First Love – Part 47

First Love coverThe next morning, Jose is at the church, talking to the fire chief. Another man meets them and they talk a few minutes about if anyone can prove Ramon is responsible. He asks if they can tell he’s a lawyer.

“Not a lot,” Clayton admitted. “But I bet you’re hell in the courtroom.”

“I’m known as El Diablo,” the man said with a smirk. “But you can all me Ted.” He shook hands all around, chuckling at their awed expressions.

“Why do they call you The Devil?” Maddie asked him, apart from the others. They busily mixed adobe as people filled their buckets.

Ted raised an eyebrow. “You can keep a secret?”

“Sure.” She crossed her heart with a fingertip.

Ted chuckled. “In court, we usually put your hand on a Bible, but that will do.” He leaned closer, lowering his voice. “I was in prison.”

“In pri—” Maddie caught herself before she screeched. “Sorry.”

“Youthful error,” he replied quietly. “I made some bad friends and walked down a long, dark road. But I learned my lesson. While I was there, I started reading law books. There are a lot of prison lawyers. Guys defend themselves because they can’t afford a lawyer or one won’t touch their case. I learned fast, got some outreach classes and got accepted into law school after I got out. I passed the bar my first time—flying colors.” His arm swept out from him as if he wiped a table top. “Actually,” he chuckled. “Not so flying, but I passed. While I was in prison, I helped a lot of guys with their cases. I had a real talent for it. Now, I mostly take on the hard luck cases, helping guys who have been in the system a long time.”

“You free criminals?”

Ted gave her a patient stare. “Not all the people behind bars belong there. I help the ones who deserve a second chance. Last time Ramon was arrested, he wanted me to defend him. I wouldn’t.”

“Why not? Couldn’t he pay?”

“He was guilty. I don’t defend a man I know is bad. His money—blood all over it. Of our people. I won’t help a man like that.”

“He must hate you a lot.”

“He hates everyone. He is full of it.”

“But why El Diablo?” she asked again.

He stood up, spreading his arms wide. “Do I look like Prince Charming?” He chuckled when she shook her head. “I got a couple high profile cases and took the D.A. apart. My client was supposed to be executed, but new evidence came up that could prove his innocence. No one wanted to look at it. I made them. Made a lot of people unhappy and a couple people lost their jobs—including a judge.”

Maddie leaned on her shovel, gazing in admiration at the man beside her. “Ted, I’m really glad you’re my friend. If I never need a bad ass lawyer, I’ll call you.”

Ted laughed loudly. “Thank you. If I ever need someone to shovel sand while I mix adobe, I’ll call you.”

Maddie realized he really wanted her to shovel some sand. Laughing, she did so.

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First Love – Part 46

First Love coverClayton and Maddie share a magnificent kiss, not stopping until Patti finds them. As Maddie gathers her things, Patti tells Clayton he’d better not hurt her friend.

“Is it so hard to believe that I really care about her?” he whispered angrily. “Maddie’s special.”

“Yeah, I bet. Don’t let your gonads decide, Clayton. All guys—”

“Not all guys are the same, okay? Girls lump us all together, but we’re not all jerks,” he protested loudly. “Are all girls like Claire?”

Patti frowned. “No.”

He held out his hands as if the next conclusion was obvious.

“Okay, you make your point. It’s just—”

Clayton held up his hand. “May I finish that thought? All men have testosterone. It makes us a little crazy. Some crazier than others. Some are meaner, more aggressive and pushier than others. Not all of us are bad, Patti.”

She paused, her eyes filling with tears. Clayton put a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry you got hurt. Whatever he did, it wasn’t right.”

“Whatever who did? What do you know, Clayton?”

“Nothing. But that look in your eyes—it tells me someone hurt you, took advantage. I promise I won’t do that to your friend. And if I ever find out who did that to you, I’ll break the fucker’s balls.”

Her eyes teared. “You’d do that for me?”

“Yeah. Believe it or not, the guys and I think you’re pretty damn special too.” He grinned, chucking her in the arm.

Maddie arrived a moment later, carrying her bathroom items. Clayton finished brushing his teeth and they headed upstairs together. Craig rushed over as they walked in the door.

“Don’t scare me like that!”

“We were just getting ready for bed,” Maddie explained. “And we decided to talk a little while. I’m sorry we scared you.”

“Bed. Now.”

“Yes, sir,” they chorused.

Clayton wanted to kiss Maddie again. Instead, he squeezed her fingers where only Patti could see. She’d all but said yes to him. He wanted to ask her to go steady. If Patti hadn’t shown up when she did, he might have managed it. Now, he’d have to wait for another opportunity—provided Gabe didn’t make a move on her first. At least she knew how he felt, what he wanted.

The next morning, their group was subdued. They ate breakfast, but Jose wasn’t there to greet them when the got outside.

“He’s over at the church,” one of the other men told Craig. “The fire department was over watching for hot spots during the night. They think it’s just about under control. The county fire inspector’s been conducting his investigation. Absolutely no doubt it was arson. Now, they need to see if they can figure out who and why.”

“Don’t they know that already?” Maddie asked.

“It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?” Claire added.

“Even if they know who it was, they have to be able to prove it,” the man replied sadly. “I know I don’t look much like it, but I’m a lawyer.” He chuckled at their surprise. He was dressed in ratty jeans and a flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off. His arms were covered in tattoos and he wore his hair in a long ponytail. He sported hoops in both ears.

 

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Red River Radio What’s Write for Me with Dorit, Eric and Nicole

My friends, It’s with deep regret I have to cancel today’s show. I’ve been suffering the last couple of days with vertigo and can hardly function, let alone do a two hour broadcast. I will try to get my guests on again as soon as possible and I apologize for the inconvenience.

 

 

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What’s Write for Me Wednesday, April 27 at 4:00 PM EDT (3 CDT, 2 MDT, 1 PDT) Dellani and Christina welcome three fantastic authors. Be sure to tune in for this fun filled show!

Dorit SassonDorit Sasson, author of Accidental Soldier – A memoir of service and sacrifice in the Israeli defense forces and is featured in a variety of other non-fiction books

 

 

 

 

 

Eric WilliamsEric K. Williams, author of Edric the Hatchling Gryphon and Edric the Gryphon Prince.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nicole WaggonerNicole Waggoner, author of Center Ring: a Novel (The Circus of Women Trilogy)

 

First Love – Part 45

First Love coverFinally confronted, Clayton tells Maddie that he wants to be her first love. He confesses that he loves her.

Madison didn’t know what to say. She loved Clayton—kind of like a crazy cousin or a lunatic brother. He made her feel safe and happy. She knew where she stood with him. They didn’t have secrets, they shared everything. He wanted to take their relationship further and she didn’t know if she could do it. Not because she didn’t love him, but because it was hard for her to make the transition from brother to lover.

Clayton took her face gently in his hands, lowering his mouth to hers. Their lips touched. Maddie sighed. It felt good. Clayton teased her mouth with his, licking her lower lip. The tip of his tongue flickered between her lips. Maddie gasped, opening her mouth further. Clayton took full advantage, deepening the kiss.

Maddie’s arms snaked around his waist. Their chests pressed tightly together as they kissed. A warm tingling started low in her belly, setting her insides on fire. It felt so good to kiss him. At that moment, something inside her clicked. Suddenly, she became aware of her feelings for Clayton and how they had matured and changed over the last few years. She’d never seriously considered having sex with anyone, but the idea of making love to him suddenly held considerable appeal.

They stood in the restroom, kissing and touching for quite some time. Neither of them heard the door open, nor did they see Patti standing there until she cleared her throat. Embarrassed and flustered, they stepped apart. Maddie wasn’t sure what to say. She’d never been this bad before.

“Hi,” Maddie said, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Hello,” Patti replied. “I came looking because Craig decided to do a head count and you two were missing. I told him you were probably down here getting ready for bed—alone—in separate rooms. Not together.”

“Not together,” Madison promised. “I’m sorry if we scared anyone.”

“He’s understandably jumpy right now.”

“We’ll be up shortly.”

“I’ll wait here,” Patti said, leaning against the wall with her arms and ankles crossed.

“I’ll get my things,” Maddie said, heading to the women’s restroom across the hall.

“Good idea,” Patti called. She whirled on Clayton. “If you hurt her, so help me god!”

“What hurt? Who’s hurting—define hurting?”

“You’re impossible.”

 

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First Love – Part 44

First Love coverMaddie finally gets her chance to speak to Clayton, cornering him in the downstairs men’s bathroom.

Madison couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was above average height, more muscular than she’d realized. He had a beautiful tan. She’d thought it his natural skin tone, but could see a strip of lighter skin at the top of his boxers.

Turning away, he pulled on his T-shirt, which came to just below crotch level. He felt a little better when he had it on. Not as vulnerable or, he hoped, as blatantly obvious as he’d been seconds before.

“If you caught me like this, would you be looking?”

“Not a fair comparison.”

Madison chuckled. “That’s a yes. Why are guys so surprised that girls like to look too? You’re marginally good looking, fairly well built, have the purtiest brown eyes I’ve ever seen.”

“Be serious.”

“I am. And I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by almost kissing Gabe.”

“That’s a shitty apology, Mads.”

“It’s the best you’re likely to get. I’m not sorry it happened. I am sorry that it hurt your feelings.”

“We aren’t dating. You owe me very little.”

“But we are friends and I’m sorry.”

Clayton wouldn’t look at her. He could say what he had on his mind as long as he didn’t gaze into those baby blues.

“I want to be more than just your friend, Maddie. It was okay when we were ten, but we’re not little kids anymore.”

“I know, Clayton. I don’t know if I feel the same way—or if I ever will. But you’re the very best friend I have….”

He raised a hand, stopping her flow of words. “See, that’s exactly what a man doesn’t want to hear. I don’t want to be your friend, Maddie. I would far rather be your boyfriend. By calling me just a friend, you dump me in the mix with Patti and all your female friends.”

“I don’t have that many friends, Clayton.”

“Everyone loves you!” He spun around. “You don’t think you have friends, but you do. Those guys upstairs, they practically worship you. Do know know what they’d give to be with you like this? Or to be able to say they were the guy who gave you your first kiss?” He took a step closer. “I want to be that guy, Maddie.”

“What guy?” She eyed him dubiously as he moved a step closer.

That guy,” he whispered, taking her hands and pulling her close. “Do I have to spell it for you?”

Clayton’s hands were hot on hers. His body was tense, as if he were on full alert. Maddie wasn’t sure what to do. She’d never seen Clayton like this. His intensity made her nervous, but something about him also made her tingle. He took another step, pulling her body to his. He was taller than she, muscular and strong. She could feel everything through his thin boxers and T-shirt. Shocked by what she felt, she tried to pull away, but he held her—gently, but unyieldingly.

“That one, special guy, Maddie. I gave you your first kiss. I want all the firsts. I want to be your first love—maybe even your last one. You hurt me letting Gabe make moves on you. You don’t tell him no, and it’s killing me. Tearing my heart out.” He put his hand on his chest, balling a fist. He yanked at his chest as if he were pulling out his heart.

 

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First Love – Part 43

First Love coverThe group decides to give the money they earned for their ski trip, to the church, in order to help them rebuild. Right before they go to bed, they find out that arson is confirmed and that Ramon and his men are suspects.

“Everyone is to stay inside tonight. No going out for any reason. I’ve double checked all the doors and windows,” Craig said. “Jose and I don’t expect trouble, but we aren’t going to risk it. The police are out in force, they called in the sheriff’s department for reinforcements.”

“Are they planning a raid on Ramon’s hangout?” Claire wanted to know.

“I don’t know and I don’t expect they would tell me. He’d surely be expecting that tonight. If I were in charge, I’d wait until he got sloppy. Now, lights out. We’ve had a couple of very exciting days.”

“Wait until we get home and tell everyone,” Richard said, his eyes wide with excitement. “No one will believe us!”

“Of course they will. Everyone will want to come next year,” Beverly said.

“When this gets out, we may not have a trip next year,” Craig pointed out. “Parents aren’t wild about their children being in harm’s way. We may end up leaving early.”

“What? No! You can’t do that,” Daniel protested.

“Not me,” Craig said. “Other parents. I haven’t called anyone yet, and I probably should. Reverend Michaels really should know.”

“Do you think he’ll make us go home early?” Maddie said. She suddenly saw any chance of getting to know Gabe evaporate. She couldn’t believe how much that thought upset her.

“I don’t know, Maddie. We can hope, right? They could use our help clearing away debris. Maybe Reverend Michaels will let us stay.”

“I hope so!”

The others agreed with her. Talking among themselves, they headed to their rooms. Maddie tried once more to get Clayton alone, but he continued to evade her. She knew he had the right to be annoyed, but felt he was carrying things too far. It wasn’t as if she’d really, fully kissed Gabe. She wasn’t dating Clayton, so he had no claim on her. His attitude made her angry. Maddie was brushing her teeth in the downstairs bathroom, when she saw Clayton go into the boy’s restroom. Spitting and rinsing, she went to the men’s restroom and tapped on the door.

“Yeah? What?”

Maddie opened the door a crack. Clayton was shirtless, dressed only in his boxers. He stood in front of the sink, flossing.

“Oh, my God, Maddie!” He grabbed his shirt, holding it in front of him like a shield. “What are you doing in here?”

“We need to talk.”

“Okay, but maybe not when I’m naked?”

“You’re not naked. I can’t see your—” She gestured toward his groin. “Thing,” she concluded lamely.

“God, Maddie. Do you have to look?” He couldn’t meet her eyes.

 

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First Love – Part 42

First Love coverWhen they get back to town, they find the church in flames. Jose has a moment of panic when he remembers that the choir had been practicing that night.

“It’s okay. They’re fine. The fire started after they left. Everyone’s accounted for. Your wife had a list of everyone who was present. They’re fine.”

Jose nodded sorrowfully. “A church is just a building.”

The police officer nodded. “We’re with you, Padre. Don’t you worry.”

“How did it start?”

“The fire chief is gonna come talk to you in a little while. He’s kind of busy.”

“Don’t you know? Or is that your way of telling me you’re not going to tell me.”

The officer smiled a little. “Chief Red Eagle will talk to you.”

Maddie tugged Gabe’s sleeve. “Is he an Indian chief or fire chief?” she whispered.

He didn’t answer. Luis leaned over. He was standing behind Maddie. “He’s fire chief, but an Indian.”

“Why don’t you folks go back to the fellowship hall,” the officer suggested. “You can’t do anything here. And you don’t need to see the old girl fall.”

Jose nodded, understanding what the officer said. He had no desire to see his beautiful building collapse. There would be nothing left but smoldering ruins. They followed him to the fellowship hall. Fortunately, it was far enough from the church proper to be safe. They found the choir members gathered in the fellowship hall. When Jose saw his wife, he rushed forward, taking her in his arms. She kissed him worriedly, trying to assure herself he was fine.

When she’d finished mauling her husband, she attacked her son. Other members of the choir had family members who had been on the trip. All of them hugged and kissed each other, sharing their sorrow.

Craig beckoned to his group. They left quietly, allowing the church members their time to grieve. When they got back to the kitchen, he asked them all to sit down.

“I know we worked really hard last year in order to pay for a ski trip in during Christmas break. But I was wondering—”

“Dad, I think I speak for everyone when I tell you to give them the money. They need it more than we do,” Daniel said.

The teenagers nodded their agreement.

“I have some savings,” Claire said softly. “I’d like to give that too.”

“That’s a lovely thought. I can’t ask that from you, but thank you,” Craig said gently. “That’s settled. As soon as we get back, I’ll talk to the elders. I don’t think there will be any problem getting their okay. Thank you all. This is what being a Christian is all about.”

Bedtime preparations were somewhat subdued. The church members had gone home, but not until after the fire chief talked to them. Craig had joined them and brought the news that the fire department was positive that it was arson. The police were fairly certain Ramon’s gang was responsible. Some of them had gotten drunk and stupid, spouting off in a bar about how they’d gotten even for their jefe.

 

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