The Martyrs: Don’t Join the Crowd, Luke

“Good morning, Miss White,” someone says above me. “I’m Don Jones, an elder here at the church. I was wondering if I could speak to you—in private.”

            It bothers me that he greeted me and not Luke. I really can’t understand what these people have against this sweet, kind-hearted boy.

            “As long as it doesn’t have to do with girlie issues, you can say it in front of Luke too,” I say, grinning a little.

            Don is blushing. “B-but you may want to reconsider—it’s very personal.”

            “Does it have to do with girlie stuff?”

            “Um, no.”

            “Then talk,” I say, finding Luke’s hand on the carpeted ground, and squeeze it gently.

            “I…” Don coughs, and it must be a super-cough, because everything that he says after seems to have more power. “Miss White, I know that this is a very difficult time for us all and most of us aren’t thinking clearly. Believe me when I say that I only have your best interest at heart. I’m thinking of your safety.”

            “I don’t really think there’s much you can do about that, sir,” I say humorlessly.

            “Broadly speaking, no. But your survival here may depend on who you put your trust in.”

            My off-center eyes narrow. “Go on.”

           Jones shifts in his shoes. I can see him as an older man, just starting to grey and thin, slightly chubby with a hopeful beard and a too-kind smile. His voice reminds me of the boy who introduced me when I first arrived at the safe house.

            Don Jones, elder or not, is a fake.

            “Go on,” I repeat, more forceful this time. “You started this conversation. So finish it.”

            “You can’t…Miss White—Rosie—excuse my abruptness, but you don’t know this boy at all. Do you? You’ve only just met.”

            I get it now. “Yes,” I say. “We met when he saved me and literally carried me here yesterday.”

            “You can’t,” Don struggles, “see him, Miss White. You don’t know, because if you saw him, you would understand.”

            Luke tries to pull his hand out of mine, but I won’t let him. “Understand what?” I snap. “What are you trying to tell me? Spit it out.”

            “He’s dangerous!” Don says, and he does spit it out. “You don’t understand that he’s dangerous, because you can’t see him. He-he…”

            My blood is boiling—snapping, crackling like a fire in my veins. My breath comes short and fast just like it does when I cry. But no tears fall from these eyes. Not this time. “If I could see, what would I see when I look at him?” I ask Don. “If I wasn’t blind, what would he look like to me?”

            “Uh, tattoos and piercings…long hair…Rosie, you have to trust me—”

            “Trust you? You stand here, judging the boy who saved my life because he has a freaking tattoo, and you ask me to trust you?”


            “You’re pathetic. You’re completely, utterly… You’re supposed to be setting an example for me, for us, and you’re saying Luke’s a bad person because of a tattoo. You’re pathetic.”

            “I’m trying to protect you,” he grits out.

            “Well where were you when I was sitting in the middle of a mob of panicking people? Where were you when I was wandering the halls looking for this stinking place? And where were you when…” When my mom was murdered. Where were you?

            The sound of silence overwhelms my empty ears. Floods my thoughts. The silence is worse than when he was spewing filth about my…Luke.

            But how dare he? How frigging dare he judge my hero? How dare he say Luke’s not trustworthy, that he’s a bad person? How dare he?

            I want to scream and curse and throw my collection of bobble head dolls at Don Jones. I want to be able to see so I can find something to judge him about but all I can find is that he’s a horrible, rotten person and I hate him for how he treats Luke. I hate him.

            “Get,” I tell him.

            “Go on, get,” I say like he’s the neighborhood stray.

            “Get away from us,” I say, deadly calm now. “You don’t deserve to call yourself a deacon or an elder or the head pastor. How can you call yourself a follower of Christ when you mistreat His children? How can you?”

            “I…I’m sorry to have taken up so much of your time,” he recites. I know he’s gone when the background chatter resumes.

            Luke is a rock beside me. His hand is limp and mine is tight, and shaking from fury. My legs are locked, straight in front of me, and locking your knees can make you faint but I’m wide-awake and humming with rage. I’m alive with anger.

            My mom always taught me to be accepting, but she also made sure I knew right from wrong. I have a very black-and-white personality. Homosexuality is wrong. Sinning is wrong. Loving is good. Judging is bad. Condemning is also bad. Accepting people for who they are and realizing that all have sinner and fallen short of God’s glory is so important.

            So while I have never even thought about getting a tattoo and have never done more than pierce my ears, who’s to say that it’s a sin? We all make mistakes. We all have regrets, and I’m not saying that Luke’s body art decisions are regrettable. I don’t see anything wrong with decorating your body. It’s the same as wearing jewelry or make-up, just a little more…permanent.

            That man had no right to trot right up and judge Luke. Don Jones has sinned, too, so he has no right to point the finger.

            Christ alone, the perfect, spotless Lamb, has the right to judge, and He’s the least judgmental being. He would never deny a child because they had an inky butterfly on their back. He welcomes us all with equal fervor. He loves us, mistakes and all.

            There’s the slightest pressure on my fingers.

            “Are you okay?” I ask him. “I am so sorry that jerk said those things, I had no idea when he said ‘personal’ that he meant—”

            “Did you mean that?”

            “Sorry?” I’m confused. He’s not…angry? He should be. I am. I’m angry enough for the both of us.

            “What you said. Did you mean it?” he repeats. “Any of it?”

            Luke sounds so happy. I’m sure that there is hope filling his eyes, hope that I did defend him when no one else would have.

            More anger flares up in the pit of my stomach. It burns there, like a fire. It makes my head spin.

            His happiness means one thing: no one has ever stood up for him before.

            He doesn’t even stand up for himself.


            I ask him that. I say “why?” I say “why don’t you defend yourself, Luke? Why don’t you speak up? I shouldn’t have had to yell at that creep, because you should have been doing it yourself.”

            “I…” His head droops.

            I snatch my hand away from him and cross my arms right around my chest. “You can’t let people walk all over you.”

            “I know,” he says lamely.

            “Then why do you let them?!”

            He is silent.

            “Look,” I say quietly, not sure if he’s still with me, “from the day I was born, my mom told me the same thing. For your sake, I’ll paraphrase. My mom loved to give speeches. She said, ‘There are enough people in the world who would be more than happy to criticize you. Don’t join the crowd’.”

            I would usually be crying when she said this. Crying or throwing the first thing I touched or complaining. My mother was an angel, no disguise about it. She endure my nightly nightmares, the unbalanced mess I had become, how I always came home from group therapy more frustrated than before, my bag-loads of audio books, the passionate hatred I had for my cane, plus the normal things a teenager goes through. She’d lucky she didn’t have to deal with school drama too.

            I didn’t have any friends and no one ever made fun of my blindness (for fear of Adan’s fist in their throat) but I still had my issues. Obviously.

            I hated that I didn’t have friends, or anyone besides my family. I hated that I wasn’t a normal kid. I couldn’t go shopping for clothes like a regular human being because I can’t see myself in the mirror. Mostly I just hated the accident, and myself. Oh, I really hated myself.

            “Trust me,” Mom said, smoothing back hair, wiping away tears. “Rosie, so many people are going to dislike you. You’re going to meet people who, for whatever reason, just can’t stand you. They’ll make fun of you and talk behind your back and treat you like crap. You can’t let yourself be one of them.

            “You have to be stronger.”

            Not just strong. Stronger-er. Er.


“Are you going to be one of your own haters,” I ask Luke. Not unkindly. I just want to know.

            I hope he doesn’t hate myself as much as I used to.

            “It’s hard,” he says. He sighs. Surrenders. “It’s hard to not join the crowd. It’s a big one.”

            “Hey, it’s quality over quantity, brother.” I nudge his shoulder gently. “More Mom wisdom. Quality over quantity.”

            I hope he’s thinking of me when he says, “The quality looks pretty good on my side.”

            “That’s what I thought. If you’re winning, there’s nothing to complain about.”

            He laughs tiredly. “This conversation is getting confusing.”

            “Then just agree with me.”

            “What am I agreeing on?”

            “You’re promising me that you’re going to start sticking up for yourself. If that bozo walks past, glare at him like a normal person would. If he talks to you, ignore him. If he’s a jerk, tell me and I’ll kick him in a very unpleasant place.”

            “Aw, I want to kick him too.”

            “Then we’ll kick him together,” I concede. “Promise me?” I hold up my hand, pinkie extended. His cold hand bumps mine before our fingers curls around each other.

            “Pinkie swear,” we say together, and I can tell that he’s grinning too.

            Luke pulls me into an awkward side hug. I’d much rather be in his lap, but I let him squeeze my shoulders.

            But it’s maddening. After spending all night draped across his legs, curled around his chest, listening to the sounds he makes in his sleep, a side hug, frankly, isn’t going to cut it.

            I twist and swing my leg over him. It’s the only way to hug him properly. His hands are flat against my shoulder blades, his cheek against my ear.

            I bury my face in his neck. He smells like cinnamon and ember, like apple cider and Christmas stores. “Luke? I meant every word.”

            He knows what I mean.

Chapter Ten of Our Fantasy Novel, because apparently I forgot to post it…




Even though I had never gotten along with Levi, I stare in utter horror at his lifeless body. Blood is already starting to soak the grass beneath him. I look back to the bush where the girl is on her knees near her vomit.

            Then it hits me. She’s probably never seen a dead body before, much less killed someone. I want to get up and thank her for saving me, but I can’t. I can hardly move anything. There’s too much pain. It doesn’t help that he kicked me where it hurt the most.

            I feel a deep pain in my chest. Not good. Only a couple more days until I die. Until my soul fades away. I haven’t told Ellyn about it, and I don’t plan to either. I know there’s a way to save me, but I don’t even bother. I’d probably die before I found a way to get it.

            My focus returns back to the girl, who is shaking violently. I pale, having a queasy feeling as if someone is behind me.

            “Did you really think she could get rid of me that easily, my dear cousin?”

I whip my head back toward where Levi had been lying to see that he is standing up once again, his head still bleeding like crazy.

            I knew it. He always had been once for tricks. “I don’t know, but it sure was nice to see your bottom kicked by a girl who is way smaller than you.”

I don’t smile outwardly, but inwardly my smile is about as wide as an ocean. I truly did enjoy that whole scene.

            However, he isn’t amused the slightest bit. I can tell that right now he’s all about revenge. However his scaled companion (who, by the way, didn’t care at all that his master was hit by a log) grunts as a signal that he is being summoned elsewhere. Levi grunts, unhappy, but he knows that if he doesn’t return, he’s probably going to be in deep water.

            “I’ll be back for you,” he growls, moving away from me. “You just wait.” He grabs onto his dragon, hoisting himself into his back.

            “I don’t have time to wait,” I yell.

            My injured cousin laughs cruelly. “Oh, that’s right. So why exactly is your soul dying? Were you cursed when you were—?”

            “JUST GO!” Anger starts to bubble up inside me, for I really don’t want him to mention my past.

            He snickers under his breath, but decides not to push any more of my buttons. I stare at him and his dragon until they disappear out of my sight.

            I look at Ellyn, wondering if she saw and heard the whole conversation. I pray solemnly to God that she didn’t. She’d probably start prying into my business.

            My ankle starts sending sharp reminders that it’s hurt, and I scowl.

            I can’t wait to get to that cabin…

The Links To Our Fantasy Novel, as per request

So honored that someone requested that I post all the link to the Fantasy Novel Kathleen and I have been writing for a few months now. *head swells*











Somehow isn’t posted…what’s with that? Um…okay…gimme a sec and I can repost it. here ya go:














When the first rays of light shoot through the open window and lightly run their pleasantly warm fingers over my eyelids, I stretch and yawn and do everything I can to postpone the day.

            But the sun is grinning so furiously into my eyes and makes the blanket I’m entangled in hot and scratchy. I feel rumpled. It’s a nice new feeling, rumpled. All messy and carefree, uncooperative strands of hair and wrinkled clothes. I like it.

            A small grown escapes me as I stretch my arms high above my head, fingers reaching for the high arched ceiling. They miss by a mile.

            My eyes truly open for the first time this morning, and I’m not at all surprised to see that I’m in Jason’s room, lying in his bed, wearing his clothes, wrapped in his wool blanket which smells of him: earth and spice. Like boy.

            Not that I should know what boys smells like. Totally improper.

            But there’s a part of me that just can’t scold myself. A part that says this isn’t bad, this isn’t something to be ashamed of. There isn’t anything wrong with what I’ve done or what I’m doing now.

            This is not my world. Here, they play by different rules. Or maybe they play a different game entirely. Wearing trousers is acceptable here, as is touching (to an extent). And burying my face in a boy-ish smelling blanket? That’s okay too.

            I’m liking this world more and more.

            I sit up, thinking that I should find Jason and inform him that no longer will I be cooking our meals, unless I can go shopping for something even remotely edible, but the door creaks open before I can get up, and a handsome, dark-haired boy slips in. not Jason.

            I shift uncomfortably on the mattress. I must look a bed-headed fright.

            “Hullo,” the boy says, smiling cheerfully. He has an Irish accent, the same as Jason, with exaggerated i’s. He closes the door.

            I cough. “Good morning.”

            “It sure is,” he says, and peers out the window at the forest, which is just beginning to wake up. “It looks to be a beautiful day. Though,” he glances back at me, “not nearly as gorgeous as you are, my dear.”

            I choke on my own saliva. “W-what?!”

            “You are most exquisite. You do know that. Don’t you?”

            “Um.” What the bleedin’…oh bollocks. I know this raven haired devil. “You’re his cousin, the one with the scaly beast.”

            “I believe they’re called dragons now, sweetheart,” he croons.


            “My name is Levi.”

            “Good Lord, don’t tell me you’re an assassin as well? I won’t ask any annoying question,” I promise, remembering Jason’s words. I’m still not sure if he was joking or not.

            “Assassin?” The boy laughs. He plops down next to me on the bed. “I’m no killer, don’t worry. Well, I don’t kill girls. But I am a good kisser…”

            He leans closer, and I jerk away before he does something we’ll both regret. If he tries anything, I’ll kick his nuts in.

            “Aw, c’mon, darling, what’s wrong?”

            “Ladies don’t faff about with strange men.” I dodge another advance. Jason, my hero, where are you?

            “Ah,” Levi grins. “But now, you’re not a lady, are you, Ellyn?”

            My heart stops. I freeze. His lips are cool as they brush mine. Cold and hard and…eugh. I slap his face as hard as I can.

            “Jason!” I scream. “Jason, help!”

“I’m here, I’m right here,” he snaps. Then his voice is quieter, gentler. “It’s okay, Ellyn. I’m right here.”

            I thought my eyes were already open, but I have to pry my lids apart before I can see his handsome, rugged face, those deep purple eyes, that abundance of curls.

            He is here. He is.

            Together, we’re lost in that scratchy blanket, crammed on a bed made for one. His elbow is under my neck and the rest of him is curled around me. Whyyyy….

            “Pervert!” I shriek, shoving his surprised face away from me. “What the heck are you doing on me?! GETOFFGETOFFGETOFF!”

            “Fine,” he says calmly, picking himself up and standing at the foot of the bed. “But you’re the one who was calling for me. I won’t apologize.”

            “I…I’m sorry.” I pant and rub my swollen eyes. “I had the most horrific dream. I think I might be sick.” The very thought of Levi’s cold, hard mouth on mine…oh Lord.

            Jason backs up a foot. “If you’re going to hurl, do it outside. Please,” he adds a second later.

            I shake my head, wild hair flying around my shoulders. I’m sitting up now, curled around my knees. “No, I’m all right. It was just so realistic. Don’t you hate dreams like that?”

            He hesitates. “Down here we call them nightmares.”

            “Oh, so do we. My dream wasn’t bloody-violent-scary as much as I-could-possibly-throw-up-scary.”

            “I don’t want to know.”

            Psha, as if I was going to tell him I dreamt of kissing his raving-mad, dragon-riding cousin.

            “Did you dream? Or nightmare?”

            He shakes his head miserably. “Don’t they teach you grammar back in London?” He says it funny, like Lonh-donh. “You don’t nightmare, you have nightmares. And it’s none of your business.”

            I shrug indifferently. “As you wish. I thought you might like to talk about it. Sometimes that helps.”

            “I don’t need help,” he says, scowling, but I can see the remains of ghostly tear tracks on his scarred cheeks.

            “Then why did your cousin say that you were cursed?”

            He stiffens. Back, shoulder, spine—all one rigid muscle. For a moment I imagine I can see fear written across his face. Then he wipes his emotions clean.

            “Levi’s a jerk. You have to learn to ignore him or you’ll go insane like the rest of us.” He turns to leave.

            “Wait—so he was lying?”

            “Brush your hair and come eat breakfast.”

            “And you’re going to cook with what, hmm?” I ask.

            Before he leaves, I catch a smirk. “Leftovers.”

There’s a wooden hairbrush on the dresser. The bristles are thick and blunt to accommodate Jason’s dense curls, perfect for my heavy hair. My hair had been curled and wavy after having fallen from its coiffure, but now it’s a dirty-blonde mess.

            Momma always loved my hair. She would comb it through, fifty strokes each night, and in the morning it would pin back smoothly. After only a day in this forest, this cabin, this world, there are leaves and dirt and tangles everywhere. I don’t know where to begin.

            Unfortunately…I begin in the wrong place.

            “Mr. Ivy,” I say, walking into the kitchen, “we have a wee problem…”

            He turns around from manning the cooking pot above the fire. “It’s J—what the heck?”

            My cheeks redden. “Yes, I…had some difficulties.”

            “Pffftt, no kidding,” he laughs.

            Oh good Lord, he smiles. Just the briefest hint of a grin, a flash of white teeth, a curl of lip. It was gorgeous.

            I wish he would do it again. Smile.

            “What are you looking at?” He frowns. “You should look at yourself. At least I don’t have a brush sticking out of my head.”

            He’s so blunt it makes me snicker.

            “Stop laughing,” he says.

            “You thought it was funny a minute ago.”

            “That’s because,” he says, “you look ridiculous.” He grabs my wrist. “C’mon.”

            Jason leads me outside where the air is warm and the breeze is cool. The beautiful swaying of the trees makes my arms goose bump. A tiny songbird lands on the handle of the brush. Which kind of does look like it’s sticking out of my head.


            Jason shoos the poor thing away. “Dumb bird,” he mutters as we walk down a narrow dirt path, obviously man-made. Jason-made.

            “I see you’re not an animal lover?” I ask him. “Or do you prefer your knives to breathing creatures?”

            His sudden stare startles me. “I like animals just fine.”

            “Then why do you keep scaring Jaz away? He’s just a little bird.”

            “Fine. Keep him. Just don’t come crying to me when he pecks your eyes out.” Lord, you’d think he was jealous of a bird.

            We have come to a large clearing. It must not have been used for a long while, because it’s a bit overgrown. There’s a stone well in the center and a circle of rocks for a campfire a little farther away.

            Jason pulls a short, squat bar out of his pocket. “Homemade soap. And before you butt your nose in, no, I didn’t make it.” He hands the ugly yellow cake to me. “We can find a river later, for baths, but you seriously need to fix that hair now.”

            From the well, he draws a heaping bucket of water. It looks to be cleaner than the water back at the cabin.

            I stare at the bucket. How do I…?

            “Geez.” Impatiently, Jason plucks the soap from my hands and shoves me down on my knees. “Bend your head over the bucket. Close your eyes.”

            He dunks my head into the water. I hold my breath until he pulls me back up and starts scrubbing soap into my hair furiously. His fingers run into my scalp, burrowing in my hair like mice. As he works, Jaz sings a pretty song.

            Just when my neck is getting sore, there’s a splash. A cascade of water pours over my head. With one hand, Jason scrubs while he washes the lather away with the other.


            I lift my head and shake like a dog. Madly. When I look up, Jason is just as wet as I am. He has a hairbrush in one hand. I kneel on the moss and he stands behind me, smoothing and brushing my water-logged locks. There’s a scrape of metal. He pulls out a shiv. He’s not even wearing his belt! Where does he even get these things?!?

            I edge away. “My hair…”

            “It’ll be a hassle to clean and dry all the time. Hair grows.”

            “But it’s taken years to grow so long… I like being able to put it in plaits.” And Momma…my momma loves my long hair. She loves it.

            “It’ll grow back,” he repeats, and with a swoosh, my lovely long hair is gone. I reach back to feel the thick, blunt edges. Neat. He didn’t miss a single strand. It barely brushes my shoulder now, but without the extra length weighing it down, it’s wavier now. There are more highlights of red, thanks to my Irish great grandfather. The rest is in a pile at my feet.

  1. What will Momma think…?

            “You didn’t even give me a choice!” I say to him. He sheathes his knife. “That was my hair.”

            “It’s hair.”

            “It was all I had left!” I cry. “My home, my family, my clothes—they are all gone. All I had left was my hair. Now I look like one of you.”

            “And that’s so bad?” he asks calmly.

            “I’m not. I’m not one of you. I never will be. I’m me.”

            “People change, Ellyn.”

            “You may find this hard to believe,” I snap, “but I like me. I don’t want to change. I liked the way I was just fine.”

            “The way you were would have gotten you killed,” he barks.

            And he’s an assassin. He could kill me. Or he could protect me. I’m betting on the latter.

            We’re face to face, none to nose. Breathing the same cool summer air. I can see every freckle on his suntanned nose, every scar on his cheek, the thin silver line above his eye. His eyes sparkle, from danger, from excitement. His thin, cherry-colored lips. All we have to do is blink and lean a little…

            Flashes of dark hair and green eyes blur my vision. So cold. So unfeeling.

            I stumble back.

No, I won’t let this happen. Everything has been taken from me. He won’t have my kiss too. Especially not after…my dream…


My Fantastical Encounter with a Ginger Wednesday Night

So Kathleen and I were sitting there waiting for Impact to start. The twins popped up out of nowhere. Marjorie was talking about this new book she’s reading by a hard-to-understand author, and Kat was showing me her non-glass Cinderella shoes. Kathleen was listening to Jason’s song.


We look up. There was a tall, gangly ginger, staring down at us.

“Uh, yeah?” I asked, marveling at the thought of a guy talking to me.

“All of you,” he said, motioning to the four of us, “are to call this guy” –he pointed to a shorter kid with what must have been a new buzz cut– “You have to call this guy ‘Fuzzy Man Peach’.”

We stared.


“Fuzzy Man Peach,” he called back as he walked away, to make sure we remembered.

Five minutes later, he was back.

“What is this guy’s name?”

Blank stares. “Uhhh…?”

He threw his arms up. “Are you kidding me?!”

“Haha, we don’t care!!!” Kat said in a funny voice. Marjorie started laughing infectiously.

“Guys are dumb,” Kathleen muttered.

The ginger walked away, shaking his head sadly, but he was smiling. I hope to see him again next week.



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Hunter Hayes: Tattoo (Your Name) Tour with Dan + Shay and The Railers!



Originally posted on secretfangirls:

During his outstanding performance on the Today Show this morning, Hunter Hayes dropped his big news: he got a tattoo!  Not really, but he is going back out on tour this fall!   The Tattoo (Your Name) Tour kicks off in October in Pennsylvania.   Even better?  He is bringing favorites Dan + Shay and The Railers on tour with him!    Talk about a dream tour lineup.  Hunter also said that he will be doing something unexpected on this tour that’s never been done before, and that they had been working on a new technology to make it happen.  We have no idea what we’re in for, but we can’t wait for this tour!

Watch the trailer for the tour below!

Stay tuned to for ticket on sale info, including VIP packages.  Visit for info on the Dan + Shay + You Experience.  (Which we highly recommend.)


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