Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Strangest Things...

The strangest things really do come out of my head!

I think my fellow Authors will back me here, but we all have them, don't we?  We all have ideas, what if's that tumble around our brains from time to time.

The question becomes what do we do with them!

Do we write them?  Do we let them languish on our virtual shelves indefinately?  Do we start them, get a couple of chapters in and stop when we get stuck?

Or, do we get them and then write them to completion?

It varies for all of us I know.  All of us are different, so I thought I'd give you some insight from my end.

As I've said before, I'm not a plotter.  I hate plotting if you must know!  With a passion!  I've found, over the 20 + years I've been writing, that plotting - to me - is writing the story.  Once I lay it out, in "Reader's Digest" version if you will, then it's written and I don't have the desire to actually write it anymore.  I've told the story, seen the beginning, the pain of my H's, and the Happily-Ever-After ending.  So, why do I need to painstakingly put it down word for word after that!

Now, don't get me wrong, I do plot somewhat.  But, it's the background, the world in which I'm telling the story.  I do that, more for myself, so I can keep the details straight as I write.  Time, places, things that we might, in the real world take for granted, but in a fantasy one you the reader would have no idea what I'm talking about.  In other words, you have no clue what the Planet Fellar looks like until I tell you what it looks like, right?


So, from that standpoint, I have notebooks upon notebooks of stuff, planets, maps, hand-drawn ships and so on.  That's mostly for my Sci-Fi series though.  In my other works, such lengths may and/or may not be necessary.

Another case in point is, Prophecy of Love, the work I just contracted.  It's set in and around Atlanta, GA, the Appalachian mountains of NC and eventually Ireland and Scotland.  Readers, in general, already know these places, so I don't have to go into a lot of details, beyond what you would see in the immediate area.

Now, today, because I'm in waiting mode for the edits/revisions to be done to Prophecy, I decided to search my virtual shelves for something else to work on.  I thought, initially, maybe Keegan or one of the other Santa Men might be talkative, but I wasn't feelin' it today.

Then I thought maybe one of the Spi-Corp's might be up for some love.  But again, no one was really feeling all that talkative.  I'm guessing they're all off doing something fun, or adventerous, or well, sexy and don't want my prying eyes watching! 

It is a sort of lazy Sunday after all, so I can't hold it against them for wanting some private time.

Anyway, I searched through my shelves (read: Word Folders) for something, anything to write.  I could find nothing, at first, but eventually I landed on this little gem.  I have no idea when I started this, or what prompted the idea, but after reading the first five or six pages I'd written, I decided maybe this could hold my attention for a while.

So, here it is, another of those Strange Things that can and often does come out of the ether that is my brain...



     “I like you.”
     It was a statement of fact and Byron Dane watched the woman smile slightly.
    “Only because my fiancée is paying you too,” she rebutted softly.  She cushioned her chin on her folded arms against the side of the pool, long legs kicking gently under the surface of the crystal blue water.  She shrugged a bit and the water sluiced off her deeply tanned shoulders.  “No other reason.”
     He opened his mouth but she turned and swam away.  He leaned forward, hands curling into the concrete surrounding the water and watched her go.  She had the right of it, at least partially.  Two weeks ago he wouldn’t have argued with her but today, well it was different now.  When had it changed?  He couldn’t be sure but as he watched her lithe body cut through the chlorinated blue water, he knew it had. 
     When had this job gotten so complicated?
     It was supposed to be simple, a couple of days, in and out.  But then he’d met the target and everything had changed.  He sighed again, hanging his head.  He couldn’t do it, he couldn’t kill her, no matter how much her fiancée was paying him! 
     He lifted his head, eyes following her long arm as it came out of the water.  It curled over her shoulder and dipped back in.  It cut through it like she was cutting through to his soul. 
     Why did she have to be so sweet?  So kind?  So caring?
     She was supposed to be a bitch!  A ruthless, money-hungry slut, according to the fiancée.  But she wasn’t!  She wasn’t some spoiled little rich girl, some brat that always had to have her way.  She was the farthest thing from it…
     She flipped over at the far end of the pool and started back, long legs churning as she sprinted in his direction.
    He turned to the waiter, taking the phone held in his direction. 
   “What?” he barked.
   “Have you changed your mind?” a male’s voice asked.
    Her fiancée!  Dammit!  “No,” he said coldly.  There was silence and he added, “The opportunity has yet to present itself.”
    The line went dead and he knew without a doubt he’d have to do this soon, if he was going to do it at all.  He set the phone aside and waited for the woman to finish her lap.  She pushed herself out of the water, breathing hard and headed for the lounge chairs.  She wrapped a towel around her chest, tucking one end over the other and raised an eyebrow at him.
    “Well?” she asked.  “You done?”
    Damn her, why did she have to be so considerate?  He stood, nodding, not trusting himself to speak.  He couldn’t, not now.  She was a job, damn her!  He should follow her back to her room, shut the door and just do it!  Put a bullet right between her eyes but he couldn’t and not because he did indeed like her.  No, now he couldn’t do it because too many people at the resort had seen them together.  Her death would bring headlines, lots of headlines despite their out of country location. 
    He’d just have to wait…

Chapter One

Tara Anderson turned from the pool and headed back into the hotel, hugging the towel protectively around her body.  It wasn’t because she was all that modest.  Not really anyway, but more out of fear.  She tucked her shaking hands under her arms.  For a moment she was truly worried that today was the day, the day her fiancée’s hit man would fulfill his contract!  She was thankful, confused but thankful he hadn’t chosen to drown her.
            How would it happen?  Would he shoot her?  That’s what she’d thought at first but as the days past, she wasn’t so sure.  She knew her fiancée’s family hated her but to hire a hit man?  Granted they were old money, much older than her own wealth and had gotten away with many things over the generations but to kill her?  She couldn’t see the rhyme or reason behind it.  There was no denying though that they had indeed hired a man to take care of the problem as they put it. 
            “Where shall we go for dinner?” she asked, punching the button for the elevator.
            “I don’t care,” Dane replied, sounding surly.
             She turned and looked at him.  Damn he was gorgeous!  She cut her eyes back and studied him instead in the reflective surface of the elevator doors.  He was tall, about 6’3” with silver-grey eyes and deep black hair that just touched his shoulders.  A day’s worth of stubble colored his jaw and she ducked her face so he wouldn’t see her smile.  His chest was thickly muscled as were his legs and the swim trunks he wore left very little to the imagination. 
             It’d been two weeks since he’d taken the position as her bodyguard; two, long, miserable weeks of wanting to touch him, of wanting to sooth the troubled look that constantly invaded his expressive eyes.  Two long, miserable weeks of waiting for him to come at her, which didn’t help the attraction factor one bit! 
             Her fiancée had said his presence was for her protection while she was in Dubai on business.  But her fiancées secretary, Janice, had warned her something wasn’t right.  She’d been the one to find Byron Dane, the one to vet his personnel file.  Former Blackwell Security with two tours in Afghanistan, one in Iraq and six years in the Navy Seals prior to that, was more than sufficient to bring him to the top of a very short list.
             She still wasn’t sure what had triggered Janice’s suspicions to her employer’s ulterior motives, but she was glad the woman had thought to give her a warning.  Maybe it was the very brief telephone meeting between Samuel, her fiancée and Dane.  Maybe it was the very large sum of money Janice had been ordered to transfer after said phone call.  Or maybe it was Janice’s long employment, her knowledge of how Samuel truly operated that gave her enough pause to secretly call her the night before she met Dane for the first time…
             Either way, she was happy she was ready. 
             The doors opened and he solicitously held a hand to one side of it, letting her go first.  He followed and pressed the button for their floor.  He stood in front of her, like any bodyguard would, folded his hands together and waited with stiff shoulders.  The tension rolled off him, permeating the air like a living creature.
             If she said something, if she gave a hint that she knew what he was, why he was here, would he follow through?  She didn’t know and that scared her more than anything else.  Over the last fourteen days, she’d tried to get a read on him, tried, in vain to figure him out. 
            Why was he doing this?  The obvious answer was the money.  Half-a-million dollars was a large sum, even today.  
            But she’d seen sides of him so far, that said there was more here than met the eye.
            The smallest example was just moments ago, when he held the door for the elevator.
            There was the fact that every time she sat down, he held the chair out for her. 
            When they’d gone shopping the day before, he patiently carried her bags, waited without compliant while she tried on the clothing she needed.  Of course, she’d only tried on one thing, had only shopped at two stores – a dress boutique and a shoe store – to buy the necessary evening apparel for an impromptu invitation to a dinner party. 
            And then there was the way he looked at her too, like he was trying to find something, anything that would lend to the imagine her fiancée had no doubt painted of her.
            Samuel Jamison Thornton IV was a bastard and why oh why she’d ever agreed to marry him was beyond her at the moment.  But she had, and now she was stuck with the consequences.
            The softly spoken word from Dane brought her eyes up to his in the mirrored surface of the elevator doors.  She titled her head curiously.  “Why what?”
           “Why are you marrying Thornton?”
            Had he read her thoughts?  Obviously so.  Of course, she’d always been told she had an expressive face but she thought she’d tempered that lately.  Apparently not.  Deciding diplomacy was probably the best answer, she spoke, hoping her voice sounded somewhat neutral.  “It’s a business deal.”
            He didn’t respond.  She wanted to counter his question with a ‘why?’ of her own, but didn’t dare.  Not here, not yet anyway.  When she did ask, she wanted to have a gun in hand, just in case he decided to follow through with his end of the deal.
            The elevator dinged and opened on their floor.  She turned right and headed for the suite of rooms.  Dane was close behind, never more than a step away, just like a real bodyguard.  She took a steadying breath and stopped short of the door.  “You never did give me a suggestion for dinner,” she prompted.
            “I don’t care,” he said again, still sounding surly.
            “Fine, let’s order in then.”
             The clipped reply gave her a moment’s pause but she stamped it back and opened the door…

             They ate in stiff silence.  No conversation, no laughter, not even the small-talk he’d managed at other meals.  She couldn’t stand it.  The tension was still evident in the rigidity of his wide shoulders.  She wanted to reach across the small, intimate table and touch him.  Wanted to splay her hands across the wide expanse of his chest, wanted to lay her ear over his heart and listen to it beat, wanted to…
             “Stop that,” he growled softly.
             She blinked herself out of the fantasy.  “Stop what?”
             “Looking at me like you’re having sex with me right now…”
             She smiled crookedly.  “And if I was? Does it make it harder for you?”
             He coughed on the innuendo then dropped his fork to the plate with a clash.  Slamming his napkin on the table, he rose and paced away to the window.  He stood there for a long while, shoulders set.  He clasped his hands in the small of his back and finally spoke without turning.  “Then you know?”
             She caught his gaze in the window and nodded slowly, gulping down her nervousness.  “I know a lot of things Dane, but if you’re referring to the real reason you’re here, then yes, I know.”
             His shoulders slumped and her heart raced.  Was that resignation?  Or was it resolution on his face now?  She couldn’t tell and waited, air stuck in her lungs for him to say something, anything.
             He turned and took a step toward her.
             She jumped up, moving quickly to put the table between them and cursed at herself for leaving the .357 under the pillow in her bedroom.
             He took another step, holding out his hands.  “No, don’t,” he whispered.
            “Don’t what?  Make it harder for you?”  She took a step, ready to bolt for the bedroom and hope she could get her hands on the gun before his got around her neck.  She brought her eyes up to his, legs pulsing with energy or fear, she wasn’t sure which.  “I won’t go down without a fight Dane.”
             The look in his eyes was torturous, somewhere between agony and self-loathing.  “Stop.”  He drew in a breath and let it out slowly.  “Answer a question,” he finally said.
             She scooped up the knife from her plate, gripping it tightly, ready to defend herself or at the very least give him something to remember her by.  “Ask it.”
            “Why do they want you dead?”
             Boy, was that a loaded one!  She could be diplomatic again or she could be honest.  Staring hard into his eyes, she decided the best option was the truth.  “I don’t know,” she replied.  “I can guess though.”
             His jaw tightened, teeth cracking.  “Then do so.”
             She gripped the handle tighter, blade up and ready, just in case.  “I told you earlier, it’s a business deal,” she explained.  She took a steadying breath.  “The Thornton’s are old money, as old as they come.  I’m new money,” she said carefully.  “Ten years ago, my father found one of the largest reserves of natural gas on our land in Wyoming.  He sold the drilling rights to Halliburton and made a fortune.  He invested wisely and pulled out right before the crash of 2008.  I still own the land and mineral rights…”
             “And the Thornton’s are Oil and Gas.”
             She nodded slowly.  “When dad died last year, I had several offers but I refused to sell.  I make a nice living off the royalties.”  She shrugged.  It was partially true but more than that, she promised never to sell the land that had been in her family for generations.
             His eyes narrowed, gauging her response apparently.  “There’s more.”
             Again, the truth was her best option.  “That land has been in our family for six generations.  I’m happy to let people drill it, the pocket is in an area that’s not useable for anything else.  But I will not part with one single rock otherwise!”
             He turned back to the window, staring out over the lights of the city far below. 
             What did that mean?  She relaxed her grip on the knife a bit.  Was he going through with it?  Was he weighing the options?  Did he want more money?  What!
             “I’ll double what they’re paying you,” she offered when he said nothing.  “Surely a man like you could disappear on a million dollars…”
              His eyes came to hers in the glass and he shook his head.  “The money isn’t for me,” he said quietly.
              That was a shocker!  "Then why did you take the job if you didn’t need the money Dane?”
              His eyes pinched shut.  “I didn’t say I didn’t need it,” he said in a small voice.  “I do.  My sister does.  Her son,” he paused and opened his eyes.  Catching hers, she saw the tears welling on his lower lids.  “Her son is dying.  He needs a heart.  Half a million will go a long way toward medical expenses…”
             She dropped the knife and moved around the table. 
             Dammit all to hell and back!  He wasn’t doing this because he was a cold hearted son of a bitch.  He wasn’t going to kill her because it was all he knew.  No, he was here because it was the only way he’d seen to make a quick load of cash and the job just happened to fit his particular skill set.
             Stepping up behind him and she gave in to what she’d wanted to do since they’d met.  Wrapping her arms around his waist and she buried her face between his shoulder blades.  Squeezing, she whispered against his back, “I’m sorry Dane.”
             He stiffened, splayed his hands against her stomach then tightened them into the material of her shirt.  “I, I…”  He gulped audibly then turned and pulled her against his chest, burying his face in the crook of her neck.  “Dammit woman!  Why’d you have to be all, all nice!  Why couldn’t you be a bitch!”
             And yet another loaded question.  She could be a bitch, if the time was right and the need was there, but she’d been raised better than that!  Her father had seen that she had a defined sense of right and wrong, bless him, and the least of that was the old motto, do unto others…
             She stepped back out of his arms and pressed a knuckle under his chin to lift his gaze to hers.  Searching his face for a long moment, she knew there were very few options.
             One, she could pay him the million she’d offered.  That would definitely go a lot farther than half toward what he needed.  That solved his problem but not hers.  If she paid him off, watched him walk away with it, Samuel would merely hire someone else.  And the next person might not hesitate to do the job.
             Two, she could turn him in.  He’d all but admitted to being hired to kill her, surely the authorities could get him on conspiracy or something, right?  That solved neither of their problems though.  With him in jail, there was no way for him to help his nephew.  And Samuel would again just hire someone else.
             She could not take the chance that the next one would succeed.
             Well, there really wasn’t a three in this.  Ok, there was.  She could just let him kill her.  That solved his problem but definitely not hers.  Unless…
              A plan formed and she voiced it as quick as she thought of it.
             “Dane, I have a solution.”
             His brow furrowed, deeply and his grey eyes blazed intently.  “No,” he said softly.
             “But you haven’t heard it yet!”
             He took a step back and put his hands on her shoulders, griping tight.  “I won’t kill you.”
             She put a hand over his heart, twisting the material of his polo shirt into her fist.  “You don’t have too.  There’s another solution.”
             His frown deepened and his eyes narrowed into small slits.  “What.”
             “Marry me.”


Now, whether or how far I get with this and what I ultimately do with it, is up in the air, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Just to show you, the I come up with the weirdest introductions for my beloved Hero and Heroine sometimes...I really do!

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Until next time,

Margaret Taylor

Friday, February 22, 2013

News From the Front...

So, I have news, just like the title said...

Remember the Pitch Day Contest?

I do. 

Not 10 minutes ago, I got the following email from the lovely, wonderful, totally awesome Piper Denna of Lyrical Press regarding my work, Prophecy of Love.

Hi Margaret,

I have news...

Since I'm sooo swamped with requested material to read, and since I am honestly not much of an expert on paranormal romance, I did share your submission. One of my fabulous junior editors, Paige Christian, has asked that we contract the book so she can work on it.

I've requested a contract be sent to you...
Have a great weekend!

Is she kidding?  Of course I'm gonna have a great weekend!  Now!
Oh, comes the hard part though, right?  *hangs head*  The answer to that question is going to be a resounding YES! 
For the next however long it's going to take, I'm going to be hip dip in edits, edits, and more edits!  Oy Vey!  Here we go...
I'm sure Paige is wonderful but I hate the "red pen", I really do.  I know it's a necessary evil, I do.  I'm not perfect, I admit that.  Even the best sellers of us have editors to tear apart the work we put our blood, sweat and tears into...but, but, but...*whimper, sob*
It's the red pen...*cringes*
So, Paige, if you're reading this, gentle...*whimper*  I promise I'll be good!  I'll bake you cookies...and pasta...and meatballs...and...and...
Ok, I know, I know, bribery, flattery and food will only get you so far, but it's worth a shot, right?
Anyway, all kidding aside, I'm shaking here.  So excited!  Even though I know the release is months away and I'll be pulling my hair out long before it's said and done, I'm going to take just a few moments and celebrate...
With a cookie!
Until then,
Thanks as always for stopping by.

Margaret Taylor


Friday, February 15, 2013

Where the Wild Things Went...

Ok, sort of a borrowed title with a twist eh?

Anyway, it's fitting for today's blog.  And I'm sorry blogettes that I've been a bit lack luster this week in posting, but *stomps foot and points finger in the air...*  I have my reasons!

So, remember me talking about the Pitch Contest back on Feb 7th?

I bet you do...*waggles a finger*

Well, two days ago, I got the following email from the wonderful Ms. Piper Denna as a result to the partial I had sent her:

Hi Margaret,

I read your partial and think I like where the story is going. You do a nice job showing the romantic tension, and so far the writing is fairly clean.

I'd like to see the full manuscript, if you can send it my way.



Now, my first reaction was to jump from my chair, do a looong snoopy dance around my kitchen and giggle outrageously for a good 10 minutes.

After that, however, reality set in and I went back and re-read the email.

The one thing that caught my eye:  "Fairly clean".


Fairly clean!?!?!?!?!  Oh noes!

By the by, that's editorese for, "Ok, I like your style, but there's spots that need work!"

Furiously, I pulled up the full and spent the next 5 hours deeply embedded in making it go from "fairly clean" to, Oh that's so much better! in editorese.  Which for those of you that don't know, the translation would - hopefully will be - "Hey, I like this, would you consider publishing with us?"

By the time I looked up again it was almost 1:30am!

Now, normally this wouldn't be so bad, however, I had to work the next day *and* be in the office - yes, yes, I work at home most days, it's a perk, I know - *and* cover for my boss while she had some errands to run in the AM.

On top of all of that, it was the holiday us single people dread most in the world, V-Day.  Now, granted the office was quiet and I got a lot accomplished, but still!  Doing all that on 3 hrs worth of sleep made Margaret a grumpy girl!  Couple that with the nervousness of having to finish the run-through when I got home *and* the nervousness of even sending the whole thing her way and by the time I was done, I was/still am a wreck!

Today is better though.  I got some sleep last night - always a good thing - got up this AM, finished my work at home relatively early and now I'm ready for a three day weekend of writing, writing, and more writing. 


I'm still nervous about Ms. Denna though.  Will she like it?  Will she not?  Did I write it well enough?  Did I not?

I won't know for awhile I'm sure.  It is a little over 90k after the edits I did on the final run through, so it's gonna take her some time to get it read.  The fact though that she responded as quickly as she did, gives me hope.

I'll let you know as soon as I do.

In the meantime, I joined a fun activity today called the Liebster Award Blog.  Stay tuned for details sometime Sunday or Monday!

Until then,

Thanks for stopping by as always!

Margaret Taylor

Thursday, February 7, 2013

So for today...

I'm going to talk about one of the things, we as Authors, fear the most...

That dreaded, internal Editor!

The other day, I came home from the "day job" and found, much to my surprise a "Pitch Contest" going over on Word Wranglers.  Now, for those of you that don't know, this is one of those rare occassions where us Authors get a chance to catch the attention of an aquiring editor...but with only three lines!

In this case, a wonderful lady by the name of Piper Denna (Twitter: @PiperDenna - - Facebook: PiperDenna), the Executive Editor for Lyrical Press ( was taking pitches for completed works.

This was mine:

Hello Piper,

Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Title: Prophecy of Love
by Margaret Taylor
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 125,000

Marla Cortside, is a Paganite living in Atlanta, GA, 37 years after The Great Awakening. She has devoted her life to the fight between good and evil, vowing to keep the balance equal in all things.

That is, until she meets sexy Atlanta Police Detective Austin Tygris and his twin Brother Max. The brothers are part of a long standing Prophecy to the Paganites. According to a legend passed down for nearly 2,000 years, one of the Twins is good and one is evil and it will be up to Marla and her love for both men to decide who lives and who dies.

And her reaction:

Hi Adian,

This sounds really good. However, Lyrical Press only publishes books up to 100k in length. Confident as I am at being able to trim 6 or 8,000 words, I'm not sure I could do 25k, which would basically be 1/5 of your book. If you have a plan for doing so, you're welcome to send me a partial and synopsis. If you can't, sorry!

So, after a *let's bang the head on the desk blonde moment* I went and checked the MS and found...*gasp, shock, horror* the completed work is actually 97k, not the 125k I wrote above.

Now, in my defense, I'd pulled the three lines for the pitch from a cover letter I'd written way back when.  I wrote it before the book was finished and/edited - more because it was already written and sounds really good - and didn't bother to open the bloody thing and get an accurate word count!

**Word to the wise:  When pitching...LOOK!  Check your word count ladies and gents because let me tell ya, I felt like a heel for sure!  Or an idiot, whatever you want to call it.**

Anyway, after an apology and a correction to the word count, Ms. Piper said, "Sure, send it on!"

So, now, after a little jump from the chair and a happy snoopy dance around the room, I sat back down, cleaned up five chapters and wrote a synopsis. 

THIS, is not as easy as it sounds either!

As an Author, one of the things we fear - or hate, depending - is trying to condense 97,000 words down to a few pages!  It's's's tedious...and, well...

I got it done, so that's all the matters.  I composed the email, with the synopsis *shudders* and the chapters as requested and off it went.

Bare in mind, it was only a request for a partial.  In our business, this generally means the editor is intrigued, maybe a bit more and wants to see my style, my ability, my voice.  If she's interested further, then yes, I might get a request for the whole thing.

That's my hope, though I'm sure against the other wonderful pitches presented, mine is rather boring.  But, I'm gonna try and stay positive over here!  Not something easily done though.  As my sister said, as writers, we are our own worst critics!

Anyway, for a couple of hours after that, I worked feverishly on it, cleaning up the little things where I can and just giving it a run through.  It's pretty clean though but I'll be honest, the last time I'd looked at it was sometime in 2012.  So, after playing around with the first five, I dove back into it, self-editor hat in place, and went to work!

Four hours later, I look up and realize it's almost bed time for Bonzo!  I made a note of where I stopped and shut it down. 

However, I found myself editing and editing and cutting and chopping and...well, you get the idea!  Considering I hadn't looked at the thing in a while, I thought I did pretty good with it.  I even had several of those moments where I said to myself, "Hey, you know what, I'm not so bad at this writing thing!"

Now, fast forward to today.  No word yet from Ms. Piper, but not that I expected any.  She did send a response email saying she'd gotten it and it was in her Que to be read.  YAY ME!  I'm still a bundle of nerves though.

I'm trying, really trying not to be and to that end, I pulled up something new today to work on after I got home.  It's the second book in a series - yes, I know, I write a LOT of them so there - but I truly can not help myself.  I tend to introduce characters in one book and find I want to tell their story too!

Anyway, this series is my take on the Mythos of good old St. Nick.  Yes, I said it, I believe in Santa Claus!  Sue me!  I've already written Book 1, lovingly entitled, I Saw Momma Shoot Santa ClausAnd yes, it's a paranormal/comedy/romance that takes place in present time.

In Book 1 you meet Slade McKinney, ex-Chicago PD, turned Children's Author.  She lives in Wyoming with her son Jesse.  She doesn't remotely believe in Santa Claus but lets her ailing son have Christmas.  Jesse has been through Lukiemia, nearly died and is firmly grounded in reality.  However, once a year, she allows him to have the fantasy.

What she doesn't know, is the fantasy is real.  Very real and it's called The Legacy.

I won't go into the details, you'll have to buy the book for that - when it comes out - but needless to say you meet the four brothers who perpetuate the myth one month out of the year, Chris, Lucas, Farrell and Keegan.  I decided, after I'd met them myself, to turn this into four books instead of just one.  I wanted my readers to meet the brothers too!

So, tonight, I pulled out Book 2, which is Keegan's story.  I started pounding away, clickey clack and got to a point where I needed info from book 1.  I pulled that up...and low and behold, here comes the editor again.  I realized, as I scanned the pages looking for the tidbit I needed, that, wait, no, that could be trimmed...I can cut that out...wait, wait, she would snort, not laugh here...


An hour later, still not finding what I want, I gave up on it and found I'd had another blond moment - two in two days is a record for me, thank you very much - and pulled up the background sheet I'd written instead.  Thankfully, that gave me what I needed and I was able to get back to Book 2.

My point is though, we, as Authors, do this sort of thing all the time!  We get going on one thing, something interrupts and we go off on another.  It's a curse I tell you, a curse!  And a blessing, if you must know.

It's so easy to forget that.  It's so easy for us to get wrapped up in our current Work-In-Progress that we lose sight of things that have come before.  We forget the struggles we've had, the progress we've made, the long, long hours of editing and cutting and cropping to make things fit just so.  Until...we're reminded of it by something like this!

Anyway, so now my weekend is going to be full!  Keegan is yelling the loudest at the moment, so I fully intend to keep going with him.  But, to give you a tidbit of it, here's the opening chapter.

I hope you enjoy it...


Chapter One

“You know this is against protocol…”
Keegan St. Nick smiled tightly.  “I know.”  He hefted the large red sack across his shoulder and winked.  “But, I also know you won’t tell on me.”
Germaine the Reindeer narrowed his eyes and pawed a hoof through the twigs and leaves on the ground.  “Are you so sure about that?”
He walked forward, settling the bag more comfortably as he went.  “Of course I am.”  He patted the animal’s haunches.  “You never do.”
Germaine snorted a second time, jiggling the bells of his harness with annoyance.  “Well, we’ll see about that…”
Despite himself, Keegan chuckled.  It was the same argument they had every year.  He shook his head, dug a carrot from his pocket and held it out for his long time friend on the palm of his hand.  It was hot here, in Venezuela and he’d long since shucked off the gloves he normally wore.  He couldn’t do anything about the suit, but it was light and airy having been tailored for his section of the world. 
Germaine harrumphed, but took the carrot and munched on it.  “If you think,” he said around it.  “A measly carrot will appease me Mister…”
He shrugged and gave the animal a scratch under the harness on its face.
Germaine sighed happily.  “Ok, well, a carrot and a scratch…might…”
He moved off toward the small, ramshackle village in the distance.  It wasn’t much too look at.  A few pieced together huts in all reality, but he didn’t see that.  Instead, he saw the glow of belief that surrounded it.  It was a bright yellow, like the Sun and he smiled despite his weariness.
The people in this region were poor, dirt poor, eeking out an existence any way they could.  Some planted food and sold it upriver; others, made things out of the surrounding fauna, selling their wares with the harvest.  And yet more, like the village ahead, had been forced into the service of the local drug cartels. 
He could smell the Coca plants in the distance, knew they’d be ripe for harvest soon.  If this was the off-season, he might be tempted to burn them to the ground.  But it wasn’t the off-season. 
It was Christmas Eve.
He wasn’t here tonight as the former Marine Special Forces, now owner of Garlan Security.  He wasn’t here to put a stop to drug traffickers. 
He was here to deliver toys to all the Good Little Girls and Boys.
He was here…as Pai Natal. 

Ten minutes later, he’d made the round of the village.  Each small, square hut had received a bright, shiny stocking for every occupant.  Heading for the food stores at the end of a mud covered path, a sound stopped him dead in his tracks.
A weak rattle of chain was followed by a pain filled voice.  “He-help, me…”
He turned tilting his head toward the shadowed figure of…well he couldn’t really tell what it was.
The chain rattled softly again as a hand lifted, fingers curling weakly in his direction.  “Pa-Pa-please, he-help, me.”
He knew the types of things the cartels did; knew all too well the sorts of punishments that could be meted out.  But when he took two steps toward the shadow, even he was surprised.
In his life, he’d seen his share of nastiness.  He’d been in Iraq during the first occupation, had been to Guatemala, Panama, Afghanistan, just about every hell-hole this planet could offer.  He’d seen and heard about his share of tortures. 
But this?  This was beyond madness…
The bag dropped from his fingers and he knelt in the mud.  On the ground, staked spread-eagle, was a woman.  Her naked chest heaved into the air, struggling to draw breath under the thick, heavy block of wood that rested on it.  It too had been staked to the ground, resisting her every breath.  She was covered, from head to toe, with bleeding welts.  Her lips were split, the blood spilling down her chin and he could just make out the wealth of blisters that covered every inch of her.
She’d been here two, maybe three days and was suffering from deep sunburn, dehydration and goodness knew what else.  He couldn’t tell much more about her, until she spoke again, her voice choked with tears and pain.
“Pl-please, he-help, me…”
Spurred into action, he jerked the stakes from the ground, anger rippling off him in waves.  Tossing the block of wood aside, he looked at her chained wrists and ankles.  He didn’t have the key.  He didn’t care.  Using some of his own personal magic, he popped the locks.  The shackles fell away with a slurping sound that turned his stomach.
He touched her forehead, nearly jerking back from the heat of her fever.  “I’m sorry, this is going to hurt…”
As gently as he could, he wormed an arm under her shoulders and one under her legs.  To her credit, she only let out a small whimper when he curled her into his arms.  Whomever she was, whatever she’d done, she didn’t deserve this.  No one did.
He scooped up his bag again then stood, heading back for the sleigh.  He’d drop her off in San Fernando, leave her in the care of the local doctors and be home before breakfast. 
“What the hell is that?” Germaine said as he approached.
He frowned.  “Language.”
The Reindeer snorted, pawing at the ground.  “Fine, but what is it?”
“It, is a woman.  A badly injured woman.”  He eased up onto the front seat, keeping her tucked into the protective circle of his arms when he sat.  “Now go already.”
San Fernando…”
With a jingle, Germaine took two running leaps and bounded into the air, dragging the rest of the team along.  Normally he would have called out his customary goodbye, but tonight, it just wasn’t going to happen.  Not after this.  Instead, he kept his eye focused on the girl, watching each jerking lift of her chest. 
When they were high above the jungle, he carefully reached out and touched the rail in front of him.  A soft glow pulsed to life and he got his second surprise of the evening. 
The girl’s bright red hair, dirty though it was, all but glowed in the light.  Her head lolled across his forearm and the glow illuminated a decidedly American face.  She was not a native, not by any stretch of the imagination if the white pallor of the skin under the blood and dirt was an indication.
She let out a jerking sigh, voice barely audible above the rush of wind around them.  “I-I kne, knew you’d, come…I knew, you’d save me Pai Natal…”
He gulped.  No wonder she’d called out to him back in the village.  She’d been able to see him.  But who was she and why was she staked to the ground being tortured?  More over, how had she been able to see him? 
Was she a Finnagin? 
He narrowed his good eye and gave her a long once over.  She didn’t show the classic signs of that blood line, but one could never tell.  Just look at Lillian Bryne.  At first glance, they’d all taken her story of heritage at face value.  It wasn’t until she tried to kill Slade McKinney, his brother’s wife, that they found out she was in anyway related to the Curse.
No, it was better to be safe than sorry.  “Change of plans,” he called out to the team.  “Take us home.”

“Not again…” 
Officer Kent bent his head, pinching the bridge of his nose.  He opened his mouth, to call for the doctor, but Keegan beat him too it.
The bellow echoed across the silence of the early morning.  Lights flickered to life in the nearby homes.  Street lights pulsed a bit brighter.  The front doors to the three story clinic pushed outwards and three paramedics descended the stairs.  As they had two years ago, they rushed toward the sleigh, but he met them halfway.
They took one look at him, one look at the woman he held and jerked into action.  “Careful, careful,” he ordered.  “She’s badly wounded.”
“We can see that Sir,” the one carrying the bag commented dryly.  He nodded toward the stretcher the other two held.  “Now, let us work.”
Setting her on the fabric, he was leaning back to give them room, when she curled a hand into his coat.  She whimpered, almost child-like and his heart nearly broke in two…

He wasn’t one for, well for much of anything really.  Eleven months of the year, he worked like a dog to keep the world safe.  Ok, maybe not the world, but his clients at least.  And the other month, he returned here to Polen, returned to the Legacy of his blood-line.  And he was happy to do it.  He may not show it, all the time, but he did enjoy perpetuating the myth of Santa Claus.
Until tonight…
He paced across the waiting room outside of the surgical area, glancing now and again at the double doors.  Hadn’t they just done this two years ago?  He sighed and scrubbed a hand across the back of his neck.
“Are you alright?”
Great!  Mom.  He turned toward the older woman, smiling.  “I’m fine mother.  I was not injured.”
The Matriarch of the St. Nick’s frowned, deeply, narrowing crystal clear blue-green eyes up at him.  She tapped a foot on the linoleum and crossed her arms over her chest.  “Then what in the world is going on?  The village is a buzz…”
He took her hand, led her over to one of the chairs, sat and related the events of the evening in short, clipped sentences.  “So, after her confession, I brought her here.”
Miriam St. Nick sighed softly and shook her head.  “You realize you’ll have to answer to the Council for breaking protocol.”
He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and fisted his hands under his chin.  “I know.”  He looked toward the doors again.  “But if I saved that woman’s life, it was worth it.”
“Do you know who she is?”
He shook his head.  “She was quite naked when I found her, so no identification.  But I can guess…”
Miriam’s hand touched his back.  “Go on Keegan.”
He let the air out of his lungs in a rush and closed his eyes against the memory of her condition.  “She’s American mother.  I can guess, or assume, she’s probably the daughter of some diplomat or businessman.”  He opened his eyes again, staring at the wall across from where they sat.  “Most likely scenario is that she was kidnapped, then for whatever reason sold to the Cartels.”
The hand on his back clenched a bit.  “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“Yeah.”  He couldn’t say more, the words choked against the lump in his throat.  His mother, Gods bless her, gave him a moment before asking anything else.
“What do you plan to do about it?”
He turned enough to see her with his good eye, smiling tightly.  “Right now?  Or after January 6th?”
He looked away.  His mother was a gentle soul, not used to the outside world as she remained in Polen most of the year.  She didn’t know what really went on.  Well, she probably did, they had satellite after all, but she didn’t talk about it.  And that was fine with him.  He liked to think his mother was not touched by the depravities of this world.  She was just too good of a person.
“Right now,” he answered.  “I’m just going to sit here.  Once we hear from the doctor, then I’ll decide that issue.  After January 6th, come hell or high water, I will kill them all…”
“Keegan McLaughlin St. Nick, you will do no such thing!” 
He chuckled dryly, turning again to pin her with his good eye.  “You did not see her mother,” he ground out.  “No one deserves what they did to her.  No one.  Now, let it be.”
Miriam took in a long breath and let it out slowly, leaning over to stare him right in the eye.  “Keegan, my boy,” she said, ruffling his long hair.  “You have a good heart.  You intentions are pure, but you know I can not let you commit violence like this.”
He pressed his lips into a thin line.  “And you know Mother, it’s what I do.  Now, let it be.  We’ll deal with it when the time comes.  For now, let’s just worry about whether she lives or dies.”
“Was it that bad?”
He gulped, hard.  “It was worse…”
“Oh my god!  Keegan!  Are you alright?”
He looked up at the speaker and nodded.  “I’m fine Slade, but thank you for asking.”
Slade St. Nick strode across the waiting area, golden brown eyes blazing intently with worry.  “Then what in the hell is going on?”  Miriam shot her a look for the language and his sister-in-law cringed.  “Sorry mother,” she said carefully.  She turned to him again.  “Arlen told me you came back early, with a woman?”
He nodded.  Quickly, as with his mother, he related the events to his sister-in-law.  The cop in her took over.  She pulled a pad out of her back pocket, flipped it open and took notes as he spoke. 
“No idea who she is?” she asked first, pen poised for his answer.
“No.  I can guess though…”  He related the same speculations to her and she scribbled away.  Since marrying his brother, Chris, she’d taken it upon herself to be the new sheriff in town; at least from December 1st to January 6th.  Like the rest of them, she left the day after Twelfth Night and returned south.  There, she’d taken over as head of security for Chris’ toy business, Ni-King Toys.  “I would start with neighboring areas.  She hadn’t been in their hands for long…”
“Long enough though?”
He lifted his good eye to her, letting her see exactly what he thought.  She was a former Chicago Police Detective and caught the meaning in his glance.  She nodded once, a crisp jerk of her head.
“Can you tell me what she looks like?”
“Tall, around 5’9”, about 175 with red hair,” he said slowly.  “I couldn’t see her eyes though, it was too dark, nor could I see any visible marks because of…”  He paused to suck in a hard breath.
“Yeah, got that.”  She turned toward the double doors.  “Any word yet?”
“No.”  He glanced at the clock.  It was pushing 10am and they’d been in there for a good 6 hours already.  Which could be good…
He refused to think it was bad. 
She snapped the notebook closed, tucking it away.  “Let me know when she’s awake.  Otherwise I’ll get started trying to track down her family.  If she was kidnapped, there might be something on the local wires or from the US Embassy.  I’ll check with Farrell too, see if Homeland Security has anything.”
He smiled up at her.  “Thanks.  Check with Johnson too.  See if Garlan has been contacted for help with the ransom.  If not, tell him I said to put his ear to the ground.” 
It was a long shot but sometimes long shots paid off.  His company wasn’t one of the premiere security firms in the world, he knew that, but he had made a name for himself as being discrete and trustworthy.  If they came up empty handed everywhere else, maybe her parents were trying to keep her disappearance low-key and handle it themselves.  If that was the case, they might go looking for a private firm – such as his – to take care of the problem.  And if not his, then Johnson could make some quiet inquiries with the other firms they knew and sometimes worked with.
“Check,” she said official like.  “Anything else?”
“Yeah, I really, really, could use an ice cold beer…”
Sadly, it wasn’t forthcoming.  That was ok, he’d drink it later. 
Slade left, muttering to herself and he smiled softly as he heard her making a list of things to do next.  Yeah, she was definitely part of the family now.  But that was ok too.  Despite their first meeting, in the year since she’d married Chris, he found he actually liked her.
They were almost cut from the same cloth.  Almost.  She, former Chicago PD, and he a former Marine Special Forces turned private security.  The major difference between them, he didn’t feel the moral compunction to adhere to the strictest letter of the law, at least not anymore.  Not that he felt he was completely above it, but he recognized there were times – like now – where his unique brand of thinking, of justice, would come in handy.
He tabled that line of thinking when the doors to the surgery area swung open.  Once again, a very tired looking Dr. Saradhi strode across the waiting room, brown eyes narrowed.  “You know,” he said, waving his sweat soaked surgical cap.  “You St. Nick boys are really going to have stop ruining Christmas for me and mine!”


So, that's it.  My internal editor is in full force but so is the writer.  Finding the balance though is the key.

So, until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!

Margaret Taylor