Today is a guest post from the lovely Claire Marta. I met Claire through social media, and will actually get to meet her at the #DarkerSideOfFiction2017 signing in Peterborough on Saturday October 7th!! That’s tomorrow!!! I’m SO excited right now!!
For now I’ll hand over to Claire, be sure to keep reading to find out about Claire’s books, places to find Claire and a giveaway too!! 🙂
A Day In The Life Of Claire
I know some readers wonder how an Author spends their day. What we get up to while everyone else is out at work. How we find the inspiration to weave our stories across the pages of our books to tell our tales of woe and joy. Maybe you wonder if it’s something glamorous? This is my typical day as a stay at home Mum and Author.
7.00am – Husband wakes us up. Reluctantly drag myself out of bed and get my daughter up who also doesn’t want to get up. Brain sluggish and not fully working but I am awake (yay go me!)
7.30am – Get my daughter dressed, feed her breakfast, gulp down my cup of tea while running around getting her bag ready for school. Tell my Husband to get dressed as he’s slacking. Brain is fully activated and characters have started to talk to me but I try to ignore them.
8.00am – Quickly check messages and answer the ones I find. A glance at Facebook and Instagram to see what’s going on that turn into 15 minutes of wasted time. Realise I am still in my pyjama’s dig out some clothes and hurriedly get dressed. Shout at my Husband who is also procrastinating to get his butt dressed to.
8.15am – Leave the house to take my daughter to Nursery with Husband in tow. Characters still talking to me and storyline ideas start to flow. Drop off Daughter, walk Husband to bus stop a hurried good bye then run all the way back to the house to write.
9.00am – Make a cup of tea, turn computer on. Check messages, check Facebook. Open current story and stare at the screen for ten whole minutes as my characters are now sulking and don’t want to come out to play. Make more tea while trying not to procrastinate. Finally regain the urge to write and dive into typing.
9.30am – Read through the small amount of inspiration I have come up with hoping it doesn’t suck. It’s good and my characters are happy. Skip ahead to the back of the book as I have an idea and I can never ever work in a straight line.
10.00am – Check messages. Check Facebook. Look back at current story and notice I have a beginning and end and not much else going on. Wonder what the hell the middle is going to be. Get up and make more tea. Get hijacked by the cat after I sit down and spend 10 minutes with him drooling all over me while he purrs sinking his claws into the soft parts of my body.
11.00am – Wonder what I can post in my readers group that everyone would like. Wonder if I should do another giveaway. Wonder if anyone reads my posts. Spend 20 mins looking at google pics to find something funny or vampire related to post in the group. Download a dozen pics I like knowing I will probably only use one or two.
11.30am – Make more tea. Check emails. Check reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Realise I should probably write some more. Open up a completely different story and start typing ideas for that instead of focusing on the current story I have. Go make a messy hurried sandwich for lunch as I am hungry and don’t want to waste time actually cooking something I might like better.
12.45am – Leave the house in a rush as I have fifteen minutes to go pick up my daughter as soon as my ideas start flowing properly. Curse my characters that they’ve taken this long to actually get somewhere and I am sure they are doing it to torture me.
15.00pm – Spending the afternoon with my daughter watching cartoons. The house looks like a bomb has hit it as she’s pulled out all her toys. Using ten minutes to write a few ideas down while she’s mesmerized by the tv which doesn’t last long.
17.00pm – Five minutes hiding in the bathroom checking my emails, Facebook and messages as my 4yr old tells me off if she finds me on my phone. Realise my minion is now becoming the Master. Feel proud of her yet at the same time frightened of what I have created. Get caught on my phone and then forced to spend the next thirty minutes playing tea party with a stuffed unicorn and a purple toy cat.
17.30pm – Make more tea while searching for something chocolatey or containing sugar. My characters are talking to me again I am not talking to them. Spend ten minutes trying to find a cartoon my daughter actually wants to watch. Wonder if I am to old to join the circus or get adopted by a rich billionaire.
18.00pm – My Husband messages he will be coming home soon. Resist the urge to send an SOS message back. Start picking up toys so it doesn’t look to bad when he gets home. Wonder what the hell I should make for dinner. Leave the decision up to my daughter. Text my Husband to bring back pizza as that’s what she’s asked for.
19.00pm – Husband rolls in with three pizzas.
20.00pm – Clear away what’s left of the devastation my daughter had left during the day. Start the process of getting her ready to bed which includes her dancing around listening to songs on youtube, trying to convince her to brush her teeth properly, five minutes of waiting for her to go to the loo, more time while she chooses what to wear to bed and what toys get to sleep with her.
20.30pm – Daughter decides she wants my Husband to put her to bed not me. Try to hide my evil glee. Listening to him telling her a story while I turn my laptop on. Talk to my beta readers. Post a pic in my group and reply to comments. Load up spotify and get my earphones out.
21.00pm – Open up current story. Read through what I wrote that morning and add a few things. Realise I need to make some more teaser pics. Post book stuff in book groups and promo groups while wondering if anyone will check them out.
10.00pm – Decide to torture my characters and go on a spree making the worse things that can happen to them happen. Enjoy all the blood, deceit and mayhem. Talk to a few people through chat. Feel exhausted but don’t want to go to bed yet as it’s to early.
11.00pm – Crawl into bed knowing before I know it my eyes will be open again and I will repeating everything from the start.
Thank you for giving us an insight to your daily life Claire. And thank you for agreeing to be apart of my rebrand and launch of my new blog. I am really looking forward to meeting you and hugging you tomorrow! 🙂
Now for Claire’s books and stalker links, keep reading for the giveaway too 🙂
Jasmine Hunter is a rookie agent working for the covert Supernatural Department of Scotland Yard.
Being kidnapped with a co-worker is the last thing she’s expecting from only two months in a job she loves. She is even more unprepared for the sparks that fly between her and one of their captors, especially when her unique senses are screaming he isn’t human.
Eric is a vampire, deep undercover with centuries of secrets. He has no time for distractions, yet he can’t seem to get the feisty female out of his head, nor the hungering desires she evokes within him.
Forced to work together, they must stop the diabolical plans of Marcel Coupe – the French arms dealer responsible for her abduction. As time starts to run out can they save themselves and Paris from disaster? Or will the sizzling attraction between them be their downfall?
Jasmine Hunter finds herself knee deep in a decadent vampire nest in Prague. A killer lurks the medieval city and is preying on blood donors who frequent the home of the local Vampire Mistress.
With her teammates from Scotland Yard in tow Jasmine, must attempt to discover the murderer’s identity.
But will things go to plan? Sex dungeons, submissive human pets, and sexy dominant males are a lot for a rookie to cope with.
Especially when Eric is the last person she expects to see…
Requested to assist with the hunt for a vicious serial killer by an old friend, Eric is left speechless to find Jasmine offering herself up as food. The attraction between them is burning as red hot as before, and his lust for the feisty female is just as deep.
More disturbing, his emotions which he normally has leashed, once more slip in her presence. Yet this time they feel different. Darker, primal, and savage yet Eric cannot explain why. The insidious pull of the other predators around him is also more than a sweet temptation he finds himself unable to resist.
Combining forces, Jasmine and Eric must play the parts of Master and submissive.
But nothing is as it seems.
Can they work out who the killer is in a household full of deception and secrets before it is too late? Or will a price be paid in blood….
*** 18 & over only. Contains sexual scenes, light BDSM, sex and some violence. ***
Jasmine Hunter’s addiction for the vampire bite is swallowing her whole. Left with no other choice; she seeks out the Master Vampire of London to ease her pain.
But Asier Serpico has his own agenda. Dark, lethal, and intoxicating; he offers sweet seduction and even more—pleasure. He wants to take her pain—and her body—from the one she loves.
Can Jasmine resist Asier while fighting to prevent the impending disaster of a new drug wreaking havoc on the city streets….
…or will London fall?
A native Brit, I live in Italy with my husband and daughter. When I am not writing and drinking copious amounts of tea, I enjoy taking photos of my adoptive country, trying to stay fit with running, reading amazing books and being a stay at home mother.
Today is an Interview with Martin Tracey. Martin is a new author to me, I’ve got a couple of his books on my TBR list & I’m looking forward to meeting Martin at the #DarkerSideOfFiction2017 signing in Peterborough on Saturday October 7th.
An Interview With Martin Tracey
Me: I want to take a moment to welcome you to Lou’s Luscious Book Blog and to thank you for agreeing to take part in my relaunch/rebrand event.
Before we get into the actual interview questions please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Martin: Hi, my name is Martin Tracey and I’m an author from Birmingham. I like to include Birmingham characters and settings in my books but I’ve also used the Peak District, USA, Romania and London which I guess reflects my personal enjoyment to travel. I wouldn’t say I write in a ‘pinned down’ genre as such, my books have a lot of variety in them, although one of the multi-author signings I am attending is the ‘Darker Fiction’ event in Peterborough and I would say that is apt.
I’ll start with the general questions:
1. Do you enjoy reading? If so what do you like to read & Who is your favourite author?
I love reading but for an author I don’t do it as often as I should and it takes me ages to read a book. Peter James is one of my favourite authors, his mixture of crime and supernatural obviously appeals to my own approach to writing. I also like Martina Cole due to her ‘no-nonsense’ approach and Dan Brown can write a mean page turner. Brown gave me the confidence to mix fact and fiction in my own work. For classic horror, I like Richard Laymon, but there are some great Indie authors out there these days and I’ve enjoyed books by DG Torrens and RH Dixon for example. Once I’ve got through my very long reading list I will be able to champion even more Indie authors. I also like biographies of people I admire.
2. When you’re not writing what do you like to do?
I love these 9.00 o clock mini drama series that appear on terrestrial TV, such as ‘Line Of Duty’. I’m a massive Beatles fan so listening to them is a must and for my sins I support Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club, so I go to the odd game and either side of the match I indulge in another favourite hobby of mine which is sampling Real Ale.
3. If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, where would you like to go?
I’ve been lucky enough to go to some fab places: Las Vegas, New Mexico, Grand Canyon, Switzerland, London and due to the Beatles connection, I love going to Liverpool especially Mathew Street. I have Elvis’ home Graceland left on my bucket list so I guess I’ll choose Memphis.
Now for the author related questions:
4. What drew you to the genre of books that you write? Would you ever consider writing a different genre? If so which one?
As I stated I write dark fiction but I don’t believe that my genre can be ‘pigeon-holed’. I’ve so far covered vampires, religious cults, serial killers and haunted houses. My next book explores the 27 club. Readers of my books will notice how music is themed in my work, that’s because I used to play in bands and write songs before I took to novel writing and music remains in my heart. I have always been fascinated with the supernatural and things that can’t be explained so that’s why such things feature in my books – I like to push the boundaries of reality in my work. As a kid, the old hammer horror films drew my imagination in so that definitely had an influence. I would never say never to writing in other genres, it’s like music. If it’s good it’s good no matter what the genre.
5. Do you have a certain place that you write? (e.g. a writing cave?) Or do you prefer a certain type of atmosphere?
I actually like to write just lying in the bed!
6. Do you or have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so how do you deal with it?
Touch wood I’ve never suffered from it luckily. I think my imagination is too uniquely wired to ever have that problem.
7. Do you outline the whole story before you begin writing or just roll with the flow?
I briefly outline the story via a skeleton chapter plan but for sure the story evolves and morphs as I roll with the flow. I can’t write if I place restrictions on myself and the story and characters often lead me to have light bulb moments along the writing process.
8. Where do you get your character inspiration from?
I don’t base characters on people I know, I do make then up. They are often able to execute extreme actions all in the name of ‘the greater good’ and to achieve extreme poetic justice. Judd Stone from Mind Guerrilla and who is to soon appear in my book about the 27 Club is such a character. He is an anti-hero so I like my characters to be interesting and that perhaps makes them flawed and not perfect in certain respects. My baddies must be bad, it’s that simple.
9. If you could collaborate with any author alive or dead, who would it be & why?
Oooh, that’s a great question. I can’t pick one, sorry. But I guess any of the authors I answered in question 1. In terms of wider collaboration, I’d like to work with Quentin Tarantino, his outlook on revenge is right up my street.
10. Which book would you most like to see as a movie/tv series?
Sorry I don’t want to appear self-indulgent but it would be any one of my own: Beneath The Floodlights would be particularly good on the screen with the vampires and football elements. Mind Guerrilla and Things They’ll Never See could be good too though.
Finally is there anything else that would like us to know? Maybe a little snippet of you current WIP, or latest release?
Ok, so I alluded to this earlier. My current WIP is about the 27 Club (I don’t have a title yet), a term associated with the incredible number of artists and rock stars who have all lost their lives at the tender age of 27: Amy Winehouse, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain to name just a few. Anything extraordinary like this intrigues me. I don’t wish to give too much away at this stage, but Judd Stone who has proved to be a very popular character from Mind Guerrilla is in the unenviable position of trying to prevent female rock star Phoenix Easter from becoming the next member of this notorious club. Phoenix could well be the making of her own downfall, she is extremely talented but can be self-destructive by engaging in alcohol and drugs and living life to the extreme– she’s very rock & roll! However darker forces are at work and it’s not as simple for Judd to just protect Phoenix from herself.
Spotlight time, please provide blurbs, covers & links to your books 🙂
Everything can be found on my website incuding covers and blurbs:
As you may know from my first post the talented Liz Iavorschi-Braun has been a tremendous help in getting my new blog up and running, to me it is only fitting that as a way to say another thank you to Liz my first book related post is spotlighting Liz and her books.
I would like to present:
~Liz Iavorschi-Braun Author Bio~
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Liz spent several years living in the Okanogan valley of British Columbia where she found inspiration for the setting of the Seven Years Gone series. She currently resides on the Black Sea coast of Romania with her husband and their cat, FuzzyButt.
Liz also has some awesome swag that can be ordered from etsy like lip balm, body butter, candles and tea. All organic and made for the books by artisans. she don’t profit from it, but has it available all the same. These products can be found here:
So now you know a little more about Liz how about I show you her books too? Not only show you but I can also give you an excerpt from both of them too. Liz is also being kind enough to offer a prize for one lucky reader, for your chance of winning keep reading 😉
Undesirable, Seven Years Gone #1.
Five generations after world leaders engineer a virus to decimate the population and keep it under control, life continues as normal for those living in The Society. They are divided into classes and go about their lives because it is all they know. The genetically fortunate become rulers, while those labeled undesirable are never seen again. Torn between her obligation to The Society that she was raised in and a desire to choose her own fate, Ginger takes a chance and risks it all to cross a vast wilderness alone for a chance to be free.
The house is quiet now. I check the hall outside my parents’ room and they are sleeping. With my backpack on my shoulders, I walk quietly down the stairs, carefully placing each foot to avoid making noise. I tiptoe through the kitchen and open the freezer to slide the note under the last meal for the week ahead. Wednesday night next week. That is when they will know. I hold my breath, waiting to make sure I am not heard and then I slide out the back door, careful to close it quietly. After a brief final look back at the place that was home, I slide around the side of the house to the service road that runs behind the houses all the way to the riverside park.
The park and the river beyond are not far– only a few blocks. It is after curfew, so the streets are quiet, though I am aware of every small sound, from the crunch of gravel under my feet to the rustling of the leaves in the breeze. Security only passes through at curfew to make sure everyone is at home. They usually stay around the capitol or random patrols around the eastern and western edges of town, or at least that is where I have seen them during the day. I have never been out this late at night; it’s not allowed. The city seems different in the still darkness – sterile and empty. I stay in the shadows, but I don’t see anyone. I have to cross the street to get to the park that flanks the river, but the streetlights are off and the park is heavily treed. Peeking my head around the corner, looking both ways, I release my held breath with a sigh and then I run for it. I make it to the cover of the trees and stop for a moment, my back pressed against the rough bark. I only had to run about 50 yards, but the adrenaline has left my heart pounding out of my chest and my breath burning in my throat.
I take a moment to get my breath and my bearings. Part of me wants to turn around and run home, but I know that is not an option. There is only one way to go. Forward. I move from tree to tree, stopping each time to check my surroundings and pray I haven’t been seen. It seems like hours before I reach the cement banks of the river, though my watch tells me it has only been a matter of minutes.
I stop to slip my clothes off, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and my sports shoes. I put my pants in the plastic bag in my pack and I slide down the slanted banks to the water. It is colder than I expected. In the summer the waist-deep water is warm from the hot summer sun, but it is early spring and the water from the lakes that flows through it is straight from the glacier melt from high in the mountains. I can feel it pulling against my legs and it brings me back to my selection test, choking me with fear. This is different, I tell myself, over and over – willing myself to keep moving. I focus on one foot in front of the other to keep my mind focused, intent on my goal. There are no lights here and only the pale glow from the moon shows me where I am. I can see the moon reflecting on the water and the beach ahead and I want to run to it, but I keep my pace slow and intentional, focusing on placing my feet one at a time on the slippery bottom. After five minutes I can’t feel my legs anymore, but I don’t stop.
My foot lands on a slimy rock and slips off, plunging me chest-deep into the cold of the water. I managed to stop the scream before it made its way up my throat. Gasping, I struggle to get back up, looking frantically from side to side to make sure I haven’t been seen. Assured that I am alone, I keep moving. Feel with my foot, step, feel, step, over and over, freezing at each perceived sound. There is a tunnel ahead, a short drainage pipe that allows the water to flow under the road that runs along the lake. It is tall enough to stand up in, but the bottom is moss-covered and slippery. Unable to feel my feet, I must stay focused to avoid slipping on the dangerously slick surface. On the other side is the stretch of sand and the lake.
I stop for a moment to prepare myself before stepping out onto the exposed beach, my hands on the wall of the cement pipe for support. My body stiffens as I feel a vibration through the wall, and a rumbling sound follows. I crouch down in the water, making myself as small as possible as the sound gets closer and closer, until it stops, directly above me. I hear a car door open and boots step out on the gravel on the road above me. Another door opens. Another set of boots. The only people allowed to be out this late are the police, who keep our city safe, though from what I don’t know. Even my heartbeat is thunderously loud and I am sure they must hear my ragged breath echoing off the walls of the tunnel. Every muscle in my body freezes, afraid even the slightest ripple in the water will alert them to my presence.
I hear a voice above, annoyed.
“You have the bladder of a toddler. This is the third time tonight we’ve had to stop. I think you just like peeing over the bridge.”
“Well, I have to do it somewhere. I might as well amuse myself in the process, right?”
The first man laughs and I hear boots coming closer to the edge. I hold my breath and then I hear the tinkling sound of liquid hitting water directly in front of me, and then a second stream. I try not to gag and tell myself it is just my imagination when the water around me seems to get slightly warmer. I want to get away. I want to scrub my skin with hot water and plenty of soap, but I can’t move. Hot tears run down my face and I know this has to be the end. There is no way they won’t find me here. Finally the noise stops and I hear the sound of zippers and the crunching of boots again, then a door closing, and a second. The vibrations start again as the engine come back to life and drives off.
I still don’t move. I wait several minutes to make sure they are gone before I venture forward and peer out from under the edge of the tunnel. I lift my head to look in both directions along the road, but I see nothing and sigh with relief. The beach opens up in front of me, stretching left and right to the rocky banks and cliffs on either side. I see where I need to go. The cliffs are almost vertical to one side, but to the other, the sheer rocks jut out for a bit, then becoming more gradual around the bend where steeply rolling hills covered with trees rise continuously to the mountains. It will be difficult, but not impossible.
I stay as close as I can to the trees that line the beach, trusting the darkness to keep me hidden. The lake is long and narrow with the only easy access at the north and south ends, which are each only a few hundred meters across. I come out from the river almost exactly in the middle. It doesn’t take long to get to the edge, but this is where I am most vulnerable. The road that runs along the lake ends here. It turns back to run along the edge of the city, surrounding it like a square. This is our border and the area where I am most likely to run into a patrol. I look carefully in the distance, but see nothing along the road. I look out into the water, but see no lights that would indicate that there is a boat patrolling the water.
There is no other choice. I have to get in the water and swim along the edge and then out around the point and back to where I can safely come ashore. I will be in the water with nowhere to hide if anyone should come. Hiding behind a clump of bushes, I open my pack and untie the knot on the top of the plastic bag holding my belongings. I blow into it, filling it with air before tying it closed again. I pull out another empty plastic bag and fill it as well, tying it to my pack to keep it afloat. I put my already-wet running shoes in my pack and use the laces to tie the pack to my waist, allowing me the use of my hands and legs while my pack tows along behind me. I know there is no way I could swim with my pack on my back. My pack is dark brown and in the water it shouldn’t easily be seen. I really hope this will work. I take one last deep breath and step into the water at the edge of the beach. It’s like ice, colder than the river, and I can feel goose bumps breaking out along my skin. When the water reaches my chest, I gasp, my muscles clenching so tight I am unable to catch a breath. I force myself to relax the muscles and breathe. I slide in to my neck and begin to swim in the dark along the edge of the rocks. The cold sends pins and needles through my hands and feet, and they don’t go away. Even after a few minutes of swimming, the pain is almost unbearable. I practiced swimming in the pool at school many times and even swam in the lake a few times on a class trip, but it is much different in the dark. I try not to let my mind think of what might be in the water with me.
I want to swim as fast as I can, but I am afraid of making noise. My body and brain are screaming for me to get out of the water, but I can’t. The point is just a few yards ahead. I reach my hand out to the rocks, grasping hold. I slowly pull myself around to the point and peer around the corner, freezing in mid-reach. I see a light. There is a boat in the water about a hundred yards ahead, spotlight scanning the rocks on the other side of the banks. I duck my head under just before the light reaches me. Thankfully my wet, dark brown pack looks no different than the rocks in the dark and the light passes by. I want to burst from the water and gulp air, but they are too close. They will hear. My lungs are screaming for air as I surface slowly and allow myself the slowest sip of air, bit by bit as I scan with my eyes. The spotlight is facing the other direction now and the boat moves on towards the beach.
As the boat comes parallel to my position, light scanning the opposite shore, I slip around the point and press myself as close to the rocks as I can, waiting until they are out of site. I have to keep moving or I won’t ever make it out of the water. I can already feel my shivering slow and that can’t be a good thing. I manage to make it to where the rocks are low enough that I can pull myself up and out of the water. I deflate my bag and untie the laces, placing my pack back on my back before hoisting myself out. I take a moment to slip on my shoes, but don’t stop to change. I am too close to the shore. I know I need to get out of these wet clothes, but I can’t risk doing it here where I might be seen.
I race up the slope as quickly and quietly as I can towards the trees. I don’t even slow down to look back until I am well covered by the trees. I can see the boat, close to the shore where I first entered the water and heading towards the other side of the lake. I sigh with relief. There is a large boulder ahead of me and I slip my pack to the ground and sit behind it. The quick movement warmed me a bit, but the cold air on my wet skin is quickly undoing any warmth I’ve generated. I wring out my hair and pile it under my winter hat and strip off my wet shirt and underpants, placing them in the empty bag before redressing in my pants, tunic and sweater. I pull out my winter boots and lace them up. It is not winter, but they are dry and sturdy, more suited than wet running shoes for what lies ahead.
I don’t know how long I have been locked up in this cell. It’s been long enough for the passing of time to become a blur. With no windows and no lights, I can’t tell if it has been hours or days. I don’t know where I am, but I suspect it is somewhere in or near Harrison, judging by the time it took to get here. I haven’t seen the others and I don’t know if they are safe. Rane was bleeding and unconscious when they took him off the transport. Joan and Dr. Anders were unconscious, but they seemed unhurt.
Sitting in the dark, it is hard for me to keep the panic at bay. Thoughts of being trapped here forever fill my head. A sense of hopelessness overwhelms me and it is all I can do to fight back the tears that threaten to choke me. Not knowing where I am, thoughts of being trapped, buried alive in whatever hell this is, send images of me trying to claw my way out racing through my head. I curl my fingers, recoiling at the imagined sensation.
I try to reason with myself. They can’t leave me here forever. The Society is coming to get me eventually. The Society is coming for me. That thought is enough to send waves of nausea through me and I try not to retch the nonexistent contents of my stomach all over the floor. Taking a deep breath to settle my mind and my stomach, I press my palms to the floor and feel relief when they touch cool concrete instead of the dirt I had imagined. I shake my hands to rid myself of the feeling.
I have to pull myself together. I can’t sit here and wait for The Society to come. I have to do something. I have to come up with a plan and that isn’t going to happen sitting here imagining what might be hiding in the dark. Wherever this is, there has to be a way out. They got me in here somehow and presumably, they will eventually come to get me out. Finding out how needs to be my first step.
I do my best to assess my surroundings in the dark. Crawling with one hand outstretched, I keep going until I hit bars. I can feel a break in the bars where the door closes, and a chain with a lock on it that is keeping me from leaving. I keep moving right, my hands feeling along the bars until I reach a wall with no windows or doors. There is a bucket in the corner and a bottle of what I assume is water. There is a mattress on the floor with a scratchy blanket, but no other furniture that I can feel. I keep moving clockwise until I reach another set of bars. On my knees, I feel along the bars, looking for some way out. I reach something soft pushed up against the bars from the other side. By the feel of it, it is obviously human and obviously unconscious.
I keep moving my hands, bar by bar, until my hands reach a tangle of curly hair, wet and matted. I smell my fingers and there is unmistakably blood on them. Rane’s blood. I slide my hands over his head and to his face, relieved when I can feel the soft exhale of air from his nose. He’s still alive, but in the dark I can’t tell how badly hurt he is. Judging by how difficult it is to wake him, it must be bad.
Tearing off a strip of fabric from my shirt, I press it to Rane’s head where the blood seems to be coming from. It must have hurt because the groan I get in response is certainly not in pleasure.
“Rane, wake up!” Another groan is his only reply. I reach through with my other hand and find his shoulder and give it a shake.
“Rane, please, wake up!” I shake him more urgently this time.
“If you keep shaking me like that I’m going to be sick.”
“Are you hurt anywhere besides your head? I can’t reach anything but your head and shoulders.”
“A few broken ribs, I think, but my head took the worst of the beating. Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine. Where are Joan and Dr. Anders?”
“I’m over here, Ginger,” says Joan from somewhere to my left, “but I don’t know where Joanne is, and before you ask, I’m not hurt. I’m just mad. Rane, if I get my hands on that brother of yours, I swear I will introduce his ass to my boot!”
“Jonah? He was here?” replies Rane.
“You were out cold before he showed his face. He was driving the transport and acting like that commander’s lap dog looking for praise for telling him where to find us.”
“Jonah was working with McNeil?”
“If McNeil is that big sour looking commander, then yes. I also noticed that cast on his hand was gone and he didn’t seem to be having any trouble using it.”
“I think your boots are going to have to stand in line behind mine, Joan.”
“Now that we’ve established that a butt kicking is in order and who goes first, does anyone know where we are? I’d like to get out of here, if at all possible,” I say, irritated.
“The holding cells in the basement of the old police station. It’s the only place in town that has cells with bars like this. It isn’t used anymore, but there’s a passageway that connects it to the old courthouse where the high-ranking officers have their offices. Back in basic training, the guys stuck on guard duty at night would sneak down here to meet up with their girlfriends for a little alone time, or at least they did until someone got caught and they locked off the door from the courthouse to the tunnel. As for getting out of here, I somehow doubt they left the cells unlocked and the doors unguarded.”
“If I can get the keys, can you get us out of here?” I ask.
“And how do you plan on getting the keys?”
“Someone has to come down here eventually. When they do, just be ready. I have a plan.”
“Darlin’, please don’t do anything foolish. Anyone who comes down here is going to be trained and most likely armed.”
“Don’t you darlin’ me. I’m still mad at you, Rane. When we get out of here, I have a few things to say to you, but for now, trust me. I got myself out of The Society and I can get myself out of this.”
“You’d best listen to her, Rane,” says Joan. “If she’s anything like the other women in our family, she’s as stubborn as a rock, and if she takes after her father, you’re in real trouble if you get on her bad side.”
Hours pass in the dark with no sign of anyone. Old Joan has fallen asleep, judging by the snores coming from her direction. At least it gives Rane and I a chance to talk, though there are things between us that I don’t know how to fix.
“Why, Rane? Why didn’t you tell me the truth?”
“I don’t have all the answers, Ginger. It’s not easy to balance being someone’s doctor and their…boyfriend at the same time. That’s why there are rules about doctors treating patients that they have close relationships with. I’m not even a full-fledged doctor yet, so my experience is limited. As for being someone’s boyfriend, I have zero experience there. This is all new to me. I did what I thought was best, as a doctor. I didn’t know what else to do.”
“You could have told me the truth and trusted that I could handle it.”
“Yeah, I know that now, but at the time I did what I could. Everyone expects me to know all of the answers, but I don’t. I’m not that much older than you and I have never dealt with anything remotely like this before. One day I’m walking along with not a care in the world except finishing my training and what I am going to eat for dinner and suddenly a half-dead girl drops into my arms, one who is being chased by The Society and has been impregnated against her will by The Society’s leader. Then I find out her parents have been murdered by The Society and my commanding officer is in league with them and is kidnapping children and wants to do the same to you. On top of all that I’ve fallen in love with you. I wouldn’t trade this for the world, but it’s all a little overwhelming and completely out of my comfort zone. I’m not perfect. I made a mistake and I will probably make more, but I didn’t do it out of malice. I was just dealing with things the best I knew how.”
Rane’s right. I have expected him to know what to do and to have all the answers. Maybe that wasn’t fair.
“Darlin’, what are you apologizing for? I’m the one who screwed up here.”
“I’m sorry for being unfair and expecting you to know all the answers and I’m sorry for running off without giving you a chance to explain. If I had stayed and listened instead of running away, we wouldn’t be here right now.”
“Does this mean your forgive me?”
“How about we agree that you will not keep secrets from me, no matter what, and I will stop running away from things instead of talking about them? We’ll start with that. Deal?”
I put my hand through the bars to lay it on his chest, but instead of the warm, firm flesh I was expecting, my hand finds a sodden wet, bloody mess.
“I thought you said no more secrets! Why didn’t you tell me about this?” I exclaim, grabbing his hand and placing it on his bloody shirt.
“Darlin’, everything hurts. I didn’t notice.”
“How bad is it?”
“Well, if I didn’t feel it and there’s this much blood, likely pretty bad.”
I rip off another big strip from my shirt and hand it to him. At this rate I am going to be naked soon.
“Put that on the wound. I can’t see anything in the dark. I need you to check yourself and see if there is anything else that needs tending to,” I demand, more afraid than angry. If Rane’s hurt, then we need to get out of here sooner rather than later so he can get help, though I have no idea where that help will come from or how I am going to get an injured Rane, Joan, hopefully Dr. Anders, and myself out of here. The need to escape is making me feel like a caged animal and I swallow hard to fight back the urge to start screaming. I have to focus on my plan and pray that it works. It’s not long before I get a chance to find out.