What do you mean I need a plot before I start writing?

Seriously, I never do this. Half the time I don’t know how anything is going to end if I’m not using material from the message board I used to roleplay on SanguineAffliction.com. I start writing and hope for the best.

Recently I started a spin off, “Blood Memory” universe series just for fun. It initially started off as a short story submission that I completely forgot about until I got the rejection letter. It sat in my dropbox for about six months until I recently found it again as I wait for “Blood Memory: Origins – Brig and Viv” to come out this spring.

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So stay tuned. No spoilers, except I’m super excited about it, despite the fact that I’m probably a 1/4 of the way in and just now figured out how I might end it. :)

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http://www.wattpad.com/story/13163192-omega-pipers-the-outer-rim

Omega Pipers: The Outer Rim (scifi, future Piper serial spinoff)

For fun I submitted a short story to a contest and then promptly forgot about it until I got the rejection letter. So, I decided to expand on the story for the fun of it. You can find it at wattpad.com right now, that is until it is completed, but who knows when that’ll be. Currently 2 parts are up, so for a quickie read – please enjoy.

 

 

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Blood Memory: Vignettes

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If you’ve read Blood Memory: Book 1 and Book 2, you know who Brig and Vivienne are. Bound together by their scents, they are soul mates from two very different worlds. Both werewolves, Brig is the Commander of the Alpha Pipers, direct descendant of the Jameson family, and enigmatic best friend of the new Alpha Hammerthynn. Vivienne Sena is the adopted daughter of Vigo Hammerthynn and was raised as an Outcast – the nomadic, cast out pack of wolves who followed the false Alpha generations ago. They are secret lovers when you meet them in Book 1 – but ever wonder just how they met?

 

Coming soon – a short love story. The who, why, how, and when of Brig and Vivienne.

 

 

8 wake up calls – guest post from MarcandAngel HackLife.com

8 Wake up calls – Marc and Angel Hack Life.com

 

During my morning twitter perusal, I came across a helpful link with life suggestions.  It’s a good article, but I decided to put my own twist on the 8 bullet points.  The following are excerpts from either Blood Memory:  Book 1 or previous material written on SA.  Let’s be honest, most of these, if not all, are no-brainers, falling just short of adding ‘Do unto others…’.  It’s stupid long, and if you got this far, why not go a little further?

 

1.  You might not have tomorrow to say, “I love you.”

Tugging hard, Viv dug her feet deep into the snow and finally Simon’s body went slack and she half-pulled him out of the tunnel. Scurrying back and away from the tunnel, Simon twisted onto his back, his mouth bloody. Suddenly the sweet aroma of her mate filled her lungs and she turned back to see Brig climbing out of the tunnel, looking bruised and battered. Immediately she went to him and jumped into his arms.

 

His arms felt like granite around her as he hugged her back, inhaling her scent deeply. “You’re here. You came for me,” she said quietly, pulling back to look at him.

 

“Of course I did. I jumped out of a plane for you,” Brig said smiling at her, his hands cupping her face as he leaned in and kissed her deeply.

 

2.  Your judgments of others are inaccurate.

The Pipers busted into her apartment, no doubt alerted to the crashing of furniture and glass, but were summarily dismissed. Viv remained kneeling on the floor, thankful she had not taken off her sneakers because of all the glass, but her heart broke looking at the poor little orchid.

 

Viv loved orchids. She wasn’t sure how the Alpha knew, maybe he didn’t and just thought she’d like it, but it was her absolute favorite. This particular species was a Cymbidium or the boat orchid. Bloomed in the winter and could grow up to sixty centimeters. It was mauve pink with five petals, the center a deeper hue of rose. She couldn’t bring herself to touch the flower and just looked at it as it laid on the floor amidst glass and wood.

 

“I think you should tell him now, Hammer,” Viv said as she looked sadly at her broken flower. And to her surprise, Hammer did.

 

She had guessed at Hammer waiting ten long years to be with the only woman he had ever loved. It wasn’t in Hammer to take up a scandalous relationship with the Alpha’s wife and it must have killed him to do it. The way he talked about her, even his tone changed saying her name. Hammer loved her more than anything and had never loved anything or anyone more since her. It reminded her of his father; Vigo never remarrying after his wife’s death, never fathering any more children even though it was expected of him. Hammerthynn families had a minimum of four boys and had been that way for generations. Vigo was the first to have only one.

 

How long the two men suffered silently, living within the confines of their indifferent and expected personalities. The only thing they had were their Jameson counterparts. Vigo had Duncan and Hammer had Brig – so much alike, they were. This was why Vigo sent Viv to the Pipers – to make sure Hammer and Brig did not suffer alone. Ever. Both sons were slated to step into the Elder positions, and both fathers did not want to see a lifelong friendship that had serve them well emotionally and professionally not benefit their sons.

 

Brig finally spoke, confessing the pain that Hammer had caused in him. Maybe Hammer really did think that hiding one secret for so long would not have caused this much damage, but Brig let him know that it wasn’t so much that Hammer did what he did, but that Hammer didn’t trust Brig enough to help him weather that particularly painful storm. What were cousins for after all?

 

When Brig stood, Viv did not stop him. There wasn’t much else that could be said. She didn’t look at him when he returned with a glass and did his best to save her orchid. But when he kissed her on the cheek in front of Hammer, the tears that had been welling up in her eyes finally fell. He understood the damage in her apartment was not just monetary or material possessions; that the orchid wasn’t just a pretty flower.

 

After a minute, Hammer stood, the sofa chair creaking as he lifted his sizable weight off it. Walking over to Viv, he knelt down and apologized softly, promising to have someone clean up the mess in the morning. Viv looked at Hammer and when he saw the tears streaming down her face, his expression was shocked. Painful shame rose up into her face and she turned away, standing.

 

“That’s fine Hammer. I’m going to bed now.” Viv side stepped by him when Hammer reached out and grabbed her arm gently, stopping her. Without looking at him, he pulled her close and hugged her. It was probably the most unnatural thing in the world for him to do, and it left Vivienne confused, her face tightening up against his chest. It reminded her of Vigo and how much she missed her father.

 

“Forgive me, Viv?”

 

Viv wrapped her arms around Hammer’s huge chest and cried. “All right,” she said, her voice muffled by his torn shirt. “But just this once.”

 

3.  Not trying is why most people fail.

 

It didn’t take much to get ready for Red. Fruit Loop shirt, clean (somewhat) jeans, and sneakers. His hair…well ok that took some time, but it’s hard to make lustrous, red hair look…well, lustrous. After the required time tending to his locks expired, Red took a long look in the mirror.

 

You really can’t judge a book by his cover.

 

He thought this often. His mirror image was just that, an image. Nothing, not a single action or word, wasn’t planned. The facade was a burden he was determined to carry and even those trained to look for flaws in this image couldn’t see the damaged goods Red saw every day in his mirrored image.

 

People looked at him and thought – there goes one ridiculously happy man, with a ridiculously happy outlook on life, and a ridiculously gorgeous woman who could quite possibly love him. That just wasn’t what Red saw. He saw a boy rejected by his father for inadequacies he could not begin to fathom, but must be there. Someone good at medicine, but without an official degree. Someone incapable of leading, despite being a sergeant. Someone who gladly shirked his responsibilities to someone more qualified. Red was, in a word, inadequate.

 

Blinking, he focused his eyes and put on his trademark smile. A smile that was bright and full of laughter, but didn’t quite touch his eyes. A band aid on a gaping wound – inadequate.

 

4.  Patience does not mean waiting and doing nothing.

 

“So I was wondering something,” he said, getting her attention.

 

Vivienne cleaned the crumbs from her lips, and without looking at him, asked, “What’s that?”

 

“Have you considered my proposition?”

 

She looked at him now, a smile playing on her lips. “Which proposition would that be?”

 

Simon rocked slowly on his feet. “I help you…you help me.” He shrugged, sticking his hands in his trouser pockets; he did his best to be as charming as possible, without sounding lecherous. “We’d help each other.”

 

“Handy, for sure, but you can’t help me. At all.”

 

Viv dispensed with the pleasantries and good manners as she took a huge bite out of her slice of pumpkin bread. The bread was moist and delicious. She almost wished she had gotten another slice and stopped to actually consider it when she nonchalantly told Simon that he was as useful as a ferret in a skirt.

 

“I’m not sure how you think you can be useful. You don’t have the blood memory, you have no idea when the blood memory happened, so you say, and you have no real reason to rectify the situation, real or otherwise.”

 

“Just because we’re mortal enemies, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.” Viv rolled his eyes at him, but Huntington held up his hands and continued. “I have resources.”

 

Viv shrugged, “So? This type of information has nothing to do with money. Digging into pack history is a helluva lot easier for me than for you.”

 

He was quiet, but continued staring at her. Viv found it disquieting. His eyes were hazel brown and she was unfortunate enough to be able to see the gold flecks in them, meaning he was taking up her personal space again. He was tall, slender, but had broad shoulders with an A shaped frame that Viv could eat up with a spoon. Why were all the tasty-looking ones vampires or gay? Life was unfair.

 

Despite her attraction to him (real or something vampires could do), Vivienne took a sip of her coffee. Swallowing, she handed him her cup, which he took with a questioning look, and she wiped her hands clean. Taking the coffee back, she raised her eyebrows at him.

 

“Anything else, Mr. Huntington?”

 

Huntington blinked once, looked down at her coffee, and then back up into her eyes. “Have you considered all possibilities?”

 

“Such as?”

 

“Well – we both agree that it’s starting to look suspicious. A ‘blood memory’ so real it transcends centuries, literally… centuries…but it’s so vague that it’s more of a feeling than a memory?”

 

“Yup, and before you ask, I’ve looked. There’s no readily accessible written history of it.”

 

“Do you know what that sounds like to me?”

 

“I anxiously await your thoughts.”

 

He made a face and continued. “Doesn’t sound like a Pack issue.”

 

Viv took a deep breath and shrugged her shoulders. “What is it with you and these cryptic statements?”

 

“How much do you know about us? About our abilities?” Huntington said, changing the subject quickly.

 

Viv did not want to appear ignorant or uninformed, but she really was lacking in the vampire department. Her kind had very little information on the vampires, but in return, the vampires knew even less of the werewolves. Marthinus was so extremely tight lipped about his knowledge, and out of respect to a Pack member, they did not push – not hard at least. She should have talked to Marthinus first before speaking to Simon Huntington, but Viv shrugged out of frustration.

 

“Probably about as much as you know about us,” she finally answered.

 

“It sounds like a fake memory.”

 

“You can’t fake a blood memory.”

 

“I don’t know about that, but I do know that there is an ability that can implant a memory by other means, forceful means, without the recipient knowing about it.”

 

Oh what the hell, Viv thought. If vampires could implant memories, what ‘couldn’t’ they do? She fought back her irritation and glared off to the side. “Are you talking about nightmares?”

 

Simon smiled at her, showing her the barest hint of a fang. Viv would have given anything not to be right.

 

“So vampires have the ability to influence dreams?”

 

“Not all of us.”

 

“Can you?”

 

Simon shook his head, although if he could, he’d be interested to see what Vivienne dreamed about. She was peculiar with her disdain for him. Vivienne seemed to tolerate him, which only provoked him further. He wondered if being with Ellis again wasn’t influencing his personality. Normally he was the quiet shadow in the background, ready to manhandle and enforce, but even though part of Vivienne disgusted him, he still found her intriguing.

 

Simon leaned in close and whispered, “I can do other things.”

 

Vivienne nodded, looking away and mumbling an affirmative. She blinked slowly and asked, “Does that actually work for you?”

 

“Does what work for me?”

 

“The innuendos and sexually charged body language. I mean, really?” Vivienne asked, incredulous. “It’s almost insulting.”

 

“You’re insulted I find you attractive?”

 

“You’re playing into the vampy vampire stereotype. I see you as more of a strong yet silent type.”

 

“What do you know about me, if anything?” Simon’s tone was short and abrupt, surprising even him.

 

“I know what you show me, Mr. Huntington,” she replied simply.

 

Simon took a step closer, looking down at her, and invading her personal space so that his next statement carried all the weight of what he implied. “You don’t want me to show you what I am, Vivienne. I’m offering you a gift and you’re not being very appreciative about it.”

 

“You know, I’m not quite sure what makes you think I’m afraid of you. Or what makes you think I’m actually here alone.” Vivienne looked up and around with her eyes, opening her mouth in a little ‘o’. “Feel free, Mr. Huntington. Really.” She paused, looking at him with the same deadly serious expression he had. “Please.”

 

Simon looked up and around. There were people everywhere surrounding them on the sidewalk. In the early evening everyone was on the move, heading to dinner, heading home – a variety of body shapes, beating heartbeats, sights and smells. He straightened and moved to the right.

 

“Am I cold?” Simon watched Vivienne’s now emotionless face stare at him. He moved back to her left. “How about this? Warm, maybe?” He walked around her and leaned down, his lips brushing up against her hair.

 

“How about here, am I hot?”

 

 

5.  You don’t need anything more to be happy.

 

It hit her with a force that was unexpected. Letting go and releasing everything he was holding back into their shared bond felt like a painful gasp for breath. Their bond was all encompassing and incredible, and had most certainly grown since its discovery. Simon could not stop wondering what his life, their life, would have been like if they had always been bonded, but for that to happen, she would have had to love him as much as he loved her. This thought alone pained him to no end, and as it reflected in his aura, he saw Ellis react to it by covering her mouth with her hands and sobbing. Leaning in close, Simon whispered softly in her ear.

 

“This is how I loved you, Ellis. This is how I have always loved you, but I don’t think you ever loved me half as much.” Her body wracked with deep, painful sobs, but he continued. “Maybe you did, before you turned me. I wonder sometimes if you didn’t look at me as something tainted and just useful after that. When that nagging doubt started, so did the hate and this is how I felt.”

 

Simon gathered up as much bitterness and regret as he could, lord knows he had plenty over the fifteen hundred plus years. The adoring, self sacrificing love disappeared from their aura and was replaced by something dark and ugly. Adoration was replaced by disdain. Worship by seething hate. Ellis’ hands slowly dropped as she looked down and grimaced.

 

“For years, Ellis. As much as I loved you, I hated you. I keep asking myself though, if you had known how I felt, would it had made a difference? Not just for you, but for me. For all the mental armor I managed to build around me, watching you die filled me with as much relief as it did guilt.”

 

He began to concentrate again, reeling in the emotions when suddenly Ellis reached out and grabbed his jacket. What she said next changed everything.

 

 

6.  You aren’t perfect, and neither is anyone else.

 

He’d recognize that hand anywhere and when the sound of her voice finally filtered in from the hazy fog, a cold realization settled over him and he remembered.

 

They were in the sewer discussing business, at least that’s what he kept telling himself as he drove to meet her. It wasn’t because he had been thinking of her or that he wanted to see her. Being close to her always had an effect on him – whether she was being cold or dismissive it still triggered something in him that reminded him of how she used to be. Her playfulness, the softness of her touch, and how nothing mattered but him, right at that moment.

 

“Well…that’s a pretty good question if you think about it. Why would I help you? Historically, you should be separated into a thousand pieces and buried all over the world. I mean…didn’t we do that once to someone? I’m constantly asking myself why. But really, what you should be asking yourself here is…why do you care?”

 

His sense of worth was always tied in with how he could serve her. When that constant changed in his life, it shattered everything in him, making what he did that much easier. Looking at her now, with the trace of regret in her voice it was almost as if she understood that he had no other choice. He had finally confronted her, demanding to know what she wanted; whether it was all an act, a prelude to something diabolical to come or if she had changed.

 

Simon reached behind and touched the tender spot on his back. Something had struck him and then there was nothing. Shrugging he leaned back, putting his arms behind his head.

 

“What makes you think I do still care?”

 

The obvious answer to her question would be to say that he didn’t. Was it the truth? Probably not, but at that moment, he was lost in the innocence of her face. Her hair was wet, jacket was soggy and her makeup wiped away. She was as beautiful as ever.

 

Simon leaned forward slowly and repositioned himself on the bed, resting back against the headboard after fluffing the wet pillows.

 

“The truth is – I’m just curious.” Simon shrugged. “I don’t know who you are anymore, to be honest.”

 

Her transition from exciting new lover to blood thirsty vampire, and eventually to power hungry psycho, had been so seamless that the progression was so natural. The one personality trait that Ellis had always lacked was remorse and he had seen more of it from her in the past two years than in the thousand plus he had known her. He’d let her wonder where she stood in his life, if at all. Let her feel what he went through for so long.

 

Simon moved his legs off the bed and took a wobbly step as he rose to his feet. He steadied himself on the night table and his hand brushed up against the picture frame of him and Carol. Knocking it over he reached for it, sending it crashing to the floor breaking the glass. Without looking at Ellis, he picked it up and slammed it back on the table.

 

“I take it back – I do know you. This, this…show of remorse and regret is bullshit.” He angrily reached for his wet shirt on the floor and snatched it up. “It’s BULLSHIT. When have you EVER been sorry for being the person you are. For being so fucking selfish.”

 

Simon pulled on the wet shirt as his voice grew louder until he realized that the shirt was a total loss. He then ripped it off, throwing it back on the ground.

 

“You’ll never change, Ellis. This is who you are – you may have felt something for me in the beginning, but that part of you is long gone.”

 

He stormed off to a wardrobe and threw open a door, almost ripping it off its hinges. Grabbing a shirt off a hanger, he caused an avalanche of clothes to the ground. And then he stopped. Taking the shirt in his hand he undid the buttons with his back to her and quietly finished his tirade.

 

“I don’t care, E. I used to, very much so, but not anymore. I waited hundreds of years for you to love me back the way I loved you, but I don’t have to wait anymore.”

 

Simon slipped on the shirt and finished buttoning it before he added with his voice just above a whisper, “I don’t need you anymore.”

 

Then he felt small fingers on his shoulder, turning him and as he struggled with his shirt, he looked into Ellis’ tear stained face as she reached up and touched his face.

 

 

7.  All the small things make a big difference.

 

“Shiiiit,” Red said, “He’s drowning in his own blood.” He pushed Simon forward and grabbed the medical kit stowed there and pulled out instruments and tubing to intubate him through his ribcage. “I can’t…” Red started as he sliced into Charlie’s side as their Sergeant ceased to breathe on his own. His last breath was wet and phlegm filled, no doubt his lungs filling with his own blood. “Sir he’s, he just won’t make it across town like this.”

 

Viv covered her mouth and felt the tears in her eyes. The other Pipers reacted in their own way. Some silently, some with profanity, but it was clear – Charlie was dead, they just wouldn’t let him die.

 

Simon leaned forward and looked at Marthinus. “Do you still carry it around with you?”

 

Viv looked up. “Carry what?”

 

Marthinus opened up his compression bag and took out a six inch cylinder. He popped the cap and pressed the top of the button and a lethal looking needle slid out slowly. The cylinder had a clear casing, showing a bright red liquid rolling around. Marthinus held it in his hand and looked at the Beta.

 

“This is Eternity.”

 

“You are not fucking serious!” Hammer yelled at him. “You are not putting that in my Piper!”

 

Viv reached out and took the cylinder. “You carry around Eternity? From when you were human?”

 

Viv knew Eternity to be the vampire elixir of youth and also highly addictive. There wasn’t much out there about it, not in their world, or the human world, for the matter. The price was what made it so illicit, but its properties were practically magic.

 

“It’ll keep him alive long enough to make it to DI,” Simon said quietly.

 

“How do you know that it will even work on us?” Hammer asked. They all looked at Simon and then to Marthinus who remained quiet. “You and I will discuss this at a later date,” was all Hammer said.

 

LT was driving at a break neck pace through debris and broken streets, occasionally going up on the sidewalk, jostling everyone inside. He yelled from his seat, “You’re not seriously considering that. Charlie wouldn’t want this.”

 

Viv looked at the cylinder and its crimson red life. “How do you know, LT?”

 

“I just know! He wouldn’t!”

 

Viv looked at Hammer who was red in the face, but looked away, sighing heavily. She looked at the other men, their eyes drawn away from Simon and toward the cylinder. Viv held her hand over Charlie’s chest and readied herself.

 

“He’s not here to tell us. But we want this for him. I know we do.”

 

Marko reached out and grabbed Viv’s hand, she thought to stop her, but he looked at Charlie and then back at Viv. He nodded. Domingo reached out, and then Lewis, Marthinus, and finally Hammer. That Hammer participated said more to Viv than anything. When he called Charlie his Piper, he meant it, through and through, balls to bones. Losing Charlie would not just be a crippling to the Alpha Pipers, it would kill the spirit of the Pipers and Viv knew this. Charlie had been the go-to man, the listener, and the keeper of secrets. He was always there for each and every Piper and still made time for the Research and Development, being an integral part of all Piper equipment and upgrades.

 

Losing Charlie would be devastating. Period.

 

LT slammed the breaks and put the SUV in park. Finally he turned around and climbed into the back seat to reach them all and put his hand around the cylinder.

 

“For Charlie,” Viv said.

 

“For Charlie,” they all said and plunged the needle deep into their fallen heroes’ heart.

 

8.  Excuses are lies.

 

JT walked away from the dining hall trying to maintain his calm, but his hands were balled up into tight fists that tremored painfully. Things with the LT were not getting better, but he knew that had something to do with the Sergeant and Caitlinn. Being a Piper was not at all what he thought it would be. He had hoped it would fill that hole that the great Blue couldn’t quite fill, despite being a para-trooper and reaching insane adrenaline highs jumping out of planes, he was a werewolf and part of something bigger than himself. How was he supposed to know that the family he had no idea he was part of had tainted that world and his name? And now the dregs of that pack clung to him as a suedo-Alpha. His pack was all but wiped out, save for his Uncle who had separated from them before JT was even a twinkle in his father’s twisted eye, but now he had to deal with feelings he couldn’t understand, nor control.

 

Maybe the best way to fix the situation was to get out of it?

 

JT turned to find the Commander, but almost walked into Atlas Holden instead.

 

“JT,” he said softly.

 

Atlas was the only Piper JT looked up to, literally. Having grown six inches since his gifting, JT towered over everyone he knew, including Marko. Atlas was his father’s right hand man, but also the traitor that enabled the destruction of his pack. He gave the man a nod.

 

“Excuse me, Atlas.”

 

Atlas stepped to the side and moved out of his way, but walked next to him as JT tried to walk away.

 

“What are you doing, JT?”

 

JT stopped and felt his shoulders slump. “I can’t do this anymore.”

 

“Do what, be a man and demand the respect you deserve?”

 

He looked at Atlas and shrugged. “I’m not your Alpha, Atlas. I’m not ready to lead a dead pack, nor do I want to.”

 

“Do not mistake what I say, JT. My loyalty to your father died long ago and have no desire to resurrect what should stay dead.”

 

“Then what the hell-”

 

“You are the son of an Alpha, you’ll never be able to leave that behind or ignore it. The LT is reacting to you the only way he knows how. You are a threat, whether you want to be or not.”

 

“I don’t want to lead.”

 

“And that is a shame.”

 

JT closed his eyes and sighed. Atlas was older, certainly more experienced, but JT felt some sort of misplaced allegiance from the man.

 

“I’m a Piper, Atlas. That’s all I want to be.”

 

“Then where are you going?”

 

JT looked at Atlas stunned.

 

“Never deny what you are. And never let it cloud your judgment like it did your father. You’ll be an Alpha, some day, so if you can’t be a Piper, maybe that’ll do.”

 

Atlas smiled at JT and then let it slowly fade into the hard expression he always wore. With a deep breath, he pushed his shoulders back and became the new Piper Sergeant again. JT felt that presence resonate in his wolf mind and he returned it with a firm nod and side stepped his Sergeant, moving back toward his apartment.

 

His father was a stupid man, misusing a Piper like Atlas, forcing him to betray his own pack because his Alpha had lost his mind. JT prayed that someday, if and when he led his own pack, he’d have a man like Atlas at his side.  But there was still the LT. JT’s pedigree was a burden he’d have to shoulder. The LT was only protecting his position instinctively. JT would just have to deal with it.

 

 

 

Viv and Brig – Just this once.

A moment in time from early on in their relationship.  Still when they had to hide their love, except from each other.

 

Brig ran his hand up a decidedly soft, brown skinned leg and hummed happily.

 

“You sound like a car engine doing that.”

 

“Shhh,” he said as he touched Vivienne’s thigh, reaching around to the back of it, feeling the swell of her buttocks.  Her soft giggle moved her entire body as he lay on his left side, facing her in her bed.  His head was propped up on his left hand, its elbow nestled deeply in one of her many soft pillows.

 

“Your nose looks all better now,” she said referring to the sparring she had with Brig earlier, which resulted in a broken nose, as well as spirit.

 

“Shhhh,” he said again softly, making her laugh again as he watched his right hand pushed the hem of her short nightgown up and pinched her where the front of her leg connected with all the best parts of her.

 

“Stop, stopstopstopstopstop,” Vivienne squealed as he tickled her.  A huge smile crossed his face as he finally looked up at her.  “I hate that, stop,” she said.

 

“No, you don’t,” he said looked at her beautiful face.  Her scent engulfed him, the sweet flowery notes mixing in with his musky sandalwood ones.  Vivienne was curled up next to him, her left leg thrown over his hip and her long brown hair flowing over her pillow.  Against the white sheets her hair was so dark and Brig could barely see the lighter, chocolaty brown highlights.  Her hair smelled clean and her skin fresh; neither one was sporting any of the bruises from their fight several days earlier.  The sparring fiasco seemed so long ago already.

 

Brig had talked to the Pipers briefly after their meeting in Vivienne’s apartment and dismissed them for the weekend.  Most of them disappeared off the property into the city to do whatever they wanted; LT was off to Carol’s, Marthinus would probably spend some time with his own son at Duibne Industries, and the rest had plans to drink themselves stupid, no doubt.

 

“So, I was wondering something,” he said, dropping his eyes back down to his hand as it travelled along the curve of her hip.  Vivienne hummed an acknowledgement as she scooted closer to nuzzle against his cheek with her nose.  “How is it you have an American accent?  You’re from Australia.”

 

“Probably the same reason you have one and not a South African accent.”

 

Nodding slowly, he considered his forgotten accent with its soft twangs.  It was easier to fit into whatever society you were currently in by adopting the local dialect and accent.  Having lived in South Africa for decades, his accent had been thick like the locals, and within the first month of living in the city, he and his Pipers had managed to drop their African accents and develop their eastern US seaboard ones.  When in Rome, so to speak.

 

Grabbing the swell of her hip, he stopped moving his hand in hopes of quelling down his increasing desire.  “Let me hear your Australian accent,” he prodded, smiling at her nuzzling.

 

“Uh,” now she didn’t know what to say.  Rolling over and away from him, she looked at her night stand and grabbed her recent book.  Actually, not at all recent – it was her “13 Crimes of Science Fiction”.  Lying on her back, Viv held the book above her face, reading from a favorite chapter.

 

“It was like wrestling a dolphin one-handed.  I hung on anyway, looking for a flaw in my reasoning.  Peterfi’s free leg seemed broken in at least two places…I was about to let go when something must have jarred together in my head.

“Faces of charred bone grinned derisively at me.”

Her voice grew excited, following the books climax, “Brain to hand:  HANG ON!  Don’t you understand?  He’s trying to reach the flashlight!”

 

Her accent had the curvy flow similar to the Alpha who still had his.  Her I’s became OI’s and R’s exaggerated; smiling, she laid the book down on her chest and looked up at Brig who was chuckling.

 

“That is pretty thick,” he said.

 

“I know, right?” she answered still in her Aussie tongue.  “Ek kan nie praat Afrikaans as goed.” (I can speak Afrikaans as well.)

 

Brig raised his eyebrows.  “En Afrikaans? Vlot?”  (And Afrikaans?  Fluently?)

 

“Ya dink? Ek was daar nadat jy Pipers links.”  (Ya think?  I was there after you Pipers left.)

 

He gave her an impressed look, to which she smiled and set her book back on the nightstand.  Turning toward him, she hooked her leg over his hip.

 

“How many other languages can you speak?” Brig asked.

 

“Eh, right now?  Just a couple.  It’s easy to pick them up when I’m in the country, hearing it every day, but after that it fades.”

 

“How can you do that?”

 

“Observational learning.”

 

Pointing at Vivienne, he realized how she managed to avoid his two hardest hits that day; his power angle kick with his left leg and then his elbow strike.

 

“So you can learn by watching and still apply it adaptively? No fair.”

 

“You may bask in my awesomeness now,” Viv said grinning.

 

Brig let his smile fade as he looked down at her. “I’m going to kiss you now, all right?”

 

“No,” she said reaching up and covering his mouth.

 

He leaned forward anyway, pressing his lips against her hand, pushing it against her lips. Grabbing her hand, he pulled back a bit and entwined his fingers with hers. “Why can’t I kiss you?”

 

“Because if you kiss me, we’ll end up doing…more…stuff,” Vivienne’s voice purred softly, grinning at him like a Cheshire cat.

 

“And this is bad…why?”

 

He memorized every curve of her face, the pout of her lips, and the flutter of her eyelashes.  Her cheeks blushed as they talked about their love making, and truth be told, he was breathless just thinking of it.  It was all he could think about throughout the day, taking all his concentration to avoid letting a glance at her turning into a long stare.  Lying in her bed with her, he could not think of anything else but touching every part of her soft, brown body; from the swell of her breasts to the weapon calluses on her hands that she never talked about.  He kissed the inside of her palm just then and watched her eyes flutter closed.

 

Everything about her was almost magical and he was absolutely positive he had never felt this way for any woman in his long life.

 

“I thought we said we were going to watch a movie, proving that our pheromones don’t have a strangle hold on our libidos.”

 

Brig blew a soft raspberry and nuzzled her cheek with his nose.

 

“Aren’t you having fun?”  Vivienne asked in a more serious tone than she had meant.  They had made love every single night since he first came to her room via the window, and not that she minded any of it, she thought maybe they were forsaken some of the important parts for the frantic and absolutely incredible monkey sex.

 

“Viv,” he said laughing a little.  “You know I love you.”

 

“Are you pillow-talking me?” Viv snorted, though she still saw the sincerity in his eyes.

 

Brig had come into her apartment and found her standing next to the mantle watching him.  Usually she was already in bed, either naked or just about, ready and willing for him when he curled up next to her with his warm, naked body.  This time she was standing still fully dressed, her hands on the mantle and her chin propped on top of them.  She was still tingly from his quick kiss on his way out her door earlier, despite the Pipers being just a stone’s throw away, and smiled at him as he stepped up to her, kissing her softly.  They talked and decided they’d watch a movie in bed to prove that they weren’t slaves to their sex drives, which of course they were, although they had to try.

 

“I’d prove it by kissing you, but you won’t let me.”  His breath was hot and his voice low, resonating deep within her.

 

Viv closed one eye and narrowed the other.  “All right,” she said slowly, “no tongue.”

 

“Wow,” he said smiling, his blue eyes wide in shock.

 

“I know, I spoil you.”

 

She met his lips halfway, not that he was even that far, and before they could even start kissing, they both started to laugh.  Snickering, she tucked her face into his neck and she bit his hot skin.

 

“Ok, ok,” he said pulling back and hovering over her lips.

 

“No tongue,” she warned.

 

“All right, I’m holding you to that,” he said grinning.

 

Softly Brig kissed her and Viv could feel every line of his soft lips.  His face was clean shaven, just for her, and he smelled like Dial soap, making her laughing softly.

 

“No laughing,” he said against her lips.

 

“Ok,” she replied, doing a horrible job holding back a snorting laugh.

 

 

Their kiss was chaste and sweet.  He let his lips brush hers, forcing himself to hold back his tongue, even though he wanted to tease her lips with it.  Being so close to her made him ache for her even more.

 

“Ok this isn’t working,” he said pulling back.  “It’s only making it worse.”

 

Viv pouted, pushing her lips to the side.  “Yeah, me too,” she laughed.

 

Brig disengaged his fingers and pressed the palm of her hand against hers.  Her calluses were in the same places as his having gotten them from shooting weapons all his life.  If he couldn’t ravage her body, he’d at least learn more about her.

 

“Do you feel that?” he said, rubbing his callus against hers.

 

“Matching calluses.  That’s…kinda weird,” she snorted.

 

“Tell me about you, Viv.  I want to know.”

 

“Know what,” she said with a wistful sigh.

 

“Know everything.  Tell me about your calluses; about growing up with Vigo, about what you remember of Hammer, my father…tell me everything.”

 

“Why do you want to know?  Isn’t knowing me now enough?”

 

Brig’s forehead furrowed at her question.  With every question came another deflective answer and another wall.  He laced his fingers with hers and brought it up to his lips, kissing her hand softly.

 

“I want to know because I love you.”  Every time he told her he loved her, Viv would smile shyly and turn her face into the pillow, murmuring her love for him.  “I want to know everything about you.  Not just where you like my hands or how our scents drive us crazy.  I know you love science fiction and that you write fiction, but refuse to show anyone.”

 

“Oh my god, did you look?” she squealed, shoving him.

 

“Well, yes…it was good.  I liked it.  I don’t want to have to sneak around your apartment and find out that you like tootsie rolls and shove the wrappers in your pockets, and then forget to take them out.  Or that you have two copies of the movie Clue for some weird reason.  I want you to tell me what you love doing; what makes you happy or sad; that you like boats, but not the sea.”

 

“You made that last one up.”

 

He gave her an admonishing look for trying to change the subject.  “Come on, Viv.  Open up.  Just this once.”

 

 

Vivienne lightly scratched at Brig’s chest with her nails as she considered his plea.

 

“I love that fact that you want to know more about me.  But you going through my stuff…not so much.”  Viv looked up at him and he nodded, rolling his eyes.  Smiling, she rolled over onto her back and looked up at the ceiling.

 

“Honestly…I don’t think about before Vigo found me.  I just…don’t.  Do I miss my family?  I miss my mother.  My father is more of a blur.  He’s more of a feeling, almost like a scent of a memory.”  Her eyes unfocused, trying to recall their faces.  “I think I looked more like my mother.  Yeah.”

 

Her mother’s face was a faint memory. Closing her eyes, Viv tried to remember her mother’s tanned olive skin and brown eyes.  The sun on her face and the sound of her voice drifted in between the lines of her memory.

 

“Nina.  She used to call me Nina.”  The recollection hurt suddenly, her eyebrows furrowed and she felt the pain in her chest.  “Vigo was different, but he was probably more of a father to me than my real one ever was.  I saw how vicious he could be with his sons.  With me, he was different.  I could see that in the way he looked at me.  Hammer’s mother was already dead by the time I met them, but he loved her.  I never saw him talk about her to anyone, and rarely he did with me,” Viv looked at Brig and asked, “she was your aunt, right?”

 

Brig nodded, listening intently.  “Arranged marriage for the most part.”

 

Viv shook her head, looking back at the ceiling, “No, not to them, definitely not for Vigo.  He loved her, more than anything.  Guess that’s why he never remarried and fathered any other sons.  Hammer means more to Vigo than I think Hammer realizes.  I’d bet money that she taught him how to really love someone.  But I never saw Hammer growing up.  Besides my silver test, he was there for that.  I don’t think he knows that.  He came into my room to see me right after it happened.”  Laughing softly, Viv remembered the painful memory, “I heard him come in and pretended I was still sleeping.”

 

She took a deep breath, staring at the ceiling trying to remember the sound of Hammer’s breathing that day.  Another memory that was succumbing to time, she moved onto something else.  Shrugging, she talked a little about her travels, the countries she had been to, some of the skills she picked up along the way.

 

“I learned to tango about twenty years ago.”  She looked at Brig and touched his face.  “You have no idea how turned on I was that you knew how to tango.”

 

The look of deep concentration on his face smoothed, smiling into her hand.  “You may bask in my awesomeness,” he said, making her laugh.

 

“I like…the water, actually.  Candy corn, tootsie rolls, but you know that.”

 

Brig grinned sheepishly and nodded.

 

“I like to run, especially in wolf form.  That’s just…glorious.”

 

“Me, too,” Brig said his blue eyes wide in sparked interest.  “It’s like being reborn.”

 

“We should go running soon.  Before the full moon.  You know, instead of fighting.”  They laughed together at that memory.  “I don’t know…that enough for now?”

 

He made a face, rolling his eyes up and then narrowed his eyes at her.  “That is sufficient for now, I suppose.”

 

Viv blew a soft raspberry, turning back to nuzzle against his neck.

 

“We’ve got plenty of time to get to know each other, right?”  Brig didn’t look at her; he just held his breath and waited.  He had no idea how much time they really had together, he could only say for himself that he would be there as long as she wanted him to be.

 

“Well I am here for at least a couple more months.  I finish up the interviews here in the next month or so and then prep for the incoming two.”

 

Brig looked at her, “So you’re not recommending against it?”

 

“This is not proper pillow talk, Commander.”

 

“Pfft,” he said, narrowing his eyes at her, making her smile.  “Come to my office tomorrow and we’ll talk about it.”  He emphasized “talk”, winking at her.

 

“Sounds like a sexual bribe to me, sir.”

 

“Only sounds like it?  Thought I was pretty clear.”  Brig grinned at her, watching the blush on her cheeks as she half turned into the pillow and snickered softly.  Her dimples appeared, like deep little pockets in her cheeks.  “Huh,” he said.

 

“What?”

 

“You have dimples.”

 

“I like how you immediately noticed all these things about me.  Means so much.”

 

“You distract me,” he said, leaning in and brushing his lips against hers.  Biting her chin softly, they nuzzled silently, enjoying each other’s warmth.

 

“And when you’re done doing your job?”  Brig pulled back, watching her expression as he looked at her expectantly.  “Will you leave…the city?”  He almost said “leave me”, then chickened out, not wanting to push for something she may not see the way he did.  If she left, he knew in his heart he’d follow.

 

How could she tell him that she didn’t think it was physically possible for her to leave his side without sounding like a girl? Viv considered her dilemma as she watched the expectant expression on his face deepen into just a hair away from being frantic.

 

“Most women would answer that question with another question. So irritating to me. I like to think that I pretty much say exactly what I mean, and mean what I say.”

 

“You haven’t actually said anything,” he said raising his eyebrows.

 

“Do you want me to stay?” Viv snorted, especially when he gave her an annoyed face and pinched her in her ticklish spot again. “Stop! Stopstopstopstopstop!” she squealed again, laughing uncontrollably.

 

Her face sobered to a faint grin as she looked at his lips, touching them with her fingertips. “I don’t know. I like it here. I’ve never had any Alpha, much less the pack’s Alpha be so welcoming of me. Vigo has me moving around quite a bit, but I always end up back in Canberra near the families.”  Never with them, she thought silently.

 

“So your place is with Vigo then?” Brig asked, pulling Viv’s hand away from his face and touched her knuckles, caressing them gently.

 

It’s where I’m…useful. He’s my father.”

 

Viv felt the pain in her chest grow exponentially. She wasn’t exactly sure what Brig wanted her to say or what he wanted to be to her. Her heart told her the look on his face was more than just disappointment; it was close to, if not directly related, heart break. That was the last thing she wanted to do to him, but Vigo had been central in her life, always, with some sort of unspoken oath to stay by his side to repay for what he had done for her, ignoring what he had done to her. She had no bitterness toward Vigo, and her place with him had always been so clear – privately his daughter, publicly the illegitimate stain.

 

Meh, it was a living.

 

Brig continued looking at her fingers, “What am I then? To you?”

 

Viv took her fingers back and lifted Brig’s chin, making him look at her. His eyes were the purest blue with a kaleidoscope of steel radiating from the core. When he looked at her, Viv felt a million feet tall and a thousand times more beautiful. They were the beginning and the end, and in her heart, Viv knew that there would be no other man who could look at her like he did and make her feel the way he could.

 

“I read once, that a margarita without the salt is like a day without the sun.”

 

Brig’s eyebrows furrowed. “Are you calling me a margarita?”

 

Viv pulled him close, hugging him as they laughed hard into each others necks. Brig’s breath was hot against her skin and his laughter infectious. “No, you goober,” she snorted and pulled back to look at him. “I’m saying I’d only ever leave the city if you came with me.” With her hand on his cheek, she stroked his lips with her thumb.

 

“I belong to you, for as long as you want me…and probably a little while after that.”

 

Brig leaned in and kissed her, this time deeply and with much passion. She ignored the fact that they were both scared out of their minds about telling Hammer they were together. The Alpha didn’t seem treat her any different than any other pack member, considering she was reviewing Brig’s position and team, it did look grossly inappropriate. She also did not know what Vigo would say about her staying in the city and taking up with the Commander of his Pipers, much less what Duncan, the Elder Jameson and Brig’s father, would say about his oldest son being with Vigo’s pet Outcast.

 

Viv tried not to think about these things. She just concentrated on having someone in her life that loved her despite what she was, and that she could not stop kissing.