Flash: Honey’s Adoption

Image by Nika Benedictova on Unsplash

“Aw, isn’t she the cutest.” I hunch down beside the black cat. “Look someone has put her in a costume.”

“Jessie, it has orange eyes.”

“I know.” I sit beside the cat, not directly in front of it so she (or he, I wouldn’t want to misgender the black beauty, but in my mind all cats are girls like my calico pair at home) could decide if we might be friends. “And believe me, if it’s owner is around we would be having a talk. But I don’t think they are contacts, they look natural.”

“Its nails are blood colored.”

“They did not!”

The cat hissed at my sudden outburst.

“So sorry honey,” I say looking down at the cat, “but did your owners paint your needles of death? If they did, that is so rude. Could I see, please?” I hold out my hand carefully, waiting.

Turning towards me, the cat holds out a paw, her claws extended.

They are indeed red, but it appears the keratin is naturally that color. I take the foot and press the toe beans to extend the claws further. “All good.” I whisper, assuring her and myself, letting go of her foot. “Gill, they are fine, she just has some unusual coloring.” The cat stands up and saunters over to me, standing on her back legs and raising her small body so her front claws prick at my jeans.

I hold my breath, and Gill, bless his overcautious body, takes a step back. She pushes off and lands in my lap, the wings opening and closing with the movement. Turning around in a circle in my crossed legs, she presents me with her long black tail with a swish across my face, an extra smack against my nose, and an unmistakable view confirming she is female, before settling down. I start scritching her behind the neck and she arches into it.

“Where…” Gill coughs. “How are those wings attached?”

I dig into the fur, looking for strings or some sort of wire frame, maybe a leash support. The wings look leather with very short fur over them, almost a felt, thick along the lead edges mimicking bones; whoever made the costume did an amazing job. “Not sure,” I answer, “I can’t find anything.” I frown. “Not even a collar.” I run a hand down the body. “Oh, honey, do you need a place to live?”

“No, absolutely not.”

“No?” I raise my eyebrow at my live-in fiancée.

“No, we do not need another cat.”

“We can’t take her to a shelter, not this close to Halloween. All kinds of kooks grab up black cats this time of year.”

“No. She is a demon cat, look at her.”

“Darling, they are all demon cats.” I lean closer as I continue to pet her. “Isn’t that right honey? Do you have a name? Would you mind if I call you Honey for those beautiful eyes of yours until we figure it out?”

Gill sits on a discarded can in the alleyway. “No, please do not name the demon cat.” He covered his face with his hands. “We will have to take it home, then keep it separated from the others for two weeks, then all the new vet bills, explaining why the fuck Honey has wings.”

“So you think Honey is a good name?” I ask happily. Honey’s body is doing a deep, nearly silent purr against my hand. “She likes it.”

“Right,” Gill sits up straight. “Honey,” he says to the cat and she lifts her head to look at him. “Oh, this is going to be a fucking disaster,” he mutters, before continuing in his I’m-in-control voice I enjoy so much in the bedroom. “Do you want to be adopted?” he pauses and her head tilts sideways. “By us. We have two cats, normal ones … well they are both whack jobs and Patches ain’t too smart.”

“An understatement,” I whisper to Honey, “but I love her for it.”

“Queen Bee is gonna to do the territory thing. But she is lazy about it and will wear down. But,” Gill held up a finger and I felt Honey tense under my hands, “Jessie and I are engaged. We plan on getting married next June after I finish college and we will be having two children.”

“Four,” I whisper really soft to the potential adoptee, Gill was an only child didn’t know just how big his heart could grow. I felt Honey relax back into the pets. A full house doesn’t seem to be a problem.

“You must treat these kids well. No harm to our children, to our present fur babies, any future fur babies because Jessie collects them as you can see, or to us.” Gill dropped his hand to his knee. “If you came to live with us, you are welcome, and we will protect you as one of our own, but we expect the same courtesy.”

Honey looks back and forth between us, takes a gentle swipe at my hand, and then leaps out of my lap. Those gorgeous wings do a quick spread for the perfect landing then pulling against her body. Whoever made them did an incredible job. She walks away, her tail swishing.

“Oh, oh well,” I say, disappointed. “I guess, as clean and neat as she is, she already has an owner.”

At the entry of the alleyway she meows in annoyance, turning her orange eyes at us. The sunlight streaming in from the street made them look like they were glowing.

“Oh, wait, she wants us to follow!” I jump up and go to where Honey is sitting, waiting for us, her wings completely blending into her fur.

Gill reluctantly follows. “No, I think she is waiting for us. God help us.”

Honey hisses at Gill.

“Sorry, no G word. Got it.” He shrugs. “We don’t use it much.” My patient, forgiving boyfriend pauses in the twilight between the noon sun on the street and the midnight dark of the alleyway. “Blessed be better?”

Honey stands, flicking her tail high before walking over and rubbing his legs.

(words 1022; first published 11/20/2023)

Editing Rant: Glorification of the Unhealthy

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

This glorification of abusive relationships is so imbedded in our culture writing romance is REALLY difficult.

Break up and stalk until back in love? Break up multiple times? Argue and HIT in anger (woman on man usually in the romance genre, but – still – abusive!!!! NOT CUTE!!!! Never, ever, ever OK.).

How does one have a relationship that shows trouble without bringing in abusive traits to resolve the breakup?

This is a challenge for sweet romance and even another whole level more difficult for more physical romances and eroticas.

According to the common, easy path, talking it out “weakens” the “thrill”.

Consent and communication resolves things quickly — almost like the relationship, if one works at it, isn’t going to be the major issue of the plot keeping the potential lovers from bed.

A healthy relationship is just that … healthy!

It really puts a crimp in a writer’s love of torturing their characters. (We won’t go into the fact the writer’s characters are actually aspects of themselves and what the love of torturing those bits might indicate about the writer’s mental state.)


This is one of the cornerstone ideas for Falstaff Crush – romances that are about healthy relationships where the conflict and action come from realistic factors outside the psyches of the lovers, not unhealthy ideas and behaviors from the lovers themselves. We’ve discovered it’s perfectly possible to have all the good stuff about romance, even gothic angst and tropes like “enemies to lovers”, without allowing any participant in a relationship to victimize or belittle any other.

But as writers and publishers, you have to want that, and you have to accept that there are some readers who are never going to embrace your books. Because some romance readers are looking for reinforcement of this dangerous idea that “he’s mean because he loves her.” For whatever reason, they don’t want that idea challenged.

That’s it in a nutshell – the conflict and action has to come from outside the couple rather than inside the couple, meaning a bigger world, more moving parts. A harder write.

That isn’t to say some people start off relationships with poorly developed skills, and a book exploring learning about consent and communication could be interesting.

But when unhealthy mechanisms are used to REUNITE the couple and create the course for “true” love, well that shit needs to stop. We must stop making romances creating masks of “loving behavior” overtop criminal activity and possessive destruction.

Be better.

Flash: T is for Time (GoTime 3)

Photo from unsplash

Morgan leaned into Monico’s arms, feeling him kiss the top of her head. She wrapped one arm around him, pulling him closer until she could feel him shivering as much as she was.

Together their hearts slowed. She didn’t want to look up and see the fire behind her reflected in his cybernetic eyes. The heat warmed her back and reminded how close a call the most recent attempt on her life had been.

“How much longer?” she whispered into his broad chest.

He moaned regret.”As long as timeline 29 exists, as long as you anchor it.”

Morgan closed her eyes, thinking of her children. “Unless we take the fight to them.” she whispered into his shoulder.

(word count 118; first published 4/23/2023, from a FB visual prompt for a writing group I belong to – aiming for 50 words)

GoTime Series
GoTime (1/1/2023)
GoTime 2 (1/8/2023)
T is for Time (GoTime 3) (4/23/2023)

Book Review (SERIES): Fleet of Malik


Fleet of Malik by Liana Brooks

  1. Bodies in Motion
  2. Change in Momentum

Another series from one of my favorite authors. A perfect marriage of future-humanism sci-fi, romance, and mystery-thrillers. Plus people of color in the mix. These are complicated so it takes her a while to write them. Fingers crossed that she will be a bug to write a bunch of them soon!

Amazon Cover


Selena Caryll lost everything in the war—her ship, her crew, her family. Although technically on the winner’s side, her lack of crew makes her easy pickings in any fight—and any bar brawl. But she never goes down without swinging.

Titan Sciarra, on the losing side of the war, brokered a kind of peace with the winners, enough to let him live as the fragile bridge between the two sides. As a Fleet Guardian, he deals with the day-to-day operations of the fleet—and breaks up bar brawls when necessary.

As a Guardian, obviously he should walk the fired-up Selena home. Make sure she gets there safe.

Definitely without flirting. That could bring his delicately spun balance crashing down, dragging the fleet with him.

If only a way existed to get the bodies of the fleet into motion again.

An action-packed enemies-to-lovers romance in a world drawn with stunning vision and depth—don’t miss this fantastic series from Liana Brooks.


This sweet science-fiction romance-thriller is more science-fiction than romance, creating a complicated culture of grounded spacers living in an uneasy-truce with the colonists they transported. The romantic interests were on opposite sides of the spacer war – now cold war on the ground – and all that feeds into the thriller aspects.

Ms. Brooks does it again! If you loved her Time series (Discoherence, etc), you will love this.

I admit, it took me a few chapters to grasp how the tech-enhancements created the psi-powers the spacers use. Actually, I read the chapters and took a nap – after sleeping and letting my brain short it out overnight, everything made sense.

But WOW – my friends who talk about “enhanced humans” will LOVE this series. This is exactly where people hope that technology will take us. And Ms. Brooks mashes up the enhanced human but claustrophobic culture required by spacers and their ships with the less-enhanced grounders but more-versatile culture allowed by being on planet and not worrying about where your next breath will come from if the environmental machines will fail.

Amazing worldbuilding, great characters, complicated story, murder, theft, possible political coups, … just wow.

And if you just want a sweet sci-fi romance, you got that too.

Received from publisher for an honest review.


Amazon Cover


Rowena Lee lost the man she was supposed to marry and with him any hope for a happy future in the war. Now, five years later, with a suspicious kind of peace brokered between the sides, Rowena lives a half-life in emotional isolation. Neither her former enemies nor her crew have any use for her, and her only joy comes from her new job training cadets—something made difficult lately by Commander Silar’s constant, irritating presence. If he got out of her way for just THREE SECONDS, she could actually DO her job.

Commander Hollis Silar came out of the war a hero, the golden boy who could do no wrong. Romance came easily too: easy come, and easy go. But Rowena? Challenging. Like trying to flirt with a rock. Especially since he shouldn’t associate with her in the first place.

As politics heat up on Malik IV and factions begin to draw battle lines, an unknown enemy forces Rowena and Hollis into an uneasy partnership. Love is a battlefield, and on Malik IV, war is in the air.

A sensual enemies-to-lovers romance for everyone who believes in the power of one strong woman to change the world.


An enemies-to-friends science fiction romance follows a couple who trained together as children in a generational-spaceship navy, like all members of their community, then ended up on opposite sides of the war. They were both VERY good at being soldiers, leaving a wake of unforgivable actions ordered by their superiors.

Then the navy got grounded and everyone in the civil war had to live together again. Ms. Brooks has created a fascinating society of spacers who are grounded, military who are now forced to live with civilians, warriors acting as police, etc. The tech the spacers produces results that look like teleporting, telepathy, quick healing, and other psychic powers.

This series is the best futurism, altered-humans I have ever read in a sci-fi setting. You aren’t hit over the head with it, but the enhanced human capabilities are integral to the story.

Back to the romance/thriller part of the sci-fi – an complicated political plot, with spies and terrorists, is investigated by the friend-enemy couple. During the investigation, the will-kill-each-other-someday military officers are forced to work together again and again. I love the slow reveal of how people can overcome the past.

One of the best books out there on many different levels: enhanced human sci-fi, friend-enemy romance, exploration of what happens when divergent cultures meet, and political intrigue. Five star all the way.

Disclaimer: Received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) for an honest review.

SECOND READ THROUGH REVIEW – So my book club picked up the book on my recommendation and, of course, I had to read it again even though it had only been a few months. But in those months the world has changed and the rowdies being get up to be a flashpoint of riots to overthrow the government so that they can be changed from paid individuals to slaves again, with confrontations where the leadership tries to make it look like the poor people did the property damage has very different connotations than when I first read the book in Feb 2020. This very secondary part of the story strikes me hard and fast now in the middle of the civil disobediences of the Summer of 2020. The story still amazes and I have to remind myself this isn’t a story written in response to what is happening now, just in response to what has always been happening.

The relationship is between an Asian woman and red-head white man (previous book of this romantic series was between a white woman and a black man – Ms. Brooks often goes for PoC choices).

Still amazing, maybe even more amazing, during the second read.

Flash: Long Summer

From Facebook – Hades and Persephone by DonLagarto


A friend reposted this picture on Facebook (from yet another person) and I wrote the following flash in her comments as a response, because Persephone’s face is just so … so.

“You okay, doll,” Hades asked, a concerned expression taking over his face. The flower goddess responds, “Just finished upstairs, it’s been a long, hot summer. Mortals and their climate change. Just hold me a while and let me sleep.”

(words 39, first published 10/4/2023)