Wednesday, 8 January 2020

BLACK HOLLOW: FINDING HER KINGS
(The Drakki Chronicles #2 & Road to Hell series #5)



BLURB

When an MMA fighter crosses paths with the head of a diamond empire as well as a demon from Hell, more than sparks will fly.

Frankie Bordeaux-Smith is content with her life out of the ring until a knock on her door thrusts her into the world of princesses and unicorns. According to the Romeros, she’s both, and now someone wants her dead.

Mated to each other, King and Hitchcock are settled in Black Hollow, running their coffee shop and diamond business. That is, until their quiet world is shattered by… a nun?

As assassins drift into the peaceful paranormal town, can the demon and dragon keep a unicorn alive while figuring out the latest twist of fate to their hearts?

One-click now to see if this modern day princess has found her kings!


Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/47E6v8


Monday, 9 December 2019

Exhaustion

There are so many ways to feel tired.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually... being tired is never a great feeling.  When you're tired in all these departments, you're not tired anymore. You're exhausted.

Today, I woke up after two hours of sleep completely drained.  My body hurts, my head hurts.  My heart hurts.  I am without a doubt, exhausted.  I know a lot of people follow along with Anthony's story and while I always try to post positive, happy, and funny things, every once in a while, I'll pop a negative tidbit in there.  I mean, let's face it.  My kid has not just one, but three health conditions.  Life isn't always going to be roses.

About a month ago, Anthony started to have dizzy spells.  Some minor.  Some major enough he would fall and sometimes throw up.  We did some blood work, but his medication levels seemed to be where they were supposed to be.  The only thing out of the ordinary was a low white blood count. Now, before you panic, one of his medications can cause this.  It can also cause dizziness. Because his med levels were normal, his neurologist sent us to our family doctor (neuro is an hour and a half away in a different city) to get checked out.

One physical later, and Anthony was given a clean bill of health, minus the dizzy spells.  Our family doctor decided that the best way to rule out the carbamazapine was to lower the dose.  If he was suddenly showing two side effects of that medications he'd never experienced before, then maybe it was the culprit.  Of course, that meant that with a lower med level in his system, we'd have to watch for seizures.

I'm not going to lie.  I was hopeful.  I thought, well, if the medication is making him feel like this, then maybe he doesn't need to be on that high a dose.  Maybe the rest of the meds he was on were enough to keep the worst seizures away.

A week after we lowered the dose, the dizzy spells went away.  I thought, "Awesome!".

A week after that, and we started to notice small changes.  He had more trouble sleeping.  He was quick to get upset. 

It's been one more week since that second week and there's no denying it.  He's having more seizures.  Not the ones where he loses conciousness and stops breathing, but the ones he has right before he has those bad ones. He's not sleeping because of them which leaves him exhausted and moody, and just not in a good place.  He has to stop what he's doing multiple times a day because of them.  There's nothing like your teenage boy yelling "mom" in a panicked voice as he runs to the nearest bed so he can lay down in case he falls.

It's been an exhausting month.  And yes.  I know I'm using that word a lot.  I'm too exhausted to think of a different one.

Last night, we gave him his higher dose of medication.

This morning, I woke up crying.  Because I'm tired.  Because I've only gotten a couple hours of sleep per night the past month.  Because now, Anthony is going to feel gross while his system gets used to the higher level of medication. Because it's going to take at least a week for the higher levels to help bring down the number of seizures.  Because, after all of this, was it even the carbamazapine that caused the dizziness?  Did I just put my son through three weeks of mental and physical hell for nothing?  I don't know.  I have no fucking clue.

In two weeks, we have an appointment in Saskatoon with his neurologist.  Maybe the dizzy spells will be back by then.  Maybe they're gone forever.  Until then, we'll just try to rest and stay positive.

Anyway.  That's my Anthony update for now.  And don't worry.  I'm sure something cute or funny will happen soon and I'll be sure to let you all in on it.

Have a good week and stay safe. <3

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

#teasertuesday Displaced


Just a little something for you on this Teaser Tuesday. :D 

“Kendall, please. Sit down.”
He barely glanced at Jasper before resuming his pacing.  “What’s taking so long?”
“Kendall, I need you to sit down so I can heal your face.”  Hayden blew an exasperated breath out of her nose. 
“I’m fine.”
“You are not fine!”  She walked into his path and he was forced to stop.   Before he could move, she’d pulled a green healing wave from the air and pressed it onto his face. 
He hissed as the cut over his eye repaired itself.
“Here.”  Brice handed him a shot of jeckden and a mug of sloan.
Kendall shot back the first and gulped down the second.  The alcohol did nothing to ease the heavy feeling in his chest.  He sat heavily, his face in his hands.
“I need you to try, Hayden.  You’ve done it twice now.  You can do it again.”
“Kendall, I can’t!  The first time was an accident and this last time I knew who I was moving and to where.  I can’t send you to Thistendal on purpose.  I have no point of reference.  What if I send you in the complete opposite direction?”
“I can’t just sit here!”  He resumed his pacing. 
Everyone looked up as the door opened to reveal Marilynn.  Her eyes found Kendall.  “Is the bluebird telling the truth?”
He nodded.  “I need to get to Thistendal. I need to bring them home.”
The high sorceress ran her hands over her face.  “I don’t have the power to send you that far.  No one does.”
“Hayden does!”  The words echoed in the cabin.  He took a long deep breath to calm himself.  “I’m sorry, Hayden.  I….”  He swallowed hard. 
She hugged him close.  “It’s alright.  We’ll figure it out.  I promise.”
“What if you, Marilynn, and Rainen got together?”  Brice took a drink of his sloan.
Marilynn shook her head.  “While we’d likely have enough magic, we have no idea what Thistendal is like.  For us to displace that far, we’d need an exact point of reference to focus on.”
“There has to be away.”  Kendall looked from one sorceress to the other.
“The Gysps?”  Knowing how torn his friend was, Jasper tried not to laugh at Hayden’s glare.  She’d never forgiven the sea faring folk for calling her cursed.
“Maybe.”  Marilynn chewed on her lip thoughtfully.  “Though they won’t be back on our shores for at least another three months.”
Kendall poured himself another shot of jeckden and made it disappear.  “That’s too long.”
“Wait!”  Hayden’s grin gave him hope.  If anyone was going to be able to figure something out, it was going to be Hayden.  “I know how you’ll get there!”  She stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek.  “Go home, clean up, and pack your bags. I have an idea but it will take me a day to see if it will work.”
He frowned, though her excitement was starting to rub off on him. “What are you thinking?”
She shook her head.  “Just come back tomorrow. I don’t want to get your hopes up in case it doesn’t work.”  She gave him another hug.  “Now, go.”


Sunday, 28 July 2019

Sneak Peek Chapter : Displaced

As some of you have heard, I've been working on Displaced for the last little while.  When I released it a couple of yours ago, I shouldn't have.  For lack of a better word, it was terrible.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love the story and the characters, but they (and you) deserved better than the half-assed thrown together "novel" I put out there.  Thankfully, I was smart enough to hit the unpublish button almost as quickly as I pushed the publish one, and only a handful of people managed to read it.

So.  For those of you who love Quelondain and Hayden's Sageden pack, I want to thank all of you for keeping the faith you seem to have in me.

I'm hoping to have ARCs of the newly finished Displaced out at the end of August/beginning of September with a release at the end of September/beginning of October.  Until then, I'll be sure to post teasers and snippets to keep you entertained.

Here's a little something for you on this beautiful Sunday night. 

content warning: this contains adult situations

Neeka shut her bedroom door as quietly as she could.  She’d managed to avoid her sister most of the day and had made sure to tend the bar as long as possible to make sure Hanna would be sleeping when she came to bed.
Her sister knew, she was sure of it.  The instant she’d walked back into the inn with her vegetables, her sister had known.  How, she wasn’t sure.  She’d sent Kendall to get water for the lunch soup, something they usually did together, but she’d had to put some distance between them.
She’d thought that being with him would cure her of the need she felt when it he was around.  She’d been wrong.  So wrong.  Had it not been for the fact that the vegetables had to be back in time for lunch, she would have spent the entire day exploring his body and all the different ways she was sure he could make her explode.
She lay on her bed and pulled the covers up.  Closing her eyes, she listened to her sister’s breathing.  Sleeping.  Taking a quick look to make sure the blanket that spread between them was in place, Neeka let herself think of the morning’s events. 
Bloody hell.  What had she been thinking?  She was intended.  She hadn’t been completely sure he would take her, though she had been fairly confident he’d felt the attraction.
She had hoped that having him would satisfy her curiosity, her need to have him touch her.  If anything, it had combusted the urges and set her on fire.
It had been all she could do not to drag him back to the forest to have a second go at him.  Thankfully, he seemed to have been affected the same way.
There had been no hesitation, no question as he’d led up into the hay loft and bent her over a bale of hay.  The feel of him sliding in and out combined with her anticipation of how she knew he was able to make her feel had her cumming in a few short minutes.  He’d held her from behind, his lips dropping soft kisses on the back of her neck.
She’d giggled at his apology.  There was no need to be sorry.  She’d wanted it just as much as him.
If pretending she wasn’t interested in him prior to this had been hard, it was now nearly impossible.  She’d caught more than one of Christopher’s men eyeing them.
Maybe it was her overactive imagination, but she was sure everyone knew. 
Her thoughts wandered back to the hay loft and her fingers traveled down to the heat that was rising between her legs.
The breeze had blown into the barn and she was sure he’d caught her scent.  His nostrils had flared, his light blue eyes locking on hers.  No words had been spoken.  One moment they were staring at each other, the next, they were in the loft.  His fingers had made quick work of the laces on both of their pants.  He’d pushed into her with a sigh that had her moaning.  He was perfect.  It was almost as though they’d been doing this every day for years. 
She thought of how his thighs had felt on the backs of hers, how his hands had gripped her hips and pulled her back to penetrate her deeper still.
Her fingers pushed on her sweet spot and she clenched her teeth, desperate to stay quiet as she exploded in her memory and in her room.
She lay like a puddle of jelly in her bed, her breathing settling back to normal.  By the moons, what was happening to her? She’d lost her mind, to be sure.  She’d lost her bloody mind.

Saturday, 13 July 2019

DICK (The Private Dick series Book 1)blog tour


Bourbon, beads, and blood.

KING
Phuck is the king of New Orleans. A demon who offers immortality for loyalty and respect. As president of the Voodoo Dawgs MC, he’s become as iconic to Nawlins’ citizens as the French Quarter. With Voodoo Mama and his brothers at his side, he’s untouchable, his power limitless. But when one of his demon brothers is discovered murdered, his life is about to be shaken up in ways he could’ve never anticipated.

SHERIFF
Enzo is a sheriff, a shifter with a badge, who’s lost his power and the respect of the citizens of New Orleans. Betrayed by those he trusted, he’s fallen into disgrace, unable to remain sober long enough to pull himself together. When one of Phuck’s men is found dead, Enzo calls in the big guns to help solve the murder.

DICK
Panther shifter Detective Natalia Cortes arrives to investigate a demonic killing in NOLA. It’s not just any homicide, but the murder of a demon who happens to be part of the Voodoo Dawgs MC. The self-appointed King of New Orleans doesn’t want her there, but she feels his heated gaze. The sheriff needs her help to solve the case, but the more time he spends with her, the more he wants to claim her as his mate.

Welcome to the Dark Days and Voodoo Nights of New Orleans!


When I found out that Gracen Miller was releasing a new book, I knew I had to get my hands on it.  She's become one of my favorite go to authors.  She never disappoints. 
Dick is a great story filled with action, romance, and fantastic sex scenes.  The characters a relatable and emotional.
Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.
Another five star story from an amazing author and her partner in crime. I'll definitely be looking into Julie Morgan and reading more of her stories. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

It's been a year, so here's a short story!

Well, it's been a year since I've posted anything and I thought, what the hell, let's give the people something to read.  lol   This October, I was going to enter a short story in a contest.  As life likes to do, it happened, and the story was never submitted.  It did, however, give me the idea for a longer story, but it's going to be a while before that one gets done.  So, here you are.  I had to keep the story to under 2500 words, and let me tell you, that was hard to do. 


Commander Cheryl

“Cheryl.  I’m just checking in to let you know I’m on my way back.  They’re thick out here today.”
All I hear is dead space in my headset. My throat tightens and the adrenaline surge threatens to choke me. It's flight or fight time.  The problem is that we're fighting an enemy that can kill us with a look.  And running? It's hard to outrun everyone you've ever known, almost each and every person you've met or will ever meet.
“Cheryl?  Come in!”
The thought of my cousin hurt, or worse, makes the bile in my stomach rise and I swallow it back down with a gag.
A faint crackle in my ears has my heart flipping in my chest.
“Mi… safe…. South… go…"
“What? You're breaking up. Repeat!”
Nothing.
I duck involuntarily as something to the north explodes. Was that us, or them? I glance around what’s left of the mall I’m standing in.  The roof has collapsed and rubble lays scattered throughout, some of it wet from rain and damaged water pipes, a lot of them red with blood. A quiet sob makes its way to me. The butterflies in my stomach start to crash into each other.
Is it a trap?
A small girl, her red dress muddied and torn, limps past my hiding place. I wince at the blood scabbed to the side of her face.  I’m just about to step out and ask if she's okay when she snaps her fingers.
I stop breathing. Fire Thrower.  Why the hell couldn’t I have got a cool power like that? But, no. I got speed which would be all fine and dandy if Fire Throwers, Lightning Makers, and pretty much every other power out there couldn’t be thrown at me almost as fast as I could run.
A small group of military looking guys sneak in through a hole in the Knickknacks store’s outer wall.
The Fire Thrower turns and unleashes fireball after fireball. One, maybe two of them, are Shields.  One soldier screams as a fireball punches into him, the heat of the flames burning through him.
“Mi…. Help…” Cheryl's voice is still cutting out. Help who? Her? The soldiers? Cheryl's power has a distance limit. Sending her thoughts through radio waves is pretty neat, but if she’s too far away or too tired, she's out of luck. I’m not sure what’s causing the disruption at this very moment, but I’m hoping it’s just distance.
I take a deep breath and roll my shoulders.  Cheryl or no Cheryl, it’s easy to see the soldiers aren’t government zombies and the kid is. She walks past me again, getting closer to the guys. Her attention diverted, I use what I’ve been given and run. It happens fast. So fast. I still feel every millisecond of it. The thickness of her bloody hair, the coolness of her forehead, the dry crust of the scab on her temple. The warmth of the knife in my hand, the slight hesitation of the blade as I pushed it through her neck… the heat of her blood spilling over my fingers. The smell of iron overtakes everything.
My stomach heaves and the little bit of oatmeal I had for breakfast comes rushing back up. Someone hands me a bottle of water. I spit out as many chunks as I can before pouring water over my head and into my mouth.
“Fucking zombies.” I’m trying to convince myself I’m still a good person, that it was us or her, but I’m having trouble talking myself into it.  I just killed a kid. I resist the urge to look back and instead look at the soldier who handed me the water.
“You okay?”  The only thing I can tell about him is that he's a man. These guys are covered from head to toe in gear designed to try and keep them alive. Obviously, it doesn't always work.
“Yeah. I’m good. Did Cheryl send you?”
He nods. “We were doing a sweep and she asked us to check on you.”
“Thanks.” It’s definitely a bonus that my cousin was the voice of the Asskickers. I can’t help the laughter as I think of the resistance’s name. It had been an inside joke between Cheryl and I. Somehow it had spread and stuck.
The soldiers all look at me, but I can't tell if it’s in amusement or worry. I manage to pull myself together.
“Where is she?” I inquire after clearing my throat.
“They’ve set up camp just south of the city.”
Water bottle guy extends his hand out to me and I let him help me up.
“Thanks for that.” His gratitude might have been followed by a smile, but it’s hard to tell behind the mask and goggles. “I’m not sure how much more my shield would have taken.”
“Mi…” Cheryl interrupted us.
“I’m okay, Cheryl.”
“Package acquired, ma’am.  On our way back.” The other shield in the group gestures with his head and we follow behind him.
I chuckle and Water Bottle gives a quick glance in my direction.
“She hates being called ma’am.”
He nods to show he's heard.
It’s been a long five days of scouting and I don’t argue when Shield One announces we'll be stopping for the break.  I move ahead and come back before Mouse (the quiet one who has yet to talk) notices. He jumps as I reappear beside him.
“There's a gas station one block ahead,” I whisper to them.
Water Bottle nods when Shield One looks at him. Mouse does the same. Hard gloved fingers dig into my arm as I start to walk past One.
“No more lone runner shit,“ he growls.
I yank free of his hold. “Lone runner shit is my job.”
“And my job is to get you back to Commander Cheryl. “
I scoff, ready to get into it with Captain Better than Thou, but Water Bottle steps between us. Inhaling deeply, I count to ten.  Without a word, I dart back to gas station.
When the guys show up, I’m laying on my blankets and eating a disgusting protein bar. I don’t have to see One's face to know he's pissed. His head turns towards me and this time, Water Bottle has to physically push him back.  
I toss One a protein bar and it hits his shoulder before falling to the ground, ignored. He shoves Water Bottle away before stalking off to the back of the store.
“Is he always wound so tight?” I inquire when the second shield sits beside me.
“We lost four guys this time out.”
He doesn’t need to say anything else. Watching someone you’ve gotten to know get killed was something you didn’t get over. It was why I did my scouting alone. I’d already lost too many friends.
“So, what did you do before all this, Water Bottle?”
“Water Bottle?”
“Yeah. You're Water Bottle, that's Shield One, and that guy is Mouse.”
“Why Mouse?”
“He’s quiet. You know… quiet as a mouse?”
Water Bottle chuckles, pulling off his head gear so he can eat the bar I hand him.
“My name's Rhett and I used to be a roofer.” He wipes the sweat from his brow.
I dig deep into my pack to find a few of the bite sized chocolate bars I keep for special occasions.  I hand one to him. “Nice to meet you, Rhett.  I’m Mi.”
Turning to the back of the store, I toss a chocolate over the counter. “Incoming, Shield One!”
There's a short pause then the sound of a wrapper crinkling.  “Ross.”
Glad he's taken my peace offering, I turn to Mouse.  
“What the…” Before anyone can react, I have my hands around the third man's neck. Using my momentum, I manage to get him up against the wall. Somewhere in the back of my mind I tell myself I’m about to die. I have no idea what his power is.
“Mi!” Rhett manages to pull me off, but I slip out of his hold and smash Mouse's head into the wall once again.
“You! You did this!” I can barely choke the words out past the sobs the anger and shock are causing.
It takes both Rhett and Ross to get me off. Ross shoves me toward Rhett who gets me in a bear hug I can't get out of. I try to use my knee to kick Rhett in the groin, but I don't have enough room to do any damage.
“It's alright. Let her go.”
Even the sound of his voice is enough to reactivate the fury that had been waning.  
“I'm going to let you go, but don’t do anything stupid.” Rhett slowly releases his hold and I wait until I have enough room to turn before charging again. I hit an invisible force and hear him sigh behind me before he reaches down to help me up. “I'm not letting it down until you get a hold of yourself.”
The urge to kill is still prevalent, but one collision with an invisible force is enough to let me know I don’t want to do it again.
I turn to Mouse and jerk away when Rhett puts a hand on my shoulder. All I can see is the traitor before me. The man who thought he could play god. The piece of shit who poisoned the drinking water with the virus that triggered everyone's powers. He was the reason my family was dead. He was the reason some of us were walking around like zombies with only the urge to kill on their minds. We’d been the testing subjects for what was supposed to be the new and improved soldier.  What the government hadn’t counted on was the fact that the people who turned zombielike couldn’t be controlled and those of us who still had our wits about us weren’t going to be used in their sick game.
“You’re supposed to be at the bottom of a lake!”
“It was decided that letting me live was a far worse punishment.”
In a moment of pure childishness, my brain changed his name from Mouse to Shitface.
“I’m doing what I can to right what I did wrong.”
“How?”
“By helping those that need it.”
I look at Ross before glancing back to Rhett. Both of them nod.
“I’m hoping that soon, this will all feel like a bad dream.”
I scoff and turn to Rhett. “Let me out. I am not staying here.”
“You can’t just head out there on your own.  It’s going to be dark within the hour.”
I walk past him, my arms out in front of me.  My fingers touch the shield.  “I need some air.” It’s just a whisper, but he takes my arm and escorts me outside.
“What’s that?”
I look up and try to find what he’s pointing to in the sky.  “Wait. Is that a plane?” The city has been a no-fly zone for months.  I press the talk button on my coms.  “Cheryl. Come in.”
“Hey! Are you guys almost back?”
“Not Quite.  Do me a favor and look up and to the west.”
There’s a short pause as she does what I ask.  “Is that a plane?”  More silence as she talks to those physically around her.
Rhett and I are joined by Ross as everyone’s coms receive some muffled voices under a wave of static.
Cheryl’s cutting in on the plane’s transmission and letting everyone hear what she’s hearing.  It’s one of the things the Asskickers love about her.  There are no secrets.
“… Doctor Banks wasn’t lying, Senator. It’s a warzone down there.”
“Understood. Come back to base.  Operation Earthworm starts at oh six hundred.  We need…”  Whatever else was going to be said is lost as Cheryl cuts off the signal.
I sprint back into the gas station, thankful Rhett had dropped his shield.  “I don’t think so!”  I throw myself at Banks and he drops to the ground.  “You lying piece of shit! You’ve been here spying on us!”
“Mi, I know you’re losing it right now, but we need him alive.” Somehow, my cousin’s voice penetrates through the red haze I’m in. 
A hand touches my shoulder and I turn, still swinging.  Instead of hitting flesh or even a solid shield, my arm seems to get sucked into extra thick jelly. 
“It’s just me.” Rhett’s eyes meet mine and he lets his shield down completely to release my limb.
All of us fall to our knees as Cheryl’s voice explodes in our heads.  “EVERYONE BACK TO BASE!”  Her apology is softer, but we all understand.  That message was meant to carry to every one of us still out in the city.
“Where are they picking you up?”  Ross yanks Banks’ head back by the hair. The doctor’s face is a bloody mess and I don’t feel any regret.
“I have to go.  Please.  Please let me go.” 
Rhett winds up and kicks him in the gut.  I’m about to do the same when a distant explosion makes me pause.
Banks starts to sob.  “It’s… it’s too late…”
Ross lets go of him and we watch as the grown man curls into a ball and gives up.
“Cheryl?”
“Yeah.”
“It doesn’t sound like we have until morning.” 
“Can you make it back?”
I shake my head then remember she can’t see me.  “No.”
Three more explosions go off, each one closer than the last.  I climb up onto the roof of the store.  Rhett and Ross settle beside me on the edge.
“Looks like they had a plan in case their shit show didn’t go well.  Cheryl, they’re blowing it up from under ground. “
A few scattered people climb up to see how they’re going to die.  Strangely, the only one who seems to be panicking is Doctor Banks.  Or, maybe not strangely.  Somewhere in the back of our minds, we all knew this day was a possibility.
In the news tomorrow, people will have their coffee and toast and talk to each other how horrible that something like this could happen. And I have no idea what they’ll blame it on… a terrorist attack? A sink hole? One hell of a gas leak explosion?  Who knows.   Well, maybe Banks knows.
“Hey, cuz?”
“Yeah.  I’m still here.”
“I’m glad we both made it until now.”
“Me too.  Mi?”
“Yeah.”
“Love you.”
I can hear her voice tighten and I have to clear my throat before I tell her I feel the same.
The underground charges are going off in precise lines and the city is dropping in an eerily beautiful wave.
One of the blasts shakes the gas station and I close my eyes.  The next set will be ours.  Ross and Rhett put their arms around me.  The rumble starts far to our left and I take one last deep breath. I think of Bank beneath us soaked in blood and tears and I smile.
“Goodbye, Cheryl.”

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Weird Dreams: episode four

Today's weird dream is brought to you by a granola bar eaten at three in the morning...

I'm at a restaurant with my family. Me, Kyle, the kids, some of our cousins and their kids.  Everyone is eating and talking. I smile.  I love being with my family.  In a dark corner, I notice a man staring at us.  I can't tell what he looks like because he's got a bunny hug on and a baseball hat.  Everything he's wearing is black.  He takes a sip of coffee and his eyes meet mine.  Somehow, I know I'm supposed to go to him.  

I get up, telling Kyle the man is here and I'll be right back.  He tells me to be careful.  No one can see what's happening.  I can tell he's watching me as I get up and head to the bathroom.  A few minutes later, I hear the door open and someone walks in.  

"I'm in here."

The man's footsteps enter the stall next to mine.  "You're sure your family is ready for this?"

I nod even though he can't see me.  "We are."

He hands me a small package from under the divider.  "You have five hours."

I hear him leave and take my time exiting the bathroom with the cell phone sized package tucked in my back pocket.

Kyle exhales the breath he's been holding as I sit back down beside him.  Everyone is looking at me.

"We have five hours."  I pull the package out, taking the elastic off that's holding instructions against it. 

Welcome
The rules are simple.
1. take the packages to HIM by any means necessary
2. at least two of your team members must be at the final point

The restaurant doors burst open and a group of military guys come running up to us.

"They're coming! We have to go now! Brumby and Stinker will take the kids to a secure location!"  

Everyone gives the kids a quick hug.  

Emery kisses me on the cheek.  "You can do this, mom."

I take a deep breath and watch as the kids grin and run to the tank they get to ride in.  "Let's do it."

We run and get on our bicycles, pedaling down a back alley as fast as we can.  I feel the package slipping out of my pocket and decided to hang it around my neck by the chord it's attached to.  We make it to a tall skyscraper made completely of  windows.

Cheryl, Courtney, and Dwayne Johnson watch as Kyle and I run into the building.

"We'll meet you in the field!" yells Cheryl before pedaling away, the three of them accompanied by three guards.

"Where is it?"  Kyle stops me from getting on the elevator.

"Tenth floor."  

"They'll expect the elevator."

"Yeah."  I head to the stairway and we start to head up.

"Here! We can travel through the vents.  Bucky, give us a boost."

Kyle follows me in and passes me the gun Bucky has given him before pulling the other man up to join us.

The trip through the vents is exhausting and long.  Maybe this was a bad idea.  Maybe we won't have enough time.  In my mind, I've been counting the turns and floors.

"Here.  This is where we need to get out."

We drop into an office and quickly hide behind a large desk.  

A man with green scales for skin pauses and peeks in.

"They beat us here."  Bucky makes sure his safety is off and I do the same.  

Kyle attaches the silencer to his weapon.  "You know what sucks? They blend in.  We don't."

"I have to get to the back office."  I point in the direction I need to go.  The lights go out and I slip on my night vision goggles.  "Thanks god for Sparky."

Kyle grins.  "Let's go."

We manage to slip past a couple of office workers without being detected.  Bucky swings open the back office door .  His gun goes off twice and two bodies drop to the ground.  I kick open a closet door and shoot the manager who was hiding in it.

"It's in here."  I grab the box with the symbol on it that matches the package around my neck.

"Everybody freeze!"  

I see Bucky swing his gun around to take down the threat, but not quickly enough.  The building guard's gun goes off and Bucky falls to the ground.  Kyle grabs a chair and smashes the window open.

"Go, Mi!"  He shoots one guard and drops as he gets hit in the leg.  With a grunt, he throws himself at the men in the doorway.

"Kyle!"

"Go! Finish this!"  He takes another round in the chest and the last thing I see as I launch myself out of the tenth story window is his body falling to the ground.

I pull my parachute chord, knowing it's not going to do much to slow me down at this height.

"Hang on!"  Sparky groans as he attempts to catch me and I smash him into the asphalt.  "Bucky and Kyle?"

I shake my head and swallow hard.  "Gone."

"Come on."  He squeezes my arm.  "We have to keep going."  He stuffs the box in the big pocket on his pant leg and we take off running.

"We have to get to the field."  I duck into a back alley to get out of view.  Sparky peeks around the corner to make sure we aren't being followed.

"Let's go."  He leads to way until we're laying behind some bushes at the edge of the field.

"Shit."  Cheryl, Courtney, and Dwayne are tied to posts, surrounded by twenty plus enemy soldiers.  All I can think about is shooting each and everyone of them in their scaly green faces.

"Where do we find the package?"

I look through my scope.  "There.  They have it sitting by our team."

"Bastards.  Do they really think we're just going to stroll in there?"

We glance at each other and grin.  Making sure all of our weapons are loaded and ready, we stand and start shooting.

Chaos ensues as the enemy scrambles to recoup from our surprise.  Cheryl manages to get loose and tackles a panicked guard, stealing his weapon and shooting him before joining in the massacre.  Sparky reaches the package and stuffs it into his other leg pocket.  He quickly cuts down Courtney and Dwayne and gives them weapons.  

"Come on!"  I lead the way into the woods, glancing at my watch.  "We have an hour!"

I try not to feel excited.  We have all three packages.  Now, we just have to get it to HIM. 

Cheryl takes a shot to side and falls.  Dwayne covers her and takes three to the back.  He pushes his weapon toward Courtney.  "Go."

Courtney, Sparky, and I dash through the woods breaking out into the open of a parking lot.  We can hear the others behind us.  A quick scan confirms we aren't going to be ambushed and we go crashing through the front doors.

HE is waiting for us, his white suit pristine as HE sits behind a table.  HE stands.  

Sparky and I stumble forward, out of breath, holding out the packages for HIM. HE takes them, opens them, and scrutinizes them.  HIS eyes meet mine and he grins.

"Congratulations.  You've done it."

Gordon Ramsay takes the secret ingredients for the best hot chocolate on earth and heads off into the kitchen to make us some.

The kids come running up to us, excited to taste the treat.

We all turn as the lizard men some strolling into restaurant.  

Sheldon and the others pull off their lizard masks.  "Man, these things are bloody hot."

Everyone laughs and I hand him a glass of water.  Kyle gives me a hug, still wiping the paint from the paint balls off of his sleeve.

"I can't believe you jumped out of that building!"  Bucky grins with a shake of his head.

I burst out laughing, remembering it.  "Me neither!"

"That was kickass!"

We all sit as Gordon comes back with the hot chocolate and the only sound is thirsty slurps.  

"What are you going to make next time?"

He shrugs.  "It's a surprise."

"Can you make a cake?" asks Ashtynn.

Gordon shrugs.  "Is that what all of  you want?"

All the kids nod enthusiastically.  

Sparky stretches his arms over his head.  "I'm sorta glad it's the kids' turn next weekend.  I'm wrecked."

The adults all agree and the teams are picked for the following weekend fun of paintaball mob boss chef adventures.