June 30, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 23

Happy Friday 🙂 A couple of housekeeping announcements, so I’m tucking them under the Read More tag.  There are some notes about Fool Me Twice, how and when everyone gets to read, and some really awesome Patreon news for anyone interested in some free perks. I go into more detail in that section, but all Patreon support goes to into supplementing my paychecks, so I can put away more money during the summer. As a teacher, I don’t get paychecks in July & August. I used to have a part-time job, but I was able to quit it in 2018 due to the year round support 🙂

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This entry is part 23 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

No idea how long this one took. The Supreme Court screwed over the student loan forgiveness program, and I got distracted. And then the Liz/Patrick scene got carried away, so I figured what the hell.

General Hospital: Locker Room

Robin stared blankly at the inside of her locker, at the pair of emergency scrubs she always kept neatly folded at the bottom of her locker, with an extra pair of sneakers in a plastic bag resting on top. On the inside of her locker door, she had taped a few photographs — one with her uncle at high school graduation, one with Stone so she’d never forget the reason she’d become a doctor—

And a photograph of Robin with Maxie and Georgie, the last Christmas before Georgie had graduated high school. Robin had only just moved home and begun working at General Hospital, Maxie hadn’t yet lost Jesse and spiraled out of control, and Georgie—

She hadn’t been back at work since that terrible day, since Mac had come to the hospital, and he’d told her, and the world had stopped spinning for a horrible second, and now it seemed like it was spinning too fast—

Robin carefully lifted the photo from the locker, pulling gently at the tape so that the photo didn’t rip. She touched Georgie’s smile and thought about how she’d never see it again.

She couldn’t quite understand why this was hitting her so badly. She’d lost people before. Her grandmother when she was a child. Duke. Then her parents. She had them back now, but that hadn’t erased the pain.

And of  course, Stone. Beloved, wonderful, forever young Stone. And those years she’d grieved for Brenda—

But somehow Georgie’s death—her murder—it was more jarring. Life-altering. And maybe it was because she’d been young when she’d lost her parents, and the grief felt fuzzy and immaterial after all this time. Stone—she’d had time to prepare. To be used to it. She’d watched him gradually fade away until his death had been a sweet release from the pain of living.

Brenda had been like a sister to her, a best friend. But she’d been older and they’d found their friendship later in life.

Georgie—Robin had known her from birth, had watched her grow and shift from the sweet baby to a thoughtful child to a compassionate young woman—she’d watched Georgie blossom and grow up. She’d been an older sister, and there was some weight in being the eldest. A sense of responsibility.

And while Robin could rationally remind herself that she couldn’t have prevented Georgie’s death, that didn’t mean she couldn’t find a way to blame herself. Her cousin had been receiving strange flowers and hang-ups. But she’d told no one but Chelsea and Spinelli. Mac had been preoccupied with Maxie, whose flair for the dramatic had always commanded more attention—and maybe if Robin hadn’t been so absorbed by the end of her relationship with Patrick—


She broke out of her thoughts slowly, and it took a moment to focus on her friends and roommates as they stood in the aisle of the locker room. “Kelly. Lainey.”

“Hey.” Kelly looked over her shoulder at the photo in Robin’s hand. “That’s a great picture of you guys.”

“Yeah. It is.” Robin put it back on the door her locker, rubbing her thumb firmly over the tape to reapply the stickiness.

“If you need more time, I’m sure Dr. Ford would give it to you.” Lainey wrinkled her nose. “Or Patrick can put you on a case and not use you. That would give you time, too. It’s the least he can do after everything he’s put you through.”

Robin exhaled slowly, pulled her sweater over her head. Dr. Ford, appointed as the Chief of Staff after the death of Alan that winter, had already granted Robin more time than he probably should. Ten days was enough time. Robin needed to get back to work, back to her life. She’d waved goodbye to her parents, to Felicia and Frisco, and now—now it was time.

Then the second part of Lainey’s statement registered and Robin turned to her. “I really wish you’d both lay off Patrick. I told you, there’s no bad guy here. He didn’t cheat on me. He didn’t break my heart—”

“He dated you for over a year knowing damn well you wanted a family—” Kelly snorted, folded her arms. “It’s selfish, of course, but who’d expect anything else from him?”

“Never trust a guy with dimples—”

“Would you rather he married me, had a family with me, and then resented us all in a few years?” Robin shook her head. “And he didn’t know that I wanted kids. I didn’t make that clear to him. When I did—”

“Please. He’s using it as an excuse to run from being an adult—”

Robin slammed the locker door, and Kelly jumped. “Stop it. Just stop. I’m asking you to stop making this harder.”

Lainey frowned. “We’re not making it harder, we’re just saying that you should be able to lean on people you love during this and he deliberately—”

“And this is how you help?” Robin wanted to know. “By being petty about something that didn’t happen to you?” She yanked her hair out from beneath the collar of her scrub top, wound her stethoscope around her neck. “Patrick, by the way, has been amazing through this. He’s checked on me. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to. You could take a lesson or two from him.”

General Hospital: Cafeteria

“That does not look edible,” Patrick said, leaning towards the serving dish that held some sort of brown meat dish. He wrinkled his nose and looked at Elizabeth. “You think it’s dog food?”

Elizabeth rolled her eyes, slid her tray down towards the cash register. She paid for her salad and water, and wasn’t that surprised when Patrick followed her to a table. “You don’t have anyone else to bother today?”

“Nope. Free until surgery later. You sure you don’t want to scrub in? It’s supposed to be a good one.”

“I absolutely do,” Elizabeth said, “but I can’t. Epiphany has me on insurance detail for another week. It’s supposed to discourage me from doing foolish things like coming back a month early from maternity leave.” She jabbed her fork in her salad. “She’s mad at me.”

“Why did you come back? I mean, if you were still at your grandmother’s house, I guess I’d understand. But you’re, uh, living with Jason now, right? So he can’t afford the bills on his own?”

Elizabeth furrowed her brow. “We haven’t talked about it. And it’s not about the bills. I have to take care of my kids. Cameron isn’t Jason’s son. He needs to eat. And he’s growing so fast—” She jerked a shoulder. “And I don’t want anyone to think I left Lucky because Jason has money.”

“Why do you care what anyone thinks? Isn’t that what got you in this mess?”

“Okay, I don’t want the judge in my custody case to think I’m just a gold digger hopping from one baby daddy to another.  I can provide for my kids. I can also be in a healthy, supportive relationship where money isn’t a factor. I’m not on Jason’s accounts—”

“Ha. I bet he put you on them the day you agreed to move in.”

Elizabeth opened her mouth to protest, then closed it because that sounded like something Jason might do and just not mention it. “Okay, well I didn’t ask to be. He can do what he wants with his money. I’m not asking for it.”

“I don’t care what you do. I’m just saying—” Patrick shrugged. He shoved his tray away, folded his arms. “Listen, I have a question. And it’d be nice if you’d just, you know, answer it without thinking about why I’m asking it or that I have ulterior reasons or if I’m thinking about changing my mind, because I’m not. I’m collecting information. Okay? That’s it.”

“Oh, this should be good.” Elizabeth set down her fork. “I love when there’s conditions on questions. Sure. Go for it.”

“Did you always want to have kids?”

Elizabeth blinked because she hadn’t really expected that, though now his preamble to asking it made sense. “Honestly, no. I don’t think I really thought about it much. When I was a teenager, and Lucky and I were dating, I knew we would always  be together the way you do at that age, but the future was, like, this abstract concept. And maybe I thought kids would be part of it. Later, when I thought he was dead, I wished we’d had a kid. Even though we were young. So there’d be a piece of him to love. But if you’re asking me if I ever sat down, and thought I would like to have children and this is the man I want, and then we went ahead and did it, no. I never really thought about kids until I got pregnant.”

“Okay.” Patrick absorbed that. “Follow-up?”

“Go for it.”

“And remember, this—” Patrick mimed making a box around them. “This is a judgment-free zone. So my follow-up is—when you found out you were pregnant—either time—did you ever think this is a terrible idea and I have no business bringing life into this world when I have the emotional capacity of a hamster?”

“That’s oddly specific, and I think you underestimate yourself—” He glared at her, and she sighed. “Patrick, if a parent ever tells you they have it all figured it out, they’re just fucking lying. And there are days when I regret every single moment that led me to being up in the middle of the night changing Jake’s diaper because there are things that come out of a child’s  body that can’t be human—”

“I need you to take this seriously.”

“I am. Yes. Every single time I had a positive pregnancy test, I was pretty sure that this was a terrible mistake, and that I had just made my life more complicated. I had a miscarriage before Cameron,” she said, and he frowned. “About six months before. I had just found out Ric was a terrible lying liar who lies like people breath, and—well, we won’t get into that. I thought I would be a single mother who was working as a waitress and lived in a drafty studio without a bathroom of my own. I considered abortion.”

“You didn’t go through with it.”

“No. I lost the baby a few weeks later. After I’d made the mistake of forgiving and marrying Ric. Later, when I was pregnant with Cameron, and I realized Zander was his father, God, I was so angry with myself.” Elizabeth bit her lip. “Here I was again, in the same situation. I still didn’t have a stable life. I knew that Ric wasn’t trustworthy. Zander’s life was chaos, and I was supposed to bring a life into that situation?” She shook her head. “What business did I have being a mother and being in charge of raising a decent human being when it was clear I could barely take of myself.”

“But you went through with it.”

“I did. And that’s not the right answer for everyone, Patrick. Last year, when I was lying about Jake’s paternity, I doubted myself at every moment. It’s a terrible way to live, and to wonder if you’re doing more harm than good creating life and bringing it into the world. That was my experience a lot of the time I’ve spent pregnant. Because my life is littered with a series of terrible choices, mostly made because I was scared to be alone, so I’d cling to anything or anyone I thought would keep me afloat.”

Patrick nodded, stared at his hands. “So you get it. You understand why I don’t want to take that chance.”

“I do. And I respect you for it. No one should be pressured to be a parent. And as much as what you and Robin are going through hurts—you’re doing the right thing if you honestly don’t want to have kids.” She bit her lip. “Am I allowed to give unsolicited advice?”

“It’s not really unsolicited at this point, is it?” he muttered. “Clearly, my clever ruse hasn’t fooled you.”

“As someone who has made life-altering choices because I was scared of the harder road—if you live your life that way, it’s lonely. And it’s painful. Don’t deny yourself something you might want because you’re afraid of what kind of father you’ll be.”

He sighed, nodded. “That’s fair.” He met her eyes. “What’s it like? Being a parent, I mean.”

“Chaotic joy.” Elizabeth’s lips curved into a smile. “Constant wonder. The fear never goes away. The world is a scary place, and children are fragile. It’s terrifying.” She closed her eyes. “I remember when they gave me Cameron for the first time. He was this wet, slimy mess, and they laid him on my chest—and our eyes met, and I just—” Her voice faltered. “You can’t describe the way your heart and world just expands in that moment. How you can love someone so deeply that didn’t exist five seconds ago. Being a parent, it’s not for everyone, Patrick. But it’s a pretty wild journey that never gets boring.”

PCPD: Squad Room

Lucky checked his inbox for a report from the state lab, and grimaced when it was still showing the DNA results were a few weeks ago. The lab was backed up, and his wasn’t the only murder in New York state.

He leaned back, irritated with the world, and with himself because it certainly wasn’t fair that he had nothing but the slim hope whoever had murdered Georgie and Chelsea had their DNA in the CODIS system.

He set aside the murder file, as much as it pained him, and worked on other open cases, preparing some for warrants, and looking over his notes for court next week — he was due to testify on a robbery—

“There you are!”

He glanced up, found Sam smiling at him as she stood next to his desk. He’d declined her invitation to unload on her a few days ago after he’d learned Lulu planned to testify against him at the custody hearing. While Sam might argue they were on the same side, he knew that wasn’t true.

Lucky wanted his kids. He wanted Jake and he wanted Cameron, and that was the end of it. At the beginning, he’d been interested in revenge, in punishing Elizabeth, but after that day in the park — after standing over Georgie’s broken and bruised body with her roommate only steps away—there was no point in punishing anyone. He just wanted to move on with his life.

Sam had no dog in the fight, only the desire to watch the world burn.

“Did you have something on an open case?” Lucky asked, leaning back in his seat. “Because otherwise, Sam, I’ve made it pretty clear that there’s nothing I can do for you.”

“I thought about what you said at Kelly’s, and you’re right. You’re right,” Sam repeated, dropping into the wooden seat next to his desk. “I was just focused on hurting Jason. You’re a good guy, Lucky. I just keep thinking about how it’s not fair. I can’t get the revenge I want, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help you win.”

“I tried it your way, and I ended up feeling like a scumbag, Sam, so I’m good.”

Sam’s eyes darkened. “I didn’t—”

“I appreciate the offer, I do. And I can almost understand why you want to keep putting the screws to Jason. He humiliated you in court when Diane called you a gold-digging tramp—”

“That wasn’t the words she used,” Sam said, her teeth clenched.

“No, that was the papers. Sorry. You got humiliated there, and now Jason’s moved on and Elizabeth is living with him—”

“And that doesn’t make you angry?” Sam demanded.

“Am I angry that my wife has moved on before our divorce is final?” Lucky sighed. “I am. I am furious that Elizabeth could and has walked away so cleanly like nothing in the last two years mattered to her—”


“And I was willing to do whatever I could to make her pay, to twist her to what I thought I deserved — and maybe it’s not fair that she’s going to probably end up with full custody and a new husband before the end of the year—”

“Damn it—”

“I have a dead girl, Sam. Two dead girls,” he added. “I don’t have the luxury of worrying about getting revenge on my ex-wife.” He gestured to the door. “You wanna waste your life on it, go for it. But I’m moving on. I’m going to plead my case, hope for the best, and then close the door.”

“You know what? You deserve whatever happens to you, you weak son of a bitch,” she bit out, then stormed out.

“Funny, five minutes ago I was the good guy.” Lucky dismissed her and got back to work.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

“Stone Cold—” Spinelli stopped, furrowed his brow. “What are you doing?”

Jason paused, the rag in his hand poised above the stain on the rug next to the sofa, glanced up at the younger man. “What does it look like?”

“Well,” Spinelli said, then looked at Cameron sitting on the sofa, his mouth stained with red. “It looks like Little Dude got in a fight and the rug won.” The rug in question was also stained with the same shade.

“Mommy said no juice on the sofa.” Cameron blinked at Spinelli, slid his hand over the sofa cushions. “See. No juice on the sofa.”

“No juice on the rug either,” Jason said. He sat back on his knees. “Did you need something Spinelli?”

“Oh. It can wait—”

“No, it’s good.” Jason got to his feet, rag in hand. “Cameron, you’re still in time out for two more minutes.”

“Don’t move from sofa.” Cameron nodded. “No moving.” He held his hand out. “See? I froze.”

Jason considered the toddler with a furrowed brows, likely trying to sort out the next loophole Cameron would discover, but evidently decided to give up. “We can talk in the kitchen.”

Spinelli followed, waited as Jason washed his hands. “The Jackal was wondering if maybe he should pursue other living arrangements.”

Jason frowned, turned to him. “What? Why?”

“Uh, well, our humble abode is quite full, and the Jackal thought now the Fair Elizabeth and Little Dude and Stone Cold the Second have joined us, Stone Cold might want some, uh, privacy.” Spinelli shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Spinelli—if I wanted you gone, you’d be gone.”

Spinelli looked up. “Really?”

“Yes. Really.” Jason hesitated. “Elizabeth and the kids like you. And if you don’t mind occasoinally hanging out with Cameron, then I don’t see why anything has to change. Now, if you want more privacy, we can move you somewhere else in the building. But for right now, I’m fine with how things are.”

Spinelli’s chest relaxed. “The Jackal is not imposing on the family bliss?”

“The family bliss—” Jason narrowed his eyes, went around Spinelli. “Cameron!”

Spinelli turned to find that Cameron had climbed onto the back of the sofa, with one leg on either side. His eyes were wide. “I still on the sofa! Cameron a good boy!”

“Sofa cushion. Don’t move from the sofa cushion—” Jason went back into the living room to once again negotiate with a terrorist leaving Spinelli relieved in the kitchen. He wasn’t going to be expelled from the only home he’d ever really known.

June 27, 2023

Hey! Just checking in really quick to let you know I’m postponing flash fiction tomorrow. I’ll either skip it all together and come back on Friday, or post on Thursday and Friday.

I have to get a physical for my new district and my immunization records. For some reason, we can’t find my record, so I have to get blood work done to confirm for my doctor. I’m getting that tomorrow morning and I just know it’s gonna make me feel like crap tomorrow morning, so I’ll really only have one writing session in me tomorrow, and I need it to be Fool Me Twice. I’m struggling a bit with the writing stamina this week. I think it’s just the pressure of knowing I’m in Act 3 and the massive edits that have to go into this. Maybe part of my brain is like, well, if we never finish the edit — ha. Anyway.

Whenever I postpone Flash Fiction, I like drop some previews or excerpts to make up for it. I’ve shared some decent Liason material already, so I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at what the teens are up to in this story. The scenes in the file below are taken from different chapters. I hope you like them!

Fool Me Twice – The Teens

And if you missed it — Fool Me Twice – Liason 

ETA: Links are fixed!!!

Let me know if you’re excited for this book! I’m working hard but it has so many moving parts and people that it’s killing me, too, lol.

June 26, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 22

Hope everyone had a great weekend 🙂 I worked on Fool Me Twice Saturday, and finished Act 2 (a huge thing — it’s taken me most of the last two months, but we’re finally making progress) so I decided to take Sunday off to sleep in and relax a little. I’ve written about 53k since summer vacation started, just on Fool Me  Twice, not counting the 8k or so for Watch Me Burn. I want to make sure I’m pacing myself.

As we get closer to July, I’m still contemplating whether I want to add a second story for Tues/Thurs. I think I might just focus on editing Fool Me Twice & Signs of Life this summer so that both can be ready asap to post and give me more content next fall. I love writing the Flash Fiction, but if I don’t get Fool Me Twice done this summer, I won’t have a novel out this year, lol. And that would be the first time since 2017, so yeah — Book 2 is the priority.

Act 3 has about 18 chapters, which should be done sometime next week. I’m going to miss that June 30 date unless I get on a roll one of these days and write more than 2 chapters, but I’m not pushing myself. I tend to rush the ending of the books because I’m so tired of looking at them, lol. Then I have to go back in and rewrite.

See you Wednesday!

This entry is part 22 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 60 minutes.

General Hospital: Nurse’s Station

“You know, it feels like it should be illegal to dump paperwork duties on one nurse,” Elizabeth muttered as she reached for another set of insurance forms, then leveled a glare when Patrick dropped two more charts in her bin. “You’re going on the list.”

“I’m on a lot of lists. You’ll need to be more specific—” Patrick scowled when Kelly Lee passed by their desk, the pretty Asian doctor side eying them both, then walking away with a roll of her eyes. “What’s her problem?”

“I took the wrong side in the divorce,” Elizabeth said, scrawling her initials at the bottom of the chart. A few more weeks of E.S. and she’d be going back to E.W. And it was going to be a serious hassle doing that—two divorces before she was thirty—and she was not going to count the fact that she’d technically been married four times. She’d only had two husbands. No point in separating out the individual mistakes.

“No, you’re kidding me. You didn’t cut me off so now Kelly is mad at you?” Patrick shook his head. “I get her hating me—”

“I also haven’t agreed to let bygones be bygones after Lainey ambushed me the day my son was kidnapped.” Elizabeth met his gaze. “Imagine that — I’m not real interested in being friends with someone who thought I hurt my son because my idiot husband caught me crying a few times.”

“Yeah, I guess that would make it hard to be friends. But—”

“And you didn’t do anything wrong, Patrick,” Elizabeth said. “I’m glad you stood your ground. You don’t want to be a father, so you’re letting Robin go. My mother let my father talk her into having more kids, and look where that left me.”

Patrick hesitated. “It’s not that simple—never mind. I’m sorry they’re giving you grief—”

“Kelly and Lainey were fun to hang out with, so I’m sorry we’re losing that. But if they want to be pissed at me because I’m not taking sides in a situation where no one is wrong—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Dodged a bullet on that one.”

“Well, thanks.” He reached for his next patient. “And just for that, I’ll unload the next insurance forms on someone else.”

“Always a prince.”

Elizabeth continued chipping away at the file, sighing as she checked the fax machine and found two more rejections for treatment. Ridiculous insurance system — a doctor who didn’t know you and hadn’t treated you could deny treatment.

“You look irritated. Is this a bad time?”

Elizabeth looked up and made a face. “That would depend, Nikolas, on what you want. I’m busy—”

“I thought you were on maternity leave until the end of October.” Nikolas frowned. “You weren’t supposed to go back until after your birthday.”

“That was before I separated from Lucky. I don’t have an income right now, so—”

“But you’re living with Jason.”

Elizabeth set her pen down. “I’m not surprised I have to explain the difference between a decision made between two people who are married and not taking advantage of a new relationship. Did you come to quiz me on my finances, or—”

“I know you’re angry with me—”

“Angry—” Elizabeth closed one patient’s file and reached for the next. “I passed angry a few weeks ago, Nikolas. I accept that I made choices that hurt people. I accept that resolving those choices meant hurting even more people. But I’m tired of feeling guilty.” And remembering the conversation she’d shared with Jason a few days earlier, “And to be quite honest, Lucky’s the one making the choices now.”

“That’s true. And I wish he’d make different ones—”

“If you wished that, you wouldn’t be paying for the lawyer, Nikolas. Do you know what he did to Cameron?”

“I’m not here to litigate your custody arrangements, okay? I just—I need your help. And maybe I can do more, talk to Lucky—”

“Your kind of help always has strings attached, Nikolas. Gifts turn into loans—” Elizabeth arched her brow. “Tell me what you want from me so can I tell you no and get back to work.”

Nikolas pressed his lips together, clearly reconsidering whether to ask her. “I need you to talk to Emily.”

“What about Emily?”

“She and I were on the road to getting back together, but she’s taking your side in all this, and—”

“I didn’t ask her to take sides. I didn’t ask you to, either.”

“What did you expect from me?” Nikolas demanded. “You are objectively wrong here, Elizabeth. You lied. You lied to Lucky, to Jason, to me and to Emily. You lied to Jake, but he’s the only one too young to notice. You lied to the world, and you think that a few weeks gets you off the hook. When you told the truth, Elizabeth, you humiliated Lucky in front of the world—”

Elizabeth sighed, rubbing her temple. “I know that—”

“And now you’re living with Jason. He’s raising Jake—and Cameron, I’m sure. And all Lucky wanted was not to be cut out. He loves his son—blood doesn’t matter—”

“What Lucky wanted was never mine to give, and Jason’s not obligated to let another man raise his son—”

“He sure didn’t have a problem with that when he thought he was going to jail—”

“You—” Elizabeth got to her feet, leaned over the counter. “You have a lot of nerve coming to the place where I work to demand that I help you with a situation that you created. You took Lucky’s side. It’s not my fault Emily is unhappy with you about it. I never asked her to cut things off with you.”

“You sure as hell didn’t help—”

“I am not the reason your marriage collapsed in the first place. Maybe Emily has second thoughts about reuniting with a man who cheated on her. I sure as hell should have listened to my gut when I had the same doubts.” Elizabeth took a deep breath. “What I did was terrible, and I will regret it for the rest of my life. I was scared, and I was selfish. I felt paralyzed by what I had done, and I didn’t know how to fix it. I still don’t know the right thing to do. And you didn’t have any suggestions the last time we talked, either, Nikolas. This situation doesn’t have a happy ending for everyone—”

“No, only for you and Jason. Everyone else is miserable and choosing sides—”

“I am not going to feel guilty. You are not going to put that on me. I’m tired—” Elizabeth squeezed her eyes closed, the familiar weight on her shoulders. “I’m tired, Nikolas. I should have kept running last year, but I didn’t. I’m sorry for what you’re going through, but it’s not my fault. Fix your own problems with Emily. Leave me out of it.”

Greystone: Kitchen

Sonny handed Jason a mug of coffee. “How are things shaping up for the custody hearing? Not long now, right?”

“Two more weeks.” Jason shifted. “Diane thinks it’ll be pretty smooth sailing. The park—” He grimaced. “It put the last nail in Lucky’s coffin. So I’ll be back full-time—”

“No hurry.” Sonny adjusted the volume on the baby monitor in case Jake stirred. Jason had left Cameron with spend some time with Audrey, but he couldn’t help but keep Jake close. After all the months of thinking he’d never get the chance— “You got a few big family holidays coming up. You should concentrate on that.”

Jason shook his head. “It’s already been months—”

“And it’s quiet, like I said.  The PCPD are…well, they’re distracted. Not that I like the reason, but it’s stupid not to take advantage of it. The Zaccharas are starting to make some noises—”

“The Zaccharas? Since when do they care about us?” Jason set the coffee back on the counter. “They’re in Manhattan—”

“Word is out that Anthony isn’t doing well. A heart attack or something. And that means some of his guys are starting to make pushes for power. Anthony’s recuperating up here, at their Crimson Point compound. Something to keep our eye on in case they want to make trouble up here.” Sonny sipped his coffee. “Low-level priority. And there’s always some worry about the power vacuum left by Alcazar.”

“That’s Miami. Roy DeLuca’s still taking  care of that, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, and there’ve been some snags in shipments to the island, but all in all, things are steady.” Sonny waited a moment. “You took a lot of weight on your shoulders when you got home a few years ago. Made it possible for me to take a bit of a backseat to spend time with Michael, then with Morgan. It’s my turn to return the favor. You got an infant, a toddler learning to trust you, and a partner who works full-time. No reason for you to deal with every little thing.” Sonny lifted the coffee to his mouth, paused one more time. “Unless you miss it.”

“Maybe eventually, but right now—” Jason listened to Jake stirring on the monitor. “No, I’m happy the way things are.”

PCPD: Commissioner’s Office

Robert removed his reading glasses, set them on top of the case file, and looked at his brother. “I know what you’re looking for, Mac, but I can’t find a single example of Lucky Spencer dropping the ball on this.”

“Come on, Robert—” Mac shoved back from his  desk, scowling. “He’s distracted by personal issues. Divorce. Custody—”

“He followed up every lead from the campus, from his witnesses. He ordered all the right labs, pushed for a search warrant at the frat house. He’s got security footage he’s reviewing—and asked the right questions. He’s recorded every interview so there’s a good paper trail. There’s nothing more he can do.”

“Nothing more to do for my daughter,” Mac muttered. “I don’t accept that. Her case can’t be dead.”

“It’s not dead. There’s always a chance you catch a stray detail from the security. The DNA could come back with a match. Mac, you know better. Sometimes, despite all the odds, there’s nothing fresh to follow up on.”

“George was murdered in public, damn it—how can there be nothing? How do I tell Chelsea’s family that there’s no justice—”

“It’s been a week, Mac.” Robert’s voice remained calm. “Merely a week. I know it seems a lifetime, but it’s not. Your detective has covered all the ground he can until a new lead breaks.”

Mac sank back into his chair, put his head in his hands. “She was just a baby,” he murmured. “It’s not fair that I’m here and she’s not.”

“Mac, all we can do is work the case, and put one foot in the front of the other. And I think you know that even finding the animal who did this — it won’t make it better. You still won’t have answers from the universe.”

“You know, we tell families that we’ll get them justice. That we’ll track down the murderers and put them on trial. That it will give them closure.” Mac shook his head. “I won’t ever say it again. There is no closure. There is no justice. There’s only retribution. And it won’t be enough.”

“No, it won’t. I’m sorry, little  brother.” Robert leaned forward. “But we won’t give up. We won’t let this happen to someone else.”

Kelly’s: Courtyard

“Lucky, hey—”

Lucky turned from the entrance to the diner, letting the handle go and the door swing back shut. He found his sister ducking under the arched entrance. “Lu. Hey.”

She hugged him tightly. “How are you? I know you’ve been swamped with the case—” Her eyes were dim when she pulled back. “Dillon’s staying around for a few weeks, I think he’s hoping for a miracle. But he’s so quiet. He and Spinelli both are. Which is probably scarier than anything else, you know?”

“I’m sure you’re filling the silences.” Lucky gestured for her to take a seat. “I know you and Georgie had your differences—”

“It was better this year, actually. She forgave me for last summer which I didn’t deserve, and me and Dillon are friends again. And you know, Spinelli, he really helped bridge that. He’s so sweet. It’s hard to be mad around him.”

“Yeah, he’s a good kid. I hope he gets around to forgiving himself for going home that night.” Lucky squinted. “You didn’t go to the party.”

“No, I was going to, but I had a paper due that Monday, and I decided not to leave it until the last minute. I think about it, you know. What if I’d gone? I’d have stayed. Chels might not have been drinking. It was about a boy—”

“You knew her?”

“Just a little. She and Georgie got tight last year — when, uh, Maxie was really spiraling,” Lulu said, and Lucky winced at the reminder of Maxie, the disastrous affair, the faked pregnancy— “And I wasn’t much help because, you know, I couldn’t be. And Spinelli wasn’t really in the picture yet. And she was squirrelly with Dillon after everything they’d been through. So when Chels got assigned to her room, it was really great for them, actually. But I went to some of the same parties, and we got to know each other. They weren’t party girls, Lucky. Chels had her eye on this guy—” She bit her lip. “I don’t remember his name but it might have been something like Bryce or Bruce—anyway, if she was drinking, it was because of him. They never did more than one beer just to look good.”

“Thanks. I’ll look into this guy.” Lucky started to stand, but Lulu snagged his arm. “What did you think of something else?”

“No.” Lulu licked her lips. “I actually—I’ve been trying to find a good time to tell you that I had Spinelli give me Diane’s number.”

Lucky exhaled slowly. “Diane Miller.”

“Yeah. Um, it was before Georgie. Not that it matters, I guess. But it was that day. It was part of the reason I was late on my paper. After I left Wyndemere, I was really upset. So I called Spinelli from the pier, and he set me up with her that day.”

“You’re going to testify at the hearing.”

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I am. I was just so angry that day—and I’m still mad because it—” Lulu’s eyes filled with tears. “It just made me feel like I did when I was trying to get Dad to notice me, and Cam was so upset—”

“No, it’s—” Lucky shook his head. “It’s fine. It’s—you gotta do what you think is right, Lu. I—”


“I need to get some coffee. I’ll call you if I have any other questions about Chelsea and Georgie.”

Lucky pushed his way into the diner, his mind whirling. He’d known that terrible day in the park would be an issue, but he was hoping he could explain it away, that he could find a way to fix it—

But if his own sister was going to testify against him, what hope did he have?

“You look like you’ve had a bad day.”

Lucky blinked, focused on the voice, and found Sam at one of the tables. She used her foot to gently push out of the chair across from her. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

June 23, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 21

Another late update, lol. I went to bed at a normal time, and then my brain was like, nah, we’re not tired. So I overslept again. Irritating, but not surprising. Let’s just state from now own if I don’t update by 11 AM or 2 PM on Mon, Wed, or Fri, then there’s no update for that day.

I finally manged to write the breakdown of Act 3 for Fool Me Twice — my brain was just really scattered, and I couldn’t really figure out chapter breakdowns for some reason. Book 2 is going to be Chapters 39-102 — which I know sounds really long, but Book 2’s chapters are about 20% shorter than Book 1. For example, Book 1 was about 235k words in length and 38 chapters. For book 2, I’ve completed Chapters 39-80, so that’s 42 chapters, and it’s only 131k in length.

Still hoping to finish it off by June 30 and spend the summer editing.

See you guys Monday!

This entry is part 21 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 59 minutes.

Patrick’s Condo: Bedroom

The sunlight streamed through the blinds Patrick had forgotten to draw the night before, and Robin remembered now that he’d never gotten around to buying curtains — he’d been worried they’d look too feminine and had argued about it the last time she’d woken in his bed.

When the same bright light hit her this morning, Robin scrunched her eyes and rolled away, towards the door and the shadows that still lingered there. She bumped directly into Patrick and her eyes snapped open. He was already awake, leaning up on one elbow, his jaw shadowed from overnight growth.

Robin clutched at the dark sheets when their eyes met, waiting for embarrassment to flood her body. After all she’d showed up on his doorstep and begged him to sleep with her after refusing to accept even a modicum of comfort.

But she didn’t feel even a tinge of discomfort, only a wave of sadness that this couldn’t be every day. That she wouldn’t grow old waking in his bed.

“You really like being blinded when you wake up,” Robin said, siting up and running her hands through hair.

“Better than any alarm clock.” Patrick laid back, one hand under his head, the sheets down to his waist. “Did you sleep okay?”

“Not sure how much sleep there was,” Robin muttered, her cheeks heating when he just grinned. God she missed him. Tears stung her eyes and she looked away. She heard the rustle of sheets, then the warmth as he leaned in, his head on her shoulder.

“I’m glad you came over.”

“I probably shouldn’t have. This—” She sighed, then rested her head back against his. “This isn’t going to help me get over you.”

“Me either,” he murmured. They sat there another moment, with nothing but the sound of their breathing. She knew she had to get up, to get her clothes, to leave—

“Thank you.” Robin finally pulled away and slid out of the bed, pressing the sheet against her chest as she looked for her clothes. “I mean, you really could have said no.”

“I told you if you needed me—” He rose, and she averted her eyes as he strode nude to the dresser to get a pair of sweatpants. He tossed her black dress towards her — it had landed on his side of the bed. “Robin—”

“You were right, of course,” she said briskly, tugging the dress over her head, not bothering t locate her bra — but her panties were underneath the bed. She shimmied into them. “I wasn’t worrying enough about myself, and last night, with Maxie, then Felicia, it just—it was too much, and my brain just shut down. I couldn’t think. Or I couldn’t stop thinking.”

She sat on the bed, wondering where her pantyhose had disappeared to and if she’d ever see it again.

Patrick sat next to her. “You kept it together until after the service.”

“Until there was nothing left to do. No item to tick off the list.” Robin closed her eyes. “She was such a bright light in this world. Someone stole it. Just snuffed it right out, and I can’t wrap my head around it.”

“Because it’s obscene,” Patrick said, his tone clipped. She looked at him. “She was living her life, going home from a party. I did that a thousand times in college, in medical school. She had every right to do that. Every right to wake up with regret the next morning about how much she’d drank or what she said or how she acted. Instead—”

“She never woke up at all.” Robin closed her eyes. “I wonder if she had time to be afraid.”


“And that’s a terrible thing to think about. I keep getting stuck in it, though. Thinking how scared she could have been. Laying on the ground, choking, fighting—” She pressed her hands to her face. “I want it to go away. Why doesn’t it go away?”

He didn’t answer. How could he? He just put an arm around her, folded her back in his embrace until all she feel was Patrick and her mind, blissfully, skittered to a stop. “Thank you. For making the world go stop. For a little while.”

“Any time.”

Robin smiled sadly, then got to her feet. “I wish that could be true—”

“Robin—” Patrick reached for her but she stepped back. “I’ve been thinking—maybe we can make this work—”

“No. No, don’t do that. Don’t—” Robin exhaled in a long breath. “Last night was special and you saved my sanity. But it doesn’t change anything. And I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, and talk yourself into massive life changes you don’t want—”

“Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?”

She backed away when he stood. “Let’s just…” Robin licked her lips, nervously. “Let’s just put this away for a while. It’s—it’s been a lot these last few days, and I just—we should make sure we know what we want. I don’t want either of us waking up in six months realizing we made the wrong choice.” When he opened his mouth, she shook her head. “Please.”

“All right. I’ll go make some coffee.” Patrick rose, went to the door, then looked back. “Your panty hose is stuck in the blinds, by the way.”

“What?” Robin turned, scandalized to find the sheer black stockings hanging from the window. “How did that happen?”

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Across town, another woman was having a much happier morning, waking to the sound of her son fussing on the baby monitor. She sat up, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes, then stayed right where she was for a few minutes, listening to the soft murmurs of Jason as he lifted Jake out his crib.

A few moments later, Jason appeared in their doorway, Jake in his arms. The five-month-old was wide awake, his fingers shaking a plastic ring in his. “Cameron was still asleep,” he said, climbing back into bed, still holding the baby. “And Jake woke two hours ago for a bottle.”

“Two—” Elizabeth winced, looked at the clock. It was almost eight. “Oh, man. It’s a good thing I didn’t have work today. How long have you been up?”

“Since the bottle. I tried to get him to sleep for a while longer, but—” Jason lightly bounced the infant and Jake laughed, batting his father with the plastic ring. “He wasn’t having it.”

“He’s just like you,” Elizabeth grumbled, leaning back against the headboard.”A morning person.”

“Maybe he doesn’t see the point in sleeping when there’s a whole world out there.” Jason stretched out his legs, sat the baby in his lap, his hand bracing Jake’s middle to keep him upright.

“He’ll see the point when he’s worked a double shift.” Elizabeth sighed, then dipped her head, tears stinging her eyes.

“What is it?”

“Nothing, it’s just—” Elizabeth rubbed a hand against her chest. “Six weeks ago, I felt like my life was falling apart. You were still on trial, and I wasn’t sure how things would go with Lucky. How to walk away. How to stop hurting everyone. I didn’t know if you’d forgive me for what I did — and it feels almost unfair, I guess. To be here, with everything I ever wanted.”

“Unfair to who?” Jason asked. Jake reached for Elizabeth and she cuddled him in her arms.

“I don’t know. The universe, maybe. I always end up feeling guilty when I’m happy. It always feels like it’s at someone else’s expense, and yes, I know that’s stupid. It’s just.” She rubbed her nose against Jake’s nose, and the baby laughed. “That’s right, Mommy’s just silly. She knows it.”

She looked at Jason. “I wish I could have had more courage last year. I was separated from Lucky. We actually got divorced, and if I’d just let myself—” She bit her lip. “I don’t know. If I could have just stayed divorced, not given him hope. Told the truth about Jake—it’s not healthy to keep looking back. I hurt you, I hurt myself. Cameron. And Lucky. I know we’re angry with him for how he’s handling this, but at the end of the day—” She looked at him. “I’m waking up next to the man I love with two healthy amazing little boys, and Lucky’s alone. And it doesn’t feel fair.”

Jason tipped his head. “Do you want to change your mind about Cameron and visitation?”

“No. I don’t. Because while I feel guilty for hurting and lying to him, Lucky didn’t have to make Cameron part of this. He made his choices. Just like I did last year. He made them out of anger. Jealousy. Fear. I can understand him, Jason. What he did — I did it to you. I forced you out of Jake’s life—”


“I was angry that you didn’t just tell me you loved me and give me the fairy tale ending up front. You asked me to marry you and I wanted to say yes, but I knew that I would just wither away, married and in love and feeling like you wanted someone else. I was angry,” Elizabeth continued, “and I was jealous. And I was scared to be alone. So I made a terrible choice. You’ve forgiven me for it, and I promise I won’t keep bringing it up.”

“But you feel some pity for Lucky,” Jason said slowly.

“More than he probably deserves, I guess, but he didn’t deserve to be lied to anymore than you did. And I don’t know how make any of it go away without hurting one of you. It should be me suffering. Not Lucky. And not you.” She made a face. “I’m sorry. We were having a nice morning—”

“It’s only been six weeks,” Jason cut in, taking the plastic rings Jake handed him, then giving them back as soon as the baby pouted because he’d had second thoughts. “I don’t expect you to forget about Lucky. Or cut him out of your heart overnight. You loved him. You married him. Cameron still thinks of him as a father.”

“You’re too nice—”

“Being angry doesn’t solve anything,” Jason said. “And maybe it’s easier for me because I had a chance to claim Jake and I didn’t do that. I could have changed things, too, Elizabeth. The only person here who couldn’t have stopped any of this is Lucky. So, yeah, for that, I can have some patience.” He paused. “But for me, it stops that day in the park. It stops when he threatened to have us investigated for murder. He’s the one making the choices now, Elizabeth. Let him be the one that lives with the consequences.”

“You’re right.” She smiled, then lifted Jake in the air, “That’s enough of that, don’t you  think, Jake?” She laughed as the baby giggled and waved his arms.

“See? He agrees.” On the baby monitor, Cameron stirred. “I’ll go start breakfast,” he told Elizabeth, kissing her forehead.

“Sounds perfect.”

PCPD: Squad Room

Spinelli took a deep breath, spied the man he was looking for across the room and started towards him. Don’t call him Detective Dingus, don’t call him Detective Dingus—

“Spinelli—” Lucky frowned as the hacker approached. He leaned back in his chair. “Did you think of something else?”

“No. But the Jackal thought if he came by, then, uh, the Dashing Detective might have a question to ask. Something for the Jackal to do. A way to help.”

“Dashing Detective,” Lucky repeated, then raised his brows. “Is that your nickname for me?”

“Of course.”

“Really.” Lucky folded his arms, smirked. “You’re living with my ex-wife. You’ve met Cameron and Jake. And you’re telling me that’s how you think of me?”

Spinelli scrunched his nose. “Uh, no. Not really.”

“What is it, then? I’m curious,” Lucky added. “I’ve heard the ones you’ve come up for my sister. And for Maxie.”

“Detective Dingus,” Spinelli muttered, his cheeks heating. “If you don’t want the Jackal’s help, you could say that—”

Lucky hooked his foot around the chair by his desk and pushed it out. “Take a seat, Spinelli. Please,” he added when Spinelli hesitated. “Detective Dingus sounds more like it. You call Cam Little Dude, don’t you?”

“Still in workshop. Thinking of changing to Little Zoom Master, but it’s not right.” Spinelli stared at his fingers. “You’re making fun of me.”

“I’m not. What did you call Georgie?” Lucky wanted to know.

“Lots of things. Insightful One. The Wise One.” His voice cracked. “Faithful Friend. She was the best of friends. Best of humans. That’s why the Jackal must help her. I left her. I went home that night.”

“You feel responsible,” Lucky said. Spinelli nodded, just a quick jerking motion of his chin. “I get you. Once upon a time, I was supposed to hang out with a friend at a dance. I changed my mind, made a date with someone else. My friend was sad, so she skipped the dance. Someone hurt her. And if I hadn’t broken my promise, it never would have happened.”

“So you see why the Jackal must assist in any way possible—”

“I do. And if I have a way for you to help,” Lucky said, “I’ll let you know. But for now, Spinelli, I want you to remember what a great kid Georgie was. She wouldn’t blame you, would she?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Spinelli muttered.

“Matters a little. You don’t like parties much, do you?’

“No, but—”

“So Georgie said it was okay. Go head home, Spinelli. I got Chelsea with me. We’re good. That’s what she told you, you said.”

Spinelli’s eyes glittered with tears. “Should have been there.”

“Maybe I’d have another body in my morgue, then Spinelli. Maybe I’m telling Jason that the kid he cares about is dead. You think that would make this better for him? You think he wouldn’t wonder how he could have stopped it? Do you want Jason to feel guilty?”

“N-No.” Spinelli closed his eyes. “You make an excellent point. Stone Cold usually takes on the burdens of the world. The Jackal must reflect on this.”

“I promise you, Spinelli, that I am doing everything I can to find out who hurt Georgie and Chelsea. They were your friends, and they matter. If I think of something you can do or tell me, you’ll be the first call. But for now, go home.”

June 21, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 20

Apologies for the slight delay in today’s posting! I’m still working on adjusting my sleep schedule, and I find if I don’t wake up until 8 AM, it’s hard to organize my energy to get going in the morning. I’m oversleeping right now, which I can tell because I always feel groggy for most of the day. I want to get myself adjusted to the 6 AM schedule I usually use in the summer because I can actually use that next year. The new school where I’m going to work is literally a three minute drive from my house if the traffic lights are green, so I can leave for work at 7 and still be a half hour early, lol.

Fool Me Twice is coming along nicely — I’ve had a few doctor’s appointments this week (trying to get as much in before my health insurance expires on June 30 — the new one doesn’t kick in until August 28). I’m planning to finish Act 2 this week (I wrote Chapter 78 yesterday, there are four chapters left, so Friday is the final deadline). We’re still on schedule for my June 30 deadline, which makes me happy because I’ve been itchy to dive back in and start making changes which I can’t do without finishing first, lol.

See you on Friday!

This entry is part 20 of 50 in the Flash Fiction: Watch Me Burn

Written in 60 minutes.

Morgan Penthouse: Living Room

Elizabeth pushed the door open with one hand, the other on the phone at her ear, frowning slightly when she realized the room was empty. “What? No, sorry. I just walked in. Let me know when you hear from her, okay? I want to call Patrick. No, I know she doesn’t—Lainey, the guy is worried and trying to respect her feelings about keeping his distance.” She dropped her keys and the small black clutch on the desk. “He didn’t stop loving her—I’m not taking his side—”

She heard sounds in the kitchen, the clinking of plates and Cameron’s giggle, her shoulders relaxed. So that’s where her guys were. She refocused on on her phone conversation. “Lainey, there aren’t sides here, okay? He doesn’t have to want children. It doesn’t—okay, I’m not doing this with you. Don’t tell me when Robin calls back. Whatever. Let Patrick worry for nothing because you’re a narrow-minded bitch—” She stopped mid-sentence and snapped her phone shut.

There was no point in letting her old frustrations with Lainey Winters spill out when it wasn’t even about this. Lainey and Kelly had landed firmly on Robin’s side in the  break-up, while Emily and Elizabeth had tried not to take sides at all. And after Lainey had tried to paint Elizabeth as a crazy post-partum mother who’d hurt her child, she wasn’t in the mood for any of this.

She kicked off her black heels, then padded into the kitchen, her stocking-clad feet making no sounds on the hardwood.

In the kitchen, she found Cameron in his booster seat, a study plastic fork in his hand as he dug into a bowl of Spaghetti-Os, his face covered in the red sauce. Jake in a green plastic seat, belted in on top of the table, shoving a plastic ring in his mouth.

And Jason crouched on the floor, cleaning up what looked like more Spaghetti-Os on the floor.

“Well, it looks like we had ourselves quite the afternoon,” Elizabeth said, leaning against the  door frame.

“Hi, Mommy!” Cameron waved his fork, sending small circle-shaped noodles flying through the air. Jason just sighed and wiped at the floor where they landed. He got to his feet and tossed the towels in the trash.

“Maybe I should have just fed him in the tub,” he decided, and she laughed, crossing the kitchen, avoiding the remnants on the ground, and slid her arms around his waist, leaning up for a kiss. “Hey. How was it?”

“Terrible,” Elizabeth admitted, closing her eyes as he folded her into his arms. “Robin was barely managing to get through it, then Maxie went crazy. Insisted Frisco and Felicia leave. It was so bad. And Patrick was worried about her, but he promised he wouldn’t call, and then Lainey just—” She made a face. “Anyway. It’s over.”

“Where did Spinelli go?”

“Dinner with Lulu and Dillon while he’s in town.” Elizabeth went to the table to unbuckle Jake and lift him in her arms. He reached for the necklace she wore, trying to put it in his mouth. Now that he’d figured out how to use his hands and fingers, he loved grabbing everything. “He said he’d be home later.” She kissed the top of Jake’s head, cuddling him close. “I felt so bad for Georgie’s parents, and for Robin—but you know—” She looked at him. “It wasn’t the time or place, but I’m not sure I blame Maxie. I’ve lived in this town for almost a decade, and I don’t think her dad has ever been back. And Felicia went away years ago. It’d be like, God forbid, something happening to me and my parents showing up.”

Jason leaned against the counter, his arms folded. “I think Robin told me the last time Frisco was around was when Maxie was sick. When she needed the heart transplant. He was never really around with Georgie. I know in all the time we were together, I never saw him.”

“I don’t think causing a scene was the right way to handle it, but I guess Maxie just couldn’t take one more minute of the hypocrisy. They can have their regrets, I guess, but sitting up front, especially her dad—” Elizabeth shook her head. “Don’t let my parents do that to me—”


“Sorry. I know it’s morbid, and terrible. But I don’t want Jeff or Carolyn Webber anywhere near me in death when they couldn’t be bothered in life.” She paused. “Let’s change the subject Jake needs a diaper change, and Cameron—” She looked down and he grinned up at her sunnily. Somehow he had noodles in his hair. “Cameron needs a deep cleaning. Wanna draw straws?”

General Hospital: Hallway

Emily made a notation on a chart, then turned a corner stopping short when she barreled into someone else. “Oof, sorry—” She drew her brows together. “Nikolas? What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.” Nikolas stepped back. “Are you on all night?”

“Yeah, I’m on nights until Thanksgiving. I drew the short-straw,” she said, moving past him. “What did you need?”

“You haven’t really been returning my calls or texts. I mean, I know you’re angry with me—”

“Because you’re funding Lucky’s desperation and giving him the means to drag Elizabeth and the boys into court? Yeah, I’m avoiding you.” Returning to the nurse’s station, she dumped off the charts in her arms.

“We said we wouldn’t take sides—”

“You know, we’ve said that before, but we’ve never been good at it. Somehow we always manage to fall on Lucky’s side.” Emily shook her head. “You and I both encouraged them to get married again. To give it another shot. Why would we do that?”

“Because they love each other. Or I thought—”

“Lucky had an affair. Repeatedly,” Emily said. “I knew that. I knew he’d had that affair and had accused her of having one with Patrick—”

“No, it was just with Jason—”

“No. No, don’t you do that—” Emily jabbed a finger at him. “You don’t get to decide that months of Lucky emotionally abusing Elizabeth and accusing her of having an affair with Patrick is retroactively okay because she slept with Jason after she found Lucky and Maxie together. You don’t get to do that, and neither does he.”

“Two wrongs don’t make it right—”

“And sleeping with another woman while your wife is struggling with trauma isn’t a good choice either, but you did that, too.”

Nikolas grimaced. “We’re not back to that, are we?”

“We are. Because I can’t, for the life of me, understand how you can stand there and help Lucky do this to those kids. You know what he did to Cameron in the park the other day, don’t you?”

“That—” Nikolas nodded. “Yes. It was a mistake—”

“A mistake that devastated that little boy. How could you stand by and let him continue this—and don’t tell me you can’t stop it. Cut off the funds.”

“He’s my brother—”

“And she’s my sister.” Emily tipped up her chin. “She’s my best friend. It’s time I acted like it. There isn’t a middle ground here. He’s objectively wrong for what he did—”

“And she was wrong, too—”

“She’s the only one trying to fix her mistakes. All I see Lucky doing is making new ones. And  your support isn’t just financial. You agree with him. Don’t you?”

“I think,” Nikolas said, carefully, “that there’s an argument to be made that Lucky doesn’t deserve to be cut out of Jake’s life overnight—”

“And what does Cameron deserve? Because Lucky had no problem cutting Cam out of his life overnight. Don’t talk to me about what a grown man deserves when that little boy was crying for him, and Lucky walked away. You want to take his side, fine. But don’t be surprised when you’re the only one who does.”

Scorpio House: Maxie’s Bedroom

“It’s not fair!” Maxie wailed, curled up in a ball, facing away from Robin. Her shoulders were shaking as she continued to sob. “It’s not fair. Why isn’t she here? Why—”

“I don’t know, honey.” Robin stroked her cousin’s shoulder. “Life isn’t fair. But Georgie wouldn’t want you to be so angry. So torn up—”

“Well, Georgie isn’t here,” Maxie said bitterly. “And you can’t make me apologize. I won’t.”

“All right. Why don’t you get some rest? I’ll send Cooper up, okay?”


Robin went downstairs and did just as she’d promised, sending Maxie’s confused and exhausted boyfriend up to take over comforting her. She spent a few minutes with her parents and uncle, reassuring them that Maxie would be okay. Then she went to the front porch where she found Felicia on the porch swing.

“Where’s Frisco?” Robin asked, taking a seat next to her. “He could have come over—”

“He went to get a hotel room.” Felicia closed her eyes, the tear stains on her cheeks shimmering under the porch light. “She’s so broken, my baby. I’ve failed her so much. I’ve failed them both—”

“Felicia—” Robin fell silent, and the blonde smiled sadly.

“You can’t even defend me.”

“Maxie shouldn’t have done that in front of everyone.”

“But you don’t necessarily disagree with her, do you?”

“I think,” Robin said slowly, “that I understand why you came back. Why Frisco came with you. But Maxie hasn’t been doing all that well for a few years. Since last year, when her boyfriend died. She’s gone off the rails, and losing Georgie—it’s not going to make it any easier. Seeing her parents—particularly you—when she’s already feeling abandoned by the world, no I don’t disagree with her.” Robin exhaled slowly. “I know how it felt when my father showed up after all those years, without any really good excuse for why he’d been gone. Frisco didn’t raise Maxie or Georgie. Mac did. And to see him sitting in the front row—I think it was more than she could handle.”

“Seeing me there—”

“Seeing you there hurt more. Because you were here, Felicia. Until you weren’t. You and Frisco—” Robin got to her feet. “You’re not much different than my parents. You deliberately chose a life that was dangerous and meant you had to leave your families behind. Uncle Mac told me you’re at the WSB with Frisco now. You left before the girls were finished growing up.”

“I know it. And I’ll regret it for the rest of my days.”

“You should.” Robin winced when Felicia flinched, but couldn’t find the energy to be sorry for what she’d said.

She left the porch, went down to the driveway and got in her car, staring blindly at the steering wheel.

What did she do now? Where was she supposed to go?

Morgan Penthouse: Master Bedroom

Elizabeth tugged the tie on her robe more tightly, listening on the baby monitor as Jason tucked Cameron in for the night, then a murmur as he checked on Jake.

She heard a soft click as the bedroom door at the end of the hall closed, and then Jason had walked down the short hallway, already in a pair of sweat pants and t-shirt he’d changed into after soaking his jeans earlier bathing Cameron, cleaning off his dinner.

“Spinelli’s still not home. Should I—” Jason cut off in mid-sentence as he closed the door, and saw her standing by the bed, wearing a silky black robe that just skimmed the tops of her thighs. He cleared his throat. “Uh. Hey.”

“Spinelli has his phone,” Elizabeth said, a smile tugging at the corner of her mouth. “And you already called him after Cameron had his bath. He’s fine.”

“I’m just—” Jason shook his head as she approached him, losing the thread again. “You—”

“This morning, we didn’t have a lot of time,” Elizabeth said, sliding her hands up his chest. “But I thought maybe you wouldn’t mind if we finished our conversation.”

“Were we having a conversation?” he asked, his hands at her shoulders. “That’s not how I remember it.”

“Well, then—” Her smile deepened. “Feel free to correct me.”

Jason tipped her head up, leaning down to brush his mouth against hers. “I didn’t see this when you unpacked,” he murmured, slowly untying the sash of the robe and pushing it from her shoulders.

“It’s new. I bought it after I moved in.” She sighed when his lips found the pulse at her throat. “If you like it, I can get it in more colors—”

“It’s nice,” he replied, his voice a bit rusty. His thumbs plucked at the straps, lifting them off her shoulders so that the negligee pooled at her feet. “But I like what’s under better.”

She laughed as he lifted her and carried her to the bed.

Patrick’s Condo: Living Room

Patrick paced the length of the room, glaring at his cell phone, willing it to ring — for someone to tell him that they’d  caught up with Robin after the service and that she was all right—

Lainey had refused to take his call, Kelly had told him she’d deal with it and to drop dead. Emily was at work, and Elizabeth hadn’t heard anything yet—

At this rate, he could either call her uncle or break his promise and track her down himself. He hated this. He hated wondering how she was, if she was with her family,  or alone so they wouldn’t see her grief, or maybe she was with Lainey and Kelly and they were just being assholes about it—

He picked up the phone, brought up Robin’s contact information, then hissed, tossing it aside. He didn’t want to hurt. Didn’t want to force himself on her, but honestly, he was coming out of his skin, worried that she was taking care of everyone but herself—

There was a knock at his door and Patrick leapt towards it, hoping that it was Elizabeth or Lainey, Kelly—someone who would give him some relief—

But it was Robin.

He stared at her for a moment, his jaw slightly dropped — was he hallucinating? In his worry, was he actually having a fever dream?

“I’m sorry to just—” Robin fiddled with the strap of the bag she wore over one shoulder. “I’m sorry to just show up.”  Her voice broke, and he snapped out of his stupor. “If you’re busy—”

“No,” he said immediately. He put a hand under her elbow, drew her inside. “No. I’m not. I’ve been—” He took a deep breath. “I’ve been worried about you.”

“I—” Her eyes shimmered and she squeezed them shut. “I didn’t want to be alone. Or to be with people. I just—I don’t know. It’s too much. It hurts too much, it’s drowning me, and I can’t breathe—”

“It’s okay, it’s okay.” He embraced her, wincing at the chill through the light fabric of her dress. Where was her coat? How had someone let her go out in October without a damn jacket? Why wasn’t anyone taking care of her?

“I can’t stop thinking about it how scared she was, or how terrible the world is now—” Robin’s breath hiccuped, a sob escaping. “They stole her away, they broke our world into pieces and we don’t know who, or why, and she’s gone. And knowing won’t fix it. Nothing fixes it.”

Her body was trembling violently, and he just hung on, his fingers stroking through her dark hair as her sobs wracked her body.

“I don’t want to feel this way anymore. I don’t want it. It has to go away. I can’t breathe.” Robin drew back, her hands flat against his chest, and her eyes damp with tears as they met his. “I want to feel something else. Can you—please. Can you make it go away?”

He swallowed hard. “What do you want me to do?” He knew, of course, but she needed to say it. He needed to hear it.

“I know it’s not fair, but—” She dragged in a shuddering breath. “I just want to be with you. I want the world to stop, and you—” Her fingers curled in his white dress shirt. She licked her lips. “You always make the world stop.”

Patrick nodded, then kissed her, lightly at first because she might still change her mind, but she exploded against him, deepening the kiss, her hands racing to tug his shirt out of his pants, to rip off the buttons. He wanted to slow it down, to savor it, but that’s not what she needed — and after her hands reached the buckle of his belt, it’s not what either of them wanted.

He only hoped she wouldn’t regret it in the morning.

June 19, 2023

Update Link: Watch Me Burn – Part 19

Happy Monday and happy summer vacation!! We made it! I’ve been done work since last Tuesday, and I’m still absolutely exhausted, lol.

The last two years, when I packed up for summer, I only took a few things home because most of it was just stored away for September. This year, I had to pack EVERYTHING. Six huge boxes full of materials — I dragged them to the car, to the living room, and then abandoned them for the rest of the week lol. My living room looks like a nightmare. I’ve been slowly moving through them, trying to sort through what needs to be repacked because I don’t need it, and then pulling out things that don’t have to go back — ugh.

I spent the first two days (Wed & Thurs) sleeping, reading, playing The Sims, and enjoying my beloved Phillies — their best road trip since 2010! This is the first year since my grandmother died in 2018 that I’ve had both time and energy to get into the season. It was something we shared together, and it was hard for a while to watch without her. But the post season run just brought it all back, and when I’m really missing her, I make sure to sit in the armchair I inherited. It was her mother’s chair, and was in her living room all my life. It was the only thing I ever wanted, and now it’s in my office 🙂

Since Friday, I’ve been focusing on Fool Me Twice and catching up to where I wanted to be — In the last three days, I’ve written around 25k and five chapters. I feel fantastic about the material coming out, though it needs a lot of work. It was always going to be a messy draft, so I’m ready for the editing to be insane, ha. Hoping to finish it up around June 30.

Today, we’re kicking off the summer posting schedule! I’m starting with Watch Me Burn on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This will definitely be the story of the summer, as we’re barely halfway through. In July, when the FMT draft is done, I’m either going to add a new Flash Fiction story or more Watch Me Burn. I’m not sure yet — if it’s a new story, I need to make sure it’s a shorter one that will only take the eight weeks I’ll have of summer (so roughly 16 parts).

I’m still working on Signs of Life, and was planning to do more beta editing this month, but I got so behind FMT (and you’ve all been waiting WAY too long for this book), so I put it on the back burner for now.

Last bit of business! I’m working on my summer plans for the site, the channel, and Patreon, and there are still a handful of stories that haven’t been given the unique theme approach (like Fool Me Twice and Counting Stars). Let me know which story you think deserves to get the makeover next!

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