Friday, December 9, 2016



Calder stepped back on his heels. The air around him hung heavy and crisp, cloaking him with cold. He sniffed the air, once again thinking that cold smelled almost clean.

Foul air they have in this world.

He ran his tongue over his teeth and glanced once more at the iron gates, the palace behind it quiet and dark. Dark enough that he knew everyone inside was sleeping. Dark enough that they'd never see him as he made his way inside and into each bedroom.

His boots clipped against stone as he scaled the wall, flinging himself over the top with grace that most in his cadre envied. The thought made him grin.

Sixty seconds and he was at a side door. A guard stood sentry. Calder pressed himself into the shadows, darkness blending with darkness. He checked the bedrooms.

The servant's quarters.

The barracks of soldiers in the east yard.

His breath swirled into white clouds as he exhaled, studying the palace grounds; his eyes probing into corners and places he could check again. But he was thorough. And wouldn't deign himself to check again like a novice soldier. No. What he searched for wasn't here.

Cursing under his breath, he ran and scaled the wall, landing with barely a sound on the other side. Anger simmered inside him. This was the ninth place he'd checked this week. And he'd failed his mission again. Master would not be pleased.


It was a short trip back to headquarters. Calder slipped into the War Room. Amir and Garvan glanced up as he entered, brows raised in question. Calder shook his head and watched in disgust as Amir crossed his city off the list. More lines were added each day. They were running out of time. He knew it. Master surely knew it. Still, they couldn't find him.

A roar of a scream echoed up the hall, shaking the room with it's intensity. Calder turned just as Master strode into the room, his face tight with rage. "Who had David's City?"

The question hung in the air for but a moment, but it was a moment too long. Master snatched Amir's neck in his grasp,. Amir gasped, his eyes growing large as he struggled for air. Master roared in his face. "Who had David's City?"

Calder stepped forward. "It was mine."

Six strides and Master was in front of him. He paused, his face serene where it had just been enraged. One breath. Two.

Calder didn't even see the fist coming.

He collapsed to the ground, cheek burning in agony, as Master's fist found him again. He stumbled but finally got his feet underneath him, then placed his palms on the cold stone floor. Submission was the only course allowed. The only one Master accepted. The only one that made Master proud. Calder pressed his cheek to the floor, rock scraping against it as Master's blows pummeled his back.

Minutes passed. He should get more. "I am sorry to have disappointed you, Master. Nine times my search revealed nothing. I indeed deserve your wrath."

Master grabbed the back of his neck and jerked him upright. "Nothing? Nothing?" He tossed Calder to the ground again, then raised his arms as he turned to the rest in the room. "This soldier thinks there was nothing to be found in his cities."

Master seized Calder's neck again, pressing his face mere inches from Calder's. "He was in the city."

Master's words echoed off the rock. But no. No; he couldn't have been. "I checked everywhere, Master." Every palace. Every barrack. Hidden political meetings. Groups of rebellious men. He'd even stood in the shadows of every temple, the reek of worship clinging to him for days afterward. Anywhere a leader might be found.

The hand around his neck squeezed tighter. Master's eyes loomed before him, dark and burning. "He was there. They've just announced it. You missed him."

Missed. But how? Calder never missed. "I saw no man such as he, Master."

Master tossed him to the ground with a bitter laugh. "No, you disgraced vermin. You saw no such man. What you should have seen was a child."

The air left Calder's lungs. "A child?"

"Yes." Master circled the room, his hand grazing the rough rock wall. "A baby. Born this night in David's City." He cocked his head to the tunnel entrance. "I can hear their wretched rejoicing even from here."

Calder fell to his knees. A baby? That couldn't be. Battles weren't fought by babies. Victory could not be had by such ridiculousness. It wouldn't work.

But wouldn't it? The enemy was clever. And what better way to throw them off than to disguise himself as a human child.

Calder curled his hands into fists. Babies were foul things. It was just like their weak-hearted enemy to embrace the humans like this. Which was foolish. Humans are soft. Weak. Easily turned.

And desperate for power.

"I will redeem it, Master."

Master snapped his head to him. "What was that, slave?"

Calder bowed his head in submission. "I will redeem it. I will destroy the child."

Master shook his head. "We have no direct access to him. Not until later."

"But others do." He raised his head and met Master's gaze. "Others can be influenced."

Master studied Calder's face. "What do you have in mind?"

He would redeem this. Calder's lips slipped into a wicked grin. "I'll whisper rumors of a King of the Jews. And I'll make sure Herod hears it."

Master's eyes lit. He thought only a moment, then nodded. "Make sure he kills them all."

Calder bowed, then slipped from the cavern and out into the night air again. He would not fail this time. His drew his cloak tighter around him, his dark form bleeding into the night again. Yes. Redemption was coming.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Christmas present to remember

Here's the last installment of our Christmas story. If you're just now tuning in, check out the beginning of the story:

On to Part Four!

5 words:

I have no idea what time it is. The past twenty four hours have been such a blur. What I do know, is that this bed is wicked uncomfortable, and I cannot wait to go home. Home to our apartment, our coffee, our shower, and a room stocked with bows and ribbons and a million pink things.

I lean my head back against the bed, exhaustion crowding in. I fight it, and watch Dean where he stands next to my bed. He smiles down at the bundle in his arms, and Charlotte's little eyes go wide as she smiles.

"She's such a ham," I say as press my fingers to her fuzzy hair. "Just like her daddy."

Dean grins and cuts his eyes to me. "Just like her mom, you mean." He smiles down at Charlotte. "You're beautiful like your mama, too, baby girl. Which means Daddy needs you to grow up and be a nutcracker to all the boys who'll want you."

I laugh. It feels so good. We haven't laughed in what feels like ages. "I'm sorry I made us go," I tell him. "You were right; we shouldn't have chanced it." What was I thinking, making us go to his parents the day before my due date? Tears rush out. Gah, darn hormones. All I've done for weeks is cry.

Dean bends and kisses my forehead. "Shh. It all turned out all right. No baby born on the interstate."

"No jail for you for going over 100."

He grins. "That cop was very understanding."

I smile, and he climbs onto the bed beside me, tucking Charlotte between us and looping an arm over my shoulder. "Look at my little family," he says.

I lean my head on his shoulder and stare at our daughter. She looks just like her daddy. I'd been hoping for that. "She's the best Christmas present ever," I whisper.

"I made a wish." Dean's voice is thick, cloaked in tears as he kisses me again. "And both of you came true."

Sleep crowds in, and I drift to sleep to the sound of Dean's heartbeat and the sight of Charlotte's face. There could never be a better Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Christmas on the run...

Our Christmas saga continues! If you missed Part One, go here to read it.. Part Two can be found here. On to Part Three!

5 words:
car trip

I've been fearing this for months.

We left my home in silence, my parent's concerned even amidst my assurances that we were fine. We're fine. We're going to be fine.

Oh gosh, I hope we're fine.

I glance over at Kacey, tight lipped and staring at nothing.

She's been mad at me for weeks. And I don't blame her. All I've been doing is obsessing about bills, making budgets and fretting about debt. Meanwhile she's been sleeping on the couch, dealing with heartburn and a husband who fought with her countless times over a car trip to visit my folks.

One day I will tell her I told her so.

She sucks in a breath and braces herself on the dashboard. Today is not the day to tell her.

"Just fifteen more minutes, baby." I reach over and grip her hand as I dart through traffic like a mad man. Hospital, hospital, hospital. I will not let my wife deliver our baby in our car.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas continues...


Our Christmas Story continues. If you missed Part One, you can read it here. Part Two continues below:

5 words:

Man, this sucks.

I fake a smile at my dad, already forgetting what we were just talking about. Kacey sits ten feet away on the sofa, tension showing on her face as she nibbles on a slice of my Aunt Glady's fruitcake. That'd give it away, if I didn't already know she was so mad at me. Who actually eats Aunt Gladys' fruitcake?

I sigh as Kacey grimaces. She stares at the Christmas tree in the living room, decked out with lights and ornaments I made in grade school. I wonder if she even sees it. If she sees the nativity scene or the half dozen poinsettias scattered around the living room. The candles in the window. Mom goes all out for Christmas; it's one of the reasons Kacey wanted to come today. She loves Christmas. And here I'm ruining it for her.

But I don't know how to stop.

Some holly, jolly Christmas.

I reach up to the door frame and break off a sprig of mistletoe. Kacey doesn't see me coming, so I place a hand on her shoulder. She looks up at me, and my heart crushes under the weight of my love for her.

I dangle the mistletoe in front of her. "I'm sorry I'm such a grinch."

She smiles. Not a full smile. Just a small one. Her eyes are tired, and she'll hate me for suggesting she take a nap later.

But I'll still do it.

I kneel behind her, so my head is right beside hers. "Forgive me?" I whisper.

Her eyes grow wide, and she looks me square in the eyes. "I think we need to leave now."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Because sometimes the holidays aren't what you want


5 words:

35 miles. That's it. 35 miles, and the silence will be over.

I glance over at Dean: eyes straight ahead, knuckles gripping the steering wheel so tight they've almost turned white. The mood between us is so cold, icicles may start forming in the corner of our SUV.

35 miles until we reach his parent's home. Where everyone will be happy and laughing. Except us. 

Gosh, it wasn't supposed to be like this. Two years into marriage, and this is where we are. Barely speaking. At Christmas. I take in a deep breath, and wish I could blow away this tension as I exhale.

Dean glances over at me. "You ok?"

I stare out the window. "I think we both know the answer to that question."

He doesn't answer. Doesn't make another sound until we're pulling into his parent's driveway. The outside lights are on, and garland drapes over the front railing. Festive. Just like his mom to go all out. No doubt she'll have mountains of food inside. Which sounds glorious. I may eat my weight in cookies, and not even care. 

I reach for the door handle.


I stop and glance over at my husband. His brows are furrowed, as they always are when he's worried. Most days I think it's cute. Today I don't have the energy for him. He opens his mouth, but I cut him off. "I know you didn't want to come today. But I appreciate you doing it."

He nods. "I know it means a lot to you."

"It does."

Silence. Again.

Tears sting my eyes. I open my door. "Let's just go in and pretend we're not mad at each other, ok?"

I don't even turn around to see if he follows me inside.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Something new

Hello fair friends and readers! I've finally got my brain back (praise Jesus for babies who figure out they can sleep on their stomach and snooze so much better at night!). My new fantasy story is well under way. It's been in my head for ages, and gosh, I'm dying to get it out of my brain and onto paper for crying out loud.

The outline is done (and I never do outlines before I write), and after weeks of struggling, I finally got the 2nd chapter under wraps. This story is definitely going slower than my others have.(babies disrupt ease of writing novels, that's for sure - specially when you still have a part time job). It'll be a while before it's written, but I wanted to give you all a little taste of what it's about.


I came up with the idea one day reading Colossians 2:13-15
"And you, who were dead in you trespasses...God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands."

I started thinking about those words; about a list of all our sins existing with its demands for punishment. And as I was mulling that over, I thought: What if there was a world where there was a literal list of your sins? And you had to stand trial for them?

And thus, the book was born.

The story is based on themes like these:

My main character is Lennan. 

(courtesy of)
Dabbles in trading things.
Really good at reading people.
Can't seem to stop lying.
Fiercely protective of her baby brother.

Another main character is Blythe.

Anything but gentle.
Brutally honest (and thrives on it)
Pent on vengeance

Then there's Amos:

(courtesy of)

May be hiding a thing. Or two. Or ten.
Annoys the crap out of Lennan.

Then there's Griffin:

(courtesy of)
Riddled with tattoos of those he's hurt.
Gentle soul.
Makes a living by hurting people, oddly enough.

I love this story (even though it's not written yet). It has lots of things.
A city where the laws are engraved in the walls.
Enslaved people.
Broken characters.
The hope of redemption for each of them.

If this book were published, and you were to pick it up, here's what it would say on the back:

Before Lennan Eastley was born, her trial date was set. Everyone gets one in their seventeenth year. Lennan’s is set for two weeks after her birthday. Her Deviation List will be read. From the biggest offense, to the smallest thing - everything she will ever do wrong is on that list. Her trial will determine her punishment.

But when Lennan gets to trial, her deviation list is missing. Now her government is accusing her of treason, and wants to try her for leading a rebellion in a future she hasn’t lived yet. Lennan knows there’s no way she can be who they say; she’d never compromise her life and those she loves to betray her government. But without her list, proving her innocence is impossible.

Determined to find the truth, Lennan begins making choices she never thought she’d make and doing things she always swore she’d never do. Maybe her government is right. Maybe she really will lead a rebellion and murder thousands. Now Lennan doesn’t know what’s true. About her country. About herself.

She’s going to be guilty of something. She just doesn’t know what yet. 

Stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Happy Endings

So, if you need a reminder, here is where Dean and Kacey got started. Many thanks to those of you who have read this story and loved Dean and Kacey along with me. And a special thanks to Cheyenne, who first told me I should keep continuing their story after that first one. 

Now for today's story. Here are my five words:

Post office


I glance at my watch for what must be the fortieth time in five minutes.

Bryce rolls his eyes. “Gosh, Dean, you’re making me nervous.” He stands and shoves his hands in his pockets, then takes them out again and readjusts his bowtie. “I feel like a dinosaur in this thing. You couldn’t go for a traditional tux, huh? Just had to go all vintage.”

He grins and I try to relax. “You can blame Kacey for that,” I tell him. “She okayed everything.”

Bryce walks over and straightens my tie. I bat his hand away, my eye going to my watch again, but he gives me a shove and reaches for the bowtie again, pulling it to the left then back to the right again until he’s satisfied. “Substandard attire on your wedding day is not to be had.” He glances down at my checkered Vans “Does Mom know you’re wearing those?”

I grin.

Mom pulls open the door as if on cue. She smiles, though it does nothing to relax my nerves. “Just about time,” she says, stopping in front of me. She looks nice. Older than I always seem to think she is. She presses a kiss to my cheek, her perfume smelling like sunshine and grapefruit – the same way she’s smelled for years. She holds my face in her hand for a moment. “You look handsome,” she tells me. “Even with those shoes on.”

She sweeps back through the door and I grin again, skimming the fingers on my right hand over the ring finger on my left.

“Five more minutes,” Bryce says.

I nod. “You got everything?”

He pats his pocket. “Ring is in here. I’ll get the preacher to sign the license and take it to the post office first thing Monday morning. You ready?”

I nod, glancing down at my left ring finger again. The tattoo I got there just last week covers my finger right where my ring will go, today’s date inked there in black script. It was an idea I’d toyed with for months; some need I had to have something more than just a ring on my finger to remind me of the promise I’ll make to Kace today. My heart speeds up again thinking about the matching tattoo on her own left finger.  Thinking about being in that chair at the tattoo parlor. I’d held her hand and watched in horror as tears flooded her eyes when the guy started. She’d squeezed my hand harder, and out of nowhere I’d been hit with the image of being in that exact position – me holding her hand through pain – as she gave birth to our kid someday. The idea had floored me so hard I thought my heart would stop beating.

A knock sounds on the door, snapping me from my thoughts. Mom pokes her head in again. “You ready?”

I smile. I’ve never been so ready for anything in my life.

Post office


I will throw up on the church’s blue carpet if we do not get this show on the road soon. I glace around the nursery we’ve used as a holding room, my bridesmaids bags mingling with the blocks and toy dinosaurs littering the floor. I fluff the full skirt of my dress, my yellow chuck taylors peaking out beneath the layers of lace and crinoline. Mom nearly had a heart attack when I told her I was wearing them under my dress.

“Time to line up,” Lacy tells me, pulling me to my feet and scooting around me to smooth down my gown.


I glance at the tattoo on my finger, delight singing through me at the sight of it. Mom had nearly had a heart attack about that, too. “He’s changed you,” she’d said. “No, Mom,” I’d countered. “He’s just made me not scared to be who I really am.”

I follow Lacy to the church foyer, a sudden calm cooling my nerves. You’d think I was standing in line for the post office, not waiting to walk down the aisle for my wedding.
I’m so aware of everything: the smell of the church carpet, and Lacy’s gardenia perfume, and the grapefruit body spray I’d spritzed on this morning.

Guitar music floats through the closed doors that open to the sanctuary. A door beside me opens, and my dad walks out. He smiles at me, the wrinkles in his face making him look old but regal. I smooth down my dress again. “How do I look?”

His eyes get misty.

My own throat starts to close up. “Dad, you can’t.”

He puts a hand on either side of my face. “You look horrid,” he says. “Substandard and only okay, and nothing at all like the best thing I’ve seen in  my life.”

I smile. “I love you, Daddy.”

He plants a kiss on my nose, and before I know it, we’re walking through the doors, people standing on either side of us and Dean’s head popping up at the front of the church. I grin and my heart stretches so wide it may snap under the sheer joy I feel as I walk toward Dean. 

It all blurs. 
The solo one of Dean's friends plays on the guitar. 

All I know is Dean. He slips a ring over my finger, and I put a larger band over his. Then I'm his wife, and his lips are claiming mine and there's nothing I wouldn't do for this man in front of me. My husband. My best friend. And I'm so thankful for seemingly pointless jobs, and careers that don't match what we majored in, and for guys taking the chance on girls who may not say yes. All the things we think that make our twenties so hard, and they turned out to be the best things of my life. Dean grips my hand and raises it in the air as he lets out a whoop that sets our guests to chuckling. He kisses my knuckles, tucks my hand under his elbow, and pulls me down the aisle toward the rest of our lives. 

Pumpkin Spice Season

Here's the story where it all got started:

Corn Maze
Hot Chocolate

I swear, one more mention of pumpkin spice anything and I will lose my mind.
          I tap my keyboard and stare at my co-worker Jane as she swirls her Starbucks cup. She's more in love with pumpkin than with her husband I think. I hate this time of year.Leaves! Sweaters! Fires! Snuggling! Perfect for cute girls who have some hottie to snuggle with, and who can wear leggings with boots and have it not look like they need surgical tools to extract their flesh from them later. I look down at my cotton pants (with a hint of spandex, thank God) and sigh. Even if I liked pumpkin, how many calories are in those things? Probably just as many as my Saturday hot chocolate splurge (made with real milk and probably what amounts to a week's pay in Ghiradelli). Heaven help me, I need a life.
          I jump at my name and nearly knock over my (still full) water bottle. Dean stands in my doorway and I'm sure what I have is a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. Because of course my boss catches me daydreaming and not working. I plaster a smile on my face. "Yes?"
          Dean ambles over and leans against my desk, as if whatever he has to say is not insignificant but not urgent either. Figuring out Dean is like navigating a corn maze; seemingly simple, but harder than one would think. On one hand, he's Mr. Boss. Has it all together. Good at his job. On the other hand: his wardrobe. I glimpse now at hischeckerboard Vans and wonder if they're against company dress code. He looks like a college kid, and not like he's thirty.
          "Working hard?" he asks me.
          "Or hardly working," I quip.
          He smiles at me. "You got any plans for this weekend?"
          As if. "Sadly, no."
          He glances at the mile high stack of papers on my desk and then back at me. "You want some?" Before I can even begin to wonder how to respond he speaks again. "I just poured over the company manual and interestingly enough, me taking you out doesn't violate anything." His brown eyes linger on my face and that is the only thing keeping me from peeing my pants. "Well," he says. "What do you say?"

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Finally, finally

It's been a long time since I've posted. 24/7, 9-month-long morning sickness meant my brain was not capable of writing anything last year. And it turns out, you can't think well with a baby and sleep deprivation, either. I'm slowly getting back my brain power and blowing dust off of my creative battery. I hate that the momentum of Dean and Kacey's story came to a jolting stop, but such is life. :)

So, it's time to catch back up with them.

As a reminder, here's where we left them. I apologize that it's hard to read. Blogger is so weird, and how posts are formatted when I write them is sometimes totally different than how they appear once they're posted.

On to the next installment! And since we love both Dean and Kacey equally, here's the story from both their viewpoints:


Atlanta sunshine beats down from the sky, incinerating the pavement outside the airport. Man, I do not miss July in this city. Pulling my SUNGLASSES down, I adjust the bag slung over my shoulder, then go outside and hail a cab.

I give the cabbie the address, check for the fiftieth time that the ring is still in my pocket, and take a deep breath. The cabbie glances in the mirror, as if assessing me to make sure I'm not a terrorist or a crazy person. Sorry to disappoint, my man. I'm just a guy on his way to propose to his girlfriend.

I've never been so terrified in all my life.

Forcing myself to relax, I rest my head against the back of the seat and close my eyes. This will work. Kacey has no idea I'm here. I have a plan, and know where to find the key to her apartment that her roommate hid for me. Lacy already texted this morning that Operation Platinum, as she's dubbed it, is going off without a hitch.

Nothing to worry about.

I take another deep breath and think of Kacey. And immediately smile. I always wondered what kind of woman I would end up with. I never would have predicted that a girl from work would destroy me - in the best possible way - like Kacey has. I'm so in love with this woman. With her harsh look of DEFIANCE when she’s unwilling to compromise. With the way she grips her coffee MUG with two hands instead of using the handle. With how she whoops and hollers and tackles me when she manages to beat me at MarioKart.

She puts up with me. Remains silent when I rant. Deals with me when my temper flares and I act like a possessed GORILLA. Believes in me in ways I never imagined someone could.

A text pops up on my phone. “Movie theatre power out. Movie cancelled. Going 2 B early.”

Dread explodes in me. There's still so much to do. ADAPT, Dean. It’s going to be fine. My heart beats like a drum and I’m sweating so much I’ll have to change my shirt. Change shirt. Change shirt. Change shirt. I strum my fingers on my knee , then pull a twenty from my pocket. I lean forward and put the cash where the driver can see it. “Any chance you can go faster?”

Hard hat


I follow Lacy out of the movie theater. So much for that plan. There are no clouds in the sky, just scorching Atlanta sunshine. I glance to the men in HARD HATS working on the new building across the street. Gah, it sucks to be them in this heat. "Well," I ask Lacy. "Now what?"

Lace looks up from her phone. "We could try another theater."

"Nah. Let's go to the mall and bum around."

She raises her brows at my suggestion. I hate the mall. "Looking for something in particular?"

"No. But malls have air conditioning."

She laughs. "Sounds good." Her fingers fly over her phone again. 

"I thought you said no work this weekend," I tell her. "That means no EMAILS."

She smiles and tucks her phone back in her purse. "You're right. Let's go."

The mall is bustling with people trying to escape the heat. After a couple hours of window shopping for things neither of us can afford, I suggest we go back and order pizza and binge on Netflix shows. I nearly wrestle Lace to the ground when she pulls her phone out for the twentieth time this afternoon. I'm beginning to wonder if she has some secret guy friend she doesn't want me to know about.

"I'm going to go check our mail," Lace tells me when we pull into our parking lot. She heads toward the mailboxes. Why in the world didn't she just drive? She's crazy to walk in this infernal heat.

I open our door and thank heaven for air conditioning. Dropping my purse on the table in the entry way, I head to the living room. A picture FRAME I don't recognize sits on our coffee table. I pick it up. Inside is a drawing, something crude but lovely at the same time. I trace my fingers over the stick figure boy and the girl beside him, a red heart drawn in between. My conversation with Dean two weeks ago flashes back. A colored pencil drawing, I had told him. I remember putting stamps on that package of colored pencils, satisfaction filling me as I imagined Dean opening it and finding me holding fast to our joke. And here he made a drawing, and must have sent it down to Lacy. Funny I didn’t recognize it yesterday. She must’ve checked the mail and gotten this out then.

I smile and set the frame down, then kick off my flip flops and head upstairs. Something trailing on the floor stops me. Bits of paper litter our downstairs hall. What in the world? Lace is such a neat freak, there's no way she left this out. I bend to scoop the papers up, then stop. They're paper cut outs. Of shoes.

Yellow Chuck Taylors, just like mine.
And checkered Vans, just like Dean wears.

My heart picks up speed, and a weird sensation grips me. The paper shoes lead to our back patio. I follow them, and open our back door.

Dean smiles as soon as I step outside.

Shock ripples through me. He's here.

Here on my patio.

And dropping down to kneel on one knee.

I gasp and cover my mouth with my hand as hope blossoms from secret places inside me. Dean. My ROCK. My somewhere safe. The place I can be me in all my horrible glory, and still feel completely accepted. Loved.

His gaze never wavers, and warmth cuts a RIBBON of love through my heart. He holds his hand out to me, and I step forward and take it.

He smiles, a grin I want to wake up to every morning for the rest of my life.

Kacey." His voice wavers, and he blinks his eyes rapid fast,clearing the moisture gathering in them. Tears are already flowing down my cheeks.

"Kacey," he begins again. "I had my life all planned out. Everything I wanted. Everything I hoped to have." He smiles at me. "Then I found I couldn't get this girl I worked with out of my head."

I grin, my tears pooling in the corners of my smile.

"I never imagined you. Or how good it would be to have you love me." Dean reaches into his pocket with his other hand. He opens a box and holds it out to me. "I love you, Kace." He takes a shaky breath. "Will you marry me?"

A year ago I never thought this would be possible. Love, which always seemed so elusive, came out of nowhere and hit me like a bullet, hard and fast. I smile at Dean - love exploding in my heart and joy spreading down to my toes - and nod my head. "Yes." I laugh and collapse into his open arms. "Yes, yes, yes."

He kisses me, our mouths a mess of salty tears and laughter. Joy bursts inside of me, leaving a shimmery covering of hope. This is what love is. Joy. Hope. Me and Dean.