Meet The Character | The Self-Sabotager

They call me Max Carver, because that’s the name on the cover. I’m the latest contender in the world of Graphic Novelists. My fans line up outside the bookstores and comic book shops, dressed like characters I created, waiting to see what carnage will be wrought and what kind of debauched mess their favorite anti-hero has gotten himself into this time.

Insidious “Sid” Strider gives all bad things a bad name, and man, do they love him. They can’t get enough of my morally-challenged alter ego. The one who’s always been free to do exactly what he wants; extending two middle fingers to the world like twin banners of pride.

No one knows that he’s been my cathartic outlet since I was seventeen; that he was born out of the madness following childhood tragedy. That he’s my much needed escape from reality, my purge of all the fear and rage. They can’t know that at times, he’s still the only solace I seek, my most trusted confidant.

Mostly, they don’t know that I’m a girl.

A young woman frayed at the edges behind an easy smile. Picking at the threads of my seams when no one’s looking. They have no clue that Sid isn’t my only sordid outlet.

In my private life, I’m a submissive of the Alternative Lifestyle known by and large as Kink. I found it quite naturally and never looked for anything else, even though I always ruin it. A subconscious demand stemming from my many contradictions, which, eventually–and without fail–push me to rebel against contentedness and comfort.

I’m the good girl in need of a strict-ass Dom who won’t put up with my shit. Though, in all fairness, it’s a lot of shit. I really can’t blame them for falling for the lies I tell myself, while pulling the wool over their eyes because they let me get away with it before. It’s not their fault I’m constantly testing them and watching them fail. Somewhere in the dark complexities of my mind, they’re fighting the inevitable.

I don’t have issues, so much as a solid record.

But Hayden’s not failing. He’s calling me out on my BS at our first meeting, switching up the rules of engagement from any other Dom I’ve ever met and you’d think that was a good thing. Except, good things are like bad thing’s crack, and I feel Sid creeping out of his cage, just waiting to make a long-lasting impression.

I don’t know if this is going to be an amazing ride or the toughest trial of my life, but I do know one thing: I’m destined to fuck it all up. I won’t be able to stop myself. I will tow the line, bend the knee, and earn my “good girls” – but in the end, I’m still a self-sabotaging mess seeking a miraculous change, while fighting tooth-and-nail to remain exactly the same.

~ Catherine Maxine Nicholson

Meet The Character | The Sadist

Screams thread the very fabric of my existence, weaving worlds of pain, blood, and pleasure together. Like any addict or connoisseur, I do have my preferences. Emissions of pleasure wrought by pain are, indeed, my favorite. But I am the Harvester; the one my Head of House turns to when he needs answers. My skills are legendary, as are my results.

They say you can’t glean truth through torture. I say they’re not doing it right. Besides, we’re not human. Most of the creatures who end up on my cross can regenerate within days, if not hours. And trust me, the agony of regrowing bones is far more excruciating than having them ripped out of your body. Loyalties never fail to leach into the bloodstained floor at my feet, the truth pouring out faster than bodily fluids.

I am the sadist without remorse, the second most powerful Elemental in the Phoenix Down Territory. Redford is my Household. Scotland is the one I answer to, for Fire is the demon I feed. But I am also half of a cruelly enforced bond. Berlin is my equal in every possible way, the only enemy I could never defeat on the battlefield and now we are two parts of a shared judgement, sentenced by Aeolus, himself. Due to our major parts in the Territory Wars, we’re now cursed with the inability to find satiation without each other. We live, eat, fight, and fuck together.

It’s much kinkier than it sounds, for Berlin is Water, my natural enemy. Our Elements are fatal to one another’s, making life and fun a little on the tricky side to accomplish with any kind of satisfaction. Of course, we found a loophole–quite a painful one, at that–an exchange I usually endure awash in Berlin’s screams.

Nothing we’ve ever known compares to the one we’re sent to capture for our Elder. Even while her Water slays me, her instant connection with Berlin riles this sadist like nothing else on earth. Because I heard her scream. And, fuck, it was like the maddening ride of an opium haze laced with delirious obsessions, triggering an orgasmic high in each of my senses. I can’t get enough. I would coax the full range out of her if it took an eternity, and I’d devour each pitch until her screams were infused with my soul–if only she were mine to render in pain so reverently.

~ Damascus Dmitri Redford

Dear Indie | Genre Trends

Hi Indies!

Have you ever noticed that whenever a certain genre niche gets popular, the market is suddenly inundated with a ton of similar books? Secret Baby trend hits big and – BOOM – 100,000 new secret baby books hit the market overnight. WTF? Were all those authors actually sitting on a finished book, just waiting for that particular niche to make it big before publishing? Why didn’t I think of that?! Ugh!

But is that the truth of the situation, or just how it appears? Are niches really popular long enough for authors to start a book from scratch and publish it while the trend is still hot–or do they just have remarkably lucky timing with what they’re already working on?

These aren’t the only questions I find myself scratching my head over when it comes to why certain books make it and others don’t, despite how alike they are. Of course, we already know why some books make it big, even from unknown authors – it’s because they had that extra. It doesn’t matter what the extra was, it set them apart from the competition. For example: Hunger Games, Maze Runner, and Divergent are all YA/NA Dystopian/SciFi and deal with a society or group of people “trapped” in one place, oppressed or strictly governed by a more powerful force. They have a romantic entanglement tossed in or love triangle, which is a common trope for this genre – yet they are so distinctly different with their “extra” that they made it through the mountains of books that just weren’t different enough – or weren’t written as well.

Those are the two key factors: Uniqueness and Well Written. The bonus third factor of course, is marketing/branding/exposure.

But I’ve got a 4th key factor that I never paid any attention to in the past, and maybe you haven’t either: Genre Trends.

I’m not saying you should be searching for a daily report while obsessively typing away to try to get a trending niche book out on the market before it drops in popularity – I’m saying once you have the book you just had to write finished, check the market trends before publishing. There’s a possibility that if you hold off just one week, two months, etc. your book will actually do 100% better at its launch, then if you publish too soon (or not soon enough).

We spend so much time and effort ensuring that our books are at their best before introducing them to the world at large, doing this one extra step is definitely not going to hurt. Impatience is just as big an enemy as procrastination. I for one am going to add this step to my pre-publishing process from now on – and maybe I’m the only one here who hasn’t actually been doing it this whole time (that would not surprise me, lol!) I just wanted to share in case others haven’t been paying any mind to the current trends when they publish, either. And I also wanted to mention it for those of you who are still aspiring writers, for future reference.

I’ve stumbled upon a good website called “Watched Plot Never Boils” that is specifically designed to keep authors up to date – weekly – on MOST genre’s niche trends. It covers quite a bit of the common genres, but misses others. Though, the website owner might be open to suggestions. It’s pretty cool, if you want to check it out and I’m sure it’s not the only one, but I like it. Week by week the trends don’t change much so it can get a little repetitive – but if you only hop on there to check out your specific genre when you’re getting ready to publish, it’s quite informative breaking down the niches, character types, and plot tropes in a way that’s fun to read rather than dry and analytical. But, as with everything else in this industry, double and triple check your information and never rely on just one source for the whole picture.

Now, I’d like to pose some questions, which you can answer in the comments below or just use as food for thought. 🙂

  1. Do you write only according to what’s popular at the time or do you write your own thing and hope for the best?
  2. Do you often find yourself searching for a way to add a new twist – that “extra” – to an old, favorite theme? ( i.e. fairytales, mythology, etc.)
  3. Would you ever sacrifice your true “writer” self just to sell books? i.e. write differently (or in your opinion, worse) than normal, try a POV you’ve never used before, or write about topics you typically wouldn’t, etc.?
  4. Do you hold fast to the long-standing belief that publishing one astonishing book a year is the best practice – or, do you think that’s become outdated and no longer smart business for the modern-day, e-commerce marketplace?
  5. Last, but not least and this is a 2-parter. #1: What’s your view on ghost writers and do you think they’re in more use today than ever before due to the high demand for faster release dates? #2: Would you take an entire year off (or longer) from publishing to just write, so that you could have multiple finished books to publish in faster succession or would you rather hire a ghost writer to pick up the slack?

❤ Okay, that’s all the questions (for now) 😀 Happy Hump Day, Indies, make it a good one!



I’ve officially given up trying to stay focused on one book at a time, it’s not working. My brain (aka muse) just doesn’t work that way, apparently. All I accomplish is staring at the computer screen and getting no writing done. So, I suppose that completely defeats the purpose of my DIY 30 day Challenge. However, having to be accountable for a word count every Wednesday has been helping me stay in the habit of writing every day, no matter which WIP it’s on and that’s better than not writing at all.

I didn’t gain much on my word count this past week, because I was working on the first pass of my new book, Hexed, so I could get the MS back to my editor. Below are my new counts. By March 7th, I may still get 50,000 written, it just won’t be all on one book! LOL

Fox Trot (Dark Day Isle: The Ultimate Kink Resort, Book 3): 10,624

Mistress Wanted (Revision): 25,147 (May be scrapping and completely rewriting)

Mistress Wanted (New Book 2): 5,865

Broken Toys: 17,542 (Have not added any new words to this since the beginning of the challenge but was cleaning it up a bit yesterday, which means I may be working on it this next week)

Happy Hump Day!



Okay, here’s to my DIY 30 Day Challenge. Last week I mentioned that I was going to focus on one book and get the first draft done in 30 days. My muse was not impressed by my attempts to squash her fickle flightiness, so we’ve come to a small compromise.

I’m still only focusing on writing one new book, but at the same time, I’m rewriting an old, old novel that I finished like a decade ago and never did anything with. It’s just been sitting in my documents collecting cyber dust. So, below are the word counts for both the new and the revised this week…

Fox Trot (Dark Day Isle: The Ultimate Kink Resort, Book 3): 9,200 words

Mistress Wanted: 24,221 words

Revising is so much easier than writing new content, especially when the characters aren’t that talkative – but I’m really going to have crack down on Felix if I hope to reach my goal, since I’m currently stalled in his POV! Stubborn Doms…

Happy Hump Day!

#WeeklyWritables ♥ Self-Inflicted



Henley sat at a small, window-side table in McCallan Point’s only café and glared at the screen of his laptop. The reports staring back at him couldn’t be right. He would’ve sworn he’d dumped far more money into his offshore account than that. Just in case. Fuck, this was his just in case, and now it was worse than he’d already believed!

His fists clenched under the table and he counted down from a hundred, combating the urge to throw his laptop across the room. What the fuck was he going to do? He’d lost everything overnight. Every business, every penny and worse, every ounce of respect his name had commanded for years. Over two decades, he’d busted his ass building an empire and with one blind spot, it had all come crumbling down. It killed him that it had been someone he’d spent half his life thinking of as a brother. His best friend. The one who’d been with him through it all. To be betrayed by the only person he’d ever trusted enough to divulge all of his secrets to, was beyond crushing. It was a living hell. A nightmare Henley simply couldn’t see a way out of. He was in ruins. Even if he could start over, take what little capital he had left and rebuild, his name was dirt. Vic hadn’t been satisfied with just ripping his wealth away from him, he’d made sure Henley couldn’t even get a fucking loan!

Nobody trusted the Crane name now. That was the worst of it. The hilt of the knife Vic had stabbed him in the back with. The salt he’d maliciously scoured into the open wounds. How had he not seen the signs? Henley prided himself on his ability to read people better than he let on. He’d always known who his enemies were, both socially and professionally. Vic had never made a blip on his radar. They’d done everything together; college, startups, women. There had been nothing secret between them and nothing they hadn’t shared. That kind of bond, that level of trust…

Henley’s thoughts were just as jarred as the bells hanging over the café door, when it was thrust open and a woman tripped inside with a shocked expression on her face. Though, that was mostly covered by stylish sunglasses. Embarrassment reddened her cheeks until they almost matched her gaping lips, and Henley felt a dangerous, familiar stir low in his gut. It was a good look on a woman. One he’d personally triggered countless times.

“Wow, I’m so sorry.” She recovered quickly, turning to apologize to the baristas behind the counter. “I had no idea it would open that easily, that is…really light.”

Henley nearly sneered at the dimwitted remark and drank in her tall, statuesque form from behind. Designer jeans hugged slender legs under the pale gray sweater that draped over her ass with a rounded hem. Even from twenty yards, he knew it was cashmere. Just like he knew her over-sized, deer hide handbag was real and carried a price tag in the thousands. Her hair was layers of golden browns and blonds, salon produced, not natural and pulled into a fashionable ponytail at the back of her head. The sunglasses she perched atop her perfectly styled hair couldn’t be found in any store in America. They’d undoubtedly been shipped directly to her doorstep, along with other accessories some Italian designer wanted to impress her with. Anything to have their brand advertised on the most effective billboards in existence: famous people.

But who was she? Henley couldn’t draw a name, not that he always expected to. Contrary to popular belief, not all rich people knew each other. There were still cliques among the elite, and they rarely overlapped. He’d spent all of his time rubbing elbows with other wealthy businessmen and women, networking among the corporate moguls and Fortune 500 tycoons. He hadn’t dabbled in the realm of celebrities, and the only time he’d entertained conversation with a trust-fund kid, was when they were actually in the game, getting ready to take their place as a rightful heir to a throne within his world. More than her name, though, Henley wanted to know why she was there. A sudden feeling of distrust settled atop the other nonsense he was struggling with. McCallan Point wasn’t a tourist destination for the wealthy. It was better known for local artists, crabbing, fishing, boating and people who just wanted to be left the hell alone. Like Henley. That’s why he’d chosen it. So, why was someone from his old life there and why so soon? He hadn’t even had the chance to lick his wounds yet.

With half an ear, he listened to her order some fancy latte to go. The moment she asked for directions, she had his undivided attention.

“Would you know how to get to White Rock Landing?”

Henley rolled his eyes to the ceiling and barely managed to keep his groan checked. She had to be joking. It was just more cruel punishment to dump on the head of someone already down and bleeding. Because fate hadn’t gotten its rocks off yet, or what? Fuck.

“Yeah, of course, I do, I mean sure.” The teenage, pimple-faced boy behind the counter grinned, causing Henley to smack his lips dryly.

Keep dreaming, kid.

Torn between prolonging his misery and just getting it the hell over with, it took Henley a few minutes to shut down his laptop and polish off the rest of his coffee. Now that he knew his nest egg was more the size of a chicken’s than an ostrich’s, it would undoubtedly be the last espresso he’d be splurging on for awhile. After standing and shoving his laptop into its carrying case, he scraped the chair in with enough noise to get everyone’s attention. He hadn’t been prepared, when the woman turned and their gazes collided. Her eyes were as undecided as a storm cloud, hovering somewhere between gray and blue. Too light to be called slate, too dark to be anything else. Her stunning features were mostly sharp, yet delicate. It was her mouth Henley was instantly drawn to. Lush and glossed with that wet sheen women knew how to use to their advantage, her top lip was a little more pronounced than her bottom. It gave her the sexy parted lip look used in almost every commercial and magazine ad, except she wasn’t posing. She was just staring at him.

“I’m headed that way. You can follow me.”

Something shifted almost imperceptibly in her eyes, but she quickly smiled to cover it up. “You sure?” she asked with fake politeness, obviously not expecting him to retract the offer, since she didn’t wait for an actual confirmation. “You’re a lifesaver, thank you.”

Henley didn’t respond. He slipped his own sunglasses into place and stalked out the door, letting her scramble to catch up. Exactly when he’d turned the proverbial whip on himself and became the masochist, he couldn’t say, but apparently he felt the need to be punished for that joke of an offshore account. With a single glance at the pretend, beaming smile molding the sexiest set of lips he’d ever seen, Henley had to admit his own sadism was outlandishly worse than he’d ever believed possible.


©A.C. Melody_WIP_Topple

#WeeklyWritables ♥ Word Reveal


It’s time to reveal the word for this week’s #WeeklyWritables!

I’m on a mission this week to keep my Thursday’s submission much shorter than I’ve been doing so far. Last week’s results took me deep into my old ‘story idea’ archives and churned out a much longer excerpt than I’d been planning for, but I suppose finding inspiration and motivation to write is the whole idea of this challenge! 😀 For those interested in how it works, here are the guidelines again, followed by a screenshot of the random word.

Every Tuesday morning I will post a random word and anyone who’d like to join in will have until Thursday to publish their work.

The rules are simple:

  1. Your post must contain the random word at least once (using it for your pingback is probably the most familiar practice for anyone who’s ever done the Daily Prompts)
  2. Short stories, flash fiction, poems, WIP excerpts, and real life experiences are welcome
  3. Please no song lyrics, unless you wrote them yourself – there are already so many music challenges out there, I’d really like this one to be all about creative writing

That’s it! There are no restrictions on length, you can make it as long or short as you want, this is all about feeding your creative energy! Feel free to grab the badge/banner above for your posts, if you’d like. And if you do participate please don’t forget to leave a pingback so I can find your post and read it. I don’t expect this to be an overnight success, but do hope you’ll join in if/when you can!

p.s. Your feedback is more than welcome! If you’d like to join this challenge, but don’t feel the time-limit is long or short enough, I’d love to hear your input!

The #WeeklyWritables word for Thursday is: Frightening


#WeeklyWritables ♥ The Contractor


The Contractor

Delta Simone was everything Dru Simmons would never be. Tall, lusciously curved and exotically sexy. About the only thing they had in common, was their brazen confidence. That hadn’t been the case five years ago, when Dru had taken a job at SinChats to keep a roof over her head while paying a college tuition. Not that she’d been a wallflower, but she’d never envisioned herself as a phone-sex operator, either. Once she’d realized she could spend a few hours being taller than five-two, trade her b-cups in for D’s and finally fill out the ass in her jeans, Dru had given life to her alter-ego and never looked back.

As Delta, she’d become so successful at creating a following, she’d been able to stash enough money away for a cheap house, plus the capital needed to strike out on her own. Desperation may have driven her into the industry, but she could no longer imagine doing anything else.

On the very first night of operating her own business, she anxiously waited for her phone to ring. Could already imagine her bank account doubling, since SinChats would no longer be taking their fat cut out of her paychecks. She was pleased when it didn’t take long for the first call to come in.

“Mm, hello,” she answered in Delta’s sultry, husky voice.

The other end of the line was quiet for a moment, but that wasn’t a shocker. Most callers had given her voice the same response their first time hearing it. Now, over half of them were repeat customers.

“Hi.” A man finally replied.

Dru smiled at the hesitance in his voice. Definitely a first timer. He had a nice, deep timbre, which would make talking to him quite easy.

“Who’s this?” she asked, open and sensually curious.

“This is Don Masters,” he answered, his tone even more uncertain than before.

“Don,” she breathed, savoring his name, as if it weren’t the most obvious cover in history. That wasn’t a surprise, either. Some guys, especially phone-sex virgins, were too embarrassed to give their real names. “What can I do for you this evening, Don?”

With Delta’s voice, the very real promise of giving him anything he wanted dripped off each syllable and she heard the telling catch in his breathing.

“I was calling to see what I could do for you,” he said forcibly. “I’m the contractor.”

“Oh, my,” she replied, intrigued. Yay, role playing! One of her favorites. “Don, is it true what they say about contractors?”

He was silent again. “Depends on which story you heard,” he ground out. “Do you always answer the phone like this?”

Dru chuckled quietly, seductively. “Should I answer it differently?”

“How about like a normal person?” he suggested, sounding agitated.

Dru rolled her eyes. One downside to branching out on her own was having no one to vet her calls. It was a risk she’d weighed and decided to pay, though she’d never thought it would rear its ugly head right out the gate.

“I’m sorry. Hello, Don, how are you this evening?” she asked, ready to please so the call could end sooner. It was too bad, because she really did enjoy the sound of his voice.

“Can’t complain.” His gruff tone said otherwise. “But, I’m looking for Dru Simmons.”

Everything in Dru froze. It was a phone-sex operator’s worst nightmare, that someone would find a way to crack through all their securities and discover their true identity. She had to play it off, play it cool and not let on that he’d succeeded or she’d be done for.

Dru gave a light, husky laugh. “Well, you got Delta Simone, sugar,” she replied, satisfied when the panic didn’t carry through to her voice. “But you can call me Dru if you’d like.”

“I think I’ve dialed the wrong number,” he rushed out and hung up.

Dru was hyperventilating. Hand clutched to her chest, she stared at the phone for a full second and then yanked the cord from the base. Next, she dove under her desk to recheck which jack it had been plugged into. When the phone in the kitchen started ringing, she froze again. Then, her heart leaped to her throat when the answering machine clicked on and she thought about a customer getting her real personal greeting meant solely for family and friends. Dru shimmied out of the cramped space in a hurry, halfway between a full-on anxiety attack and fury, when a familiar voice filled the house.

“Dru? It’s mom–”

“Ow, fuck!” she swore, whacking her shoulder on the underside of the desk so she could bolt down the hall and slide into the kitchen to grab the phone.

“I’m here, I’m here,” she panted.

“Druscilla, what have I told you about running in the house?” Her mother chastised.

She didn’t bother checking for hidden cameras this time, but in most other cases her mom’s intuition was just as uncanny. “Mom–”

“Listen, sweetie, I know you’re probably busy with that naughty business of yours.” Dru groaned at her mother’s emphasis, not because it was said in disgust, but in an exaggerated purr. It was one thing for her parents to accept her chosen profession, quite another for her mom to find it fascinating. “I just wanted to let you know that I contacted the contractor that did all the work on our gazebo a few years ago, you remember, Donald Masters? Nice man. Anyway, he’s going to send one of his foremen out to get all the details for your office. He’ll probably be calling to set up a good time with you as soon as possible.”

Dru’s lungs had stopped working the second her mom had uttered his name. Her mind raced back to the gazebo’s construction and could only recall a nice, older man with blond hair and friendly blue eyes, wrinkles fanning out of the corners from the way he squinted in the sunlight. If that was Donald Masters, he did not match the voice of the man she’d just had the most unfortunate conversation with.

“Mom, which number did you give Mr. Masters?”

Her mom laughed. “Honey, I only have one of your numbers and it’s the free one! Don’t worry, I’m sure he’ll call soon.”

Oh, yeah. He hadn’t wasted any time on that. Now, she was left with a major dilemma. It was Friday night, one of her busiest times, and the phone company was already closed. She didn’t even want to calculate all the money she was losing out on, but it wasn’t worth the risk of clients getting her personal recording. Dammit!


Don Masters was a professional. He worked for a very clean, legitimate construction company with high standards and even higher expectations. He thoroughly loved his work and took immense pride in it. Through a pair of Oakley’s, he stared at the rambler he’d just parked in front of. It was a corner lot, which was a bonus in the older neighborhoods. He wasn’t a painter, but that would be at the top of his suggestion list, because the pealing baby blue was an eyesore that hadn’t been popular for at least two decades. The lawn was in vital need of some TLC and landscaping advice. There was a single car garage up the slightly sloped drive where a cherry red Saab was parked.

Don grabbed his clipboard and climbed out, trying to ignore the foul mood still percolating in his system. There were only two explanations for what had happened the night before. Either he’d been given the wrong phone number or someone in the godawful blue house was a phone-sex operator. He prayed it was the former, because he’d never been so aroused just by a woman’s voice before and knowing she wasn’t anything like he’d imagined pissed him off. The outright manipulation was why Don had never and would never pay for phone sex.

He’d just made it to the top of the driveway, when a loud slamming noise broke through the sky and startled him. Brows creased, he followed the continuous racket around the side of the house and through the open gate into the backyard. Don paused, his shielded gaze drinking in the five-foot-nothing woman going at the exterior wall of an obvious DIY mudroom sticking off the back of the house–yet another eyesore–with a sledgehammer. It had to weigh twice as much as she did. Ninety percent of her belonged to the sun-kissed legs sticking out of her tiny denim shorts topped with a fitted tank under an unbuttoned dress shirt rolled halfway up her arms. Her medium brown hair was naturally curly and pulled up into a ponytail at the back of her head.

When she lifted the hammer to take another swing, Don couldn’t stop himself from intervening. Honestly, he would’ve been the world’s worst citizen if he didn’t step in for both her and the house’s sake.

“Whoa, you don’t want to do that,” he approached her with his hand held out, like she was a wild horse. “You’re going to break your arms, before you ever damage that wall.”

She gave a little start, her hazel eyes growing wide behind her safety glasses. At least she’d had the brains to use them and the gloves covering her hands.

“I’m gonna damage your face if you don’t tell me who you are and what the hell you’re doing on my property,” she threatened.

Her voice was honey rich, with enough smokey rasp underlining it to have Don reevaluating his previous stance on phone-sex operators. Because, if the petite juggernaut wasn’t the same Delta Simone he’d spoken to the night before, then he’d trade his tool belt in for one of those nifty white jackets that buckles in the back.

“I’m the contractor,” he stated deliberately, watching her like a hawk for any kind of reaction. “And I’m looking for Mr. Dru Simmons.”

It had been harder to say than he liked. The idea of her being Mrs. Dru Simmons had a hard knot forming in his gut that messed with his head after the things she’d put his body through the night before.

She gave him a smirk that would’ve crushed the ego of another man. “Yeah, and I’m looking for Mr. Drew Barrymore.”

“You’re Dru Simmons?” He was more relieved than surprised, which was a bad thing because it meant she was his potential client and Don never mixed business with pleasure. Ever.

“Look, are you the foreman Don Masters sent or what?” she asked, impatient.

“No,” he smiled. “I am Don Masters.”

The hammer dropped to the ground with a thud and she leaned it against her stomach to peel the gloves off first, then the safety glasses. She was even more attractive with bare hands, devoid of any wedding rings.

“I know Donald Masters,” she stated. “You’re not him.”

It wasn’t the first time he’d gotten that response from old customers of his father’s. They didn’t look anything alike. Don had taken after his mother in every way, from his black hair to his Irish green eyes and a smile that many claimed came straight from the fae; as equally charming as it was mischievous.

“Donald Masters is my father,” he said. “I’m Donovan. Donovan Masters.”

And you’re Delta Simone.

The tiniest jump of nerves in her eyes confirmed what he’d already suspected. It was completely unprofessional. It would break every single one of his own rules. But he would prove her secret identity before he was done with the job. He simply had to. She’d tossed that gauntlet at his feet the moment she’d answered the phone in a way specifically designed to get him all hot and bothered against his will. It wasn’t just a challenge, it was justified dues.



Maybe I should put a word limit on this challenge, I’m just getting worse! LOL When I thought of noise, I immediately thought of construction, which reminded me of this little gem buried deep, deep in the dusty archives of my “story ideas” waiting for me to do something with it. So, I took it out and thought of all the ways I could build on it for today’s post. My original plan was the opposite, having Dru waking up to the racket of construction and going outside to complain about the noise, but this works even nicer, I think. 🙂

#WeeklyWritables ♥ Deal With the Devil


Deal With the Devil

Twilight didn’t fall in the city. It crept up from the gutters, hovering just below the streetlamps long before it touched the sky. Perpetuated by the shadows of looming buildings hungry for everyone’s personal space. Dahlia had always dreamed of rising above them, to see the monster in its entirety. Preferably through the window of a plane whisking her off to some tropical destination. In her fantasies, there was a distant land filled with women just like her and men who loved them freely, not as a vice or fetish. Women who’d been born as men, trying to survive their lot in this sadist’s wet dream called life.

That fantasy was all that remained of her whimsical side. Disenchantment was a slow poison snuffing out hope with such stealth, its death went unnoticed. For the most part, Dahlia had already come to terms with her fate. Learned to embrace the prickly city that tolerated her for its own gain; squeezing all the blood and money out of her in exchange for a few scraps of joy and something making a mockery of love. Everyone did the best with what they had, right? But, it wasn’t about acceptance, anymore. The stigma would follow her, no matter where she went. It was all about survival now.

Through the window of a cab, she watched the crowded sidewalks perform their slow striptease. Layers of business attire peeled away to reveal the sexed-up desperation underneath. Modesty fell by the wayside, as pretty feens clamored for the attention they’d spent all day craving in denial. And the scum snaked out of the inkwells to intersperse themselves among the commoners, seeking the thrill of the game. They were all there to hustle. Thieves and denizens, alike. Men and women poached each other to fill some kind of void, while con-artists relieved them of all their hard-earned cash.

Dahlia had never been guiltless of running cons, but she was hustling big tonight. Stuck her damn neck out for it, too, with all the determination of getting her prize at the end. Her whimsical side might be halfway to the grave, but her reality-check light was still functioning at full capacity and the truth was: she wasn’t getting any younger or relevant. The novelty of her was wearing thin. Newer, more exotic options flooded into the streets daily, siphoning revenue from the Bosses. It made Dahlia expendable and she needed to move on, before they decided to prove it. Leaving just wasn’t an option when your ass was owned. It was something you had to make happen. Sacrifice it all to create a diversion, then run like hell and pray no one noticed.

Too quickly, she arrived at her destination and spotted her diversion sitting alone in the farthest, gloomiest corner the second she walked in. He wore a dark coat and hat, shrouding his masculine features in more mystery than his reputation already secured. As instructed, she went to the bar first and ordered a drink she didn’t even want. Bourbon was poured neat, while she ignored the inevitable gawking with the ease of expertise and a spine of solid diva. It didn’t matter that most of it was forced and left her feeling hollow. They bought that shit, so fuck ’em.

Her hand shook when it wrapped around the glass, because she was nearing that point of no return. Once she set her plan into motion, there would be no going back. No way to stop or reverse it. Oh hell, who was she kidding? It was already too late. The devil had her name. Dahlia turned, just in time to catch the man’s deliberate glance, as he walked right out the back door. Foreboding cut down her spine like a cleaver, her heart slamming against her chest to avoid the blade. Suddenly, the drink made perfect sense and she downed it without tasting a single drop. No burn, no effect. Nothing could quell her nerves.

With every step toward the back door, she tormented herself with vivid memories she’d just as soon forget. It was the fuel needed to sustain her conviction. The reminder of why she’d contacted the devil, himself, to ask for a favor. And she’d known then what she knew now, that it had all the potential of freeing her from everything. Permanently.

The single fixture mounted above the door was meant only to illuminate the dumpsters directly across the alley, it seemed. Of course, that wasn’t where he waited for her. Theirs was not destined to be a friendly chat. Dahlia inhaled a steadying breath, released the door and left the false sense of security to enter the darkness. The man leaned a shoulder against the wall halfway between the door and the next street. She’d be dead before anyone spotted them, even if he wasn’t as lethal as everyone claimed.

It was the most damning moment of hindsight when she stopped in front of him, only to discover she’d been the one getting hustled all along. There wasn’t a single sound to warn her of the tremendously imposing presence that crept up right behind her. And there was no stopping the chill of dread when she watched the man before her silently defer to the devil at her backside.

“Hello, Dahlia.” Hot, cinnamon breath caressed her neck and cheek, he was so close. Self-preservation had her head turning before her body followed.

She stared into the face of the most notorious monster of their time, that no one beyond their sick, depraved world even knew existed, and finally understood the meaning of beautiful death. Her body heated and withered in terror simultaneously; some primal instinct recognizing the cold predator through the mouthwatering façade. His eyes were two pools of undiluted malevolence, beckoning her to dive in with the power of self-destructive urges. The way you sometimes wanted to squeeze a glass so hard it broke. Not from anger, just to feel it happen.

“So much prettier than I expected, given everything I’ve learned,” he remarked. “Guess it’s true what they say about scars only being soul deep.”

No one said that. It was too true for comfort. Dahlia’s heart hammered in every corner of her body. The city lost all its power over her, unable to compete with him. It was no surprise that he’d dug into her real identity before agreeing to meet, or that he’d find her as they all did; something to judge and dismiss in one, careless motion.

He made the quietest sound of amusement, and it was–hands down–the most terrifying thing she’d ever heard. He crowded her without touching, pulling the toothpick from between his lips and waving it under her nose, revealing the source of cinnamon. Her head jerked back out of reflexive fear, but he grabbed the back of her head to keep her in place.

“This is going to burn no matter where I insert it, but I imagine, particularly in the tip of that little prick between your legs.”

Dahlia nearly choked on the glob of terror clogging in her throat. “I’m allergic to cinnamon,” she rushed out, despising herself for giving him the exact means to kill her, just by trying to stop it from happening.

“Imagine that,” he mused, sticking the toothpick back into his mouth. The pure menace in his tone revealed he’d already had that information prior to arriving and her chest felt like it was going to cave in. “Tell me, Dahlia, what would make a woman like you crawl all over the dark-web looking for a man like me?”

“I didn’t do it for me–”

His chuckle was quiet, which only made it worse. “Yes, you did.”

“I want out,” she confessed. “Alive. I want out alive.”

“Mm. Well, I want the girl,” he deadpanned, all humor gone. “Can you do that? Are you willing to trade her life for yours?”

There was no question, but that didn’t make it any easier to bear. To know she was completely willing to trade the life of a friend in exchange for her own freedom, her own life.


With another laugh, he backed her into the wall, caging her head between his hands and leaning in so close she was afraid to breathe.

“Yes, she says. So cold. So ruthless.” His words were deliberate slaps at what humanity she had left. “I’d say we seal our deal with a kiss, but I’ve always been a man of business over pleasure. I am curious, though. If you had to choose between the ugliness in your mind and having the surgery, which would it be?”

The toothpick moved between his lips when he spoke, coming within a hair of her own. He might as well have been brandishing a knife in her face for all the cold sweat breaking out along her brow. His sharp perception pierced right into her soul, exposing her deepest shame. That she’d rather keep the horrific memories than lose the parts she’d been born with. She’d never wanted surgery, the consultation he’d obviously found in her medical records had simply been another cruelty dealt by the one man who was supposed to love her more than anyone else.

“Ugliness, it is.” His smile was sinister, reveling in all the turmoil and conflict he bred.

“How am I supposed to get you the girl?” she forced out, more than ready to conclude their meeting, despite what her body thought.

“Beautiful Dahlia, all you need to worry about is doing exactly what I tell you to do,” he answered. “No deviation, no looking out for number one or growing a conscience when shit starts getting real. You’re going to do this like a fucking pro, because if you don’t…well, I’m sure you’ve heard how that story ends.”

“She really is the one who wanted you, not me,” Dahlia stated, needing it on record to ease her guilt. Was she supposed to risk her life without finding some way to save it in the process? She wasn’t an opportunist, damn it, she was a survivor!

Once more, his quiet laugh molested the murky shadows, conjuring the very basis of every nightmare known to man.

“And now she’s going to get me,” he replied. “You’re the one standing here, begging to live with that.”


 ©A.C. Melody 2019_Untitled WIP

 WOW, this was completely unexpected and not at all what I had planned for this challenge. This scene was never meant to exist, let alone get completely fleshed out like this – because, Dahlia is not my main character. She’s a sub-character with a minor – yet extremely vital – role and apparently, she wanted us all to know exactly what she had to go through to pull her part off! LOL What do you even call the process of putting your characters through hell after the fact? O_o

When the book’s done, I’m going to have to add this as bonus material, it’s too gorgeous – sometimes, it pays to have demanding characters. (I said sometimes!)

#WeeklyWritables Challenge


Good morning, writers, readers, bloggers & all around mischief makers!

One of my biggest goals for 2019 is to get back into the habit of blogging more regularly, but after being on WP since 2013, finding fresh and original content can be quite difficult. I used to participate in the Daily Prompt hosted by WP, but I’m no longer in the position to do that. I need to schedule my post in advance by at least 24 hours. I know I can’t be alone in this, so I’ve come up with an idea that I hope will eventually catch on:

I’m launching a weekly writing challenge called #WeeklyWritables starting today. Every Tuesday morning I will post a random word and anyone who’d like to join in will have until Thursday to publish their work.

The rules are simple:

  1. Your post must contain the random word at least once (using it for your pingback is probably the most familiar practice for anyone who’s ever done the Daily Prompts)
  2. Short stories, flash fiction, poems, WIP excerpts, and real life experiences are welcome
  3. Please no song lyrics, unless you wrote them yourself – there are already so many music challenges out there, I’d really like this one to be all about creative writing

That’s it! There are no restrictions on length, you can make it as long or short as you want, this is all about feeding your creative energy! You’re free to use the graphic I’ve created for my posts or you can create your own. And if you do participate please don’t forget to leave a pingback so I can find your post and read it. I don’t expect this to be an overnight success, but do hope you’ll join in if/when you can!

The #WeeklyWritables word for this Thursday is: Hustle