CORNER OF THE SKY

Today is a celebration of woman bravery, patriotism and determination.  Based on a great and amazing true story that Hollywood has failed to tell.

A Hollywood Producer hired us to write a screenplay about Jackie Cochran. Back when women were real heroes Jackie became the first woman to break the sound barrier 57 years ago today. In an F-86 Sabre plane, borrowed from the Royal Canadian Air Force, Cochran surpassed Mach 1; over the course of her flight, she averaged speeds of 652.337 miles per hour. But this was last major milestone of her career.

Our screenplay, yet to be produced but having varied and long term interest in Hollywood, deals with her early career, a period when her life and the lives of other women were in grave danger. During World War II women weren’t allowed to enlist in the military, but they were allowed to fly American built aircraft from the factories to the front lines. This is the story of a first brave women who risked their lives to do what they loved…to fly. Fictionalized story based on the real life of Jackie Cochran and her creation of a pre-WASP group of female volunteers who went where no woman had before…into the war zone. Before the United States joined World War II, Jackie Cochran was part of “Wings for Britain”, an organization that ferried American built aircraft to Britain, becoming the first woman to fly a bomber, (a Lockheed Hudson) across the Atlantic.

In Britain, she volunteered her services to the Royal Air Force. She won five Harman Trophy as the outstanding woman pilot in the world. Sometimes called the “Speed Queen,” at the time of her death, no pilot, man or woman, held more speed, distance or altitude records in aviation history, than Jackie Cochran. In September 1940, with the war raging throughout Europe, Jackie Cochran wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt to introduce the proposal of starting a women’s flying division in the Army Air Forces. She felt that qualified women pilots could do all of the domestic, noncombat aviation jobs necessary in order to release more male pilots for combat.

This is the story of the women she recruited for this dangerous mission and how they managed, against all odds, to succeed.

Visit our website at http://www.LoveRealityRomance.com and check out the “My Hollywood Years” pages for Jackie’s story and other original screenplays in addition to my over 40 award winning and best selling novels that have sold over 3.25 million copies world wide.

Here’s Jackie with Chuck Yeager, the first male pilot who a mere six years earlier also broke the sound barrier.

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And here she is when she led the Wings For Britain force in WWII.

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SEX AT WORK Or LOOK WHO’S MAKING COFFEE!

 

By

Kathy Clark

 

What do Barrack Obama, Bill Gates, Elizabeth Taylor, Mark Zuckerberg, and Brad Pitt have in common?

They all had a workplace romance with one or more of their co-workers.  In Reality Romance novels, workplace romances are often central to the story.  Even Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele start out in his office…and we all know where that story ended up.

So what’s happening on the job while people are working nine-to-five?

The facts, based on surveys from Vault.com and Forbes give us facts about the reality of office romances.  Who’s doing it?  55% of women surveyed and 56% of men have been willing participants in some type of workplace relationship.  Career climbers?  Hardly.  Only 3% did so with the expectation of gaining pay, stature, or position.  That leaves 97% who did it just for fun or personal reasons.

How do these relationships start?  Why does it makes a good plot for a Reality Romance  novel?

  • 19% happened while traveling out of town
  • 12% “ran into each other” outside of work
  • 11% the relationship was sparked at a happy hour get together
  • 10% evolved after late nights at work together
  • 10% were lunch buddies first
  • 9% said it was love at first site

The survey leaves 29% who either didn’t volunteer how their workplace romance started.  On the other hand, we all know people who have had multiple office romances and therefore the above statistics may also include some double dipping, so to speak.

The survey led us to investigate further.  When sex was involved, here’s what people claimed:

  • 19% have done it on the job
  • 89% of those admitted to having been caught doing it

The conclusion must be that if you do it on the job, there is a very high chance of being caught.  Perhaps that’s part of the appeal.  Some people’s libido is heightened by danger or risk.

The breakdown statistics of where the romance takes place when on the job are not as clear.  The most common places to be discovered having sex at work were in the board room, the engineering lab, the stairwell, and the office kitchen.   Surprisingly, the breakroom was not a highly frequented place and the employee’s vehicle wasn’t mentioned.

 

By now you’ve got to be asking why?  In a word…attraction.  And there are three factors that lead to work place romances developing:

  • We gain attraction to others based on our familiarity and proximity to them. If you spend eight hours a day with a co-worker, and three waking hours with your spouse, this can give an office mate the advantage.
  • We spend one-third of our lives at work, dealing with the same clients and problems as our co-workers. Having something in common, even if it is on an impersonal level, can create the illusion of a deeper bond.
  • The average coworker comes to work well-groomed, nicely dressed and on their best behavior. Believe it or not, you are actually seeing the best of those you work with.

Before you toss all the research and surveys away, one more set of statistics.  Which businesses or industries are the most fertile, so to speak?

  • 72% in the insurance sector
  • 70% in education
  • 60% finance and banking
  • 59% manufacturing
  • 56% technology
  • 55% energy
  • 49% law
  • 49% accounting

Are there lessons to be learned by these eager office scoundrels?  Regardless of how things turned out, men and women would likely participate in another office romance, with 70% of men saying they would do it again.  While that number dips slightly among women, with only 62% saying they would pursue another workplace relationship if the option became available.  The general consensus on office romances amongst both sexes is clear.  Why not?

One major facet of on-the-job romances is the part that stretches beyond bosses and subordinates and co-workers. The workplace includes customers, be they clients, victims, or suspects.  That is real life which is what Reality Romances are all about.

On-the-job romances are a fact of life and, therefore, are juicy subjects in Reality Romances.  We’ve written and had published 14 novels since 2012.  Discounting the four YA time travel mystery romances in our Time Shifters series, here’s where our Reality Romance novels fall as regards work place romance stories –

  • Romantic Suspense, New Adult [Indie published]
    • Due Dates
      • Our heroine, Killeen Ames, discovers her new life comes with a man she can’t resist who doesn’t know the dark secrets of her past.  Doubly unfortunate, the man is a co-worker and now her boss.
    • Killer Date
      • Our hero in this second book in the series, Reno Marks, loves women…as a whole, but he’s never been in love. In fact, he doesn’t really know what it is. His love interest in this heart stopping Romancing the Stone like adventure and romance is not a co-worker but a client. I guess we’re expanding the Reality Romance genre to include customers and clients.
    • Worst Date Ever
      • Tulsa Wiggins, our heroine and smarter than smart, is forced to stake out a suspected perp by moving into his luxury apartment. The Reality Romance genre expands further to include suspects in more than one way. 

 

  • Erotic Romance [Loose Id and Indie published]
    • Master Suite
      • Together our heroine and hero explore the sensuous world of BDSM game play. Unknown to him, they work at the same medical facility.  The office romance begins.
    • Fantasy Suite
      • Alright, plain and simple, there is no office romance here. Just more of the Fantasy Island meets the Love Boat activity that takes place at the exclusive Fini Luxury Resort & Spa near Aspen, Colorado.

 

  • Romantic Suspense [Random House LLC published 3 of the 6 to date]
    • After Midnight
      • Our Denver, Colorado Cop, Sam Morgan, gets sideways with an on-the-job attacker and his “office romance” turns out to be his only clue to the killing of a fellow officer…providing he can keep her alive.
    • Cries In The Night
      • Our heroine, Julie Lawrence, is a victim’s advocate for the Denver Police Department and through her involvement of helping the people in the city experiencing their worst nightmare, she becomes involved with both the love of her life and the one who is out to end her life.
    • Deep Night
      • A deeply touching story of a woman’s profound healing, and the amazing man, her co-worker, who’s with her every step of the way.
    • After Love
      • One of most beloved characters in the last few years is DEA agent Nick Archer. His love interest, Jamie Chambers knows how to sniff out trouble but as you will see execution of a plan is harder than the plan. In this story, Jamie is neither a co-worker, boss nor subordinate. But it could be argued that he is her client as she provides him with his new K-9 partner, Harley.

 

Find all about these novels and all our books on our website at http://www.LoveRealityRomance.com and here are the links to the books mentioned in this blog.

Romantic Suspense, New Adult [Indie published]

Due Dates amzn.to/1RG22gd

Killer Date amzn.to/1VQiH6N

Worst Date Ever amzn.to/1LUTRQY

 

Erotic Romance [Loose Id and Indie published]

Master Suite amzn.to/22apRTb

Fantasy Suite amzn.to/1TAc481

 

Mainstream romantic suspense

[Random House LLC published 4 of the 6 to date]

After Midnight amzn.to/1ZGWCYs

Cries In The Night amzn.to/1ftgfBA

Deep Night amzn.to/1pFZeJu

After Love amzn.to/1RTJIq6

 

 

 

 

What just happened?

We’ve taken the time to refresh the novel blurbs for eight of our most recent books and we wanted to update everyone about this.  They should be up to date on Amazon by early Monday morning and are up to date on our web site at http://www.thethrillofsuspense.com .

Here’s the latest on our New Adult series, Scandals.

Due Dates, book #1 in the Scandals Series

DUE DATES

Killeen Ames is an overachiever.  Beautiful, smart, athletic, and living with the star quarterback of the ASU team, she has it all.

Then, in the blink of an eye, her world implodes.  Her boyfriend graduates and leaves her alone and pregnant which also puts her full-ride scholarship in jeopardy and leaves her homeless.

An unlikely inheritance gives Killeen a do-over and the freedom to choose her next step and what she wants to do about the baby.  But the new life comes with a man she can’t resist who doesn’t know the dark secrets of her past.  She realizes what’s truly important when she has to make a life or death decision.

 

Killer Date, book #2 in the Scandals Series

KILLER DATE FINAL

Reno Marks has never lived by the rules.  After he escaped from his alcoholic mother,  he moved to Vegas to become a professional magician.  Forced to live underground for a while, he sees life at its lowest level.

Reno loves women…as a whole, but he’s never been in love.  In fact, he doesn’t really know what it is.  When Jenny, a beautiful pre-school teacher, comes into his life asking for help, he is struck by an emotion he’s never felt.  Could it be love?

Unfortunately, Jenny realizes he’s a bad boy she doesn’t have time to tame.  It’s going to take Reno stepping way outside his comfort zone to convince her he’s worth saving.

 

Worst Date Ever, book #3 in the Scandals Series

WORST DATE EVER

Tulsa Wiggins was abandoned on a doorstep by her mother.  She has always been alone, whether trying to survive in a foster home or making her way in the world.  Her talent for computer technology has made her an expert in cyber security, which is perfect for a person who doesn’t know how to get along with others.

When she’s forced to move in with Cody, a super-hot fireman, Tulsa discovers how it feels to love and be loved.  But he’s a player who might also be a killer.

Can she handle the challenge of falling in love while her heart is at risk and her life is in danger?

 

Here’s the latest on our Young Adult time travel mystery romance series, Time Shifters

Change The Past, book #1 in the Time Shifters Series

TIME SHIFTERS Change The Past

Kelly Welch’s sixteenth summer was supposed to be the best ever.  Long, lazy days with her friends and her horse in Texas.  But her life changes in an instant.

Her unexpected move to Fort Myers Beach, Florida leaves her lonely and frightened.  Living with a workaholic aunt she barely knows and looking to start a school where she’s the new girl makes her anxious and unhappy.

Until she meets Scott.  He is smart and nerdy, sort of like her, and they hit it off right away.  His best friend, handsome, athletic Austin joins them on a surprise adventure back to the past and adds an unexpected complication.

The summer that began so badly becomes the most exciting and dangerous one of her life when she is faced with the dilemma of risking her own life to save someone she doesn’t even know.  Is she brave enough to risk it all…especially now that she’s felt the first promise of love?

 

TIME SHIFTERS Day At The Beach

Austin Burke lives for football.  He’s the star quarterback at South Beach High School with the bright future in college and maybe professional football.  He isn’t looking for a girlfriend, but then he meets Kelly.  She’s brave and funny and can beat him at their favorite video game.

When Austin and Kelly get together with their friends Scott and Zoey for a fun day at the beach on what they think is a deserted island, it goes wrong from the very beginning.  They are surprised to find a group of people led by a very frightening man.  As they try to find a way off the island, Austin discovers his attraction for Kelly, but he thinks she and Scott are a couple, and he won’t do anything to hurt his best friend.

But then they are attacked by a crazed criminal who is determined to leave no survivors.  The teens must work together, and Austin takes charge to attempt to bring them home safely.

 

TIME SHIFTERS Runaway Lover

Zoey Chandler is popular, beautiful, and rich.  Her most important achievement is that she is on the cheer squad.  That is, until she accidentally is swept along on a crazy adventure with Austin, Kelly, and Scott.  She discovers there is more to life than having a good hair day.

Their newest adventure takes them to a travelling circus where Zoey falls in love with a charming young man named Jesse who trains tigers.  Kelly and Austin get closer as the teens learn new jobs and experience a lifestyle very different than they’ve ever known.  But love is complicated, especially when there is a time change of almost a hundred years and Jesse is the target of a jealous killer.

If they can save him, how can Zoey make the difficult decision of whether to give up the life she knows and loves for a boy in a different time who has stolen her heart?

 

TIME SHIFTERS Forever Love

Kelly and Austin are left alone while everyone else is on vacation trips with their families.  They celebrate the Fourth of July together and grow closer than ever.

But as soon as Scott and Zoey return, the teens take off on an excursion to the past to visit the historic Stanley Hotel.  Their goal is to save a little girl named Emma from a kidnapper, but as they celebrate another Fourth of July, Kelly is swept away by her first real kiss.

The teens experience a new and hard lifestyle, all the while hoping to see if the stories about ghosts are true.  They meet a lot of interesting people, even some very famous ones, but everyone seems normal.

As they face their first defeat, they are caught by surprise when the same danger that takes Emma also threatens the teens when one of their own is captured in a killer’s web.  Will they be able to save Emma?  Or will they join her as permanent guests in the ghostly halls of The Stanley Hotel?

You don’t have to believe in ghosts…until you meet one.

 

Finally, our single title, Life’s What Happens

Life's What Happens Amazon sized

The email about the gathering popped up on Don Williams’s smart phone and he found himself obediently driving back to the small college town where events years ago shook the world and changed his life forever.  A morbid curiosity or a second look from a more mature point of view, he found himself driving up the long fraternity house driveway.  It took him longer than expected as his driving tour of the campus pulled his imagination back in time.

What happened next rocked his belief in the past and present.  The recollections of his past lovers, friends and events raced into focus and quickly overlaid the reality of now.  His ability to change the past and influence the present blurred the lines between what he knew and what he remembered and his trip consumed him.

He relived a college life that spiraled out of control in spite of his best efforts to graduate.  With everyone who mattered to him then, he mourned and celebrated the changes that have occurred since.  For college life then and now more has stayed the same than not.  LIFE’S WHAT HAPPENS is their story, as each is faced with questions much more complicated than any generation past. It is about the year they turned from boys to men, and where their choices took them.

Based on actual events, this is the unwritten story of what really followed the summer that became the most famous summer ever in song and memories.

 

Please remember, all these books and all the blacklist of classic romance novels are free.  Simply leave a review on Amazon on any book and fill out the form on the first age of our website and you’ll receive your FREE book direct via email.

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Getting Ready For March 20th.

So what happens on March 20th?

After one month of building reviews and releasing book #4, RIP in the Teen Time Travel Mystery Series, CUL8R, I am finally ready to launch formal advertising of the book to the world.

To date it has received 17 reviews, almost all 5 stars and there are another dozen or so free copies floating around the planet still to weight in.  This blog is about the press release planned for that date.  I want to also thank the Stanley Hotel for their  support. It is a must see whenever you’re in Colorado.

WEB TILE CUL8R SERIES     THUMBNAIL RIP 021614

Already a top 100 on Amazon Teen & YA time travel…and here’s the Press Release for the formal announcement of RIP’s release on March 20TH.  Here’s the press release as planned today.

Colorado’s Stanley Hotel hosts a new ghost story by Bob Kat titled RIP (Rest in Peace) to be released on February 25, 2014. “While The Stanley Hotel has been featured in TV, movies & books in the past, it is refreshing to see a new twist on the use of the hotel,” Jesse Freitas, Manager of The Stanley Hotel stated.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was founded by F.O. Stanley, a wealthy businessman forced to move west for health reasons. The expansive property boasts amazing architecture, a magnificent setting and spectacular views, but it may forever be best known as the inspiration for Stephen King’s spine-tingling novel “The Shining” and the subject of Ghost Hunters, the American paranormal reality television series on several occasions.

“But now The Stanley Hotel is in the news again,” says Kathy Clark, a.k.a. Bob Kat, an American fiction author,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Clark_(American_author).

Jesse Feitas said, “We are excited that the CUL8R book series has chosen The Stanley Hotel as a destination for RIP, not only to tie in a connection with the paranormal stories but traveling back in time to the first couple of years in The Stanley Hotel’s history brings in a whole new fun element to the story.”

“My co-writer in this series, husband Bob Wernly of Austin, Texas and I chose to set the 4th book in the CUL8R Time Travel Mystery Series at the infamous hotel after several trips and many weeks of guest time over the years. We worked hard to describe the hotel as accurately as possible because it’s such a wonderful place and we wanted to do it justice. Several years ago I was lucky enough to go on a private ghost hunt with Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson of Ghost Hunters, crawling through the basement tunnels not open to the public in total darkness which really added to the authenticity of the story,” Kathy said.

RIP (Rest in Peace) is Kathy’s 31st novel and will be released formally on all the major on-line bookstores on February 25th and is available in both e-book and paperback. Kathy has sold over 3 million books globally and has appeared on the NY Times and USA Today bestsellers’ list for her romance novels where she cut her author teeth on her first 23 books.

“In 2012 we joined the crowd of authors who moved from the traditionally published to the self-published e-book marketplace. This is our eighth novel as Indie-Authors,” said Bob, “including four young adult novels in the CUL8R series, two romantic suspense novels in the DENVER AFTER DARK series and the first book BABY DADDY in the SCANDALS new adult series. All but the CUL8R series are written under Kathy Clark’s pen name.”

“Self-publishing allows writers the freedom to include content that traditional publishers would shy away from. And the publishing process is more than a year quicker, so we can continue to focus on the next book in the series instead of waiting for executive approval,” Kathy explained.

The CUL8R series is about four teens from Fort Myers Beach, Florida. “We had to make the time travel trips to the past in the novels really matter…life and death situations that force the teenagers to depend on their intelligence, ingenuity and friendship so they can change the past to save the future.” Bob explained. “I discovered an October 1920 issue of American Magazine with an article that Thomas Edison was developing an electrical device to speak with the dead. This later became known as his Telephone to the Dead. Since Edison spent much of his life in the Fort Myers area, what if our teenagers found that invention, tucked away in the garage of a distant relative who had worked for Edison? What if our personality survives our passing as Edison believed?”

“In RIP [Rest In Peace] you don’t have to believe in ghosts…until you meet one,” Kathy added.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most haunted places in the U.S. So, when Kelly, Scott, Austin and Zoey travel back to 1911 to try to save a young child who went missing from the busy lobby, they aren’t surprised when ghost children run up and down the halls.

There’s romance in the Rockies as they take jobs with the hotel so they can keep an eye on 4 year old Emma and her family. Kelly struggles with her attraction to Austin while Zoey tries to get over her broken heart. Along the way, they meet some colorful historical characters and experience life among the rich and famous just after the turn of the twentieth century. After three other successful time travel adventures, they assume it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. That almost proves to be a fatal mistake.

Kathy concluded, “But can they save Emma? Or will they join her as permanent guests in the ghostly halls of The Stanley Hotel?”

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Peace-CUL8R-Travel-Mystery-Romance-ebook/dp/B00IKIML6U/
iBookstore – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id826260582
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/410880
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rip-kathy-clark-aka-bob-kat/1118721095?ean=2940148194996&itm=1&usri=2940148194996
Kobo – SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 17, 2014
Sony Reader Store – SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 24, 2014
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20879728-rip-rest-in-peace?bf=1000&from_search=true
All Romance – https://www.omnilit.com/product-riprestinpeaceacul8rtimetravelmysteryromance-1428505-152.html
GOOGLE Play / Books –https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Bob_Kat_RIP_Rest_In_Peace_a_CUL8R_Time_Travel_Myst?id=is7kAgAAQBAJ&hl=en
Diesel – SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 24, 2014

FOR PAPER BACK CREATE SPACE – http://www.amazon.com/RIP-Rest-Peace-CUL8R-4/dp/1496145968/

WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathy_Clark_(American_author)

AUTHOR SITE:   http://www.nightwriter93.com

BLOGhttps://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/

FACEBOOK:   https://www.facebook.com/kelly.welch.cul8r

TWITTER:   @93nightwriter

PINTEREST:   http://www.pinterest.com/BobKat1993/

JOIN KATHY’S EMAIL LIST FOR ANNOUNCEMENTS, PRE-RELEASE BOOKS AND BARGAIN / FREE BOOKS: http://eepurl.com/N4osT   via MAIL CHIMP

A Novel about Generation X, Generation Y, Millennials, Net Generation, Generation Next, Echo Boomers, Peter Pan Generation, and The Lost Generation.

How much fun or suspensful could a book be about five men and women in the middle of this generation?

Exactly.

When we sat down to write a new adult series about someone between ages 18 and 26, we discovered those who came of age in the last ten years are saddled with an overabundance of titles. First came Generation X, then came Generation Y, The Millennials, The Net Generation, Generation Next, Echo Boomers, Peter Pan Generation, and finally, for those who graduated college in the current recession, The Lost Generation. If Generation X was the undefined, the generation that follows is the over-defined.

We quickly decided that we don’t want to write about those that are muddled in the middle of this population but rather those that stepped over or better yet broke out of the ties that bind them together.

I mean who wants to write and read about an entire generation that has been characterized by these kinds of statistics?

In the 1960s in the United States, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had attained traditional markers of maturity by their 30th birthday –
• They had left home,
• Finished school,
• Gotten a job,
• Married, and
• Started a family.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2000 less than 50% of 30-year-old women and just 33% of 30-year-old men had attained similar markers of adulthood.
The new adult series SCANDALS, written by Kathy Clark, is about five men and women typical of the in their late teens to late 20s. Their story is not untypical of this generation –

• One is through college and three are in college…sort of
• Three have jobs but not in their planned or chosen career
• No one has gotten married or started a family

They have the herd or pack mentality of this crowd and this helps them bind on several levels with four others who they never met but now are literally their brothers and sisters.

The first book, BABY DADDY, is Killeen Ames’ story. The opening of the book sounds as though she is a victim.

“He left me with two broken DVD cases, a pair of worn-out Nikes and a plus sign on my pee stick.”

By the end of the book her inner drive as a competitor at the college level causes her to outlast, out wit and outperform those that are trying to kill them.

BABY DADDY is on sale this week end for 99 Cents. It is currently available on a number of book retailers:

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/BABY-DADDY-SCANDALS-Kathy-Clark-ebook/dp/B00GQC1S3O/
SMASHWORDS – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/379398
iTunes / Apple – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id757465403
Barnes & Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/baby-daddy-kathy-clark-aka-bob-kat/1117448913?ean=2940149013364&itm=1&usri=2940149013364
Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/Search/Query?fcmedia=Book&query=9780988343672
All Romance – https://www.omnilit.com/product-babydaddy-1360180-149.html
It is available but not discounted in paperback at – http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Daddy-Scandals-Volume-1/dp/1493512978

* CONNECT * CONECTAR * TRANSITIVO * VERBINDEN * RACCORDER * CONECTAR-SE * 〈二つのものを〉つなぐ, 結合する, 接続する *

For more about me either as Kathy Clark, author of romantic suspense or new adult romantic suspense or as Bob Kat, author of the young adult mystery / suspense…

Author site of all 30 books – http://www.nightwriter93.com
Young adult site for the CUL8R Series – http://www.cul8rseries.com
Blog site – https://kathyclarkauthor.wordpress.com/ The blog site is mainly behind the scenes with the last blog post titled Friends, Debt and Tattoos; New Adults, the Educated Homeless
I can’t visit everyone in few bookstores that are left on the planets so let’s keep in touch…I’ll friend, follow, tweet, email or whatever…connect, connect, connect, connect, connect, connect….

EMAIL – kathy@nightwriter93.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/kelly.welch.cul8r
Twitter – https://twitter.com/93NightWriter
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/102535903520839039578/posts/p/pub

PLEASE NOTE PRICE REDUCTIONS WERE SUBMITTED TO ITUNES/APPLE AND KOBO BUT THEY SOMETIMES ARE VERY SLOW IN RESPONDING. THE 99 CENT PRICE HAS BEEN VERIFIED AT AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, ALL ROMANCE AND SMASHWORDS.

* CONNECT * CONECTAR * TRANSITIVO * VERBINDEN * RACCORDER * CONECTAR-SE * 〈二つのものを〉つなぐ, 結合する, 接続する *

SCANDALS BABY DADDY 10282013

A mental basis for The New Adult Fiction Genre

Is a person an adult at 18? Recently UK psychologists say No! So the questions is, is this the basis for The New Adult Fiction Genre.
With adolescence now ending at 25 to prevent young people getting an inferiority complex what should be included in a New Adult novel?

The BBC report claims that during adolescence, the way everyday situations and data is processed changes significantly from when a person is a child, to when they reach middle age.

Why does an author of Young Adult and New Adult fiction bring this up?  Simple. The elements of a New Adult novel fit certain criteria in the research and article by child psychologist Laverne Antrobus from London’s Tavistock Clinic who told the BBC “We are becoming much more aware and appreciating development beyond [the age of 18] and I think it’s a really good initiative.”

Adolescence no longer ends when people hit 18, according to updated guidelines being given to child psychologists.  The new directive is designed to extend the age range that child psychologists can work with from 18 years old up to 25.

It is hoped the initiative will stop children being ‘rushed’ through their childhood and feeling pressured to achieve key milestones quickly, reports the BBC.

There are now three stages of adolescence, according to the BBC report: early adolescence that ranges from 12 to 14 years, middle adolescence from 15 to 17 years and 18 and over is classed as late adolescence.

Authors have long held that give or take couple of years to allow for differences in upbringing mid-grade usually ends around 14 years old, young adult is in the 14 to 18 years and the new adult genre is in the 18 to 25 year old group.

It has been introduced because research now suggests the brain continues developing through and passed teenage years, well into a person’s mid-twenties and thirties.

The new guidance is also to ensure that over 18s don’t miss out on opportunities, or are forgotten about, in terms of health and education.  New scanning technology has made it possible for psychologists and other doctors to track how the brain changes and processes information.  It adds that as the brain ‘reorganizes itself’, people start to see and think about things differently and the brain becomes more like an adult brain.  Could this be one reason why in a well written new adult story  the character arcs tend to be more pronounced?

In our first New Adult Romance, Life’s What Happens the characters are forced to take bigger arc than you would see in people in their late twenties for example.  This background about being a passive adult will be built into our upcoming New Adult series Scandals, book #1, Baby Daddy.

Passive Adult?  Nice term for book club chatter but an author may need a more specific guide when writing a new adult book.  These criteria make a good list to follow and I explain them in terms of my first New Adult Romance, LIFE’S WHAT HAPPENS.  On Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/LIFES-WHAT-HAPPENS-ebook/dp/B00A14STPS/.

Life's What Happens is a New Adult Romance for ages 18 to 25 and beyond.

Life’s What Happens is a New Adult Romance for ages 18 to 25 and beyond.

  • College life – Life’s What Happens is told in flashback and the flashback is 100% the senior year for nine fraternity brothers and  their friends.  It’s all college all the time.
  • Moving out of your parents’ house and living alone for the first time – Most of  the characters in the Life’s What Happens story live on campus or in town and not at home and all for the first time.  What’s interesting is the character arc of those that maintain a weekend tie to their families and those that are immersed into the on-campus life.
  • First jobs – By senior year they have studied and majored in the classes necessary for their first real job as an adult.  This criteria is part of the angst that some of the characters go through. What happens if you’re not allowed to start your career?  What will you do about it?
  • Deciding who you want to be, career-wise, and in general. Identity issues. Existential issues. – By senior year they have made these decisions and are actively trying to make their decisions come true.
  • First serious relationships, finding love – Anyone who has gone through college knows that it was very rare that anyone retained any opposite sex relationships by the time they reached their senior year.  In Life’s What Happens one of the nine fraternity brothers set out in their senior year to accomplish this.
  • Sex – It’s less important that it be a “first time” as it is in YA. But the character should still be figuring stuff out. Since our readers can watch R rated movies, we can also be a little more explicit here without as much controversy. –  Because this is all about New Adults in 1969 and 1970 and despite the publicity or history of the sex in the sixties, sex then was different than sex in the 21st century especially compared to the beliefs and actions of the millennial generation, the target market to a degree of the New Adult genre.
  • Experimentation – Sex, drugs, alcohol. Of course, not all new adults engage in experimentation, but the phrase, “I experimented with “x” in college,” is a phrase for a reason. –  Drugs were relatively segregated to some of the class of 1970 but wine, beer and hard liquor were center stage.  Even states were confused back then with the application of blue laws and 3.2 beer.  Fake IDs were a cottage industry for one purpose and that wasn’t to outsmart and outwit the TSA.
  • Isolation – Living alone for the first time can be difficult –  Most of the characters in Life’s What Happens lived in the fraternity house where living there was more difficult to living alone.
  • Single life – New adults often do not have life partners and families yet, so their main relationships may be with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends. –  Many stories centered around the characters living their life with their brothers and girlfriends on campus and no longer at home with family.
  • A struggle to “find yourself” – This was the mantra of the 1960’s.  No further comment needed.  Yes there is actually.  The major plot point in the book is what happens when everyone finally is on the path to finding themselves when national circumstances totally blocks the path.
  • Change – Moving out, going to college, finding a job…it’s a lot of transition. –  Triple check and then add the draft road block thrown at them with a last minute Thanksgiving Eve congressional vote.   You never can say enough about Nixon.
  • Money challenges –  Goes without saying.  In some cases in the story a temporary shortage of money and the decisions made can lead to a life time change in goals.

A Victim’s Advocate Story; Who save’s the hero?

My release this week of book #2 in my DENVER AFTER DARK Suspense Series, CRIES IN THE NIGHT, followed several years of plotting and character development in my mind.  This is my 29th book overall and was easily took longest in my thought process.  Literally a dozen books and several film screenplays came to mind and got written since I first experienced the situations described in this compelling and provocative novel.  Chapter one is at the end of this blog.  The entire book is now available on Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/CRIES-NIGHT-DENVER-AFTER-ebook/dp/B00FDRYCIQ/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
In the 1990’s I volunteered to become a Victim’s Advocate for the Northglenn / Thornton Colorado Police Departments.  Victim advocates are professionals trained to support victims of crime or calamity in their greatest time of need.  Sometimes the perpetrator was still not captured or the traffic accident still blocking the road.  Advocates offer victims information, emotional support, and help finding resources.  Clothes, food and even a safe place to stay were all part of the routine.  When I did this vital task my time was on the front lines in your neighborhood where citizens learned of the death of a loved one, a spouse, usually a wife and even girlfriends who had received yet another beating by their lover and family members learn someone close to them had been shot, maybe even killed.  It was a gutsy raw and tough environment.  Victims learned they did have a place to turn.
That experience caused me to put some of these stories to paper in CRIES IN THE NIGHT.  The back story of the relationship between the heroine and hero is what happens when two people are thrust into high risk hard work situations.  I think the reason why the story took so long be written is that the characters took a long time to step up and unveil their feelings, aspirations and goals.  They have spoken.
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Julie Lawrence is a Victim’s Advocate for the Denver PD.  Her job is to respond to domestic violence incidents, fires, car accidents and other tragic events where people need help dealing with their darkest moments.   She has had her own share of tragedies in the past which gives her empathy and a unique insight into victims and what they need to heal and move on with their lives.  But she is better at giving advice than taking it and has closed herself off from sharing her life with anyone or anything except a stray tiger-striped gray cat.

Rusty Wilson is a firefighter with a reputation for working hard and playing harder.  He meets Julie while he is trying to save a burning house and she is protecting a battered wife and an unborn child.  He is attracted to her, but not ready to settle down.  To his surprise, she resists even his most platonic attempts at developing a relationship.  One day a typical call turns into a hostage situation, and Julie rushes to the scene, partly in her role of Victim’s Advocate and partly because Rusty is involved.
She finally accepts his offer of friendship, and as they get to know each other better, they realize they have a lot in common.  When a stalker starts playing a cat-and-mouse game with Julie, she and Rusty work together, trying to figure out which of her past domestic violence cases has created a psycho who wants revenge.  In her line of work, there are a lot of people who want her dead.
Julie has no idea who is trying to kill her.  The warnings had started out as just creepy, but gradually turn into genuine threats on her life.  Rusty provides the emotional and moral support she hadn’t realized she needed until the danger increases.  Their love affair starts in the heat of passion and ends when he finds out her secrets.
Someone is watching . . . and waiting.  Julie has dedicated herself to saving other people.  Who’s going to save her?  Find out on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/CRIES-NIGHT-DENVER-AFTER-ebook/dp/B00FDRYCIQ/
AFTER MIDNIGHT REVISED
CRIES IN THE NIGHT is Book #2 in the Denver After Dark series.  AFTER MIDNIGHT is Book #1 of the series and –
  • Won 1st place in The Best Indie Suspense Novel of 2013 and
  • 3rd place in the Readers’ Favorite Suspense Novel Award of 2013.

Kathy Clark also is writing a New Adult Romantic Suspense series (Scandals) and Young Adult Romantic Mystery series with the CUL8R series under the pen name of Bob Kat.

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Find out more about Kathy’s 29 books on her website at http://www.nightwriter93.com

CAUTION: Beta Reviewers have advised this chapter is hard to read but even harder to put down.

CRIES IN THE NIGHT

 CHAPTER ONE

 

The back door slammed with such force that the small house shuddered.  In the back bedroom the woman froze in front of the ironing board, the iron paused in mid-air.  Steam poured out of the holes with a hiss, but she didn’t notice.  Instead, her gaze raced across the room and met the wide eyes of her son who had been playing with a boxful of Matchbox cars.

He dropped the tiny red Ferrari he had been holding and scuttled backward, disappearing under the bed.  No words had been spoken, but he knew the drill.  This wasn’t his first rodeo.  He had learned early that out of sight also meant out of the line of fire.

The woman wasn’t so lucky.

Heavy, quick footsteps signaled the man’s approach down the hallway.  Her heart pounded in her chest, and she realized she hadn’t taken a breath since he had entered the house.  She exhaled slowly, trying to calm her nerves and steel herself for the battle ahead.  Even before she saw his face, she knew he was angry . . . at her, at his son, at his boss, at his life.  It didn’t really matter.  He always came home to share his dissatisfaction with her.

“Where the hell is he?”  The man wasn’t large, but when he was in one of his moods, he seemed to expand in size until his presence filled the doorway.

“Who?” she managed to ask, struggling to keep her expression under control.  For some reason, it made him angrier if she showed fear even though her legs were trembling.

He threw his car keys at her.  She tried to dodge, but the unexpected movement and her own swollen bulk slowed her.  The keys smashed into her left cheek, then fell to the floor with a clatter.

“You know who.  That piece of shit kid.  He left his goddamn sled in the driveway and I ran over it.  Twenty bucks.  Trashed.  I work hard and get paid shit.  And he just throws his toys around like they were nothing.”

“He’s usually really careful . . .”

He cut her off.   “Didn’t he go to school today?”

“They had a teacher’s workday.”

“Then he has no excuse for not bringing in the garbage cans.”

“It was snowing too hard.”

“Not too hard for him to play.”  He kicked the basket of laundry against the wall.  “You fuckin’ baby him too much.”

“He’s only six.”  She knew that arguing only made him angrier, but her motherly instinct was to defend her young.

The man’s dark gaze raked the room before focusing on the abandoned Matchbox cars.  His nostrils flared and he moved toward the bed, knowing it was the most likely hiding place.

“No!” the woman cried.  “Leave him alone.”  She reached out to grab him, but he swung his arm to fend her off as if he was swatting away an annoying insect.  She reacted by striking back.  Unfortunately, the iron was still clenched in her hand.  The hot surface landed flat against his forearm and the back of his hand.  Steam oozed out of the holes as the skin sizzled.

With a guttural roar, he jerked back as quickly as possible and looked down at the arced-shaped blisters that had already bubbled up.  Like an enraged bull in the ring distracted by the matador’s cape, he turned his attention back to her.

“What the fuck?”  He knocked the iron out of her hand, grabbed the front of her sweater in his meaty fist and pulled her forward, over the ironing board which clattered to the floor.  Her feet scrambled to keep upright as he dragged her over the metal legs.

“I . . . I’m . . . sorry, Carlos.  I didn’t mean to . . .”

He silenced her with a punch so hard that her teeth rattled.  Momentarily dazed, she didn’t struggle as he slammed her back against the door frame.  Her head cracked against the wood and she could feel the sharp edges biting into her shoulders.  She didn’t fight back as he hit her again and again.  She knew she deserved this.  If she hadn’t hit him with the iron, he wouldn’t have come at her like this.  The skin over her eye slit under his knuckles, and she could feel the warm flow of blood pour down her face.  But as bad as it hurt, she knew it was nothing like the pain he was feeling from the burn.  So she let him take it out on her.  She owed him that.

It wasn’t until his blows moved lower that her defense mechanism got its second wind.  His fist buried into her breast.  Swollen from the imminent birth of her baby, the pain shot through her like a lightning bolt.  He drew back and would have landed a blow in her expanded abdomen, but she collapsed, trying in the only way she knew how to defend her unborn baby.  He released his hold on her sweater, but instead of stepping away, he kicked her.

She curled her body in a protective shell, putting all the flesh and bone she could between his steel-toed boot and her stomach.  He kicked her again and again, cursing her with words that burned her soul as much as her ears.  Finally, she blacked out.

A child’s scream woke her.  She struggled to open her eyes, but one was swollen shut.

“Mama, mama!” the little boy cried.

Her hands slid in the puddles of blood on the floor as she struggled to push into a sitting position.  Her blood.  She could see it staining the white yarn of her sweater.  In the back of her mind came the random thought that that was her favorite sweater, and now it was probably ruined.  She had so few clothes that still fit.

Her son’s small hands wrapped around her wrist and she stifled a scream as he pulled.   Pains shot up and down her arm telling her it was probably either broken or badly bruised.  Her brain struggled through the fog as she tried to remember where she was and why she was bleeding and aching all over.

Carlos!  She straightened and tried to look around.  Was he hurting Danny?  Her son seemed to sense her fears and with a maturity well beyond his years, he comforted her.

“He’s gone.  But he hurt you,” Danny told her.

“I’m okay,” she lied, trying, as always, to protect him from the truth.  But this was worse than the last time which had been worse than the time before that which had been worse than the time before.  She could remember them all.  In a twisted measure of days, months and years, each marked a new ending and a new beginning of sorts.  She had never doubted that she had done something wrong to deserve his anger, and she had never doubted she would survive.  This time, she wasn’t so sure.

A searing pain, much deeper than all the others pierced through her, starting deep in her stomach and radiating out.  She heard another scream and was surprised that it had come from her mouth.

“Mama . . .?”  Danny’s voice was terrified.

The room began to swirl around her, and her vision blurred.  Another pain doubled her over and she slid back to the floor.

 

 

Julie’s cell phone began ringing as she juggled a bag of groceries in one arm and inserted the key into her backdoor lock.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on . . .,” she chanted as she hurried inside, dropped the bag on the table and pulled her phone out of her purse.

“This is Julie,” she spoke into the small receiver.

“We’ve got a domestic and fire at 238 W. Maple Ave.,” the voice recited crisply.

“I heard it on my scanner.”  As she spoke, Julie held the phone against her ear with her shoulder and jotted down the address on a piece of unopened mail.  “I’m on my way.”

“I’ll notify the officers on-scene.  What’s your ETA?” 

“I’m pretty close.  I’ll be there in ten.”

The line clicked off and Julie let the phone slide off her shoulder and into her hand.  She grabbed the perishable items out of the bag and tossed them into the freezer or onto a shelf in the refrigerator and left the rest of the items to be put away later.   She picked up her keys, checked to make sure her thin billfold was still in her pocket and left without bothering to take the address with her.  She knew it by heart.  She had been there before.

Less than ten minutes later, she found a parking space.  It had been snowing off and on all day, and it had picked up again just before she arrived.  Julie looped her scarf around her neck, buttoned her coat up, pulled on her gloves and got out of her car.  A white ladder truck and an engine with the familiar DPD logo painted on it were parked directly in front of the house, their hoses snaked across the snow.  The generators rumbled, spotlights focused their harsh beams on the action, radios crackled with sporadic chatter and firefighters shouted back and forth to each other as they focused a steady stream of water on the blaze that had gobbled up the left side of the house.

Julie quickened her pace as much as she dared on the icy sidewalk made worse by the steady flow of water that was draining from the house.   An ambulance was at the end of the driveway.  The backdoors were open and the stretcher was out.

“Hey Julie.  Sorry to get you out on a night like this,” one of the cops said as he approached her.  He flipped his little spiral notebook closed and tucked it into the breast pocket of his jacket.

“Is she alive?”  Julie held her breath, afraid of the answer.

“Barely.  He beat the shit out of her . . . again.”

“No surprise there.  Why can’t you guys put him away for good?”

The cop shrugged.  “She always bails him out.”

“I thought she had a restraining order against him.”

“She does.  But an RO is only paper.  It doesn’t stop fists.”

Two paramedics pushed the stretcher down the driveway from the house.  A thin blanket covered the woman’s prone body.  Her young son walked beside it, his hand on his mom’s arm, a gesture that was probably reassuring for both of them.  It wasn’t until she got closer that Julie noticed the rounded mound showing the woman was pregnant.

“Oh my God,” Julie cried and hurried over to the stretcher.

The woman looked up at her . . . or tried to.  Her swollen and battered eyes clearly hampered her vision, but she was able to recognize Julie.  An expression flashed across her face, one that was part embarrassment and part happiness to see someone she knew.  “Julie . . . I know what you’re thinking . . . don’t be mad at me,” she said in a voice that shook with pain.

“Gloria, you don’t have to apologize to me . . . or to him,” Julie rushed to calm her.  She gently took the woman’s hand and walked next to the stretcher as the two paramedics struggled pushing it through several inches of unshoveled snow and over the shattered remains of a sled.

“He didn’t mean to hurt me,” the woman told her.

Like hell he didn’t, Julie thought, but aloud she said, “How do you feel?”

Gloria lifted her other hand that already had an IV attached and rubbed her belly.  “Not so good, but I’m most worried about my baby.”

Julie looked up at one of the paramedics and he shrugged.  “They’re going to do everything they can to help you both,” she told the woman.

“I burned him with the iron.  That’s why he got so mad,” Gloria continued, anxious that Julie know why the event had happened.

“You need to focus on yourself and your baby,” Julie spoke soothingly.  “I’ll stay with Danny until someone comes.  Have you called your mother?”

Gloria turned her head as if afraid of being overheard.  “No, would you do that for me?  Her number is in my phone . . . you know, the one you gave me.  It’s hidden in the laundry room.  Danny will show you.”  She tried to give her son a smile, but she could manage only a stiff grimace.

The little boy looked at Julie and nodded shyly.

“We’ve got to go,” the female paramedic said as the stretcher reached the ambulance.  She and her partner prepared the stretcher for loading and Julie reached out for Danny’s hand.

“Only my mother,” Gloria pleaded, twisting around and leaning toward Julie.  “Don’t let him go with anyone else.  Promise me.”

“Don’t worry about him.  I promise I won’t leave him until your mother comes for him,” Julie assured her, and Gloria relaxed back against the cushion.  The two women weren’t long-time friends or even acquaintances.  Their relationship had started almost two years ago when Julie had responded to a domestic call.  That one hadn’t resulted in hospitalization.  But it had been the first in several similar events that had created a trust great enough that Gloria knew she could leave Danny in Julie’s care.

Danny trembled but didn’t pull his hand away as he watched his mother being loaded into the ambulance.  The red and blue lights bounced off the surrounding trees and houses, magnified by the stark whiteness of the snow and turning the still-falling snowflakes into confetti.  Julie looked down at the little boy whose gaze followed the twinkling lights as they disappeared down the street.  She realized he wasn’t wearing a coat.  She unbuttoned her own, took it off and knelt down in front of Danny.  Even though it was much too large and drug on the ground, he burrowed gratefully into the warmth of the wool.  Shivers of cold and lingering fear shook his tiny body.  “They’re going to take good care of your mama.  But right now we need to call your grandma.  Can you tell me your mom’s secret hiding place?”

“It’s in the house,” he told her, then lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.  “In the smelly things.”

Smelly things?  Her mind scrambled for what that might mean.  “Dirty clothes?” she asked.

“No, the good smelly things.  You know, the ones with the little bear on the box,” he whispered back.

“Dryer sheets?”

He nodded.

Good choice.  Men like Carlos never did laundry, so it would be unlikely he would stumble on it there.  Julie looked around.  Apparently the fire was out.  Smoke no longer billowed from the roof, and the firefighters were straightening out the hoses in preparation of rolling them back up.  One of the firefighters walked out of the house with an axe swung over his shoulder.  She lifted her hand and waved at him.  She recognized him from several other fires she had been called out to.

He noticed and walked toward them.  He was tall, well over six feet.  Dressed in full firefighting uniform, he looked big and menacing, sort of like an urban alien.  Steam radiated from his long black coat with its yellow reflective stripe and the top of his red helmet.  He had an air canister strapped on his back, but he had unfastened his respirator and it hung off to one side.  His face was smudged with a layer of carbon, marked with paths where sweat and water had streaked down.  After giving Julie a crooked grin, he swung the axe to the ground and knelt in front of Danny, as if he knew what an imposing sight he must be.

“You must be Daniel,” he said to him.  “I saw some amazing drawings on the refrigerator.  I was hoping I would get to meet the artist.  Were those yours?”

Danny nodded solemnly, but Julie could see that he was flattered.

“And that must have been your room with the race car posters.”

Again Danny nodded.  “Did my room burn up?”

“No, we were able to stop the fire before it got to your room.  But I’m afraid some of your things got a little wet and are going to smell like smoke.”

“How about my baseball cap?  The doctor people made me and my mom leave so fast I didn’t get it.”

The firefighter said, “Oh yeah, I remember seeing a couple caps in there.  They’ll be fine.”  He took off his helmet and held it out to Danny.  “Maybe you’d like to wear my hat.”

Danny’s brown eyes stretched wide.  “Oh yes, sir.”

The man set the hat on the boy’s much smaller head and it settled down to cover his ears and his face all the way down to his nose.  Instead of taking it off, Danny lifted his chin and looked out from underneath it.  But most noticeable was the twitch of a smile that had softened his tense lips.

The firefighter stood and turned his attention to Julie.  He pushed the heavy cloth hood off his head, revealing rumpled dark brown hair.  As he looked at her, she was struck by the clarity of his bright blue eyes.

“You’re Julie, aren’t you?” he asked.

She was a little surprised that he knew her name because they had never actually spoken.  But she wasn’t exactly a stranger to any of the public responders because she or one of her volunteers showed up at all of the more serious crime, fire or accident scenes.  “Yes, I am.  And you’re . . .?”

“Rusty,” he answered and pointed toward his last name that was printed on his jacket as he added, “Wilson.  I’m sure you know my younger brothers.”

“Oh, so you’re that Wilson,” Julie teased.  She was very well acquainted with his brothers.  Sam was a Denver cop who she worked with often, and Chris, the youngest, was a paramedic out of Denver Health.  He wasn’t one of the ones on scene tonight, but their paths had crossed often in the course of their jobs.

Rusty held up his hands.  “Whoa, you can’t believe everything you hear about me.”

“Why do you assume it’s all bad?” she asked.

“Because some of it is true.  I’m the first to admit that I enjoy life.  But my brothers like to exaggerate my . . .,” he grinned, “. . . transgressions.”

Julie shrugged.  This was not a point she wanted to debate in the middle of a snowy night when she was without a coat.  “I was just wondering if someone could take me inside for a minute.  I need to get Danny’s things and . . . well, something else.”

“Sure, I’ll take you in, but he needs to stay out here.”  Rusty called over one of the other firefighters.  “Jackson, would you hang with my friend Daniel for a few minutes?”

Jackson, a middle-aged black firefighter who had just finished shutting off the hydrant and screwing the cap back on, nodded and knelt down next to Danny.  “Hey buddy.  My name is Jackson.  Do you mind keeping me company while they go get some of your clothes?”

Danny nodded, solemn again.  He stayed, but his gaze moved back to Julie.

“Don’t let anyone take him away, okay?” she asked Jackson.

“Got cha,” Jackson confirmed.

After giving Danny a reassuring pat on the head, she turned to follow Rusty.

“Don’t forget my cap,” Danny called after her.

“I won’t,” she called back.

“Watch your step,” Rusty cautioned.  He took a flashlight out of his utility belt and turned it on.

Apparently, the electricity was off and the spotlights didn’t penetrate past the front door.  The dark house took on a sinister spook-house sort of feeling as they stepped over the threshold and into the smoldering interior.

“The fire didn’t make it to this part of the house, but the back two bedrooms are pretty much gone,” he added as they made their way around pieces of furniture that had been knocked over or tossed out of the way.

“Any idea what caused it?” she asked as she followed directly behind him, keeping her hand on his back because she couldn’t see anything outside the beam of his light.

“Looks like an iron on the carpet.  But the investigators will find out for sure.”

They picked their way along the soggy carpet of the hallway.  Even though the flames hadn’t made it into the hallway, the sheetrock was damp and there was a heavy, acrid smell that burned her lungs.  When they arrived at Danny’s room, she hurried to collect his jacket and a few items of clothing, including his Little League baseball cap that was sitting on his chest of drawers.  She also scooped up the stuffed monkey that held an obvious position of importance on his pillow and stuffed it all into his Cars backpack.

“We need to get out of here,” Rusty reminded her.

“I have one more thing,” she told him.  “Did you happen to notice a laundry room?”

“Not in this part of the house.  Maybe off the kitchen?”  He led the way back down the hall and across the small living room to the kitchen.  Sure enough, in the mud room that led outside was a small stackable washer and dryer that had probably been one of Gloria’s prized possessions.  But Julie had eyes only for the box of Snuggle dryer sheets on the shelf next to it.

“Really?” Rusty asked when he saw her pick it up.

She didn’t answer, but pulled out the sheets until she reached the bottom of the box.  Nestled there, just as Danny had told her was the emergency cell phone she had given Gloria the last time Julie had been called out to this house.  It was something she often gave to victims of domestic abuse because their controlling spouse or partner often refused to let them have any contact with the outside world.  She was glad to see that Gloria had listened to her cautions to hide the phone in a safe place where Carlos wouldn’t find it because Gloria clearly hadn’t paid any attention to Julie’s other advice to not let him back in her life.  Julie held up the phone so Rusty could see it, then followed him out the backdoor and to the driveway.

Once back outside, she took deep, cleansing breathes of the crisp cold air.  “I don’t know how you guys do it,” she admitted to Rusty.

He flashed her a grin, his teeth looking incredibly white against his soot-blackened face.  “Are you kidding?  I’d do this even if they didn’t pay me.  But don’t tell anyone.”

Julie flipped open the phone, turned it on and watched as it booted up.  “Hey thanks,” she told him.

“No problem.”  His expression sobered.  “You do good work, you know.  They need someone like you to help them after all this.”  He motioned around them at the devastation.  Yes, they had saved most of the house, but the smoke and the water had ruined much of what the flames hadn’t consumed.  These people had lost a lot, if not everything, and they would need all the help they could get.

“Hey Wilson.  We’re ready to roll,” the captain called and gave Julie a wave of acknowledgement.

She and Rusty walked back to where Danny and Jackson waited.  Rusty reached down and lifted his heavy helmet off of the boy’s head.  “Thank you for taking care of my helmet for me.  It looks good on you, but I’m going to need it in case I have to go to another fire tonight.”

“Sure,” Danny said with pride at having accomplished something so apparently important.

“Maybe you can get your mom to bring you by the fire station sometime when she feels better,” Rusty suggested.  “I’ll give you a tour and let you sit in a fire truck.”

“Really?  Wow, okay,” Danny agreed.

Rusty looked back at Julie.  “And I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah, we seem to hang out at the same places.”  She smiled.  “Thanks again.”  She nodded her head toward Danny, indicating that his kindness toward the little boy hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Rusty dismissed it with a shrug, but he gave her another grin as he put his helmet back on and headed toward the waiting fire truck.

“Julie, we’re finished, too,” the police officer who had been standing nearby talking to the captain told her.

“We can sit in my car and wait for his grandmother,” she suggested, but the officer shook his head.

“I can’t leave you here.  It’s still a hot scene.”

Julie glanced around, suddenly nervous.  “You mean he’s not in custody?” she asked while being careful to keep the conversation as neutral as possible.

“He was gone when we arrived, but you can bet he’ll come back.”

She shivered, not just because of the cold that was penetrating her heavy sweater.  She had never actually met Carlos, but she had seen his handiwork on at least three occasions.  “Let me make a quick call to Danny’s grandmother so she can be on her way.”  She went to the Contacts’ list.  There were only two numbers in it.  Gloria’s mother and Julie’s cell phone.  Even though she had encouraged Gloria to call her if Carlos came back, it was now clear that that hadn’t happened.  She clicked on the word “Mom” and put the phone to her ear.

It rang five times before a sleepy voice answered, “Hello.”

Julie turned away so Danny couldn’t hear the conversation as she gave Gloria’s mother a quick summary of the evening’s events.  “I’m taking Danny to the police station.  We’ll wait for you there.”  She gave the woman the address, and after getting her confirmation, Julie hung up.

“Okay, Danny, we’re going to get to ride in a police car.  Have you ever done that before?”

He shook his head, but there was a spark of excitement in his eyes.

“But first, I’m going to trade you coats,” she told him.  She released his parka from his backpack where she had clipped it and handed it to him.  He took off her coat, and they exchanged outerwear.  She welcomed the warmth as she slipped her arms into the sleeves and buttoned it up.  Danny had a little trouble with his zipper, so she helped him get it started, then reached into the backpack and pulled out his cap.  The first genuine smile of the night spread across his face as he put it on and tugged it into position.  She didn’t even need a voiced “thanks” because his expression said it all.

The police officer unlocked the doors of his cruiser and opened the backdoor for them.  Julie glanced back at her white Kia that was parked down the street.  She knew it was city policy that she couldn’t carry civilians in her personal vehicle and she had promised not to leave Danny’s side until his grandmother arrived.  That left her no choice but to ride with him in the patrol car to the station.  She would worry about getting a ride back to pick it up later.  Since Danny’s grandmother lived in Fort Collins, it would take her several hours to get dressed and drive to the station.

The spotlights that had illuminated the scene switched off as the fire trucks prepared to leave.  With only the red and blue emergency lights still flashing, the night seemed darker and the shadows deeper.  Julie glanced around.  She had the uncomfortable feeling that Carlos was there, out of sight, but watching as she took his son away from him, hopefully forever.  She shivered again and silently urged Danny to hurry up.  She wanted to be inside the safety of the cruiser.

As soon as he was inside, she climbed in after him and tried not to notice the telltale smell of urine and vomit that usually clung in the air of the back seats of all the patrol cars.  It had been a long day and was turning out to be a long night.  But she, like Rusty, loved her job and would rather be here than any place she’d ever been.  Only she knew how desperate she was to never go back.