Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I've been tagged...

My friend Sandra has tagged me to post a specific passage of the book I'm reading. The problem is that I'm not currently *reading* anything. I've got an audio book going, but they don't bother with page numbers.

But I've got to post because I promised my mother. So instead of posting what I'm reading, I'm going to post what I'm writing, instead. The following is an excerpt from one of my current works-in-progress. It's a sweet contemporary romance titled Fighting for Love.


“Gemma?” The whispered plea was fervent and full of fear.
“This is Gemma.”
“It’s Diane Huffman.”
“What’s wrong, Diane?”
“It’s Mike. He’s drunk and he’s out of control. The boys are downstairs cowering in a corner. I had to come up and get Sophie. His screaming woke her up.”
In the background, Gemma could hear the baby crying and Diane’s husband bellowing. “I’ll be the—”
“I gotta go—he’s calling for me.” The line went dead.
Gemma flew out of bed, jumping into her clothes as quickly as she could. She dialed Steven’s cell phone number as she flew down the stairs to the parking lot. Please pick up, she begged silently.
“Gemma, what’s wrong?”
“Mike Huffman is in a drunken rage.”
“Sheet. What’s the address?”
“I don’t know. They’re on Carswell. You mowed their lawn last summer.”
“I’ll find it.”
A few minutes later, Gemma pulled up in front of the Huffman’s house. All the downstairs lights were on. The garage door was open, as was the front door. She could hear Mike Huffman from the street. Her heart pounded as she got closer to the house. She could hear the baby crying, near hysteria.
She should probably wait until Steven arrived, but he must’ve been off tonight or he’d have beaten her here.
She couldn’t imagine what those poor children were thinking or feeling right about now. Gemma looked down the street hoping to see headlights heading in her direction.
When she heard Diane scream, Gemma couldn’t wait any longer. Moving through the garage, she pushed through the open door into the kitchen. Her heartbeat echoed so loud in her own ears, she was surprised it didn’t announce her presence.
“Mike, no!”
Gemma ran into the living room. “Mr. Huffman. Mike. Please, stop. You’re scaring your children.”
The man’s bloodshot eyes turned in her direction. “Who the hell are you?” he yelled.
“My name is Gemma. I was your family’s Love Thy Neighbor liaison while you were gone.”
“Is that so?”
Gemma nodded and took a step toward Diane.
“Don’t go near her!” Mike yelled.
Sophie screamed.
“I just want the baby, Mr. Huffman. Can I get Sophie?”
Mike eyeballed her and then looked at his screaming, red-faced, snot-nosed daughter and finally nodded.
Moving slowly toward Diane, Gemma held out her arms. Diane did the same and Gemma clutched the little girl to her chest.
“Get away from her!” Mike shouted and pointed to where Gemma had first entered the room. “Did you know she cheated on me?”
Gemma’s eyes widened in surprise and she looked at Diane who shook her head.
“Don’t lie, you whore.”
Gemma caught sight of the boys in the corner; the older boy with his arm around his younger brother. Both pair of eyes were wide with fear, but neither one of them cried, although the littler one seemed close.
“Mr. Huffman, why do you think your wife was having an affair?”
“’Cause all I’ve heard out of those two since I got back is Mr. Steve this and Mr. Steve that. Who the hell is Mr. Steve, if not her damned lover?”
“Mike, why didn—”
“Shut up!”
“Hey, what’s going on here?”
Steven, thank goodness.
“Who the hell are you?”
“My name is St—”
“Staff Sergeant Whites,” Gemma said.
Steven raised an eyebrow at her.
“What are you doing in my house?”
“I saw all the lights on and thought it a bit unusual for two o’clock in the morning. So I thought I’d see if there was anything I could do.”
With Mike’s attention on Steven, Gemma inched her way toward the boys.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Mike demanded.
“The kids are upset, Mr. Huffman. I was thinking we could let them get out of here.”
Mike looked from the boys to his daughter hiccupping in Gemma’s arms. Once the yelling had stopped, she had settled down. She rubbed a chubby hand to her eyes, another ragged hiccup escaping her.
Mike nodded and Gemma knelt in front of the boys. “Get a bottle for your sister and go get in my car. It’s the red one. Okay?”
The older boy, Chris, nodded. The two of them struggled to their feet, throwing worried glances at their father. Gemma placed Sophie into Chris’s arms and pushed them into the kitchen. She heard the fridge open and close and then receding footsteps.
“Mr. Huffman, what seems to be the trouble?” Steven asked.
He pointed at Diane. “That whore has been having an affair with some loser named Steve.”
That explained Gemma’s introduction.
“Why do you think your wife’s having an affair?”
“All my kids talk about is this guy Steve. How great he is and the fun things he’s done with them.”
“Have you ever asked your wife about this guy?”
“She’d deny it, of course.”
Gemma took a couple of steps in Mike’s direction. “Mr. Huffman... I know Steve. He’s not—”
“Are you sleeping with him, too?”
Heat flooded her face. “No, Mr. Huffman. I’m trying to tell you that Steve is not that kind of guy. He doesn’t sleep with other men’s wives.”
“Like hell you say!”
Everyone turned to see Jared in the foyer.
“I knew it. So you finally got caught. It was bound to happen sooner or later,” Jared said, a bit of glee in his expression.
“Jared, no,” exclaimed Gemma.
Mikes eyes flashed and his nostrils flared. “And who the hell are you?”
“Staff Sergeant Anglin, Base Security.” Indeed. Whereas Steven had arrived in civilian clothes, Jared was in uniform.
“And how do you know him?” Mike asked Jared, indicating Steven.
“We work together,” Jared said.
Mike’s eyes narrowed as he turned his attention back to Steven. “You’re name wouldn’t happen to be Steve, would it?”
Steven nodded.
Mike roared and launched himself toward Steven. Steven was able to avoid the man’s charge, which just angered him all the more. He reached out and grabbed Gemma.
Jared pulled his weapon and aimed it at Mike. “Let her go!”
Mike pulled Gemma in front of him, using her as a shield.
“Dammit, Jared, put your weapon away,” Steven said.
“Not until he releases Gemma.”
“What’s she to you?” Mike asked.
“My sister.”
“He boinkin’ her, too? Why don’t you shoot him?” Mike cocked his head in Steven’s direction.
“Mr. Huffman, listen to me,” Steven spoke, his tone brooking no argument. “All those things were done with all the children of military members who were TDY—not just your kids. The Labor Day barbecue was at the park across from the base hospital. All the wives and their children were there. Same with the Harvest Carnival at the church. That was for all the families.”
“What about the swimming pool?”
“I did set that up for your boys, Mr. Huffman, but I swear I never set foot inside your house. Airman Bridget Fairfield was with me the whole time.”
“Never,” said Steven. “I swear.”
“Oh, yeah, right,” said Jared.
“Jared, shut up,” said Gemma.
Mike’s grip on Gemma lessened. He glared at Jared. “Are you trying to cast aspersions on my wife’s honor?”
Jared faltered a moment. Inasmuch as he wanted to catch Steven red handed, of course he couldn’t accuse this man’s wife. “No, of course not.”
All eyes turned toward Diane.
“I love you, honey. No one else. Please let Gemma go. Please.”
Mike hung his head and released Gemma. He burst into tears and sunk to the floor. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Gemma ran to Steven.
Diane ran to her husband.
Jared moved toward Mike as well, ready to handcuff him.
“Anglin,” Steven said and shook his head.
“He assaulted Gemma.”
“Do you want to press charges, Gemma?” Steven asked.
Gemma shook her head. “No, of course not.”
Jared glared at the two of them. “So that’s the way it’s going to be, huh?” he said. “You think he’s such a great guy? Why?”
“Because he is a great guy, Jared. Why do you think he’s not?”
Jared stared long and hard at Steven. “This is neither the time nor the place for that discussion.” He pushed his cuffs back into the leather pocket on his belt. With a shake of his head, he left the Huffman’s house.


K.M. Saint James said...

Wow, very intense.

Great idea to share your story.
LA Mitchell had a 'Tag 123' from your own story up on her blog a few weeks ago. It's a fun idea to see what everyone is writing.

L.A. Mitchell said...

I agree... very intense. Thanks for sharing :)

Jen FitzGerald said...

Thanks for reading, ladies.