Posted in Contemporary, Loss, Military, Novella, Romance

***Can’t You See? – Written Fireside Part 7***

Those of you who have followed this blog from way back will be familiar with Written Fireside. These are stories written as a serial with a new part published each week, by a group of authors taking it in turn to write.

Written Fireside is the brainchild of the fabulous Lori Connelly. This story will eventually be published with all proceeds going to the charity Pets for Vets. This is a US charity dedicated to providing a second chance to shelter dogs by rescuing, training and matching them with American veterans who need a companion pet.



Noah Hale is an author suffering from PTSD related insomnia, needing peace and sleep. All he wants is to be left alone. A certain little dog has other ideas.

Amanda Bell, a teacher, is grieving the loss of her sister, Rachel. Caring for her sister’s dog is comforting until a new neighbor moves in the other half of her duplex. Suddenly, the dog starts escaping her yard, running off to the man on the other side of the fence.


Parts 1-6 are complete and can be found at the links below:

Written Fireside: Schedule:

PART 1 – Tuesday June  23rd – Lori Connelly 

PART 2 – Tuesday June  30th – Elsa Winckler

PART 3 – Tuesday July   7th – Angela Campbell

PART 4 – Tuesday July  14th – Jane Hunt

PART 5 – Tuesday July  21st – Charlotte Phillips

PART 6 – Tuesday July  28th – Mandy Baggot

PART 7 – Tuesday Aug.   4th – Susan Horsnell

PART 8 – Tuesday Aug.  11th – Paty Jager

PART 9 – Tuesday Aug.  18th – Zara Stoneley

PART 10 – Tuesday Aug.  25th – Summerita Rhayne


Noah cradled the mug in his shaking hands. His neighbor watched him carefully. “You’re wondering what I’m going to do next, aren’t you? Stay and talk or tear off back to the sanctity of my own place.” He sighed deeply. What did he have to lose? “Tell me about your sister.”

‘Rachel was two years younger than me but we were more like twins. Joined at the hip. We did almost everything together.” Tears filled her eyes. “I’d refused to go with her the night she had her accident. I was cranky, tired from a bad day. Normally she would have stayed with me but there was a band playing at the club that she loved so, she went alone.’ She quieted, reached for a tissue and wiped her eyes.

‘You don’t have to tell me. It’s obviously painful.’ Noah moved to sit at her feet, Gertie scrambled onto his knees. He lifted her hand into his, a calm washed over him.

Amanda felt at ease with her hand in Noah’s. It gave her the strength to continue. “About two minutes from the club a semi ran a red light and caused a massive pile up. Rachel didn’t stand a chance. When the police came and told me, I felt like I’d lost half of myself. I spiralled into a darkness I hadn’t known existed. I couldn’t sleep, I had nightmares about the accident. I saw everything as though I’d been in the car with her. It played over and over in my mind. My mom couldn’t stand to watch me following my sister to the grave so she arrived one day, forced me into her car and drove me to a therapist. She diagnosed PTSD. That’s why I can recognize it in you.”

The sadness in Amanda’s eyes tore at Noah’s heart. Here was a woman who could understand what he was going through. A woman who wouldn’t pity him, tell him to man up and get over it. He could risk telling her about what had happened without fear of ridicule.

‘Noah, I understand if you don’t want to talk about what happened. I just wanted you to know I’m here if you decide to.’

Gertie licked at their hands. The little mutt switched her look from one to the other.

“I swear this mutt was trying to get us together. I know it sounds stupid but, I think she knew we were both suffering.” Noah said.

‘Maybe dogs are a lot more intuitive than we give them credit for. I know she’s helped me a lot. She gives me a reason to keep going. Rachel loved her so much and I think if I let Gertie down, I’m letting my sister down. As much as she’s been a pain in the ass for the last day or so, she soothes me.’

‘She’s sweet. Any time you’d like her looked after, I’d be happy to have her.’

‘So, what do you do?’

‘I’m an author.’ He paused. ‘I was in the Army.’

‘I thought your place was military tidy.’

‘Yep, hard habit to break.’

‘Where was your tour overseas?’

‘Afghanistan. Almost a year.’ Can I open up to this stranger? Sure, therapy’s good but Amanda understands PTSD so much better. She knows how I feel. The nightmares, reliving the events. Maybe we can help each other. ‘How about you make coffee while I take Gertie out to relieve herself? Then, I’ll tell you my whole sordid story.’

Amanda unwound herself from the chair and padded through to the kitchen while Noah headed for the back porch. Gertie trotted beside him, glancing up every now and again.

‘Feeling smug, huh?’ Noah said to Gertie as he opened the sliding door and stepped into the early morning air.

And, please meet “Gertie”

3 2 4



Posted in Historical, Horses, Romance, Short Stories, Western

Be Mine, Marshall – Part Four by Susan Horsnell




This is part four of a round robin western historical romance Free Read. To read part one to three go to:

Part 1  by Lori Connelly

Part 2  by Paty Jager

Part 3  by Julie Cerniglia Lence



Written Fireside: Be Mine, Marshal

(A Cold Spring Valentine Short Story)

Part Four

Near the Canadian/US border

East of Cold Spring, Idaho

February 1871

Marigold Fisher hid behind the mercantile and swiftly changed from dirty breeches, tied at the waist with a rope, and a shirt which was two sizes two big. The clothes belonged to her eldest brother, Lester. He was the instigator of the mischief, justice, he called it. Will, their youngest brother, and Marigold followed his lead. She pulled the dozens of pins from her long, auburn hair and allowed it to tumble in waves down her back. There was no need for shoes, she had been barefoot ever since ma and pa had been killed by some outlaws on their way into town. She still fumed at the thought that no-one in Cold Spring had bothered to look for the killers. After all, the Fishers were poor no-account farmers that no-one would miss.

The three of them had been living in the rundown farmhouse for almost a year now, alone, with nobody to care for them. Lester had said they didn’t need anyone but themselves. The townsfolk had proven how much they cared when they’d done nothing. They had Stargazer, their faithful steed, and each other. What they needed, they would ‘liberate’ from the town. They were owed, Lester said.

Marigold dashed around the corner between the mercantile and the doc’s office running slap bang into a solid wall. She stumbled backwards but before hitting the ground on her derriere, a strong pair of hands hauled her back upright.

Her eyes were level with a man’s chest, a hard wall of muscle was what she had collided with. She lifted her chin and tilted her head back. He was one handsome man. A shiver ran through her when she noted the badge on his chest and she frantically tried to pull from his grasp.

“Whoa there, young lady. Where were you headed in such a hurry?” Daniel glanced around. Why was this young girl coming from the alley between docs and the mercantile?

“Jumpin’ Jehoshophat, let go of me will ya?” She struggled against his grip but he refused to release her.

“Calm down. I’m not going to hurt you,” he said quietly.

Marigold glared up at him. “Let me go or I’ll scream.”

Daniel noted the fear in her eyes and released her. Lifting the skirts of her ragged blue dress, she took off, like a pack of coyotes were hot on her tail. She disappeared around another corner and he shrugged. “Crazy female, he said to Ranger who was peering up at him.” He continued on his way to the mercantile for salve to help heal Sophie’s cut, Ranger trotted alongside. Something niggled at the Marshall’s gut but he ignored it.

The bell on the mercantile jingled as he entered. He swaggered up to the counter and introduced himself to the balding, slightly overweight merchant. “Daniel Reid. The new Marshall. I met you briefly at Miss Carter’s place.” The men shook hands.

“Carl Boltz, the owner of this emporium.”

“I’ve been asked to investigate the fire and find out who has been causing the trouble here in town.  You wouldn’t happen to know anything about it would you?”

“The fire was the reason I was at Miss Carter’s.”

“Someone took a knife to Sophie, the dog.”

“Is she okay?”

“Yeah, Doc is stitching her up.”

“I bet it’s the same three ruffians that have been causing havoc around town.”

“Do you know who they are?”

“No, but if they come in here again I’ll bring ’em over to your office. A man has a right to go out back without his store being destroyed.”

“Did you see them in here?”

“No, but I saw them hanging around outside so I know it was them. They were waiting for the opportunity to come in here and trash the stands. Stole food from me too.”

“Hmmm, you don’t know for sure though.” Three hanging around outside docs, three outside the mercantile before trouble. Have to admit it’s awful coincidental. Why the hell is my gut roiling? I haven’t eaten anything that could disagree with me. He ran his hand in circles over his stomach in a fruitless attempt to calm it.

“I’d know them green eyes if I saw ’em again and so would Milie. Ain’t no-one else in town got eyes like them.”

Green eyes. Daniel jolted. The reason for his roiling gut was now obvious, the girl he’d collided with outside had the greenest orbs he’d ever seen. “Sorry, Carl. I have to get going. I’ll take a jar of salve.”

Carl handed him the jar, he paid for his purchase and hightailed it from the store.

Daniel dashed down the street in the direction the girl had headed. He knew he was too late but he would check anyway. When he rounded the corner, no-one was in sight. “Damn it,” he cursed as he strode back to docs.

Fannie was seated, Sophie was cradled in her arms. A large white bandage covered her freshly stitched wound.

“Sorry I was so long. I decided to ask Carl if he knew anything about the fire,” Daniel apologized.

“I’ve only just finished stitching Sophie’s wound so it’s fine,” Doc answered.

“Did Carl know anything?” Fannie asked.

“He mentioned the same three you did, doc. I think I ran into the one with green eyes when I was headed to the mercantile. It was a girl though.”

“A girl?” Fannie asked.

“Yeah, about fourteen, I’d reckon.”

“Don’t know any green eyed girls around that age. In fact, I can’t say I’ve seen any green eyed girls of any age.”

“I know one,” Doc said. I always wondered what had happened to those kids after their parents were murdered. I assumed some relative had taken them. It couldn’t possibly be them stealing and setting fires, could it? She was such a sweet young girl.

Fannie and Daniel turned to the elderly lady.

Written Fireside: Schedule:

Tuesday Feb.   3rd – Lori Connelly

Tuesday Feb.  10th – Paty Jager

Tuesday Feb.  17th – Julie Cerniglia Lence

Tuesday Feb.  24th – Susan Horsnell

Tuesday March  3rd – Aileen Harkwood

Tuesday March 10th – AJ Nuest

Tuesday March 17th – Mandy Baggot

Tuesday March 24th – Kathleen Rice Adams

Tuesday March 31st – Kari Lemor