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Sample Sunday – FOLLOW YOUR HEART January 15, 2012

Posted by shannonmuir in blog tour, Books, ebooks, editing, epub, fiction, indie, indie publishing, Kindle, NOOK, novels, rewriting, Sample, self-publishing, short story, Smashwords, Writing.
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There’s an interesting question that comes up about some conflicting statements Kristine David makes in THE HEART’S DUTY, the book that was featured as part of the Indie Book Collective’s Veterans’ Day blog tour in 2011. In terms of plot, it’s not the end of the world, but it raised an interesting issue in terms of character. A reader whose input I value pointed it out to me after it went to press. So I had to decide, do I fix it, or figure out if it might been something inherent with the character of Kristine David? To explore if the latter made sense, I wrote the following short story that seems to work at least to me and at the moment I’m considering it canon – it might be a prequel to a follow-up book from Jessica’s perspective, I don’t plan to write anything more about Kristine. I’ve tried to write it with minimal spoilers, yet make it able to stand on its own. I hope you enjoy this piece called “Follow Your Heart,” my first new Sample Sunday contribution for 2012.

Jessica Bremerton, just having turned eighteen, walked alongside her mother Kristine David through a Los Angeles outdoor shopping plaza. Even though some time passed since their reunion, the relationship between them still remained awkward. Also, Jessica having been raised in the Midwest, never still really acclimated to Los Angeles. Everything seemed too big and overwhelming.

Jessica knew that her mother Kristine David still remained haunted by many of the choices that she’d made over the years, some of which she didn’t even realize she made until after the fact. Kristine hid so many secrets she did not want people to know about her, including about the birth of her daughter Jessica back in some town in the Midwest she rarely let people know she was from, who was later adopted by Kristine’s mother and stepfather. Jessica knew of her mother’s turbulent heart, and that fact she didn’t hesitate to use against her mother now.

As they walked together along the street, Jessica noticed a Latina woman glaring at them.  She stood a bit petite, and stocky as one would be from frequent regular exercise.

“What’s up with that lady over there?” Jessica asked her mother without trying to point in a too obvious way. Kristine looked in that direction.

“Keep moving, quick,” Kristine said as her pace increased. Jessica became even more confused, and quickly looked back to see the woman followed them.

“She’s coming after us,” Jessica tried not to shout ahead to her mother. “What is going on here?”

“I promise, I’ll explain later,” Kristine called back.

The woman caught up to both of them and nimbly stepped in front before they could get much farther.

“I am a trained officer of the law, Ms. David,” said the woman. “You really thought you could outrun me? You are so out of shape. And having all those children certainly could not have helped.”

“Carmen,” Jessica noticed her mother being as graceful to the woman as she could through gritted teeth. “What a surprise to see you.”

“It’s a free city. I am guessing this is your oldest daughter then? The one I first found out about when my brother’s kidnapping was investigated, along with so much other ridiculous nonsense a couple of years ago.”

“Yes, that is right. Carmen Mendoza, this is my daughter Jessica Bremerton. Jessica, this is Carmen Mendoza,” then Kristine swallowed hard before finishing, “my ex-husband’s twin sister.”

“Oh,” Jessica said, still sort of stunned by the whole thing. She knew bits and pieces of what happened but not the whole story. She didn’t know what in particular this Carmen woman was upset about.

“I was there in the interrogation room when you told your story. At that point you said you didn’t know if you would be having children. But from the time frame and your experience, and how healthy they were when they were born, you almost certainly had to know. I’m convinced you lied under oath in a police station, which makes me wonder what else you’ve lied about.”

“You’re off duty, Officer Mendoza, and that was a long time ago. Let it go.”

“Captain Mendoza to you, Ms. David. I presume it is still Ms. David, and no one has stepped up to marry you after?”

Carmen did get that right. Though Markus came back into her life, they hadn’t made it down the aisle yet. Too many excuses, just like before when he went to Japan, something Jessica also vaguely knew only a little about. Sometimes it seemed like her mother’s assistant Law Howard filled in where needed and picked up the pieces more and more, and even started showing up more at the house. Jessica wasn’t sure what to make of that at all.

“I believe it isn’t your business,” Kristine defended. “I’m not your husband’s wife anymore. We had a prenup agreement  plus got all the proper paperwork in the eyes of the Catholic church so I didn’t dig him for money or any other support. We’ll be on our way now.”

Carmen, still rather unpleasant looking, stepped aside.

“I’m betting your daughter turns out to be every bit of a rotten apple as you, with you and your stepfather as influences,” Carmen said. “Now get out of my sight.”

Jessica noted her mother looked more than happy to move on.

“What that woman said, about having lied to the police? Is it true?”

Jessica watched her mother for a reaction. Her mother Kristine stayed quiet and still, making no comment or motion.

“You can’t just let a challenge like that go unanswered,” Jessica told her mother. “It’s a big deal.”

“Would you love me any less?” Kristine asked Jessica after a long awkward silence.

“It sounds like you’re going to make your answer based upon mine. That doesn’t seem very fair.”

Kristine put her hands in her pockets and started to walk forward again.

“Come on, I think you owe me. It’s bad enough I grew up without you. How am I supposed to get to know you if you shut down at any question or idea that makes you seem less than perfect. News flash, you dumped me on your mother after your loser philandering boyfriend got you pregnant as a senior in high school. Hello?”

“It was a mistake,” Kristine told her.

“What was? Fooling around with your stepfather again after having my two older brothers, or what?”

“What I did in the police station. I didn’t say the truth. I did know I that I was already expecting, but I think I just didn’t want to believe. Some days I kept trying to convince myself I might be wrong and they were Juan Luis’ children, and that I’d get the fairytale ending I’d sought after. But in my logical mind I knew different, and I also couldn’t stop thinking of Samuel which made it all the crazier.  I just couldn’t face telling anyone else the truth. If I told them then what I knew, it would have put it on the record. It would have made it all feel way too real. My moral choices weren’t what they should have been focusing on then, I wanted them to find Juan Luis, and that only would have distracted from it all. They might have lost precious time.”

“Still, you weren’t honest,” Jessica pointed out.

“That I won’t deny, Jessica,” Kristine told her daughter. “Some days I still don’t know if I made the right choice.”

“That was several years ago. You mean to tell me you really still think about back then?”

“More than you know,” Kristine replied as she continued to walk on through the outdoor mall.

Copyright 2012 Shannon Muir. All rights reserved. Do not repost without permission, but please feel free to link to this post.

A sequel short story to THE HEART’S DUTY, which is available:  in ebook on Kindle for the US, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany in English  language; NOOK; Smashwords; KOBO; Diesel ebooks; Sony; and also in print through Amazon.

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