Monday, June 27, 2016

Thank you for your help!

Welcome everyone to Mary's Garden Blog. Everyone knows what to do now, right? Yes, fill your plate with goodies and pour yourself your favorite beverage and find a seat and relax. For the past few weeks I have been doing an interactive story written post to post. Never Forgotten. During this I have asked for feedback to help guide me through the first part of the story. I believe I am off to a great start thanks to your help! The last post ended with this....

Helen drew in a breath. She remembered all too clearly what happened next.

“I pulled the door open with such hope. For several moments I didn’t understand what I was seeing, actually it was a long time before I understood. By this time it was ten at night, and yet the two men stood there with sun glasses on. All I could think of was Men in Black.”

The questions I asked last were:
Here is the Interactive part. Here's where you tell me which way to go.

After listening to everything about what happened that night, what happens?
1. Helen decides she can't allow Spencer to investigate.

2. Spencer decides he really can't follow up.

3. James and Helen hire Spencer to find Carla.

How will it go? Anyone have a guess?

The last suggestion was... "The logical choice would be to hire Spencer. But it could be a fun twist if they don't." Well you'll have to wait and see. I will post updates about the progress and maybe give you a brief teaser from time to time.

To read the first part of Never forgotten check here...
Buy links and official blurb TBA sometime in the future.

Summer Reading Contest
June 27, 2016, through August 31, 2016
Details on the Contest page.
Winner will win a Read & Grow Mug 
(outside the US $10 eGift card from Barnes and Noble)

Monday, June 20, 2016

Interactive Story: Never Forgotten: Chapter Two continued

Welcome back, I really hope you're enjoying the story. Please, remember this is an Interactive story. As soon as you fill up your plates with goodies and pour yourself a refreshing beverage and you've found a spot to relax in the garden, we'll start.

If you are just joining us, you can read the first post of the interactive story here... Then just scroll up from there. Remember this is a rough draft, and you are asked to answer the question at the end in a comment. Let's get started.

Helen closed her eyes and let herself travel back to that awful day. It had started out normal, and even after Johnny had called about Carla she hadn’t been worried. How naïve of her. Carla would have never left Johnny alone without calling her mother or leaving a note for her brother.

Finally she opened her eyes and regarded her visitor and then her son. When her children were babies, she’d dreamt of a wonderful life for them. Carla meeting a wonderful man, even maybe one like Spencer. But then her husband had left, just vanished. He had left for work and never come home. Times were hard after that, but they’d been happy. If poor.

She stood and walked to the sliding glass door, pulled it open to let the breeze carry in the salt and smell of the ocean.

“Do you think we could relive this part of my life out on the deck?” She didn’t turn to see if they followed. “I’d just as soon not take the darkness into my home. I have to live with it every day here…” She placed a hand over her heart.

When the two men had settled she let herself drift again to that day, she stared at the waves crashing against the rocks, but what she saw was Johnny standing at the window next to the door. Watching and waiting for her to come home.

“Sometimes I wonder what kind of mother doesn’t have some kind of warning when their child is in trouble.”


“Shush James. Please don’t interrupt or I’ll never get it out. I’ve spent too many years keeping it in and terrified that if I slip Carla or you will pay for my mistake.”

She waited and when the other two didn’t reply to her statement she let herself return to the day she pulled into the driveway, her son ripping the door open and ran to meet her. Terror written clearly across his features.

“I had no flash of intuition that my life was about to be tore from me again. When the kids’ father walked out, I thought life could never get worse. I was wrong.”

She dashed the moisture from her eyes impatiently. She took a deep breath and told herself to just relay the story as if she were telling something that happened to someone else. Someone like Francine, Johnny, and Carla Morgan.

“Johnny was at the car before I had time to climb out. I grabbed my purse and took a hold of his hand. The entire time he kept repeating that Carla was gone. He was positive some kids at school had done harm to his sister.”

Helen had finally calmed him down enough to find out what he was talking about. She was certain that elementary boys could not make her daughter disappear. She searched the house and came to the same conclusion Johnny had, her daughter had not been home since she’d left for school that morning.

“When I’d finally convinced Johnny the bullies at school did not have anything to do with his sister, I’d decided I needed to call the police. I had no clue how long a child had to be missing before you could report them gone.” She shifted in her chair. What she wanted to do was pace. “I didn’t care, Carla was ten. The weather had turned to rain and it was dark. I had had only a vague idea of the time when Johnny had seen her last. It had to have been around four in the afternoon.”

Again, guilt washed over her, no premonition had warned her, why? She’s already taught her children to follow their gut feelings, if something felt off, then it was. But why wasn’t she warned by some internal pain, or something?

“Mom, it’s not your fault.” James stood. “Why don’t I get you a glass of water, Spencer do you want something?”

“Dear, I really…”

“Water would be good,” Spencer said.

She watched James go to the kitchen through the sliding glass door, and then turned her attention to Spencer.

“Why do you need to know all of this? It’s just going to harm my children. I may not know where my daughter may be, and I want to see her again. My heart aches for her. But if finding her will bring her danger, I’d rather leave things the way they are.”

“Ma’am, may I call you Helen?”

“Yes. I actually miss being called Francine or Fran. Even after all these years, for a spilt second when someone calls me Helen I don’t realize they’re talking to me.”

“I can only imagine.” He scooted his chair toward her a little as if he may tell her a secret. “Helen, I promise you I will not bring any harm to your family. The more information I have from you, the less I need to find out on my own. That way my snooping will not send up any red flags to anyone watching. Does that make sense?”

She thought for a moment. James handed her a bottle of water, then gave one to Spencer. He sat and opened his own. He fidgeted in his seat, but he didn’t interrupt. She studied his face and realized he wasn’t as immune to the consequences as she thought. He loved his sister and wanted her home.

Safe. He understood the circumstances.

She turned her attention to Spencer again. “What you’re saying is, the more initial information you have from me, the less likely the people watching me will see that you’re investigating me.”

“Exactly. I don’t care how powerful these people are, unless they’re the NSA, they can’t monitor every IP address in the nation. The more I can trace, with your help, on the Net the better.”

“I’m beginning to understand that you’re not going to be out in public until absolutely necessary. Making it less likely to be caught.”

For the first time since James told her his idea, she felt hope. Hope she may see her daughter again.

“I can only tell you what happen that night to the two of us, not to Carla. If we had to change our names, I’m sure she did also. How will you find her if you do not know her name?”

“Let me worry about that, you need to tell me everything you know. Descriptions of these men and or women, the cars, everything you remember of the events.”

“As I said, I’d decided to call the police to report what had happened.” She glanced at James, he gave her an encouraging nod. “As I picked up the phone someone pounded on the door. I had hoped it was someone returning my daughter.”

Helen drew in a breath. She remembered all too clearly what happened next.

“I pulled the door open with such hope. For several moments I didn’t understand what I was seeing, actually it was a long time before I understood. By this time it was ten at night, and yet the two men stood there with sun glasses on. All I could think of was Men in Black.”

Here is the Interactive part. Here's where you tell me which way to go.

After listening to everything about what happened that night, what happens?
1. Helen decides she can't allow Spencer to investigate.

2. Spencer decides he really can't follow up.

3. James and Helen hire Spencer to find Carla.
 Voting is closed. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Interactive Story - Never Forgotten, Chapter Two

Welcome back, I really hope you're enjoying the story. I would welcome any feedback, even if you do not answer the question. As soon as you fill up your plates with goodies and pour yourself a refreshing beverage and you've found a spot to relax in the garden, we'll start.

If you are just joining us, you can read the first post of the interactive story here... Then just scroll up from there. Remember this is a rough draft, and you are asked to answer the question at the end in a comment. Let's get started.

Chapter Two

Helen looked at the clock again, two minutes, a long two minutes had passed. Where was James? She knew he’d gone to meet that private investigator. She’d told him not to, one wrong step and her daughter would be gone. No chance of ever seeing her again.

Her life was so frustrating and confusing. She’d been a single mom working three jobs to keep food on the table one day. Then almost the very next day she and her son had been whisked away to a new life, literally, as Helen Dunlop and James Dunlop.

She’d been enrolled in San Diego State University majoring in Business Administration. All expenses paid, and their living expenses also. Her son enrolled in the best after school day care when she had night classes. It was a dream come true.

And the only thing it cost her, her daughter.

There wasn’t a day that passed that she didn’t wonder if she was alive. She no longer let herself think about what she might be going through. And she knew James felt the same way, he’d been so young and confused at the events. As an adult he’d made it his mission to find his sister.

To hell with the consequences.

She stood when she heard the front door only a moment before James stepped through the arch, a brawny man ducked under to follow. His head barely missing the light fixture.

“Mom, this is Spencer Graham.” James gestured toward the visitor.

A large hand reached toward her, Helen was sure he’d break all the bones in her hand. She tentatively put her palm in his, he gave it a gentle pump and then stepped away.

“Have a seat, would you like some tea or coffee?”

God she was babbling, but his size intimidated her and she kept thinking how his looking into Carla’s disappearance wouldn’t go unnoticed. Then they were all doomed.

He sat on her small kitchen chair and for a moment she worried it was going to crash to the floor. Somehow it didn’t even creak.

“No thank you, I’m fine.” He gestured to her, then to James. “Please both of you have seat and tell me exactly what happened the day Carla disappeared.”

“James, you told him her name?” She swallowed and walked to the window to look out over the view of the beach, another benefit of her changed circumstances.

She’d give it all away in a heartbeat to see her baby again.

James laid a hand on her arm, she covered it with her own. He urged her toward the table. Reluctantly she let him, he pulled out a chair for her. She settled her clasped hands on her lap. She’d listen and if she didn’t agree she’d talk to James.

“Ma’am, I know this is hard. But do you really want to live without seeing your daughter again?”

“No, of course not. I pray every night we’ll find her. But the only way we can hope to do that is by accident. A wonderful coincidence. If you start searching…” She looked up from her clasped hands, her plan to listen had flown out the window. “You aren’t exactly nondescript.”

He barked out a laugh, and she swore the windows shook. “That is true. However, sometimes that’s a good thing. If a political figure needs to be investigated, if he doesn’t need a new body guard he most likely needs a cable repair or plumbing professional. You’d be surprised at the contacts I have to make sure he or she needs help in some way.”

She wasn’t sure about that, they’d still notice him. For a moment she considered if she called a plumber and he showed up, would she think he was not exactly who he said he was? No, he was right she wouldn’t.

She sighed. “I’m listening.”

“James has gone over what he remembers of that day. And he’s told me where you lived. He can’t remember the address, I’ll need that….”

“No, absolutely not, if you go snooping around.” She turned her attention to her son. “James you know they’re watching, they’ll hurt Carla or you. They promised if I ever tried to find her she’d be hurt and I’d be sent proof.”

James again laid a calming hand on her arm. “Mom, please. Spencer won’t walk up to the door and knock.”

Spencer held up his hand. “I do most of my research on line. I most likely will never visit Russell County. But I’m hoping by the address to find out how the sale was handled, the company that bought it. I have to find a trail to follow.”

“I’m listening,” she repeated.

“Please go over what you remember.” He pulled out a pen and poised it above a pad for notes.

Helen closed her eyes and let herself travel back to that awful day.

Next post find here...

And here comes the interactive part. Please answer the question.
When Johnny couldn't find Carla in the house that day.
1. Did he call his mother at work?

2. Did he huddle in his room scared until his mother came home?

3. Did the people responsible for Carla's disappearance arrive at the home before his mother came home?

Thank you!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Interactive Story - Never Forgotten, Chapter One Continued

Welcome back, before we get started, you know the drill! Yup, fill up your plates with goodies and pour yourself a refreshing beverage and find a spot to relax in the garden.

If you are just joining us, you can read the first post of the interactive story here... Then just scroll up from there. Remember this is a rough draft, and you are asked to answer the question at the end in a comment. Let's get started.

Here is the last from the last post:
Georgia picked up the manila folder from her desk. “Can you tell me what’s not in this file?”

Sarah’s grin faded, her chest expanded as she drew in a breath and held. She let it out gustily after a moment. She tucked her chin in and stared at her shoes. Georgia was pretty sure the girl wasn’t seeing her shoes.


“As I said, Sarah, you don’t have to tell me anything.”

The girl lifted her head just enough to stare at the file on the table. “No, I mean why isn’t in the file. I don’t know why my parents treated me as an animal, what I did wrong. Jamie was perfect. They loved her. She was the princess. I don’t understand.”

Georgia knew there had been another child in the home, but there hadn’t been much in the file about her. Just that they’d found her unharmed. Georgia had assumed it only met the other child was unharmed the time they were caught. What Sarah had gone through was horrific, but to have another child that was treated better, normal, would magnify the treatment.

“Tell me about Jamie,” Georgia said.

Maybe if she understood who Jamie was, she could come up with a treatment plan. Georgia usually waited until she’d had a few sessions with her patients before she designed an individualized treatment plan. The notes and situations on paper left out feelings and other dynamics, such as Jamie being perfect in this case.

“Jamie’s pretty. Not like me with buck teeth and carrot hair.” Sarah shifted around. “See even you are more interested in her than me, and you’re supposed to be helping me.”

Georgia leaned back in her chair as if she’d been slapped. The last thing she’d wanted was to alienate her patient. Damn. Time to back it up a step.

“Sarah, I’m sorry if it seems that way.” She picked up the file and let it drop on the desk with a thunk. “Unfortunately, there is nothing in this file other than there was another child. You said no bullshit and so this is the truth. I need to know about Jamie so I can help you.” Sarah sniffed then amazingly she regarded Georgia and actually made contact. Her green eyes shining with un-shed tears.

“She would sneak me food sometimes. I loved her too.”

Georgia couldn’t understand how parents could treat a daughter the way these people had done Sarah, yet it appeared they were capable of love with their other daughter Jamie. Or was she another daughter?

“Then what would happen? Did they punish her for helping you?”

“No, she was careful to sneak in when they were gone or drunk.”

Sarah pulled herself out of the chair, if Georgia hadn’t known better she would have thought the girl was an old woman instead of ten. As if called, she wandered to the window again. Georgia watched her, her throat worked as the girl swallowed. Then she closed her eyes for a moment. She turned her back to the glass and leaned.

She licked her lips, then began to talk. At first her voice was so soft Georgia had to strain to hear her.

“I can’t remember when it started, it’s just always been that way.” She shrugged as if to say, know what I mean? “My mom would slap me whenever I said or did something she didn’t like. It didn’t mean I’d done anything wrong, just that she was upset she couldn’t get what she wanted. I was a punching bag.”

Old beyond her years. Georgia almost felt guilty. She’d been forced to do and be unspeakable things. And she was abused but in different ways than this child. She wasn’t harmed physically, more mentally and the threat of physical harm to her loved ones.

She didn’t prompt Sarah, the girl would tell her in her own time.

“Punching bag, I learned that since I’ve been in my new foster home. Not that it’s much better than home was. But at least I’m not in the closet with no bathroom or food—I’m not sure which was worse. Starving or having to pee and poop in the closet.”

Georgia had to follow down the bile that wanted to come up. She had to focus on moving forward, in order to get the details for her plan.

“What do you mean the foster home isn’t much better? Has something happened?”

“Oh, the people aren’t abusive or anything but some of the other kids are jerks.”

She lifted a shoulder and shoved away from the glass and returned to her seat. She folded her legs up under her. A good sign she was beginning to let her guard down around Georgia.

Georgia jotted down a note to have Maggie check into the home where Sarah had been placed. While she was making notes, she added that Sarah had steered the conversation away from Jamie.

Georgia glanced at the desk clock and saw that all the silences had added up. The allotted hour was almost up. Although, she could fill the rest of the time asking a few things, she choose to wait.

“So how does this work? This no bullshit thing?” Sarah asked after a few more moments of silence.

“How do you want it to work?”

Georgia did her best not to laugh. But when Sarah swung her head up to glare she couldn’t help but let it out. After a moment the girl grinned, and then let out a laugh of her own.

“I think I may like you Dr. Georgia.”

Georgia stood and walked her to the door. After it snapped shut, she shook her head, Sarah, the poor thing had lost her childhood. She was ten going on forty.

Yet, Georgia had lost her childhood also. Not that her childhood was any less horrific, it was just a different horrific! Now, though, it was her job to help Sarah recover what was left of her childhood, bring her back to ten going on eleven.

Next post find here...

Here is the interactive part:
Georgia's brother and Mother have been relocated. Help me decide what state and what are they doing in their new home:

1. Seattle, Washington.
2. San Diego, California

Georgia's Mother and brother both have been educated as she has:

1. Mother working as a nurse.
2. Mother working as a Administrator


1. Brother working as an Engineer
2. Brother working as a Database administrator

Voting CLOSED now. Thank you for reading!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Interactive Story - Never Forgotten, Chapter One

Welcome, the weather is getting warmer. I think we'll be able to sit in the garden today. Fill your plates with goodies and pour your favorite beverage. Once everyone is set, we'll start.

If you are just going us, you can read the first post of the interactive story here... Remember this is a rough draft, and you are asked to answer the question at the end in a comment. Let's get started.

Chapter One

Present day

Georgia Daniels sipped her coffee. The window of New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side provided a panoramic view of Central Park. However, Georgia wasn’t enjoying the view, her mind was running over her next appointment.

She’d gone to Harvard, was one of the nation’s top psychiatrists, specializing in mental trauma. She could say she’d seen a lot, not all, no one could say that. But every once in a while a patient would come to her, and the situation was too close to her own past.

A quick knock startled her only seconds before the physician assistant stepped in. “Your patient is here. A social worker brought her and would like to know if she’s allowed to observe.”

Georgia picked the file up from where it had been on her desk and flipped it open as if she may read the answer on the top page. There wasn’t a word she hadn’t read. She prided herself on being prepared for all of her patients, but this one she’d taken a little extra time.

Georgia knew how hard the next few years, hell the rest of the girl’s life would be, dealing with her demons. Most people imagined danger around every corner. Georgia knew evil hid in the most innocent places. The nicest people were pure evil underneath the façade.

Georgia smiled at the assistant and resisted the urge to raise a brow. Maggie Reynolds, assistant and friend, knew the answer. Maggie left the door open and within a few minutes she returned with a young girl with long red braids. Her eyes darted everywhere, around the room, everywhere but at Georgia.

“This is Sarah Gonzales.”

Then Maggie backed out of the room, pulling the door closed behind her. Sarah settled herself in the chair across the desk.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Daniels, but you can call me Georgia if you’d like.”

Georgia reached across the desk to see if Sarah would shake or not. Of course, it was questionable whether she actually saw the proffered hand, she had yet to look at Georgia.

After a moment, Georgia let her hand drop and let her bottom sit in her own seat. She would wait, let the girl set the pace. She told herself to relax, but her heart raced with memories. She swallowed and closed her eyes a moment. Now wasn’t the time to worry about her inner demons. Now was the time to help this little one adjust. Understand there were people in the world she could trust.

And that was the problem. How could Georgia help the girl understand that, when she had trouble trusting anyone herself?

She’d give the girl another moment before she forced her to acknowledge Georgia. If she couldn’t prove to Sarah that she, Georgia, was worth trusting. If she couldn’t do that, then therapy wasn’t worth it.

Georgia hadn’t had the luxury of counseling of any sort, because that would have been telling someone her secrets. That was the worst, because they held her family’s well-being in the palm of their hands. If Georgia tried in any way to find them, tell anyone about them, and that included seeking help for herself, her brother and mother were dead.

Georgia found therapy in studying for her degree and now helping those recovering from trauma as she’d had growing up.

“Ms. Georgia?”

Sarah’s voice bounced around the quiet office, Georgia restrained from jumping from her chair. Barely.

She cleared her throat, but still managed to croak out, “Yes?”

“Are you ever going to start this gig, or therapy thing we’re supposed to be doing?”

Sarah’s focus was just above Georgia’s left shoulder. Even though she’d finally engaged, there would be no eye contact.

“What would you like it to be, Sarah?”

“Why do you guys do that?”

Sarah stood up to wander around for a moment and then settled at the same window Georgia had stood at earlier.

Georgia debated, she could continue with the clichéd answer a question with another question, that psychologist were known for, have a little fun with her to break the ice. Maybe it would ease the tension.

On the other hand, it could backfire and cause the girl to clam up.

Georgia studied the girl’s profile for a moment longer, then made her decision.

Suppressing a smile, she asked, “Why do you think we do it?”

The girl let her forehead bonk on the window and turned around and pointed at Georgia, “That!” Sarah may have pointed at her, but her focal point seemed to be an inch above her head.

Georgia grinned. “Oh you mean, why am I answering all your questions with another question. Doctors try to lead the conversation that way, find out what’s in your mind.” She wiggled her brow at her.

“I’m with you, it’s frustrating.” Georgia motioned for her to take her seat. “Let’s start over. This is called a therapy session. The goal is for you to feel comfortable enough with me that you can tell me your fears, your secrets, and once they’re behind you and no longer bothering you, you can tell me your dreams and I can help you get started in the right direction.”

Sarah slowly walked to the chair and sat in it, but she didn’t glance up at Georgia. She stared at something in her lap.

“Do I have to tell you everything?”

“No. you don’t have to tell me anything. I have been told by several people I talk a lot. I could always bore you with stories of how boring my life is.”

Georgia wasn’t sure what she heard, but it sounded like a cross between a snort and a laugh. Maybe that was a small victory? With hour increments a couple of times a week, progress could be slow.

Georgia was patient.

“Do you mind if I ask a few questions?”

This time Sarah looked up, it was interesting to see the lengths she would go to not to make eye contact. “Do I have to answer?”

“Only if you want to.”

“Okay, but I reserve the right to not answer.”

Georgia wanted to grin, where had the girl heard that before? No doubt on a television program.

“That sounds reasonable.”

Georgia made a production out of opening the drawer and pulling out a pad and paper. The longer it gave the girl to relax, the more chance at trust. She’d start with things she knew from the file.

“How old are you Sarah?”

The look Sarah gave her, clearly said are you kidding? “Ten.”

“I wanted to know if the file was current.”

The girl pursed her lips, clearing wondering if she was being played.

“Where are you from?”

“Cleveland. But that was probably in the file also.” The girl shifted in her seat and lifted her head and for a moment Georgia thought she’d look at her. But her gaze was slightly to the right. “Why don’t you cut the bull shit?”

No matter how bad the history in the file depicted, Georgia was always caught off guard by the language. Why was that? Because the monsters she was raised by were cultured?

“No bullshit coming up.”

“Thanks.” This time Sarah actually grinned.

Georgia picked up the manila folder from her desk. “Can you tell me what’s not in this file?”

Here is the interactive part of the post. Tell me who are the girls demons?

1. Her parents?
2. Neighborhood gang/bullies?
3. A relative?

Next post:

Voting CLOSED. Remember if you do not answer the questions, then I get to decide. Comment on the blog. Y

Monday, May 23, 2016

Interactive story Prologue - Continued. Never Forgotten

Welcome back. Let’s get started. Oh, wait. Sorry, you have time to grab a plate of goodies and your favorite beverage. It’s a little chilly still, we’ll settle in the Rose House to keep warm. The view is gorgeous though. Ready?

Last week you were asked to pick a genre and title, and while many read the prologue only two visitors commented with feedback. They both said to go with the Romantic Suspense/Thriller and the title is Never Forgotten.

Prologue – Cont.


Johnny really liked Ted’s new game, Jumanji. He rolled the eight sided dice and then picked up the rhyming card to decode the message. If he failed to decode the message and rescue Ted from danger then the jungle could swallow you whole. So far, Johnny wasn’t sure how that happened since they’d both been able to decode the message. He really didn’t know if he wanted to find out.

“Whew, I was worried I wouldn’t get the rhyme on that one. Your turn Ted.”

Before his friend had a chance to read his card, his mother called from the kitchen. “Johnny, it’s five. Weren’t you supposed to be home now?”

Johnny looked over his shoulder at the big clock he could see through the arch that hung in Ted’s kitchen. Jeez, Carla would kill him. He’d have to find out what happened with the game next time.

“I like your new game Ted, I’m going to save up my money so I can go see the movie.”

“Yeah, me too, do you think you can this weekend?” Ted asked as he grabbed the box that held the game.

Johnny quickly helped clean up. “I’ll ask Carla if she can lend me some money." Then at the door as he was about to leave, "See you tomorrow at school. Bye Mrs. Chambers.”

It was only a few minutes from the Chambers home to get to his house. His mother wouldn’t be home until it was time for bed. He didn’t like it, but he was used to it. Carla would help him with his homework after dinner. Then he’d have to take a bath before he could read his book. He wished they had a television, but the old crappy one they had broke a month before. His mother said they had too many other things they needed, apparently, more important than a TV.

Ted had a color television, and he could buy new games like Jamanji. Some day when Johnny was big, he’d get a good job and buy all the thing he wanted. And he’d buy them for his mom and Carla too.

Johnny sighed as he reached the door. He turned the knob, but it was locked. That was weird, Carla always left it open for him. He knocked on the wood panel, “Hey open the door.”

Maybe Carla had fallen asleep after her homework. He yelled and knocked a second time. Nothing. Carla must have really worn herself out with her program today at school. He shrugged and started around the house. They had a hiding place with a spare key he figured his mother would consider this to be one of those situations where the key was needed.

He had been instructed never to us the key unless it was an emergency situation. His mom said you just never knew who could be watching and see where the key was hidden. When he reached the back yard, he had to wade through the foot high weeds; he figured the grass hadn’t been mowed since his dad left. He didn’t even remember the man.

Johnny looked both ways, making sure none of his nosy neighbors was watching. He found the key and unlocked the door, looking around again he replaced the key before he went inside.

He threw his backpack on the table. Walked to the hall and hollered, “Hey Carla?”

When she didn’t answer, he went to the fridge pulled the door open and found their dinner still in the cover dish their mom had left. He might as well get it started. He went to the stove and turned on the oven to heat up the way his mom had taught him. Sometimes Carla had school stuff and he had to fend for himself as his mom told him.

Once dinner was in the oven and heating, he went to Carla’s room to wake her up. But his sister wasn’t in her room or his room or the living room. She wasn’t home. Then he looked for her backpack and jacket. Hadn’t Carla come home when he’d left her to go with Ted?

Where could she be? His tummy stirred, sort of like that time he had the flu and he was sick all over the carpet.


Who had stuffed cotton in her mouth? Carla swallowed and tried to push the cotton, or whatever it was, with her tongue but nothing was there. Her mother used the saying sometimes my mouth is dry as a dessert and that was exactly what her mouth felt like. Her brain wouldn’t work either, she tried to relay a message to her eyelids to open, but they just wouldn’t obey.

What was going on? Think Carla. She remembered bits and pieces of things. The car… Then a woman’s voice, images of a room, a car again—different than the one by her home.

Finally, she was able to open her eyes and look around. There were several girls around the room chatting. Her gut told her not to let them know she was awake. Her mother had told her always follow what her tummy told her, and it said to appraise the situation to be prepared when they, whoever the people who took her were, found out she was conscious.

She’d never been in a dormitory, but she imagined the room was what one would look like. Bunk beds lined the walls she moved her head carefully so no one would notice, but mostly because her head felt like it was going to explode. She counted eight of them, and taking in the number of groups of girls, sixteen girls would be about the right number for the beds.

Where was she?

“Hey look, the new girl is awake.”

A pretty blonde girl grabbed the hand of a petite girl who looked about Carla’s age and together they came to the edge of the bed and stared down at her. The smaller one smiled at her.

“Don’t be afraid, it’s not a bad place,” the blonde told her.

Carla struggled to a sitting position, then sat very still until her tummy settled and her visions stopped waving. Swallowing down the sick that threatened to come up and land most likely on the two girls pretty shoes, she drew in a breath and counted to ten before she let it out.

“Don’t worry you’ll feel better after Miss Naomi gives you a tablet and some food,” the smaller one said.

“What is going on? I need to go home.” She looked around and noticed everyone had stopped talking and listened. “My little brother will be afraid.”

“Miss Naomi will give you instructions.” Then the girl repeated, “don’t be afraid.”

Carla didn’t like this at all, she was more than afraid. She was terrified.

“Well it looks like our new friend is awake.”

She turned her head too fast and had to close her eyes again. The brief glimpse registered twinkling jewelry, and the woman was tall. When Carla felt she could move without breaking anything or disgracing herself by throwing up, she carefully opened her eyes, tilted her head and stared at the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen. Even the movie stars in the magazines she’d thumbed through at the store didn’t compare.

“Where am I? Can I go home now?”

The woman folder her arms, and gave her a sad smile—Carla’s mom said that sad smiles like this woman’s were usually fake and to watch out for what would happen next.

“I’m afraid your mother had an accident at work,” she said. A tear slid from the corner of her eye. “I’m so sorry but your mother didn’t make it.”

Pain so intense hit Carla’s stomach. A weight on her chest wouldn’t allow her to breathe. The room dimmed.


Someone was patting her hand. She tried to shake it off but whoever it was just kept up the pat, pat, pat. A low buzzing accompanied it something that sounded like “wake up,” pat, “wake up,” pat…

Carla pulled her had away and opened her eyes. “Stop that.”

“Good, you’re awake. I’m Miss Naomi and I’m going to get you some food. You’ve had a shock.” The woman had been sitting on the edge of the bed, she stood and pulled Carla to her feet. “Come with me.”

“Not until you tell me where my little brother, Johnny, is.” Carla sat back on the bed and refused to move. The woman tried to pull her to her feet again. As her mother had told her, she could be stubborn. Until she got some answers, she wouldn’t be moving.

“George, Michael, come here please.”

Carla actually felt her eyes widen, the two men weren’t just big, there were huge both sported gleaming baldheads. They reminded her of perfectly round scoops of ice cream; one vanilla crème the other chocolate fudge. Her eyes dropped to their wide shoulders, and then their muscled waists where gun holsters rested on their hips.

If she were going to get away and help her brother, it looked like she had better cooperate for now. Carla pulled herself up and stood, when she wobbled Miss Naomi gripped her arm.

“Much better. George and Michael are here for you safety. You needn’t be afraid of them.”

But the look Miss Naomi gave Carla was clearly a warning. If she didn’t do what she was told, she would have to deal with the two men.

Carla now knew that nothing had happened to her mother or her brother. But then she’d known that when she decided to run when the car with the men had pulled up next to her.

She’d been kidnapped. Why? She would find out when this woman, who now reminded her of Cruella De Vil, felt it was time.

To be continued....

The next post on 5/30/16 will begin the first chapter when Carla is an adult. Don’t worry details of why she was kidnapped and what happened will be revealed.

First, we have to figure two things to continue. 1. Her new name. 2. What profession will she be when the story continues.
Here are your three questions:

1. Spencer Tate – Lawyer.
2. Georgia Daniels –Physician -- Winner
3. Nadia Michaels –Special Agent.

Next Post:

Remember if you do not answer the questions, then I get to decide.
Voting for this post is now closed.  Comment on the blog. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Interactive story Prologue - It's going to be awesome!

Welcome to the Garden. Hurry and grab some goodies and a beverage, I’m very excited to get started. We’re going to start a project together. I’m going to write a story, but my readers are going to vote the way it goes. Confused?

Don’t be. I’m going to post a novel one blog post at a time. And it’s anyone’s guess how it ends because together we’re going to write it by the seat of our pants. There are two main types of authors. I’m sure there are very many variations in between. The first is a plotter; someone who plots out every chapter, some even every paragraph, along with story boards, etc. The second is a pantser: write by the seat of their pants. I'm a pantser. And this time not only am I going to write as I go, I’m going to give you choices to point me in the way you’d like to see the story go. Majority rules. If no one votes, it goes my way.

Just an FYI; if and when this story is published it will go through the usual critique partners, editor, and beta readers. In other words, this is a rough draft. But you have a chance to help me direct the story. Are you in? Let’s get started.

Title to be determined by you!

January 1995

Carla dug her jeans out of the hamper next to the bathroom. Dang, her mom was supposed to have done the laundry, but as usual she was too busy. They were having a school program today, and she had told her mom that she wanted to wear her favorite jeans with her red blouse. Not only that, but her mother had to work and would be missing her program again.

She took a deep breath and shrugged, nothing ever changed in the Morgan household. She couldn’t really blame her mother. She worked multiple jobs just to keep her brother and herself fed and have clothes, and a place to live. Sometimes though Carla just wanted to have her mother see her in one performance, was that too much to ask? Like her friend’s mom.

With another sigh, Carla got ready for school making sure she had enough time to get her little brother ready. He depended on her, he was only seven, she was ten and it was her responsibility to get them both breakfast and to school. Their mom would come home on her lunch break and fix dinner and have it ready in the fridge for them to warm up when they got home. By then she would be at her second job. If only…

“Come on Johnny, we’re going to be late.”

Johnny stopped and folded him arms, long enough to glare at her before he said anything. “My legs are tired.”

Carla rolled her eyes, she’d been going slowly for him to keep up, even though she’d wanted to run. Patience, her mother always said was a virtue. But sometimes Johnny made it very hard to be patient. The fact was, her little brother hated school because he was the smallest kid in his class.

“Come on, I’ll walk slower.” She grabbed his hand and urged him along. “Did something happen at school yesterday?” Silence met her question. She glanced down and noticed he was biting his bottom lip and staring straight ahead. At least he kept walking. She’d learned a long time ago, that if she pushed, Johnny would clam up, but if she let it go he’d tell her in his own time. He was embarrassed that kids made fun of him because of his size.

“I can’t say.”

That was something new, he always said, sometimes in a rush and at great lengths. She glanced up, the school was right around the corner. A chill ran up her spine, as if something was very wrong. All of a sudden she didn’t want to go to school either. But her program was today, and she’d been practicing for weeks. She was going to kick ass—if her mother heard her say that or even think it, she’d kick Carla’s. But her solo was good and she knew it.

She glanced around, everything looked normal. Kids playing on the playground before school. Looked like every other day. She was just letting her little brother spook her.

“Why can’t you say, Johnny?” She knew she shouldn’t push.

“They said not to tell you, or they’d hurt you.”

“Me?” Shock ran over her. How could a bully seven-year-old hurt her? “Are they in your class?”

“No, they’re older and they’ve been taking my lunch every day.”

“Oh, Johnny. No wonder you’re so hungry when you get home.” Carla squeezed her brother’s hand. “We’re going to go talk to the principal right now.”

He dug his heels in and tugged his hand from her grip. “No, they said they’d kill you and one of them had a knife, he showed me.”

“Not if we have adults get them first.”

“No! What would I do without you?”

“Johnny, you won’t ever have to find out. Come on.” She looked at the watch she got for her birthday, she would be late. She didn’t care, this was more important.

She had to drag her brother all the way to the principal’s office, but they finally made it. Unfortunately, they had to wait for him. After what seemed like hours to Carla, and must have seemed longer to Johnny, if all the squirming he was doing was any indication. The office secretary motioned to them.

“Carla, Johnny, the principal will see you now.” Mrs. Simonson led the two through to the principal’s office.

Once the two were settled Mr. Jones stared at the two for a few minutes. Finally she blurted, “We haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Well Miss Morgan, I didn’t say you did. I’ve just been waiting to hear what the problem is.”

“Oh.” Carla glanced at her brother and darn Johnny, he was trying not to laugh.

Carla saw she was already twenty minutes late, if the clock on the back wall was correct. She quickly explained about the bullies and what they’d been doing.

“So what are these boy’s names?” He asked Johnny.

“They didn’t tell me their names, sir. And I was afraid to ask, I just give them my lunch.”

Carla patted her brother’s knee and winked at him. “Mr. Jones, could he tell you what they looked like? And maybe he could eat his lunch in his classroom until they’re caught?”

“I will talk to his teacher. I think that’s a good idea. Mr. Morgan, I’ll walk you to class today and if you see any of those boys quietly tell me. We’ll make sure nothing happens to you or your sister, deal?” He held his hand out to her brother and they shook.

Carla waited until the principal and her brother turned the corner before she headed in the other direction to her class. She had a note so she wouldn’t be in any trouble, and that was good.


Carla had that special feeling in her tummy, the one she got when her mother praised her for being such a good help at home. She’d known she was going to do well on her solo, and she had. She couldn’t wait to tell her mother.

The bell had rung several minutes earlier, but her brother still wasn’t out of the building. Where could he be? She would wait two more minutes in their regular spot before she went to his classroom to check on him. The special feeling was fading and the second chill of the day skated over her scalp. Had those bad boys done something to Johnny?

She wouldn’t wait, she’d go check on him now. She turned and took a step in the opposite direction, when she heard her brother calling her name. Swinging around she saw him, smiling and waving his puny arms. His one and only friend, Ted, sauntered along with him. She let out a breath of relief.

“Where have you two been? I was worried.”

“Sorry,” Johnny muttered, but then grinned. “Ted has a new game he wants to show me, can I go to his house, please?"

She did have home work, and if he was at his friend's, he wouldn’t be interrupting. “Okay, but only until five, then you come home and I’ll warm up our dinner.”

“Thanks,” he said. He threw his arms around her for a hug. “You’re the best.”

Before she had a chance to ask how things went with the bullies he’d taken off. She shrugged, she was just spooking herself with all the bad vibes. Everything was fine.

She was almost home when she heard a car pull up behind her, and then rolled to a stop next to her. The window slid down to reveal a brown haired stranger. She picked up her step and refused to look to the side. The chills were back. This was what her gut had been telling her all day. Her mother called it intuition.

Something bad was going to happen.

The car kept pace with her. She swallowed and started to run.

“Wait. Carla. It’s your mother.”

Her mother? She stopped and turned to face the side of the car. The man swung the door open, he held his hand out as if to show her he wasn’t meaning any harm.

“I’m so sorry, Carla. You are Carla Morgan?” She nodded and he continued. “Your mother gave us your address and told us what you looked like.”


Her body felt like a giant earthquake was rattling through it, her knees were shaking, and she was afraid she was going to pee her pants. Something was terribly wrong.

“Your mother has been hurt.”

“What?” She looked into the car.

The driver, he didn’t have a look of concern on his face. Her intuition warned her; these were bad men and whatever they wanted had nothing to do with her mother. She’d run. She took a deep breath and spun around and started to run. She hadn’t taken two steps when it felt like a ton of bricks fell on her head.

Oh, Johnny, I’m sorry! I promised you’d never have to find out what you’d do without me. Carla’s last thought before darkness dropped like a curtain.


Here is the Interacting part. Closed for this post:

1. Romance -- Title: Flawed

2. Romantic suspense/Thriller -- Title: Never forgotten Winner

3. Women’s Fiction -- Title: Lost but found

Next post:

Leave a comment with your choice of genre, Thanks! To be counted, you must select your choice by midnight May 21, 2016. No more answers will be considered for this post. Answer the questions for the next post starting May 23, 2016.