Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 6: Don't Break the Baby

                            Baby Lucy, the youngest of the siblings                                           
Okay, from the first five episodes, I’m guessing that you’ve figured out that my siblings and I were a wild bunch of tots. On the few occasions that we had free time to ourselves to play, we played hard and sometimes dangerously.

To set up the scene of where we did most of our playing, I’ll tell you about my father’s storeroom. Except for our kitchen, the living room and the bedrooms were on the second floor of our two-storied home. What was originally the living room on the first floor was now being used for stock. My father had boxes and boxes of can food lined up in neat rows that took up the entire room. There were small walkways between the aisles. The boxes were stacked almost to the ceiling.
 Get the picture? My siblings and I had our own Himalayan mountain range to explore
I was seven years old and Lucy was only six months old when my father bought the store. My job was to watch over my little sister. In the old days, no one wore helmets or knee pads.
                           Michael, Lucy, Mom and Jane in background                                                
Kids back in the old days, played hard and fast without worrying about the scrapes and bumps that come naturally with childhood. We were survivors; we loved adventure. By the time that Lucy was three years old, I took on the responsibility and job of teaching  Lucy how to have fun via mountain climbing with her crazy siblings.
My parents were so busy in the store that they had no idea what the hell we were doing. They assumed, wrongly, that we were maybe playing hide and seek in that big old stock room. Ha!
Jane who was nine and Michael who was five at the time would climb the boxes until they reached the very top; only a few feet from the twelve foot ceiling. They would then pull up  Lucy as I pushed her from below. Once we were all on the top of the stacks, we began to jump (I kid you not) from one stack of boxes to another.
God must have had his entire army of Guardian Angels watching us crazy kids as we risked limbs, and most likely our lives, jumping the entire length of the room; stack to stack. We never did fall or drop the baby, but our days of mountain climbing ended one day after my father walked into the stock room. Look at the picture above. My father had that same expression as he caught me in the act of passing Lucy over to Jane's side of the mountain.
“What the %*#@* are you goofballs doing? You’re going to #%**@# break that baby. GET DOWN, NOW!!!
Needless to say, I received a spanking and lengthy speech from mom, which in my opinion was worse than the spanking.
We were banned from the stock room; unable to climb the Himalayans. But, it wasn't the end of our adventure. We kids were rather resourceful when it came to our play; resourceful and dangerous. My parents, always busy in the store, never learned about us playing firemen on the roof of our first floor addition.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 5: Bolts and Candy


This story is about Fred’s unintentional run-in with the neighborhood Hardware Store that was located on Broad and Porter Street in South Philadelphia. The hardware store was a small family owned business. The owners were friendly and their store carried everything needed for both a do-it-yourselfer to a professional contractor. I’ll name the owners of the hardware store, Mr. & Mrs. Brown in order to protect the innocent.
               Me on the left outside of Fred's Grocery Store on New Year's Day 1962
My father was a hoarder and he had OCD; a double threat, which led to the conflict with the Browns. Fred had a compulsion to store large quantities of items in case of emergencies. The wooden shelves that held our canned foods were constantly coming loose, spilling cans all over the place. Fred fixed the shelves when he could, but, sometimes he was unable to leave our store and buy the hardware needed to fix the shelves so he handled this problem by buying a large quantity of nails, screw, hooks, etc. from the Browns. No problem right? Wrong!
One day, while I was working next to my father in our little grocery story, a customer came in and mentioned that he was working on his broken kitchen door. This customer had to leave for work within the hour and didn’t have time to go to the hardware store. My father was trying to help, so while I sliced the ham for the man, my father sold him one of his personal boxes of 3”nails. The man was happy, my father was happy and I was clueless; my normal state as a child.
A few days later, same man comes in to buy ham for his lunch. My father was busy in the basement stacking the cases of soda (at that time soda came in glass bottles) and the man asked me for a box of nails. I knew where they were kept and remembered what my father had charged. I found a box of 3” nails and sold it to the man. Everyone was happy right?

Did I forget to mention that Mrs. Brown happened to be in the store at that time to buy milk and bread? She said nothing to me, but the next day, there was a note on the front step of our store. It was from Mr. Brown. He wasn’t happy and had threatened to sell penny candy in his hardware store if Fred continued to sell hardware in the grocery store. My father had no idea what the hell had happened, but he knew who was working in the store the day before. After questioning me and my siblings, my father figured out what had happened.“You kids are going to be the death of me!” 
Side note: my parents were quite democratic in dealing with the four desperados that they had created. If one of us did something wrong, we were all punished. Considering how bad we were, I considered this treatment ,fair.
Fred had planned on apologizing to the Browns during the week, but that very day, a neighbor (a busy body who loved to tattle) mentioned that the hardware store had a sign on its window notifying every one of the penny candy now on sale. “You!” my father said as he grabbed my hand and marched me down the street and to the hardware store.                 

My father and Mr. Brown argued for a bit (rather loudly) until my father convinced Mr. Brown that he had never intended to sell hardware in his store, it had been a one-time favor for a customer. Mrs. Brown saw how upset I was. After all, I was the reason they were arguing, so she grabbed a small paper bag and filled it with candy.
A war was averted, the troops recalled, but Fred preached to me the whole way home. I got off easy that day and I got to eat candy.

Next week’s episode will be on my father’s stockroom, titled appropriately “How not to break your baby sister.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Life with Fred & Lucy, Part 4: Oranges to Aspirins


In my last post, I told you how my father tried to keep up with the supermarket that had opened its doors just a few blocks from us on Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia and how he used his two daughters as spies to scoop out the prices that the other grocery stores were charging for their products. 
This week’s post will be about the war my father started a war with the neighborhood pharmacy across the street. Everything that was needed from sniffles to a bruise was purchased from the family owned pharmacy across the street from our store. If we had a fever, my mother would cross the street and buy the needed aspirins, or because my brother was such an active little boy, bandages. If Mr. Shay, the pharmacist, needed a quart of milk, he would come to our store. Nice and simple and everyone got along fine, right? Wrong!
My mother was known all over South Philly for her bad driving, but on one particular day, while driving haphazardly through the neighborhood, she happened to spot Mrs. Shay coming out of a competitor’s grocery story. Lucy told Fred, who was already upset with the Shays because they had upped their prices on the St. Joseph's baby aspirins. With four kids, someone was always bound to be sick and my father bought lots of aspirins from the Shays.

What did Fred do? He began to sell aspirins, Milk of Magnesia, and boxes of Smith Brothers’ cough drops. The battle had begun! As soon as Mr. Shay learned about my father's venture into the pharmaceutical business, he went bananas, literally bananas. The next day, Mr. Shay was seen placing a small wooden table outside of his pharmacy. He then put a crate of oranges and apples on the table.  
The neighbors (customers) were now expected to choose sides. It was quite comical to watch the neighbors sneaking past the pharmacy to get to our store without upsetting the Shays. Mr. Shay was trying to coerce them into buying the fruit from his pharmacy while Fred stood outside his store shaking a bottle of aspirins and calling out, “Big sale, cheaper over here." Our poor neighbors were caught in between two mad men like deer in a car’s headlights.

This went on for several weeks with Mr. Shay adding vegetables to that wooden table and my father adding Band-Aids, Iodine wash, and Calamine lotion to his repertoire. It was so bad that the neighbors had to resort to wearing costumes just to sneak past our grocery store. It was a three ring circus with Fred and Mr. Shay, the ring leaders.                                                                                                                            
Finally, to keep peace in neighborhood and not to lose our loyal customers, Fred had a sit down with Mr. Shay. Think of the meeting between the Governor and Rick Grimes from “The Walking Dead.” Yep, just like that!

My father agreed to stop selling medicine and Mr. Shay got rid of his produce table. For a little while, peace had returned to Porter Street, but the war with the neighborhood hardware store was just around the corner.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Meet the Brains behind B17


I love promoting people and I've done a few interviews over the last year that I'm very proud of.  Check it out on my interview page on my blog.
Some of the people I interview on my blog became my friend through Facebook or Twitter, but this interview that I'm sharing with you now is more special. I've known Dylan Evans for a long time. We worked together at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Once a week, every Monday, I would work in Outside-in. Dylan Evans was a volunteer in Outside-in and in the Live Animal Unit. He was an amazing worker and wise beyond his years. I keep in touch with all my friends from the Academy and I was very excited to learn that Dylan Evans and Nick Fitzke were the brains behind B 17. Dylan Evans agreed to let little Miss Marie brag about her former volunteer. So let me do that now.


Marie Gilbert: Dylan, I'm so happy to have you as a guest on my blog. Tell my readers a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with B17?

 Dylan Evans: B17 was an idea that my fraternity brother Nick Fitzke and I had going for a while. It wasn't until one day we randomly decided to put our ideas into motion. I came back from class (currently attending Temple University) sat down with Nick and created B17 into what it is today. Since I have no musical talent I decided to do what I know best music production/business. I currently work for Live Nation (over 4 years) and recently started working for Global Spectrum. I have been in the business and I wanted to branch into the college music scene at Temple because I see the opportunity for artist exposure, industry experience, and the opportunity to make money. My business partner Nick Fitzke is one of our artists/promoters/media designers. Finally, the last person of my team is a man named Darwin Paz. He is our last promoter and event photographer. B17's three man team is coordinated, efficient and effective in getting the job done and bringing the individual a unique concert experience. 

Marie Gilbert: What type of audience are you aiming to reach with your music?

Dylan Evans: For now B17's audience is primarily Temple University students as the bars and house shows we book are near campus. However, what makes B17 great is that were not just about having shows and parties. Artist exposure and promotion is what we do as well. Our diverse rooster of artists range from EDM dj's to acoustic singers. Currently B17 has 4 artists: DJ Nortap, DJ IAM, Kid Nova, and Katie Byrne. Our audience is anyone whose looking for good music and good times. We had a show at a bar called Maxis, over 300 people came and they sold out of PBR beer, Long Island Ice Teas, and yingling octoberfest beer. There was a 30 min line just to get in, and that was our first show! Currently B17 has a rap show planned for November 23. If shows are not your thing, we post all of our artists music on facebook.com/b17music.

Marie Gilbert: What future plans do you have in the works with B17 Production

Dylan Evans: The plans for the future of B17 are clear from a promoter stand point. Continue building an audience and start slowly building outside of Temple University. Build up a stronger audience allows for bigger venues to be booked. In addition the bigger B17 gets will allow me to start pushing our artists harder and harder to create more of their own content. As of now B17 artists all have their own original songs. My overall plan is to get them to create their own albums by the end of the year. 

Marie Gilbert: Where can my readers find your music?

Dylan Evans: For anyone interested on helping B17, please check out our music on:






Katie Byrne:
youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/KatieByrneMusic

Reverb Nation: http://www.reverbnation.com/katiebyrne

Kid Nova: https://www.facebook.com/pages/DJ-KiD-NoVa/357525930948930

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/kid-n0va

Thank you so much Dylan for being my blog guest, and I'll be keeping an eye on your company's progress, maybe do a follow up interview with you. And for all my readers and music lovers out there, check out B17.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Amazing Jack Flacco, Author of Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse

 I'm so excited about this interview. Jack Flacco is a very talented writer, who like me, loves zombies. His blog features three popular subjects, but my favorite is Women Who Wow. Jack has recently published his book and it's already making news. Join me now as I introduce Jack Flacco, the brains behind Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse

Marie Gilbert: Hi Jack. It's such a pleasure to have you as my guest. Let's start off the interview with you telling us a little bit about yourself.



Jack Flacco: I feel awkward whenever someone asks me this question since it requires some bragging. How about if I just say I write about stuff and some of the stuff makes sense. How does that sound?


Marie Gilbert: I understand completely, Jack and I'll do the bragging for you. Jack is an amazing writer who lives in Ontario, Canada. He and his wife not only contribute to many charitable organizations, but they strongly believe in the importance of Universal Literacy. I could do more bragging about Jack, but I better get back to the interview. Jack, who or what was your inspiration for this book.


Jack Flacco: I woke up one morning with a name on my mind—Ranger Martin. Whoever he was, his name stuck with me. As I shaved that morning, images swirled in my head of Ranger’s exploits fighting legions of zombies. It became evident he would be the star in a book that I had yet to write.


Marie Gilbert: Tell us about Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse and what makes this book different than the other zombie books on the shelves?


Jack Flacco: My current reading material nowadays consists of legal thrillers by John Grisham. I’m attempting to consume his entire bibliography in chronological order based on publication date. I’m halfway there. Missing from my bookshelf is a large swath of zombie literature to which I can compare my book. If you find something you like in the series, let me know, I’m interested in what the audience thinks. As an alternative, you can also read the reviews on my site and on Amazon. Zombie fans would know more of what makes Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse different than from what I can ever say about the series.


Marie Gilbert: Side note to my readers: If you want an insight into Jack's thinking on zombies, check out his Mayhem Mondays on his blog. Back to you, JackIs the book available on Nook and Kindle?


Jack Flacco: It is available from Amazon as an eBook and as a paperback.


Marie Gilbert: Will there be a sequel to Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse?


Jack Flacco: Yes. 


Marie Gilbert: Well, I for one, will be anxiously awaiting the sequel. What publishing house did you use or is this self-published? If self-published (I’m a fan of self-published if done professionally). Tells us the cons and pros of getting the book to the finish line?


Jack Flacco: For the eBook, I used Amazon’s Kindle Desktop Publishing site to submit my manuscript. Once accepted, they take care of distribution. For the paperback version, I used CreateSpace. The rules are pretty much the same for both platforms and Amazon looks after the backend. It makes for a seamless process. As for finishing the book, I had hard deadlines to hit for every step of the way (writing, editing, proofing, etc.). Concept art took months to finalize. In the end, it all came together without a hitch. I’m thrilled to know my fans have embraced the book to make it their own.


Marie Gilbert: What suggestions would you give to other aspiring writers to help them in their journey to being published. What have you learned from your trials and tribulations?


Jack Flacco: Life has many distractions, remain focused. Everyone has chores, car maintenance, school, work, and medical appointments to keep. Make a commitment and follow through. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them. Stay away from the dark side of the business. You’ll recognize it by hearing others say phrases such as, “I’ve lost my inspiration”, “I feel so down”, “I’m insecure with what I’m creating”, “I’m struggling here”, “All I get is rejection”, “I can’t get an agent/publishing deal”, “I don’t feel like doing anything today.” Put on the blinders and keep pushing forward. Forget about the excuses. Your success is your own.


Marie Gilbert: Jack, In your opinion how has social media helped writers.


Jack Flacco: Social media provides writers with the opportunity to connect with their fans one-on-one. That’s the canned response. My answer? Social Media’s a great way to have fun with the audience in order for them to feel as if they’re involved in the creative process. I feel privileged to have a supportive group of folks who forgives my posting silly photos on facebook of trees, food, and other weird and wonderful things. They certainly know how to brighten my day.


Marie Gilbert: I Love your blog and know the readers would like to learn more about it.


Jack Flacco: Sure, you can find me at www.JackFlacco.com. I post three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My Monday Mayhem series deals with all things zombie. Women Who Wow Wednesday features strong female leads in motion pictures and TV. And I write whatever comes to mind during Freedom Friday.


Marie Gilbert: Jack, my last question, where can we find your book?


Jack Flacco: You can find it available worldwide exclusively at Amazon.

Jack, I want to thank you for being a guest on my blog, and for all my zombie snacks out there, buy the book and tell me what you think. Make sure to check out Jack Flacco's Blog; you won't be sorry:)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Life with Fred and Lucy, Part Three: Spying 101

                                                     Lucy &  Fred                            

When I was around 11 years old, a supermarket had opened several blocks from our store. It was called the A&P. That bit of news sent shock waves throughout the area. For women shoppers, it was a bigger store featuring more items at a lower cost than the neighborhood grocery stores were able to provide. To the owners of small grocery stores, it was life or death situation, which required immediate action. Fred declared war on the A & P!
First Fred had to find out what the other stores were charging for their Italian lunch meats, dairy items, and breads. This called for a strategic gathering of information. It called for well-trained spies.
                                     MI6 Agents: Lucy, Michael, Marie and Jane

Fred sent my mother to the A & P to check on their prices. We had nothing to fear, at least when it came to the luncheon meats. My dad bought the highest quality meats; the new store did not. But the A & P sold everything in one place and that wasn’t good.
So Fred began to stock up on everything from aspirins, to ladies’ nylons, to comic books; you name it, he had it. But he was still worried about the prices of his neighborhood competitors. Thus was born Fred’s junior spy brigade.
                                         Fred's spies on their get away wagon
Fred had my sister Jane and I dress up in disguises. We went shopping for certain items at the other grocery stores. Our disguises fooled no one. It was embarrassing. Luckily for us, the two sons of a competitor's store kept our secret on my sister and my trips to buy food. They never ratted us out. Want to know why?
Their dad had them doing the same thing. There were four grocery stores within walking distance to each other and all the kids were being used as spies in order to keep tabs on the competitors prices. Eventually, all the junior spies made a deal to cash in on all this counter intelligence work we were ordered to do by our parents. We kids (the spies) began lying about the price of the food in order to buy candy with the extra cash. The candy was shared between all the kids involved with the spying. We had a good thing going until our parents figured out what we were doing.

Fred was able to get all the grocery stores in our neighborhood to agree to a pricing method that would enable the small businesses in our part of South Philly to survive the big supermarkets that were popping up all over. Great things happen when everyone works together.
Next episode, I'll tell you about the war between Fred and the Neighborhood Pharmacy: Orange to Aspirins. 


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Night of the Hunter


Even though I love watching and writing about things that are scary, like zombies, aliens and vampires; there are a few movies that can spook even a horror aficionado like myself. One of these movies is the 1955 hit, The Night of the Hunter.
Directed by Charles Laughton and starred Robert Mitchum, Shelley Winters and Lillian Gish, this movie is taken from the book of the same name by Davis Grubb. Now here is the freaking scary part. The book and movie are based on a true story.

A man named Harry Powers was responsible for wooing, marrying, and then killing two widows and three children. He did it for the money and because he’s a sick bastard that got what he justly deserved; hanging. But, let’s review the movie, which is sometimes shown on TCM.
Ben Harper (Peter Graves commits a robbery in which two men are killed. Before he’s caught, he has a chance to hide the money where no one will ever find it. Only his young son, John (Billy Chapin) knows the secret. While awaiting his execution, Ben Harper makes friends with another prisoner, Reverend Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum). Powell is trying to find out where the stolen money is, but the only thing Ben will tell him is “A child shall lead them.”

It’s not much of a clue, but Powell knows that the children are part of the secret. Robert Mitchum is a wonderfully talented actor, but he scares the shit out of me. He outdid himself in this movie, giving me nightmares whenever I watch this movie. His character is a sickie alright with his tattoos of ‘Love’ on one hand and ‘Hate’ on the other hand and his smooth talking ways. He searches out Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) and woos her. Blind to the Reverend’s evil ways, Willa marries Rev. Powell.
John and Pearl
John Harper (Billy Chapin) can see right through the guise of Rev. Powell. Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce) is a wee one and doesn’t understand why her brother doesn’t trust the new daddy.

John is a survivor and very protective of his little sister. When the Reverend questions and threatens the children on the whereabouts of the money, Willa overhears him. That night, she pays with her life.
But John and his sister, along with her doll, escape the Reverend’s clutches and take off in the boat, floating down the river until they come to the river’s edge and sanctuary.

Rachael Cooper
Rachael Cooper is played by the marvelous Lillian Gish. She gracefully moved from silent films into talkies. Rachael is a good soul, a tough old soul, who takes in the lost children of the world. She feeds, heals wounds; seen and unseen, and she protects like a mother grizzly bear. When John and Pearl come to her half-starving and fearful of their lives, she opens her home, arms and heart to them. Before long John and Pearl are part of the growing family that Rachael has gathered to herself.

When the Reverend tracks the children to Rachael’s farm, he mistakenly takes Rachael for a weak woman. He’s mistaken, big time. Shotgun in hand, Rachael sends Reverend Powell running with his tail between his legs and the police in close pursuit. Rachael sums up the whole horrible events that John, Pearl and the other lost children had survived before reaching her protective arms with this message, “Children, they abide and they endure.”

Watch this movie if you get a chance and tell me if Robert Mitchum wasn’t scary as hell.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Introducing the Wonderful and Talented Author, Keira Kroft


Today my little zombie friends, I'm turning my blog over to a good friend, Keira Kroft. I'll let her tell you about herself and her book.

Take it away, Keira!!!

Hello, my name is Keira Kroft and I am the author of romantic suspense, Glow in the Dark,

Marie has been so kind as to let me and my hot fireman visit her awesome blog today.

A little tidbit about Glow in the Dark.


Single mother Corey Nolan thinks that her life has made a turn for the better, when she meets three handsome firemen from Chicago’s engine 25. Until her daughter’s life is threatened and someone tries to burn Corey and her family alive.



Corey is a bartender and would like to share the following drink recipe with you.

 750 mls southern comfort

12 ozs lemonade concentrate (thawed)

12 ozs orange juice concentrate (thawed) 
2 liters of sprite
2 pints of Rainbow sherbet


Place all the ingredients in a large punch bowl. It stays cold for quite a while.


Enjoy~ Corey Nolan, Character in Glow in the Dark



                                     Jake the fireman shares this safety tip.



Make sure all family members know what to do in the event of a fire. Draw a floor plan with at least two ways of escaping every room. Make a drawing for each floor. Dimensions do not need to be correct. Make sure the plan shows important details: stairs, hallways and windows that can be used as fire escape routes
Test windows and doors—do they open easy enough? Are they wide enough? Or tall enough?

Choose a safe meeting place outside the house.

Practice alerting other members. It is a good idea to keep a bell and flashlight in each bedroom.

Be Safe~ Jake Gilroy, Character in Glow in the Dark

Complete synopsis

Women melt around smokin’ hot Chicago fire fighter Jake Gilroy like butter in a hot pan, getting him dubbed the clich├ęd and rather false moniker…“the ladies man”. Yet, he never had an interest in anyone, until he meets Corey. She’s different and doesn’t seem to be turning into a pool of goo around him. He wants her and must have her. But she is already taken so he can’t have her…can he?

At first Corey Nolan is resistant to Jake’s advances until a series of events proves that the love between her and her dead beat boyfriend have dissipated a long time ago. It’s then that she begins to think that she and Jake just might have a chance at something real. Until—it becomes clear that someone is stalking her and killing off the people she loves and that her need for Jake may be more than desire—it may be a matter of life and death...


The first Chapter of Glow in the Dark




The doorway stood empty. The entire corridor appeared abandoned, except for the occasional nurse scurrying by, even that was very far and few between.

Please God, please.

Corey Nolan surveyed her languid five-year old. One minute she had been fine—in the blink of an eye she was here, hooked up to a ventilator to help her breathe, a tube stuck up her nose, another one down her throat and a needle jammed in her tiny hand. The cuff on her arm wrapped around to check her blood pressure periodically. A gray plastic clip clamped to her tiny finger measured her oxygen levels.

Please, Molly needs to wake up.

She wasn’t sure that imploring a higher power would work. But it didn’t make one bit of difference; she was willing to try anything. Whatever it took, anything she had to do… it would be done.

Corey released her hands from their prayer position, and slowly stood up from the orange plastic chair, moving her head from side to side until her neck cracked. Her muscles were tight from sitting half the night in the chilly room. The neatly molded corners and freshly waxed taupe-colored floor, with scattered orange triangles and lack of curtains or any homey touches whatsoever, gave the room an unfriendly aura. The large round clock adhered to the wall revealed that it was after nine in the morning already.

Where was her mother? What could be keeping her? Added fear and anxiety was not something she wanted to deal with right now. Her heart pounded as she glanced at her daughter once again. Strength and positive thinking was what Molly needed right now. Corey couldn’t afford to break down.

Molly was so sweet, innocent, and trusting. Corey would have done anything to protect her. It was too late. She couldn’t protect Molly just like her parents couldn’t protect her. She stifled a sob.

Trudging to the other side of the room, she laid a hand against the locker that passed for a closet. The cold metal beneath the gray paint gave her a chill. Images of the man that had made her life unbearable for everyone she loved swarmed in her vision. His face appeared in her head, laughing at her, tormenting her.

“Go away!” she screamed.

Slowly, she turned toward the hall wondering if anyone had heard. They would have probably thought she was crazy. They’d take one look at her and lock her up, maybe throw the key away. If any stranger witnessed her outburst, they would not have understood what the last year had been like for her—for all her loved ones.

Corey threw another glance at her daughter. Her tirade didn’t breed any response from a comatose Molly, or any of the staff for that matter.

Jerking the door open, she grabbed the blanket and clutched it to her chest, willing the tension away. She needed to stay sane, in control—anything to help her daughter. Composing herself and releasing her tight grip, she shook the blanket open as she walked over to Molly. She then tucked her daughter in tight and read her a story, just as she had done every night for five years. Except now, it wasn’t dark outside and Molly wasn’t tucked safe in her own bed. She’d been told it was good to read to patients in a coma. Halfway through The Cat in the Hat, her eyes brimmed with despair, and she couldn’t make out the rest of the words.

“I love you,” she whispered, her voice cracking. She set the book aside and stroked Molly’s hair. The usual silkiness was dull and luster-lacking. Smoothing a stray strand, she drew away and straightened. Her daughter’s pale face didn’t move. No twitch of her eyes, no quirk of her mouth, no flutter of her lips when she breathed out during sleep.

“Stay strong, Corey.” The words said out loud didn’t help. She should have been telling Molly to be brave, but her own strength was trickling away with every hour Molly lay silent.

Desperation formed a knot in her throat. Needing a minute away to pull herself back together, she whirled around quickly, almost knocking a vase over, but catching it before it shattered to the floor—just as her nerves threatened to do. Corey could barely put it back on the bureau in one piece, her hands trembling. Stifling the sob that threatened to erupt, she bolted to the bathroom.

She stood in front of the sink and stared into the mirror. Leaning in, she pulled the taunt skin under her eyes downward. The dark circles looked terrible along with the black streak marks over her skin. If Jake could see her now, he probably wouldn’t think she was all that great of a catch. Damn, how embarrassing am I with all this soot on my face, my arms, and my clothes?

“Who cares right now?” she mumbled, and then marched back to her daughter’s bedside. She plopped down into the chair and gently placed Molly’s IV-ed hand into hers. Careful not cause her daughter any more pain, she gripped those tiny, precious fingers. “I don’t know what I can do? I can tell you that I will love you—for always. You breathe a special life into the large part of my heart. If you go away, it will die.” Emotion choked her. She sobbed, unable to hold it in any longer.

She didn’t know how much time had passed. Deep breaths were the only thing that could calm her at this point. With her free hand, she pulled out her cell phone and pressed a number on the keypad. Placing the phone to her ear, she kept her gaze on Molly; her serene expression brought another rush of tension to Corey’s chest. She breathed harder, trying to control the uneasy pacing of her heart.

“I am trying your grandmother again. She is late as usual.”

Molly continued to lay unmoving. Corey bit her lip as the ringing sounded through the device. Come on, Mom, where are you? I need you. This isn’t like you. Faith Nolan was still not picking up.

Corey dropped the phone onto the bureau and stood up, anger surging through her. With arms stretched out, she glared at the ceiling. “Is this my punishment, you tell me? Yes, you—that thing, that being I assume is watching over us, protecting us. Ha! That day I was told by my doctor that my heart was too weak to carry Molly—” She fell to her knees. “I did it anyway. So, this is it, my penance, right?”

Crawling to Molly’s bedside, Corey gripped her baby’s small fingers. “I won’t let you take her, I won’t.”


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Keira Kroft


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