I imagine that like me 2014 had some exhilarating moments and some perhaps not so much. That’s the great thing about the sunrise and a new year—we get a clean canvas.<g>
Won’t lie. As I begin to rack up the years behind me, I have a greater appreciation for those “clean canvases.” Not in a Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” sort of way (though it might apply in some cases) but with a deeper realization of where I’ve been, what I have to be grateful for, and how I can use my gifts to “shine” a little better in 2015.
Now by “shine” let’s be clear—I don’t necessarily mean hitting the best-seller lists (though yay, wouldn’t that be fun!) but life has recently thrown me a curve ball that I wasn’t expecting—having to make the choice to place my mom on Hospice.
The recommendations, of course, came via many professionals and nursing care staff and while as her POA, I had the “choice”, there really wasn’t one. I share this not to bring anyone down, or to garner pity—quite the opposite, really. It’s what I’ve learned through this process, that makes me appreciate time—not to waste a minute—to share my gifts, my laughter, my friendship, my loyalty, my love where there is a need.
Doesn’t seem like something that a person would forget, does it? But we do. We get caught up in the hamster wheel and forget the important things—laughter, kindness, patience, being genuine, loving…that’s why I love telling my stories and taking folks on that journey of self-discovery, of finding their own happily ever after.
I found this today and it touched me so deeply with its simple message that I felt I wanted to share it with you as we all begin a new year on Planet Earth;)
I’m terribly behind in my deadline for the third book in my Kinnison Legacy series. For reasons listed above, (and influenza!) I’ve not been plugged into my gift, of telling the stories I love to share and walking daily with the characters’ who’ve brought me a lot of smiles and satisfaction.
Realizing its okay to step away whether by choice or fate, for a time, can make you more appreciative, more grateful for what you do have.
My experience has made me realize that while I still have much yet to face in the days ahead, I realize that writing is coming home to my creative side, my authentic self, coming home to embrace the gifts I’ve been given and share them—in essence to “shine.” Here then is a sneak peek at Renegade Hearts, third book in the Kinnison Legacy series.
“It’s a girl!”
Dalton felt the tenuous reins of testosterone slipping from life, as he’d always known it. However, nothing made him happier than seeing the goofy look on his older brother’s face. He leaped up and grabbed Wyatt, his green scrubs splattered with blood, in a great bear hug. “Congratulations, old man. Who ever thought you’d be a dad? Damn…just…damn, come here.” He gripped his older brother tight. Years when it was just the two of them, struggling to survive, watching out for each other while their mom tried to find herself, whirled through his memory. The bond between them forged hard as steel, honed in fire.
A shit-eating grin split Wyatt’s unshaven face, weary-looking after twenty-four hours of touch and go labor. His wife, Aimee had gone into labor a week earlier than planned and the baby was frank breech. But God and Jed must have been looking down on the odd assemblage of the Kinnison family as they gathered in the waiting room. The tired, but ecstatic new father smacked Dalton on the shoulder and hugged him again. “And God help us, you’re little Grace’s uncle.”
A strange lump clogged Dalton’s throat and he stepped away allowing others to offer up congratulations. Uncle Dalton? Damn.
“You named her Grace?” Betty, an old friend of the family waited patiently, her arms ready to pull Wyatt into a fierce hug. “That’s a beautiful name, honey. Jed would be so proud of y’all.”
Dalton watched as Betty pulled Wyatt against her ample bust. She’d been like a mom, serving them and the community home-cooked meals at Betty’s Café, End of the Line’s only diner. His memory flashed to the joy his stepfather, Jed Kinnison, the man who’d adopted and raised three young boys as his own sons, would have had at this news. Despite his leaving this earth too soon, perhaps this baby was God’s way of saying that legacy should continue.
The litany of well-wishers continued with Rein, Wyatt and Dalton’s stepbrother who came to live with them after the tragic accident that claimed Jed’s sister and her husband, then Liberty, the half-sister they’d only recently discovered. Rebecca and Michael Greyfeather followed with Rebecca bringing with her a handmade baby blanket for the newborn. They’d been friends of Jed Kinnison as were many of the townsfolk in End of the line. Dalton chuckled. Given Jed’s revered standing in the community, it was damn near a miracle that the entire town wasn’t squeezed into the waiting room of Billings Memorial.
A couple of months ago it had been touch and go when Aimee had prematurely gone into labor due to smoke inhalation. She and Liberty had been lucky to survive the arson fire intended as revenge from Liberty’s former employer and ex-boyfriend. As a precaution, Aimee had been placed on complete bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. She and Wyatt later moved into one of the completed cabins on the property until the portion of the ranch could be rebuilt.
Dalton felt a tug on his leg and her looked down to find little Emily James, Michael and Rebecca’s young great-niece. She’d come to live with her aunt and uncle a few years back at the tender age of three. Though Dalton didn’t know the full story, rumor around town was that it had something to do with her mama getting back on her feet after losing her husband in Afghanistan.
“You want to know a secret?”
“What’s that, darlin’?” Dalton squatted down to face the little girls glittering dark eyes.
She grinned, barely containing her excitement and it was impossible for Dalton not to smile. “I’m going to help with the baby after she comes home. I think I’ll make a very good babysitter, don’t you?”
He turned his ball cap backwards on his head and rested his hands on his knees. For all of her seven years, with those mysterious dark eyes and articulate speech he’d bet that she kept Michael and Rebecca on their toes. “That will be up to your mama and Ms. Aimee, I suspect.” He tapped the end of her tiny nose.
Her brows rose into her bangs. “Oh, I know I am. I’ve seen it.”
Dalton grinned. With no experience with kids, he guessed that most her age chose to see things the way they wanted. Emily was no ordinary child, however. He’d heard Michael speak before about her special ability, but had never been privy to it himself. “Ok, punkin’, then I’m sure your Aunt Rebecca–”
“You mean my Grandma Rebecca?” she responded with a crook of her brow.
Dalton hesitated, startled how quickly the female persuasion learned to use the silent gesture symbolic of defiance. “Uh yeah, sure. I meant your grandma.”
“Emily.” The stern voice of her mother issued from behind Dalton. He stood and awkwardly patted the top of the little girls head. “Stop pestering, Mr. Kinnison.”
“No harm done–” The rest of Dalton’s thought vanished as he turned to face Angelique James. He’d not seen her since the wedding earlier in the spring–by fate or choice, he wasn’t sure. They’d both been busy putting their lives back together. He’d gone to Las Vegas with Rein and their friend, Hank, as she and her friend Elaina testified against their former boss. Later that same day, while standing in front of the Bellagio fountains, deciding where to eat, Rein knelt and proposed to Liberty, saying he didn’t want to waste another minute of his life without her in it. It’d taken a few minutes to determine her answer amid the laughter and tears, but in true Vegas native fashion, she agreed but only if they could have a whirlwind Elvis wedding. It was a long time before Dalton could rid his mind of the Burnin Love tune and quite suddenly, it blasted in his brain as he looked at the beautiful woman in front of him.
“Hi,” he forced through his rattled thoughts. He blamed it on his lack of sleep, that, and being depraved of a real drink for the last twenty-four hours.
If possible, she was even more beautiful than when he’d seen her at the wedding. She was dressed in a smart-looking full-length skirt, a cami that hugged every gentle curve and a worn denim jacket, its sleeves rolled back. She wore her long, dark hair in a braid that trailed down over one shoulder. Those penetrating ebony eyes, the same as Emily’s, focused on her daughter. Dalton had a hard time taking his eyes off Angelique.
“I’m not being a pest,” she answered with total vindication. “You like me, don’t you, Mr. Kinnison?”
The little girl tugged on his shirtsleeve, jarring Dalton from the memories of a cold rainy night long ago in the dark parking lot of the high school.
Angelique’s gaze turned to his and he wondered if she, too, remembered. Her quickness in averting her eyes confirmed his silent query. “Come on, Emily. It’s time to get home and fix supper. I’m sure the Kinnisons would like some family time.”
Rebecca Greyfeather placed her hand on the young girls shoulder. “Your mother is correct, Emily. It is time to leave.” Across the room, Michael placed his hands on Wyatt’s bowed head and was quietly speaking,
“He’s offering a special blessing to Wyatt,” Rebecca spoke quietly as though reading Dalton’s mind.
Emily watched in rapt fascination, her hand clinging tight to her Aunt Rebecca’s. Angelique stepped away and poured a cup of water from the guest station.
“You apparently aren’t into the ancient ways like your uncle?” Dalton walked to her side and helped himself to the water.
She glanced at him. “My mother never spoke of the “ancient ways” as you call it.” She turned partially away from him, but he heard the muttered words that came next. “I doubt she’d have been able to remember much, anyway.”
Dalton raised a brow. He couldn’t blame her less than welcome reception given how he’d refused to dance with her at earlier that spring at Wyatt and Aimee’s wedding. He observed her body language as he downed his water, wishing it had a couple of ice cubes and a splash of Jack Daniels in it to ease the tension in his gut. He was at fault for some of that, but the rest belonged to the woman standing before him. He’d never mentioned what happened to anyone. In fact, when asked, he simply stated that he couldn’t remember her at all in school. It was a boldface lie of course, but easier to believe once she and her mother moved away just before his senior year in high school. Her shoulders pulled tight, her spine rigid, spoke in great volume that she’d acknowledged him purely out of politeness. Stepping forward, she took Emily’s hand, gently pulling her from Rebecca’s grasp.
“Come on baby. Why don’t we go down to the gift shop? Maybe we can find something to have sent up to Aimee and the new baby.”
“Grace,” Emily beamed up at her mother. “They named her Grace.” Emily shot a look to her aunt as if to ask permission. The lines of authority were still being worked out Dalton observed, insofar as the young girl was concerned.
She tossed her paper cup past him, hitting the trash can squarely. “Congratulations, Dalton on becoming an uncle.”
Again with the polite tone. She couldn’t wait to get out of that room, away from him. Responding with a silent nod, he watched her shift her purse to her shoulder, lean in to speak to her aunt and take Emily’s hand. Without a backward glance, the two walked down the hall.
Poor Dalton. Of the three brothers, his heart is probably the most tortured. Rugged, stubborn and good-timin’ to a fault, Dalton struggles with the demons inside him, often escaping into the bottle instead of facing them.
Add to that the woman he’d once scorned is back in town with a secret carried far too long that could blow the lid off the Kinnison family!
On the topic of gratitude, as you enter a new year, what are you grateful for? Remember that each month one lucky comment receives an Amazon gift card;) That’s something to be thankful for !
Until next time, kindness matters~