The Best Vacation Ever!

I have friends who complain about having to make all the arrangements for their family vacations. They book all the flights, all the hotels, and all the tours. All their husbands need do is show up. For many of them, this is a bone of contention in their marriages. I don’t have that problem. My husband is the best vacation planner ever. He does all the work. My biggest concern is how to fit a week’s worth of clothing in a small carry-on suitcase and how to keep up with him as he speed-walks through seven days of jammed-packed, magical madness. Our recent trip to Walt Disney World was no exception to the rule.

img_0561We explored the wizarding world of Harry Potter and spent time with the Simpsons at Universal. We laughed, danced, and got splattered with goo in the front row at the Blue Man Group. After a full day at the Magic Kingdom, we witnessed the 360 fireworks display from Frontier Land and saw Cinderella’s Castle decked out in all its patriotic glory. At Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest took us to the top of a mountain and Kilimanjaro Safari took us on a trip through the img_0722heart of Africa. We ate, shopped, and polka danced our way around the world at Epcot. Hollywood Studios sent us to the Twilight Zone in the Tower of Terror and through the history of film on The Great Movie Ride. We had lunch in the Beast’s castle, sampled Mexican and German cuisine, enjoyed the music and Shepherd’s Pie at an Irish pub, and were wined and dined at Iron Chef Morimoto’s Asia. And those are just a few of the highlights.

I do buy in to the idea that Disney is the “happiest place on Earth”. It must have magical powers of some kind, because the children didn’t fight. Or at least they fought less than usual and my husband managed his usual lead and averaged thirteen thousand steps a day while still nursing a sprained ankle. As for me…  My ankles swelled and developed what is affectionately called “Disney Rash” from the heat radiating off the pavement. Between the sweat, water rides, and sporadic downpours it felt rather like a week-long wet T-shirt contest and there was nothing sexy about it. And I’m still not certain I won’t end up having a time-delayed stroke from all the colored, flashing lights of the Mickey Mouse bubble blowers I was exposed too on a nightly basis. But, it’s all part of the experience. Good and bad, it’s all woven into the tapestry of memories that will last a lifetime. I’m blessed to have had the time with my loved ones on what the kids are still calling “the best vacation ever”.

How will we—or should I say he—ever top this one? I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m going to spend next week getting reacquainted with my couch. I’m going to watch soap operas and start on the pile of books I have left to read. Thank God my kids will be at sports camp for five days, because I need a vacation from the vacation!

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – Confessions of an Indie Author

The response to my first book was overwhelmingly good. It seems most of you who read it—other than the science fiction fans who were conned into trying a romance—enjoyed it and said you would recommend it to others. You were Once in Love with Lily, but will you be Always in Love with Lily? That remains to be seen. I hope you will be. I think you will be. I know I am. But that’s the thing about putting out the second book. While I’m incredibly excited to share the next part of the story with the world, I also feel a tremendous amount of pressure. Pressure to perform. Pressure to please. Pressure to live up to the hype of the first book.

As many of my readers know, I’m a middle school Spanish teacher by day. I have no degree in journalism. I didn’t dream of being a writer as a child. I let my vivid imagination play out with play-acting and elaborate Barbie doll dramas. I only start writing several years ago on a dare. Because of my lack of formal training, some doubt my writing ability. One of my best friends recently admitted that she only read my first book because she felt obligated and was completely surprised to find out that the story was actually good. So, I had a lot to prove from day one, to everyone, including myself. The thing is, I’m just as concerned at proving myself with the second book as I was with the first. I love the story. My editors loved the story. But what about the public? I still find myself thinking, “I’m no Nora Roberts. What if the first book was a fluke?”

To add to my anxiety, I’m a people-pleaser by nature. I worry about disappointing my readers. So many people out there have said they loved Lily’s and Tony’s story. They’ve been waiting three long years for the sequel. What happens if the story falls flat? I mean, I laughed. I cried. I lived and loved right along with those characters. I can’t wait to see what happens next. But what if the readers don’t feel the same? Whether it’s my books or my fan fiction, they have come to expect a certain caliber of writing. They want the emotional, romantic, exciting story with loveable, compelling characters. What if I didn’t deliver?

Once in Love with Lily has sold hundreds of copies, four to five times that of the typical independently published novel. It has over fifty reviews on Amazon with 4.9 stars. The reviewers at The BookLife Prize in Fiction had this to say:


Lily cover“A big-hearted romantic melodrama with cinematic movements and charming storytelling makes a familiar trope soar.  In this well-paced storyline, Lillian (Lily) George, knowing her disquieting past, recognizes the value of her current affluent lifestyle until she unexpectedly reconnects with her first love. Zany secondary characters leap off the pages, while the tension created as Lily decides her future keeps readers holding their breath until the very end and hoping for a sequel.”

Alwaysinlovewithlily_Kindle-300ppiWill the sequel Always in Love with Lily live up to the hype? Well, there’s no point in worrying now. There’s only one way to find out. Put it out there and let the public decide. So far reviews are good. But the ball is in your court, romance readers. Go for it! Read it and let me know what you think. You can comment, you can tweet me @catkthompson, or find me on Facebook. Or, even better, leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or Barnes & Noble. No need to be prolific. Just click the stars and write a sentence or two. Reviews are what help authors and books get noticed and promoted by the big site algorithms. Every one helps, as does clicking on reviews by others that you find helpful.

In closing, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to my family, my beta readers, and my editors for their support you are the ones who have helped make my writing dreams possible. To my readers, your engagement and enthusiasm help  keep the dream alive. Thank you for being a part of my story.

 

 

 

 

 

#Writer Problems

Your computer updates and deletes all of your bookmarks on Explorer, so months’ worth of research is lost. You are frequently irritated by grammar and vocabulary errors, even on Facebook and Twitter. You’re supposed to be making a career out of writing, but you delete more than you write on any given day. These are just a few of the things you’ll find under the “writer problems” hashtag. But if you ask me, the biggest “writer problem” isn’t something that happens to the writer. The problem is the fact that their families are forced to live in a constant state of paranoia.

Anything they say can and may be used against them in a future novel. If they’re lucky, it was something funny or debonair that will be quoted by the hero. If they’re not so lucky, words they used during an argument will be uttered by the snarky jerk of a protagonist.

Their spouses hear voices. They develop multiple personalities as they walk around talking to themselves in strange accents as they “write” dialog. And the poor things never know if their author partners are just letting their creative juices flow or if their just one step away from a DID or schizophrenia evaluation.

The author’s search history can be downright disturbing. My poor husband borrowed my computer to google something one day and when he pulled up my browser, he was met with one disturbing book mark after another.

• Cancer
• Can I drink beer with one kidney?
• Early signs of pregnancy
• What to Expect When Expecting Twins
• Causes of Erectile Dysfunction

The poor guy didn’t know if I might have cancer or I was pregnant. And the bigger question… If I was pregnant, who on earth was the father, since I had apparently already diagnosed him with Erectile Dysfunction.

Writing is hard work, to be sure. It takes hours and hours of research. You have to live and relive every scene you write just to make sure you get it right. Once you’ve written it, you worry if your brilliance is actually total crap. But at this point, I think I’m glad I’m the writer. At least I know what’s going on in this wicked head of mine. I know why I spontaneously break out in a fit of laughter or burst into tears while staring at my computer screen. Men and women have always had a hard enough time understanding each other to begin with, but my poor husband doesn’t stand a chance.

IMG_5990
Image from The Writer’s Circle on Facebook.

Reasons to Write

by Kate Messner
by Kate Messner

If you are a teacher of writing, a teacher who wants to write, or maybe even a writer who wants to be taught, I’ve got a book for you. I attended an educational conference recently and one of the sessions I sat in on was “Teachers as Writers”. It was a session designed to help teachers discover their inner writers, to share their writing with students and to help them help their students to blossom as writers.

During the workshop, the presenter used two different activities from 59 Reasons to Write by Kate Messner. Each of the 59 prompts offers a new approach to a fun writing exercise.

Here are my creations from our brief session. They are not earth-shattering pieces, but they were thought-provoking exercises and they are proof that you don’t have to write a novel to be a writer. Anyone can write with a little push and a little inspiration.

Six Words on Me
Teacher, writer, speaker, wife, mother, friend.
I am a crazy Spanish teacher.
I am a novelist by night.
I’m mom to two great kids.
I love my sometimes silly husband.
I speak well and speak often.
My friends make my world fun.
Plainly pretty, slightly plump, wildly entertaining.
General Hospital fanatic, Team Scorpio forever!
I laugh often and laugh loudly.

A Poem of Home
Home is where your memories lead you.
Way back…
To a much simpler time and a better place.
With some homemade cookies and a warm embrace.
Warm summer breezes and grandma’s face.

Are You Wiser Than a 1st Grader?

Have you ever dreamed of doing something, but let someone talk you out of it? Have you ever had a dream that went unfulfilled because it seemed silly or because life’s responsibilities got in the way? If so, you may not be wiser than a first grader. We adults believe ourselves to be experienced and wise, when in fact, there are some very important lessons we can, and should, take from our kids.

Dream. Children dare to dream. They believe they can do or be anything. Astronaut, president or Michelin star chef. My daughter is a classic example. She thinks she’s going to grow up to build the first combination homeless shelter/animal shelter/food pantry. The practical adult in me asks where the money is in that, but in her mind, that doesn’t matter. She might just earn the money as a dancer or singer since she’s clearly better than Taylor Swift. She believes she can change the world. Her life is full of possibilities. She is limitless. She can do it all. Even make her own “ chocolate” cookies with flour, butter, and Hershey’s syrup. She doesn’t care if it doesn’t work. She doesn’t give up. She tries again, because she still believes she’ll find a way to do it. She doesn’t care about “rules”. Eventually she will find the “right” way, or invent her own new way.

Desire. Kids find their passion and run with it, no matter what others think. My son has loved learning about animals since he was old enough to talk. He was so interested in them that it almost became an obsession. He refused to read a fiction book until he was forced in the second grade. He is that funny kids who stops at the zoo exhibit and instructs other on-lookers about the genetic make up of the Okapi. He loves Pokemon and Skylanders. Never mind the fact that when he tries to explain these games to me I can only stare in confusion. He likes hot tea and the color pink, even though that isn’t “normal” for boys his age. He doesn’t care if others think he’s silly. He just knows what he likes. That’s the beauty of a kid’s mind. It doesn’t matter what others think of them. At least until they’re in Middle School!

Determination. Children find a way to do what they want. They let know obstacle stand in the way. Until they are old enough to “know better.” One day we made a tub of cookies. Audrey wanted those cookies so badly she could hardly stand it, but they were supposed to be for a bake sale, so we hid them on top of the fridge where we thought she’d never find them. We should have known then that our strong-willed girl wouldn’t rest until she got what she wanted. Later that day, while we were watching television and she was supposed to be sleeping, she snuck into the kitchen. She climbed on a chair, pulled down the tub, and stole away to her room. She crawled into her closet and shut the door, and there she stayed until she had eaten every last one of those cookies.

Stolen cookies might be a silly example. And to be clear, I’m not really encouraging you to lie, cheat, or steal to get what you want. But when was the last time you wanted something so badly or worked so hard until you got it? Somewhere along the way, we grow up. We become “wiser”, but along with that wisdom comes a loss of innocence and the idea that we “can’t” do things. These limitations seem real, but they are often self-imposed.

Today, instead of asking you to think like mature adults, I’d like to encourage you to be more childlike. Find your passion. Believe that you can do anything. Or at least try it. And when life tells you that you can’t have any cookies, find a way around it. I never thought I would be a published author. But with a dream, desire, and determination, anything is possible. Take up painting. Take a cooking class. Do something you’ve always wanted to do, if not as a profession, than for pleasure and fulfillment. If you’re waiting for the right time to begin a new project, if you’re waiting for some kind of sign, I’ll give you one!

Begin

Toastmasters: Where Authors Are Made

Toastmasters: Where Authors Are Made. Go ahead, fellow Toastmasters. Consult your manuals. Check the Toastmasters International site. No, you are not crazy. The real slogan still reads Toastmasters: Where Leaders Are Made. But I think most Toastmasters would agree that the organization helps us to grow in a great number of ways. We become better speakers, true leaders, and in many cases, real writers. If you google the topic, you will find an assortment of articles and podcasts about it and testimonials from individual members who have become published authors. It stands to reason that Toastmasters would be beneficial to those of us looking to publicize and promote our books. But I’d like to share with you a few of the ways Toastmasters helped me with the writing process itself and allowed me to take Once in Love with Lily from a fun, little National Novel Writing Month project to a published novel.

First, crafting speeches gave me an edge when it came to structuring my story. In the beginning, I struggled with the story arc. While the action was intriguing, it lacked the proper flow. Then one day, my editor, fellow Toastmaster Eileen James, said to me, “Think about how you put together a good speech. You begin by thinking about the end. Where do you want to go with this speech or story? What is the intended ending? Now, how do you get there? Remember to tie the ending back to the beginning to satisfy the audience’s need for cohesiveness.” A novel is a bigger project than a speech, but it still has an introduction, body, and conclusion. Once I started thinking of it that way, I was able to put together a story that was grounded, but showed growth, as the characters learned real lessons.

Second, through my experiences as an evaluator, grammarian, or ah-counter, I learned to become a good listener. This can be very helpful when coming up with ideas for stories. (Consider that fair warning that anything you say can and may be used against you in a future novel!) In addition, it helps to create realistic, natural-sounding dialog. I’ve become accustomed identifying patterns of speech, accents, verbal ticks, colorful quotes or phrases. I’m not that creative after all. I could never have come up with something like “He’s all hat and no cattle.” But bits like that are the things that make characters real and, I hope, make the dialog come alive on the page.

Third, as early as project four in the Competent Communicator Manual “How to say it” we are taught to look at word choice, to choose words that paint a vivid picture and convey the most accurate visual or explanation possible. If I hadn’t known “how to say it”, I might have kept descriptions simple with something like: “As she walked down the streets of New York, she couldn’t help but notice how crowded and noisy it was.” But thanks to my Toastmasters training, I came up with this:

She headed down 8th Avenue through the throngs of people already crowding the streets. “Ah, New York,” she thought. “The honking taxis, the charming street vendors with their poached sunglasses and purses, and the faint smell of homeless that lurks just off the main drag really give it a certain je ne sais quoi.” She crossed the street against the light along with the natives, leaving a gaggle of tourists in the dust. (Excerpt from Once in Love with Lily by Cathryn K. Thompson)

Which example did the better job of transporting you to the streets of NYC? Of course, the second example would be pretty wordy for a typical 5-7 minute manual speech, but in a novel there is room to elaborate.

I can’t say that Toastmasters has taught me much about romance. There is a code of ethics to contend with, after all. But it certainly has helped me to hone my writing skills, to tell a story with a goal or lesson, to depict true-to-life characters and conversations, and to choose the best way to say it when it comes to setting the scene or conveying emotions. I never knew I had an author in me. Maybe you do too. You never know when or where inspiration will strike. When it does, Fellow Toastmasters,  take advantage of your already vast experience. Write it down. Develop it. Tell your own story. Even if you have to publish it under an assumed name! Show the world what Toastmasters has done for you.  If you’re not a Toastmaster, visit a club near you and experience it for yourself. Toastmasters: Where Leaders… and Authors… Are Made.

This Is Not a Setback

NaNoWriMo Week Two

My goal for week two was to work on closing some of the gaps in the story and make some strides toward completing my draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. The good news: I did just that. I worked my way through the first several chapters and added new material to help form a more cohesive story as well as add some tension where needed. The bad news: I had to murder a few of my darlings. Some of my favorite scenes had to be cut to tighten things up and I ended up with three thousand fewer words this week than I had at the end of last week. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re going the wrong way!” It may seem that way, but I assure you, this is not a setback. It’s all part of the process. At least that’s what I’m telling myself!

My goals for this week:

1. To continue editing and adding, but actually make my word count go in the right direction.

2. Research and Development. I can’t give you too many details just yet, or this post would need a spoiler alert. But, I can tell you that Lily is going on location. She’s headed somewhere I’ve never been. So, it looks like I’m going to need some inspiration. YouTube and Pinterest, here I come… Again!

Reporting In

NaNoWriMo Week One 

 During NaNoWriMo, the traditional goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. It’s supposed to be a novel that you start from scratch on day one. I accepted that challenge in 2011 and finished the first draft of my first novel Once in Love with Lily. This year, I began on November 1st with a unique goal. Instead of writing fifty thousand words of a completely new novel, my goal was to complete a workable, readable draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lilly. I had already written several drafts and I was still waffling on content. So, I had decided to start from scratch one more time and knock it out in thirty days. I kept up with my daily word count and for the first three days, and I was feeling quite pleased with myself until…. I committed the number one NaNoWriMo sin. I re-read what I had written!

Every one knows that if you’re trying to knock out a novel in a month, you don’t have time to read and edit, but in this case, I’m very glad I did. As I looked at my “fresh start” with fresh eyes, I came to a huge realization. My hero was distinctly unlikable. I had become so concerned with creating the hook that agents keep talking about, that I had destroyed one of the beloved characters that had hooked my readers in the first place.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot who I was. I tried to become a plotter who focused on structure and eight point story arcs, when I’m anything but. I have always claimed to write from the heart first and the head second, to be more concerned with meaningful relationships, quality drama, and realistic dialog. I’ve generally found that if you tell a good story, proper structure will naturally evolve.  Ever a victim of self-doubt, I had allowed my own insecurities about my lack of formal training in the craft to cloud my judgment.

Once I had that aha moment, I went back to my original plan for the story and began cut, copy, and paste together all the usable pieces from the subsequent drafts. What I now have is about forty thousand words of a story that still needs a lot of detail, a ton of editing, and a fair amount of restructuring before it’s ready for public consumption. Still, I’m comforted by the fact that it is a much truer version of Lily’s and Tony’s story.

This week I hope to complete several new chapters that will begin to fill in some of the holes in the original plot and find ways to weave some subtle humor into the somewhat serious plot. I’ll keep you posted!

If you are interested in reading the original, Once in Love with Lily is on sale for.99 cents at the Amazon Kindle Store now through November 15th. Click here to view the book trailer.

Lily cover

 

 

Countdown to NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year! NaNoWriMo is less than a week away. This year my goal is to complete the third draft of the sequel to Once in Love with Lily. I’ll try to detail some of my experiences here for those of you who want to share in the journey.

Since it will be a very busy month, I thought I’d better post at least one more chapter of my GH fanfic to hold the Robert and Anna fans over for a while. Enjoy!

Previous chapters are available in the archives or at https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

Chapter 9

THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE

Robert awoke some time later. He presumed he’d been asleep for several hours, but with no windows to the outside world, it was impossible to tell if it was morning or night. He tried to read his watch, but it was pinned under Anna who was still soundly asleep. He tried again to turn his arm just enough to read it, but she stirred and he stopped. As he lie there wondering how long he should wait before waking her, she stirred again. This time, she turned over and before he could react, her arm was around him and her left leg had worked its way between his. Her breath was warm on his neck as she buried her face in it. He lay there for a few minutes, relishing the closeness. He knew he should wake her, but he hated to end the moment. He waited a bit longer then kissed her on the top of the head, and whispered, “Rise and shine, Anna, Love.”

“Mmm. Morning, Robert,” she said. She tilted her face up toward his and in the dim light he could see an awkward smile form as she realized the location of her left knee. “Sorry,” she said. She wiggled her leg free and turned onto her back. “Did you sleep all right?”

“As well as can be expected,” he said inching closer to the wall to afford her some room. “You?”

“Like a baby,” she said.

“Really?”

“Mmm. I always did sleep well in your arms.” She smiled at him again and licked her lips, catching the bottom one in her teeth.

“Oh, boy! Don’t let Duke hear you talking like that. I think he might have a thing or two to say about it.”

“I’m sure he would.”

“Do I detect a hint of sarcasm? Is there trouble in paradise?”

“No. I just… Forget it. I shouldn’t have said it like that.” She turned away from him. “We should probably get out of bed. What time is it?”

“Time for you to tell me what is or isn’t going on with you and Duke.”

“Robert…”

“Come on, Anna,” he said, leaning over to look at her. “Is something wrong?” When she didn’t respond, he leaned his chin on her bare shoulder. “Tell Bobby,” he said in a deliberately pouty voice that made her laugh.

She shook him off playfully. “Stop!” she laughed, “it’s nothing, really. It’s just… things are… different. That’s all.”

“What’s different?”

“I don’t’ know. He’s different.”

“And you think you aren’t?”

“No. I know I am. But I’d like for us to talk about things, you know.”

“About what?”

“I don’t know. Things. Us. Where we’re going. Where we’ve been. A lot has happened in the last twenty years. But every time I try and broach the subject, he shuts me down. He doesn’t want to hear about my life without him. Doesn’t want to talk about his.”

“And why do you suppose that is?”

“I know he was in prison for all of those years, but still, there must be something he can share with me. Some detail. Some thought. Something. Without being open with each other… it’s like we’re always keeping each other at arm’s length. There’s no… intimacy.”

He cleared his throat and looked thoughtful for a moment then spoke. “Don’t be too hard on him.”

“What?”

“Maybe he just isn’t able to talk about all of the things he’s been through.”

“Who’s side are you on?” she said. She moved on to her back again and looked up at him.

“You know I’ll always be on your side, love,” he said laying a hand on her shoulder. “I’m just saying that sometimes a man has… things. Things he can’t talk about. Things he keeps hidden for the good of his family and the people he loves.”

“What kinds of things?” she asked, noting that he seemed to be speaking from personal experience.

“How should I know? We’re talking about Lavery here.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“Hey, don’t start. I just think you should cut him some slack. I mean, come on. You’re not exactly the easiest person to live with either, you know?” he said, changing the subject.

“Ha! And why is that?” she said. She turned over to face him.

“Any number of reasons.”

“What? Name one!” she said.

“For one, you’re combative!”

Her mouth fell open. She swatted him and he feigned falling into the wall.

“Ugh!” he laughed. “There! See!

“With you I am!” She laughed too. “You deserve it.”

“Says you!”

“Carry on.”

“Okay. You’re nitpicky. Always straightening things and reorganizing. Not that it stops you from filling the place up with all of your tchotchkes.”

“Ming vases and priceless treasures can hardly be called tchotchkes, Robert.”

“What would you call them?”

“Art,” she said matter-of-factly. Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all gone now.”

“It is?”

“Of course it is. I died. Remember?”

“Oh. Right,” he said. He watched her as she raised her arm and ran a hand through her hair. She caught her lip in her teeth again. Her contemplative look told him he’d struck a nerve. Watching her, lying next to her struck something in him too. His tone softened. “And you’re distracting.”

She looked at him, puzzled.

“You are. Always playing with your hair, biting your lip like that… in fact, the general look of you… It’s distracting. I know I could hardly get anything done with you around. The poor guy probably can’t concentrate half of the time.”

“Who are you?” she said. “I can’t believe this. You’re actually defending him.”

“On principle, yes. For the sake of men everywhere I have to say—”

Before he could finish she put a finger to his lips.

“Robert, do you hear that?” Anna asked.

He paused and listened then nodded.

“Someone’s coming,” she said.

“We’d better get up. If the fun is about to start, we don’t want them to catch us off guard.”

Her eyes scanned the dimly lit room, her mind suddenly in overdrive. “Or do we?” she said with a devious smile. “I have an idea.” She quickly stood and reached back for the zipper on her skirt.

He raised his eyebrows at her. “Anna? What? What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing? I’m taking my skirt off. Unbutton your shirt, will you?”

“I never thought those words could cause such mixed emotions. Why?” he asked, though he did sit up and oblige her.

“I’m creating a distraction, giving us the element of surprise.”

“You certainly are!” he said.

“Do you still have your gun in your pants?”

“That’s a loaded question,” he snickered.

“Shut up, Robert. Do you?”

“Yes.”

“Good.” She peeled off her camisole and threw it on the floor. “Move over,” she said as she settled in next to him again.

“You want to fill me in on your plan?”

“No time. Trust me?”

“With my life.”

“Then just do as I tell you,” she said.

“Just like old times,” he laughed.

“Come here,” she said, directing him to move onto her as she wrapped her legs around him. She unbuttoned his jeans and tugged his shirt free. Then she slid her hands under the shirt and around his back, making sure that the tails covered her hand on the weapon in his waistband. “Now, kiss me. And make it look convincing,” she said as the lab door began to glide open.

“No problem there,” he assured her.

What happened next would have appeared in slow motion on television, but in reality, took only a matter of seconds. When guards Dale and Roy stepped into the room, they discovered two hostages, one of them half dressed, in a rather delicate position.

“What the…” Roy said. He stood dumbfounded with the breakfast tray in his hands.

“Whoa!” Dale mouthed without making a sound.

“Dale…” his brother whispered.

Dale waved a hand at Roy to keep him quiet. He smiled, seemingly interested in enjoying the show, but his finger still hovered on the trigger of his Heckler & Koch MP5.

As Robert lingered above her slathering her neck and chest with kisses, Anna undulated beneath him making it a point to sound so enthused that she couldn’t possibly have noticed the men enter. Meanwhile, out of the corner of her eye she watched. The moment she saw Dale loosen his grip on his weapon she looked up at Robert and moaned, “Robert, wait. You know I like to be on top.”

Robert took his cue. That was a dance they’d done many times before. With one swift movement the two of them flipped over so that she ended up straddling him.

“Oh! Don’t let me fall!” she squealed, and as he gripped her hips, she pulled the gun from behind him, rotated her upper body toward the men and fired three shots: one to take out Dale, one to maim Roy, and a third to finish him off once he’d dropped the tray and grabbed for his wounded leg.

“Very impressive!” Robert said breathlessly, looking up at her with a look that was complete awe and pure desire all at once.

“Thanks,” she said, her chest still heaving from the adrenaline rush. “Robert?”

“Yeah?”

“You can let go of me now,” she said, smiling down at him.

“I don’t know if I want to,” he said with a wink.

Sorry,” she said. She handed him his gun and patted his cheek as she climbed off.

He watched her re-dress. “A thong? Really?” he said.

“Hmm. Either that or a visible panty line. No thank you.”

“You never cease to amaze me, Anna Devane.”

“Pull yourself together Robert and let’s get the hell out of here,” she said. She slipped on her shoes and put on her jacket. She didn’t look back at him. She couldn’t. If she did, he would surely have noticed the blush in her cheeks.

He cleared his throat. “As you wish, Commissioner!” He stood and gave a quick salute.

“And another thing…”

“What’s that?”

“It was all in the line of duty, but… we probably shouldn’t mention our escape tactics to Duke.”

“You won’t get an argument from me.”

“Good.”

“I wouldn’t want any of his old mob buddies coming after me for infringing on his territory,” he chuckled.

“Very funny!” she said. She crouched down to search Dale and Roy. She found a cell phone, a pocket knife, and a small Glock pistol.

Robert collected his sport coat and joined her.

Anna handed him the knife which he pocketed. She slipped the phone into one jacket pocket and patted the other to be sure her badge was still there. Not that it would do her much good at the moment. “Ready?” she asked.

“When you are,” he said.

“Let’s go find our daughter,” she said. She stepped over the bodies of the downed guards and strode confidently out of the lab, pistol at the ready.

Robert followed, his heart still pounding after everything that had just transpired. He reminded himself to keep his mind in the game—to think about Robin, not Anna. Easier said than done he thought. Good God, how he loved that woman.

At long last…

For my fellow GH fans and friends,

Here is the latest installment. It’s not action packed this time, but I hope you’ll find a few quality Robert and Anna moments, some of the relationship building stuff that we’ve been missing. Enjoy!

Previous chapters are available in the archives or at https://www.fanfiction.net/~catkthompson

Endgame Chapter 8  – WHAT DO WE DO NOW?

After wasting several rounds and most of their energy, Robert and Anna sat down, defeated. It was no use. No one was going to hear them scream. No one was going to release them even if they did.

“What the hell do we do now?” said Anna, her irritation readily apparent.

“I don’t know. Yet.” Robert made his way around the chamber opening and closing all of the cabinets.

“Well, we obviously can’t shoot our way out. How many bullets do you have left?”

“Four.” He eyed the supply of chemicals he’d found. “Can we blast our way out?”

“What?”

“I know you can diffuse a bomb, but how are you at building one?” he said.

She sank into the rolling chair near the work station and bent over to check the undersurface for bugs. “If I made a bomb strong enough to blow that door, the blast would kill us both.”

“So much for that.”

“Any other bright ideas?”

“Not at the moment.”

“You wasted half your ammunition firing at a steel door. What did you think—that you had some magic bullets? Good job we weren’t killed by the ricochet.”

“Anna, don’t do that,” he said as took off his sport coat and tossed it on top of a stack of boxes. He shoved a crate into the corner and stepped up on it to examine the mounted camera.

“Don’t do what?”

“The same thing you always do,” he said.

“And what is that, Robert?” she said, moving on to the drawers on either side of the desk.

“You take out your frustrations on the closest target. It’s not gonna do either of us any good to be down each other’s throats.”

“Eeerrrgghh! I know! I know you’re right! I’m just…” She pulled a small bound notebook out from under a pile of file folders and opened it to the first page. “Robert!” she said in a voice that sounded like a mixture of joy and panic.

He was at her side in an instant. “Did you find something?”

“Just this.” She held up the book. “Robin’s journal. She was here, Robert. All of this… this is her research. They kept her here all of this time against her will,” she said, her voice trembling. The thought sickened her, but proof that Robin was alive was almost enough to compensate for it.

He took the journal out of her hand and sat down on the cot on the far side of the room. “She was looking for a cure Polonium Poisoning?” he said, flipping through the pages.

“Apparently.”

“Under the command of Jerry Jacks and his band of merry men. Dammit!” He shook his head.

“Robert, what are we going to do? We can’t just sit here. Our daughter is out there somewhere.”

“We don’t seem to have a lot of options right now, do we? We’re gonna have to wait until someone opens that door and then… then we can make a move.”

“How long do you think until someone comes back?”

“I don’t know.”

“What if they don’t come back?”

“They will.”

“How can you be sure?”

“Because… Look, you said you saw Faison and Obrecht on the boat, right?”

“Yes.”

“So Faison knows you’re here.”

“Yes.”

“And what’s the one thing in this world that he wants more than anything else?”

“Me,” she said.

“Exactly.”

“So you think he’ll come back to claim me?”

“Or someone will. At the very least, they’ll bring you food and water. Keep you alive.”

She chose to ignore the fact that he didn’t include himself in that statement. “And then what?” she said. “We have four bullets. They have automatic weapons. The odds aren’t exactly working in our favor.”

He read the exasperation in her face. He reached out and pulled her rolling chair closer to him. He looked deep into her eyes. “Listen, this is us. You and me. We just need to put our heads together. We’ll come up with something.”

She leaned in and allowed her forehead to touch his. She smiled, thinking their heads were quite literally together.

He gave a slight chuckle, knowing that was exactly what she was thinking.

“Okay?” he said.

“Okay,” she answered. “I guess we have time, don’t we?” she said with a slight smile.

“So it would seem,” he said.

They began to run escape scenarios by one another, shooting down one plan after another for one reason or another. Robert could feel Anna’s frustration growing again. Truth be told, he was no less irked than she was, but one of them had to keep a cool head.

After about an hour of fruitless discussion, Anna decided to change the subject. “Robert?”

“What, love.”

“Luke ran off after Jerry because he was looking for a cure for Polonium Poisoning. Jerry held Robin hostage so she could develop the cure. I can make sense of that. But how do you think Faison and Obrecht fit in to this whole thing?”

“Obrecht ran the clinic where Robin was held to start with.”

“Yes, but is there more? How is she connected to Faison? What is his part in all of it?”

“I don’t know, but I intend to find out, one way or another. And when I do…”

There was no need to finish that statement. She knew exactly what he was thinking. She was thinking it too.

“There’s something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about,” she continued.

“What’s that?”

“You said that you figured out that I was here because of a message from Britt Westborne.”

“Right. When she said that her mother might have brought her baby here, I figured it was—”

“How did you know that Obrecht was her mother?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, how did you know that Obrecht was Britt’s mother? I only found out a few weeks ago, but you were…”

“In a coma. Yeah. Don’t remind me.”

“So? Did I tell you that at the clinic?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“What do you know?” She stood and started to pace about.

“What?”

“Or more precisely, what else do you know?”

“Anna, you’re not making any sense here.”

“Robert, I don’t think I told you about their relationship, so if I didn’t tell you, you must have got the information somehow. The question is what other information do you have, how did you get it, and how do we retrieve it?”

“Three,” he said matter-of-factly.

“What?”

“That’s three questions,” he smirked.

“Oh, shut up,” she said. She rolled her eyes, but he saw the playful grin that snuck across her face.

“What are you thinking?” he asked, intrigued. He watched her pace a while longer, obviously deep in though. He was in awe of her mind at work. He always had been. And there was nothing sexier than the gleam that she got in her eye when she was in throws of concocting a plan or solving a mystery.

“What if…” she said, still moving from one side of the room to the other. Her fingers formed a steeple in front of her lips just under her nose. “That’s it!” She crossed the room and sat down in front of him again. Turned sideways in the chair she crossed her legs.

He did his best to ignore them.

“Robert,” she started in again, leaning in toward him, “you said you saw Obrecht and Robin at the clinic before you lost consciousness.”

“Yeah.” He cleared his throat and sat up straighter.

“What if you heard them talking and somehow retained the information?”

“Subconsciously?”

“Yes. What if you heard something about what they were planning that you just don’t remember?”

“So, what do you want to do now, hypnotize me?”

“It’s not a bad idea.”

“It’s a terrible idea! Since when do you possess the skills to—”

“I’ve learned a lot of things since the last time we were together.”

“I’ll just bet you have!”

She caught the wicked twinkle in his eye. “Ah, watch it, Robert.”

“Anna, this is…”

“Come on. It can’t hurt to try, can it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because…”

“Robert!”

“Anna, it doesn’t make any difference why I know what I know, all right?”

“But if you heard Obrecht say something, anything—”

“I was unconscious.”

“Yes, but if you—”

“Anna, drop it!” he said sternly.

“Couldn’t we just try it? Alex and I—”

“No.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Of course I trust you.”

“Come on, Robert,” she said with a curious smile, “what don’t you want me to find in that head of yours?”

“What? Nothing. Look, I’ve been reenacting Sleeping Beauty for the better part of a year, Anna. I’d rather not take any chances, all right?”

She considered his request and nodded, then stood and walked away again.

“I’m sorry,” he said, recognizing her disappointment.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said still facing away from him with her arms folded.

He stood and approached her. “Anna,” he whispered as he folded his arms around her from behind, “it’s gonna be all right. You’ll see.” He didn’t have to see her face to guess that tears were welling up in her big brown eyes.

She nodded again. “I know,” she said.

“We’ll figure it out, love.”

“I know,” she said again. She wiggled out of his grip and turn to face him. “I’m just so frustrated, you know?” Her lower lip quivered and the tears threatened to fall even as anger burned behind them. “Damn it, Robert!” She shoved at him.

She wasn’t angry at him. He knew that. She would much rather have been laying into Faison, but in his absence, Robert was the stand in.

“That man has destroyed every chance we’ve ever had at happiness and now he’s doing the same thing to Robin and her family!”

Her fists came at him, one after the other, pummeling him like a human punching bag. If he’d been stronger, he’d have let her have at it for a while longer, but currently that wasn’t an option. He rushed in to scoop her up into his embrace again before she could swing again. She didn’t fight him. Instead, she crumbled into him, sliding her arms under his and wrapping them up over his shoulders. She clung to him, soaking his shirt with salt water as he swayed slowly and shushed her softly.

“We were so close,” she murmured. “So close. She was here,” she cried. “I just want to hold my baby, Robert.”

“And you will. I promise. Come here.” He let go and took her hand, leading her over to the cot. They sat side by side, backs to the wall. He put an arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder. “Now, look at it this way. A week ago you thought she was gone. Now you know they have her, but you know she’s alive, right?”

“Right,” she said, taking his free hand. She squeezed his fingers between hers. She sniffed. “She’s alive.” She wiped her eyes with the other hand as she sat up. “Do you think that we should—”

His face stopped her midsentence. His head rested on the cement block wall behind them. His eyes were closed. The dark bags around them spoke volumes. He lifted his head when she fell silent.

“Do I think we should what, love?”

“Ah… Do you think we should try to get some sleep? I mean, the circumstances aren’t ideal, but I am rather tired,” she said, knowing he wouldn’t admit that he was exhausted, but he would sleep if he thought she needed to.

“You are? How’s your head? You don’t think it’s a concussion, do you?”

“No. It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s just been a stressful day. Maybe if we get some rest we’ll be able to think more rationally about this whole thing.”

“You’re probably right about that.”

“Okay. So, you take the cot,” she said, getting to her feet.

“Where are you going sleep?”

“I can sleep in the chair.” She found an electrical pannel on the opposite wall and turned off the overhead lamps, leaving them in the soft glow of emergency lighting.

“Or we can both sleep here,” he suggested, patting the mattress next to him.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Robert.”

“What? We’ve occupied smaller spaces than this. Remember Beirut?” he said with a wry smile.

“I do,” she laughed. And I also remember that we damn near lost our mark because you couldn’t keep your hands off me.”

“Hmm. Well, I was younger then and much more flexible. And Lavery wasn’t part of the equation.”

She eyed him skeptically.

“Your virtue is safe tonight, my dear. Scout’s honor,” he said, raising his right hand.

She smiled at him. “Fine, but you take the wall,” she said, slipping off her heels and hanging her jacket on the back of the chair.

He removed his shoes too and lay down on top of the blanket, turning on to his side.

She positioned herself next to him facing away but was not surprised, nor bothered by his arms encircling her waist.

After a few minutes he heard her giggle. “What?” he said.

She covered her face with her hand, still laughing. “This just reminds me of that bloody train ride, that’s all.”

“The honeymoon train to hell?”

“Yes! Trying to fit into the upper berth. God, it was awful!”

He gave a small chuckle. “At least this time we don’t have to deal with motion sickness.”

“Thank God!” she said with a sigh. “Robert?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you ever wonder what might have happened with us? You know… if Faison hadn’t happened. Again. Do you think we could have made it work the second time?”

“I don’t know, Anna,” he said quietly. “I know that when we said our vows, I meant them.”

“Me too. Every word.”

“We had our share of trouble. God only knows. But we certainly had a lot of good times, didn’t we?”

“The best.”

“Those memories of you and me… Robin… they got me through some pretty dark moments.”

“Sometimes they’re the only thing that get me through the day—memories of Robin,” she quickly clarified.

“Name one,” he said.

“What?”

“A favorite memory.”

“Right now?”

“Why not?”

“All right…” She thought for a second. “The day I we told her we were her parents.”

“Good one.”

“Your turn.”

“Ah, the day I gave her the puppy.” He laughed. “You were fit to be tied. You and Duke.”

“No we weren’t!”

“Were too. You covered it well, though. Next.”

“Robin’s dance recital.”

“Ooh… and the delayed-gratification dress. That’s high on my list too. How about our second wedding? I think Robin was as happy as we were. Go again,” he prompted her.

She smiled. “Robin’s wedding. Having you there to walk her down the aisle.”

“And after the wedding,” he chided.

“Robert!”

“You were drunk on champagne and I was drunk on you. Intoxicated by the radiant beauty of the mother of the bride,” he went on.

“I thought we agreed never to talk about that,” she said in a hushed tone.

“Who’s going to hear it?”

They both had to laugh at that. Neither spoke again for quite some time, each lost in thought. Finally she broke the silence. “Thank you,” she said.

“For what?”

“For the trip down memory lane. It was nice.” She yawned and stretched. Her hand came to rest on his, their fingers intertwining.

“My pleasure,” he said. “Sleep now, love. Tomorrow we can get back to work. Find a way out of this mess.”

“And we find our daughter… and take her home… to Port Charles,” she said sleepily.

“Damn right.”

“To Patrick and Emma…”

“To Patrick and Emma,” he repeated. He felt her inhale deeply and let it out. Her body relaxed against his. He kissed the back of her head and whispered good night. He allowed himself to relax too, but before drifted off to sleep, he made a promise—a promise to himself, to Anna, and to Robin and Emma. This time, he would reunite mother and daughter. Faison would not win again. Robert would die before he would let him win again.