Friday, October 29, 2010


It feels like I have been working on the Ashwood series for decades.
Maybe I have...

Hope everyone has a great Halloween weekend!  I'll be soothing upset kitties (they hate the doorbell) and handing out chocolate (thank goodness I don't have any Wfsals!).

Thursday, October 28, 2010


No, you didn't miss yesterday's WotD. I finished TCC Tuesday night/Wednesday morning and decided I needed a short break. I've saved the words so that I can get caught up. I didn't make it all the way to the last week of October just to give up! Doing TCC edits and rewrites will likely make my eyes bleed and my brain throb, so I'll ease the tension working on a few backstories and requests - don't worry, we're not close to through with these characters. I probably won't start on the last book in the series until January.

Meanwhile, I have a cat to mail...
Meet Chai.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WotD 10/26/10: April 1995 (Duke)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/26/10
Word: Eke; transitive verb
1. To gain or supplement with great effort or difficulty -- used with 'out'.
2. To increase or make last by being economical -- used with 'out'.
Timeline: April 1995 (Duke)

Duke’s eyes drifted shut. He propped his heavy head on his hand and lightly drummed the eraser of his pencil on the desk. It was only second period and he was ready for a nap.

The pencil slid out of his fingers and rolled across the floor. With a sigh, he leaned over the edge of the desk to retrieve it. Not even the sight of Mary Hallimore’s tanned legs did anything to wake him up.

He forced himself to focus on the teacher’s lecture. He couldn’t get caught sleeping in class. He’d promised that Tracking with his father wouldn’t affect his schoolwork. It was a promise he was starting to regret, especially after a long night chasing down a Freldana. There was no way he was going to make it through the rest of the day.

His best bet was to eke out halfway decent homework during lunch and drink a gallon of Mountain Dew before baseball practice. As long as he didn’t get called on or have to do anything more strenuous than breathing, he could eke.

“Put away your notes, it’s time for a pop quiz!”

Duke’s forehead hit his desk. “Oh man, I am so dead.”

Monday, October 25, 2010

WotD 10/25/10: Summer 2002 (Viola, Olivia)

Word of the day 10/25/2010
Word: Juju: noun;
1. An object superstitiously believed to embody magical powers.
2. The power associated with a juju.

Timeline: Summer 2002 (Viola, Olivia)

“Please?” Viola clasped her hands together. She puffed out her lower lip and did her best to look utterly pathetic.

Olivia was unmoved. “No.”

“Pretty, pretty, please?”


“Just for a second. I promise. I just want to look around.”

Olivia shook her head resolutely. “Don’t you think demons, ghosts, crazy blood rituals, and Sebastian are enough to deal with? We don’t need you messing around with voodoo juju and making thing worse.”

“I won’t buy anything. I swear.”

“Not going to happen, kiddo.” Olivia shuddered at the mere thought of entering the store. Superstitious by nature, she avoided black cats, open ladders, and breaking mirrors. She didn’t understand how the voodoo rituals worked and wasn’t going to risk accidentally cursing herself.

“You’re no fun, Liv.” Viola scowled at her sister. She was glad to be out of the ghost-infested hotel because her headache was finally going away, but she’d wanted to see more than art museums. Since the cemeteries were off-limits due to her temporary ghost-restriction, the store had seemed like a good choice.

“I’ll talk Sebastian into letting you drive all the way to Pensacola.”

“And I get to pick out the next hotel and dinner?”



WotD 10/24/10 - June 1998 (Olivia, Viola, Sebastian, Gerard)

Word of the day 10/24/2010
Word: Slugabed: noun; One who stays in bed until a late hour; a sluggard.
Timeline: June 1998 (Olivia, Viola, Sebastian, Gerard)

A bright beam of sunlight pierced through Olivia’s closed eyelids. With a groan, she rolled over onto her stomach and pulled the sheet over her head. A smaller body shifted beside her. Viola’s icy toes slipped beneath the sheet and grazed her ankle. She kicked at the icy feet.


Olivia grinned sleepily at Sebastian’s whine. Of the three of them, he’d stayed up the latest watching the horror movie marathon. When she’d woken up to run to the bathroom at three, Viola had been cuddled up and snoring beside a wide-eyed Sebastian.

“Up and at’em my little slugabeds!” Gerard’s booming voice had each of his children wincing. He grabbed the corner of the sheet covering Sebastian’s face and yanked. While Sebastian shielded his eyes, Gerard repeated the action twice more. He chuckled at the sight of his children frantically wriggling away from the sunshine like vampires.

“Lots to do and time’s wasting.”

Viola rose to her knees. She blinked furiously and ran a hand through her hair so that it was standing up in all directions. When the spots were gone from her vision, she glared up at her smiling father. “Daddy! It’s the first day of summer vacation!”

WotD 10/23/10 - January 2001 (Gerard, Viola)

Sorry for the delay - spent the weekend with family and was away from my laptop. I wrote this on my phone Saturday night, but couldn't get it to post. Guess I'll have to read the manual again!

Word of the day 10/23/2010
Parse: transitive verb;
1. To resolve (as a sentence) into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of each part.
2. To describe grammatically by stating its part of speech, form, and syntactical relationships in a sentence.
3. To examine closely or analyze critically, especially by breaking up into components.
4. To make sense of; to comprehend.
5. (Computer Science) To analyze or separate (input, for example) into more easily processed components.

Timeline: January 2001 (Gerard, Viola)

“I've missed you my violet.”

Viola blinked twice and rubbed her eyes. Nothing changed. She pinched her arm, yelped. Not a dream, then.


“I made the right decision, dearest. You'll see that someday. This was for the best.”

She sat up in bed, too stunned by his presence to parse the meaning of his words. He had been missing for a year, and she'd started to give up hope of ever seeing him again. There were so many things she wanted to tell him, so many questions she needed to ask. Forming words seemed impossible though. She couldn’t believe he was in her room!

“I can't stay long, my violet. I just wanted to see you. It has been a long year, and I fear we are in for several more difficult years.”

“Why?” Why couldn't they go back to normal? Why couldn't he come home? She needed him. Sebastian and Olivia did their best, but they weren't adequate substitutes for her Daddy.

“Neither one of us is ready. I am afraid we must be patient.”

“Patient for what?”

“For it to be our time.”


“Soon. Until then, keep this between us, my dear. The others won’t understand.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

WotD 10/22/10: October 2000 (Sebastian, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/22/10
Word: Crepuscular;
1. Of, pertaining to, or resembling twilight; dim.
2. (Zoology) Appearing or active at twilight.

Timeline: October 2000 (Sebastian, Viola)

Sebastian tossed a sheet of paper on the table in front of Viola before sprawling onto the chair beside her. “I need you to look that up, Vi.”

Eyes narrowed in annoyance, Viola studied the rough sketch of a demon. It had four eyes, curved horns, and was covered in wiry hair. She’d never seen a demon like it before. Abandoning her weekend homework, she retrieved her laptop and logged on to Duke’s pride and joy, the regional Network database.

“Duke saw one of those yesterday, but lost it. He’s swamped and didn’t get a chance to look it up.”

“Is this what I am now: your unpaid, unappreciated research assistant?”

“He said I could take you with me to take care of it.”

“Oh.” Viola flashed him a quick grin. “Give me a sec.”

“I hope it doesn’t take too long. I promised Amy I’d take her to watch the sunset or some crap like that.”

“You’re such a romantic, Bas,” Viola teased. She frowned suddenly and twisted her laptop around so he could see the entry for their demon. “I’m afraid you’re going to miss your date. Pflans are crepuscular. We have to catch it just after sunset.”

Thursday, October 21, 2010

WotD 10/21/10: June 2003 (Viola, Duke)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/21/10
Word: Coruscate;
Intransitive verb:
1. To give off or reflect bright beams or flashes of light; to sparkle.
2. To exhibit brilliant, sparkling technique or style.
Timeline: June 2003 (Viola, Duke)

Viola wanted to believe it was heartburn from the chili cheese fries. The burning and tingling in her chest wasn’t from the appetizer she’d shared with Duke, though. Ghosts made her shiver and plasma-dependent parasites gave her the hiccups. She felt like a walking demon detector.

“What’s up, Vi?” Duke paused to wait for her to catch up. His hand drifted to the gun tucked in the back of his jeans when she frowned and rubbed her chest. Either she was going to belch loud enough to rattle the windows or there was a PDP around.

“Vampire. Close. Maybe more than one.”

A low growl caused them both to spin around. Three snarling PDPs stood at the entrance to the alley. Viola cocked her head and bit her lip to keep from laughing. Duke’s gun nearly slipped from his hand.

“Is it just me or are they… sparkling?”

“It’s not just you.”

Between Duke’s gun and Viola’s knife, it took only minutes to take out the PDPs. While Duke called for a cleanup crew, Viola dragged a finger along the coruscating vampire’s skin. The pad of her finger sparkled. “Glitter. They’re all coated with glitter!”

“Freaky, even for a demon.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WotD 10/20/10: October 1996 (Olivia, Viola, Sebastian)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/20/10
Word: Antediluvian;
1. Of or relating to the period before the Biblical flood.
2. Antiquated; from or belonging to a much earlier time
1. One who lived before the Biblical flood.
2. A very old (or old-fashioned) person.
Timeline: October 1996 (Olivia, Viola, Sebastian)

Olivia was jerked out of her daydream when a foot made contact with her ankle. She rubbed the fresh bruise and glared at her sister. Viola stopped swinging her feet and blushed guiltily.

“Watch it, brat.” Olivia was bored out of her skull. She didn’t need to be bored and in pain.

“Sorry, Liv,” Viola whispered. She glanced over her shoulder at one of the six spirits hovering nearby, shuddered, and shifted closer to Bas. Nervousness made her jittery. She was afraid that if she looked again, she’d see Grandmother Ashwood in the group.

“Oh, come on,” Olivia groaned when a frail, white-haired woman shuffled to the podium. At least six ‘friends’ had gone up to give a eulogy. Did they believe that if enough people claimed Opal Ashwood was a good person it would make it true?

Sebastian leaned across Viola to speak to Olivia. “Is it just me or are all Grandmother’s friends incredibly old?”

“Positively antediluvian.” Olivia smiled to herself, pleased at finally being able to use one of her Pre-SAT vocabulary words.

“Who’s that?” Viola shot Olivia a questioning look. “Auntie Del Uvian? I didn’t meet her.”

Olivia stifled a giggle. “It means they’re ancient, kiddo.”

Request Fic - Backstory April 2000

The first of the request fics - this is for someone (who already got to read her copy) who wanted to see Olivia and Viola as children. I couldn't quite get them too young, but it does take place before the main series.

April 2000

Olivia stood on her tiptoes and tried to spot a head of short, dark auburn hair in the crowd. She heard Viola’s track coach bark out Vi’s name and turned towards him. Seemingly from out of nowhere, Viola appeared at his side. Olivia kept an eye on their interaction as she made her way towards them.

Whatever the coach was saying made Viola smile. Olivia couldn’t help feeling envious. No matter what she or Sebastian did, Viola always seemed to be angry or depressed. Though her grades hadn’t slipped, they were getting phone calls from her teachers about hostile behavior in class and a short attention span. Tracking demons and school track meets were the only things that interested her anymore.

“Hey, kiddo. You did great.” Olivia waited until the coach had moved on to another student to approach Viola.

Viola dropped the purple and white towel onto the top of her matching gym bag. She brushed sweaty bangs out of her eyes and flashed her sister a tired smile. “I’m glad it was my last event. I’m beyond ready for a shower.”

“If your coach clears it, I can take you home. Unless you want to stick around to watch the other events, I mean.” Olivia sighed softly. Talking to her sister was growing increasingly difficult. She never knew what to say to her. She thrust a cold bottle of orange sports drink at Viola. “Here. I got this for you.”

Viola smiled again. Despite what Bas and Olivia thought, she did know how hard they tried. She didn’t mean to shut them out all the time, but with Dad missing, it was hard to feel anything except lost. Her first instinct was to keep the pain, confusion, and hopelessness locked away, but she’d been slipping. She needed to work on keeping her temper in check.

“Thanks, Liv. Orange is my favorite.”

“I know.” She was the one, after all, who’d had to take over grocery shopping after they’d put their mother in the institution. She had an index card for both of her siblings so she wouldn’t forget Sebastian’s Cheerios or accidentally get the mint toothpaste instead of the cinnamon.

Olivia fingered the design on the gold medal hanging out of the gym bag’s front pocket. Viola had won the gold in three of her events and the silver in the fourth. “I thought you were going to run the relay today.”

Viola’s lips thinned and her eyes hardened. “I don’t do relays.”

“Why not? With your speed, I thought they’d kill to have you on the team.” Not usually a violent person, she wanted to hit whoever decided Viola wasn’t good enough for the relay. Her sister didn’t deserve such blatant rejection.

“Oh, they want me on the team. I’m the one who said no.”


Viola twisted the cap off her sports drink and took a swig of the icy liquid. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand before putting the cap back on. “I don’t do team sports.”

“Viola.” Olivia couldn’t understand why Viola had such a hard time dealing with her peers. Their high school experiences were completely different. She’d been on every committee, a Student Council member, Class Secretary for four years, and part of the court for nearly every dance. Viola ran track and hung out with outcasts.

“Sweet mercy Liv, can’t you just be happy for me? I beat my 100-meter dash record and set a new school javelin throw record. Why does there always have to be more?”

“Oh, honey.” Olivia wrapped an arm around Viola’s shoulders. She ignored the sweat soaking into her patterned blue blouse. Comforting her sister was more important than a dry clean only garment. “I am so proud of you.”

Viola nodded. It wasn’t worth arguing over, really. She and Olivia were different. They had different goals and different priorities. Viola had accepted it years earlier. She wished Olivia would do the same. She needed to do her part, though, and stop being such a brat all the time.

“Give me a sec to talk to Coach about going home with you. He’s so thrilled with my new records, he won’t dare tell me no.” She pressed a kiss to Olivia’s cheek before slipping out from under Olivia’s arm and darting off in search of Coach Miller.

Olivia folded the damp towel and set it inside the gym bag’s main compartment on top of Viola’s windbreaker. She zipped it up, tucked the medals inside their pocket, and zipped that pocket up as well. By the time Viola returned, all her things were packed and ready to go.

“I was thinking,” Olivia said as they neared her car, “that you and I could head out to the mall after you shower and change clothes. There’s a sale at that store you like and then we could grab dinner at the Italian place Sebastian hates.”

“Where’s Bas going to be?”

“He and Duke are helping out with a demon that got away from Bert.”

Viola’s eyes lit up. Shopping with Liv or demon hunting with Bas? There really was no doubt which she preferred. One look at the Olivia’s face, slightly hopeful but braced for rejection, stilled her tongue. She playfully nudged her sister’s shoulder. “You going to let me buy that skirt I wanted?”

“Not a chance, honey. Bas would kill us both!” Relieved she wasn’t being passed over in favor of demons, Olivia grinned and swatted the back of Viola’s head. “I can’t be expected to monitor everything you buy, though. So, if a pair of those jeans he bitched about and threw away finds their way into your shopping bag…”

Viola laughed. She pounced on Olivia, hugged her until the older woman gasped for air. “Thanks, Liv! I love you.”

“Love you too, sis.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

WotD 10/19/10: September 2001 (Viola, Aggie)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/19/10
Word: Viand; noun: An article of food, now usually of a choice or delicate kind.
Timeline: September 2001 (Viola, Aggie)

Viola shifted uncomfortably. The presence of a demon didn’t bother her. She’d been around enough of the Network’s allies to not be afraid of them. Her irritation was physical. Her big toe itched but, because of the thigh-to-ankle cast on that leg she couldn’t reach it.

She smiled apologetically at Aggie and swung her leg onto the chair beside her. Using the tip of her pencil, she stretched forward and scratched her sock-covered toe. Movement from a corner of Aggie’s yard caught her attention. She watched a small Siamese kitten jump from the top of the fence to a tree limb and then onto the grass.

“Kitty!” she squealed happily, something she would later blame on the pain reliever Aggie slipped in her drink.

The Zerndi turned towards where Viola was pointing. Its three eyes lit up. Its long, black tongue darted out to lick thin lips and it murmured softly to itself.

Viola shuddered when she found the right entry in her translation guide. The Zerndi had called the kitten a viand. Her eyes slid to the “treats” the demon had brought to tea. If cats were a Zerndi delicacy, there was no telling what was on the tray.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking Requests

Because I don't have enough to do with work, finishing up TCC, my WotD challenge, a side project, and it being football season, I'm taking requests for any short (like the last two) "backstories" for the Ashwood series. Give me a time period or something you'd like to see and I'll try to work a little magic.
I just need a little push to get the last few chapters done, and I think burying myself in the 'verse might help with that!


WotD 10/18/10 - September 1997 (Duke, Abelardo)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/18/10
Word: laconic; adj: Using or marked by the use of a minimum of words; brief and pithy; brusque.
Timeline: September 1997 (Duke, Abelardo)

“Here you go.” Duke swallowed the lump of what felt like ground glass lodged in his throat and handed the file folder to Abelardo. His bloodshot, swollen eyes burned with fresh tears. “It’s my final report.”

“Sebastian already turned his in. You didn’t have to do it, son.” Abelardo’s frown deepened at the way Duke winced at the word ‘son.’ He clapped the younger man on the shoulder and squeezed. “Go on and see your grandmother. Leave this to us for now.”

Duke stared at his feet for a moment before nodding. He knew he needed to pull himself together and take over the Network like his father would have wanted, but it was hard. The overwhelming need for vengeance had kept him from focusing on the heartache, but now that his father’s killer was dead, there was nothing left to distract him.

With somber eyes, Abelardo watched Duke trudge out of the house. He waited until Duke’s taillights disappeared around the corner to open the file. Since Sebastian Aswhood’s report had been four pages long, he’d expected at least six from a detail-obsessed Duke rather than a single sheet. The unusually laconic report contained only the words: “Target terminated.”

Sunday, October 17, 2010

WotD 10/17/10 -- January 1975 (Gerard, Alicia, Hattie, Warwick Burke)

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/17/10
Word: Fulsome: adj;
1. Offensive to the taste or sensibilities.
2. Insincere or excessively lavish; especially, offensive from excess of praise.
Timeline: January 1975 (Gerard, Alicia, Hattie, Warwick Burke)

“Gerard, darling, could you come here, please?”

At his aunt’s call, Gerard set down his book and ambled into the foyer. Sharp hazel eyes studied the girl standing between his father and Hattie. With long blonde hair, pale blue eyes, and an attractive figure she should have been pretty. The drab skirt, matronly blouse, and pearls around her slim neck reminded him too much of his mother for him to consider her worthy of a second glance.

“Darling, this is Alicia Ashwood. Her family has quite the reputation in the Network, and she is a very gifted seer.” Hattie curved an arm around Alicia’s shoulder and thrust her toward Gerard. “She was president of her school’s Future Homemakers of America club. She’s top of her class at Texas Woman’s University. Can you believe a pretty, smart girl like Alicia has been right under our noses this entire time?”

Gerard arched an eyebrow. His blunt aunt wasn’t one for fulsome flattery. A quick glance at Alicia’s flushed cheeks had him frowning. He’d foolishly hoped she’d see past Hattie’s glowing praise and put an end to the matchmaking.

“She’s everything we’ve been looking for, son,” Warwick added, eyes bright with glee. “Everything.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

WotD 10/16/10 - Fall 2002 (Sebastian, Olivia, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/16/10
Word: Ineffable: adj;
1. Incapable of being expressed in words; unspeakable; unutterable; indescribable.
2. Not to be uttered; taboo.
Timeline: Fall 2002 (Sebastian, Olivia, Viola)

“Does it look like the demon’s following a particular path?” Sebastian squinted, stared at the map, and then held out to Olivia. “I can’t see any patterns in his movements.”

“No, it looks like the demon’s… wandering, I guess.”

“He has a name,” Viola said from her spot on one of the motel room’s beds. She rested her injured arm on a pillow. Listening to them talk about their demon-possessed father like he was just any old demon drove her absolutely crazy. Did they think that playing pretend made things easier?

“What was that, Vi?”

“He’s got a name,” she repeated. “You keep calling him ‘the demon,’ but we learned his name two weeks ago. Can’t you just call him El - .”

“No!” Sebastian leapt across the room and slapped a hand across Viola’s mouth to stop her before she uttered the name he’d declared ineffable weeks earlier. “We don’t call him by his name, Viola. We don’t know what it would do.”

Viola engaged Sebastian in a staring contest. Sebastian broke first, but Viola nodded in concession. To keep the peace, she’d refrain from speaking the demon’s name out loud, no matter how stupid a rule it was.

Friday, October 15, 2010

WotD 10/15/10 - August 2001 (Duke, Viola, Sebastian)

Sorry it's terrible, my brain doesn't often function properly when I'm sick. Blame the person who gave me their cold!

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/15/10
Word: Smithereens: noun; Small pieces; bits.
Timeline: August 2001 (Sebastian, Viola, Duke)

“Honeys, I’m home!” Viola called out as she gracelessly maneuvered through the front door. She’d seen Duke’s truck in the driveway so she knew Sebastian wasn’t home alone.

“Hey, kiddo.” Sebastian dashed out of the kitchen and took her backpack from her and led the way to the kitchen. “How was the first day back?”

“Absolutely terrible.”

Duke’s face darkened. “Any of the kids giving you a hard time?”

“Nah.” Even if they were, she wouldn’t tell either of them. She could handle a little bullying on her own. “I had to answer a ton of questions from the counselor, sign away my firstborn to get an elevator key, and my track coach refuses to talk to me. To top it all off, you two are about to go on rotation, and I’ll be stuck here with Olivia. This really sucks, you know.”

“Next time you’ll think twice about doing acrobatics on the back of Duke’s truck and smashing your leg to smithereens, huh?”

As she’d only done it to avoid a demon Bas had accidentally sent her way, she glared at him. She shook one of her crutches threateningly. “C’mere so I can smash you to smithereens, insensitive jerk.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

WotD 10/14/10 - April 1989 (Viola, Gerard)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/14/10
Word: hopscotch:
Verb; To journey quickly and directly from one usually far place to another.
Noun; A children's game in which a player tosses or kicks an object into one of several numbered sections of a diagram marked on the ground.
Verb; To move or pass through something, as a geographical area or a field of endeavor, making many brief stops.
Timeline: April 1989 (Viola, Gerard)

Viola twisted her fingers together and smiled hesistantly at the girl beside her. “That’s a pretty dress.”

The girl in the pink, ruffled dress continued to stare at her sad eyes. Viola sighed softly and swung her feet. She was so bored. They were at the park for Sebastian’s birthday and none of the boys wanted to play with her. Bas said she was too little and Toby said she was a big baby. She’d kicked him in the shins for that one. Her father had put her in time out, but he’d been smiling when he did it so she knew she wasn’t really in trouble.

“D’you wanna play tag?”

The girl shook her head.

“Who’re you talking to, my violet?”

“The girl, Daddy.”

“What girl?”

“The one sittin’ next to me!”

He couldn’t see anyone sitting beside Viola, but that wasn’t surprising. The park was over a hundred years old. It was likely to be haunted by at least one spirit. He’d have to work with Viola on learning the difference between ghosts and real people. “Well, have fun, darling.”

Viola sighed again. Her eyes slid back to the silent girl. “Do you know how to play hopscotch?”

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glide Like Ghosts - May 2001

Another shorty, but am actually putting this one up on FP. It's the rave incidented referenced in TCC.

May 2001

Duke knew, without a doubt, that he was going to commit murder before the night was over. The only thing yet to be determined was whether or not he killed his soon-to-be-ex best friend or one of the hundred drunkards packed in the abandoned warehouse. He still couldn’t believe he’d let himself get talked into swinging by a rave while he and Sebastian were on rotation. The music, a complex blend of trip-hop and 80s rock, made his head ache, he couldn’t escape the smell of pot, and someone had spilled cheap beer all over his boots.

“Dude!” Someone called out just as a hairy, tanned hand landed on Sebastian’s shoulder and yanked him backwards. Duke balled his hands into loose fists, ready to back his partner up if a fight broke out.

“Stan, man!” Sebastian’s easy grin eased the tension in Duke’s shoulders. Sebastian slapped the back of a tall man with a boy-ish face and floppy black hair. Stan was one of the guys who’d mentioned the rave, and the supposedly hot new band, to him.

Duke didn’t recognize the other man, but that didn’t mean much. Though they’d attended the same college and been friends for nearly their entire lives, Sebastian was older and they’d run in different circles. Besides, Duke tended to stick with other Trackers; that way he had fewer secrets to keep.

“Bas, dude.” Stan chuckled, dimples appearing on his cheeks when he smiled widely. It was obvious by the size of his pupils and the odor wafting off him that he was utterly wasted. “When’d your sister get hot?”

Duke froze. Tension stiffened his muscles and straightened his spine. He scanned the gyrating crowd in search of an auburn-haired delinquent. There was no doubt in his mind that Viola was the sister in question. Raves weren’t Olivia’s scene.

“I can see now why you never invite us to your place. If she was my sister, I’d keep her locked away, too. I’m telling you, she is…”

“Jailbait,” Duke interrupted icily. Sebastian’s tight grip on his arm was the only thing that kept him from pounding that eager smile off Stan’s pretty boy face. At least he had his answer on the question of whom he was going to kill. As soon as he got his hands on Viola Ashwood, he was going to wring her neck.

“Where is she, Stan?” Sebastian couldn’t understand how Viola had gotten out of the house. He’d locked her in her bedroom, bolted the windows shut, and taken her car keys and cell phone. He’d also given her a mild sedative before dinner and waited until she was asleep to leave.

“Up there.” Stan pointed towards the second level of the warehouse. “You can’t miss her. She’s got about a dozen glow sticks including a fat purple one tucked between -.”

Duke’s hand shot forward and wrapped around Stan’s neck. He hauled him closer and growled. “You ever look anywhere but that girl’s eyes again, and I’ll castrate you with rusty barbed wire, you get that?”

Sebastian pulled Duke off Stan and towards the staircase. They pushed their way through the crowd before splitting up to search for her. Given the mood Duke was in, Sebastian hoped he reached her first. He was pissed as hell at her for sneaking out when she was grounded, but he wouldn’t make a scene the way Duke would.

Five minutes later, a sulky Viola appeared in front of Sebastian. One of her wrists was handcuffed to Duke’s. “Let’s get the hell out of here.” Duke spun on his heel without waiting for a response and led the way to his truck. Viola had to jog to keep up with his quick pace and long stride.

“I grounded you, Viola.” Sebastian shook his head in disappointment. He hated how difficult disciplining her had gotten and how little control he had over his younger sister.

“For a totally bogus reason.”

“You gave one of the boys on the track team a black eye!”

She dug in her heels to try and stop Duke, but he kept dragging her along. The metal edge of the handcuff was starting to leave marks in her skin. She had to settle for glaring at Sebastian over her shoulder. “So it’s okay for him to be a pig and make downright filthy comments about my gym shorts, but I can’t defend my honor?”

Duke muttered something under his breath that neither Sebastian nor Viola understood. Finally at his truck, he unlocked the door and grabbed his water bottle from the front seat. He dug two aspirin from the first aid kit in his toolbox and quickly downed them with the water.

“What did you say, Toby?” Furious and embarrassed at having been caught so easily, Viola gave in to the anger. Why had either of them been at the rave in the first place? The Manic Mutts weren’t exactly their type of band.

“I said that you didn’t seem to mind everyone and their sleazy brother ogling you tonight.”

“The difference is that I chose to wear this. I didn’t pick out the obscenely short gym shorts they make us wear.”

“You’re dressed like a hooker, Vi.”

Viola’s face reddened. She sucked in an outraged breath and sneered. “I guess you’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?”

Still attached to her wrist, Duke walked back to the cab of the truck to retrieve a t-shirt from behind the seat. Eyes locked on her face, he thrust it into her arms. “Put that on.”

Viola jangled their linked wrists. “Undo these first, moron.”

Duke’s nostrils flared. He tamped down a surge of fury. She was, by far, the most maddening creature on the planet. “Watch your step, princess.”

She arched an eyebrow, rested her free hand on her cocked hip. “What’re you going to? Hit me in front of Bas?”

Sebastian cleared his throat pointedly and, once he had their attention, deliberately turned his back on them. He loved his sister dearly, but he wasn’t going to give her a free pass to walk all over Duke. He heard Viola swallow and Duke chuckle darkly. When he turned back around, Viola was glaring at Duke and rubbing the back of her head.

The loud chirp of his cell phone kept Duke from starting his lecture on bitchy behavior and unsafe situations. He tossed Sebastian the key to the handcuffs while he answered the phone. He winced at the location of the demon spotted. It was only a few miles from where they were so there wouldn’t be an opportunity to drop Viola off at home. She couldn’t be trusted to stay out of the way, and handcuffing her inside the truck was not a good idea. If the demon got away from them, she’d be a sitting target.

“What’ve we got?” Viola rubbed her red wrist and bounced on her toes excitedly. Going out to hunt a demon with them totally made up for having to leave the rave early. She was glad she’d remembered to stash her favorite knife in the waistband of her pants.

Sebastian rolled his eyes. Duke rounded on Viola and grasped her chin tightly. “Your brother and I have a Bendad. You have nothing. You’re going to be quiet and stay out of the damn way.”

Viola ripped free of Duke’s hand, crossed her arms over her chest. A broad, anticipatory smile lit up her face. “Yeah, like that’s going to happen.”

Duke growled and ran a hand through his hair. It was official: he was definitely going to kill someone before the night was through.

WotD 10/13/10 - January 2002 (Olivia, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/13/10
Word: apocopate: verb; To omit the final sound or sounds of (a word).
Timeline: January 2002 (Viola, Olivia)

“Sit an’ talk with me, Viola.”

Viola dumped her backpack on the floor, eyed the stack of envelopes on the table in front of Olivia, and sighed. She thought she’d hidden those letters, but someone had been snooping in her room. She plopped onto the chair across from Olivia and propped her head on her hand. “What’s up, Livy?”

“You…” Olivia hiccupped, pressed a hand against her chest and grimaced. “You got into all the schools you 'plied for: Rice, Baylor, UT, A&M.”

“Yeah. So?”

Olivia took a long drink from her cup. The liquor burned its way down her throat. “But you wanna go t’ U of H? Wha’ for? Don’ you know what you’re wastin’?”

Viola grabbed the cup and tasted its contents. Vodka. She should have known by the way Olivia apocopated. The English major usually never used anything less than perfect enunciation. “U of H has a distance education program that’s perfect for the amount of traveling and Tracking we do. It was good enough for Duke and Sebastian.”

“Dad ruined you an’ you don’ see it. You deserve more than this.”

“What if it’s all I want, Liv? What if this is all I need?”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Backstory! September 2004 - Viola & Duke

Since this one is a shorty, I figured I'd make it one of those blog-only type stories. This is a period of time I haven't really covered in any of the previous backstories (Glide Like Ghosts) or the main stories (or even the WotDs).

September 2004

Viola didn’t know what she’d done to deserve a trip to this particular level of hell, but it must have involved the slaughter of puppies, kittens, and nuns. Quite possibly the clubbing of baby seals, as well. Whatever crime she’d committed, she hoped she’d enjoyed the hell out of it.

She was certain the Cowboy Corral was well over its occupancy limit. Her glass was nearly empty, but there was no way she was going to fight her way through the crowd to get a refill. She’d only managed to score a table by flirting outrageously with a drunk, middle-aged man and dislocating his thumb when he’d tried to slip a hand under her short, denim skirt.

She had the beginnings of a migraine courtesy of the loud, twangy country music. The live band was a step up from the canned music they’d played earlier, but it really wasn’t her thing. It made her even more aware of the Manic Mutts concert she was missing. She took a small sip of her light beer and winced at the bland taste. She’d wanted to order a vodka cranberry or a stout beer, but she had to keep a tight grip on her mental shields. One little slip and her super-secret mission would be over.

“Hey babe.”

Hot, stale breath washed over her face. She gagged internally and forced herself to meet a bloodshot pair of brown eyes. The man, in his mid-twenties with dark hair and a scruffy jaw, leaned closer into Viola’s space.

“Wanna dance?”

“No.” Viola snapped open the book she’d brought with her and promptly ignored the man.

“Can I buy you a drink, baby doll?”

“No.” The textbook for her History of Globalization class was dull as dirt, but it made a good prop and she really did have to study for an upcoming test. She hoped he took the hint and went after someone else. If she had to turn him down a third time, she’d undoubtedly do it in a manner sure to blow her cover.

She glanced over the top of her book at the couple seated six tables away. The blond man she’d been watching for three hours shifted the arm he had across a curvy, artificially-enhanced brunette so that his hand brushed her assets. Viola swallowed a wave of nausea. Having to watch her quarry paw all over inebriated tramps was undoubtedly the worst part of the night.

“This ain’t study hall, pretty girl. This is a place for drinkin’ and recreation.” The dark-haired man slapped a long-fingered hand across the pages of Viola’s book. He grinned crookedly when she turned her eyes back to him.

She slowly closed her book and slid it into her oversized purse. Pasting on a flirtatious smile, she walked her fingers up the front of his shirt until she reached the collar. She twisted the material and yanked him down to her level. She crossed her legs and pressed the spike heel of her knee-high boots into his crotch.

“When a lady says no, bud, it’s in your best interest to listen.” She flexed her foot, smirking inwardly at the flare of his nostrils and the pain in his suddenly sober eyes. She released her grip on his shirt, made a show of wiping her hands with a damp cocktail napkin, and leaned back in her chair. “Are you going to make me say it again?”

“N-no ma’am,” he stuttered, backing away until the crowd swallowed him up.

Happier than she’d been ten minutes earlier, Viola shifted her gaze to the table. Panic burbled in her stomach when she didn’t see the blond man or his busty companion. She sat up straighter and scanned the crowd for a familiar face. She cursed herself for wasting her time with the other man.

There was a spirit hovering nearby. She could ask it where the blond man had gone, but someone in the crowd would notice her talking to empty air and rumors would start. While most people would write them off, he’d hear them and know she was watching him.

“Can I get you something, hon?”

Viola nodded at the tired-looking waitress. “Vodka cranberry with a twist of lime,” she ordered, handing over her driver’s license before the waitress could ask for it.

She drummed her fingers and rapidly worked up a back-up plan while she waited for her new drink. How could she have been so stupid? She had only one task and she’d screwed it up. If anything happened to him, she’d never forgive herself.

Her overactive imagination was hard at work creating worst-case scenarios. Had he tried to drive himself somewhere? Had his temper gotten the better of him? Was he in the parking lot brawling with a pack of tattooed, drunk bikers? Had he gone in search of a demon to take his frustration out on? Had he gone home with the skanky brunette?

“Here you go.” A hand with red-painted nails appeared in Viola’s line of sight. The waitress set the drink on the table along with Viola’s i.d. She accepted payment with a small, genuine smile before hurrying off to another table.

Viola reached for her drink, but it was snatched out of her hands before she could make contact with the glass. Her heart lurched and her right hand automatically dropped down to the holdout knife strapped to her thigh. She prayed she could get rid of the guy with just a little flirting. Sebastian was going kill her if she got arrested for another bar fight.

“Fancy findin’ you here, Shortcake,” a deep voice drawled.

Her lips twisted into a pout. She slapped his arm hard. “You scared the crap out of me, Toby Duke!”

Scowling, Duke slid onto the chair beside Viola. He sipped his pilfered drink while examining the driver’s license on the table. He tilted it back and forth several times before flipping it over and doing the same. “It’s a good fake. Do I even want to know where you got it?”

“Nope.” Though she wouldn’t need a fake i.d. in ten weeks, she didn’t want to give up her supplier. There was no telling when she might need something falsified.

“You’ve been watching me.” The vast quantity of alcohol he’d consumed had dulled his senses so that he hadn’t felt her enter the room. If he hadn’t passed her table on the way to the bathroom and heard the familiar chaotic cadence of her thoughts he never would have known she was in the bar.

She shrugged. There was no use denying it; there was no other reason for her to be in a place like the Cowboy Corral. She didn’t have to tell him why she’d followed him, either.

“Who sent you?”

“No one.” No one had to send her. She’d watched him do his damndest to self-destruct every September 13th. It wasn’t in her nature to idly stand by and watch the man she absolutely adored fall to pieces. Even if all she could do was make sure he made it home in once piece, at least she was doing something. “I know we don’t really get along anymore, but I’m not a raving bitch all the time. Call it a temporary truce if it makes it easier to swallow.”

“I’m not going to spill my guts to you, kiddo, just because you’re here and I’m drunk.” Duke didn’t want to talk about how the guilt and misery and sorrow were choking him or how he’d been unable to stay inside his house for more than ten minutes or how sometimes he hated the Network for what it had taken away from him. He wanted to drink until he couldn’t remember his name.

Viola lifted her drink from his lax grasp. She swallowed a mouthful of the cool, tart liquid. “I don’t recall offering to be your therapist. I’m just here to ensure you don’t wrap your truck around a tree. Or get syphilis.”

An unexpected bark of laughter spilled from Duke’s open mouth. “Syphilis, Via-mia?”

“I saw the company you’ve been keeping. I’m not entirely certain you should be this close to me without a hazmat suit or a decontamination shower.”

“Ah, Mandy,” Duke sighed, eyes glazing over. “I have a date with her tomorrow night.”

She ignored the pang of jealousy stabbing her with an acid-tipped knife. She was there as a friend and not a love-struck girl. He didn’t need to deal with her issues on top of everything else. “I’ve got your cell phone in my car. You left it at our house.”

“I know.” His grandmother understood that he wanted to be left alone on the anniversary of his father’s death, but it was something his mother conveniently forgot every year. After ignoring her tenth call, he’d set his phone on the Ashwood kitchen table and walked away from it.

“I turned it off so I wouldn’t give in to temptation and tell your mother off.”

“Thank you.”

Viola’s fingers twitched with the need to soothe the shadows under his eyes and smooth away the wrinkle in the middle of his forehead. She sent out a silent plea to his father. She’d seen Paul Duke briefly at his funeral but hadn’t caught even the slightest glimpse of him in the seven years since. She’d burn up every ounce of her power if that’s what it took to give Duke five minutes with his dad.

She didn’t miss the way Duke’s eyes kept drifting to a nearby blonde in a low-cut tank top and tight miniskirt. Doing so would hurt like hell, but she had to give him the space he needed. Bright, utterly false smile in place she nudged him with her elbow. “Go ask her to dance.”

“Are you sure?”

“’Course I am. She seems like she’s just your type.” ‘Meaning she’s not me,’ she added silently. “Leave your keys, though. If you need a ride home, I’ll take you. I’ll even make sure you don’t choke in the middle of night or hit your head on the toilet seat.”

That he hesitated warmed her soul. He cupped her jaw and pressed hot lips to her forehead. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

Her smile faltered when he led the blonde onto the dance floor. Sad but her heart was not as heavy as she’d expected. There was a silver lining, after all. Duke might use easy women and booze to cope with the loss of his father, but she was the one he could count on to be there the next day. Better to be reliable than forgotten, right? She retrieved her book, opened it to the right page, and settled in for a long night of crappy country music, dry facts, and envy.

WotD 10/12/10 Spring 2000 (Sebastian)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/12/10

Word: Retrograde: adj;
1. Having a backward motion or direction; retiring or retreating.
2. Inverse or reversed, as order.
3. Exhibiting degeneration or deterioration.
Timeline: Spring 2000 (Sebastian)

“I’m afraid there has been some retrograde progress in your mother’s condition.”

Sebastian nodded sharply at Dr. Barnes, his eyes on the woman on the other side of the plexiglass window. It was obvious that his mother was getting worse. After only a small improvement thanks to new medication, she was back to slapping food out of people’s hands and claiming she’d been betrayed by a demon.

He and his sisters had known for years that their mother had an unhealthy dependency on their father and a history of mental illness. According to their late grandmother, Alicia Ashwood had always been a little… delicate. The true depth of her sickness, however, had been masked by Gerard’s constant presence. With him gone, she’d dived head-first into insanity.

“We’ll keep her for seventy-two hours and monitor her behavior. Afterwards we can discuss whether or not she should receive inpatient treatment. I know this is hard, but it’s for the best. She hasn’t harmed anyone yet, but the potential for a violent outburst does exist.”

Sebastian shivered. He’d seen the way Alicia looked at Viola sometimes. There was no doubt in his mind that his mother would go for her first. “I understand.”

Monday, October 11, 2010

WotD 10/11/10 - January 2008 (Sebastian)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/11/10
Word: Nepenthe: noun;
1. A drug or drink, or the plant yielding it, mentioned by ancient writers as having the power to bring forgetfulness of sorrow or trouble.
2. Anything inducing a pleasurable sensation of forgetfulness, esp. of sorrow or trouble.
Timeline: January 2008 (Sebastian)

He bit down on his tongue until blood filled his mouth. The pain didn’t stop the images from flashing in his brain. He couldn’t say what triggered the latest vision. It could have been his coffee mug, the classical music CD, the t-shirt he was wearing. It was completely impossible to separate her from his life.

The damned visions had been useful for hunting down demons, but when it came the one person in the world who meant everything to him, they’d let him down. As they’d prepared for the big faceoff, there hadn’t been the slightest hint that something would go wrong. He’d touched her, lord how he’d touched her, but not a single vision had flashed before his eyes.

Leaving his sisters and the Network had been so easy, but the worthless visions were still there. Fury filling him, he stalked towards the wooden box he’d stolen from his parents’ house and intended to burn. Finding one of Viola’s herbal remedy books, he flipped through the index until he found the listing for nepenthes. If he was going to be stuck with visions for the rest of his life, he’d be damned before he remembered a single one.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

WotD 10-10-10, Summer 2001 (Olivia, Viola, Sebastian, Duke)

I got off rather easy on this one - it's the incident mentioned in chapter ten of the first story!

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/10/10
Word: Bricolage, noun: Construction or something constructed by using whatever materials happen to be available.
Timeline: Summer 2001 (Viola, Olivia, Sebastian, Duke)

“Are you sure this is going to work?”

Viola glared at Sebastian. He’d asked the same question six times since she’d handed him the substitute bear repellant bricolage. They’d been tracking a Frylen and accidentally ran across a migrating pack of Prishims. When Duke had gone to grab the repellant used to ward them off, he’d found only an empty canister.

“It should. The hot sauce will affect their sensitive olfactory senses and the pyrethrum won’t kill them, but should drive them off.” Recognizing the potential for another argument between her siblings, Olivia smoothly stepped in to reassure her brother.

“It’s strong stuff so go easy, okay?” Viola added.

“Only a spritz,” Olivia suggested.

Facing down five unhappy Prishims, Sebastian found it impossible to trust his sisters implicitly. How a last minute creation as effective as commercial bear repellant? Rather than the spritz Olivia recommended, he pumped the nozzle until the bottle was nearly empty. When half the mixture wound up all over him thanks to a shift in wind direction, his sisters laughed while an unsympathetic Duke made him walk the four blocks to the hotel. Four blistering hot showers later, Viola finally allowed him into the main room.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

WotD 10-9-10, January 1999 (Sebastian, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge – October 9, 2010
Word: Roborant:
1. adj: Strengthening, restoring vigor.
2. noun: A strengthening medicine; a tonic, a restorative
Timeline: January 1999 (Sebastian, Viola)

Mindful of the squeaky hinges, Viola eased open Sebastian’s bedroom door. On bare feet, she navigated her way around piles of discarded clothing until she reached the edge of the bed. She set a mug on the nightstand, far enough away to avoid flailing limbs, and hopped onto the mattress beside her brother.


He grunted in response. She rolled her eyes and shook his shoulder roughly. She’d known, from the moment he announced his plans to throw a New Year’s Eve party while their parents were out of town, that they’d be in this situation. Their parents were due home in a couple of hours, the downstairs looked like a tornado had blown through it, and Sebastian was horribly hung over. It was a good thing she’d started experimenting with roborant teas weeks earlier.

“Sebastian, Mom and Dad are on their way. The house is a wreck, and I think someone puked under the couch cushions.”


She shook his shoulder again before jumping off the bed to flip on the light switch. Her lips twitched when he groaned loudly and covered his face with a pillow. “Get up or I’m getting the air horn! Drink your tea, wimp.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wotd 10/8/10 - December 2003 (Duke, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/8/10
Word: Wassail: noun;
1. An expression of good wishes on a festive occasion, especially in drinking to someone.
2. An occasion on which such good wishes are expressed in drinking; a drinking bout; a carouse.
3. The liquor used for a wassail; especially, a beverage formerly much used in England at Christmas and other festivals, made of ale (or wine) flavored with spices, sugar, toast, roasted apples, etc.

1. Of or pertaining to wassail, or to a wassail; convivial; as, a wassail bowl.

transitive verb:
1. To drink to the health of; a toast.
intransitive verb:
1. To drink a wassail.

Timeline: December 2003 (Viola, Duke)

“This party sucks.” Viola held up her hands defensively when Duke turned his scorching glare onto her. “I’m serious! I’ve had nights at the cemetery livelier than this.”

Duke grunted and resumed staring at the somber people crowding his living room. He couldn’t remember why he’d thought a Network Christmas party was a good idea. It was supposed to be a “break” from Tracking, but that was all anyone had in common.

“That’s it!” Viola slipped off her chair and marched into the kitchen. After digging through his cabinets, she set a large pot on the stove, turned on the burner underneath it, then hopped up onto the counter.

“Get the hell off my countertop, Shortcake.”

“It’s not my fault you keep your spices up so high only a giant can reach them.”

Duke watched her dump a half-gallon of apple cider, a cheesecloth bundle of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, and several other items into the pot. It didn’t take long to figure out what she was doing. “Wassail? You think that’s going to fix the party?”

Viola grinned as she stirred the liquid. “It will once I get into your liquor cabinet. I’ve got plans for the eggnog, too.”

Thursday, October 7, 2010

WotD 10/7/10 - December 1998 (Gerard, Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/7/10
Word: Mana: noun;
1. A generalized, supernatural force or power, which may be concentrated in objects or persons.
2. An ancient kingdom in Iran, in Kurdistan.
Timeline: December 1998 (Gerard, Viola)

Under the guise of filling in a hole in the backyard, Gerard Ashwood made his tribute to Elrachaim. Through the breach in the veil separating his world from Wylan, he felt his master’s presence. Warm energy flooded his veins as the tribute was accepted.

He nearly dropped the small clay pot when the energy flow spiked unexpectedly. He glanced down at his tribute. It was the same one he’d been leaving for years. There was no reason for Elrachaim to be unusually pleased.

“What’cha doing, Daddy?”

Gerard craned his neck to grin over his shoulder at his youngest child. Dressed in jeans and the sweater Olivia had given her that morning, Viola was ready for their father-daughter birthday dinner. She bounced on her toes excitedly, a matching grin spread across her face.

“Filling in this hole so no one breaks an ankle. Give me a minute, my violet.”

He waited until he heard the backdoor slam closed to turn back to the breach. The energy slipping through the tear crackled angrily at being denied proximity to Viola’s mana. Gerard couldn’t blame Elrachaim for being upset; his daughter held an extraordinary amount of power.

“Patience, my lord. Just one more year.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

WotD 10/6/10: Spring 2000 (Viola)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/6/10
Word: acta: noun; Official records, as of acts, deeds, proceedings, transactions, or the like.
Timeline: Spring 2000 (Viola)

Being in her parents’ bedroom without either of them around felt wrong. Though she knew it was ridiculous, Viola kept glancing over her shoulder expecting to see one of them standing in the doorway. Her father had disappeared while Tracking a demon months earlier, and her mother was being admitted into a private psychiatric facility. Since she seemed to set her mother off, Viola had stayed home while her siblings took Alicia to the facility.

Her heart skipped when she saw her father’s things still spread over his nightstand. Admittedly a ‘daddy’s girl,’ Viola missed her father fiercely. She reverently wiped dust off his alarm clock and the lenses of his reading glasses.

She cursed loudly when her bare toes struck the corner of a box half-shoved under the bed. She dropped to her knees and pulled out the first book her fingers hit. Acta Familia Burke was written down the spine.

“Vi! We’re home!”

At the sound of Sebastian’s voice, Viola dropped the book back into the box and shoved it back under the bed. Maybe after they found Dad, she could take time to look through dusty, old book. Until then, what use was the Burke family history?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

WotD 10/5/10: Summer 2002 (Viola, Olivia, Sebastian)

Word of the Day Challenge 10/5/10
Word: Teem: verb;
1. To abound or swarm; be prolific or fertile.
2. To empty or pour out; discharge
Timeline: Summer 2002 (Viola, Sebastian, Olivia)

Viola’s head spun. She squeezed her eyes shut and clutched the edge of the wrought iron table tightly. Every nerve ending was screaming. She shivered despite the morning heat. From the moment they’d stepped foot into New Orleans’ Hotel Provincial, her ghost-dar had been on overdrive.

“Are you okay, Vi?” Olivia dropped her linen napkin into her lap and patted her sister’s hand. She’d talked Sebastian into stopping the search for their father for a couple of nights so they could recharge. The beautiful, historic hotel was a welcome respite from the usual chain motel. She’d enjoyed a leisurely swim in the pool before burying her head in the feather pillow. Though they’d each gotten separate rooms, she knew Sebastian had gone to bed early and assumed Viola did the same. Why then did Viola look like she’d pulled an all-nighter?

“No,” Viola rasped.

“What’s wrong?” Sebastian tensed, eyes darting around the room for a threat.

“Next time you two want to take a little break,” she panted, opening her eyes just long enough to catch a glimpse of the four Civil War soldiers standing at attention behind the table, “can you pick a place that isn’t teeming with ghosts?”

Note: The hotel mentioned does exist and is said to be haunted. Link to their website, if you're interested, is here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

WotD 10/4/10: Summer 1998 (S, D, O, V)

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/4/10
Word: nympholepsy: noun;
1. A frenzy of emotion, as for something unattainable
2. An ecstasy supposed by the ancients to be inspired by nymphs
Timeframe: Summer 1998 (Sebastian, Duke, Olivia, Viola)

“It’s hot.”

“And really humid. Are we ever going to get there?”

Duke gritted his teeth and silently counted to twenty. He’d reached his limit when it came listening to the Ashwood sisters’ nonstop complaints. Viola didn’t like how hot it was, and Olivia had done nothing but whine about what the humidity had done to her hair and makeup.

“I think whoever told you there were demons down here was lying,” Viola groaned, unscrewing the cap from her water bottle and taking a long sip.

Sebastian smiled tightly at Duke over Viola’s head. It was absolutely the last time he volunteered to babysit his sisters while his parents went out for dinner. He stopped abruptly as his ears picked up a faint noise. “Do y’all hear music?”

Olivia clutched Viola’s hand as they followed the boys towards the high-pitched, lively music. Through the branches of a low bush she could see massive, blue-scaled demons moving in a sort of nympholepsy around a small fire. She’d never seen the demons before, but they appeared to be… naked?

“Damn it!” Duke swore under his breath as he slapped his hand over Viola’s eyes. “I forgot it was the Feast of Stragni.”

Sunday, October 3, 2010

WotD - 10/3/10 - (December 2000, Viola, Olivia, Alicia)

Word of the Day Challenge – October 3, 2010
Word: Fossick: verb;
1. To search for any object by which to make gain.
2. Mining. To undermine another's digging; search for waste gold in relinquished workings, washing places, etc.
3. To hunt; seek; ferret out.
Timeline: December 1999 (Viola, Alicia, Olivia)

Olivia paused inside the doorway of the kitchen. Her jaw dropped in surprise. Rather than with the punching bag in the garage or upstairs blasting music loud enough to burst eardrums, Viola was seated at the kitchen table surrounded by books and legal pads. She affectionately ruffled her sister’s short hair as she made her way to the stove and her mother.

“Vi’s doing her homework?” Olivia queried softly, inhaling the fragrant aroma of her mother’s marinara sauce.

Alicia’s lips pursed. She stirred the sauce faster than necessary. “She claims she has no homework. Somehow she got a hold of the reports from the Trackers who retrieved Mark Cahill’s body.”

Olivia’s heart sank. Bert and Toby Duke had sent the best Trackers in the region after the missing Cahill and Gerard Ashwood. She had no doubt several Trackers had already analyzed the reports and photographs. Stating that, however, wouldn’t keep Viola from fossicking over every photo and typed word until her eyes bled.

“Do you think we should stop her?”

Alicia shook her head. Her blue eyes were frosty as she stared at her busy youngest child. “Let her do whatever she wants. It’ll keep her out of my hair.”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Word of the Day - 10/2/10 (Spring 2001 - Sebastian, Viola, Duke)

Word of the Day Challenge – 10/2/10
Word: Mussitate: verb, to silently move the lips in simulation of audible speech
Timeline: Spring 2001 (Viola & Sebastian & Duke)

“Look at this!” Sebastian exclaimed, slamming the booklet of papers onto the table. He ran a hand through his shaggy hair, tugged on the roots in frustration.

Duke recognized the high school’s progress report forms, but these were different. All his reports had usually only had a couple of lines under each section. There were multiple paragraphs under each section on each sheet. Every one of Viola’s teachers had made remarks about her conduct and her attitude.

“Hey guys, what’s going on?” Viola greeted, dumping her backpack on the floor just inside the kitchen. “I checked the mailbox, but there was nothing in it.”

Sebastian’s lips thinned. He had suspected that Viola was intercepting the mail so that he wouldn’t get the notes her teachers mailed home. “I already got it.”

“Oh.” Viola’s face paled for a moment before her jaw hardened and she crossed her arms over her chest. “So?”

“Listen, kiddo, I know you’re a big ball of screwed up right now, but….”

As Sebastian droned on about responsibilities and social workers, Duke glanced over at an unusually silent Viola. He had to bite laugh as he realized that she was mussitating in perfect synch with her brother.

Friday, October 1, 2010

WotD - 10/1/10 - November 2008 (D/V)

Sorry this one's a bit sappy - stayed home sick and apparently I crave fluff/angst when I'm ill!

Word of the Day Challenge – October 1, 2010
Word: Satori: noun, in Zen Buddhism, the state of sudden indescribable intuitive enlightenment.
Timeline: November 2008 (while Vi is out after facing her father), D/V

His bloodshot, aching eyes caught every tiny twitch her body made. The rhythmic rise and fall of her chest was the tether on his sanity. Her not-so-steady heartbeat reverberated in his head and thrummed under his fingertips.

Viola had been unconscious for two days. She hadn’t so much as made a sound since she’d collapsed on that Cedar Rapids theater stage after going head-to-head with her father. Duke felt as if the ground had been pulled from beneath his feet. He’d remained calm enough to get her to a safe location and examine her for injuries, but his calm had long since faded. Every second that passed without seeing her lovely hazel eyes or hearing her sweet voice, even if it was to tease him, felt like a decade.

He’d confessed his love for her days earlier, had even acknowledged to himself that he’d always loved her, but as he sat and waited, stomach knotted and heart heavy, he was struck by satori. This was more than lust or friend-love, or a comfortable love. She, who drove him crazy and complicated his life and warmed his soul, was everything.

“Please,” he begged, voice cracking, “you have to wake up, sugar.”