Where is Pyromage?
In a dungeon.
Homura was very mean to me. Kuval backed him up and Eldyn refused to take sides. I almost feel the story is redonkulous. There are things I want to fix and I'm taking a break so that I can come back to it. Conversely, I realized I should continue with the series I do have out there, which is the Notice Me Senpai series.
Readers voted for Kai's story next and therefore, I'm granting that wish. Just like Seducing Sensei, Handle with Care delves into the dark part of the soul. Kai, our hero, comes out of it but it's going to take Liam and a very dark, twisted scene in the beginning that I'm debating on leaving in the final book. It's going to be up to beta readers. I'll need as much feedback as possible. But looking at it I wonder if it's necessary.
My goal is 10K - 12K words a week. The book should be around 60K, I think, but I'm not so sure. I have 7k right now and I've finished with a project and will have time at least for 2K a day. That's my public, social accountability goal. We'll see if I get mob lynched.
So, to start off this party, I'm giving you the character profiles! You get to meet Kai Akiyama and Liam Kroll.
Now that you've met them, what do you think?
It's going to have a dark start if I ditch Chapter 1. But as most people don't read the prologue, I might just call it the prologue for the sake of having people skip over it. But it might confuse if it's not there. And...now I've lost you as I'm rambling.
Of course I have a snippet for you so take a look and tell me what you think!
Handle With Care
Some parents just—aren’t.
And that is saying something, coming from me. I do not “do” word contractions. Yet the abbreviation fit.
I could not stand for that boy to be in that house any longer. Because I was a child care service provider, there was something I could do about his situation.
“Mr. Akiyama. We’re waiting on you.”
Officer Glen DeSoto and officer David Corey attended me for tonight’s extraction. I had been waiting for them to show before I knocked on the door of 8211 Labrador Street. There were pockets in the grand city of Reseda that were worse. Right now, I could only think of two places in the San Fernando Valley that could not be described as better.
“Tonight, we will be removing Liam Kroll. He is twelve years of age. Male. Caucasian…”
“We get it man, can we just get him out of there?”
I turned my head and bore my eyes into Officer Corey. He stared at the house, his jaw tense. He refused to look at me. Whether he avoided eye contact because people found my attention disturbing or for the kid we were here to rescue, I could not be sure.
Most people found my cold stare unnerving. But if these officers knew what I was capable of, what kind of past I lived, they would beat me down like a dirty hog. My only saving grace were the lives I had saved along the way. I was not looking for redemption. Redemption was for thieves. For adulterers. For murderers. But not for me. All I could have was an acceptance of past actions I could not take back.
“I would like this to go smoothly. Losing him to a technicality is not acceptable.”
Glass shattered inside the house. We all stood at attention. This was routine for this family. Every night the parents would fight. Every night their child would be the one who suffered. Tonight would be the last time Liam would be covered in bruises.
“Jesus. Go man…”
But I was already walking across the street. I pounded on the door as good as any SWAT team member and waited.
Footsteps shook the floor boards of the thirteen-square foot house. The door opened in haste and there stood Liam’s father, Jacob Kroll. I did not believe in stereotypes, however, Mr. Kroll was the poster boy for portly, polish, and poor. He wore a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. His jeans were made for Sunday School—Holy and worn.
“What? We don’t want any!” He tried to slam the door on my face. I slipped my foot in between the door jamb. Fuck protocol.
“Mr. Kroll, I am Kai Akiyama, from child care services. I am here to inform you that your parenting privileges have been revoked by the state of California. Please present Liam Kroll.”
Little boy cries filled the house. “Nooo! Momma! Stop!”
Mr. Kroll flinched and turned back. I wanted to shove him aside and enter his place of residency, but that was not procedure. I was teetering on proper regulations as it were.
“Mr. Kroll, let me inside or present Liam Kroll to me.”
He snapped his head back. “Get off my property.”
“Mr. Kroll, if you do not cooperate, then I will be forced to use extreme measures.”
“Extreme measures, huh?”
I narrowed my eyes. “Do you happen to see Officer DeSoto and Officer Corey behind me?”
His eyes flicked over my shoulder.
“We have a warrant to search your house for the illegal storing and selling of contraband.”
Mr. Kroll’s eyes bugged out of his head.
“Let me inside or present Liam Kroll.”
“Papa!” The little boy was right behind him. He wore a brand-new shiner on his left eye. The bruises on his right eye were fading. Guess his family thought he needed another.
Mr. Kroll tried to shove me back. It was the excuse I needed. Soon as his palm touched my chest, I took hold of his wrist, bent it around, stepped backwards and yanked him with me. He was on his back before he could register the twinkling stars in the night sky.
“Liam Kroll?” I glanced behind me.
His face registered shock. Liam stared at his father as I kept the bastard pinned to the ground.
I held out my free hand. “Liam, come with me and I won’t let these people hurt you again.”
“Liam! Get back in the house!” Mr. Kroll yelled.
Officer DeSoto and Corey were on the father in seconds.
“Mr. Kroll, you are under arrest for accosting a CCS agent…you have the right to remain silent…”
My attention remained on the boy. His swollen left eye didn’t hide his uncertainty. But there was hope mixed in with the shyness. I could still reach him. Make him understand that life was not night after night of torment.
He stared into my face and unlike most people, he didn’t look away. There was…a connection. Our souls were the same. Kindred spirits. Ying to Yang. We both burned within the same hell. We both bared the burden of being a disappointment to our fathers.
“Come with me.” My hand offered him refuge, he need only take it.
“You’ll take me with you?”
“Yes.” It was not a lie, but I knew I could not keep him. A part of me wanted to. But I was the extraction officer, not a foster home. The other part of me did not trust myself. My upbringing was not ideal and though my father taught me what not to do, I had no notion of how to raise a child correctly.
Liam’s eyes flickered in a type of knowing. Children his age began to understand the world, how adults worked, how adults told untruths. I was sure he could see through to the demon inside me. The connection we shared ripped me open. Its intensity blew apart the hidden, dirty bits I tried to keep from surfacing.
His steps were tentative. Slow. But his trust in me slayed all my pride. His arm reached out…
“Liam!” His mother came around the door. She took one look at the scene, snatched her child and ran back inside the house.
“Damn it!” I turned to the officers. They had everything in hand. Mr. Kroll was being cuffed. I chased after Liam and his mother and entered the small abode riddled with…things. The Kroll family horded everything from books to bottles, signature plates to thimbles. They had enough to fill a five-bedroom house. Only this was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom cookie cutter home built when most people rarely grew taller than five feet.
The ceiling was so low, my six-foot-one-inch height made me want to duck as I maneuver around the “pathways” in between piled furniture. I pursued Mrs. Kroll as she ran into the kitchen.
When I got there, I froze. The blood drained out my face and all the way out my feet.
And that's all I'm going to reveal. Hopefully you see how dark this will get, but I'm not giving the whole thing away until the release...because, that's what I do. I'm a tease. I know. But this one, I'll see to the end and you'll be along for the ride as we go!
Until next time, happy reading!
XO ~ Stephy