance, Finding Love in a Black Lagoon.  Our heroine, Pearl, has secrets. Will she ever let Owen in on them?


“This lagoon, teeming with overgrown brush, trees, and critters is as close to home as I’ll ever feel. Nothing can hurt me here, not even the cottonmouths, alligators, and snapping turtles.” Pearl swiped a mosquito away from her face, leaving a streak of dirt on her cheek from her grimy hands.

“There is something peaceful about this place, that’s for sure.” Owen shoved his hands in his back jean pockets, inspected the woodwork, and rocked back on his heels. “Who built this bridge?”

“My Pa built it for me. He started a tree house too, it’s at the other end of the creek. But, he didn’t get very far on it before he…before.” Pearl sighed and adjusted the bandanna embracing her skull, plastering her curly hair down. “My Pa died. He died in a horrible way.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Pearl, my folks are gone too. Have been for a long time.”

Pearl stiffened and crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t talk about it…ever.”

“I won’t force you to talk about anything. I’m a loner myself. I don’t want to please anyone, so I don’t talk about things, except for my best friend Caleb. He knows everything and doesn’t judge me, never has.”

“I’ve never had a best friend. I don’t know what it’s like to tell anyone my secrets. People tend to shy away from me. Can’t say that I blame them, I even think I’m weird.”

“Weird? Pearl, everyone has a squirrely streak, the side they keep private. Well, unless they have a meltdown and flip out. It’d scare the crap out of me to see inside of my mind, if I was someone else, that is.”


“You aren’t the most articulate person I’ve ever met, that’s for sure.” Pearl smiled and relaxed her arms".
"Now that you've read my contribution to TT, please visit my creative friends over at our main blog, Tuesday Tales for their take on our beautiful picture prompt. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Satuday Sippers in The Locker

Saturday Sippers in The Locker
Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Welcome to the feature here in The Locker called Saturday Sippers. Each week I’ll post a new, sometimes, skinny cocktail recipe for you to try. Many thinks to my Cali Bestie, Rhonda, for providing me with the deck of cards recipe book. J
My hubby has been hard at work remodeling a new space for me, building a new library in our front room, and re-tiling our floors.  I will have my own writing cubby under the stairs and hibernate like Harry Potter. J
In honor of builders and hard workers everywhere, it is fitting to propose this drink, its’ namesake comes from a handtool:
SLIM SCREWDRIVER!
Ingredients
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces diet lemon-lime soda*
  • Orange slice for garnish
Fill a glass with ice; add vodka and a splash of orange juice. Top with diet lemon-lime soda. Mix. Garnish with orange slice.
80 Calories per serving
*a word of observance about diet or low-calorie soda- I noticed the new Dr. Pepper 10 or Sunkist 10, etc the drinks boasting 10 calories still have high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients! If you are trying to stay away from that stuff, you might be better off with less of the real deal. Sodas from Mexico or the throwbacks (i.e. Pepsi Throwback or Mountain Dew Throwback) are made with real sugar.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Flasher Fiction Friday - Don't Insult Your Master

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, it's Friday and time to Flash!  I return to my first recurring blog contribution, the Friday Flash Fiction. A group of writers will write exactly 100 words, no more no less, to a picture prompt. After you read my contribution, please read what the other writers have to say, the links follow. Happy Friday!


"...Isaac held steadfast. “Don’t do it, Sarah, I’m not letting go and I won’t let you try to get rid of me with your usual strategy in life. I don’t care if it pisses you off, this is how it is. Your games won’t work with me, unless you sabotage us on purpose. I won’t reassure you on a daily of my honesty, because, frankly, it’s insulting my word. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

Sarah physically relented, realizing every word he spoke with unrequited certainty. “Yes, I hear you Isaac.” She slumped further in the hard chair."

Please visit some other writers for their take on this unique photo. Some of the entries may vary in heat levels. Read at your own discretion. :)

Gemma Parkes: http://gemmaparkes.blogspot.com/
Doris O'Connor: http://thetardisscribbles.blogspot.co.uk/
J.P. Stevens: http://jp-stevens.blogspot.co.uk
Muffy Wilson: http://muffywilson.blogspot.com
J S Morbius: http://morbiussworld.blogspot.co.uk/
Naomi Shaw: www.authornaomishaw.com
Davee Jones: http://finless.blogspot.com/
Leann Mitchell: http://leannmitchell.blogspot.com/
Pablo Michaels: http://www.pmmanmanromance.com/



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just Out of My Grasp - My Personal Journey with SLE

 Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, I’ve decided to use my blog not only to writing, music, and other facets of entertainment, but, also to share my journey. I found out on June 19, 2013 the reason for many of my ongoing health problems is because I have systemic lupus, also known as SLE.
Thank you for listening, each week I will have a new installment chronicling my journey. Please, please feel free to comment, write, share. I hope to use this forum as a help to all of us, no matter what pain you are experiencing. You may also send stories to me via finlessbook at gmail dot com. I will respect your privacy and maintain your anonymity, if you so desire.
Hugs for today …
Of course I read all the paperwork and prescription information the rheumy (the cute nickname for rheumatologist) gives to me. The usual glutton for punishment I am, I burn up the computer keys in searches for more details. I need to know more about lupus and the various problems associated with the disease. Everything I read scares the wits from me- Especially the discussion forums for people posting their experiences and daily struggles of living.
Where did this name, lupus, come from anyway? It sounds almost benign. From Lupus.Org
 Q. Where did the name "lupus" come from?
A. Lupus was probably first observed in the 13th century, and the physician who described it called it "wolf's bite" because of the redness across the cheeks. The term "lupus erythematosus" was first used in 1851 by a French physician named Pierre Cazenave. "Lupus" is the Latin word for "wolf," and "erythema" is the Greek word for "redness" or "blush." As physicians saw more of the disease and understood more about it, a physician named Moriz Kaposi used the terms "lupus disseminated" and "lupus discoid" for the first time in the mid-1800s to describe skin disorders. The famous Sir William Osler first used the term "SLE" in papers he wrote on systemic lupus at the turn of the century; however, it was not until the 1920s and 1930s that SLE was really defined. -- Evelyn V. Hess, M.D., M.A.C.R., M.A.C.P.
So, am I a wolf? LOL- with the Eye of the Tiger?
The more I read, the more I staunchly decide that will NOT be me. It can’t be me! I have way too much living to do, races to run, jobs to do, places to visit, bike rides to take. No one in their right mind wants this diagnosis. The future is far too unknown and lupus can affect healthy organs in a cruel and ill-timed whim. Where literally a day may begin normally and end up horribly with little warning.
The frustrating part is the not knowing and how little is known about how lupus actually affects systems such as the Central Nervous System, which I have large involvement.

To be continued...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuesday Tales - Through the Glass....

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! This week's Tuesday Tales prompt is the word "glass". Please see how I use "glass" in my new WIP erotic romance, Sexy Bea Spelling. Our heroine, Bea, challenges Andrew, but, will he melt her heart?

Andrew followed Bea’s address orders and arrived at five minutes till eight. The small non-descript Italian restaurant sat between a dry cleaner and hair salon. The weathered rich red brick must have been fifty years old, if not older. A few bistro tables in a variety of colors advertised al fresco seating just by their position on the sidewalk. Classic chianti bottles held plain white wax candles that had melted down the bottle necks.  The flames flickered in the gentle evening breeze. Bea sat alone at a green table, sipping a deep rose wine, occasionally twirling the glass and inspecting the jewel toned liquid.
“Does it have legs?” Andrew asked, walking up behind her while putting a hand on Bea’s shoulder.
Bea subtly startled. “Legs? What are you talking about?” Bea looked down quickly toward her legs then back to Andrew.
“Your wine, I meant your wine. You know, does it have legs?”
“I’m quite certain I’m not sure what you mean.” Bea sat the wine glass on the table.
“Please, pick it up and swirl the wine around, I’ll show you what I’m referring to.”
Bea tilted and circled the glass around by the stem as he instructed. “What am I looking for?”
“Really tilt it, give it a good spin so the wine makes it up the sides of the globe.”
Once again she did as he asked, then, Andrew pointed to the inside of the goblet. “Look, can you see how the wine slowly slides back down to the bottom? Those tasty streaks indicate the wine you’re drinking has a healthy alcohol content.”
“I’m guessing healthy is a relative term in this case.”
“Yes, it is. More defined and longer lasting legs indicate higher alcohol content.” Andrew scraped a metal chair across the cement sidewalk to sit closer to Bea. “Have you been here long?”
“Long enough to believe that my wine really does have legs. I should drink it before it runs away.” Bea giggled, and her cheeks bloomed a crimson almost matching the wine.
“I was surprised to receive your message this morning.” Andrew looked around suspiciously. “Is this a set up?”
“No, I honestly felt bad about this morning. I don’t believe you knew that train wreck was coming.”

Andrew’s eyes darkened. “I’d hope not, especially at the expense of one of my men. I’m not that horrible.”
"Now that you've read my contribution to TT, please visit my creative friends over at our main blog, Tuesday Tales for their take on our word prompt "glass". 


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Sippers in The Locker

Saturday Sippers in The Locker
Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Welcome to the feature here in The Locker called Saturday Sippers. Each week I’ll post a new, sometimes, skinny cocktail recipe for you to try. Many thinks to my Cali Bestie, Rhonda, for providing me with the deck of cards recipe book. J
Hard to believe, but, here in Texas, we are still hitting 100 degrees in September. A frozen drink is still in order and tequila is good ANY time of the year.
FROZEN LIME MARGARITAS!
Ingredients
  • 12 ounce can frozen limeade
  • 2/3 cup tequila
  • 1 ½ cup orange liqueur
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • ½ lime
  • Coarse salt
  • Cocktail cherry for garnish
Prepare margarita glasses by using a thick slice of lime to rub the rim of each glass. Invert glass into a dish of coarse salt to coat rim. Blend ingredients.  Add ice cubes and blend until mixture becomes slushy. Garnish with cocktail cherry. Serves 10
122 Calories per serving

Friday, September 13, 2013

Flasher Fiction Friday

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, this Friday I return to my first recurring blog contribution, the Friday Flash Fiction. A group of writers will write exactly 100 words, no more no less, to a picture prompt. After you read my contribution, please read what the other writers have to say, the links follow. Happy Friday!
“Okay, well, if you’re having one, I’ll have the same.” He dropped his lean frame into a chair on the patio, watching her intently.
Bea dropped ice cubes into the short glass. “Andrew, I want you to know I don’t regret meeting you.” She poured his drink and walked over to him, sitting down.
“I sense a “but” coming.” Andrew took a draw of his drink.

“But, never in a million years would I have thought a ménage a` trois would be on my bucket list.” Bea’s cheeks reddened and she rolled the tumbler of scotch between her shaky hands."
Please visit some other writers for their take on this unique photo. Some of the entries may vary in heat levels. Read at your own discretion. 
 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Just Out of My Grasp- My Personal Journey with SLE

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, I’ve decided to use my blog not only to writing, music, and other facets of entertainment, but, also to share my journey. I found out on June 19, 2013 the reason for many of my ongoing health problems is because I have systemic lupus, also known as SLE.
Thank you for listening, each week I will have a new installment chronicling my journey. Please, please feel free to comment, write, share. I hope to use this forum as a help to all of us, no matter what pain you are experiencing. You may also send stories to me via finlessbook at gmail dot com. I will respect your privacy and maintain your anonymity, if you so desire.
Hugs for today …

“You are in the early stages of menopause, and your testosterone levels are a bit low”, my good ole OB/GYN told me. “We have a hormone pellet therapy that you might benefit from.”
GOODY! An answer! Raise the hormonal levels, gain energy and LOSE weight. I’m on the road to back to normal. Which at 43 is important, because I have many more things to do. I have a full time day job, a full time job as a published author, two adult kids to keep on track, and one newly teenaged daughter with a schedule busier than mine.
Life can be good again. When can I get the pellet?
Oh, yea, I have my follow-up with the rheumatologist for some results of lab work I submitted several weeks ago. After that appointment, I’ll get in to see the OB and get this health and fitness train moving again.
Derailed.
“We have your lab results back and I want to show you something.” My rheumy wheels that little rolling stool over next to me in my chair. Docs only do that when they have something serious to talk about.
I’m confused.
She begins with the normal results from liver function, kidney function, CBC, vitamin levels, yadda yadda yadda. Things turn south on the last page.
Apparently, my ANA levels were pretty bad. The normal range ends at 99 and mine were over 500. (We will talk about those more in a future blog.) Suffice it to say something was going bad wrong in my DNA in the form of a war almost daily in my cells.
Have you had any other symptoms? Like headaches, chest pains, rashes, painful urination, osteoporosis, fatigue, unexplained pains, or fever?
Uh, yea. So? I thought we talked about this already. My OB says I’m early menopausal. Just get me the pellet and fix it.
GET ME THE DAMN PELLET AND FIX IT.       


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Book Review - Jasinda Wilder - Falling Into Us

Jasinda Wilder
Book Review
***** Five Snowflakes
Falling Into Us by Jasinda Wilder – Parallel Novel to Falling Into You
Just as in Falling Into You, I usually do not prefer first person narratives, but, Ms. Wilder’s reflective writing style did not disappoint me in this particular book. She did a very good job of delving into some history of the main characters not mentioned extensively in the "sister" installment. She wrote from the viewpoint of best friends, Jason and Becca, to the hero, Kyle, and and heroine, Nell, giving an honest thoughtful perspective from their involved points of view.
Ms. Wilder fully develops characters from a pivotal moment in their lives dating and falling in love. However, in this book, she describes intimacy between the young lovers’ adult unions with sexy descriptors and leaves little to the imagination. Unlike in the first book where the love scenes were less detailed until the characters were older.
An important character, Colton, is introduced with more detail with how he fits into their circle of friendship. A full explanation of how the friends of family accept Colton into Nell’s life is written with plausibility and finesse, especially since he is Kyle’s older brother.
I’ll admit, to me, this book had more poetry and song lyrics than I normally want to read, but, Becca finds writing poetry a welcome release from her stressful life. Until she meets Jason, she has no other authentic outlet in which to express her overwhelming and very mature emotions other than the written word. Ms. Wilder demonstrates diversity in her own writing skill, sharing her own prose as the fictional character, Becca’s.
Falling Into Us is filled with drama- this is not a feel good book- although it is a manuscript about overcoming adversity to grow into adulthood despite masses of negativity. To say these characters have happy lives would be misleading, it’s almost extraordinarily too coincidental that this tight group of friends should have so much grief.  But, I commend Ms. Wilder for tackling reality in very readable and page turning fashion.



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saturday Sippers in The Locker and a Grapefruit Basil Twist

Saturday Sippers in The Locker
Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! Welcome to the feature here in The Locker called Saturday Sippers. Each week I’ll post a new, sometimes, skinny cocktail recipe for you to try. Many thinks to my Cali Bestie, Rhonda, for providing me with the deck of cards recipe book. J
GRAPEFRUIT BASIL MARTINI!
Ingredients
  • 2 basil leaves
  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice
  • 1 ounce sugar free sweetener syrup
  • 1 ¾ ounces gin
  • Splash of sparkling wine
  • Grapefruit wedge for garnish
In a shaker, muddle basil with syrup. Add gin and grapefruit juice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with Grapefruit wedge.
122 Calories per serving

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just Out of My Grasp - My Personal Journey with SLE

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers, I’ve decided to use my blog not only to writing, music, and other facets of entertainment, but, also to share my journey. I found out on June 19, 2013 the reason for many of my ongoing health problems is because I have systemic lupus, also known as SLE.
Thank you for listening, each week I will have a new installment chronicling my journey. Please, please feel free to comment, write, share. I hope to use this forum as a help to all of us, no matter what pain you are experiencing. You may also send stories to me via finlessbook at gmail dot com. I will respect your privacy and maintain your anonymity, if you so desire.
Hugs for today …

I’m working out like crazy and keep gaining weight. If anything I feel bloated. Gah, this seems to have started Labor Day 2010. I remember eating Oreo cookies, hot dogs, and hot cocoa while camping and figured it would do me in.
I gained about five pounds that I could never shed.
Five pounds, pushaw you might say.
Well, five pounds per year on a person adds up pretty darn quick. Plus, it didn’t feel like “regular” weight. I felt like I had a layer of something besides fat between the muscle and skin. I couldn’t explain it, but, I kept envisioning a stuffed sausage wanting to burst at the ends, but, that darn casing kept it squashed inside.
As my friend Melissa says, “I felt like a busted can of biscuits.”
The weight gain continued even though my workouts continued. Even stranger were my food cravings for comfort foods- those high carb Southern delights that keep Spanx in business. It was like my body was fighting getting sick and carb loading for a major health battle. I tried to fight the cravings and sometimes successful. But, when I wasn’t I berated myself and sometimes added workouts to even the calorie score and tilt it back in a negative direction.
The old “muscle weighs more than fat” didn’t apply here. So, that wasn’t it. Something else kept me out of whack.
My annual well woman exams in 2011 and 2012 revealed no thyroid issues, no early menopause, and no other cause for my symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, lethargy, pain, and anything else odd that happen to strike.
What else could it be? I kept getting told, you’re just getting older and not eating right.
I tried harder.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tuesday Tales - "Building" a Story

Ahoy Fellow Fathomers! This week's Tuesday Tales prompt is the word "building". Please see how I use "building" in my new WIP erotic romance, Sexy Bea Spelling. Our heroine, Bea, uses a week to lose her inhibitions, but, did she lose her heart as well?

Bea stretched out under the covers. The ceiling fan whirled rapidly with white noise comforting and monotonous.  Images of Tessa’s naked body filled her mind, and she brought back memories of their night together in vivid detail. Bea shifted her recollection to Andrew and the next few nights of wanton lust they shared after Tessa left the resort. An ache returned between her thighs signaling her body wasn’t ready to give him up as quickly as her logical mind wanted. “It could never work.” She rolled onto her side and clutched her pillow, fat tears finally rolling into the goose down. 
Bea allowed herself a healthy cry before rising from the refuge of her bed. After quickly brewing a latte`, she settled onto the chaise lounge and typed Andrew Goode into the search engine of her smart phone. Several links popped up for the popular builder. “How in the hell do I not know you?”  Further reading revealed his projects somewhat spanned the Southwest, not confined solely to Texas. She clicked on an image of Andrew standing in the center of a ribbon cutting ceremony, his broad smile lighting up the photo.  She spoke to the small screen. “You really are as handsome as I remember.”
Another link led her to his business details, including contact information. Her finger hovered over the telephone number, daring her to write it down. Deliberately, she closed her eyes before closing off his company page. Clicking images, she scrolled, rapidly scanning the selections that included him. On page two, she found him standing next to a brightly smiling beautiful woman behind a wide pink tape. “Tessa…it’s her.” Bea checked out the caption, All Faiths Christian School grand opening. “Oh, good Lord, this is the same woman!” She quickly shut her phone down.
Bea spent the rest of the day engulfed in housework, laundry, and watching chick flicks on the television. Every time her mind strayed to the unforgettable Andrew Goode, she intentionally shut down her thoughts. However, she could not help but wonder about the beautiful seductress, Tessa, and her involvement in the private Christian school.
Bea fought the curiosity to find out more about the school and Tessa. She purposefully stayed away from the computer most of the day, afraid the temptation for more research would get the best of her. It appeared the more Bea knew about Andrew and Tessa, the more it cemented the experience real, and not a fantasy she conjured in her boredom.

The weekend ended with Bea as restless as it began. The building sexual tension broiling underneath her skin filled her with hungry frustration and a testiness of like she’d never known. The resort week that was supposed to quench her lustful desires instead served as a catalyst to open Bea’s personal Pandora’s Box, and she couldn’t deny she wanted more. 
"Now that you've read my contribution to TT, please visit my creative friends over at our main blog, Tuesday Tales for their take on our word prompt "building". 

BLUE INK- THE SKIN STALKER available now! Recent review "...i am a little over half way thru the book! its super good...and freaky! i have to admit when i got up around 2am to go to the bathroom i wasn’t about to look in the mirrors and my closet was open and i wasn’t going near it."
Amazon Buy Link
SPECIAL TREAT - GET THE ENTIRE CHAPTER 4 HERE:
Chapter Four
Maggie visited Colin five more times over the next six months. During this time, he never questioned her last name, address, or even for her phone number. They strictly met for the benefits they provided each other. Colin believed it was a perfect arrangement and he rather enjoyed anticipating the next time she might give him a call. Maggie called a couple of times when he was out of town, and although sorry he missed another opportunity to taste her sweet lips, he cherished hearing the disappointment in her voice. He knew it would keep her interested.
They met one time outside of Denver, when she reluctantly agreed to meet him in Idaho Springs at an up and coming microbrewery, Tommyknockers. “C’mon, it’ll be fun. One of the perks of my marketing job is getting to know more about the business, up close and personal. You will help and be a second objective opinion.”
Still running on the treadmill, she answered out the side of her mouth, “Okay, okay, I’ll do it. But, only if you’re buying.”
“You bet, the beer is on me. I assure you, it’s worth the drive.”
“Depending on when we meet, I’ll already be in the area, so, not really going out of my way.”
“You will? What takes you to the mountains?”
“I mountain bike every chance I get. When work doesn’t have me bogged down, I visit one of several trails up in the foothills and mountains. Can’t get enough of it.”
Colin slowed his treadmill speed to a fast paced walk. “I’ve never done that, wanted to try it though.”
“It’s perfect. No one else around, just me and the trail. Breathing in the quintessence of the mountains keeps me sane in this fast paced city life I lead.” She finally slowed her pace as well.
“So, I’ll meet you there for this little field trip, I’m always interested in trying a new beer and new eats.”
“Sounds great, and I assure you won’t regret it.” They proceeded to make plans to meet the following Saturday. The only exclusive dating experience they would share.
The week passed busily, with Colin thinking a few times of the weekend. Work continued to weigh heavily, with the increased rush of campaigns. The time at Tommyknockers became a welcomed end to the chaos of the day job that became an almost twenty-four seven obligation.
“I’m highly impressed. I had no idea this brewery would be such a delightful surprise. Everything I’ve had is to die for.” Maggie licked her lips, relishing the last of the beer battered mushrooms.
“The green chile beer leaves a taste of great Mexican food on my tongue. I’ve never had it anywhere else before.” Colin hungrily eyed the pint draw in front of him.
“How did you find this place anyway?” Maggie took a drink of her own beer.
“I’ve been doing some market research for beer advertising, sales, promotions, and the like. I started a list of microbreweries and visited several of them. But, once I came here, wow, I was hooked.”
“The menu is quite extensive for primarily a brewery.” Maggie looked around checking the surroundings. The large brew kettles stood only feet away from their table close to the bar. Although noisy, the environment teemed with the feel of comfort and the smell of malts, hops, and other ingredients.
“We could sit away from the brew action, but I like the atmosphere in this part of the restaurant.” Colin looked around appreciatively, taking in the energy.
“It’s fine, I’m enjoying myself. Watching all these different kinds of beer come out of the tap, makes me want to try them all. I’m noticing they have quite the selection.” Maggie admired the awards and posters on the wall detailing the different varieties available. “Maybe you should change careers, become a brewer or something? Have you ever thought about getting out of downtown Denver?”
“Maybe when I retire I could dabble in this. I’ve come too far to think about changing careers now.”
“I don’t know…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being happy and what it would take. I’m just not sure the fast lane is what I want to continue in. I love the outdoors, I think I’m a closet hippie.” Maggie giggled.
“You’ve never really told me what you do for a living.” Colin inquired, more of a question than a statement.
“I work in environmental law.”
“Impressive. You are in the right state, that’s for sure.”
“I hope I don’t burn out before I make a difference. I really want something more for my life. This getting older stuff really makes me think about what matters.” Maggie took another long drink of her beer, closing her eyes deep in thought.
“I’m glad you met me here today, maybe we can do this again?”
“Possibly, Colin. I just don’t want to make any definite plans. No offense, but I really need to stay away from guys like you.”
“No offense? Hmm, well, would you explain yourself?”
“You and I could fuel a fire of irresponsible livelihood. Yes, we take our work seriously, because we neither one want that true human connection. It’s messy. If I keep hanging out with you, it gives me little reason to try to change that about myself.”
“Okay…” Colin furrowed his brow and frowned.
“C’mon, have you ever really been one hundred percent in a relationship. The kind where you care more about someone else than yourself. If you honestly tell me yes, I will apologize to you.” Maggie challenged him with her gaze.
Colin sat for several seconds. “I don’t think I’ve found the right person. But, it doesn’t mean I’m completely shallow and callous. I’m young, what’s wrong with enjoying life?” His tone became defensive.
“Simmer down boy. I didn’t say anything was wrong with enjoying your life. But, maybe we are both getting a little too old to play the casual dating game. It just isn’t fulfilling anymore.”
The waitress delivered their buffalo burgers and buffalo blue cheese fries. “Can I get you folks anything else?” She lingered over Colin’s obvious pout. “Need another beer?”
“Oh, no, thank you, this looks great. Actually, yes, please bring me another, that sounds good.”
“You got it.” She turned sympathetically to Maggie. “Can I get you anything else?”
“I’ll have what he’s having.” She smiled broadly, encouraging Colin’s dark mood to leave.
The waitress turned away and Colin began again quickly. “What if we tried dating?”
“Look, I like you, but we got started on the wrong foot. I don’t like our beginning and think it would taint our future. We can be friends, but, I just don’t see us going to any higher level.” Maggie spoke decisively, almost bluntly.
“I respect what you’re saying, I guess it’s just not good for my ego. Honestly, I’ve been having a sympathy biological clock. Lately, everything I have doesn’t seem like enough. I sound gluttonous.” Colin admitted, surprise registering across his features.
“Let’s enjoy these amazing burgers and breathe. I think it’s been awhile since either of us had such a heavy conversation. I think we are talking more openly because we have no obligation to each other. We know we can walk away, like a therapy session.” Maggie laughed.
“You’re right about one thing, these burgers are amazing. I don’t know if I want to call this therapy though.” Colin picked up the tall burger and took a large bite. Chewing thoughtfully, he finally said, “Yes, I’d like to be friends. Thank you for the offer.”
* * * *
Colin’s work routine revved up as the year progressed. The conversation with Maggie was long forgotten, and he returned to his former self-involved style of life. He and Hannah continued to keep long hours fostering a new holiday beer campaign. The contract proved quite the coup for Colin. Several microbreweries in the area, such as Tommyknockers, had been peaking with high levels of success, further driving the marketing campaigns for all the local craft breweries. It pleased him that Hannah demonstrated herself invaluable in sustaining the needs of their finicky client. Colin quickly learned craft beer makers have substantial reason to be particular with every process of the sale. In order to become successful, crafters must become heavily and personally invested in each brew’s success, from kettle to bottle to packaging to customer. The vast selling boom proved their efforts worthy.
Although they spent more than half of the hours in a day with each other, they kept their interaction strictly professional. They became comfortable enough to joke with each other and share the occasional personal story. However, unlike with Joelle, they shared the ideal working relationship. Neither crossed the gray boundaries where it became a bit too personal.
“So, boss, any plans for the upcoming holiday season?” Hannah inquired while hand drawing a simple chart.
“Not really, I’m not too big on the celebrations. The whole cheesy, coming home thing, smelling fresh coffee brewing, carolers, blah blah blah. Nah, not really my thing.”
“You sound like the stereotypical Scrooge. Although I prefer Bill Murray’s portrayal in that one take of the classic.” She stared intently toward the paper, sticking her tongue out in concentration, marking the top of the graph. “It’s just ‘cause you are married to the job and not to a live person. That would make all the difference for you.”
“You aren’t married. What’s your thought on the whole sha-bang? You know this holiday celebration routine.”
“I still enjoy it very much. The snow on the mountains, hot chocolate, decorating…I take part in everything. I have my family to share it with, I don’t need a romantic partner.” She stopped pencil marking the straight lines, looking accusingly at Colin. “You keep me too busy to entertain the notion of a real relationship.”
“I’m not trying to block you or cramp your style here.” Colin feigned hurt. “I thought making this team so successful was one of your top priorities.”
“Dude, and yes, I called you dude. Your whole sensitive, reverse psychology act works on any number of clients, but will never work on me. I totally have your number.” She returned to the grid at hand. “I do all this for me and very little of it for you. I’m preparing for my future by building a solid base now. Someday, I’ll be surrounded by chubby cheeked babies calling me mommy.”
“Hey, to each his own, I’ve never felt the attraction. It’s all too complicated when you start trying to care about someone else’s feelings. It gets in my way and, frankly, is too messy to be appealing.” “So, you’ve never felt a connection to another human being?” Hannah truly looked surprised.
“Not really.” Colin shrugged and took a long sip of his coffee. “I have zero voids in my heart that need filled. I have all I need right here in this building.”
“Wow, just wow. I didn’t know mythical creatures such as yourself existed. I thought that was only in bad fairytales.”
Hannah did not realize that just within feet of their conversation, The Skin Stalker listened intently.
* * * *
“Colin will never, and I mean never, possess a heart as black as mine, if I actually had a heart, that is. I suppose old junior here will have to suffice...” Looking down toward the body of his human host, he considered the frame he inhabited. The Skin Stalker examined a rugged, dying cuticle and debated on popping the finger off permanently “…until I’m finished with you.” With that, he snapped off the human form’s finger to the internal shrieks of pain emitted from the human host. “Shut up in there would you? You have no idea what else I could do to you for my amusement that would make you vomit in painful response. You wanted me here, remember? Practically begged us to take your pathetic soul.”
The Skin Stalker was taking his time shadowing Maggie. The impatience of his demonic infusion wanted to take her out quickly and feed from the supremacy of her death. However, his human plane knew it would be oh so much sweeter to take his time. He learned her habits, took in her scents. Feeding from her anxieties ever so often, he injected his demonic influence into the air and her skin took his essence into her body, sending shivers up her spine. Each time she looked around to see what caused the chill, but never did she see him, or know the root cause of her momentary discontent.
Maggie met her end shortly after visit number seven with Colin. The Skin Stalker had studied her every movement for six months and learned that even she had a routine. A solitary woman, Maggie rarely engaged with female friends outside of work. She was a workaholic, and aside from Colin, had no other intimate involvements. She had no family in the area and lived alone. She kept late and sometimes erratic hours, but her time revolved around the office, her apartment, the gym, and secluded bike paths just around the foothills and mountains.
The Skin Stalker knew that she kept her bike on the back of her small SUV. She also maintained two water bottles in two cages mounted on the frame of her bike. The Skin Stalker had just the perfect performance enhancing concoction to ensure his success on her final ride.
The third Friday night of November, as she lay sleeping for her third Saturday of the month solo ride, The Skin Stalker injected both water bottles with his magic brew. He performed the action quickly and regained his position away from her parking space. Anticipation filled his bowels with delight as the reminiscent smell of death triggered giddiness in his black soul.
The cold day dawned perfectly. A touch of dew kissed the grass and there was no wind. Maggie awakened with a combination of excitement and trepidation. She checked the local weather, skeptical of the temperature. However, the weatherman’s cheesy smile and reassurance boosted her motivation. “The day will start very chilly, but we will experience a quick unseasonal warm-up, so don’t stay inside. Take advantage of this gift before the holidays.”
“Thank you for keeping me to schedule.” She spoke toward the television, sipping her chai tea. Dressing in layers, she pulled a tight fleece cap around her head before walking out her front door.
The Skin Stalker waited for Maggie to appear just as the sun rose. Walking toward her vehicle, even through the warm sleeves, the crisp air caused her to shiver slightly. She pulled her warm-up jacket closer around her body against the chill of the morning. Checking her bike and the bottles took her mind off the temporary cold discomfort. Satisfied with their security on the SUV, she unlocked the door, got inside, and pulled out of her space.
The Skin Stalker followed her from a satisfactory distance as she drove across the quiet highway. He wondered how long it had been since he had a human sacrifice for his master. He counted the years as he kept pace behind Maggie. He never tired of the exhilaration of the kill. The “innocent” victim unwittingly forfeiting their life in place of his primary target.
“It was not as if any of them are wholesome anyway.” He scoffed toward humanity. Pondering the decline of morality, he estimated they could kill half the planet and be justified. No one lived chaste lives, very few during the centuries anyway. It was not about sex, people just did not understand. It was all the things they chose over righteousness.
The Skin Stalker worked to create a bigger and better audience for his master. “Come one, come all, ye who live self-serving, I have a place for you.” He allowed his true form to invade the surface of his human host for a moment as he patted his stomach with large, gnarly, hands. He allowed his sharp fingernails to scratch across his ghastly flesh with each tap of his remaining nine fingers.
Maggie pulled into the lot of the open space park. Arriving first in the parking lot did not surprise her. “I guess no one else is up to a frosty challenge this early.” She took one last sip of her morning beverage and pulled her keys before she exited her vehicle. Winter birds chirped, scavenging for seeds, and a few remaining crickets sang for the sunrise. Stretching while walking, she went around to the back of her SUV to release her bike from the rack. Her bike rested against her SUV while she donned her helmet and riding gloves. Double-checking the security of her water bottle cages once more, Maggie also made sure they were full. She walked her bike to the beginning of the desolate path, anxious to begin her ride.
“I need my blood pumping and fast, or this nip will never leave my bones.” She had no clue why she felt so edgy that particular morning, but her anxiety ran deep.
Taking one last look across the brightening sky, she noticed a fog effect over the skyline of Denver. The low clouds fogged the top of the city scape, giving a peculiar Jack the Ripper feel to the atmosphere. Intentionally clearing her mind of the dread, she forged ahead with zest for the day. “Let’s get this show on the road.”
She clipped into the bike pedal with her left foot and pushed off with her right. Making her way downhill, she clipped her right foot onto the pedal and burst forward with a strong leg push. Smiling, Maggie appreciated the sharp morning air and drew in a deep breath through her nose. She loved the smell of pine and earth, and her body responded in appreciation.
The Skin Stalker anticipated that by uphill mile three, she would pull a long drink from the first bottle. Maggie would then begin to feel dry mouthed from the chemicals. Taking a longer pull from the bottle somewhere around mile seven, she would become dizzy around mile ten. By mile twelve, she would dump over as the chemicals rendered her unconscious.
Maggie reached down to grab her water bottle. The ride uphill required a bit of hydration. She liked to drink more on her morning rides, rehydrating from the overnight hours since she had water intake. The Skin Stalker knew this, as he watched her routine intently for the past several weeks. She balanced with one hand as she drew the bottle up high and took a long draw.
Maggie was fine for another mile or so. It was then her stomach began to wrench violently with cramps. Maggie was one to push through the pain, so, she endured the ride. Confidently she continued on, sure the feeling would pass. The further she traversed, the more disoriented she felt. It was as if she was at the end of a grueling triathlon—the point where mind and body battle each other for dominance. Her mind kept pushing, “go, go, go,” yet her body rapidly deteriorated. With a final grunt, she toppled over on the quiet trail. Her thumping body disrupted a den of ground squirrels that chirped complaints as they scampered away.
Presto! Everything had gone as planned. He waited on the outskirts of the desolate makeshift path for her collapse. She was stronger than he expected, so it was mile fourteen before she could no longer fight the drugs flowing rapidly through her system. He watched her fall over and he rushed to the scene. He scooped up her limp body and raced down the hill on his four-wheeler. He remembered to swipe both water bottles because he wanted to leave as little evidence as possible for the police.
They needed to believe this was a crime of passion, not some random act of violence. Colin would eventually be their prime suspect. The Skin Stalker was sure of it. The morning sun painfully bright against his sensitive face, he worked more quickly. Scouting the area around his own vehicle, he used the key fob to unlock the back lift gate. Maggie’s lithe body fit perfectly into the space he prepared for her.
Looking around once again to realize he was still alone in the parking lot, The Skin Stalker folded her wilting body into a softball equipment bag and tied a plastic bag around her head, just to ensure success. When her breathing stopped, The Skin Stalker took an antique fountain pen, and with blue ink, punched a blue dot behind her right ear. “We mustn’t forget Colin’s trademark…”
When The Skin Stalker became one with Colin, a flood of selfishness, vanity, arrogance, lust, entitlement, and greed rushed forth into him. Colin fueled him more than anyone had in a very long time. It pleased The Skin Stalker because he might spend several months inside his current host due to this new muse in Colin. “Yes, Clark, I hear your muffled whimpers from in there. I’ll make this last as long as possible before I pull the scalp from your knotty skull. I hope this body holds up before it rots away.”
It might take more than one victim, better yet, he might maintain his power for several victims. The Skin Stalker smiled at the prospect of the next challenge of how many lives he could actually take. Only a short while into the killing, he felt confident in his anonymity.
The Skin Stalker drove Maggies’ lifeless body toward a Jefferson County softball complex, hoping to find privacy as he discarded her. He arrived at an empty field, parking close to a dugout. The blue shade cover and back wall would provide the necessary privacy. Carefully scouring the area for unwanted witnesses, it thrilled him to find solitude.
Punching the button on the driver’s door, he released the back lift gate. Quick as a flash, he unloaded the bag and wheeled it into the hollow dugout. Thoughts ran rampantly through his sick mind. The Skin Stalker heaved the bag onto the bench, however, with the odd weight it kept sliding off. He moved it to a corner, in full view of the opening. The confined space would also capture the odiferous whiff of her quickly rotting flesh, bound in the stuffy bag. Only a dead elk, or other mountainous animal in the area would give off a similar smell. The Skin Stalker spoke toward the bag, one hand over his heart. “I wish I could be here for the grand opening of that zipper.” He ceremoniously touched the zipper, running his fingers along the closed track. Almost lost in his sick reverie, the bugling of a bull elk plunged him back to reality, and his need to get away before someone caught him. The Skin Stalker quickly returned to his vehicle, driving away smiling, exposing the graying plaque buildup on his yellowing teeth.
One down.