Tami’s Thoughts

Sexy Bad (first chapter) Halloween

Have you given the latest book in the Sexy Bad series a try?

Sexy couple

 

SEXY BAD HALLOWEEN

Alex

I stepped into the costume shop looking for something to wear to a Halloween party. What I got was a chance meeting with my childhood best friend, Victoria Ruben. We haven’t spoken since her mom and my dad had an affair and took her and moved across the country, twelve years ago.

Despite a less-than-stellar shared past, I want to get to know my friend again. Maybe as more than friends. But she’s hesitant.

So I suggest a game with only one rule: Let’s go on ten dates… without sex.

 

Victoria

My life is complicated enough without Alex Darling stepping back into it. So I definitely should not have taken him up on his challenge of ten dates without sex. Because, yeah, the more reacquainted we become, the more I want to get to know him better, a lot better. Like maybe forever better.

Which can’t happen. Because I have a secret, and it involves Alex, and when he finds out, he’ll want nothing to do with me ever again.

Chapter One

ALEX

 

“I’m not usually such a procrastinator,” I say as I burst through the door of the costume shoppe—so the sign hanging from the eaves proclaims—and bustle inside, determined to get this annoying task over with.

The single occupant of the store pauses in the process of doing who knows what to a silver and blue dress with a billowing, floor-length skirt, and glances over her shoulder. “Welcome to Victoria’s Vintage Costumes.”

“Are you Victoria?” I move away from the door, glancing at a grouping of mannequins dressed in suits with frilly cuffs and dresses with skirts as wide as they are long. There are other statues dressed in flapper dresses and some in zoot suits and still others in—are those animals? They look frighteningly real. Although ridiculously large. Like, nightmare-inducing large.

“Technically, yes. But I go by Tori, even though I’m not.”

There might be a political joke in her statement, but I’m too focused on my task to try to work it out, so I say nothing.

“Well, anyway, I take it you have to attend a party tonight?” She climbs down from a stepladder and whips a tape measure out of the pocket in her capris as she strides toward me. Her hair is a rainbow—pink and blue and green and purple, twisted into a braid that drapes over her shoulder and topped with one of those fake flower wreath-like decorations sold at county fairs and German festivals. And here, apparently, as I note a tarnished silver rack perched on a nearby glass case is dripping with them.

She’s wearing a simple white tank top, and there’s a tattoo on her shoulder that disappears down her back. I’ve never really cared one way or the other about tattoos, but I want to get closer to inspect this one. Maybe it’s the smooth, satin-looking skin on her neck.

Or maybe it’s the braless boobs staring me in the face.

Shaking my head, I say, “No. I need a Halloween costume.”

She freezes mid-step and stares at me like I’ve said something insanely ridiculous. “Did you say Halloween?”

“Yes.”

“The holiday that falls on October thirty-first each year?”

I frown. “Yes, that’s the one.”

“The one that’s two months away?”

Yes, this is the Halloween I’m speaking of. Not sure why she needs so much clarification. Last time I checked, that particular holiday hasn’t changed in, well, not in my lifetime at least. And considering we look to be about the same age, I’d say not in hers either.

“That’s two months away,” she repeats, still staring at me like I’ve lost my marbles. “I haven’t even begun to set up my Halloween displays. My costumes left over from last year are still in storage, and the new ones I ordered won’t be here for at least two weeks. It’s still summer, for Christ’s sake.”

My gaze bounces around the shop again. “There are a ton of costumes here.”

“Yes, but they aren’t Halloween costumes.”

Something about this exchange feels a lot like dèjá vu. As if someone snapped their fingers and took me back to my childhood. There was this girl who lived next door to me. Her name was Victoria, and we were polar opposites. I said tomahto, she said tomato, and we’d argue until I got sick of it and let her have her way. She’d never let me have the last word…ever.

“Wait—Victoria Ruben?”

She looks up sharply.

“Vicks?” I give the rainbow hair a cursory glance and then dismiss it. Hair could easily be altered. But eyes…those vivid green eyes had always felt as though they were staring into my soul whenever they looked at me. Considering we lived next door to each other for ten years, that happened a lot.

“Ugh. No one has called me Vicks VapoRub in a decade, at least. Not since middle school.” She narrows her eyes and studies me until the light pops on over her head. Not literally, of course, but her face brightens with recognition after a few moments.

“Alex? Holy cripes, Alex Darling? Well, aren’t you a blast from my past. How the hell are you?” She grasps my bicep and gives it a squeeze, then leaves her hand there while staring at my shirtsleeve. “Wow.”

“Wow what?” I glance down at her hand now roaming my arm and shoulder, almost like she’s giving me a massage. It feels kind of good. Must to her, too, if the state of her nipples is any indication.

“You’ve filled out. I mean, you’re still on the skinny side and, not surprisingly, tall as all get out, but damn.”

While Victoria, er, Tori’s childhood nickname had been based around her name, mine were all about my stature. Bean Pole, Daddy Long Legs, Gandalf, Q-Tip. I’ve heard them all—and I’m pretty sure Victoria came up with every single one of them.

“So have you,” I retort, and then snap my mouth shut because where the hell did my filter run off to?

She glances down at her perky nips and chuckles. “Yeah, they tend to do that when I rub buff guys’ arms.”

Unlike me, Vicks never had a filter. I clear my throat and avert my gaze like the polite guy my mother raised me to be. “So, you’ve moved back to Chicago?”

“Yep. Your mom may have run mine off, but she can’t keep me away.”

“She didn’t run her off,” I protest, but it’s weak. Because we both know what happened that summer after eighth grade.

“Well, technically, your mom caught my mom and your dad fooling around in a department store dressing room.”

Yeah, I remember. I was with my mother that day. We were at Macy’s, shopping for shorts because I’d grown another few inches since the summer before. My dad was supposed to be at work, and who the hell knew what Vicks’s mom should have been doing. Certainly not bending over and begging my dad to give it to her from behind while in a public place. Or any place, really.

“And after she went home and stewed on it for a few hours, your mom came over to my house and threatened mine with a cleaver. It was the first time I’d ever seen a cleaver. After your mom calmly walked back out the door, I had to ask mine what it was.”

I grimace. “You guys moved out the next day.”

“Actually, we went to a hotel while my mom regrouped and figured out what the hell to do.”

“Which turned out to be stealing my dad and moving to Washington.”

“I wouldn’t say it was stealing, per se. He went quite willingly.”

Yeah, I remember that part, too. My mom was a wreck. I’d had to push aside my grieving over losing my father—which was okay because it wasn’t really much of a loss anyway—to help her figure out how to get along as a single parent.

“So.” I clear my throat. “How is my dad anyway?” I haven’t talked to him since the day he chose her mom over mine. Her kids over me.

Vicks lifts one shoulder. “No idea. Haven’t seen him in, I don’t know, ten years or so. I think he moved to LA. Haven’t heard from him since.”

“Oh man, that sucks. I’m sorry.” Sure, her mother shouldn’t have hooked up with my dad, a married man at the time, but neither did she deserve for him to treat her the same way he treated me.

She flaps her hand. “Trust me, he wasn’t worth keeping.”

I agree with her, despite the nights I laid awake, listening to my mother cry herself to sleep for months after he left. Or maybe I agree because of that.

After a moment, I ask, “So, how is the rest of your family? Your mom, your brother? Did they move back too?”

“Two brothers now.” She lifts her pointer and middle finger. “And no, Mom and Jace didn’t come back to Chicago. Mom’s still in Washington, and I’m not really sure where Jace is at the moment.”

“Your mom had another kid?” I know I shouldn’t judge—glass houses and all—but that means unless Ms. Ruben, or whatever her last name is now, got back together with either Vicks’s or Jaces’s dad, she now has three kids from three different men.

Vicks toys with her tape measure, tugging the strip out of the small plastic holder and then letting it snap back in, over and over, until my arm lifts of its own accord, ready to grab the thing from her hand.

Finally, she stops and stuffs the contraption into her pocket. “Yeah, well, she’s not very good at using protection when she’s mad, and apparently she’s a big fan of angry sex.”

Not something I ever needed to know about her mother. Or anyone’s mother, really.

“She’s way better at producing children than she is at taking care of them,” she adds. “Hence the reason I’m back here.”

Poor Vicks. I can’t imagine what her life has been like since they left Chicago twelve years ago. I mean, sure, my mom had to go back into the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent for my entire life up to that point, had to fight for every pitiful penny my dad coughed up for child support, but not once did I ever feel like she did not love me, did not want me, did not have every intention of taking care of me to the best of her ability.

And if Vicks is still anything like she was when we hung out in elementary and middle school, I cannot tell her I feel sorry for her. Even at a young age, she had pride by the bucket full.

She shakes her head and chuckles humorlessly as she steps behind the glass-encased counter positioned to the left of the entrance. “I think we could both use a stiff one, huh?”

“A stiff one?” I glance over my shoulder at the glowing ‘open’ sign. “Now?”

She snorts out a laugh as she reaches underneath an ancient cash register, pulling out a bottle of golden liquid with a cork stopper and no label.

“What is that?” I ask, giving her offering a dubious look.

“Honey mead. I make my own. It’s quite good, actually.”

“No thanks. I don’t usually drink before five.” And I’ve never had homemade booze in my life. Even though I’m salivating, despite my words. Not sure if that’s because I want to forget the stuff Vicks just told me or if it’s to help process it.

She pulls two lowball glasses from under the counter and pours a hefty amount into both of them. Either she can read minds or she ignored me when I declined her offer. She pushes one of them across the glass surface toward my hand, and I grab it before it tips over the edge and races to shatter on the floor.

“If I didn’t know your mother, I’d find that statement very strange. I still do, but at least I understand where it comes from.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Your mom is pretty damn neurotic. So it’s not surprising some of her issues rubbed off on you.”

Hey, that’s my mom she’s talking about. And me, for that matter. “Your mom isn’t exactly a saint, either.”

“Never said she was. In fact, her very obvious lack of sainthood is probably what lured your dad away from your mom. I bet your mom was just as high-strung in bed as she was in the rest of her life.”

An unbidden image of my parents having sex pops into my head. Ugh. I lift the glass of mead to my lips and take a shaky sip. It’s spicy and sweet, like honey laced with jalapeño, and it helps push the idea of my mother having sex—any sex, high-strung or not—out of my head.

“This feels like it’s turning into a mother bashing contest,” I say, taking another drink. This one goes down far more smoothly. Which is saying something, because that first swallow wasn’t bad at all.

“Okay, let’s stop,” Vicks says easily enough. She lifts her glass. “How is it?”

“Surprisingly good.”

She gives her drink a dubious look. “Surprisingly?”

“Nothing personal,” I assure her while continuing to sip away. “It’s just I’ve never had honey mead before, and certainly not homemade. But I like it.”

“Oh. Okay.” She touches the rim of her glass to mine. “To rekindled friendships.”

I like that. As much as she teased me and I harassed her when we were kids, Vicks had been the calming influence in my life before my dad and her mom managed to turn our worlds upside down with their stupid affair. I haven’t felt that same sense of relaxation since. I didn’t even realize I missed it until this moment.

“It’s so good to have you back, Vicks.”

She lifts her glass, touches the rim to mine. “It’s surprisingly good to be here, although I returned to Chicago eight years ago.”

“What the hell took you so long to come back into my life?” I ask, my filter giving out again. Or maybe it’s the mead, because my glass is empty.

“Can I have a refill?”

Keep reading! 

While each book in the Sexy Bad Series contains a stand-alone happily ever after, this is the suggested reading order:

 

Sexy Bad Neighbor

Sexy Bad Daddy

Sexy Bad Boss

Sexy Bad Valentine

Sexy Bad Escort

Sexy Bad Halloween

 

Featured post

The Ups and Downs of the Holidays (and Life)

Sometimes I scroll through my own Facebook page, as I’m sure many (Someone? Anyone? Bueller?) of you do. And each time, I think, holy shit, my friends must think that therapy I’ve been going to on the reg for heading toward three years now isn’t helping much.

Because my Facebook page sure does seem… quirky. Here’s a sampling:

Funny post.

Funny post.

Post with a bunch of pics from some family thing.

Funny post.

Depressed post.

Funny post.

Depressed post.

Post with family pics.

Funny post.

Funny post.

Etc.

Seriously, *I* sometimes wonder if I’m possibly bipolar when I look at my own page. And I am not in any way, shape, or form minimizing individuals who truly live this disorder. Here’s one definition of bipolar struggles:

“Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.”

(taken from the National Institute of Mental Health website: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder/index.shtml)

For the record, this is a very serious disorder that can be managed with proper care and a hell of a lot of work on the diagnosed individual’s part. It is something people struggle with on a daily, sometimes minutely basis, and it is not to be taken lightly.

While my blog post will contain attempts at humor (because that’s how I deal with life’s challenges), that is exactly what it is: my attempts at dealing with the challenges that have turned my life upside down and sideways and backwards and perhaps you (hopefully) understand why I jest??

Okay, so let’s get back to my train of thought before I lose it….

Here’s what happened. I dragged those bins up from the basement. You know the ones. The ones that contain The Christmas Stuff.

Yeah, those bins.

Ornaments. Decorations. Stockings.

Memories.

Memories.

Memories.

Hang on – I need to go sob and then blow my nose; I’ll be back in a minute….

Okay, anyway, for those who have recently discovered the Tami Lund Show, back in 2016, my life, which was pretty steady and unencumbered by any real craziness, took a turn. Like a sharp, jarring, unexpected fork in the road turn.

Have you ever experienced that while in the car? Like, you’re driving along, daydreaming, doing all the right things (using your blinker, NOT succumbing to that ‘zipper’ bullshit, not being an asshole and cutting people off…), and all of a sudden the one-lane road you’re on just, well, ends.

Literally.

And you slam on the brakes and stare at the DEAD END sign and you think, What the fuck do I do now?

Yeah, that’s it. That’s what happened to my life on March 15, 2016.

That’s when my son died.

Just to put this blog post in perspective.

 

Anyway…

 

So back to the whole up and down issue. That’s exactly what happens when you experience grief. When someone close to you dies.

God forbid, your child. (If I could eliminate this club all together, that would be my greatest wish in the world. Fuck world peace; just don’t let any children die. And yeah, I get that this will also literally create world peace.)

One of your parents.

Your spouse.

Your sibling.

Your best friend. (Nope, sorry, you can’t go first…)

Anyone to whom you have an emotional attachment.

Anyone. It really doesn’t matter if they are blood related or a pet; if you are emotionally vested in that individual’s life, you will experience grief if they die before you do. That’s how it works.

And grief SUCKS.

Sorry, let me make that more clear:

S.U.C.K.S.

Grief. Sucks.

It’s the worst part of being human.

Not joking here.

It’s taking that DEAD END and turning it into a human being. (Or your pet, because I get it, peeps, I do. The dog who had been part of our family since almost exactly one year prior to my son’s birth went over that Rainbow Bridge only a few months before my son left us for that next world. I. Get. It.)

And here’s the part of grief they don’t tell you about (actually, they do, but when you’re in the throes, you can’t even imagine…): You carry on.

Life doesn’t give a flying fuck what you’re going through.

Blizzard. Hurricane. Tornado. Wild Fire.

Unexpected death.

Life carries on.

And if you’re part of it, you will too.

It sucks SO HARD in the beginning. I mean, you will want to curl up in a ball and just cry away the pain.

Or, more accurately, BRING THEM BACK.

But that’s not how life works.

Yes, yes, life is an asshole – let’s make that perfectly clear right now.

Life doesn’t give a shit.

You are the only one who can give a big enough shit to actually carry on through all the horrible, terrible, absolutely outrageous pain and heartache that you will be forced to endure.

Bonus that it wasn’t even of your own doing. It just happened to you. Not your choice.

And yet, now you get to figure out how to…deal.

So how does that happen, exactly?

Well, first off, there is no exact recipe.

Yeah, for you control freaks (like myself), get ready. This is a roller coaster that is not only about to derail, but it’s going to shoot you into the fucking stars and just when you think it’s all peaceful and shit, it’s going to yank you back to reality. And you’re going to blink rapidly and think, WTF? And then it’s going to jerk you around some more and twirl you seemingly endlessly for a few seconds (but they’ll feel like years, maybe even a lifetime or two or ten), and then drop you back into reality again.

And spin, repeat, continue…

Yeah. That’s grief. Over and over. Endless happy-sad-happy-sad-happy-sad-fuckimfeelingsadwhyisittakingsodamnlongtomoveon-happy-shithereitcomesagainhopefullyitsquickthistime-happy-happy-happy-happy-goddamnitreallywhyisthisstillsodamnhard-happy-happy-ifuckinghatelife-happy-happy-happy….

Will this ever end????

I really do hate to be the bearer, but, yeah, it’s what you think.

Nope.

It doesn’t end.

I mean, I don’t know for certain because it’s only been not-quite-three-years, but there are (unfortunately) plenty ahead of me who can attest: yeah, it doesn’t end.

Does it get easier?

Yes.

Not that ‘easier’ isn’t without its own trauma.

I remember, at some point in the last year, sitting on my therapist’s couch, sobbing almost hysterically, while I said, “I’m afraid I’m forgetting him.”

Why did I say such a thing? Because life had been going along all nice and peaceful and normal for an extended period of time, and I thought, hey, I’m getting the hang of this, this new life with my new three-person family, and like fireworks set off next to a dog, it hit me why I even had such thoughts and why they were so significant, and then I cried and thought, thank God I have a therapy appointment soon.

And you know what she said?

“Yep, this sucks. Grief sucks. Every single step sucks. But no matter what happens, how you figure out how to deal, you will never forget him.”

It’s just the “good” eventually outweighs the “bad.”

But the “bad” is still there. It’s a fucking smog, hovering over every single little thing you do. You can’t wipe it away. You can’t wish it away. It sucks, and it’s so. Hard. To. Deal. With.

Luckily, as time grinds along, the “bad” moments happen less frequently, or at least, they are less impactful, most of the time. They almost become part of the landscape.

Yep. It’s time to celebrate [insert life event here], and yeah, it’s without my loved one who died, but it’s still important and wonderful and each year that passes, I’m able to enjoy more, weep less.

That’s what’s happening to me. Generally.

Unfortunately, the big things, the important milestones, the traditions, still hurt. Time won’t stop that. Sometimes it’s still this excruciating pain, heart sliced wide open hurt.

Christmas. Yeah, that one still aches almost as badly as that first year, when I was still in denial, still expecting him to come walking down the hall at any moment.

Still wanted to believe he was alive.

And that’s what happened this weekend. Opening the Christmas bins. Seeing the stocking. The placemat he made for Santa, on which we were supposed to place the plate of cookies. The homemade ornaments and decorations. The memories that hit like an actual, physical force when I popped off that rubber top, for some reason, momentarily forgetting how. Fucking. Hard. This. Is.

Holy shit.

Yeah, life sucks right now. Like, exponentially.

But then this afternoon my husband suggested we go run errands before picking up the daughter from her friend’s house. And we talked about the fact that the lease on my car is up soon and what type we should consider next. And we bought stocking stuffers for the daughter. And he decided what he wanted to make for dinner, suggested one of my favorite wines to go with it. So we stopped at the grocery store.

And when we got home, I walked the dog. The husband will make dinner soon. We’ll harass our daughter about homework and remind her to take a shower. We’ll sit around the dining room table and exchange insults and jokes and do those regular, day-to-day things that suddenly seem so much more important than they did three years ago…

And we’ll smile. And laugh. And I’ll think:

I am so grateful for what I have.

Left.

Because I am.

Not that I’ll ever forget what we’re missing. It’s just that I’m figuring out how to balance the two.

A task I’ll continue to work on for the rest of my damn life.

Authors (Should Be) Readers Too

Recently, I’ve seen comments from several well-known and successful authors, stating that they do not have time to read.

This seems odd to me, given that’s what they do for a living: feed books to people to, well, read. Not to mention, isn’t it wise to keep up with the genres one writes? To pay attention to trends? I know this can be (reasonably) done by reading trade articles and chatting with other authors and following the advice of one’s agent or publisher or editor, but still… reading is fun. So it’s win-win: Enjoyable and helpful.

I get the time thing, I really do. I work a fulltime, non-writing-related job, drive a ridiculously, horribly long commute to get there, plus I have a family—specifically an attention-desperate dog (trust me, she gets plenty, it’s just never enough!)—who demand at least a small portion of my time. And let’s not forget the house that never gets clean enough and the laundry that multiplies at a rate that seems to far exceed the number of people actually living in my home.

Oh yeah, and the occasional social obligation (read: hanging out with friends/fam, which is also super important to one’s wellbeing–and provides endless story ideas, BTW). And of course, writing my own damn books for your reading pleasure, when I’m not doing all of the above. I actually long for the day when I am successful enough at this writing gig that I don’t have to have two jobs, thus freeing up time to read more.

As it stands, I don’t have the time to read a ton of books—unless of course I stumble upon a series that sucks me in and doesn’t let me quit until the last word is read (which has happened to me twice recently—more on those series later)–and then, well, everything else gets moved to the sidelines for a few days. #sorrynotsorry

But I still do read regularly, usually a couple books a month. Besides the fact that I think it actually helps me grow and improve my own writing, I find reading to be relaxing. On those evenings when my brain is simply too taxed to create fresh new words of my own, reading someone else’s is the perfect way to spend that last half hour or so before I pass out from exhaustion after a far too long day.

In the spirit of believing even authors should read, I thought I’d let you know what I’ve read lately, in case, you know, you’re looking for your next book (or author) to fall in love with…

51RdLutjNJL._SY346_First, there’s Santa’s Son by David S. Scott. I admit, it was a freebie when I grabbed it, but I’d noticed this book when it came out last Christmas and had actually wanted to read it then. Not sure why I didn’t, but that definitely prompted me to download it this time. And I’m glad I did. It was a short read, therefore perfect for waiting while you’re getting new tires or while standing in line at the grocery store or when you really do only have an hour or so to kill. It’s funny, sexy, cute, and despite how short it is, the hero grows and there’s a satisfactory ending, although it’s left open enough that there’s potential for a second book, should Mr. Scott be so inclined. And the book did what it was meant to do: whet my appetite enough that I’ll definitely check out other books by this author. Even if they aren’t free :).

Then there’s Max Monroe. If you haven’t discovered Max Monroe, I strongly encourage you to check them out. They are a writing duo who, until recently, kept their individual identities secret. A few months ago, they “came out” so to speak, and let the world know who the real authors were behind these hilarious romcoms, which means obsessed fans like myself can now read the books they’ve each written individually as well.

B12BrAZ2B7FES._SL250_FMpng_The series that got me hooked on these two authors (and one of the series I mentioned above, which I read obsessively until the last book) is St. Luke’s Docuseries. There’s Dr. Ob, Dr. ER, and Dr. Neuro, in reading order. It’s a hilarious (and yes, sexy!) series, and these two are seriously talented writers, and I devoured these books like the finest (okay, whatever I could get my hands on) chocolate. I even put my own writing on hold because I couldn’t focus on anything other than the characters in these books. They are best if read in order, however, Dr. ER was my favorite, hands down. I loved these romcoms so much that there are several other Max Monroe books now loaded to my iphone.

I’m an equal opportunity reader: I love contemporary and paranormal. I’ll read science fiction, I’ve read and loved a handful of reverse harems; and a good chic lit or women’s fictions makes me feel warm and fuzzy too.

51mHRwlVZ8L._SL500_SX145_With that said, the other series that hooked me to the point of near obsession is the Muse Chronicles by Lisa Kessler. Yes, it’s PNR. It’s about gods and muses and mortals who are bestowed gifts from the gods, but only if they meet (and of course, fall in love with!) their destined muse. There are seven books in the series, and I am currently halfway through the final book. I kinda want to slow down, take my time, because I don’t want it to end. It doesn’t help that so far, this is the best one of the series. To be honest, each book is better than the last. Lucky for me, this author has a bunch of other books published, so when I finally do turn that last page, I will have something fresh and new to jump right back into.

When I’m not working on my own books, that is. Which will happen, rest assured. Because yes, reading is just as important as writing, if that’s the career path you’ve chosen.

~Tami Lund 

ETERNITY: A Vampire Blood Courtesans Romance

Eternity - Blood Courtesans Cover“You’re trying to seduce me.” And it’s working.

“Yes, and it’s annoying that I even have to try.”

I almost laughed. My sexy, mouthy Abigail. Oh, how her mouth had felt, wrapped around my cock, while I lounged against the headboard, one hand finger combing her hair while the other toyed with one of her nipples, until I’d been unable to take a moment more and grabbed her and twisted her onto her back, positioned my body between her legs and…

“You never have to try. That’s the problem.” I made a beeline for the wine she’d placed on the nightstand and poured a hefty amount into one of the glasses. “Would you care for some?”

“Please.” Ignoring the way her gaze raked my body as she murmured the word, I filled the second glass and held it out to her.

We both silently sipped, her appearing calm as a cucumber, while my brain worked feverishly, alternating between trying to force out a goodbye and making my feet move toward the door; and a slideshow in which every moment we’d spent together six months ago was flashed before my inner eye, reminding me of everything I’d given up. And letting me know that if I wanted to open that particular can of worms again, she was here, standing before me, ready and more than willing to accommodate my needs, my lust, my obsession.

Stop!

“Tell me what you’ve been up to,” I said, an effort to shut off the inner turmoil. “Have you met someone?” Why did I ask such a question? I didn’t want to know the answer. Yes would mean there was potentially no future for us; no would mean the same damn thing, except I’d have less ammunition for that side of my brain telling me to run away with my tail between my legs.

She laughed, the sound forced. “I can’t believe you just asked me that. Why do you think I’m here?”

“Because you hate the farm and you want to find a job in the city?” Which, by the way, I needed to convince her not to do. I had connections out west, in San Francisco and Seattle. I could make a few arrangements and ship her off, ensuring her safety and my sanity.

“Oh my God.” She stared at me like she hadn’t really looked at me all night long. “You really don’t get it, do you?”

“What?” I asked, my eyes narrowing, the glass hovering an inch from my lips.

“I’m here for you. I want you.”

She stepped closer, so close I had to move my glass, hold my arm out to my side, so she could sidle up and rub her breasts against my chest. Her nipples puckered, sharp points I wanted to bite before I suckled until she moaned and writhed with pleasure. Clenching my fists and gritting my teeth, I tried to resist touching her, but my self-control had fizzled out with those candles on her birthday cake.

Twenty. She wasn’t even twenty yet. I was twenty-eight when I was turned, eight years older than her, and I’d still felt as though my entire life had been taken from me. At twenty she hadn’t even begun to live hers.

It’s Abigail and Parnell’s story, and it’s a tricky one. He loves her, but he set her free because vampires and humans aren’t meant to be together. But she refuses to listen to his logic, and guess what? Trouble’s about to ensue…

And it’s releasing Tuesday, November 6th! Grab your copy while it’s on pre-order at only 99c:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JCP6DY2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1539518929&sr=8-1&keywords=tami+lund+eternity

iBooks:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/eternity-blood-courtesans/id1439170838?mt=11

BN:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/eternity-tami-lund/1129749069?ean=2940155845423

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/eternity-blood-courtesans

 

Resist_Blood Courtesans_AmazonPS – If you haven’t read RESIST, it’s Abigail’s sister’s story, the book before ETERNITY. Both can be read stand-alone, but it might be fun to read them in order…

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Resist-Vampire-Blood-Courtesans-Romance-ebook/dp/B01M3Z8J5A/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1478351955&sr=8-6&keywords=tami+lund

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/resist-blood-courtesans/id1216942156?mt=11

BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/resist-tami-lund/1126007526?ean=2940154062685&st=PLA&sid=NOK_DRS_NOOK+EBooks_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP75008&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI07LTyp751wIVEKZpCh3jEwi-EAYYAiABEgJTuPD_BwE

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/resist-blood-courtesans

Happy Reading!

 

Not So Sweet Sixteen

Dear Brady,

Happy Birthday. You should be sixteen today. We should be going to the DMV to get your driver’s license. You should be a sophomore in high school. I wonder if we would have figured out a way to give you a car for your birthday?

I wonder if you would still be in band. Would you have gone to homecoming a few weeks ago? Would you still be a straight A student? What would you want to do when you grow up, at this point in your life?

We’ll never know. And I need to stop with the what ifs, because all that does is lead down a rabbit hole of misery, and I’m getting better at avoiding that particular path.

Your sister’s doing well. She’s really quite beautiful, and intelligent, and is gaining confidence, although she’s still reserved, still prefers to hide in the background instead of take center stage. Sometimes I wonder if she’s hiding behind your ghost or if this is really, truly the personality she’d have even if you were still here.

I remember one year ago today, writing you a letter and telling you it doesn’t get any easier. But that’s not really the case anymore. It’s been two and a half years since you left us, and we’ve found our routine as a family of three. We’re making it through life, finding joy despite our loss.

You’re always there, of course, a constant reminder in my heart, but I’ve mostly learned to divert my thoughts when those emotional waves start crashing. It’s only fair, right? Just because you died doesn’t mean I should stop living.

Wow, it sounds so selfish when I actually write it down, instead of chant it like a mantra in my head.

I dreamt about you, about eight six or eight weeks ago. I haven’t told many people because I wasn’t handling it very well. It was such an intense dream, so real that I can still describe the red shirt you were wearing, the crooked smile on your face, your mused blond hair.

You had come back, but it was temporary. Like an extra chance to say goodbye, I guess. I knew what was going on, but you didn’t—you didn’t know that you had died or that you were going to leave us again soon—so you didn’t understand why I kept hugging you and couldn’t stop crying.

Suffice to say, it was the hardest day I’ve had in quite a while. I’m not sure what it was about, the reasoning behind it. Lord knows I have zero desire to relive those few days after your death, even though I often do because, well, sometimes you just can’t help thinking about the point when your life took a sharp turn no one saw coming and frankly, no one ever wanted to happen. There’s a logical order to this thing called life, and you threw it all out of whack, and we’re left here to figure out how to journey down this new path. Without you.

It’s only the second time I’ve dreamt about you since you died. The first was a few months after your funeral, and you were a toddler in that dream. That one felt more like a picture show of memories in my head, whereas this one was, well, real.

Except it wasn’t.

So anyway, your birthday is here, the beginning of what used to be my favorite time of year. Your birthday, followed by Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. I suppose it still is my favorite time of year, but like everything else in my life now, it’s different. Until you died, I loved the idea of creating traditions, anticipating doing the same thing each year, like pumpkin carving together or hunting for the perfect Christmas tree or taking the annual Christmas morning family pic in our pajamas.

Now I struggle, because I don’t want to give up those traditions, but it hurts to do them; the memories of years past are still too potent. We’ve compromised on a fair number of them, mostly by changing the tradition just enough that it’s similar but not the same.

We’ve started exploring different pumpkin patches and apple orchards than the same one we went to year after year when you were babies. We found a new Christmas tree farm two years ago, too, and actually, I think we are going to try another new place this year. The Christmas morning pic has been a group selfie since you’ve been gone. So while I’m still capturing that memory, it’s more relaxed, goofy even. Just different enough to allow me to get through and even find some joy.

Because, like I remind myself on a daily basis, we’re all still living.

Love Always,

Mom

And the Journey Through Grief Continues…

Since March 15, 2016, I’ve inadvertently explored a wide gamut of emotions, the strongest, of course, being sadness. I’ve been so deep, wallowing so desperately in it that I could almost understand what my son was going through, in his head, when the monsters won and convinced him leaving this life was better than living it.

And then I think, I’ve lost my son and my stepfather, my grandparents, a couple uncles. There are parents who have lost multiple children, kids who have lost their own parents—some have lost both of them. And I think, this is so hard, how could I possibly handle any more?

But someone else did. Someone else does, every single day. And eventually, I will too, because that’s the circle of life.

And we handle it.

It’s hard, so, so hard. There are days—still, two and a half years later—when I can get so caught up in my grief that I can’t focus on anything else.

But most days, now, the grief is secondary. It’s still part of who I am; my son still affects everything I do, but it isn’t the driving force anymore.

The first time I realized that, I took a few steps backward in this grieving process. I felt guilty for “moving on” as people tend to say. (Really, it should be phrased “moving forward.” You don’t move on from something like losing a child, but you do, eventually, move forward and start living your life—your new life.)

I struggled with trying to remember and wanting to forget, and determining where my “new” life fit into the whole mess. It was difficult interacting with my daughter, my husband, my family. I wanted to talk about him but it hurt to do so. Because I wanted him to be here, to experience everything we were going through. To still be alive.

(If ever there is a testament to the importance of grief therapy, you’re looking at her, folks.)

I think I’ve been going through this stage for a while now. At least since spring. The anniversary of his death was difficult, of course, but not as much as I anticipated. My husband, daughter, and I banded together, and while there was a cloak of sadness over the day, we managed a fair share of giggles and smiles as well.

Mother’s Day there were no tears. There were a few at the end of the school year, though. Then summer came, and I’ve been coasting, to be honest. I think about him regularly, daily, many times a day, but I haven’t had that gut-wrenching sadness for a while.

And then we’re at today, the first day of eight grade for my daughter. A first for all of us. She wasn’t supposed to be the first; I should have one starting tenth grade as well. But here we are.

I took the day off work, because I have every first day of school since my son started kindergarten. I took the obligatory first-day-of-school photo, because I have every first day of school since my son started kindergarten.

After dropping my daughter at school, I went to visit my son’s grave, a new tradition I started in 2016.

And I didn’t cry. I stood there for a moment, staring at the boulder with his name and date of birth and date of death and the little burst of fireworks carved into its face. And then I lifted my phone and pulled up the pictures I’d taken a short time earlier. His sister, pretending to be wholly focused on her phone because that’s such a running joke with today’s youth. Her attempts not to laugh, the smirks. The one that looks so much like him.

And I didn’t cry.

Because the life we have is pretty darn good, even though it’s without him. We’ve figured out how to move forward. And the guilt for doing that is finally mostly gone. I’m sure it will surface again periodically, and that’s okay. It’s part of the grieving process. It’s what shapes us as human beings.

I thought about pointing out to my daughter that one of her pics looks just like her brother. And then I decided against it. Because today is her day. She’s an eighth grader now. She’s carving her own path. She isn’t in his shadow anymore.

She’s moving forward.

And of course, now that I’m writing all this down, I’m crying over my keyboard. And that’s okay too, because sometimes, the tears need to flow. They’re cleansing, they allow me to look at the world through a fresh, new filter. Sort of like the landscape that’s covered by morning dew.

And so the grieving process continues… And life, it moves on.

As it should.

GDPR Compliance

Hey all! I know you already know, but just in case, you know I don’t do anything crazy with your personal info, right? First of all, the most I’ve collected is your first and last name and email address, and the only way I can do that is if you input those details so you can make a comment on a blog post, or if you want to follow my blog.

To tell you the honest truth, I’m not even sure how to access that much, because truthfully, I don’t care to. All I really want is for you to read my blog posts, check out my website on occasion, and hopefully buy a few of my books. That’s it. Oh, and if you want to chat, by all means, come find me on Facebook or Twitter. That’s where I tend to hang out most frequently.

I also want you to know that I’ve upgraded my site, have also upgraded all the plugins, and added a couple additional ones directly meant to ensure GDPR compliance. I’ve noticed all my plugins (like Mailerlite, my newsletter provider) have been taking all necessary steps to ensure they’re following the rules too.

So just letting you know the limited info I may have is safe with me, ‘kay?

Thanks and happy reading!

I’m No Champion

The other night, I accidentally stumbled across a bunch of unread Facebook messages from twenty-two months ago. From when my son died. Most were well-wishes, prayers, a bunch of I-can’t-image-this-happening-to-my-family. One wrote, “You’re experiencing my worst nightmare right now.” Yeah, honey, mine too. Actually, that’s not even true, because I never, ever, ever thought something like this would happen to my family.

A few called for me to step up and be a champion for the anti-bullying brigade.

But I can’t be their champion. First and foremost, I’m not that person who feels a sense of closure or inner peace or whatever from talking about or even thinking about my son. I envy people like that, who can take their tragedy and turn it into a movement or a way to benefit others.

I can’t do it. It may happen someday; who knows. But that day certainly isn’t today, and it was most definitely not in the days immediately following his death. Hell, I was still waiting for him to walk through the door at that point. And for many months after, to be honest.

In addition, these people wanted me to be their champion because they assumed his suicide was a result of bullying. Fair assumption, given bullying is a huge issue in our schools.

But that wasn’t the case, at least, there wasn’t any evidence to suggest that was the cause. There was (post-suicide) evidence of mental illness, though. Although I’m not sure how I could champion the mental illness awareness movement either, since we were completely oblivious to his inner demons until it was far, far too late. Mental illness is most definitely a silent sickness, especially among children and teens, who don’t remotely understand what is going on in their heads and have a hard time talking to adults at all, let alone about these demons that aren’t supposed to be there. And if adults sometimes can’t fight those demons, how the hell does a thirteen year old?

About the only thing I think I might be able to champion—if I had to champion something—is the support network for survivors. The ones left behind when someone dies unexpectedly. But I’m not even sure I could do that very well. Even though I’ve been through it, all I know how to do is say “I’m sorry” and offer hugs and cry with other survivors.

All I can tell you is not to hope and wait for your life to go back to normal, because it won’t. That normal died with your loved one. And like the one you lost, it won’t come back. It can’t, because that normal, that life you had, existed because your loved one was in it. Your best bet is to actively work toward figuring out a new normal and embracing it.

In those first few months after my son’s death, we deliberately did things, chose activities, even dined at restaurants that were different from what we used to do when he was alive. Because every time we did something that was similar to our previous lives, it tore me up inside, reopened those wounds that hadn’t even truly begun to heal. Each moment of my day that followed in a footstep I’d made when my son was alive was a painful, stark reminder of what I’d lost. And when what we did was different, I was able to forget, or at least put it out of my mind. For a little while, anyway.

My other piece of advice: Try like hell not to feel guilty when you realize you’re actually smiling and enjoying life. Although rest assured, those smiles come with a price. At some point your lips will waver and something will trigger a memory or a reminder, and it will hit you that you’re having fun without that loved one and gee, it would be so much better if they were here, enjoying life with the rest of us. You might even let your mind wander down that terrible, terrible path; no, not “what if” but the other one … What Would Life Be Like If My Loved One Were Still Here.

Yeah, that one. It’s a terrible road to travel; I recommend trying like hell to avoid it, even though I know damn well you won’t be able to. It’s okay, just make sure you have tissues nearby. My advice in this situation is to seek out a distraction. Anything, but preferably something funny. Because no good comes of wishing for what cannot ever, ever be.

Trust me.

But here’s the thing: You’re still alive. You’re hurting, grieving, wishing for what you can’t ever get back (I know, despite my advice not to think about it, you will), but you’re still living too. And it’s inevitable that somewhere along the line, somehow, you’re gonna enjoy some aspect of that life. And then you’re going to enjoy a little bit more, and more, and more. And one day, you’re going to think, hey, I’ve gone X number of days without crying. And then you’ll cry, because you feel guilty, because damn it, why should you have fun when your loved one is gone, gone, gone?

You should have fun because you’re still alive, and life is supposed to be fun. It’s also short, as losing a loved one has taught us, so why not carve out whatever enjoyment you can?

Go ahead. You deserve it.

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