The Fair in Love and Romance

Author’s Note: While the weekend was ugly, I asked for prompts, and Liana Mir gave me this one:

“Men always want to be a woman’s first love – women like to be a man’s last romance.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I was thinking I’d need a book to answer it, but no, I didn’t need a book. I just needed two of my favorite characters to discuss it without discussing it.

Thank you, Effie and Garan. You’re good at this sort of thing.

The Fair in Love and Romance

“The football player has been asking for it ever since I came here.”

Effie shook her head, letting out a sigh as she carried the bowl over to the table, taking the cloth out of it and wringing it before she touched it to Garan’s knuckles. “Scott hasn’t played football since he was in high school, you know.”

“It was the one highlight of his pathetic life, and it did enough brain damage to him that it still fits,” Garan insisted, watching her work on his hand. He’d make some comment about Scott’s hard head being the reason for his knuckles getting scraped up like that.

“You’ve got ten times the training he does, Garan. It would never have been a fair fight.”

“What isn’t fair is that he was your first love.”

Effie snorted, putting the cloth back in the water. “Scott was never my first love. He was my first… boyfriend, I guess, but I never loved him. He was—everyone expected us to date, everyone thought we made a cute couple, and I think we might have, but I never felt the way about him that I thought I should, even as a teenage girl with supposedly out-of-whack hormones. It wasn’t enough. It was nothing like the soul-crushing moment when I thought you were never coming back to me, and I think we both know how well the hormonal attraction part of things works between us.”

He grinned, and she rolled her eyes, taking the bowl with her back to the sink. “Besides, if either of us has reason to be jealous, it’s me.”

“You? I told you that she wasn’t a love. Christie was just—”

“Not her. Jordan.” At Effie’s words, Garan tensed, and she leaned back against the sink, folding her arms over her chest. “You know I’m right. You were willing to fight for her, to die for her… to kill for her. I get to be jealous.”

He rose, crossing to her side, his bruised hand cupping her cheek. “In case you missed it, heroine, I just fought for you. I was willing to die for you before I knew you. And while we’ve never gone and counted the bodies, I think there might even have been some killing in there for you, too.”

She flinched. She shouldn’t have said anything at all. She didn’t like the thought of him doing that. Not for her, not at all.

He tipped her chin up, looking straight into her eyes. “When I met Stirn, I was in a bad place. It was just after the accident, and I wanted something to replace what I’d lost at the same time as wanting to die. It was messed up, warped good, and it got worse. What happened with her pushed me down further into the darkness, into a hole I never thought I’d get out of, and that’s not love. Love is supposed to make you better, isn’t it?”

Effie nodded. “That’s what they say. It’s also about accepting people as they are. Kind of conflicting thoughts, I guess. Or maybe it’s just that… You can’t become better unless you’re willing to accept what the past was. You can’t pretend it wasn’t there or didn’t shape you because it did. So expecting someone else not to have a past is stupid.”

“Helping them overcome it is beautiful,” he said. “Just like you.”

“Listen to you getting all romantic on me.”

He laughed. “There is no romance in me, Effie. I thought you knew that.”

“Oh, yeah? And what do you call all this?”


Early Morning Call

Author’s Note: So I went by Three Word Wednesday to see the words of the week, and it was my intention to use them in something new and unrelated so that it could stand alone.

No inspiration came, other than a beginning line that sounded very much like Garan, so I thought I’d end up skipping the prompts this week.

Well, I took the line and used it in the story I’m currently working on, since it was a thought Garan would and did have, and low and behold, the other two words found their way into it.

So, no, it doesn’t stand alone. It probably makes little sense out of context. Still… It had all the prompts. I’m sharing it anyway.

Oh, right. The prompts were: backfire, embarrass, and taste.

Early Morning Call

Plans would always backfire on you, and the sooner you accepted that, the easier it got. Garan didn’t think that Effie was there yet, but he’d learned that lesson a long time ago, in a way that stuck with him and never left, just as bad as one of the many physical scars that covered his body. He knew how one moment could change everything, and he knew that there was little point in expending too much effort in planning. Strategy was important, but being adaptable was better.

When his phone rang just before he could have a real taste of his coffee, he grimaced, setting down the cup and putting the receiver to his ear. “What do you want, Wilmore?”

Across the room, his aunt and uncle frowned, and even Effie got stiff. None of them liked hearing the name, and all of them knew that a call from that man was never good.

“We need to meet, Kennedy.”

“Bad idea. You do realize that if our mutual ‘friend’ is watching me, he might be waiting for an opportunity like this to get at you.”

“You are a good enough agent to ensure that you will not be followed. Thirty minutes.”

The call ended, and Garan would have thrown the phone at the wall if he didn’t know that there was another call coming. Thirty minutes from now, he’d get further instructions, and he knew better than to be late getting them.

“What is it?”

“He insists on meeting. Didn’t say why.”

Fletcher started in on a set of curses that would have made his Ranger buddies blush, and Kate reached over to cover his mouth. Effie reached across the table, putting her hand on Garan’s arm.

“I don’t care what he wants. Don’t go. It’s a bad idea. You said so yourself.”

“I know it is, but I also know if I don’t go, he’ll find a way to make me regret it. Me and anyone that might have talked me into blowing him off,” Garan said, rising. He leaned down to kiss his wife’s forehead and cup her cheek. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. This time I don’t need to leave a note. You already know I’m going.”

“I hate this. I also hate him.”

“He seems to like you. It’s surprising and somewhat disconcerting.”

“Yeah, it is.”

Kate cleared her throat. “You might want to think about changing before you go. Unless, of course, you want to embarrass yourself by showing up to your clandestine meeting half-naked.”

“He’s in his pajamas.”

“As if that’s any better.”

Garan smiled. “I doubt Wilmore would notice. True, he’s trained to notice details, but he’d hardly want to face the scars on his agents. Might force him to admit that he had a part in them getting there. No, he’d ignore it.”

“Still, that doesn’t mean you should go like you are,” Effie told him, giving his stomach a pat. “You know how I feel about others ogling my eye candy. I don’t like to share.”

“That’s hardly fair. You have a full collection of vintage clothes, and no one keeps their eyes off you.” He watched her smile get smug, tempted to carry her off and deal with that look properly, but he didn’t have time. He settled for a kiss instead, using everything he’d learned about her against her before he let go.

“Bastard,” she cursed, breathless. He smiled at her before grabbing his keys and heading toward the stairs.

Not Just an Act

Author’s Note: I wrote a bit with the original Effie and Nick again, and those ones always say, “Share me.”

I don’t know why.

Not Just an Act

“I’ve never been impressed by much, sir, and you certainly do not qualify,” Effie said, tossing her hair back and placing her hand on her hip, thinking that her words belonged not only to the woman she was playing but to the man who was hearing them—not his character, to him. He pretended not to think much of her, and she didn’t know what she thought of him, though she had to admire a man who lived up to his word—he wasn’t like her other costars.

“Don’t I?” He stepped toward her, and she found herself taking a step back, and not because it was scripted. He was intense, had been from the first line, and she swore that she was seeing a lot more than his acting range whenever they rehearsed, and she wondered what that final film would look like. Would it capture any of this, any of what he did in every little movement?

“Heroes like you are a dime a dozen, and you’ve got nothing more than an attitude, an attitude that won’t get you anywhere, and it won’t win you no favors. Not from me.”

“Does that mean your favors could be won? I’d have thought you’d make them the sort that were impossible to have. You’d just tease and promise but never deliver.”

She smiled. “You think you know me so well, do you?”

“What advantage has a woman like you got except to know that the men are doing their best to fall after you, sacrificing themselves one by one? Or that you might use that beauty to find you a rich man to take care of you. Oh, but you’re no fool. You want that ring first.”

She snorted. “No one gives you money for nothing. Even I’m not that irresistible.”

She felt the wrong eyes on her, someone she knew would take that line the wrong way, and she cursed herself for getting distracted. That wasn’t important. She had a part to play, and that was what she got paid for, not to let herself be intimidated by anyone.

“You give yourself too little credit.”

“Do I?” She let her lips curve into a slow smile, knowing that was what the scene called for, but when Tennant’s hand touched her face, she couldn’t remember her lines. She didn’t give a damn about her character, not right now. All she wanted was for him to keep touching her, never letting go, and what the hell was that? She’d never felt that way about anyone, not when she was acting and not when she was with one of her many admirers, not with any of her costars, no matter what lies they spread about scandalous affairs.

“Yes, you do,” he said, and she had only a moment to know what he was about to do before his head lowered down to hers, his lips meeting hers in a kiss that could not have been better no matter how it was scripted—and this was not scripted. She felt a bit of a thrill, knowing he’d lost as much control over his reaction as she had. He knew better than to go off script.

“Cut! Damn it. That’s not supposed to happen. Back to your marks and take it from the top.”

Tennant shook his head. “No.”


“You heard me. No. We are not going to redo that scene, because the script sucks, and if I have to play an idiot that gets the better woman killed, I damn well get the scene with the kiss. It stays. Or you can fire me. I don’t care.”

The director sputtered into a tirade on contracts and lousy actors and how no one would tell him how to do his job—he’d fire them both, just they wait and see—and stalked away. Effie started laughing, unable to help it.

“Oh, you are a bad boy, Tennant. They’re never going to forgive you for that one.”

“I don’t care if they forgive just so long as you do.”

She frowned. “Why would I need to forgive you? You were just playing a part, after all.”

He ran his thumb over her cheekbone, tracing it over and over, his eyes never leaving her face. “Is that what you were doing, playing a part? If that’s the case, then I think I’m going to have to do my best to get a real kiss out of you, Euphemia. Then again, there’s a chance neither of us would survive it if we did try that without the cameras.”

“I’m not that easy.”

“I never assumed you were. My apologies for not properly asking to court you before I took the liberties I did, Ms. Lincoln.”

He gave her a stiff, formal bow of apology, and she heard herself giggling in a way that was nothing like her. Damn him. He’d done it, hadn’t he? He’d gotten through when no one else had, and she should hate him for that.

She was pretty sure she’d just fallen in love with the bastard, though.

Better in Person

Author’s Note: So, officially, I hate myself.

The more I write with the original Effie Lincoln and Nicholas Tennant, the more I like them and curse myself for the story I gave them back in the beginning. I suppose I could throw it out and rewrite the ending for them…

Never thought I’d want an AU (alternate universe) for my own story.

Better in Person

“Where is the latest in that long line of heroes? Do I need to teach him how to breathe or perhaps how to chew with his mouth closed? If he’s stiff as a board, he better not expect me to loosen him up.”

“Tempting as such an offer might be, I think I am rather flexible, and you needn’t worry about my health—I’m nowhere near dead. I can breathe just fine, and my mother taught me the best of manners and etiquette,” Nicholas said, leaning back in his chair with a smile, enjoying his first glimpse of Euphemia Lincoln in the flesh. She’d come in just like one of her movies, an entrance befitting a queen, and he had to wonder what role she figured on playing with him right now. Damn, but she was impressive, more vibrant and forceful in person.

More of the bombshell she was billed as, and it only took one look to know she was trouble.

She studied him. “You’re taller than the usual leading man.”

He shrugged. “I bet I’m plenty of things your other costars weren’t. Single, better looking, more talented, and completely impervious to your vamp act.”

She put her hand on her hip, frowning at him. “Who says this is an act?”

His lips curved into a smile. He rose, walking around behind her—she wasn’t much of anything, easy to get around, just a slip of a woman—but he didn’t doubt that she was a lot stronger than that figure suggested, nothing about her seemed all that delicate. “I do.”

She turned around to face him. “You know nothing about me.”

“I could pretend that I had read every interview or article written about you, and I could lie and call myself a fan, but that’s not true. You just have no idea how much you give away when you’re on screen. Those little details you give the parts, the gestures you throw in, they say so much more than you realize.”


He touched the section of her hair by her eye, brushing back the peekaboo to get a good look at her face. “How did she end up with the devil, anyway?”

“What makes you think I know? I didn’t write the story.”

“I’d have given it a better ending,” he said, and she fought a smile. “Every time you’re on screen, there’s this look on your face like you have so much to say if you only had the chance.”

“Do I?”

“You have that look now.”

She smiled. “Well, this movie should be interesting to make, hero.”

He frowned. “I’m not a hero. I’ve never done anything useful, never served in the military or the police, not even as a volunteer firefighter.”

“You’re an actor, aren’t you?”

“Depends on who you ask. My father calls it lying.”

She laughed. “I think I might just agree with him. Still, they brought you here to play a part, the leading role, and that man is always the hero.”

Nicholas shook his head. “I read the part. He’s an idiot.”

“They always are.”

“I’d rewrite this ending, too.”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “That’s the way they always end. That’s the thing about heroes. They never get the bad girl.”

An Art Related Dilema

So I have a bit of a dilemma, a conundrum, a debate with myself.

A long time ago, I thought that I had picked out a perfect divider art for the entire Nickel and Dime series.

It was such a simple concept, and the graphics side of Kabobbles took the concept and made a picture. I thought it was what I wanted, but as soon as I tried to use it in the file, I changed my mind.

I don’t know that a nickel and a dime really fits the story. It’s got a connection: Effie’s store is named Nickel and Dime. Her family’s name was Nickell. There’s a few lines about nickels and dimes. There is even a character named Tennant.

It’s just… I don’t think it’s right.

The graphic artist said she would change it from this:

divider for nickel and dime

to this:

divider for nickel and dime rev 1

and that should help.

I don’t know. I still don’t know that I want it as the divider. Bear in mind that they would be a lot smaller in the book. I’m just including the big versions for comparison and best quality as I try and get some thoughts from others.

Is the writer being irrational?

A Brief Look into the Past

Author’s Note: In my focus on spending my writing time attempting to complete my bigger projects before the 16th, I didn’t get to doing more with the alien this time around.

Instead, I realized how late it had gotten and decided to pull from the Nickel and Dime series again, a bit with the original Effie Lincoln and Nicholas Tennant. They’re both characters that I would like to do more with, and they were supposed to have a bigger part in the fourth book in the series, but I ended up taking a break from the series after book three.

I’ve been feeling like it’s time to get back to them, though. We’ll see.

“Ready to quit this nickel and dime dog and pony show yet?”

Euphemia looked up into her mirror, shaking her head. “Nicholas, you know that the contract is not one either of us can get out of. The lawyers told us that. You’re stuck doing your hero routine, while I get to be the seductress who always dies because I’m evil.”

“You’re not evil,” he said, walking over to sit down next to her. “Your characters simply have made difficult choices. That’s how I see it. How I’ve seen it ever since I saw Give the Devil His Due where you stole my heart the first time you were on screen.”

“If you think you’re marrying a character and not the real woman behind her, you will be sadly mistaken in this foolish enterprise of ours.”

“Since when is marriage foolish?”

“Since always.”

“That does not sound like the Euphemia Lincoln I met first day on the set. Doesn’t sound like the one I bullied into agreeing to be my bride, either. What is behind that wicked tongue of yours? Why are you snapping at me all of a sudden? Have I done something wrong?”

She put her hand down on the table, fingering the brush as she did. “After I got done talking to my lawyers, I had a visitor.”

Nicholas cursed, touching her face and then running his hands down her shoulders and arms. “Did he hurt you? You know he’s wrong. He can’t make you do that. Ever. I know the lies they put out about you, but that man does not have the authority to demand that of you—and you do not have to give it to him.”

“They always make my characters so easily defeated when it’s time for the bad girl to die. I should go get in the writer’s faces and tell them that a woman has a lot more defenses than they think,” she said, rising and moving toward the closet. “He got nothing except something that I hope scars. Let him remember that this bad girl won’t ever die easy.”

“You better not be planning on dying on me for a good long time, Euphemia. Those vows we plan on taking—that’s ’til death, remember? I want a full life with you. Any way I can get it. We’ll go hide out. We’ll forget about movies and contracts and be two old fools still in love when we’re gray and decrepit.”

She laughed. “Lord love you, Nicholas, you can make the strangest things sound appealing. I hate being this damn weak to you, but you got past this cynical bad girl somehow, got right into my heart and claimed it.”

He smiled, wrapping his arms around her. “Come away with me. We’ll pick a quiet spot, have a small ceremony, and start the part of our lives that has nothing to do with dogs or ponies.”

“What, you don’t want a farm, hero?”

He shook his head. “Just want you. Only you. Always you.”

At the Beginning

Since I decided to focus on getting Nickel and Dime prepped to publish and did a lot of singing the baby to sleep lately with the extra babysitting I’ve been doing, this song kept coming up again. When I heard it, it joined the many songs that made me think of Effie and Garan, specifically for their first adventure together.

We were strangers, starting out on a journey, never dreaming what we’d have to go through.

This part is very Garan:
No one told me I was going to find you.
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope, you were there to remind me

And even though they’re not standing, this does kind of remind me of them at the end of the book.

Now here we stand, unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Mixed Emotions and Thoughtlessness

More from Effie and Garan. Since they have two novels, and even a short story at this point, it’s not hard to find lots of songs for them. 🙂

Again, with Garan being as stubborn as he is, most of this song just… fits.

In fact, I didn’t find a part that didn’t.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Maybe I’m Amazed

This whole song is Effie and Garan, and it will still be them no matter how long their series gets to be.

I don’t even need to quote lyrics because the only part that doesn’t fit is this one: Maybe I’m amazed at the way you help me sing my song.

Although, come to think of it, Effie sings, so that does fit. 🙂

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.

Some Say I Got Devil

As I wrote a new section of Nickel and Dime, Effie needed to sing along with the radio. Her character history and personality lends itself toward oldies, probably even older than the one I picked, but there were so many options, so many songs that I could have used.

Why this one, then?

Admittedly, I could have picked one more people would recognize, but I think this particular artist is underrated. I was hooked after one record album, the Live at Carnegie Hall album, one I still go back to and listen over and over despite having a much larger music library. In my opinion, some of the best versions of those songs–and, sadly, some of the only versions of those songs–are on that album.

This song has a bit of a haunting quality to it. Lyrics that fit almost anyone, though in particular I was always reminded of Miss Parker on The Pretender.

Effie got this song because of the actress she’s named after and the situation she’s in. And who she is.

Kabobbles Sing Along is just what I think when I hear songs. I sometimes see images when I hear lyrics, pictures or movies in my head. Sometimes I relate it to stories. My interpretation of the songs and lyrics are probably nothing like their original intent.