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The Long Road Home: The Journey of Alice & Jasper

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Dear Readers,

First of all, thank you for being so impatiently patient, while I got my life together and dealt with a lot of things that kept me from writing. Every single message you sent me was read and cherished. Sometimes I just didn’t have the energy to respond, so I’m doing it now, en masse. Sorry if that seems impersonal…but it is definitely heartfelt.

I had major health problems over the past year and a half, which led to major financial problems and major upheavals in my life. We lost our home, I almost died, yada yada. However, it’s a new day. We’re back on track. I’m feeling good again.

And I’m writing again. I feel alive again. The two go hand-in-hand.

Anyway, this chapter is a bit boring, I’ll warn you now. It’s almost completely in their heads, lots of thoughts and feelings. I hit serious writer’s block with this particular chapter, and ended up putting it aside for a while in the hopes that something would come to me…then life decided to drop some bombs in my lap, and the chapter languished on my desktop for over a year. Nothing huge happens here in Chapter 18, but true to its title, it is road work: laying the groundwork for the final two chapters, where everything will tie up neatly and, hopefully, give you a satisfying end to A & J’s long, long journey home.

I plan on going back and ripping TLRH apart and putting it all back together again, shiny and clean. You guys noticed some details I flubbed, so I need to fix those things—plus, my writing style has evolved a bit since I started writing this story in 2009… If you can believe it, TLRH started out as a dream (no kidding) that was originally a one-shot, and grew then, swelling FAR beyond my own expectations, a bit like Reneesme. ;) It was also the first piece of fiction I’d written in more than ten years, so I was a bit rusty and florid. If you’re interested in reading the re-vamped (pun intended!!), completed version (which will contain some things not in the one that’s currently out online) as a downloadable e-book, please let me know.

Again, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and continuing to support me. I love you all. And for those of you who care, thank Lydia Hale for being the spur that goaded me into promising to finish TLRH before Christmas. She and her sweet bunch of friends made me feel so guilty and loved that I had to make that promise—and I intend to keep it.

Love,

Jess

Chapter 18: Road Work

JPOV

The mugger hadn’t wanted to stab the man, I knew, from the sudden surge of remorse and frantic worry that assaulted me just a split-second before the scent of his victim’s blood slammed into me like a freight train.

The robber just wanted the wallet, and his mark put up too much of a fight. I didn’t see it happen, because they were in an alley just off the main street, only a few feet away in the dimness of the shadows between the buildings, but it was close enough for the emotions to lash at me, to hear their struggle echoing off the alley walls.

Nothing good ever happens in alleys, does it?

My body took over. Throat burning with thirst, the bloodlust coloring my vision red, my hands curling into claws, I froze, preparing to strike.

Yet, some tiny part of my mind screamed out, throwing the image up before my eyes. Reminding me. Trying to stop the unstoppable. I was catapulted back in time, just a few minutes, but precious ones.

***

It was a beautiful ring.

Nestled in the velvet of the display case, the platinum setting gleamed subtly, the diamonds catching the light of the overhead bulbs and casting rainbow fragments all around. It wasn’t flashy or huge. The central diamond, princess cut, was only a carat, but it was flawless and clear; the other, smaller diamonds, baguettes, surrounded the bigger one, pretty maids clustered about the bride, set in the platinum of the band in a delicate pattern, a spray of leaves cradling a precious flower.

It was perfect.

I could already see it on her finger, resting comfortably against her wedding band, which although plain, wouldn’t be overshadowed by this elegant engagement ring. It looked fragile, but platinum is an extraordinarily strong metal, and diamonds are…well, diamonds. Beautiful but unbelievably durable and useful.

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