Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

Yes, it's the end. Thank you for sticking with Cami, Grant, Petey and I for thirty-six weeks.

Now, I just have to decide what's next for Fiction Friday...



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Chapter Thirty-Six

Petey raced down the beach, chasing the tennis ball Grant tossed. Cami laughed out loud to see the dog’s joy at being able to run again. Two weeks had passed since Kyle’s attack. She was slowly finding her way to a new normal. Just like everyone else.

The wind blew a strand of hair into her eyes that she brushed out, not wanting to lose the vision of this man in khaki pants, white shirt, and a silk tie with forks full of twisted spaghetti marching across it, as he tried to throw a ball for her barking dog while not getting all sandy.

Grant was spending a few hours with her and Petey before boarding a plane for Houston. He was out for the season but needed to be with the team. The trainers said he was coming along quicker than they’d expected, due to his peak physical condition as an athlete. He and Cami knew that only accounted for part of it. The rest was thanks to God and His mercy.

Kyle had spent a night in the hospital, concussed from the knife block. He’d been released to a mental health facility in the San Fernando Valley. According to Detective Bermudez, Kyle still insisted he and Cami were in love and blamed a conspiracy between Grant and the police for keeping them apart.

Janis had hired a top Orange County attorney for him. The deputy district attorney said Janis was making more problems for Kyle than she was solving by insisting Cami had encouraged him. Because of the police reports on file about the SUV vandalism and the dead bird, among other things, the evidence was on Cami’s side.

Church was tough. The kids stared at her; some of the parents, too. But most people had been kind, approaching her to say they were praying for the whole situation. A new crisis should emerge any time that would take the stage away from her and Kyle. Pastor Mike had been great, discouraging gossip and giving enough details so people didn’t need to ask questions.

Grant and Petey moved a little farther down the beach. Every so often Petey would stop and look back. Once he found her, he’d return to running and barking. He’d gotten braver in the last weeks. He only needed occasional reassurance that she was nearby. Petey’s new courage mirrored her own. She no longer checked under the Tahoe for hidden thieves, rapists, and kidnappers before getting in. At least during the day and in crowded areas. Dr. Segress said it was okay and plain common sense to do it at night and in lonely parking lots.

Raised voices drew her attention to a couple on a nearby blanket. “I can’t believe it,” the man said. “How long are you going to keep this up? And then what? Do you get there’s going to be a then what?”

The woman stood. “It’ll be fine. Can’t you trust me for once?” She stalked away down the beach and he followed, still talking.

The man’s words echoed in Cami’s head. “And then what?”

She had to think about the next step.

A future with Kyle in it frightened her. But she couldn’t depend on herself and her alarms, the police, or even Grant to keep her safe. That was God’s job. She repeated that to herself again. “There is a God. And I’m not Him.”

She must have spoken louder than she thought because the tousled-haired boys in front of her turned to stare. She smiled and looked away. Grant and Petey had reversed and were nearly back.

“Did you say something?” Grant called.

Cami indicated the beach and the dog and the kids building a sand castle. “This is nice.”

“I’ll miss it.” He threw the ball hard, skipping it along the edge of the surf. Petey was learning too. He now ventured into the lapping water, but once the white foam reached his belly, he retreated.

Cami was seeing her therapist again. Dr. Segress was helping her learn how to distance herself from feeling responsible for Kyle and his obsession. And to truly forgive Patrick and move on. And to think about the “now what.”

“Does he ever get tired?” Grant joined her on the beach towel as Petey bounded up to them, pausing to shake off sand and water droplets before dropping the ball to the ground.

“I think he’s making up for the lost time when he stayed with you. I can hardly get him to leave my side.”

“I sympathize and understand completely.”

She smiled. She’d stopped feeling embarrassed by Grant’s affection and was able to accept his comments for what they were: verbal affirmations of his feelings for her, not an attempt to manipulate her into returning those feelings. Therapy worked.

“I have to leave soon,” he said.

“I know. I’ll miss you.”

Grant reached for her hand. “So much has happened to us in such a short time.”

She sighed and sent a prayer-thought heavenward. She needed to say some things to Grant. This is a part of the now what. “I spent a lot of time angry with God for what happened to me. I blamed Him. I blamed myself. And when I met you, I used that blame and anger as a shield to keep you from getting too close.” She looked away, focusing on the horizon where the blue sky lightened and melded with the sea. “But I’ve learned that no matter what happens, God is faithful. He brought you into my life when I needed you. And I’m so glad.”

The words were out before she could second-guess them. But they were the right words. “I love you.”

His head whipped around. “What did you say?”

She laughed. “You heard me.”

“I thought I was supposed to say that first. Then you would blush and maybe in a month or two you’d be able to maybe sort of almost whisper the words back.”

“Haven’t you heard? I’m a new woman. You might not even know me, much less love me.”

“Oh, I know you all right.” He lifted her chin with his fingertips. “And I love you, too.”

She closed her eyes to receive his kiss. And to welcome him. Their lips touched and a new feeling flooded her. Peace. She did love this man.

After a long moment Grant pulled away. “I have to go.”

“It’s okay.” She smiled into his eyes. “You’ll be back.”

The End


Woe! It’s Wednesday

Some people blog every day. Some blog several times a day. Others rarely. Still others say, “What’s a blog?”

Some blogs are personal. Some are professional. Some combine elements of both.

I have a problem believing anyone really gives a rip what I think about Angelina and Brad, global warming, novel plotting, or zinnia gardening.

Solomon said it well:

Ecclesiastes 12:12 -- Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them.  Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.

and Ecclesiastes 1:9 -- What has been will be again,
   what has been done will be done again;
   there is nothing new under the sun.

Coming up with something original to say is a pretty daunting task then.

That’s why my blog takes sabbaticals. It’s me questioning myself and deciding no one cares what I have to say.

But then I’ll read an article about the importance of having a web presence and a blog or someone will tell me they miss reading me and here I am, back at it.

Because that’s what we do. We plug away.

A little blog here. A little blog there.

Happy Wednesday!


Book Talk Tuesday

Last week I talked about some early favorites from my childhood. This week, it’s on to my kids’ favorites.

They both loved Bunnicula. The story of a vampire bunny tickled their funny bone. I enjoyed it too.

One of our favorites was The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. It’s now a classic. Bestxmaspageantever.png And for good reason. It gives one of the best illustrations of the Christmas story found anywhere outside a church. It’s probably better than some from inside a church, too.

Cam Jensen was to my daughter what Donna Parker and Trixie Belden were to me. And what Junie B. Jones is to my grand-daughter.

Frances is a badger, but she’s also a little girl with a baby sister and all the problems and issues that entails. The books stand alone well. They even work without the badger element. They’re simply stories about children and the trouble they get into.

What are some current favorites?


Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

I had the fun opportunity to meet Jonathan Santlofer, who writes mysteries based in the art world. I asked for suggestions about what in an artist's studio could be used as a weapon. Jonathan suggested using spray fixative in the eyes to incapacitate an attacker.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Grant held his breath as Kyle came closer. Curled into a fetal position on the cement floor, he hoped he looked injured and helpless. He tensed his muscles and willed his pounding heart not to give him away. He cradled an aerosol can in the crook of his bad arm.

“Mr. Andrews?” Kyle’s voice sounded skeptical, and his footsteps stopped at the bottom of the stairs.

Grant shuddered and let out a soft moan. He kept his eyes nearly shut, watching for Kyle’s feet to appear under his eyelashes.

Kyle took a tentative step closer. Grant forced himself to lie still.

Closer, closer. Another tremor.

“Open your eyes,” Kyle said from above.

Grant erupted with a roar of anger and frustration as he rolled to his knees and swung the can up, spraying chemicals into Kyle’s eyes.

Kyle turned aside and most of the spray missed his eyes. He swiped a fist at Grant who sidestepped but fell back, knocking over Cami’s easel and stand. Paints and brushes clattered. Grant scrambled to get his feet under him and to use the spray can again. But he could hear Kyle on the stairs.

Just as Kyle reached the top, Grant started up. Kyle must have heard or sensed something because he paused in the open door to look around.

Grant saw Cami behind Kyle, a big chunk of wood raised over her head. She lowered the block with a loud grunt as Kyle slammed the door.

A thud spurred Grant to take the stairs two at a time. He barreled through the door, crashing it open.

Cami still held the wood. Kyle was curled on the floor and not moving.

“Thank you, God.” He wrapped her in his arms. She trembled, but didn’t cry. “Where is the phone?”

“He cut the cords.”

Two hours later, Cami sat in an interrogation room at the police station, clutching a foam cup with a hot liquid they called tea. The heat barely penetrated her icy fingers. She repeated to Detective Bermudez the story she’d already told the officer who’d been first on the scene.

“I went home to water my plants and get my mail. When I went into the kitchen, Kyle was there. He’d broken a window down in my studio. He had a knife. He pointed it at me and asked what took me so long. He’d been eighteen for hours by then, he said. He thought I’d be home first thing to celebrate his birthday. He had cupcakes.”

Detective Bermudez stopped scribbling. “Cupcakes?”

“Instead of a birthday cake.” She shrugged. “It was so bizarre, his assumption that I knew what day it was, that I’d be happy to find him in my kitchen.”

“What happened next?”

“He called Grant at the clubhouse. While we waited, he went on about our future, how much he loved me. He was so happy we didn’t have to hide our feelings any more. It seemed to take forever, but Grant finally got there.”

She repeated the scene from her kitchen and what she’d heard from the basement as she waited with the butcher block. “I didn’t know what happened. I wanted to get out of there.”

“Okay, Miss Henderson. We have records of the previous incidents, so that’s all I need from you right now.”

“Where is Grant?”

“Giving his statement. You can wait for him here. Or would you like me to arrange a ride for you?”

“I’ll wait.”

Detective Bermudez smiled. Maybe with compassion. Then he left her alone in the bare room, a formica table and the now cold tea for company.

Another half hour passed before Grant appeared, paint splatters on his face and shoulders, hair falling across his forehead, eyes that lit up when he saw her.

Relief and exhaustion wrestled within her, relief barely winning. She couldn’t hold back the sobs.

“Are you okay?” He wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight. She nodded but didn’t try to talk. They stood in silence for several minutes.

Finally she cleared her throat, speaking into his chest, the words muffled though clear enough.

“I’m so sorry.”

“For what?”

“I should have listened to you. And Mongoose. And everyone else.”

He pushed her away so he could look into her eyes, and gave her shoulders a little shake. “I never want to hear you say that again. This is not your fault, you did not encourage Kyle’s infatuation. Do you understand?”

She gulped and nodded. “But if I’d handled it differently…”

“If I’d called the police when Kyle called me. If you’d gone to his mother. If we’d left town. We could play that game forever. You responded in the way that makes you who you are.”

“I wish I could believe that.”

“Haven’t you figured it out yet? It’s not all about you.”

Tears stung her eyes as his words pierced her heart. “I’m trying to learn that. I know I’ve been selfish and obstinate. I’ve probably driven you away from God too, not just me.”

Grant’s eyes narrowed and the corners of his mouth twitched.

“What?” she asked. Why was he smiling? Couldn’t he see how miserable and sorry she was?

“I never got the chance to tell you.” He sank into the chair and took her hand. “Last night, I- Well, I gave up. I surrendered to God.”

“You mean- ” Did he mean what she thought he did?

“You didn’t drive me away from anyone. You pointed me in the right direction.”

“I don’t know what to say.” It was what she’d been praying for. But in a flash, she saw the truth. As long as Grant wasn’t a believer, she’d been justified in keeping him at a long perspective, like her mural of the Italian countryside seen through terrace arches. Did she have the courage to let him up onto the patio? Or could she even take a few steps closer to him herself?

“I do.” He stood and pulled her into his arms again. “Only God knows what’s in our future. And I’m okay with that if you are. We’ll take it slow.”

Warmth flooded her, flushing her cheeks. Glad he couldn’t see her face, she spoke into his chest. “I’d like that.”


Woe! It’s Wednesday.

July 2007 Uncle Phil and Evelyn having a tea party

Regular readers know I’ve ranted a bit about death and how it sneaks up on us when we’re not watching. You also know we’ve lost some dear friends and loved ones in the last few years.
My Uncle Phil left us early this month.
Technically, he was my step-uncle since he was my step-mother’s brother.
He never treated me or my siblings or my husband or my children as anything except beloved family.
Phil was exuberant. Enthusiastic. Endearing.
He loved to cook and golf and fish and go to baseball games. Even more though, he loved to share those passions with his family.
We would visit my stepmother and Phil was always eager to share his latest recipe or wine.
At Phil’s memorial service, several people shared stories about how Phil discovered their love of raspberries or a certain liqueur. Afterwards, Phil always made sure he had that brand or that fruit or that whatever when they visited him. Or he would bring the raspberry tart to them when he came over to play cards or dominoes. 
At the memorial service and luncheon afterwards, there was plenty of laughter, a few tears, some delicious food, and lots of family.
The only thing missing was Uncle Phil’s presence.
When I was searching for an appropriate poem or quote to share, I found this from THE LORD OF THE RINGS:
PIPPIN: "I didn't think it would end this way."
GANDALF: "End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it."
PIPPIN: "What? Gandalf? See what?"
GANDALF: "White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise."
PIPPIN: "Well, that isn't so bad."
GANDALF: "No. No, it isn't.”


Book Talk Tuesday


I love to read. I’ll read anything pretty much. 

In first grade, I quickly leaped from Dick and Jane to Donna Parker and Trixie Belden.

Donna Parker at Cherrydale  The Secret of the Mansion (Trixie Belden #1)

Some friends loved Cherry Ames, RN. I read a few of them, but they didn’t ignite love in my little heart like Donna and Trixie.

Then came Nancy.

She needs no introduction.

The Secret of the Old Clock (Nancy Drew, Book 1)


I’ve been blessed to meet one of the modern day Nancy Drew authors. I think her current sleuth, Kate Gallagher, is modeled after Nancy. Plucky. Brave.

Although I haven’t read anything recently about Nancy, I did watch the Emma Roberts movie and enjoyed it.

From Nancy, I moved on to Agatha Christie.

Product Details

There are some dated and archaic references, but for the most part, Agatha Christie, Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and Tuppence Beresford all hold up pretty well. Because, as Miss Marple is wont to say: “Human nature is much the same the world over.”

What do you love to read? And what brings you back to your childhood reading favorites?


Fiction Friday: Curve Ball

We're racing toward the finish line!


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Chapter Thirty-Four

Grant took the off ramp at twenty miles over the posted speed limit. God, don’t let me be too late. Kyle’s voice over the phone had been pitched a little lower than usual. The calm tone scared Grant more than the words.

“She’s all mine. But I’m sure there’s someone else out there for you.”

He had flown to Paige’s first but Cami wasn’t there. Her message said she was going home so he headed there, searching oncoming traffic for the familiar silhouette of her dark blue Tahoe.

He let out a breath of thanks as he rounded a corner and saw the SUV in her driveway.

Seconds later, he bounded up the steps and knocked on the door as he called out.

“Cami? It’s me.” He rattled the doorknob and it turned easily. Uh oh. She would never leave her front door unlocked. Foreboding plunked back into his gut.

He pushed the door open and called again, but softer. “Cami. Are you here?”

“In the kitchen.” The quiet voice sent a chill through him. Kyle.

He wriggled out of his sling and stuffed it behind his back, into the waistband of his jeans, as he tiptoed through the living room. It might make this easier if Kyle thought Grant’s arm was back to full strength.

Cami’s terrified eyes met Grant’s as he stepped into the kitchen. She sat at the table, Kyle behind her, his left arm circling her neck. He held a knife in his right hand. Pressed against her jugular. A plate of cupcakes and a teapot on the table in front of her completed the absurd picture.

“Welcome to our home, Mr. Andrews.” Kyle’s voice was as calm as when he’d called Grant earlier. “We’re pleased to have you visit.”

Grant couldn’t think. What do you say to a teenager holding a knife to his teacher’s neck? The teacher they both loved.

“Your home?” The words caught in his throat so he cleared it and tried again. “I don’t understand. This is your home?”

“I know you’ve grown very fond of Camille, and I appreciate all you’ve done for her. I’ll be taking care of her from now on. You can go.”

Grant fought down a wholly inappropriate laugh. Did this kid really think he would walk out and leave him holding a knife at Cami’s neck?

“Kyle, you know I can’t do that.”

The teenager grinned at him. “I figured you’d say that, but I wanted to be a gracious host.”


“Miss Henderson- I mean Cami – and I are in love. L. O. V. E. It’s been hard for her, having to pretend she cared about you while her heart ached for me. We had to be careful because I was her student and a minor. But guess what, Mr. Andrews?” He gestured to the cupcakes. “Today is my birthday. I’m now a legal adult and we don’t have to hide anymore. Cami doesn’t have to pretend to like you.”

Grant wanted to shake his head, like Petey would shake water out of his ears. His mind flashed to Mongoose telling him to get Cami out of town. Why hadn’t he listened?

“We’d like you to be our guest for a while,” Kyle continued. “Your room is in the basement.” He cocked his head right, and Grant saw the basement door ajar. He remembered Cami’s pride as she showed him the studio she’d created down there. He also remembered a door to the outside. Part of its charm, she’d said. You could enter the studio without going through the house.

“You want me to go into the basement?” Grant asked.

“Yes, sir.”

“And leave you here with a knife on her?”

“Yes, sir.” Kyle’s eyes never left Grant’s. They never even blinked, a fact Grant noted with one part of his brain, while another part tried to look past Kyle to the back porch. That door was closed.

Oh God, what should I do? Grant’s soul breathed the prayer as his mind continued to search for possibilities. Was there a phone downstairs? No. Windows? Yes. He remembered Cami’s comment she needed natural light for her work and it was unusual for a basement to have as much as hers did.

Grant’s eyes locked with Cami’s. He spoke to Kyle with deliberation.

“Why do you need a knife if she’s in love with you?”

“You’ve been confusing her.” Kyle’s voice rose and Grant could hear frustration in it.

“Okay son, take it easy. I’ll go downstairs.” Grant took a half-shuffle backwards. Enough, he hoped, to convince Kyle he would obey. “But not while you’re pressing a knife to her neck. Come on, I can’t leave you here like that.”

Kyle’s mouth twisted and his gaze changed to an assessing look into Grant’s eyes.

“Walk over to the stairs, stand at the top. I’ll step away, and you go on down.”

Grant glanced around for something he could bring with him, anything that might be a weapon. He swung his arms a little as he walked toward the door leading to the basement, trying to look casual and at ease. But this wasn’t going to have a happy ending. Not with an infatuated, delusional, knife-wielding teenager.

“Thanks for your hospitality.” He decided to play along for a minute, to see exactly what the kid had in mind. “How long am I staying? I appreciate your generosity but I have a therapy appointment later. And the team will be expecting me at tomorrow’s game.”

“How long you stay is up to Cami.”

“Why is that?”

“She insists on continuing the charade that she’s scared of me. As soon as she admits we’re in love, we’ll come out of hiding, and you’ll be free to move on.”

Grant focused on Cami, whose eyes widened at Kyle’s words. He tried to pour his heart into his own eyes as their gazes locked. Did she know he loved her? Don’t give up hope.

Inspiration flickered as he approached the open basement door. “Okay, I’m about to go downstairs. You can set down the knife.”

Kyle looked at him. Apparently satisfied by Grant’s surrender, he dropped his arm and the knife to his side. “Go.”

Grant took the first step, then stumbled, grabbing the handrail with his good arm as he clattered down the top three steps, making as much noise as he could before lying still.

“Grant! Are you- ” Cami’s voice strangled off in mid-question.

“I think I sprained my ankle.” He heard no movement, nothing except for Petey’s snuffling whine from above. “Can I crawl up the stairs?” he called.


Then Kyle’s voice: “Come back slow.”

Holding his bad arm close to his chest, putting his weight on his good arm and his knees, he crawled up the steps back to the kitchen. He sat on the floor in the open doorway, catching his breath in between pretended grimaces of pain.

“I need a doctor.”

“Not a chance.”

Kyle’s knuckles whitened as his grip tightened on the knife and he swung it up to point at Grant.

“If I don’t get it x-rayed and taped, it could be the end of my career.”

“Life’s a bummer, huh?”

“Please, Kyle. I know you’re not that callous.” Another idea flashed into his head. “Or at least ice. I need an icepack.” Anything to stay where he could see Cami.

“We have ice in the freezer,” Kyle answered. “There’s a plastic bag in the drawer next to the refrigerator. Fill it with ice and go downstairs.”

The fact Kyle knew his way around Cami’s kitchen filled Grant with nausea. Cami must have felt the same. She closed her eyes, as if to block out the vision of Kyle rummaging through her drawers.

Grant dragged himself off the floor and limped toward the refrigerator. He had to pass in front of the table where Cami sat so he put a hand on it to steady himself as he went by. Could she tell he wasn’t really hurt? Did she know he longed to touch her shoulder for reassurance? To feel her hair on the back of his hand?

Grant felt Kyle’s eyes on him as he fumbled through the drawer, searching for a plastic bag. Since the jock set-up hadn’t intimidated Kyle, maybe an injured kitten act would be the better approach. Grant might have a chance to surprise Kyle with a physical assault.

“Hurry up.” Kyle’s voice was impatient.

Grant scooped ice cubes into the plastic bag, running the seam between his fingers to seal it.

“I need a dish towel.”

“Next to the sink. Now get downstairs.”

Kyle’s jerky movements and tight voice meant it was time to go. Grant limped back to the doorway and shuffled slowly down the stairs, holding the improvised ice pack and making plenty of noise. At the bottom, he looked around.

Scattered glass shards answered how Kyle had gotten in. None were large enough for a weapon though. There must be something down here. Hope sparked when he saw Cami’s easel and paint supplies.

Cami involuntarily shrank from Kyle’s touch as he began to knead her shoulders after Grant disappeared down the basement stairs.

“You’re so tense. I thought you’d be happier to see me. And to get rid of him.”

“Grant’s been…” She couldn’t continue.

“I could tell you didn’t want to have anything to do with him. I’d watch the two of you together and you could hardly stand to have him touch you. That made me happy.”

Cami’s mind flashed to the few times Grant held her hand or put his arm around her. She’d been sensitive to his touch, reminded of Patrick’s rough grabs. But she hadn’t known Kyle was watching. Or what his skewed interpretation would be.

“Kyle-” About to explain things to him, she stopped. He would neither hear nor believe her protests. Grant had a plan, she could tell from the look he’d given her. She searched her memory for any potential weapons down there.

A knock from under the kitchen interrupted her thoughts.

“What now?” Kyle’s irritation was obvious in his voice.

“I need a doctor.”

Cami could just make out the words through the floorboards of the kitchen. It sounded as if Grant was at the end of a long tunnel. Or in the corner of the basement with her supplies. Yes, of course. Paints, thinner, solvents. Any of those could temporarily blind someone. Turpentine could burn a cornea. If Kyle went down to check on Grant… possibilities emerged.

Kyle picked up the knife he had set on the counter behind him when he’d started to massage her shoulders and moved to the basement door. “What’s wrong?” he called.

“I must have hit a nail when I fell on the steps. I’m bleeding.” Grant’s voice sounded weak.

Go down, go down, go down. Cami inched forward in her chair, gripping the arms and praying.

Kyle glanced back at her, uncertainty plain in his expression. She forced herself to smile.

“We can’t leave him down there, bleeding all over my canvasses.” Aligning herself with Kyle by saying “we” seemed to reassure him. A sudden grin split his face and he turned to go down the stairs.

As soon as he was out of sight, she whirled around to grab a knife from the butcher-block rack on the counter behind her. Empty. An urge to scream followed by tears swept over her. Think, Camille. She could tell by the fading sound of his footsteps, he was almost to the bottom. She took hold of the knife block itself. A solid chunk of maple with slots for storing knives, it had been a house-warming gift from Meredith. She held it up, considering its possibilities as a blunt instrument. It weighed at least seven pounds. It would have to do.

Sounds of a scuffle and a scream of agony spurred her toward the open basement door. More noises and grunts followed, then someone hurried up the steps. Cami stood behind the door, the knife block high overhead.


Woe! It's Wednesday



We live in the country. We have 2.3 acres. The closest neighbors are not very close.

When I bought a wireless router a year or so ago, I had a hard time setting it up and somewhere between the multiple tech support calls and restarts, the password never got set up so it's been unsecured.

But, as I said, we live in the sticks with no one nearby, so I figured we were safe from hackers and identity thieves. And we have been.

A few weeks ago, I noticed the 13 year-old neighbor kid spending a lot of time out by the mailboxes. He lives across the street from us and the boxes are side by side at the edge of their driveway, a good 75 feet from the road and over a hundred feet from our house.

Today, we learned that the kid has been using our wifi with his phone.

Husband laughed it off. I was a bit irritated. Hubby and I had a conversation.

Him: It's no different from you using a friend's wifi when we're visiting someone.

Me: It certainly is. I don't park in front of someone's house to use their wifi, I only use their network if they offer me the password.

Him: What about using free wifi at Starbucks? or a hotel? HMMM??

Me: Still not the same. At McDonalds or the 'bucks, or a hotel, it's part of the service I'm paying for.

We compromised. I'm unhooking the router for a day. Then, I'll set it up again with a password. I'll give the neighbor kid the password, but he has to come to me and ask for it. Nicely.

This seems like one of those sticky ethical dilemmas that we're experiencing, thanks to new technology.

What would you do?


Book Talk Tuesday

There hasn't been much talking about books, or much else, on this blog for a few months. I took a sabbatical from posting anything except Fiction Friday chapters of Curve Ball.

When I started Book Talk Tuesday, I thought I could talk about books forever. And I still think I can, but there are some restraints.

I do book reviews for a couple of web sites and they don't want the review published elsewhere; they want exclusive work. So, if I wanted to talk about something I reviewed, I had to write something new and different about it. That got old, because if I liked it or didn't, I had already said it.

But, I'm back and I'm just going to talk about what I've read recently or maybe a movie adaptation of a book, or an anecdote I've heard or a literary experience I've had.

My goal every year is to read 100 books. I've never made it past 80 and often I'm between 70 and 80.

So far in 2011, I've read 12 books, so I'm at a good pace to make the 100. But I invariably get snagged by something that doesn't grab me, something I have to slog through for a review, or I get busy and unable to read.

The busy-ness is only for a short time though. I truly have to read some fiction nearly every day or I start to go cray-zee.

Fiction soothes my psyche. Something about going to another world, even if for a short time, restores me.

What do you have to do regularly that restores you?


Today, I'm praying for: Bernie, Lisa, and Gina.

Currently reading: The Confession by John Grisham - say what you will about him as a writer, the man can tell a great story.

Last movie: Country Strong - I'm a bit upset that no one told me it's a downer. It was good, but I wish I'd known not everyone gets their happily ever after.

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Fiction Friday

When I first wrote Curve Ball I intended it to be a six book series about the women in Cami's businesswomen support group. Kennie is fully formed in my head but I haven't written her story yet.


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Chapter Thirty-Three

Thud! Cami jumped as a knock sounded at her car window. Only a minute had passed since Tara and Anthony left, but her life had spiraled out of control like a wild pitch at a Coyote game.

Kennie stood outside the car. “What are you doing here? Are you okay?”

Cami opened the door and tried to smile. “I don’t think so.”

“Come inside and tell me all about it.”

Ten minutes later Kennie kicked off her heels and tucked her feet next to her on the plush couch in the office. “Sit. And spill.”

Cami perched on the cushion edge but immediately stood up. “I can’t sit.” Her hands shook as she hugged herself.

“What happened out there?” Kennie asked. “You’re scaring me.”

Cami paced in front of her friend as she told the story, all of it. Grant and Mongoose knowing Kyle was stalking her. Her denial. And the scene just now in the parking garage.

“Are you going to leave town?” Kennie asked.

“Would it solve anything?”

“I remember enough Psych 101 to know stalkers don’t give up. Not until their love is dead or they fall for someone else.”

“But surely Kyle’s not that bad.” Even as she said the words, the sight of the dead sparrow and Petey’s convulsive heaving flashed through her mind and she fought an urge to throw something, anything.

Kennie watched.
Cami glanced away. The words of the song she’d listened to earlier echoed in her mind. No power of hell, no scheme of man, will ever pluck me from His hand. She’d been saying for a long time she trusted God. Now it was time to prove it. She’d be careful, but she wasn’t leaving town.

“I love the demo. Sign that group.” She dug around in her purse, pulled out her cell phone and punched in Grant’s number. It rang several times until his voice mail picked up.

“Hi, it’s me,” Cami said. Her voice cracked and she had to pause a moment. “You’re right, it is Kyle. I’m sorry for not… believing… no, for not trusting… Anyway, call me. I’ve got to stop by home then I’ll be at Paige’s later.” She disconnected and sat still, pondering her next move.

“That must have been hard.” Kennie interrupted Cami’s thoughts. “You hate admitting you’re wrong.”

“I’ve always thought everyone is granted a certain amount of confidence in our lifetime. And some people, like you and Paige, never run out. I have to hoard mine.”

“Honey, Paige and I are as self-doubting as you are. We’ve just learned to hide it better.”

“Then I’ll work on hiding it, too,” Cami said. “I’m an artist after all, creating illusions.” She stood. “I have to go. Thanks for the talk.”

“Will you be okay?”

“Yes.” She would be better than okay.

“Call me later.” Kennie walked her to the door.

Cami waved goodbye and punched another number into her cell phone as she hurried back to the parking garage.

“Hi. This is Camille Henderson. I need to talk to you. Is now a good time?”

Cami climbed out of the Tahoe and hurried up the front steps of the church. Pastor Mike stood inside the office, giving a list of instructions to his secretary, who nodded while taking notes, her pencil flying across the page in rhythm with Pastor Mike’s words.

“Come on in, Cami,” Pastor Mike said. “I’m finishing up with Nora here.”

Nora flashed a relieved smile. “Thanks for rescuing me.”

“Rescuing you?” Cami asked.

“Pastor Mike gets these moods where he bursts in like a cyclone, issues contradictory instructions, and whirls out again, leaving me to deal with the chaos in his wake. He only had time to get up to about a force three today, so I thank you.”

“You better be careful, Nora. Insubordination will get you fired.” His grin belied the words.

Her eyes looked at the ceiling. “Without me, you and the whole elder board would still be looking for the hymnals that were in plain sight on the pews.”

Pastor Mike herded Cami down the hall to his office. “The sad thing is, she’s right. I get stressed with all the details that have to be done, dump them on her and I feel better, but then she’s frazzled. Anyway, please sit down.”

He waved a hand toward the two easy chairs in the corner across from his desk. He left the door open, but must have noticed Cami’s anxious glance toward it.

“I make it a policy to never counsel women behind closed doors. Nora won’t come down the hall while we’re talking and she’ll keep others away too, so you can speak freely.”

Now that she was here, indecision gripped her. How much should she share? She paused for a breath. “I’m having some problems with -- ” She paused, not sure how to proceed. “No, I better back up.” She recounted a few of the incidents from the last few months, finishing with the attack on Petey and the dead sparrow in the mail.

“I’ve met with a psychological specialist. He and a few other people are convinced the stalker is Kyle Shaw. I didn’t want to see it but this morning I was followed by two of Kyle’s friends who said they were keeping an eye on me at his suggestion.”

“This is very serious, what you’re saying. Are you completely sure?”

“Yes. I came to you first since Janis and Kyle are members here. I don’t want to go through legal channels, with a restraining order and all. I want my life back. I also know how crazy this sounds and I’m concerned…about people’s reactions.” There, she’d said it.

“I believe you.” He touched her hand.

Cami hadn’t realized how worried she was about being casually dismissed as a paranoid attention-seeker until Pastor Mike’s compassionate brown eyes fixed on hers.

“Thank you.” She gulped down a sudden lump in her throat.

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I came to you.”

“What are your options?”

“Umm… I guess… talk to Kyle. And Janis. Go to the police. Move away.”

“I hear Fresno has affordable housing. And it’s a dry heat.”

She laughed in spite of herself. “I’ll have to think about it.”

“Which of those options are you most comfortable with?”

“I just want him to stop stalking me. I would hate to paint Kyle with anything that will follow him forever so I really don’t want to involve the police. If I could be sure he’d get the help he needs, I’d talk to his mother and let it drop.”

“What about a combination of those?”

“What do you mean?”

“Approach Janis. I’ll pass on your concerns to the leadership here. And contact the police. For a record, in case you need proof of something in the future.”

Cami wasn’t sure she’d heard right. “You mean it would be okay to go to the police?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I sort of expected you to tell me to leave it all in God’s hands. He’d take care of me.”

“Well, I’ve never been much for the ‘go, be warm and filled’ kind of pastoring. I’m from the ‘I believe, help my unbelief,’ camp.”

Cami’s pent up breath escaped. “It doesn’t mean I’m not trusting God enough if I talk to the police? Is that what you’re saying?”

“It is.”

“Well.” She couldn’t think of anything to say. Emotions roiled inside. Relief mixed with joy bubbled to the top. Her bathtub thoughts had convinced her but to have her conclusions affirmed by Pastor Mike buoyed her heart even more. “Thank you.” In spite of the serious conversation, she couldn’t help the grin spreading across her face. “Thank you so much.”

He nodded an acknowledgement. “What would you like me to do?”

“Build a barricade between me and Janis?”

He smiled. “I’ll be glad to be at any meeting you set up.”

She gathered her thoughts and tried to put them in order. “I guess tell the elders and staff here. I’ll contact the Victim’s Advocate number the police gave me when my Tahoe was vandalized. And I’ll make an appointment with Janis as soon as possible.”

“Good plan. I’m proud of you.”

They said goodbye and Cami walked back to the front office. Nora was on the phone as Cami passed her desk.

“Yes, Pastor Mike,” she said, shaking her head in mock frustration as Cami passed. “I ordered three cases of the new paper you want to start using for bulletins and-” The heavy glass door swung shut, silencing Nora’s voice.

Ten minutes after leaving the church, Cami pulled into her driveway. She wanted to walk through her own doors, drink from her own glasses, and relax on her own couch. She was tired of being a guest in someone else’s home. Neither Paige nor Grant thought of her as an intrusion, but she couldn’t help feeling that way about herself. Self-sufficient for so long, she had become a bit set in her ways.

Like an old maid. Paige’s singsong echoed in her head. Or an eccentric hermit painter. Well, she was a painter. She did like to be alone. And if that came with an eccentric label, well, there were worse things. So she’d do some chores, call Janis, and spend a few minutes enjoying her peaceful home. Then head back up the freeway to Paige’s and a return to reality.

Opening the front door, Cami felt the inhale as the house took a deep breath of fresh air. Gathering up the bills and flyers that had fallen from the mail slot, she felt rather than heard something and her nerves stood at attention.

Grant walked into the training room at the stadium. A few other players on the Disabled List were already there. Grant grinned at the assortment of grimaces, scowls, and other facial contortions. Staying in shape was hard, getting in shape was downright miserable.

After changing, he joined the others and began lifting weights. The strength creeping back into his shoulder encouraged him. He was lucky he’d kept fit, it made coming back after an injury easier.

His mind drifted back to his early morning conversation with Cami, then her cryptic message on his mobile phone. He’d tried to call her back, but had gotten her voice mail. All these communication devices were supposed to make it easy to stay in touch. If they got a signal and were fully charged.

Anyway, he moved to his surrender last night, the crossroads where he chose his path. The certainty still anchored his heart. He just hadn’t known how to tell Cami about it.

“Andrews, phone call.” The clubbie stuck his head through the door.

Grant untangled himself from the apparatus, picked up the receiver, and punched a flashing light.

“This is Grant Andrews.” He stilled, then listened. Banging the phone into its cradle, he turned and ran through the door into the locker room. He changed into street clothes and hurried out to his car, adjusting the sling as he went. Juggling car keys and a jacket, he slid into the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking lot barely five minutes after answering the phone.