That said, I have had the honor of receiving two awards this past week. The first was the Liebster Award, given to me by the fascinating Rebecca Kiel. Please check out her blog. Thank you Rebecca!
I really appreciate Rebecca thinking of me for this award. I've been Liebsterized in the past so I'm going to refer people to that post as I believe my choices of bloggers to check out in that post are still pretty darn good picks!
In addition to the Liebster, I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger award by the lovely Cassie Mae at Reading, Writing and Lovin' It.
Thank you very much, Cassie! I appreciate it! So with this award I'm supposed to tell you 7 tidbits about myself and then pass this along to 15 people. I'm going to change up the rules a little here since I've shared some personal tidbits about myself in previous posts which you can find here and here. Instead of sharing more personal tidbits, I'm going to give you a writing sample which hopefully will be far more interesting than any additional personal items I can come up with! Below I am posting the second draft of the first chapter in my WIP (did you follow that?). Also, rather than passing this along to fellow bloggers, most of whom have already received it, I'm going to ask you to check out some writing by the following awesome writers/bloggers who have works available for purchase:
Libby Heily's Fourth Degree Freedom, a collection of short stories which you can find here.
Basil Sands' thrillers which you can peruse and purchase here.
Jennifer Hillier's fabulous Creep which you can check out and purchase here.
J.C. Martin's The Doll which you can check out and purchase here.
M.Pax's Semper Audacia which you can check out here.
Perhaps you'll find something you enjoy!
And now . . . the sample chapter from my WIP which is titled: Hold Still. For now anyway.
Disclaimer: although this is still a draft (I'm not done with it), it has been looked over by the fabulous Nancy Thompson, my alpha reader/critiquer and thanks to her and all of her brilliant suggestions, you'll get to read a more polished version than the mess I started out with!
Secrets and lies. Even the most innocent of lives spring from secrets and lies. Jocelyn Rush’s blood froze in her veins when three year old Olivia asked, “Mommy, do I have a daddy?”
Jocelyn was grateful to be driving. From the car seat in the back, Olivia couldn’t see her face. She couldn’t see the pallor, the hollow look that came over Jocelyn’s features. To buy time, Jocelyn said, “What did you say, baby?”
She glanced in the rearview mirror. Olivia’s gaze was turned toward the scenery passing by the windows. Her eyelids were heavy, drifting closed and snapping back open every few seconds. Jocelyn was surprised she wasn’t already asleep. They’d spent the entire day at Smith Playground where the two of them had slid down the giant wooden slide so many times Jocelyn’s ass hurt. Olivia called it “the whee” because Jocelyn yelled, “Whee!” every time they slid down.
With its indoor playrooms and extensive outdoor playground for children of all ages, Smith was one of Olivia’s favorite places to go on Jocelyn’s days off. Jocelyn liked it because it was free. She worked full time as a detective for the Philadelphia Police Department but raising a child alone was costly. She had to cut corners where she could. Free was always good.
“Do I have a daddy?” Olivia said again.
“Everyone has a daddy,” Jocelyn mumbled.
From the day Jocelyn had taken Olivia in, she’d known there would be questions about Olivia’s parentage. Why hadn’t Jocelyn’s sister, Camille been able to raise her own daughter? Who was Olivia’s father? Why couldn’t she meet him—ever? Jocelyn hadn’t expected the questions to start so early. She thought she’d have more time. She had imagined a teenager—or a tween at least—demanding to know who her real parents were. She had imagined a child old enough to understand violence and junkies. Jocelyn was lucky that no one ever questioned whether or not she was Olivia’s mother. Jocelyn and Camille both favored their mother, and Olivia, with her poker straight brown hair, wide chestnut eyes, and straight nose could pass for either one of their daughters.
“Raquel has a daddy,” Olivia said. “He’s a older.”
“A Soldier,” Jocelyn corrected.
“Solder,” Olivia tried.
“That’s right, Raquel’s daddy is far away. In Afghanistan.”
Jocelyn said the word a few more times, far better prepared to answer questions about war in a foreign country than Olivia’s father. But Olivia’s attention had already waned, sleep finally claiming her. Jocelyn felt the tightness in her throat ease as Olivia’s eyelids drooped.
Four-year-old Raquel was the daughter of Jocelyn’s best friend, Inez Graham who was also a police officer. Inez worked patrol in the 35th district. Inez’s husband, a Marine, had been in Afghanistan for a year. Inez’ mother, Martina Rodriguez, provided daycare for Olivia and Raquel while both women worked.
Skirting the edge of Fairmount Park, Jocelyn took 33rd Street to Ridge Avenue. Three story brick rowhouses with mansard roofs and dormer windows sat opposite the park, many of which were burnt out or boarded up. Some boasted sagging porches and trash-lined sidewalks. The turrets and columns had long lost their aesthetic appeal. The larger homes gave way to two-story rowhouses with bay windows most of which were painted in shades of brown and deep red. She passed Mt. Vernon Cemetery and drove down West Hunting Park Avenue, home to a slew of mammoth industrial buildings long abandoned, the broken glass in their windows like fangs glinting at her as she passed. The streets narrowed as she drove down Germantown Avenue but the houses and businesses looked no less desperate as she approached the Nicetown Tioga section of the city. She was grateful that the rumble of cobblestones and old trolley tracks beneath her tires did not awaken Olivia. Foliage closed in from both sides of the street as Jocelyn drew closer to the neighborhood where Inez’s mother lived.
Jocelyn lived in the Roxborough section of the city, but she had to stop at Martina’s house to pick up the treasured blanket that Olivia had left there the day before. They had only discovered it was missing last night. Olivia had thrown the tantrum to end all tantrums before finally falling asleep in Jocelyn’s arms on a wave of hiccupping sobs. There were a few tense moments when Jocelyn almost broke down and called Martina to see if she could pick up the blanket, but she stood her ground. People forgot things, left them behind. Olivia would have to learn that sooner or later. A night without her blanky would not kill her—and it hadn’t. Still, Jocelyn wasn’t about to go another night without it. Raquel was spending the day with her paternal grandparents. With no children to watch, Martina had gone to Atlantic City for the day but she had promised to leave Olivia’s blanky in a plastic bag between her screen and front doors.
Chew Avenue was a busy street with wide single lanes of traffic in each direction and cars parallel parked bumper to bumper on either side. As usual there wasn’t a parking spot within a three block radius. Jocelyn pulled over and double parked with her hazard lights flashing. Cars zipped around her vehicle without so much as a beep. In Philadelphia, double parking was the norm. The blinkers were an added courtesy. Most double parkers didn’t even bother.
Jocelyn glanced at the house. She could see the screen door cracked just a little, a flash of a plastic, yellow Shop Rite bag peeking out. She glanced back at Olivia and waited a long moment to see if Olivia would wake up now that the car had stopped moving. The snoring continued unabated. Jocelyn turned away from Olivia, catching her own smile in the rearview mirror. Just looking at Olivia made her grin. Most of the time she didn’t realize she was doing it. It amazed her that this tiny person could be such a powerhouse of joy.
Unless she doesn’t have her blanket, Jocelyn thought wryly.
Jocelyn took a quick glance up and down the street, gauging how long it would take her to sprint to Martina’s door and back. It shouldn’t take more than ten seconds. As a rule, she never left Olivia alone in the car—not even when she was paying for gas—but the door was only twenty feet away. It would be faster to run for it than to unfasten Olivia’s seat belt and carry her from the car to the door and back.
Jocelyn slipped her seat belt off and got out, closing the door softly behind her. She sprinted up the steps and snatched the bag from between the doors. As she turned back to her car, she saw the figure, just a blur in her periphery. Then her Ford Explorer drove off down Chew Avenue, Olivia in the back seat.
Jocelyn leapt off the steps and ran into the street.
“Olivia!” she screamed.
She had never run so fast, and was only vaguely aware of the other cars whizzing past, beeping and swerving to avoid her, expletives rolling out of the mouths of passing motorists. The Explorer made the first right onto North 21st Street and Jocelyn followed, arms and legs pumping, feet slapping the pavement, her heartbeat thundering in her ears. She reached for her gun but quickly remembered she didn’t have it. It was her day off.
Jocelyn was quickly losing ground as the Explorer turned right onto Conlyn and out of her sight.
She pushed her body, every muscle pumping, straining, screaming. Her lungs burned. She turned the corner and almost wept with relief. The Explorer was stopped behind someone who had double-parked in the middle of the street. There wasn’t enough room for the Explorer to pass. The other car’s blinkers were on, the driver nowhere to be seen. For once,
’s narrow side streets were a blessing instead of a curse. Philadelphia
Breathing heavily, Jocelyn approached the Explorer from the drivers’ side and opened the door. She didn’t look, just grabbed until she had a handful of clothing. She pulled a skinny, punk kid—maybe nineteen or twenty—out of the car by his collar.
His face was pimpled with a patchy five o’clock shadow. His white-blond hair was greasy, a shock of it falling across his coal-dark eyes as he glared at her. “Hey, what the fuck are you—“
The whole world went silent. Jocelyn knew the kid was speaking but she couldn’t hear anything. Her field of vision narrowed to his face. And when he met her eyes, for a brief, fleeting second, he looked afraid. Then Jocelyn hit him. She hit him again and again. She knew he fought back. His ineffectual punches glanced off her body, no match for her rage. By the time she was done, she had a few bruises and her right wrist throbbed but she didn’t remember the particulars. She only remembered hitting him until he lay at her feet, unmoving. A few people had come out of their homes. They stood on the pavement and on porches, staring open-mouthed.
Jocelyn’s hearing returned slowly. Her labored breath was deafening. She left the kid on the ground and pulled open the back door of the Explorer. There sat Olivia in her car seat, face flushed with sleep. Her little round face was relaxed, her mouth open. A strand of brown hair stuck to one of her cheeks. She sighed softly in her sleep, one tiny hand clutching Lulu, the pink beanie bear that accompanied them everywhere.
“Oh God,” Jocelyn gasped. She sat in the back of the Explorer, weeping uncontrollably and dialed 911 on her cell phone.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
“Miss? What’s your emergency?”
“I want to report a car jacking.”