Let’s get this Halloween started!

Happy Halloween!

*cues organ music*

If you thought I’d miss a chance to share a spooky story today, well let me tell you, I’ve come ready to deliver! I had so much fun telling Baby’s story the last time, I thought I’d keep this party going.

So without further ado, enjoy!

*This short is copyrighted by moi and not professionally edited. Let’s remember to enjoy them in the spirit in which they were given when you come across grammatical errors.*

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Tera stopped typing and listened. She’d been working for the last two hours and had completely lost track of time. But now, the unnatural quiet sent off a red flag.

“Baby! Tchotchke!” She called out.

She listened some more. The two little rascals were notorious for ignoring her, but usually Tera heard something.

“Dammit,” she muttered under her breath.

Tera had worked from home because she’d plan to get an early start on getting the house ready for Halloween. After their marriage, she and Manu had bought a home that was closer to town, as Baby had become adept at using his camouflage to hide from curious eyes.

She hoisted herself from her office chair with a sigh of frustration. Although Baby had gotten better at hiding his otherness from the rest of the world, Tera was never completely comfortable letting him roam unsupervised for large periods of time. Particularly, because his partner in crime, a pint sized Yorkie terror, Tchotchke was far to good at getting into trouble.

“Baby! Tchotchke!” She called out as she walked from her home office, peeking into Baby and Tchotchke’s bedroom.

Their favorite toys were strewn across the floor. She noticed that one of the newest toys she’d bought for Baby had its head ripped off. The rate that Baby went through toys was astounding, she thought. After checking to make sure Tchotchke and Baby weren’t hiding, she left the room.

“Um,” she murmured.

Tera continued to walk through the house, calling out for her two little rascals, but there wasn’t a bark of recognition from Tchotchke, or the click of Baby’s claws on the hardwood floor.

When she walked into the kitchen she noticed the back door was ajar, and her heart dropped.

“Fuck,” she groused, and sprinted out the door.

Thankfully she’d pocketed her phone before starting her search and she sent Manu a quick text.

They’ve escaped again!

For the past month or two, Baby and Tchotchke had become quite the escape artist. It was frustrating mostly because she and Manu couldn’t figure out why they were doing it or where they were going. Also, it was occurring when she and Manu were at work and, as with now, when one or both of them would be home. They’d look up and not see either Baby or Tchotchke.

Do you need me to come home?

No, they couldn’t have gone far.
I’ll call you if I need you.

Okay. Love you.

Love you too.

Tera smiled as she pocketed her phone. God, she loved her husband. She warmed at that thought, still not completely believing she had met a man so understanding and loving, not only to her but also her special pet. She sometimes wanted to pinch herself, or, she thought wickedly, have Manu do it himself.

Tera paused when she thought she heard a whimper. No, whimper wasn’t the right term, she thought. Tchotchke whimpered. This was closer to the sound Baby made when he was begging for treats.

But she thought, Tera tilted her head trying to follow where the sound was coming from, the noise was too…small?

“Baby?” she called out, trying to tamp down indication of distress in her voice.

Her mind raised at thoughts of what they’d gotten into. So far, Baby’s hunts had been limited to smaller prey, but she always lived with the fear he may have expanded his hunting outside of sanctioned times. Tera chewed her lip, and regretted she’d canceled Baby’s hunting trip last week. She’d been so tired and, although Manu had done all of the research on who the prey would be, Tera had been so wiped out.

Manu had done a phenomenal job of screening what prey would be appropriate for Baby’s unique taste. She never had to worry about a neighbor or the mailman going missing again. Not that she wouldn’t be happy to see the annoying man down the street that accused Tchotchke of destroying his rose bushes…well, she pulled back those thoughts. It would be too complicated regardless. As Manu said, prey couldn’t be to close to home.

She crept toward the direction she thought she heard the noise. Dammit, she shouldn’t have put off Baby’s hunt.

Tera scanned the area of the backyard, with squinted eyes. The new house didn’t sit on as much land as her previous home, but the backyard was expansive enough for Baby and Tchotchke to have enough room to amble around. Tera saw a bit of shrubby rustle and called out again.

“Tchotchke?”

This time she defiantly saw rustling as she scanned a corner of the yard. Moving in that direction, she tried to be as quiet as possible.

Tera felt a little lighter. Maybe Tchotchke and Manu were playing hide and seek after all. With a smile she jogged over to the spot and saw a flash of fur. Tera slowed her pace and moved in slowly where no doubt the spunky little Yorkie was hiding.

“Gotcha!”

She pushed the shrubbery back as she shouted, but it wasn’t the pint sized terror hiding, instead it was…well she didn’t know what it was.

The sensation of a tail twining around her leg drew her attention away, and Baby’s serpentine head rubbed against her leg. The yelped she’d been expecting earlier finally came and Tchotchke peered from Baby’s side.

Not quite processing what was happening, she looked at the little…Baby? Oh, God, she thought, it was a little version of her Baby. But, Tera peered closer, it had a light layer of fur, where Baby was irridescent scales.

Baby ambled over to the mini version and ran a forked tongue over a tiny head.

“Oh, it’s a little baby,” she cooed.

When she would have crouched low to touch it, Baby stopped her with a claw.

“Can I hold it?” she asked, excitement bubbling up inside.

Baby’s head cocked, as if trying to register her words. It was a gesture she’d become familiar with, and waited. Baby clicked and chirped in a way she’d never heard before, and in the corner of her eye a shimmer occurred. It happened when Baby was dropping his camouflage and Tera’s eyes widened when the creature that had been hiding so close revealed itself.

“Oh, you’re beautiful,” Tera gasped, and looked between the new creature and Baby.

“There’s more of you, Baby?” she asked.

Baby’s head tilted, indicating processing.

The new creature chirped and clicked and Baby responded. The newer creature that looked like her Baby, but different in subtle ways, moved forward cautiously. Tera held herself still and waited as it sniffed and slowly dragged a raspy tongue against her skin.

Tera’s fingers itched to touch, and as if sensing her need, Baby slinked over and rubbed against her hand. Watching Baby’s movements, the creature rubbed its head against her other hand and Tera giggled when she petted it.

Not to be left out, Tchotchke yipped and sprinted over to her, jumping at her shins. Snorting, Tera leaned down and petting the little dog.

The whining noise she’d heard earlier rose up from the tiny bundle of cuteness curled on the grass and Tera clicked her tongue on her teeth.

“Little Baby, are you hungry?” she asked.

Baby clicked and chirped, nudging against her hand.

“Oh, is everyone hungry?”

Tchotchke yelped and Baby clicked their affirmative. The newer sweetie nudged its head into her thigh.

“Oh, boy,” she said out loud.

Tera pulled out her phone and quickly sent off a text.

Sooo, what are your thoughts about
more pets?

There wasn’t a response immediately, and Tera continued to pet and coo as she waited. She couldn’t wait to get her hands on Little Baby, who sat whimpering softly. But her Baby kept a distance between them. Sweetie ambled over and licked Little Baby, and that seemed to sooth the little tuft of fur and teeth.

Should I leave work now?

Probably for the best. Oh, and can
you pick food up for Baby, off the
list?

Is this going to be a good surprise?

The best! *kisses*

Lol. Okay.

Tera bit her lip and started planning. It would be okay, she thought. There was no way Manu would look at Sweetie and Little Baby and not want to keep them.

“Don’t worry, my loves, Daddy will be home soon with food.”

 

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I’m back! *ominous music plays*

Okay, yes, it has been forever and ten days since I last blogged. I don’t really have any excuses, except life. BUT I have come back with gifts. It’s Friday, 13th and folks that have followed me some time know this day is near and dear to my heart because I was born on a Friday, 13th. So basically, it’s like my birthday. BUT what makes this day extra special is it is in October, and we all know how much I love October because of the BEST holiday ever, HALLOWEEN!

Anyhoo, so me coming back to dust off the blog today isn’t about how long I’ve been away, but how excited everyone is that I’m back and come bearing treats. Do you remember way back when, in a time long, long, ago, I released two shorts of creeptastic stories for Halloween? It’s okay if you don’t because I can barely remember what I’ve had for breakfast. Well, those shorts are no longer published, but they still linger in the back of my mind on occasion, and I vacillate between letting them rest in peace, or resurrecting them for folks to stare and gawk with wonder.

I still haven’t made up my mind, but at one point I decided I wanted to write sequels for some of my favorites, and dear reader you get an exclusive (so fancy) peek at one of those sequels. The original story was Oh, Baby (if you can’t remember it, boy are you in for a surprise), and the follow up is Baby’s Daddy (because I’m just so clever, right?!).

May this 13th of Friday bring you joy, luck, and some tasty adult libations (or whatever your treat of choice is).

*These shorts are copyrighted by moi and not professionally edited. Let’s remember to enjoy them in the spirit in which they were given when you come across grammatical errors.

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“Oh, Baby.”

Tera stumbled over a toy Baby had left absently in the hallway. Chuckling, she picked up the plush stuffed rabbit and smiled to herself. She couldn’t help thinking about how Baby had changed her life in so many ways. Tera had never been a pet person. The thought of all that fur and filth made her cringe. The constant barrage of caring for something so helpless and dependent made her anxious. But Baby was so different, and her life had never been better.

Placing the toy on top of one of the many moving boxes cluttering her new house, she thought about all of the errands she had to run. Moving to a tiny town along the central coast of California had never been on her agenda. A big city girl born and bred, there was no way she would have lived anywhere else, until Baby came into her life. Now she’d picked up and moved out so he could have the space he needed to thrive. Standing in the tiny kitchen of her new home, she sighed with frustration. Trash littered the floor.

“Oh, Baby.”

Shaking her head, she looked at the mess he’d made. She couldn’t put the entire fault on him. The trash should have been taken out last night, but she’d been exhausted after their long walk. Those walks were both a blessing and a curse for her: exercise she desperately needed, but boy was she tired after each excursion. Quickly picking up the rubbish, she thought about the other tasks that awaited her. She was going to have to get Baby settled before she headed into town. The remote location of the new house was perfect for him to run around without her worrying about him disturbing neighbors. Or neighbors being disturbed by him. She frowned at the memory of old lady Parkins. The busybody had been a thorn in her side when she’d first found Baby. She had a million cats; it wasn’t as if Baby could be blamed for the disappearance of a few. Rubbing her hand against her temple, trying to ease the tension headache threatening to form as she thought of the unpleasantness that woman caused, Tera promised herself she wasn’t going to let it get her upset.

Thud.

Startled by the loud noise against her front door, Tera clutched her chest. The sound of light scratching against the wood caused her nerves to settle and a smile to tug against her lips. Baby was back from exploring and must have brought her a “present.” The first time she’d gotten one of his gifts, she’d freaked out. She knew predatory pets liked to bring trinkets to their keepers to illustrate their prowess at hunting and usefulness, but it still caused a bit of a shock. The worst part was how sullen Baby had become from her reaction. He’d hidden himself away for the night in the farthest corner of her bedroom closet and wouldn’t come out until she’d dug his gift out of the trash and cooed and complimented him over it. Chuckling as she walked to the front door, she prepped herself for what she might see.

Tera winced as the front door let out a metallic groan. Something else she was going to have to add to the list, she thought. When she saw the object sitting on the worn Welcome mat that came with the house, it took her a while to recognize what it had been. Flesh, bloody and torn, with tuffs of hair matted and gnarled, didn’t immediately cause her brain to call up an image. She lowered herself into a crouching position and gingerly pushed on the ball of mangled meat and shook her head as recognition dawned. Tera peered at the remains of a human head. The features were too torn for her to distinguish much else. The tension headache she’d fought so valiantly against earlier flared into a beating drum in her head. This was not good, not good at all. She was going to have to look at the books she’d gotten on obedience training. It was so hard utilizing those books because there was no pet quite like her Baby.

The sound of rustling pulled her away from her gruesome gift, and she watched as Baby unfolded himself from the shadows. She was always amazed at how good he was at doing that with such a large frame. Crouched low on his hind legs, he clasped his talon hands over his leathery belly. Since she’d found him, Tera had been in a constant state of anxiety that he’d be spotted. That bitch Perkins didn’t help either with all her poking about. She would never regret letting Baby “go off his leash” that one time.

“Baby, come,” she commanded in a stern voice.

When he cowered and bowed his reptilian-shaped head and peeked up at her with his amber-colored eyes, she almost wavered. It broke her heart to see him so cowed, but she knew he had to learn what was okay and what wasn’t.

“Baby, come here,” she snapped with more authority.

Still crouched low, he shuffled toward her, with his tail tucked between his hind legs. The spikes that ran along his spindly spine were flattened and his usually vibrantly teal scales was dull and muted. Baby was a magnificent creature, but she couldn’t let his beauty and sweet nature sway her when he misbehaved.

“Baby, no.” She pointed at the dismembered head at her feet.

He snuffled out a low whine at the sound of her voice. Dragging his claw in front of his offering, he looked up at her, his usually slit-shaped eyes wide and hopeful, and bared his teeth and clicked his tongue against his serrated teeth.

“No. Bad.” She kept her tone stern as she pointed at the bloody head.

Cowering his large head, he whined and hunched in on himself. Tera felt as if her heart was breaking. The books warned against inconsistent training, but she wavered daily because, what would a dog trainer know about her Baby?

“Baby, Momma isn’t mad at you, but no hunting humans unless I say okay.” She gently petted his head; running her fingers along the hard ridges on top, she dug into the spot she knew he loved having massaged.

When he gently wrapped his whip-thin tail around her wrist, drawing her closer so he could nestle against her stomach, her heart melted. She knew she spoiled him, but he was her first pet, and hopefully time would make her better at setting rules.

“Oh, Baby,” she sighed softly, gently rubbing his head.

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Tera sniffled and used the back of her sudsy hand to wipe away the tears she’d lost the ability to control. It was over. There was no getting around it. Once Manu got back from his trip he was not only going to be furious, he was going to dump her. She choked back a sob as she poured water over Tchotchke’s trembling head.

“How can you have so much blood in your fur,” she groaned, using a small grooming comb Manu swore was best for the Yorkie.

The pint-sized ball of energy didn’t answer of course, but instead looked up at her with sullen brown eyes as he swiped his tongue across his nose. Tera was thankful he hadn’t put up much of a fight when she’d hauled him into the baby bathtub Manu used for his baths. Thoughts of Manu’s care for the little dog caused a pang of regret to reverberate through her body and she sniffled away another onslaught of tears.

“Oh!”

She startled when something nudged her shoulder. Tera had been so lost in her thoughts, she’d forgotten the other culprit in the current debacle she found herself in. Baby of course, and boy had he really done it.

“Momma is very angry with you right now, Baby. Go back to your bed,” she stated firmly.

Baby whined and trailed one of his talons next to where she crouched, his usual way of trying to get her attention. She couldn’t look at him though. He’d been very naughty and now everything great Tera had planned for their future was slipping away as quickly as the suds on Tchotchke’s fur.

“No, you were very naughty, Baby. Go to your bed, now!” She added more bite to her command and Baby whined once again before shuffling to his bed.

Tera was shocked when Tchotchke growled and nipped at one of her fingers. She released the little dog quickly and yelped with surprise. He could be a high strung at times, but he’d never been aggressive toward her. She’d actually always found him a endearing.

She’d been wary of having a dog most of her life. They seemed to require a great deal of energy and care. Actually, she’d extended that belief to owning a pet in general, but once she’d found Baby her worldview had shifted. But it had only been a world big enough to love one special creature. After meeting Manu, the feisty little Yorkie Tchotchke had found a special place in her heart and Tera ached at the thought she’d be losing him too.

Tchotchke barked sharply at her when she went to reach for him and wiggled from her slippery hands as she tried to get him to be still. Quick as lightening, he leapt from his bath and scurried over to where Baby sat sullenly on his own bed. If she weren’t so distressed by the events of the night, Tera probably would have laughed.

“Oh, so now you’re best friends.” She scowled as she stood, resting her wet hands on her hips.

Considering she was partially soaked from the bath she’d given Baby prior to Tchotchke, it didn’t make much of a difference.

The two pets just stared back at her of course. Baby resting his reptilian shaped head on the backs of his claw shaped hands, the spikes that ran along his spindly spine flattened, and the usually iridescent teal color of his scales dull and muted. Tchotchke made an imperious sounding snort before shaking furiously, spraying water everywhere. Baby chuffed with annoyance but didn’t move as his wet little partner in crime snuggled close to him. It was the type of image she’d hoped would eventually happen once Manu started living with her. She pressed a fist to her chest to help alleviate some of the ache that had settled there.

It hadn’t been an easy transition moving in together, mostly because Tchotchke had gone out of his way to terrorize Baby. When they’d begun dating, Tchotchke had been reluctant to warm up to Tera. Manu blamed himself for the Yorkie’s behavior. When he’d gone to the local shelter to find a dog, he’d been considering a larger mix breed, but Tchotchke had run up to the gate and made it known he’d be going home with Manu instead. Once he’d heard how the little powerhouse had escaped from a puppy mill, Manu knew he was special. It was that story, along with many others that had confirmed the brilliant scientist was the man for her.

Since taking Baby in, Tera had only dated periodically. She’d moved to the Central Coast of California to ensure her special pet would have the space and privacy he needed to thrive. Tera loved her little house in Morro Bay, because it sat just inland enough from the usual waterfront area the town was known for, allowing for the space Baby needed, but didn’t make her feel isolated.

Everything was perfect, even the occasional dates she went on. Although she never took them further than dinner and a movie. Tera couldn’t risk bringing just anyone into Baby’s life.

“Dammit,” she snapped, fear and regret making her feel hopeless.

Manu was more than just “anyone”.

It was pure happenstance that brought them together one rainy day. She’d gotten a flat and while parked on the side of the rode inspecting it, a car pulled up behind her. Tera tensed, suddenly feeling vulnerable on the deserted stretch of highway in the pouring rain. Her community wasn’t a bustling hub of crime activity, but being a woman on her own for so long she’d learned to be cautious. When a tall lanky man stepped out of the car she held her breath as he approached.

The deep hood of his waterproof windbreaker hid most of his face as he sprinted toward her and she tried to angle her head so she could see more of him. He stopped, inspecting her flat tire. When he lifted the hood of his windbreaker back and smiled at her, Tera was instantly hit with an electrical pulse of awareness.

“Do you need some help?” he’d asked.

His words were accented, with a lush rhythmical quality that made her want to sit and listen to him speak for hours. While his dark eyes radiated warm and kindness. Something she hadn’t realized she needed so desperately until that moment. In her memory she couldn’t recall noticing the symmetry of his features she now loved so dear, because at that time when she needed help, it was his calm reserve she’d latched on to most.

Cupid’s arrow had found it’s point and she’d been struck instantly. To her amazement so had he, and within a few short months they’d been inseparable. When she’d finally gotten up the courage to tell him about Baby, she couldn’t have hoped for a better response.

“Gorgeous, simply gorgeous,” he’d whispered in awe.

It was Manu’s influence that had made caring for Baby easier. Baby had taken to Manu from their first meeting, and followed him around loyally when they went on their extended walks. Manu had also developed a training regime for Baby that helped reduce some of his predatory tendencies, making caring for him more manageable. Moving in together had been the natural next step, and the last six months had been the best in her life. Even with the bumpy road of trying to co-habit Tchotchke and Baby.

Tera’s eyes scanned the mudroom, where the splatter of blood and grime painted the perfect picture of her relationships demise. She refused to let her gaze linger on the bloody clump of bits of flesh, bone, and fabric.

“Tchotchke be good and let me towel you off,” she snatched up the plush towel she’d brought down for the task and knelt down where the little dog was snuggled next to Baby.

Her fingers trembled as she ruffled the Yorkie’s fur, hoping to mop up as much water as she could. He hated when they used the hair dryer, and considering the rest of the cleanup she needed to do, wrangling a pint-sized ball of stubbornness was not a top priority.

“Be still,” she muttered, rubbing at Tchotchke’s belly.

Tera froze instantly when Baby raised his head and stared fixedly toward the front of the house. His amber colored eyes reflected light as his lids retracted and expanded. Baby made a low keening noise before his entire body began to wiggle. She knew what that meant, even before Tchotchke wiggled from between her hands and out of the towel; Manu was home. She scrambled to her feet, inspecting the room, anxiety like a great beast pressed on her chest. He was too early, she moaned and pulled at her damp shirt.

“Lucy, I’m home,” Manu called from the front of the house and she felt her heart seize.

The tears she’d been trying to control leaked more rapidly from her eyes. When Manu made his way to the back of the house she was sobbing full on.

“Tera, love, what’s the matter?”

She only got a brief glimpse of him before she was enveloped in his firm embrace. Her body shook with the force of her tears, and she could only cry harder as he stroked his hand through her tangled curls, and murmured words she couldn’t understand but soothed her all the same.

“Now, darling, what is the matter?” he asked, pulling her back and cupping her face in his hands.

Before she could respond, Tchotchke scampered over to the “present” Baby had brought her and barked rapidly in excitement. She tensed when Manu’s brow furrowed as he focused on the lump in the corner.

“Oh, dear,” he said softly, and Tera felt her heart sink.

She glanced quickly at Baby, and her precious pet looked as miserable as she felt.

“I don’t know how they got out.” She stated in a rush. “I’d gone to the market and set up the crates you’d built, but when I came home they gotten out of them and the house.” Her words rushed forward, tripping over themselves as her anxiety controlled the dexterity of her tongue.

“I see,” Manu said, releasing her and walking toward the crates he’d customized for Baby and Tchotchke. Inspecting them carefully.

 She rubbed her hands over her arms, feeling suddenly chilled without the heat of Manu near her. He didn’t speak as he toggled the latch that held the door of one of the crates closed. Tera bit her tongue and stood silently as he finished with the crate, and walked toward the back door and the window next to it. Tchotchke ran back to Baby once he realized Manu’s attention wasn’t going to be on him.

“Well, it seems they’ve finally become buddies.” Manu tilted his head towards their two pets with a sardonic smile.

“It’s human,” she blurted out, waving her hand toward the lump of flesh and bone.

“Well, I’m quite sure of that, my dear,” he replied, far too calmly.

“I swear, Manu, this is the first time in ages. Baby has been so good for so long. I don’t know why he’d do something like this.”

Her stomach clenched when Manu looked over at a cowering Baby. Tchotchke wasn’t fazed by his Papa’s gaze. Instead he wagged his stubby tail and yipped with excitement.

“Oh, I don’t think Baby is wholly to blame here.”

She gasped, shrinking further under the weight of his recrimination. Tera should have known better than to leave Baby unsupervised. He’d been doing so well though, for so long. He hadn’t brought her one of those kinds of presents in ages. Tears welled in her eyes at what she knew was coming next. It was only natural of course. She’d told Manu about Baby’s tendencies in the past, but when confronted with the carnage of his human prey, she couldn’t expect Manu to understand Baby like she did.

“Darling, no, I’m not talking about you,” Manu exclaimed, rushing over to fold her in his arms once again.

Tera pressed her face to his chest, feeling slightly hopeful, but not ready to let go of the sickening doubt that clung to her.

“I’m talking about Tchotchke. It seems the little escape artist has found a much bigger and more dexterous accomplice.”  Manu ran a hand through his dark wavy hair, and scowled with concentration. “I was concerned about this, particularly with Tchotchke’s dominant tendencies, and Baby’s need to please.” He sighed, pecking a kiss on the tip of her nose.

She blinked in confusion as he walked over and patted both Tchotchke and Baby on the head. “Well you two have certainly had quite the adventure.” He chuckled as both pets preened under his attention.

“We’ll clean this up and have them lead us back to where I’m sure they’ve buried the rest of the remains.” Manu said, rising and clapping his hands.

“Clean up?” She asked, utterly flabbergasted.

“Oh, poor darling, you’ve already had the brunt of it. Why don’t you shower and change and I’ll handle things in here.”

“But…Baby…and…” She waved her hand toward the mangled clump of flesh and bone.

Baby and Tchotchke watched them both, mirror expressions of concentration on their faces. Once again, if she weren’t on the verge of a collapse she would have found the sudden solidarity of the two vastly different pets amusing.

Manu clicked his tongue on his teeth and gave her a shrug.

“Accidents happen with pets, darling. It’s not as if Baby has gone on a rampage. He’s made a mistake, and we’ll work together on correcting his behavior. Particularly, what I’m sure is a far too easy capitulation to Tchotchke’s influence.”

The Yorkie chose that moment to yip excitedly and tug at Baby’s whip thin tail. Baby clicked his tongue on his serrated teeth and nudged Tchotchke with his reptilian head. The little dog’s body vibrated with energy as he chased Baby’s tail. Manu chuckled at their antics before gathering up the soiled towels she’d discarded on the ground.

“Those two,” he snorted, “And you were worried they wouldn’t get along,” his accented words shaded with humor and affection soothed the last of her fears.

Tera took a deep breath and smiled at the man she loved and the little creatures that had stolen their hearts. That was until Baby made a retching sound, and promptly threw up a slimy glob of hair and skin.

“Oh, Baby,” she sighed, and new she’d be cleaning up vomit all night.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s keep this tradition going!

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happy

It’s a little later in the day for this posting but *shrugs* better late than never.

I hope you all have a happy, safe and fun Halloween!

One Last Time
(Unedited because no one can be perfect all the time.)
Janet Eckford

“I really don’t think we should be doing this.”

“Stop worrying and just keep an eye on them.”

A chorus of tiny giggles and mock screams of terror rang out in the crisp October night. Fall had decided to snatch the reins from her sister Summer and the night sparkled with the promise of cool days and even cooler nights.

“I think we lost one.”

“We haven’t. Stop panicking and just keep an eye on them.

The two figures dressed in heavy black robes stood on the peripheral of ghoulish merriment that only Halloween seemed to bring out in both children and adults alike. Aside from their hushed bickering, one wouldn’t have noticed them amongst the throngs of adults and older siblings, waiting patiently at the curb for little ones to come running back winded from the thrill of adding to their candy horde.

“They’re giving out entire candy bars!”

A small girl screeched with excitement, waving said candy bar at her mother.

Her mother smiled and added it to the bag she carried, the tiny skull bucket her daughter had insisted on having because it matched her costume had stopped fitting all of her treats a long time ago.

The two dark robed figures stood back, silently watching, keeping an eye on their equally excited charges.

“Tia! Tia!”

“I’m over here.”

A little boy dressed in a homemade superhero costume gave a grin of relief when he saw a woman waving at the edge of the lawn for him. He scrunched his cape in his hand and balanced his swelling bag of candy in another and sprinted toward her.

“The woman knew who I was,” he lisped in triumph as he jutted out his little boy chest with pride.

“I told you someone would,” his aunt replied with affection.

And the two dark robed figures still stood off to the side waiting patiently for the little ones they watched over to return.

“Papa scary!”

The wail of a toddler dressed in a bunny onesie cradled in the arms of a man in a matching costume broke the joyous revelry.

“I’m not scared Papa,” a little girl shouted, raising her toy sword and charging toward a house with spooky music and flashing lights.

“Don’t run, Clarissa!” The bedraggled father yelled, tucking the toddler with a wet face making hiccuped noises of displeasure to his chest.

And amongst the brightly costumed children, and adults chatting amongst themselves, the two dark robed figures stood, one still and resolute, the other slightly hunched and fidgety.

As a throng of children hustled from one house to another on the bustling block of houses lite with macabre decorations and dark good cheer, a child broke away from the pack and headed toward the direction of the two dark robed figures.

Painfully thin, dressed only in a thin hospital gown, it was hard to tell the gender of the gaunt faced child with closely cropped hair. It was an odd look amongst the princesses, witches, pirates, and shiny store bought costumes. Just the hospital gown and a paper crown colored carefully by hands that hadn’t quite mastered keeping within the lines, placed precariously on a head shorn of locks of some indiscriminate color. That was it. No shoes or socks, not even a light jacket against the chill, more than a few concerned adults noted with judgement.

But the child beamed and danced across the distance toward the two dark robed figures standing in the shadows and it was hard not to smile as the sweet little face, faded of color like a picture pressed between the pages of a photo album for far too many years, peered up at its guardians and giggled with delight.

“I didn’t think I’d get a chance this year.”

The soft words spoken with awe didn’t travel far. Night was jealous it seemed and gathered the sound so it could be put away as a keepsake of remembrance.

“There isn’t much time before we have to leave. Go on. Go have your fun with the others.”

It was the more anxious of the two that spoke, apprehension having been whisked away on the tide of the small child’s joy.

The other dark robed figure watched the exchange with approval, nodded as the child waved before skipping off to join the shifting crowd of little tricksters.

“We can’t break rules often, but at least for Halloween we can try,” the initiator of their scheme said with confidence, gazing out as their little ones frolicked with their peers one last time.

So you see, on this night when children make merry, gathering up handfuls of candy. Look for two dark robed figures, standing quietly aside, for they make sure everyone has fun, before their final ride.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Getting my writing on

I’m working on a new story and pecking away at its word count. I’d had a lovely winter break to add a bulk of what I needed, but I’m back to work and inspiration has started to lag. When I need a little pick me up, I often go back and read what’s been written already, not to edit, because that way usually leads to excessive revisions and stalling of the process. Instead, I do partial read throughs to inspire me to keep going, or let a project sit for another time.

Today, I’m still feeling good about my untitled third book in my Ambrose Family series. The first two books were previously released and are waiting for the third to help launch them back into the world. I’d always planned to tell the story of each sibling and really want to see this happen.

Today as I organize my day to include some writing time, I thought why not give you a snippet of what I’ve done so far. Out of order without much context, but I think a lovely tease none the less.

Enjoy!

Unedited and copyrighted excerpt by Janet Eckford.

Thomas connected the call from his sister and greeted her with a rough hello.

“You’ve spoken to Micah,” she said without a greeting of her own.

Anger burned in his chest at the mention of his brother.

“Are you calling in to check up on me?” He asked, his words crisp from brittle precision.

Charlie sighed deeply and muttered something under her breath to low for him to hear.

“I knew this would happen once Mia told me Micah went to help Dani.”

Thomas perked up at the mention of his brother’s fiancé and Dani’s friend. “What does Mia have to do with anything?”

“Because my idiot brother, she’s the reason Micah helped Dani out,” his sister replied, in a derisive tone.

“Why the hell am I an idiot?” He asked defensively.

Charlie snorted and said, “Because you’ve probably been at home throwing one of your epic tantrums because you’re jealous.”

The tips of Thomas’ ears burned, a reaction he had when embarrassed. It ratcheted up his temper more that his sister had called him out so effectively.

“First of all, I haven’t had a tantrum since I was about eight years old-”

“So you didn’t break anything in a jealous rage?” She interrupted him.

“Charlie,” he growled in warning.

The tinkle of her amused laughter on the other end smoothed some of the rougher edges of his temper. They could fight, and disagree with each other, but there was no denying the power one of his sister’s infectious laughs had on him.

“Micah is going to be so pissed when he finds out you thought he did you dirty over a woman.” Charlie said once her laughter tapered off.

“I didn’t think that,” he denied hotly.

The statement rang false and when he heard his sister humph with disbelief he sighed with frustration.

“Well, what was I supposed to think when he said he was helping Dani out with an emergency?” he asked, “Fuck, Charlie, Dani wouldn’t let me help her make a cup of coffee most of the time, and Micah gets to roll in white knighting for her and her son.”

His sister was silent at his declaration, and he could practically hear her brain turning over his words.

“Honestly, Thomas, why would she expect anything from a man that is only focused on a good time.”

He opened his mouth to respond, but she cut him off before he could start.

“Hear me out, Big Bro. You’re the first one to admit your relationship was only required to meet the most shallow requirements. I wouldn’t have called you either if I was in Dani’s place too.”

“Yeah, well you also almost kept your husband’s child from him, so I don’t know how good you are with judgement.” He snapped back.

Charlie didn’t gasp with shock or even light into him as she usually did when he pushed her to far with harsh words. Instead she sighed deeply, and it sounded as if her very soul was involved with the action.

“Are you ever going to forgive me for that?” She asked softly.

“There’s nothing for me to forgive,” he replied.
“Really, because any time you get mad at me you throw that up in my face. So I’m wondering when you’ll get over it, because Grant, my husband and father of my children has.”

This time when she spoke there was a sharper edge to her words. Thomas knew he should back off, stop before words were spoken that couldn’t be taken back, but something niggled at him to keep pushing.

“It was a cold thing to do, Charlie. Knowing Grant even more makes what you were planning to do seem even crueler,” he admitted.

“It was shitty, yes I’ll admit that, but here’s a not so fun fact. He was just a fuck at the time, Thomas. The same way I was just a fuck for him. Yes, there was the possibility for more, but I wasn’t ready to open myself up to hurt from a person I’d only planned to sleep with and leave.”

Charlie’s words hit him in the gut. “Is this your way of saying I’m only a fuck to Dani?” He asked.

“Maybe,” he could hear rustling as she adjusted the phone. “Thomas, honestly you’re confusing the rest of us. You have been a notorious bachelor, but now…I don’t know. We don’t know what you are.”

“So the three of you are talking about me behind my back?”

“As a matter of fact yes.” She said with a humorless chuckle. “This thing with Dani isn’t like you.”

Her admission annoyed him mostly because she was right. This wasn’t like him. Throwing glasses, putting off work, and planning to flee the city. He’d always been good with beginnings, middles, and ends with his relationships. He’d never had his heart broken before.

Thomas’ heart sped up as his last thought sank in.

“Thomas,” his sister whispered.

He couldn’t do this right now. “I’m good. Thanks for checking in on me.” He heard himself say, as if from a distance.

“Thomas, talk to me, please,” his sister pleaded.

He couldn’t though. His heart was beating too fast and he was finding it hard to breath.

“I love you, Charlie.” He paused before adding. “I gotta go.”

Charlie’s silence was deafening and he wondered if he was going to have to hang up to make her stop.

“I love you too, Big Bro.” She finally said.

He didn’t wait to see if she’d say more and instead disconnected the call. He suddenly felt raw, as if he’d been left out exposed to the sun for too long. It left me feeling shaky and uncertain. When the thoughts of broken hearts and love tried to force their way into his consciousness he mentally flailed and walled them away.

He looked over at his overnight bag, gaping open on his bed. Should he stay or should he go, the words twirled like a dervish in his head. Fatigue creeping up, he decided he didn’t need to make any decisions right now. He’d take a nap and clear his head. He’d be able to make a better decision once he’d had some sleep, he decided and curled up on top of his comforter, not bothering to slip underneath. Thankfully his brain agreed, and instead of plaguing him with thoughts and memories, helped lead him into the dark bliss of sleep.

New release joy for all!

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Slow and steady is how it seems I participate in the race of writing now, and I can’t begin to describe how excited I am that I have a new release to announce. This was a particularly great accomplishment for me because Give and Take is the third book in the Wallace Pack Series. I write with a series in mind but it isn’t often I’m able to finish what I’ve planned.

I want to say there is more where this is coming from with regards to the characters in the three books…but…let’s all just be thankful for what we have now.

*wink*

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Give and Take
Wallace Pack Series: Book 3

Amazon

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Henry Wallace is the fixer of his Pack, the smoother of rough edges caused by the nearest and dearest of his family. It seems, however, that he couldn’t fix himself out of a coma, a broken body, and a forced medical leave. Henry’s ready to take up the mantle of responsibility once he wakes, but his partner Violet Peau—and the reason he’s confined to his bed—has other plans in mind for the wolf that always handles things.

Violet Peau held Henry in her arms while he died, and although he was only gone for a second, it was one second too long in her book. Instead of allowing him to bound out of bed as if he hadn’t almost gone into the light, she wants Henry—and the feelings his near-death experience unburied—put on a shelf where she can keep an eye on them. The problem? The stubborn wolf is one of the best when it comes to solving mysteries in their line of work. The newest riddle involves an ongoing battle to shut down a network of shifter mills and her need to protect is pulled in entirely too many directions.

Will Henry and Violet learn the fine art of compromise in work and love, or will bruised egos and past hurts prevent them from creating a partnership that can exist in both worlds?

Go get the ball!

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Michael Mcllvaney

It wouldn’t be Halloween without a little treat from moi! I do hope you all are having a lovely day, filled with spooky good fun. If today is more than a secular celebration for you, I wish you a Blessed Samhain!

Go get the ball!
Unedited and copyrighted by Janet Eckford

Lin balanced his tablet on his lap and reached down for the damp ball his dog Scooter had brought dutifully to him. Scooters tags jingled as his little body wiggled with anticipation to play his favorite game. Usually Lin didn’t like to play fetch in the house, but he’d had an exhaustive week, and decided to hibernate for the night under the covers with a good movie. Scooter yelped at him, his tiny tongue vibrating as he panted with excitement.

“Okay, go get the ball!” Lin shouted, and tossed the plastic toy out his bedroom door.

Scooters clipped nails clacked on the hardwood floor as he ran to retrieve his ball. Lin chuckled before turning back to the movie he’d been watching on his tablet. He could hear the tingle of Scooters tags as he ran frantically searching for his ball, and just when Lin had settled into the story of his movie, Scooter rushed back into the bedroom and made three sharp barks. The little dog didn’t have his ball, and from the way his body shook with barely contained energy, Lin knew he wasn’t pleased.

“Scooter, where’s your ball?” He asked, his voice lilting at the end of his words.

Scooter barked sharply again and ran toward the doorway as if answer. Lin sighed with frustration, but untangled himself from his covers and went in search of the ball. He’d never grown up with pets, and had never thought of himself as the type of person that would shape his life around an animal, but the day he saw Scooter, dirty and shivering, tucked away in a bush near his house, he’d fallen under the spell of the little dog.

“Where’d your ball go?” He asked, his voice once again lilting at the end of his question.

Scooter yelped and ran into the hallway, his nails click clacking as his little legs powered. Lin followed quickly, his sock covered feet sliding on his polished floors. When he made his way to the living, Scooter was running the parameter, sniffing and doing his best to search for his lost toy. Lin looked in the usual places the small ball could have lodged itself but didn’t find it. He lost track of time as he and Scooter inspected every inch of the living room and surrounding rooms of his small house for the missing ball. Not wanting to spend his whole night looking for the toy, Lin whistled to his dog and headed back to his room.

He climbed back into bed and opened the drawer of his nightstand and pulled out one of the reserve balls he kept there. It seemed the house had swallowed another ball and he wasn’t in the mood to keep searching. “Scooter, go get the ball!” He shouted and the little dog yelped with excitement before running to chase down his plastic prey.

Lin tossed the ball as he finished his movie, and growing drowsy decided to call it quits for the night. It wasn’t until he’d started to power off his tablet that he realized Scooter hadn’t brought his ball back. He vaguely remembered hearing the sounds of the dogs tags clicking as he scurried around the house, but Lin’s movie had been engrossing and he’d lost track of what the dog was doing. Now, the house was too quiet and he worried his rambunctious little dog was up to something he shouldn’t be. Lin looked at the clock and noticed that it was past midnight and contemplating letting Scooter be. He might have just tired himself out and fallen asleep in his bed in the living room, Lin thought.

Yet, the last time he’d left Scooter alone without checking up on him, he’d managed to chew a hole in the side of Lin’s couch. The dog was little but could be mighty in his destruction. Climbing out of bed, Lin padded softly from his room toward the living room. The light from his bedroom was enough to guide him down the dark hallway, but his living room was shrouded in darkness as he stepped into it. He looked around for a ball of white fur but didn’t see Scooter immediately.

“Scooter, come here!” He called out, his voice firm in its command.

Silence stretched as he waited to hear the tinkle of Scooter’s tags. There was nothing, and he called out again for his dog. He was probably hiding, Lin thought, thinking they were playing another game.

“Scooter, here, now!” He called out into the darkness.

He whistled and slapped his hand on his thigh for emphasis, but there wasn’t the usual sound of nails scrapping against wood as he expected. Lin groaned with frustration and whistled again.

“Scooter, come here now!” He shouted, his words sharp with anger.

The echo of his words faded in the house, but still no whimper or yelp of acknowledgement from his dog. Lin turned in a circle, and knew he wouldn’t be able to see in the dark. He moved to walk toward the lamp in the corner but cursed when he stepped down on a plastic ball.

“Dammit!” He yelled and snatched up the toy with frustration.

“Oh, gross,” he groaned and rolled the sticky ball between his fingers.

He was more than annoyed as he walked to turn the light on and yelped with pain as he stepped down on another ball.

“Fuck!” He cried out and snatched up the other ball.

This one was even more sticky and damp as the first and he pursed his mouth with anger. Scooter was going to get a major time out in his crate once he found him. Lin finally clicked the lamp on and startled at the red stain his fingers left behind. He looked down at his hand and noticed that the sticky goo he thought was dog salvia looked suspiciously like blood. His brain couldn’t seem to process it for some reason, but once it set in he looked around the dimly lit room with concern.

“Scooter? Come here boy,” he called out, worry setting in.

“It’s okay, come here boy,” he cooed, hoping his earlier anger hadn’t made Scooter burrow further where he was hiding.

Lin didn’t know how the little dog had gotten hurt but now his heart pounded as he searched frantically around the house to find him. As he clicked more lights on he could see blood smeared in places on the hardwood floors, and he called out for Scooter with increasing anxiety. Lin went outside to check the front and back yard, but there still wasn’t any sign of his dog.

When he came back into the house he noticed that the lights were out and he paused on the threshold. He’d left them on, he knew he’d left them on, but with his frantic search for an injured Scooter he couldn’t be sure. Lin padded quietly back into the house, his fear for his dog suddenly transforming to something else. When another bloody ball rolled toward his feet he startled and jumped.

“Scooter?”

The tinkle of Scooters tags pierced the quiet of the room and he tensed, waiting for the sound of little nails scrapping against wood. Seconds stretched and when he realized he hadn’t been breathing, Lin took a shallow breath.

“Scooter?” He called out again, his voice tinged with fear.

This time there was no tinkle of tags, but there was the sound of something scrapping against the wood floors. Lin’s body froze as his ears strained to listen for where the sound was coming from. When the house remained silent he let his body relax. It was when he turned toward his room that he saw something hunkered in the shadow of a corner. As if sensing his awareness, it unfurled itself and shifted forward enough for him to make out the bulk of its mass by the light of the moon streaming through his windows, but not the details of what it was.

Lin heard a whimper and shook when his brain registered that it was him making the sound. The gloppy thud of something rolling across the floor drew his attention and he watched as one of Scooter’s lost balls stopped at his feet. He didn’t need light to know that it was covered with blood like the others, and he wheezed as fear locked like a vise around his heart.

The thing in the shadows shifted forward more and Lin fought between the need to flee or freeze. As it continued to stay in the shadows of the dark room, the light from his bedroom illuminating only the hallway, Lin’s imagination filled in what his eyes could not see. Something flew past his head and he cringed as he felt it sail past. The sound of hard plastic hitting the floor and skittering to a halt was familiar, and he knew it was another ball. Lin didn’t move, waited to see what the thing in the shadows would do. He wanted to run, but his feet seemed frozen, waiting for a sign, before they helped him flee.

When the thing in the shadows finally spoke, it’s words were low and gravely, as if pronouncing them were difficult because it’s mouth was filled with too many teeth. Lin’s brain took a while to decipher what it said, but when he did, he shivered with fear, because it was clear the thing in the shadows had just commanded him to, “Go get the ball.”

Darkest before the dawn

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Winter is coming, literally, and I must confess I’m a bit reticent as always. As a winter baby one would think I’d revel in the long lights and chilled air (yes, it does get cold in So. Cal) but I don’t. I’m more prone to hibernating if given the chance, but alas me sleeping the days away in the comfort of my bed is not possible and I am required to brave winter like everyone else.

I noticed though that as with the other solstices I have launched a book and it caused me to wonder about my subconscious need to be connected to change. My newest re-release Fire and Ice fits quite nicely into the schematics of the Winter Solstice. The book deals with themes I think speak to the idea of dark giving way for the light.  Continue reading

I bring you treats!

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It’s here! It’s here! *jumps up and down with excitement* I wait an entire year for this day and I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am that today is Halloween. I’ve had a whirlwind year that has seen me branching off into the world of self publishing, buying a house, and the usual hustle and bustle of a busy professional career. Every word I put to page is a gift, and this year I was not gifted with the skill to write a collection of new horror themed shorts for Halloween, BUT you know what, I’m cool with it. Guess why…go on…because I’m clever enough to still find a way to give you lovely tricksters a treat. Continue reading

Darkly wicked thoughts

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Marco Pochestorie 2013 Flickr

Marco Pochestorie 2013

I’m gearing up for my favorite Holy Day and as such I’m thinking about the Halloween treat I will have for everyone on the 31st of this month. I wasn’t able to do my 31 horror shorts as I’ve done in the past, or even 13 little ditties that make one listen closely for the things that go bump in the night, but I’m committed to having something for you all on one of my favorite days of the year (my birthday has to rank #1 of course). My collection of shorts hold all that I have done with regards to the macabre, but there are a few tales tucked into the ramblings of my blog.  Continue reading