Sunday, July 15, 2018

SINGLE PARENTING - from the beginning - and the complications of woo-hoo.

What’s it like being a single parent?

 This is a question NOONE asks me, even though I’ve been a single parent and a sole-income for as long as I’ve been writing professionally, but you’re going to be seeing a lot on this subject, because becoming a single parent (and/or sole income) is really easy and almost always completely unexpected, but it is probably the #1 MOST DIFFICULT LIFELONG HARDSHIP that neither happens by choice or can be fixed by choice, because you can’t MAKE someone pay half your bills. Believe me, I’ve tried, and it’s guaranteed to not get you a second date. … Ever.

And worse … you’re going to be judged very, very harshly. You know, that whole, “Well, she shouldn’t have had kids if she couldn’t afford them.” (That’s the women). “She probably got pregnant on purpose so she could be lazy and live off of child support.” (That’s the guys).


Raised with a strict Christian background, I was raised with the belief of no woo-hoo pre-marriage. (For the intent of keeping this blog PG, I will be using the word woo-hoo in place of all the you-know-what words). But I also grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, raised by a generation that alternated between preaching what they were taught, and rebelling against it out of being discouraged by their parents’ own relationship where females had been taught to obey there man and follow them to the ends of the earth, thereby creating an environment for the male of there being no checks and balances, and him being able to do as he pleased without consequence, like cheat, be abusive to the woman and/or children, or just be an a-hole in general. (I speak of the outliers, not how it was for everyone).

Me at 13 - Had never had a boyfriend
Wished I was prettier.
Thought that if I was prettier, more people would love me.
...And less people would bully me.
My best friend was God.
I thought that everyone should be best friends with God.
May or may not be related to said bullying.
So how it worked out for my Mom was, amidst a broken heart from the man she loved and had wanted to spend her life with, she committed the woo-hoo in an impaired state (which is why I’m a strong-believer in all girls wearing chastity belts on any and every occasion where impairment is a possibility), and I came to be, but she was so ashamed, due to her religious upbringing, that she found herself a boyfriend that was willing to call me his, for the purpose of not shaming her parents. (She did go on to marrying him, and spent 28 years with him before he died). But financial and insurance hardships of having a 3-month premature child with medical issues eventually led to the truth coming out and the involvement of my biological father when I was 7.

Growing up, I found very quickly that guys were far less interested in holding your hand and talking about your lives and future than they were at wanting to kiss you. So my
My first unreserved and uninhibited kiss at 15.
heartbreaks started early on when every boy I was interested in – rather, head-over-heels in love with – would leave me or get with someone else more inclined to kissing, so by 15, my beliefs were already being whittled away to compromising. Compromising meant I’d allow a quick peck on the lips, and if a guy tried doing anything more than that, I’d break up with him. I’d grieve. I’d feel such confusion. (I broke up with some pretty amazing, respectable, decent guys back then that were as inexperienced as I was, but I didn't know then that my beliefs were a surface cover-up to keep suppressing hidden truths and fears.)

By 17, I was an anomaly. A stereotyped prude. The target of every male scoundrel that saw me as a conquest and the target of every female scoundrel to out me as ‘not being the saint I pretended to be’, so rumors would have me be a person who woo-hooed all the time and me just pretending to be a prude without me yet having experienced what the woo-hooing was all about.

The peer pressure, the judgments, the bullcrap, the not-knowing-if-a-guy-actually-liked-me-or-not did me in. I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. Especially considering that I’d left home and was working towards emancipating myself and was living on the streets (in my car), and though I needed food and shelter and warmth from the winter, I was too paranoid of what I would have to give in return.

So I scheduled my first woo-hoo. Yes, you heard me. I scheduled it. I went through a list of potential candidates (my friends), weighed the pros and cons, and chose the person who had helped me out the most and had provided me a place to stay, after a female (who had signed my guardianship papers until I could get emancipated) had vandalized and destroyed my car, once learning that her ex was interested in me, even though I was so not interested in him at that time. (I know. The Drama!)

My first woo-hoo was basically an act of charity to show my appreciation for giving me a bed to sleep in and a stove and pot to cook my ramen in. (Back then, you could get 10 for a buck). It was so far from being magical. More like checking off a to-do list. Not saying I didn’t care about the person, and it was special in the sense that I did choose him. There were even times I thought I loved him, but there was definitely no future of ‘Until death do us part’. 

Besides, at that age, it's quite easy to feel love and think love for a number of people, since the  mediatized 'butterflies in the stomach', 'inability to sleep or eat', and 'thinking of the person all the time' is typically equated with true love versus all the number of other things it could be. I get indigestion and have difficulty sleeping and eating when I'm thinking about bills all the time, but it sure as heck doesn't mean I'm in love with financial woes. 

From there, I moved to Syracuse and got my first apartment with a friend whom had claimed to love me for a couple years, (my ex-guardian’s ex) and I had developed feelings for him as well. It’s hard not to do when you’re living together. But in order for me to be emancipated, I had to show residency and that I was financially supporting myself, and that is how I was able to accomplish it. Though at the time, I had serious moral regrets about the whole woo-hooing before marriage, I stopped having regrets four-months later when I tragically experienced the realization that a person can be forced into woo-hoo without consenting to it. An experience that destroyed me for a long time, because it complicated the ‘No’.

Age 17 in my first official apartment by myself.
Loneliness led me to bringing in a stray cat off the street.
Awareness led me to realizing she was pregnant.
Kind-heartedness and a no pets-restrictions resulted in 
1 Mommy cat, 5 kittens, and a daily dead-bird or half-dead-mouse
sacrifice in my attic apartment from the grateful Mommy cat.
Previously, saying No was easy and, for the most part, it was generally respected. Having to come to terms with the fact that not everyone respected the no made me petrified of saying No. And the world became a very scary place to be in, because I was a 17-year-old that was well sought-after amongst guys who, let’s face it, will look for any opportunity to woo-hoo. At this point in my life, I was living alone. I’d moved to Vernon because a landlord was willing to rent me an apartment even though I wasn’t yet 18. So there I was, working three jobs and going to highschool (my 7th one), while still suffering from post-traumatic stress, panic attacks, and social phobia.

And then … I met my soulmate! 

Not my soulmate, but very similar appeal!
Just a random picture I got off
when google searching 'hot guy'.

 He was the only guy in my group of friends that didn’t want me. It made him a safe person to be around. I didn’t have to feel afraid. So I did everything I could to keep him around. Even if it meant learning he liked parties and me throwing parties just to invite him. I’d stay right by his side, showing no interest in anyone else. I’d curl up to him when he was drunk in order to keep the other guys off of me, and he wouldn’t even put his arms around me. I’d sleep soundly. The only times I’d sleep back then. But it was inevitable that after time, I would become frustrated with him not wanting me, and it drove his friends crazy. From the girl who wouldn’t even kiss a boy to a girl begging for the boy to kiss her. To the point of tears and whining. “Why Won’t You Kiss Me? Is There Something Wrong With Me?” He’d tell me it was something wrong with him, and that I should just move on.

So I moved on to peer pressure and parlor tricks, and there were only so many tears and so much nagging and whining he could handle before he finally gave in. “Fine. One Kiss, but it won’t change anything.”

On the contraire, I was hoping it would change EVERYTHING. And to this day, I can 100 percent say it was
Like this, except we were hungover,
and sitting in his rumbling truck b/c
I'd made him give me a ride to the store
and then refused to get out of the vehicle
until he kissed me. And he really
just wanted to get home.
my absolute best and most favored and most magical kiss that I’ve ever experienced. That slow-motion, heart flip-flopping, belly-twittering, licking-of-the-lips-and-having-prepared-myself-with-a-breath mint, time-suspending moment. That stuff’s for real, people.

For me, that moment cemented into my heart the knowing that he was my true love and the person I wanted to spend my life with.

For him … it changed nothing. Just like he forewarned.

And I was completely crushed, because he was the only guy I actually wanted to make woo-hoo with after having the woo hoo stolen from me and tainted.

So, like mother, like daughter, at the very same age, I walked away from my love with my heart shattered, and tried to move on … with the first guy that showed interest in wanting me.

And then when I found him to be cheating on me, I handled it in a very mature way – by storming his house, crashing his party, punching him in the face, dragging him down the road with my car because he forgot that the door handle didn’t work, driving to my Mom’s house, crawling unexpectedly into bed with her, telling her I punched a guy in front of all his friends because he was cheating, got out of her bed, and then stayed at my true love’s house and binge-drank for three days while bein reminded he didn’t want me before returning home and finding out that some a-hole had moved in downstairs from me and had taken my parking spot when I’d specifically gone out of my way for 8 MONTHS to ensure no one would want to live there by stomping on the floors, playing music loud, and flushing my toilet over and over again when people came to check out the downstairs apartment. 

(And that is what they call a run-on sentence, my friends, which is a big no-no in the writing world, because it confuses the reader, which is why you're most likely going to have to re-read it. That's my point. It's a lot to take in, but that was exactly my experience of it all. Everything happened so quickly, and in so short a span a time, that I didn't feel I could even catch my breath. Let alone process it all. But it was this not-taking-a-moment-to-catch-a-breath, and not-giving-myself-time-to-process-things that would directly influence all the things that would happen next.

Being cheated on and feeling those mixtures of emotions. Going on a three-day-three-night bender (outside of work) with the person I knew I loved the moment I laid eyes on him and having to re-experience the reality of his not feeling the same. Working graveshift full-time at the Casino, and full-time day-shift at McDonalds, and waitressing late nights on weekends. Then to come home heartbroken, hungover, completely exhausted, having not yet been able to shed a single tear, to find that somebody had moved in to the downstairs apartment and had stolen my parking spot in the midst of winter.

Again, I handled it very maturely. By pounding on his door in the middle of the night in order to tell him to leave. But while I happened to be extremely frustrated with a shredded heart, he happened to be extremely cute.

Again, just a random pic from google-searching 'Cute guy' found at

And his response was, “Hey, listen, my girlfriend’s sleeping. She gets really bad headaches. How about we talk about this over laundry?”

“Now? You want to do laundry NOW? Yeah, okay.”

Ah, those 24-hour-a-day laundromats. (Why do they call it a laundromat? Wouldn’t it make more sense to be called a laundrymat, since you do your laundry? What the heck is a laundro?) And we talked the entire rest of the night to the background noise of spinning clothing. He broke up with his girlfriend the next day and trekked up the 14 stairs to knock on my hatch door (my apartment was in the attic), and invited me over to watch a movie. He confidently told me that by the end of the movie, I would kiss him.

‘Far and Away’ is one of my favorite movies to this day with
Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, and how could you NOT want to kiss someone after seeing Tom Cruise almost die, and Kidman showering him with tearful kisses once seeing him alive?

The day thereafter, we started practically moving in together, being as how we already lived in the same house, and his apartment was better than my attic. That’s when my cheating-ex showed up full of apologies until he saw that standing beside me was his arch enemy that he hated more than anyone else on the planet for stealing the girl he loved in highschool.

“I’ve moved on,” I said.


He knew how important the no woo-hoo-out-of-wedlock was to me, and how sensitive of a matter it still was due to my continued panic attacks and flashbacks, while I'd yet had the time alone to process any of my recent experiences and actually be able to think clearly, so three weeks later, I had a ring on my finger. We packed up our things. Moved to a neutral place not tainted by history. Scheduled our wedding date and began planning our wedding.

Remember. I was 18 at this point. I’d left home and been on my own for two years. I’d experienced the hardships of being out on the streets, the loneliness of not having support or the love of my family, because they didn’t exactly agree with my decisions to leave. When other kids in highschool’s worst issues were homework, mine was working three jobs and trying to keep up on highschool while being too terrified to sleep at night. The only thing I wanted at that time was family and love, safety, and security, while also being young enough to still believe in fairy tales and happy endings, while still being religious enough to be grateful for any blessing or gift that God sent my way. Highly intelligent I was, but level-headed and capable of making smart choices based on rational thought versus dreams and faith and emotions, not so much.

So with that ring on my finger, a wedding date planned, and sharing a new home together, I was free to woo-hoo all I wanted. Both of us wanting to get started on making our family right away. (A.K.A he didn’t want to wear protection and I couldn’t take birth control due to a heart condition).

Too fast. Too soon. I know. And that’s exactly how he felt when I woke up one morning to find him standing at the door, his bags packed, only a few weeks before our wedding, missing his home and missing his family. I’d been out on my own for a couple years, and there’d been several times where the homesickness would strike and I’d try to return, thinking things would be different, just to find they weren’t and run again. This was his first experience being on his own and being far from home and the homesickness had struck. He wanted to go home. Leaving me with a beautiful apartment that I couldn’t afford on my own.

So he moved back in with his Mom, and I picked up a cheap, scumhole apartment that smelled and leaked and had long-ago retired from ever meeting codes, but it was all I could afford, being as how I left all three of my jobs when we’d moved, and I’d been spending my time babysitting and writing my first novel in the interim of finding a good job. He wanted to continue trying the relationship living apart, but he’d betrayed me. Left me stranded. And let’s face it – he’d gotten plenty of free woo-hoo under conditions and stipulations that he’d broken AFTER THE FACT. I felt used. Disgusted. Ashamed.

Those times in life when you don’t heed others’ warnings, because you’re friggin’ a teenager, and the very adults trying to give you advice seem a hundred years older than you, holding onto ancient beliefs, while being completely unhappy and miserable themselves and having given up on magic and miracles and meant-to-be’s a long time ago. There is not a single teenager on the face of this planet that wants to end up like the adults they see. At 35-years-old, I’m supposed to be an adult, but I STILL don’t want to be one.

I picked up a job at Pizza Hut, just a couple-mile walk from my apartment, and signed up for the AirForce (the least likely place in the military for a female to get forcefully woo-hooed – yes, that was the basis of my decision) to teach me discipline, and provide free college. I just wanted to put the past and my fantasy-life mistakes behind me and move on. Start fresh. And I wanted to jump out of planes. Having a brand-new job and apartment and a future planned out was a good start.

… Until I couldn’t walk into my job without having to run to
the restroom and throw up. And after a week of spending my shifts in the bathroom, it could no longer be considered a bug, which meant it could only mean one other thing – Pregnancy.

Surprise! 18 and Pregnant!

 As usual, I tried to handle the situation as maturely as possible. My ex-fiance came to the house. I’d purchased the test. I’d read all the instructions three times while sitting on the toilet. Now-a-days, women can pee in a cup or bowl and then insert the stick like a PH strip. Then, you had to pee directly on this 2 cm width stick for three whole seconds. Three seconds doesn’t seem like a long time. Trying to aim a stick in the direct flow of pee when female bodies aren’t meant to aim, hence us having to sit on the toilet, while trying not to pee on the hand holding the stick – Three seconds is a REALLY long time.

Three minutes is even longer. Which is exactly how long you have to wait for the results.

So I locked myself in my room, and him out of it, and flopped down on my bed. Suddenly, he was a time expert, counting down the minutes, which annoyed me to a ridiculous degree, because I was trying to be mature while fearing my worst nightmare. The one Mom had raised me with about how getting pregnant at 18 years old ruined her life and how she’d never wanted kids, because she had dreams and goals and all these things that she’d wanted to do with her life, and her getting pregnant was the worst possible thing that could have happened, and so she had to watch her dreams die while being the Mom that had never wanted to be one. (I tried to listen objectively at those times, being as how I was the 18-year-old unexpected pregnancy that destroyed her life).

“It’s been three minutes,” the time expert anxiously boasted.

“I don’t care. Leave me alone.”

“Don’t you want to know?” he called through the door.


“Well I do. I’m going to check it.”

Fire ignited under my feet, and I moved, and unlocked that door so fast, “Don’t you dare! This is your fault, so you’re going to sit there and you’re going to wait until I’m ready.”

And then I locked the door again and returned to the bed.

“If you’re pregnant, then it’s my child too, and I have just as much right to know as you, so I’m going in there.”

I practically tore the door off its hinges and gave him a scathing look worthy of killing a person with eyes alone, ran into the bathroom, and locked the door.

“What’s it say?” he continued to bother me.

I gave him the silent treatment. Because what he didn’t know was that I already knew, and I’d only taken the test for semantics-purposes. Proof. Everyone always wanted proof. Sitting late nights, alone, with nothing but silence, after those non-stop puking workshifts threatening my financial security, I’d write. Journal entries. Poems. Music. “I know you’re there. Inside of me. I feel your soul. I feel your heat.” I already knew without a doubt, so me seeing the two lines didn’t change what I already knew. What I knew was I already loved what I felt growing inside me. And it was far too precious for me to want to share it with one whom had already proven how easily it was for him to walk. I wanted to keep it secret from the world, and not have to share what was so innocent and beautiful, and the last person I wanted to know was the father.

But because he was the father, I had no right to keep it from him.

So I unlocked the bathroom door and miserably admitted that I was pregnant.

And he acted like I was lying, so I threw the pee stick as hard as I could and nailed him in the forehead.

It was his reaction though, that made it truly hit home that I was going to be a single mother, even though I’d tried so hard to do everything the right way. While life circumstances may have set me off course here and there, I’d still never risked bringing a child into the world without the commitment of marriage. Some people would say that I should have waited until actual marriage before carelessly jumping on the bed with another person (another name for woo-hoo). Would it have made a difference in his walking out on me?

Instead of embracing me in his arms and attempting to remedy how hurt I was so that we could celebrate this beautiful creation developing in my womb that he and I made together, he called his Aunt to explain to him what two lines versus one line meant on a pregnancy test, because he wasn’t willing to read the directions, but what hurt more was he wasn’t willing to believe I wasn’t lying.

So in the same moment that I had it confirmed that I was carrying a child that I had already fallen in love with pre-confirmation, I had to sit there and watch and listen to the person, father to such child, whom I’d believed I’d loved that had made commitments to me and then walked thereafter, treat me like I was lying.

They say that you can only truly hate a person if you love them. Okay. I say that. Whomever else says that is just copying me. I felt pure hatred in that moment and true regret that I hadn’t just disappeared off the face of the planet and kept my child to myself so he would never know.

And THAT is how easy it is to become a single parent.

Did we try to make things work? Of course. For business reasons, my job couldn’t keep me around, because I couldn’t do my job with the smell of onions constantly making me run to the bathroom to throw up. I can’t exactly say what his reasons were. But the second time he packed his bags and walked, after he’d proposed to me again and the second time we’d been planning our wedding day, saying he was too young to be a father, it didn’t surprise me. It still hurt, but I’d never put my guards down after the first time he walked. So I was much more mature when he left me the second time. I helped him pack, and threw an industrial-sized box of condoms at him and told him to actually use them if he wasn’t ready to be a father … idiot.

My Beloved!
Being pregnant at 18 – as a teen or young adult in general – sets you up to not having a place to belong or people to belong with, because the friends your age are still set on partying, first-time independence, and freedom, and those who have children won’t accept you into their circle because you’re too young. My own mother was still raising a 4, 11, and 14-year-old. And my biological father was putting all his hope and commitment into his 4-year-old child that he could raise from the getgo versus meeting his child at 7 years old and having weekend visitations where he had no chance at being called Dad at that point.

I’d been given a variety of talents and skills and I COULD HAVE had a variety of promising futures. I was highly intelligent and could have graduated valedictorian. Instead, I took the college exams in 11th grade, passed in the 90-plus percentiles, and was accepted into college. So I went and got my highschool diploma without ever graduating highschool, because those options exist. You take the tests. You pass. You get your highschool diploma. Period. In a matter of six or so weeks. 

And I couldn’t have been more proud to walk the school, turning in my books, and finally getting to my 11th grade math-teacher. Throughout the school year, he had used me as an example as to all the losers in the world, because working three jobs and going to highschool, his class just happened to be the one where I would pass out, and it drove him crazy, so he would literally tell the class that I was the example of a person who was never going to go anywhere in life. All while he’d never taken a moment of his time to get to know me. That’s why it was a very proud moment to return my book and have him sign off on it and have him look to the class and say, “This is exactly what I tried to tell you. A person who will never go anywhere and now she’s dropping out of highschool.” And me clearing my throat and saying, “Actually, I’m dropping out of highschool because I got accepted into college”.


It’s funny how red people’s faces can actually get.

So I did have a choice of going down a different path, as I’d already been accepted and enrolled in college to start that August.

But love, family, connection. No longer being alone and afraid. That was more important to me. So I took a chance. I chose love. And when I could have been starting college, I was carrying a child instead. When I should have been preparing for college, I was making plans for my wedding instead. 

Originally, we were to be married September 15th, 2001.

First Bath
I signed up for the AirForce in August after he walked. Found out I was pregnant a few weeks later. And 9/11 happened when I was still trying to manage working my job. The first responders they sent in were AirForce and I think 16 choppers went down the very first day.

I’m pretty sure my would-be son saved my life!

First Fashion Show
In the meantime, I lost all my friends, because I could no longer party with them, being pregnant and all.

And it just really sucked that I lived upstairs from them – only a staircase away. Pregnant and alone. And not a single one of them could make the trek upstairs … but for one.

The soulmate that didn’t want me.

And the plot thickens!

My Heart

 My heart once wanted to sing

And now it sings for you dear

It will sing for no other

As long as we’re here

There was so much I desired

Before you came along

So much I wanted to do

Until you changed my song

My life is now yours, child

My heart belongs to you

And wherever you may go

My heart will be with you

I wanted to accomplish so much

But you have become my goal

To protect you, to support you

To give you my very soul

You are my blessed child

We’re inseparable, we’ll never part

Because wherever you go

Friday, July 6, 2018

NaTuRaL DeSiGn - FREE READ & RELAX - Final book in the Modules Series

Natural Design by Almondie Shampine
The Final Book in The Modules Series
Last Day to Get the Entire Series for FREE

It was a completely secured military barracks, with million-dollar homes, that we touched down on. We were instantly surrounded by a dozen armed military guards.

Everyone, but myself, was dressed in the uniform of the Military Mods. John had taught everyone how to stand, salute, and even hold their weapons, as he’d been former Military that had joined the C-team after his parents had been imprisoned for attempting to keep his little sister from being taken by the Recruiters.

“Stand down,” one of their guards told the others. “We were not advised that any more men would be joining us,” was spoken to John.

“We’ve brought someone the new President has been expecting.”


That was my cue. I pulled off my piloting gear, shook my hair out, and smiled big. “Me.”

“Catina Salsbury,” the Officer guard said with reverence. “So the reports are true. You’re alive.”

“Obviously,” I said dryly. “I wouldn’t be standing here if I wasn’t.”

“I don’t understand. Why would he have you come here? This location has been kept under lock and key.”

“I found the key,” I said simply. “Let’s just say he’s been expecting me, but not expecting me here. I had hoped to surprise him. Will you be ruining my surprise?” I teased, all the while continuing to grin at him.

They looked at one another. I saw momentary misery on their faces. Then the military guard pointed at a house. “Only you. You’ve got a one-minute head start,” and then he winked at me.

I recalled my conversation with Garrett when I’d been questioning why our own military would willingly bomb our own citizens, and he’d said at that time, “They’re not doing it willingly, I assure you.”

“30 seconds too many,” I said, taking off at a run.

I quickly peered through the windows of the massive home and saw his silhouette on the second floor. I could have tried the front door, being as how in this secure facility it was probably unlocked, but what would be the fun in that?

Instead, I used one of my new toys. State of the art, top tech glass cutter. Not intended for use on breaking into others’ homes, but the Commanding Officer of High Intelligence always spoke of technology developed, even with the best intentions, could be used as a weapon if placed in the wrong person’s hands. My hands.

And just like that, I was in, leaving me with plenty of time to look around, get the layout of things, and plant what needed to be planted.

Their phone rang. It was sitting, unsupervised, on the coffee table.

I answered it. “You looking to speak with George?” I said to the guard.

“Catina,” he said in shock.

“One moment, please. I’ll go get him.”

“George?” I heard a weary female voice.

I turned toward the voice. “Ah, you must be Mrs. Wilson. Is your husband here? The phone’s for him.”

George showed up next, wearing only a towel.

“Catina. What a – Did you let her in?” he turned to his wife. She shook her head.

“You should probably take this.” I handed him the phone.

He took it wearily. “Yeah … I know, she’s already in the house. Anyone else I should know about? … Don’t let anyone else out of your sight. … No, it’s fine. I was just caught off guard. … 15 minutes.”

“So, I hear there’s a medal you’d like to give me?” I said.

“Garrett said that he – He was supposed to call me around this time to arrange our meeting with the media. How – how did you locate me?” he demanded, still shaken or perturbed over my unexpected presence.

“If I didn’t know better by your proud press release, I’d say you’re not very happy to see me? Aren’t I supposed to be the hero that you were going on and on about, my service to our country, blah blah blah?”

“Oh, of-of course,” he stumbled. “I’m just surprised, but it’s a pleasant surprise. Do you – do you mind if I compose myself?” He gestured toward just-the-towel he was wearing.

“Go ahead. I’m sorry if I startled you. I was under the impression that the government had an open-door policy. Your door was open, so I walked right in.”

He scrunched his eyes at me. “I’ll – uh – I’ll be right back. Can you answer this if he calls?” He handed the phone to his wife.

The wife stared at me. I stared at her. She was pretty in that false-regal-I’m-the-President’s-wife way.

“Not much of a sense of humor on that guy, is there? It’s probably just a politician thing. I’m sure he’s hilarious in private,” I maintained conversation.

She cleared her throat, “Ah, can I get you a drink?”

“Yes. I would love a drink. I’ll take your most expensive bottle of water. Charge it to the taxpayers, please.”

I followed her into the kitchen, which was bigger than most hotel suites, where she placed the phone on the marble island.

It rang.

I snatched it.

“Hello, Garrett. What did I tell you about not calling me while

I’m working?”

“Cuh – cuh – Cat,” he sputtered. “What’re you doing -?”

“George is indisposed at the moment, but he should be right down.”

“Do you mind?” George’s wife said all snooty-like, putting her hand out for the phone.

“Do you? I’m trying to have a conversation with my husband.” I turned my back on her.

She left the room. Probably to tattle to her hubby.

“How did you find him? I told you to stay put and I’d arrange a meeting, where you’d be safe, and nothing would happen. I thought we were going to start working side-by-side. I tell you my suspicions that it’s a trap, so you find him at his home?”

“Exactly. He wasn’t going to trap me at his hidden hideout, because then he would have compromised the anonymity of everyone else. So, instead of letting him surprise me, I surprised him. Duh. It’s not rocket science. Why you gotta be such a nag? You mad I found it first? Huh? Is this about your ego again, Garrett? It’s okay, baby, don’t cry. It’s not your fault I’m better than you.”

“Do you have protection?”

“I’m not going to sleep with him,” I feigned insult.

“You know what I mean.”

“Would I come any other way?”

He chuckled, “No, I guess you wouldn’t. I know I’m supposed

to be respecting that you know what you’re doing, and let you do it,

but I still worry.”

“Well, Gare Bare, as much as I’m enjoying our lovely chat, George is looking none-too-pleased at me for using up the battery life on his phone. And he looks like he wants to talk to you very much. X O X O. Kiss the kids for me.”

“Cat -.”

I handed the phone to the President. “What is this, Garrett? I’m not one for surprises. I thought the arrangement was for the three of us and the media to meet in Washington. … You can’t control your wife? That’s your excuse? I don’t find any of this funny. … I do appreciate everything’s she’s done, and I’m well aware of the fact that I would not be President, if not for the two of you, and I’m deeply indebted to you, but this is not only unacceptable, it’s highly inappropriate. … I’m having a hard time believing that you didn’t know anything about this.”

“No, it’s true,” I said. “He hardly ever knows where I am or what I’m doing. I believe in the principle that absence makes the heart grow fonder, so I stay away from him and like to play hide and seek. He’s it.”

“Excuse me. What?” he said in irritation.

“It. As in, tag, you’re it. It’s another game we like to play. You should try it,” I looked at his wife. “Men like the hunt much more than they do the catch. If you want him to be faithful, you’re going to have to make him think he hasn’t caught you.”

This time, her eyebrows spiked on her face, and she looked at


He shook his head at her rapidly. “Garrett, the whole purpose of our meeting was to give her the award and have her make a speech over live television. What’re we supposed to do now? … Talk to her about it? Fine. I’m putting you on speakerphone. … Catina, in order for you to receive your award, which is the most honorable medal you can get, we have to do it with public exposure. That’s the whole purpose of it is to honor you and prove to the people of America that you’re alive, so that they’ll trust that I’ve got this situation under control and that we’re on the same side.”

“I know that. I took care of it,” I said.

“What do you mean you took care of it? You arranged a press conference for us?”

“Well, yeah, the government doesn’t own all the media, you know. How do you turn this thing on?” I pointed at the TV with the remote.

His eyes opened-wide, but not as wide as his mouth.

“Oh, nevermind, I figured it out.”

And it was that priceless expression on his face that stared back at him from the TV.

Too many seconds too long, he recovered from his shock, and plastered a big smile on his face.

“What channel, sweetheart?” Garrett asked over the phone.

“Every channel, Garry Barry.”

“Easy,” he snickered.

George composed himself from his shock and scowl and that look that full-grown adults get when they suddenly want to start throwing a tantrum like a little kid, along the lines of, ‘No, no, no, this isn’t what I wanted.’

“Excellent. Then I am proud to honor you.” He gestured toward his wife, and she took off. “America, Citizens of the United States. As promised, I bring to you Catina Salsbury, our country’s hero, alive and obviously very, very healthy. I will be presenting her the highest congressional honorable medal for her heroic efforts of removing tyranny from our democracy. Tyranny, in the name of William Burrell, who no longer poses a threat to our government or our country.”

My face entered the screen as I focused the button toward me. “A country I will continue fighting for until all those responsible are brought to rightful justice. Catina Salsbury. Peace out.”

I snatched the medal from his wife’s hand when she returned and was out the door before he could even recover his speechlessness and rifled pride.

When I returned to the Chopper, everyone was laughing, and Toby was looking at me with awe-struck eyes.

“Stop drooling, Toby. I don’t look like Angelina Jolene anymore, thank God.”

“I thought you looked like Cindy Crawford,” John stated.

“I saw Nicole Kidman,” Tony added.

“I’m not – I’m not drooling. I’m … amazed. You not only

pulled it off, but you pulled it off with … with …”

“Purple Pizazz,” Tony finished for him.

“I don’t know where you were these past few months after the explosion of the President’s plane, but … you’re different. You’ve changed. It’s like you’re confident that you know exactly what you’re doing,” he commented.

“I do know exactly what I’m doing. When have I ever not known what I was doing? Nevermind, don’t answer that.”

“Did you plant the tracer mic?”

“Sure did,” I grinned. “Here, check this for bugs,” I handed him the medal.

“Wow, this is impressive. … Nope, app’s not detecting anything. You used his phone, though. What if he checks it or tosses it?”

“He can do with his phone whatever he would like. It’s not where I planted it. Officer. Military Guard people. A pleasure,” I saluted them. They returned the salute. And Toby returned to his barf bag.

This time, instead of listening to the radio, we listened intently to the new President’s reaction to my intrusion. “How much of it was aired?” He spoke on the phone. “You mean to say that me wearing a towel was broadcast live to the entire nation? … She can’t get away with this. America was supposed to see that we’re on the same side so that they’d stop with this revolution, in order for us to rebuild. Instead, she blatantly disrespected and undermined me in my own


“… Obviously, I underestimated her. Tell me how I am going to fix this. … How are we supposed to get her on our side? You think we haven’t tried? … We did offer her something she wouldn’t be able refuse. We gave her the congressional medal of honor. What else could we possibly offer her? … Alex – er – Mr. Bartley, I do greatly respect your standing. I meant no disrespect by questioning you. I’m just upset right now. Listen, our base has been compromised. How quickly can you get us relocated?

“… Yes, as much as I don’t want any further delays, there’s no way we can have the meeting here, now. I’ll tell the others. We’ll be ready by 3:00 am sharp.”

“Toby,” I called.

“On it,” he said weakly, typing in the Bartley name. “Oh boy, nearly a million hits on that name, spelled three different ways. Looks like I have my work cut out for me. I’ll run it through category filters, restricted sites, etc., to see if I can pinpoint the one we’re looking for. What meeting do you think they were talking about?”

“We’ll soon find out. 3 am they’ll be moving out, so as soon as we find out their new location, we’ll stay in the area until we can get a lead.”

Suddenly, the low fuel light was blinking fiercely red.

“Uh oh,” I said. I knew there was something I’d forgotten.

“What is it?” Tony asked.

“Oh, it’s nothing.”

Then at that moment, the automated voice began to sound, “Warning. Low Fuel. You have 20 minutes to land. Warning. Low Fuel. You have 19 minutes to land.”

And the Chopper turned to screaming, shouting chaos.

Next Up: TBD -no, that’s not an STD. It means To Be Determined

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Revolution - FREE READ & RELAX - 5th book in the Modules Series

The Revolution by Almondie Shampine

book 4 in The Modules Series

“This girl is seriously going to be the cause of my death,” the Commanding Officer raged, while crossing the parking lot to go the back way into the hotel. “The most intelligent female in the world, with an IQ even higher than mine, but I have to constantly protect her from her emotional stupidity. All the pain-staking effort it took to make everyone believe she was dead and she does something so stupid as to blatantly place her name over that public broadcast.

“We’ve got six-hours tops before it all goes viral. We need to get her as far away as possible, because she just pulled a signature Cat move, without recognizing what it is she’s really done. Bust down the door. Capture her and bind her – it’s the only way she’ll cooperate,” Garrett sighed.

As much as it had hurt him, he’d let his Purple Cat go to figure things out on her own. He’d believed that with the amount of training he had provided her, she’d be able to stay safe, while also keeping her monitored to ensure her safety. He’d tried to tame her, and that had been his biggest mistake. A cat in the wild was free in one sense, but had dangers lurking at every moment. Untamed, that cat had the automatic survival instinct to maintain defenses and stay alive. A wild cat tamed would still have that freedom in their blood, without the appropriate defenses in place any longer to keep them alive.

Now, Cat was going to be the target for thousands of top officials, politicians, and everyone that was at that meeting, which practically captured every branch in the federal and state governments. No one’s life was safe now. Not after what she’d done, but her life was in far more danger than ever before.

“She’s not here, sir,” one of his men stated after searching the room.

“What do you mean she’s not here? Of course she is. She has to be.”

A moment later, he saw the displayed ring, and the scribbled note attached to it. ‘ForNever and Always – Cat’

“Dammit, she figured out the ring, too. This was a set up.” He couldn’t help but grin. Always one step ahead his Cat was.

“You looking for me, Garrett?” I said lowly.

Garrett turned, smiling, at the familiar voice he loved, and there was his Cat, standing at the open-door, gun pointed at his head.

“Darling, seeing you again takes my breath away. I’m so glad you’re still alive, Cat.”

“Don’t call me that. Name’s Catina. Use it.”

He took a step forward. I removed the safety. “I wouldn’t do

that if I were you,” I warned. He looked like he had run his hand through his hair a thousand times, it was so disheveled. And he had deeper forehead wrinkles than when I’d seen him last. I had that effect on him. But I had to stare at his forehead and not meet his eyes. I didn’t want to have to see his lies.

“Honey, you’re in so much danger right now. You need to come with me. It’s the only way I can guarantee your safety.”

Like I didn’t have two eyes that could see two of his guards slowly creeping toward me on either side. In two seconds and two bangs later, they were floored, having shot both of them in the foot.

“What the hell, Catina,” Garrett cried out.

“I’m done playing nice, Garrett. Don’t make the mistake of thinking I won’t shoot you, because it would literally be a fatal mistake to finally put an end to your fatal attraction. You’ve been tracking and recording everything. Manipulating and lying to me every step of the way. Give me one good reason for why I shouldn’t kill you right here and right now.”

“Because shooting me wouldn’t be any fun for you. That’s not the way you’d do it. I know you, Cat – Catina.”

“Do you?” With a flick of my left wrist, the knife sliced through the air.

He chuckled, “You missed.”

“Did I?”

And the retard actually fell for it. He looked behind him to see

what I’d hit with the knife, giving me enough time to swipe his legs

out from under him and get him in a chokehold.

He laughed with limited air supply. “All right, you got me. You called my bluff. What do you want?”

“I told you. One good reason for why I shouldn’t break your neck the way I broke Dr. Samson’s.”

“Dr. Samson? You dare to compare me to the monster that -.”

I choked him off abruptly.

When I eased up, he started coughing, “Easy, Cat. You’ll crush my -.”

I cut off his air supply again.

“You think this is a game, Garrett? That I’m just playing around? I can’t believe this. Your ego is just that big that you seriously think I won’t kill you? What is it with you guys that want the upper hand all the time, and then even when the girl has the upper hand, you won’t acknowledge it or take it seriously. Seriously, what is wrong you guys? Just like Charlie, vowing his love to me one moment and then ditching me the moment someone else is more available to him. All the time I stayed loyal, acting as your wife, but never giving you the privileges and he just hopped in the sac with his arranged wife and got her pregnant.

“I bet he slept with that Kristine girlfriend he had, too. And she was a Pink! All the while, here’s Catina, staying completely loyal and faithful, trusting him. And then I’m the idiot. I’m the fool that practically hands myself to him on a silver platter. And all he has to say is – Like my feelings didn’t even matter. Like nothing ever


Finally, after Garrett quite much more resembling that fish and flopping around on the floor, the fear entered his eyes, the fear I needed him to feel. The fear he’d made me feel as ‘Just another test.’

So I let him breathe again. “One reason, Garrett, and it better be a damn good one,” I said, suddenly feeling very tired.

“I know the coordinates of where your sister is,” he said between gasps of breath and coughing.

 “I know the exact address of where she is. She just so happened to find a way to communicate with me at the same time you just so happened to show up in my hotel room, so you’re going to have to do better than that.”

“I didn’t take her, Catina, I swear. You have to believe me. Please listen to me and give me a moment to explain. I know you have no reason to trust me, because of all the secrets we kept -.”

“It’s Cat, you idiot. YOU have been keeping tabs on me ever since I was a 12-year-old child!” I yelled. “You’ve done nothing but use, manipulate, and lie to me. There’s one memory I never told you. The person that knocked me out that day at my sister’s graduation ceremony that resulted in the torture I endured was you. You forgot to take your signature Purple ring off. This entire time, even throughout our farce of a marriage, I’ve always known it was you. You realized your mistake, so you got rid of the ring, then tested my memory to see if it could lead to you.”

“There are much bigger things going on that you can’t

comprehend. I’ve spent over a decade of my life trying to get to the bottom of -.” I pulled the trigger and the room fell into silence. The body of the guard that had been slowly crawling toward me collapsed to the ground.

“You’ve lost your mind, Catina,” Garrett said carefully. “He was an innocent.”

“I told you, it’s Cat.”

“No, my Cat would never cold-heartedly shoot to kill. Act impulsively out of emotion, for sure, but she’d never hurt an innocent. She’s passionate and fiery, but she’s not –.”

“An innocent that was going to capture and bind me to go alongside your kidnapping plot. Far from innocent. Perhaps now that you recognize I have no morals against killing people I believe to be bad, you’ll start cooperating.”

“I’m trying to save your life, Catina. That’s all I’ve ever been trying to do. Do you want to know what really happened to the other Purples that couldn’t change their color?”

“That’s the thing, Garrett. You’ve lied to me so much, I can’t trust a thing that comes out of your mouth.”

“And I know that. Why do you think I’ve taken all the measures I can to protect you and keep you safe?”

“Protect me?” I said shrilly. “You’ve been interfering on my life since I was a child. I left you. You knew I loved Charlie, and you knew my weakest spot was my sister, so you took her to try to get

me back, just like all the years before, you used my sister to control

me. When you knew I was communicating with Charlie, you not only set up an arranged marriage for him, but transferred him to one of the hardest, deadliest jobs there are, regardless of his test placement. Just like you bypassed my tests’ placement to do whatever you wanted with me.”

“It’s not like that, I swear.”

He really did sound pathetic in his begging.

“It is like that, Garrett.” And I stupidly broke down crying. I may have just killed a man to get Garrett to start being honest with me, and still, he wouldn’t even give me that. “Ever since you became interested in me, you’ve done nothing but hurt me and separate me from the people I care about, so that you could have me for yourself. You’re a maniac. A sociopath. I don’t care what your color is or how high your IQ is, you’re insane.”


“There was a time I actually believed in you, trusted you, looked up to you -.”

“Please understand.”

“There was a time I almost loved you and would have chosen to be with you, but you never could be honest, could you?”

“I’ve always loved you, Catina. You’re my one and only. The only person in this world ever found compatible to me. I fell for you when you were that belligerent 14-year-old child who introduced yourself, saying, ‘I’m the brain of high intelligence, so glad to finally be meeting the head.’ I knew, right then and there, I’d met my match,

but I had to wait all those years for you to be of age.

“Then, when I believed you were dead, I was devastated. I felt so empty, knowing, there would never be another you. When I learned that you were very much alive, I just never wanted to lose you again. Then I realized that I’d gone about everything the wrong way, and I knew that if I truly loved you, then I’d be able to let you go, if that’s what you wanted. So I let you go. And then I left you alone. Like I promised.”

“I didn’t have anything to do with your sister’s kidnapping. I picked up communication. Because she’s your family, I’ve been watching out for her, too, which, yes, for me means tracking. I went to rescue her, but Catina -.” He actually cried. “It’s Kadrin’s body, but it’s not Kadrin. She refused to be rescued. They … they turned her, Catina.”

“What do you mean they turned her?!” I screamed.

He choked on a sob. “They turned her into a weapon … against you. I’m so sorry, honey. Promise me you won’t go after her. The communication was staged. We’ve known about your 1072 am for quite a long time, which means they know, too. It’s meant to trap you. You CANNOT go after her.”

“Lier,” I yelled. “You know, Garrett, I had really hoped that you would come clean in the end, but you’ve been in the game so long, you don’t even know fact from fiction. Goodbye, Garrett.”

Followed by a big bang.

Next Up: Natural Design Free Read & Relax Chapter – Final Book in the Modules Series

YOU UNFILTERED - Resolutions vs Solutions continued ...

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