amwriting, Author, photography, poems, poetry, relationships, Uncategorized, women, writing

Blinded by the Truth

Forever is a long time to wait for you, but if that’s what it takes then that is what I must do.
You are buried deep in my heart, longing for you I know is only the start.
I would gladly stare into the sun to find you, even if it blinded me from what I know is true.
You have moved on and have gone away, but I know someday you will come home to stay.

Drama, Indie Author, Uncategorized, women


This is cheating.

The sneaking around, hiding, avoiding. being deflective in your answers. It’s not even the act itself as the manner in which it’s brought about. For a long time now you knew how you felt, convincing yourself that you can do better than what you had, that the proverbial grass was greener on the other side.

It didn’t start out intentional. You got bored. A chance meeting here, a we’re just friends there, What I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me you argued with yourself. Then you heard the siren’s call and abandoned what you once promised to hold most dear. You tossed me aside like an old pair of shoes that no longer fit your purpose and pursued the white-hot flame that would bring you something new, exciting, and not me.

The next step will be the awkward separation. The its not you it’s me phase, Then you’ll tell your friends who will wholeheartedly  agree with you that it is me and they never understood why you were with me in the first place. You wont outwardly feel guilty. In fact you’ll make it a point to show me indifference and then outright hostility. It will become my fault. I caused you to search elsewhere with my mediocre life existence and then in a moment of guilt you’ll tell me that you never intended to hurt me. I’ll hear that you loved me once, but can no longer bring yourself  to be in love with me, or worse yet you’ll get over any remorseful feelings you temporarily have and say you never loved me. You’ll say all kinds of nasty thing to and about me then make your feelings fit your words to get the end result you want. You’ll tell me  I was convenient and now it’s time to find your true love and start living the life you always wanted and deserved, that I held you back from.

Silly me. Why didn’t I see it before? Truth is I did. I had a foreboding feeling, a sixth sense if you will that something wasn’t right. I noticed the avoidance, the change in moods and the feeling of ever-increasing loneliness that crept up in my soul as a sign of my future abandonment by you. I just chose to ignore it, quash It down and chalk it up to that you were going through a rough patch and had to work out some issues.

Sure you threw me a bone here and there to throw me off the scent. My brain didn’t want to register your actions as a sign of the end is near. Self preservation I suppose until I caught you red handed in the act. My world imploded with the force of an atomic bomb and nothing would ever be right again.

You knew I was fragile and you tore me down anyways. It was all part of your mental separation plan. Your own self survival mode conniving you into believing that this is the right way. So you became cold and decided to rip the bandage off quickly admitting everything you should have a long time ago before you made your decision to turn to another. Truth is you couldn’t do the separation without a push from her. She told you it’s her or me and you chose new and exciting believing that it would stay that way forever.

Now my own self doubt takes over. I don’t need you to tear me down, I can do that all on my own. I chastised myself privately for a myriad of flaws that I believed caused you to push me away. I’m to fat, I’m to thin, I spent too much money, I ignored your needs, I smothered you, I relied on you too much, I didn’t rely on you enough, I’m no longer pretty anymore (if I ever was), I’m a no talent hack who is just to stupid to live, I grew old.

This is cheating aftermath.

Eventually I will get over the hurt and build myself back up, slowly at first. I will lick my wounds and feel sorry for myself for while, then I’ll reinvent myself while trying to reinvent the wheel. I’ll go back to school, travel, join a gym, change my hairstyle, buy that car I always wanted you said was a ridiculous waste of money, write a book, maybe even move to another city.

l will survive because even though I appear emotionally fragile on the outside prone to easily to tears, inside I am tough as steel. I will have learned not to ignore my sixth sense and will be wary next time, given there is a next time, that requirement is no longer necessary for me to move on from you. I will appear more confident though that will really be a façade for me just not giving a damn anymore. I will trust no one ever again even though I will smile as if I do.

I will think of you from time to time and the silent anger I still carry will burn like a flickering flame threatening to once again take over my being, but instead I will find a way to snuff it out for a while till the day comes when it no longer ignites. I might even say I have forgiven you, but truth is deep down inside I never will.


Chicklit, Drama, Fiction, Romance, women, writing

I Hate Rom-Com’s

I hate romantic comedies. Other than a select few most of them are predictable.

The couple meets in some cute way, most times with the desperate and single woman doing something to look like a complete idiot. Maybe she knocks over an entire table of food at a restaurant and he helps her clean up the mess. Or she gets her dress caught in the door of a cab and has to run along the side of it until the hero swoops in and saves the day.
After the cute meet the couple starts to date and all the woman’s flaws and insecurities come to the surface while most times the hero remains as clever and attractive as ever. Everything is fine until some conflict either internal or external threatens to break them up for good. One of the two has an epiphany and realizes they can’t live without their soul mate and by the end of the story everything is neatly tied in a pretty little pink bow and the happy couple lives happily ever after.

No wonder audiences have been staying away from romantic comedies in droves. Who wants to watch a story that’s that predictable? As a reader, it’s a tired formula I’ve seen repeated over and over again in a number of romance novels and it’s the reason I don’t read those types of books anymore.

As a writer, especially with a series, making things unpredictable is something you have to consider, especially when your story has romantic elements. Though the reader may say they want the heroine and her love interest to be happily married with kids, don’t believe them.

I can testify that I’ve thought the same thing with the TV series Castle. As soon as Detective Beckett and Richard Castle got together I was done. That was last season and I haven’t watched it since. After watching two characters who have been pining for each other for years finally get together, it’s boring now that we have what we wanted.
What keeps your reader interested is the tension between the couple. Move their relationship forward slowly. If you put them together as a couple, tear them apart soon after and have them find their way back to each other all over again. Introduce that best friend who’s been yearning after the hero since they were kids. Maybe one of them has an unforgiveable secret? What if her jealous best friend is a liar and spreads a nasty lie that breaks them apart. Unbeknownst to the hero, maybe his lady love has been replaced with her crazed, long thought dead twin sister. The longer you can keep your couple from that happily ever after the more the reader is pulled in. Make them wait!

Just because you’re following the romance formula doesn’t mean you have to play it by the book.

biracial, Chicklit, daughters, Drama, family, fathers, Fiction, Indie Author, relationships, Romance, women

Visions of the Past: A Body Hunters Prequel

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle …


The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle … … the fun continues in the sequel.

Marcel Labouleaux leaned back in his office chair, putting his hurting feet up on his desk in his New Orleans FBI office. It was late in the evening but he wasn’t working; he was however contemplating his next move. His feet were still smarting from the punishing kicks he gave to the custom chopper that belonged to his young partner Lucian Tepes. His knuckles were bloody and swollen from using Lucian as a punching bag.

 Lucian’s crime was being caught with Marcel’s only daughter the morning after she slept over, giving her virginity to him. She had just barely turned twenty and even though technically old enough to make her own decisions, Marcel was blindsided by the relationship. He felt betrayed by the FBI partner he treated like a son, feeling he took advantage of his daughter’s innocence with men. 

He was also not ready to admit that his headstrong daughter was no longer a little girl he could protect. Not that Danielle needed protection; she could kick the ass of any boy who tried to take advantage of her, as her prom date from high school found out. Danny, as she called herself much to her mother’s dismay, had been a teenage terror, defying her parents and especially her mother at every move. Her tantrums and outburst were met with his stern discipline usually to no avail. She was going to do what she wanted, when she wanted and now apparently with whom she wanted.

Marcel had dreaded this day for a long time. He wasn’t ignorant to the fact it would happen, he‘d just hoped he’d been long dead or she at least married first. An old fashioned idea he knew and he also realized when it came to Danielle he was wishing too much. He just couldn’t figure out what she saw in the dark haired white boy with the slight European accent and dangerous bike.  He smacked his hand to his head realizing he’d just answered his own stupid question. 

 Marcel rubbed his short cropped graying hair feeling the bald spot he figured would turn into a horseshoe in a couple of years. Groaning at the thought he closed his eyes and smiled reliving the image of beating the young man on the ground watching him bleed from his cut lip, that pleasant memory over with his mind wandered back to his daughter.

 She was in college taking police courses claiming she wanted to be FBI just like dad. Marcel didn’t take it seriously, knowing she was just doing it to give her mother yet another reason to fret over her choices. She seemed to take great pleasure in torturing her mother on a regular basis. 

An image of his beloved Julianna came into his mind. Danny definitely was her mother’s daughter. Her long black hair and high cheek bones were features that made both of them knock out beauties. Danny was a caramel brown copy of her. The only other distinguishing characteristic she carried from Marcel was golden brown eyes which were a family trait they shared with his mother. Like his mother Marie, Danielle’s dancing eyes could turn into dangerous daggers in a heartbeat. 

The debutante balls and finishing school Julianna had enrolled her in drew Danny’s ire toward her mother. The battle of wills and wits between the two was enough to make him want to drink. The slamming of doors and the I hate you’s that spewed from Danny’s pretty mouth on almost a daily basis from the time she was fourteen to eighteen grayed him quicker than anything else.

 Then there was the talking to the dead thing. Danny tried to explain it to him that she was psychic like his mother Marie. Danny was very close to her grandmere and her influence on her was calming, but this ghost business was too much. He’d scolded his mother for putting those nonsensical ideas into her head. He believed in what he could see and touch only and had no time for ‘I see dead people’ craziness.

Julianna followed his lead on the subject much like she deferred to him in most things which pleasantly surprised him considering her temperament and upbringing. Julianna Benoit Labouleaux had come from the bluest blood in all of New Orleans and desperately wanted to impart some of her southern belle manners and gentility into her daughter. He never argued about her attempts in fact he secretly wished Danny was a little more refined and not a carrier of the trademarked Labouleaux temper.

His mind wandered now of the pleasant memory of his wife. The headstrong southern belle he fell hard for. She could charm and cut you all at the same time with her smile. He allowed his thoughts to float to a special time and place he knew they would be devoted to each other forever.

 The evening soirée was the highlight of the social season. Everyone who was anyone in the Parish was in attendance, private invitation only. The light orchestral music floated in the late January night from the stage set around potted pink and purple orchids.  Tuxedoed waiters greeted the throngs of guests arriving to take their seats amongst the white linen tables. The silverware was real and the goblets were made of the purest crystal. No expense was spared for the twentieth anniversary dinner of Jeannette and Louis Benoit at their exclusive and not so inclusive country club. The demanded attire for the evening was evening gowns and tops and tails. Rounding the club’s circular driveway was the white horse drawn carriage that held the guests of honor. They made their grand entrance to the polite applause of the standing guests as they took their seats at the head table. Missing was their nineteen year old daughter Julianna, who snuck away while pretending to get dressed for the affair. Julianna had a special surprise for her parents, who to her were more acquaintances than parents having been brought up and taught more about life by nannies and the house staff.

Julianna planned to bring a special date, her newly minted husband she secretly eloped with just the day before. The young, handsome man with the dangerous grin that made her melt into a puddle every time she saw him waited for her outside her window nervously twisting his hands. This was going to get ugly, Marcel Labouleaux mused. He was not a blue blood, he had no money, and most of all he was black. That fact alone, he had warned her before they took their vows, would get her disowned by her family. She didn’t care, he was all she could think or care about, that and their precious baby growing inside of her.

He placed his hands on her hips to steady her as she descended the ladder. He hoped they were undetected by the house staff that was under strict orders to report her whereabouts immediately, especially if she was seen in the company of him. He turned her around and gave her a quick kiss. “Are you sure you want to do this tonight?”

She gazed lovingly at him. “No time like the present.” She smiled that charming but dangerous smile. He knew there was no talking her out of it.

They quickly snuck off the grounds and into Lucille, his 1970 cherry red Camaro, the only thing of value Marcel owned and the second love of his life. Peeling away down the tree lined street with the throaty engine roaring, he watched her being carefree, almost giddy as she sang along to Ray Parker Jr.’s  Ghostbusters .

The crowd parted as Julianna stormed past the Maître de with Marcel in tow after being told only she could enter the country club.  Flutes of champagne and food trays were overturned as she pushed the unfortunate waitstaff out of her way. The club’s elder trustees tried to stop her march toward the dining area where her mother and father were now alerted to their daughter’s presence.

“We’ve contacted the police Mr. Benoit.” The silver haired club trustee advised to an astonished Louis.

“Yes Daddy, please have us arrested! I’d love nothing more than to spend my honeymoon in jail!” Julianna spat out as the crowd gasped surrounding the young couple.

Marcel tried to match his new wife’s resolve standing tall wrapping a protective arm around her.

“Honeymoon?  You better not be telling me you married…him!” he pointed his finger at Marcel. Jeannette feigned a swoon.

“Oh mother really! And yes daddy! I believe you know your new son in law!”

He did indeed know his new son in law; Louis Benoit had hired him as a porter few months back for a car dealership he owned. It was there in Louis’s office that Marcel first laid eyes on the young temperamental Julianna, filing papers, falling head over heels for her. He was fired and threatened with great bodily harm by Louis after being discovered making out with his daughter in the back of his Camaro. No daughter of his was going to date let alone give herself over to a black boy he told her as he grounded her for the umpteenth time.

“Julianna we’ve had enough of your foolishness, you’ve made your point now please come here!” Jeannette reached for her daughter’s arm having made a miraculous recovery from her sudden case of the vapors. “And you young man had better leave before the police arrive.”

“Get your hands off me mother, this is for real we are married and you’d better get used to it!” Julianna yelled swatting her mother’s hand away.

Marcel upon hearing the sirens closing in, prayed for a miracle as images of police batons across his head tortured him. “Honey maybe we should go now.”

Louis snarled back. “Yes Julianna maybe you had better listen to your husband and leave, but know this, as long as you are with him, you do not come back home!”

“You want me to leave just like your other family daddy? How are your sons doing daddy!  You know the twins? I hear you’re sending them to a boarding school in Spain. They should fit in perfectly with their brown skin!” Julianna’s trademarked smile betrayed to her father she knew much more about his secret love affair than she was even disclosing now. She was playing a dangerous game of chicken with him.

“I…I don’t know what you are talking about! Stop making up lies Julianna!” Was all he could stammer. His own eyes showed his guilt as Jeannette slapped him across the face.

“So it is true!” Jeannette cried as she fell back into her chair. “You’ve been lying me all these years! Those are your sons with Vivian, how could you?”  Jeannette pushed him away as he tried to reach out to her.

Satisfied that her father had enough trouble on his hands at exposing his scandal, Julianna turned on her heel and led her husband out the front door and dared the patrolman to stop her.

Marcel took a deep breath as he drove Lucille away from the pretentiousness of the club. “Um…Honey? Is it true? About your dad I mean.”

Julianna answered him in her best southern drawl. “Yes darling it is. I do declare daddy was diddling the cook. She threatened to expose their illicit affair to mother if he didn’t pay her off. He got her another position after she had my half brothers and I’m sure out of guilt he’s agreed to take care of them financially.”

Marcel was stunned. “How long ago was this?”

“They are ten now I think. I’ve only seen them once at a park with Vivian. I confronted her a few years back after I found some pictures of them with daddy in his desk drawer. She said he barely acknowledged them but has consistently paid for their education, keeping this fact away from mother of course.” Julianna curled into Marcel’s arm as the headlights from oncoming vehicles passed them in what seemed like to Marcel slow motion.

“Girl that is some crazy shit!” Marcel laughed as he turned down the street leading to his mother’s restaurant. “Mama will be waiting for us, she’s probably been by the phone the whole time worrying we’re in jail or worse. You don’t mind living with her for a while, do you?”

Julianna squeezed his thigh. “Anywhere with you baby!”

“Back at ya baby but you keep squeezing me like that we’re never going to make it past the back seat.”

Julianna laughed. “That back seat is what got us in this situation in the first place.” She patted her belly laughing. “Do you think we’ll tell Danielle about it someday?”

“Daniel you mean! It’s a boy I can just feel it.” Marcel grinned. “I plan on giving this car to him when he’s old enough to take care of it so maybe we keep that information of where he was conceived to ourselves.” Marcel grinned. 

Julianna sang along under her breath to Prince’s The Beautiful Ones. Marcel didn’t know what the future held for them but he knew it would always include her by his side.

 Marcel awoke at two am practically falling out of his office chair. The yellow street light illuminating a rain soaked lonely street outside. He heard the whir of a vacuum cleaner in the next office. The cleaning staff must have arrived. He never really thought about who emptied his trash can, it was just always ready for another days paper waste when he arrived in the morning. His reminisces and dreams of days long ago over made him temporarily forget why he even escaped his home.  The familiar bruised figure in his doorway refreshed his memory.

“Taking your life in your own hands Lucian.” Marcel barked.

“Please Marcel we need to talk.” Lucian Tepes dared Marcel’s gaze as he carefully walked over to the chair in front of Marcel’s desk.

“God help me tell me you love her and she’s not just a fuck to you.”

“I love her with all my heart Marcel, I…we never intended to hurt you or Julianna I swear. I want to marry her.”

Marcel took his gun out of his desk and held it in his hands inspecting it. “That’s noble of you, does she know this?” He said sarcastically.

Lucian licked his dry lips watching Marcel inspect the bullet chamber. “She doesn’t know that’s what I want. Not yet anyway.”

Marcel pointed the gun at Lucian. “Do you really think this is wise telling me this at two in the morning after the night we just had? Is this a special brand of Romanian stupidity?” He said referring to Lucian’s nationality and homeland.

“I just wanted you to know how I feel; she’s not just another girl to me.” Lucian closed his eyes waiting for a bullet to explode his skull.

Marcel leaned back and drew a deep breath; he put his Glock back in the drawer and locked it. Rubbing his chin looking out the window he could see the reflection of the beat up young man and himself, except his mind’s eye kept seeing himself on that fateful day at the country club.  

“Take this under advisement Lucian, should my daughter do you the honor of becoming your wife, you’d better elope and never let me catch wind of it before hand. If and it’s a big if, she decides to do such a stupid thing with you, I can guarantee you my reaction will be ugly, but I won’t beat you down again for her sake and Julianna’s. For some reason Julianna likes you.  You will take a few days off and heal, and then when you come back you will make up some excuse to be reassigned to a new partner, got it?”

“Yes sir.” Lucian nodded his agreement as well.

“Do not tell my daughter or my wife you were here tonight or that we talked or I’ll call in all the favors I have and have your sorry ass assigned to some remote outpost in Alaska. Hear me boy?”

“I mean it when I say I love her.” Lucian said as he got up leave.

“I don’t doubt you do but I’m going to make you prove it at every level son.” Marcel stood up and held out his hand for Lucian to shake. Hesitantly Lucian took his hand in a firm grip.

“I would expect nothing less.” He said as he left Marcel in his office and to his thoughts.

Author, Chicklit, Drama, Indie Author, Uncategorized, women

When it Rains……

I drive a piece of junk, but it’s my piece of junk and the hubby had an incident with it. It had been raining quite hard and some roads flooded and unless you had an ark, driving was sketchy. The Darling Man who works midnights found himself suddenly in a lot of standing water with the piece of junk. Of course the aforementioned junk stalled out not wanting to restart no matter how much coaxing, kind words or the promise of better higher priced ‘engine cleaning’ fuel would flatter it into turning over. He had no choice it had to be towed.

Now I am the one in the family that worries about money. I know where every penny goes to what bills and what costs what. My father used to say that I am so cheap I would squeeze a nickel just to hear the buffalo squeal. He was hilarious.

Buffalo Nickel for my readers under 50

Buffalo Nickel for my readers under 50

Now I admit I’m the Scrooge at Christmas time since I’m the one who sets the limit on how much we spend. Birthdays for me are also no surprise. I know how much he’s going to spend before even he has time to think about it thanks to real time banking apps. Ah the technology for the obsessed! Now it’s not that he can’t handle money, I just believe I’m better at it. His approach to money is a day to day enterprise with no thought to the future. I on the other hand obsess about the future of our money which makes for sleepless nights and heartburn. I don’t recommend it!.

My inner Ebenezer Scrooge

My inner Ebenezer Scrooge

Something in my genetic makeup won’t allow me to relax on the subject. Leave it in the hands of God I hear all the time and for the most part I believe that. For the most part. I have another theory, checks and balances with a little karma thrown in. After recently purchasing a few items for myself that I would describe as wants not needs, I got sick with a flare up of an ongoing medical issue that put me out of work for a week and I will not get paid for it. Now the piece of junk is in the repair shop awaiting diagnosis and an estimate it’s little rain bath is going to cost us. My self deprecating brain has reared it’s nasty head and had told itself this all happened because I wanted a new purse!

 [ krmə ]
  1. actions determining future state: in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, the quality of somebody’s current and future lives as determined by that person’s behavior in this and in previous lives
  2. atmosphere: the atmosphere radiated by a place, situation, person, or object
  3. destiny: destiny or fate

Searching yet again for answers to the question of was it the purse purchase? The universe took pity on me and pointed something out. I read something my pea brain recognized as profound. Money is a game, don’t argue over it. Learn how to play the game together.

Wow, my limited synapses started to fire up and absorb the simple message! my marriage may be saved yet! OK my marriage was never in danger and I’m a drama queen I know, but the anger I felt at him for dunking the piece of junk in a flooded street like a donut in coffee, thinking in that ever present man brain of his that he could just drive through it, lingered on. Then my own anger at myself, if I had just not gotten the purse which started this ball rolling in the first place!

Was it really the purse? or just the universe messing with me? reminding me that obsessing over something as common as money is a waste of time. Crap is going to happen and happen when we least want it. Let’s be honest no one plans ahead of time to have crap happen, that’s why it’s crap. My misplaced blame on him for causing the local flood of biblical proportions is unreasonable of course and then there’s the old saying that popped into my insignificant thought pattern. This to shall pass and a new purse is a woman’s right, like new shoes!

Simple lessons for life’s woes.

I also need to stop calling the car a piece of junk. I think it’s feelings get hurt. Seriously, calling it that sends a message to the universe that I want just that, a piece of junk so from here on out it will be called the Glorious Chariot!

Now you’ll have to excuse me while I make an apology breakfast and teach the Darling Man a new game.

P.S We found out the car is dead, funeral services will be held.

Author, biracial, Chicklit, Fiction, Indie Author, Paranormal, Romance, women

Aloha Nani

Please enjoy another short story on our heroine from The Body Hunters and The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied.

The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle …

The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle … … the fun continues in the sequel.

“Mama, I don’t want to go!” A pouting ten year old Danny informed her mother under no uncertain terms was she going to the sports exhibition expo in New Orleans. She threw herself on her bed tossing a throw pillow across the room.

Julianna Labouleaux rubbed her temples with her delicate fingers. “Danielle, may I remind you that you are the one who wanted to play soccer? “

“To play not be stared at like I’m some freakazoid!”

“Darling, you should be proud, you are the only girl on the team and the best goalie they have. Your coach just wants to show you off a bit. How about you do it for your team honey?”

Danny hated to be the center of attention and hated being told what to do even more.  Rolling her eyes and folding her arms across her chest was her international sign for ‘I don’t care what you think, I’m not doing it.’ 

Julianna sighed in defeat. “Darling it’s up to you, but right now I have to pack.”

“Are you leaving again mama?” Danny looked up at her mother’s violet eyes feeling a bit hurt.

Pain overtook Julianna’s heart, squeezing every last ounce of guilt out of her. “It’s just for a few days.” She looked away from her daughter’s silently pleading eyes.

“Is Daddy going with you?”

Julianna took her child’s face in her hands. “Not this time honey, he’ll be home and your Grandmere says she’s taking you to the zoo. I’ll try my best to be home to see you compete at the exhibition, that is of course if you decide to participate.”

“That’s what you said the last time you signed me up for ballet lessons and then didn’t show up for my recital!” Danny barked pushing her mother’s hands away from her face.

“Danielle!” A loud booming voice reverberated in her room, the imposing figure of her father, Marcel stood in the doorway.

Julianna hurriedly walked over to Marcel placing a soft hand on his chest to calm him.

“Marc it’s alright, she’s just a little upset and you can’t blame her.”  Her light touch always did the trick. “Please talk to her about the exhibition, her coach has already signed her up.” She gave him a quick kiss on his lips as she left Danny’s bedroom.

Marcel plopped himself down next to Danny on her bed. Her golden brown skin and eyes matched his and the emotions she held behind her eyes contained a lot of awe and a smidge of fear of him. He put his strong arm around her. “Danny, please be more respectful of your mother, she doesn’t want to leave you.”

“Then why is she going again?” Danny didn’t know whether to scream or cry.

Marcel hugged her close. “You know sometimes she has to go away and help her family.”

“She says you’re not going this time. Are you really staying home?”

“Yes but I have to work so your Grandmere will watch you and take you to soccer practice.”

“And the zoo?” She asked as she crawled into her dad’s lap.

“Yes baby girl and the zoo. But only if you do the exhibition.”

The only thing Danny loved more than being in Grandmere’s restaurant reveling in the delicious smells and excitement of the busy kitchen was the zoo. Taking pictures of the animals was her favorite hobby since she could look at them over and over without being dragged into the spirit realm dealing with the ‘ghosties’, as she and Grandmere put it.

She had in fact had several of her animal pictures blown up and plastered all over her walls since, as she discovered, any pictures of humans could transport her at anytime to relive past memories or visit with the deceased. Like her grandmere, Danny was blessed with psychic skills.

“Isn’t that bribing daddy? Didn’t you say to bribe someone was a crime? Like that case you were working on with Uncle Ryan?” Uncle Ryan to Danny was her father’s FBI partner for the last six years.

Marcel nodded his head. “Yes, you’re right baby girl, but I would really like it if you did the exhibition, it’ll be fun and I’ll get to take lots of pictures and brag on you.” He kissed the top of her head.

“Mama says she’ll be there, do you think she will? She tells me that all the time and then never shows up.”

“I’ll tell you what, what do we do when you make us a promise and don’t keep it?”

Danny pondered for a moment resting her head on his chest. “I get grounded and you take my TV away.”

“Ok, so if mama doesn’t show when she promised then you get to ground her and she has to watch cartoons with you all day.”

“And eat any kind of ice cream I want?”  She asked her bright eyes wide with delight.

Marcel laughed. “Yes and any ice cream you’d like.”

 “You really shouldn’t promise her things like that Marc.” Julianna advised as she brushed her long raven colored hair at her vanity mirror.

Marcel stared at his wife’s reflection in her mirror, His own eyes looking heavy and weary.

“Honey, what am I supposed to say to her? Just promise me you’ll do your best to be home for her competition you know she craves your attention.”

Julianna dropped her brush on the table and lowered her head covering her misty violet eyes with her hair. She knew he hated to see her cry, but she wasn’t fooling him. Lifting her up off her chair he held her close nuzzling her neck.

“I want to be there, you know that but you know that every time there is a chance that something can go wrong.” She cried.

He did his best to console her “Julie, you are the best at what you do so don’t talk like that; someday this will all be over.”

“Someday, someday feels like a long way off. When she’s an adult we will have to tell her the truth, I can’t imagine what that conversation is going to be like.”

Marcel took her head in his hands. “Like you said that’s a long way off; let’s not worry about it tonight.” He kissed her deeply as she melted into his arms.

“Lose these!” She whispered in his ear tugging at his shorts.

Marcel smiled. “Yes ma’am!”

 Danny tiptoed back to her room confident mom and dad hadn’t seen her, crawling back into her bed she hugged her big teddy bear that Marcel had won for her at a local summer fair. She fell asleep wondering what her mother meant by ‘possibly go wrong’.

 “Cher? Come now we have to get to the field, you’re up soon.” Grandmere Marie grabbed Danny’s hand leading her to her coach.

“I’m OK grandmere you go sit with daddy. Make sure he takes plenty of pictures for mama.”

“OK, you don’t be nervous. Just do your best sweetheart.” The older woman gave her a kiss and left for the sideline of the soccer field.

The New Orleans Sports Expo was a big event and school teams from all over the U.S were invited to compete for championship titles in various sports in all age groups. Danny was in the ten and under soccer division. She held the awe of her coach Duncan Stewart, a stout Scotsman with a heavy accent. He had tried in vain to tell her it was a brogue not an accent, but as he told her, as long as she could keep goal like that, then she could call it whatever she wanted. 

Danny hated to admit it but the ballet lessons her mother forced her to take actually paid off making her light and fast on her feet. She had even won the respect and admiration of the boys on the team after being placed with them when there were no openings left in the girls division. Marcel had demanded that his little girl be given the right to play. The sports director just figured she’d give up and quit against the boys when it got too rough, but  coach Duncan Stewart found out better the first time she dove for a block.

“Wait here lass.” Duncan ordered as he went to see when her turn was up.

Several young rowdy teenage boys caught Danny’s attention chanting in the corridor saying words that were foreign to her and stomping on the ground beating their chests. Danny walked over to the boys to watch the display closer.

“Aloha!” a few of the boys called out to her.

“What does that mean?” she asked in her shy southern tone.

One of the tall boys answered her. “It means hello.”

“What were you doing?” She asked of the group.

One of the teens, a tall muscular young man with a skin tone that almost matched hers came forward. “It’s a war chant, we do it before all our games, Shorty.“

“I’ve never heard anything like it before. Do you play soccer?” She asked mesmerized by his blue eyes that were partially being covered by his long dark hair.

“Shorty we play a real game, rugby.”

Danny was offended. “Soccer’s real!“

The big teenager laughed kneeling down to her. “Do you even know what rugby is shorty?”

“Well, no.”

“It’s like football but much tougher. Grrrrr.” He growled at her as he made a face squinting his eyes and sticking out his tongue, putting his hands up to look like bear claws. She took a cautious step back. A worried look crossed his face. “I’m sorry shorty did I scare you?

“No!” She said in a small voice, but in truth the big teenager did scare her.

“What are you here for Shorty?” he asked.

“My name is Danielle not Shorty and I’m in a goalie competition; it’s between me and another boy to see who can keep the most soccer balls out of the goal and i’m going to win.” 

“You against a boy? No offense, but a little Nani like you doesn’t stand a chance. You’re a skinny little string bean. Did you lose your front teeth to a soccer ball?” 

Danny instinctively covered her mouth feeling embarrassed.

“No, they just fell out! And I am just as good as any boy! You don’t have to be such a jerk! At least I don’t have a caterpillar growing on my face!”  She pinched his arm hard.

“Ow, damn Shorty that hurt!” He bellowed.

Uproarious laughter and the sharp sound of thigh slapping from his teammates ensued as he stood up to yell at them. “Shut up okole pukas!”

“Hey I think she likes you! better watch out that Kailani doesn’t see you with her, she’ll be jealous brah!” His buddy chided.

Another teammate chimed in. “You should dump Kailani for this feisty little one, looks like she can keep you in line Brah!”

The big teenager with the blue eyes saluted his teammates with his middle finger.

“Danielle you’re up lass!” Duncan Stewart motioned for her to come towards the field. Danny started to run to her coach.

“Hey little Nani, hang loose and good luck!” The big teenager with the blue eyes held up his hand like a fist with only his thumb and pinky fingers up.

Danny mimicked the gesture as the big teen smiled back at her.

 “It’s a nice trophy Danny.” Julianna said as her daughter slid into bed.

“Were you there for all of it?” Danny asked hugging her teddy bear.

Julianna smiled at her. “Most of it, I’m so proud of you sweetheart!”

“I’m glad you were able to make it mama, I was afraid you wouldn’t show at all. I guess this means you don’t have eat ice cream and watch cartoons with me.” Danny sighed disappointedly.

Julianna kissed her forehead. “I don’t know about that, I think that sounds like fun. Maybe we can do each other’s hair and paint our toes too?”

“Ugh!” Was all Danny could muster at the thought of her mother suggesting girly activities. “Mama, what does this mean?” She showed her the gesture the young teenager had made with his hands.

“It’s Hawaiian; it means take it easy I think, where did you learn that?”

“A boy. What does okole puka mean?”

Julianna gave her a disapproving frown. “Did you hear that from that boy too?” Danny nodded. “Never you mind what it means.”

“What about Nani? Is that bad too?”

Julianna brushed Danny’s hair back from her face. “I think it means pretty. Sounds like you got a boyfriend at that competition.” Julianna teased.

“Ugh no mama he’s old!”

Julianna laughed. “Old! How old?”

“Not like you and daddy old, but like one of those teenagers grandmere complains about that work in the restaurant. He called me little Nani.”

“I don’t know, sounds you like him! We’re not going to have to plan a wedding are we?” She teased.

Danny giggled at mother’s comment. “No mama!”   

“Good because I don’t think your daddy is ready for you to get married just yet.” Julianna brought her blanket up to her chest and tucked her in. She gave her a kiss and turned out her side table lamp. “Goodnight darling.”  

 Danny opened her eyes shaking off the chill in her body and cobweb’s in her brain. It was the same after every visit to the spirit realm. She dropped the high school team photo of a bunch of muscular teenage boys in their team jerseys holding a very large trophy. She had pulled the photo out of a box in the basement mislabeled ‘kitchen stuff’. Photographs were her psychic gateway into the spirit realm.

She had been sorting the final boxes in storage since moving into the Savannah home almost a year ago not realizing the box she opened was not her own. She fingered the photograph a moment longer resting her finger near a familiar face. Putting the picture aside she dug back into the box and pulled out a red jersey that had a silhouetted tropical floral pattern in the background and Polynesian tribal markings that ran down along the left side. On the back of the shirt was the name STONE with the number 25.  

Oh my God! She thought to herself, no freaking way! She held the jersey close to her chest. Searching again inside the box she found his class ring and a picture of him, his father Joseph Stone and his mother Anna Stone smiling as they all three held a large trophy together. Aiden’s father was native Hawaiian and it was clear from the photo that he took after his father in his physique and his naturally exotic but rugged good looks. He also shared many of his mother’s African American and Irish features, none more than her ocean blue eyes that glowed almost luminescent from the picture in the filtered basement light. They seemed to be staring into Danny’s soul. A soft female voice entered her thoughts. Sometimes we have to look to the past to see our future. She was startled by the voice realizing it wasn’t her own. She looked down at the t-shirt she was wearing, a favorite one she had worn for years that was a gift from her now ex-husband. He had given it to her on their first date. She slipped it off and replaced it with the jersey. As she suspected it was too big for her but in her mind it fit like a glove.

“Nani? Nani?” Aiden bellowed for her from the side kitchen door that led to the outside garden path.

“I don’t think the neighbors heard you, can you yell louder, please?” she mocked. “What do you want?” She barked at him sticking her head out the door.

Aiden stood by the large outdoor garbage can and held up her favorite AC/DC t-shirt. “Why are you throwing this away?”

“I found something new I liked and figured it was about time I let go of the past.”

Confusion crossed his face. “Really? You’re really going to throw your favorite tee away? What could possibly replace this?”

Danny opened the kitchen door wide to fully reveal his old jersey. “It’s okay isn’t it Big Daddy?” She strode up to him wrapping her arms around his waist.

“Oh my God! My rugby jersey from high school! I thought I lost it, where did you find it?” He asked as he embraced her tightly.

“Some idiot put it in a box of old memento’s and labeled it ‘kitchen stuff’”

Aiden laughed. “Yeah I was pretty drunk when I packed up the apartment, but Nani are you sure you want to throw this away?” He held up the t-shirt again. “This shirt holds a lot of memories for you.”

 “I think it’s time for me to make new ones.” She reached her arms up around his neck and pulled herself up to his 6′ 4″ frame wrapping her legs around his waist. He let the shirt fall back in the trash as he wrapped his strong arms around her. Holding her close to him as they shared a deep kiss.