He traced the rippled pale pink flesh on her stomach. “It was a fire,” she said, “When I was a kid, my house was on fire and I was trapped upstairs.”

He kissed the flesh and she didn’t even flinch. She wore her scars gracefully, like a wealthy widow carrying a heavy pearl necklace around her neck.

As he entered her, the flames leapt up in a blaze. He could see them, dancing in red and orange chaos. They rose higher with a growing intensity as his body moved closer into hers again and again with a quickening motion.

His eyes were burning. He could feel the thickness of the smoke in his throat and should have been choking, but she wouldn’t let him go. The moment he felt the smoke fill his lungs, he came in her with a shudder and lost consciousness.

When he came to hours later, he thought he could still see the red-orange flames, but it was only the late morning sun shining on his face. Before he could feel relieved, he smelled smoke coming from somewhere in the house and fumbled out of bed. He ran into the kitchen and stopped short when he realized that it was only the smoke from a cigarette hanging off the lips of his late night companion.

His eyes traced over her skin and he was amazed at how smooth it looked. He was so caught up in how beautiful her skin was that it took a while for it to sink in. Her skin was completely smooth. Yes, completely, even her stomach.

“But…how? Your skin. It burned, ” he sputtered out.

“My skin? What are you talking about? No offense, but have you looked in the mirror lately?” she joked and looked pointedly at his torso.

He followed her eyes and couldn’t process what he saw. The skin from his hip up to his rib cage and over his abdomens was a mottled mess of pink scars.

“You told me last night. You were a kid and there was a fire and you were trapped upstairs,” she trailed off.



Summer didn’t stay long. It figures, she thought, just as I was getting comfortable wearing flip flops, I gotta start wearing rain boots. Autumn’s always been my favorite season anyway. It never got old to feel that satisfying crunch of dead leaves. The worst was when you thought you saw a real crunchy one. You walk up to it, anticipation growing. You let your foot hover over the big oak leaf as if to hear its final request before meeting oblivion. Finally the foot drops and…nothing. A soggy leaf masquerading as a cruncher. The worst.

Her thoughts wander back to the leaf fight of her life. Heart pumping and soul levitating, she sprinted and dodged with so much abandon you’d think she was the leaf being hurled into the air. Dry leaves would explode in an array of reds and yellows against grey skies. Even when rain-soggy leaves hit her with a wet smack on the cheek, she laughed open-mouthed. She missed being silly and not…thinking.

First Draft Excerpt

It was the season of apricots again. As the sun rose and stretched its sleep-aching arms, it grabbed for the blushing fruit like a greedy infant. Liliana looked on without concern while the orchard’s tidy rows of trees were being inhaled by the horizon. She could only think of how stupid she had been to take that man—no, that scum—back into her arms as if nothing had happened. Continue reading