When You Aren’t Wonder Woman

Hello peeps.  The last time I posted something personal, I discussed beginning my Ph.D. program.  I’m two quarters in, and I can’t juggle everything.  I receive two job offers this summer, so I am now teaching at the university I have been with since 2015 and an additional college.  That’s four days of work a week, plus grading and other essential functions.  Besides that, I’m a wife and mom.  I’m a friend and a daughter.  In order to prioritize, the Ph.D. has to be put on hold.  I’m okay with that.  After all, I want my family and friends to remember me for spending time with them, not for having a nose in a book (which is what I have done all summer).  Things may change between here and the first of the year, but I highly doubt it.  I am going back to my first love:  fiction.  I miss writing fiction more than I can even explain.  So, I am already picking up where I left off with my Between Worlds Series.

There are a few more weeks of scheduled posts coming, and then I will post this quarter’s work, but thereafter, it’s back to fictional writing and posting for me.  I am NOT Wonder Woman.  As much as I would like to be able to handle three jobs (I was also given a teaching assistant position for the Ph.D. program), being a wife, a mom, spending time with my family and friends, fitting appointments in there, and trying to find time to sleep, I can’t.  Something has to go.  For me, it’s the quest for higher education.  However, that doesn’t mean I won’t go back to it.  It may just be temporary.

So, thanks for reading my scholarly stuff!  Fiction will be on the way very soon!

Best,

Tracee

Teaser Tuesday: Voice of the Dead

VOD 3-d“What happened to you in the woods today? Not just today, but at every crime scene we’ve been to, something happens to you. You go off by yourself, and then when you return, you look like you’ve had the life sucked right out of you. You told me you would tell me.”

“You want to talk about this now?”

“I want to know.”

She heaved a sigh and then stood and walked to the bed, sitting down beside him with her back resting against the headboard. Inside of her, the defenses began flying up.

She hadn’t talked about her abilities with anyone outside her family. Her mother talked about it with her a lot and then once she died, Annie encouraged it. She never told Chelsey or Selina–or anyone else. Visions and voices meant emotional instability and for a nationally respected forensic psychologist, it meant sure destruction of a career and credibility.

Nick’s tone became angry. “You’re shutting down. I can see it in your face.” He paused. “Why do you do this, Doc? I still don’t understand you sometimes.” He watched for a response, but she didn’t say anything. “I’ve talked to you about things that happened to me in the Gulf more than I’ve ever talked to anyone–even Jillian. I’ve trusted you with thoughts that I’ve never trusted anyone with, but you still shut me out.”

She sighed as tears brimmed in her eyes.

“Please, Lauren, let me in. I won’t hurt or betray you or judge you. Tell me what’s going on.”

Dropping her head, she looked down at her hands as they began trembling. “I don’t really know where to start.”

“The beginning is always a good place,” he encouraged as he took one of her hands into his.

Teaser Tuesday: Voice of the Dead

VOD 3-dSelina sat up and looked down at Lauren who remained hidden behind her large black aviator sunglasses.

“If he knows that you consider yourself to be better than him, more worthy, you’ll never have a true partnership with him or anyone else for that matter. You’ve always done this, Lauren! You’ve pushed people away with your approach. All of this social gracelessness everyone says you have problems with… I think it’s a load of crap. Really, I think it’s your mask. Just because you have degrees out your ass doesn’t mean that you are smarter. It just means that you know how to study.

“You tried this same stuff with Simon when you first met him, but he outfoxed you. He ended up zoning in on your one weakness: sex. Even though you met him when you were just twenty, he taught you things; you were pretty green. You bonded with him because he was your first and because he was much older. He had experience,” Selina bit out.

Teaser Tuesday: Voice of the Dead

VOD 3-dLisa glanced up at Nick as they began to make their way out of the woods. “So, Nick, how do you like Dayton?”

Lauren followed behind with Detective Detty trying, again, not to listen.

“It’s okay. I miss Tommy,” he said.

“Well, you know where to find me if you ever get lonely. I’m not too far away. Columbus isn’t that far of a drive.”

Lauren saw Nick look over his shoulder at her. He seemed self-conscious, but Lisa smiled from ear to ear.

TEASER TUESDAY

Haunted CastleSnippet from VOICE OF THE DEAD

Nick, still facing her, feet burning in the hot sand, said, “Doc, what’s wrong?”

“Why should there be something wrong?”

“This isn’t like you to pour your heart out. Even after all of this time, you still shut down. I’m pretty used to it by now, but still, this isn’t you at all.”

Her head dropped as she looked down at the grains of sand covering her toes.

“I think you should know how I feel, in case something happens to me.”

With fear in his eyes, he looked at Lauren.

Tears ran down her cheek. She felt his fingers under her chin as he lifted her face up.

10892024_703403599772913_7432888242320464906_n“You listen to me,” he said softly, “I don’t want you to think like that. I know I’ve been a little crazy, but we’re here now. We’re away from all that right now. I won’t let something happen to you anyway. Do you understand me?”

Still not convinced, she nodded anyway. It was easier to make him feel as if he had all of the power in the world to keep her safe as opposed to arguing with him.

“And I love you, too,” he said, drawing near to kiss her lips. “Always will.”

TEASER TUESDAY

SNIPPET FROM VOICE OF THE DEAD

Later that evening, everyone piled in cars and headed to Middle Village. The Christmas holiday didn’t stop patrons from gathering at this little piece of winter heaven. Most of the family enjoyed the sleigh hill, but there were some who preferred the ice skating.

Lauren sat alone on a bench as she watched Annie and Morgan skate on the ice arm in arm. After all these years, they were still madly in love. It gave her hope.

Haunted CastleSuddenly, she felt warmth beside her. She glanced over and saw Nick covered in snow. “You look like you’ve been in a tragic skiing accident,” she chuckled.

“I bit the dust a few times,” he laughed.

Turning her attention back to the skating rink, she smiled.

“Let’s skate,” he said as he started taking his shoes off.

“Oh, I can’t skate,” she said lightheartedly.

“You mean to tell me you have been coming here your entire life and no one has ever taught you how to skate?”

“I always refused to learn,” she answered, turning her face toward his.

“Well, you’re not getting out of it tonight,” he insisted as he bent over to tie the laces of the skates.

“Bennette, I really can’t.”

He sat up again. “You don’t know that. You’ve never tried.”

“I don’t… I…”

“It’s no use,” he said. “Go get some skates.”

She obeyed and came back with skates. He knelt and took her snow boots off of her feet. Gently slipping the skates on, he laced them tightly, concentrating hard on making sure they supported her ankles.

He stood and held out his hands. She looked up at him, still refusing to move.

“Doc, don’t make me embarrass you.”

She knew she didn’t want any part of that, so she grabbed his hands and steadied herself.

With fright in her eyes, she looked into his. “I can’t do this.”

He leaned in closely to her and smiled. “Listen to me. Keep your ankles as straight as you can. Take it slow and hold onto me. I won’t let you fall.”

She felt the blood rush to her face and rapidly her body warmed. “You promise?”

“I promise.”

Teaser Tuesday

Haunted CastleThanksgiving didn’t come soon enough to suit Lauren. She toured until the week of the holiday. When Thanksgiving arrived, the celebration was enormous, just as it had been in all the previous years. However, the addition of Jillian, Tommy, and Nick made things feel a little better.

December roared in with snow and ice. Christmas grew near. Lauren strongly disliked the holidays for good reason. Her parents’ wedding anniversary was December twenty-fifth. Each year, Lauren visited her parents’ grave on Christmas morning. She wanted Nick with her this year.

In the short month and a half since the Halloween Party, Lauren found herself feeling more vulnerable around Nick. He drew her in unintentionally. He quickly became her rock, taking Selina’s place.

Teaser Tuesday

Haunted CastleHe began sobbing uncontrollably.

“I’m sorry Mr. Fenton. Truly I am. I believe that you didn’t mean to do this.”

He shook his head. “I didn’t. I never wanted this to happen.”

Gene left the room and entered the interrogation room. He cuffed him, then took him out of the room.

Lauren continued sitting at the table staring at the corner. Nick walked in and sat down across from her.

“We’ve been at him for hours. You come in here and in less than fifteen minutes you get a full confession. What the hell is that about?”

“Are you angry with me?” she asked.

“Not at all, I just want to know how you do it.”

“I don’t yell at anyone, first off.”

“I didn’t yell.”

“Yes, you did. I know you and you yelled at that man.”

“He killed his wife!” he shouted.

“See, you’re yelling at me!” Lauren said as she stood up.

Nick shrugged. “I don’t yell…”

“Nick, you have to be able to relate to the accused. This man accidentally killed his wife. He didn’t premeditate anything.”

“Killing is killing.”

“No it isn’t. When you’ve got someone like this man and compare him to The Phantom, well there really is no comparison.”

Nick paced. “I just keep thinking of these three kids. They’re never going to see their mother again.”

“I understand how they feel. You can’t let that cloud your vision though.”

“I know you understand,” he said with a nod. “We still on for tonight?”

“Of course we are. It’s New Year’s Eve. I wouldn’t want to spend it any other way than with you.”

As he looked at Lauren, he realized just how much he cared about her. He wanted to kiss her, but knew that it wasn’t the time or the place. So, he touched her hand gently and promised to pick her up at eight.

Teaser Tuesday

Haunted CastleBeneath the surface of the water, their legs weaved together. Lauren rested her head on a bath pillow as Nick watched her. She felt his stare.

“What?” she asked.

“I don’t know. The whole thing with Brandon and Chelsey got me thinking. Do you know we’ve never talked about having kids or getting married?”

“We’ve never had to talk about it,” she answered, her eyes still closed.

“Do you ever think about having kids with me?” he asked meekly.

She raised her head and opened her eyes.

“Honestly, no.”

From the scowl on his face, Lauren knew she’d hurt his feelings.

“It’s not you, Bennette. It’s me. I just never thought of myself as the mothering type. I never really saw myself having children.”

“Ever?”

“Well, I never really saw myself in a long-term relationship either.”

“So, how do you feel about children?”

“I like children. I love my nieces and nephews. I think Tommy is an amazing child. I think children add value to a couple’s life,” she answered.

“What about having children with me?”

“Nick,” she said with seriousness in her tone, “what are you asking? Just come out with it.”

“I want to know if you love me enough for a bigger commitment.”

“Why? Isn’t what we have enough?”

“It is for now.”

“Why do you feel the need to fix something that isn’t broken?”

“So, you don’t want marriage or kids?”

Lauren sighed. “Like I told you, I haven’t really thought about it. I am very happy with our relationship the way it is. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what we have with one another, do you?”
He shook his head and looked down at the water.

“No. I guess I just thought that the ultimate way to show you how much I love you and how committed I am to you would be to ask you to marry me.”

“But, you don’t need to. I don’t need that from you. You are a very loyal man. You don’t have to be married to me to prove that.”

“Did you ever think I might need that from you?”

“Why?”

“Because I grew up believing that if you loved someone, you married them. You had kids with them.”

She couldn’t think of anything to say.

He got up and grabbed the towel off of the floor. He dried off, wrapped the towel around his waist, and walked out. Lauren observed his shoulders squared and his head down, which meant she’d angered him.

Teaser Tuesday #IARTG

Haunted CastleNick stood in the airplane terminal. He looked up at the departure schedule and then knelt down in front of his four-year old son: the most important person in his world. Tommy Bennette didn’t understand the situation at all; why his daddy was leaving. Tommy’s auburn hair glistened as the sunlight beamed through the long glass windows, the rays dancing on each strand. His little freckles peppered his face as he frowned.

“You will have to come see me in Ohio, sport,” Nick said as he smiled.

“When can I come, daddy?” he asked.

Nick looked up at Jillian, Tommy’s mother and Nick’s ex-fiancé. She smiled.

“As soon as I get settled in,” Nick continued, “I’ll make sure you get to see me. It won’t be the same though. Not like now.”

Tommy nodded. He stood without speaking for a moment and looked up fervently into Nick’s eyes. “I’ll miss you, daddy.”

Nick’s heart broke inside his chest. “Oh, God, I’ll miss you too, little man.” He scooped Tommy up into his arms and fought back tears. “You be good for your mom.”

He had never been away from his son. Since his birth four years ago, he had been there for Tommy on a daily basis. Nick couldn’t even image not being able to see him every day. It was a reality that made him sick.

“I will.”

Gently, he put Tommy’s feet back on the ground and then threw his duffel bag over his shoulder. Wiping tears from his cheeks, he turned his attention toward Jillian, thousands of questions dancing in his mind.

“I will make sure he gets to see you as much as I can,” she encouraged. “This is a great opportunity for you, Nick.”

“I know, but at what cost? Is it worth it?”

“Listen, as soon as I can, I’ll start researching some firms there. If everything works out, maybe we’ll move there. I don’t have any family here. I know you and I haven’t always agreed about things or seen eye to eye, but you are the only family I have. There’s no reason for me to stick around this town,” she sighed.

“Not seeing him…” he began as his eyes stung.

“I know. It’s going to be alright though. This is a big promotion with big benefits. You’ve been waiting so long for this.”

“Yeah,” he nodded.

“You deserve this, Nick. You’ve worked really hard.”

He shrugged.

“So when is the van supposed to be there with your stuff?” Jillian said, trying to change the subject.

“They should be arriving tomorrow morning,” he answered, hopeful that he would have his bed to sleep on soon.

“Well, stay safe. You’re going to miss your flight if you don’t get moving.”

He nodded again. “Thanks, Jill. Please keep in touch.”

“I will, Nick.”

One more time, Tommy and Nick embraced. It tortured Nick as he left his only reason for existing behind. As good as the promotion would be, the tearing feeling inside of his body couldn’t be ignored. He knew being offered the director’s job was the FBI’s way of honoring his hard work and military service. He had to look at the situation that way for his own sanity.