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Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly


For today's blog, I want to share a selection from my book The Beckoning Flame, where examples of love and hate both show up for what they do to one's life. Admittedly, Martin is an extreme example of where hate can take someone, but if you read newspapers, you see examples daily that also show how damaging it can be. 

This snippet is from the end of the book (something writers generally don't like to show readers before they read it); but since it's a romance, readers know the outcome from the time they buy the book. And in reading the story, readers will see Martin's downward spiral. 

This is how you might, as a writer, use emotional growth and deterioration to not only depict the characters, but also might encourage your readers in the direction they want for their own lives. Fiction, maybe, but life has a way of being the model for fiction.


The day of her wedding came with a sunny sky but a few clouds. Perfect and not too hot. As soon as she awoke, Grace was in her room. She was glad she had suggested Cord sleep elsewhere to make this day more special.

“When do we put on the dresses?” the little girl asked as she perched on the bed.

“After breakfast and getting your hair done.”

“I want to wear it a lot. It’s so pretty.”

“You can after the wedding, of course.” She got up and put on her robe. She hadn’t given a lot of thought to her own hair but knew it’d be in a bun at the back of her neck, to give room for the veil and the pearl ringlet that held it in place.

Priscilla had little interest in eating breakfast but enjoyed hearing the women talk as well as Davy’s opinion on all of what was going on. He already was speaking more complex thoughts in the short time since she’d seen him.

A few hours later, they were upstairs, with Davy off with Ollie on some little adventure of their own. Looking down from the upstairs window, Priscilla saw the way the wedding site looked with the flowers, one hundred chairs, and a pathway leading to where she and Cord would take their vows. She felt satisfied but wondered how many would really come for the wedding. She had left word everywhere she could imagine but no way to be sure how much interest Tucson would have in giving up a Saturday for this event.

Behind her, she could hear the rustling of fabric as the dresses were donned.  The giggles of Grace added to the energy of the room. She had fixed Grace’s hair to hang down her back after being held back from her face by a jeweled clip, one that had belonged to Priscilla’s mother.

“You all right with all this?” Abby asked as she came to stand beside Priscilla. “You can still change your mind.”

Priscilla laughed. “Are you joking? I am so eager to marry that man that I can hardly stand it. I want it all to go well and be a memorable day.”

“It will be. Now, how about your dress? You’ve been keeping that a secret.” Priscilla turned to look at the three who would be standing beside her with their lovely pink dresses. She was happy that Josey had found another of the previously castoff dresses for Abby. They looked lovely in their finery. If that was all it took to make a wedding memorable, they provided it. Although Rose wore her hair in a high bun, Abby had let hers hang down after being clipped back from her face, using some barrettes that had been her mother’s.

She felt uncertain about the dress, as she’d never worn anything like it. Walking to the armoire, she opened the door where the lovely dress hung. “It’s white,” she said needlessly, “and I’d probably have chosen off white or something.” She cast a teasing look to Abby as she couldn’t explain with Grace listening.

The dress had a scoop neck with a long ruffle that went from it over the shoulders with long white sleeves to the wrist with a lace trim. The skirt was full with several layers but no train. She had had Josey cut that off where hers was to be a garden wedding.

“It’s gorgeous,” Abby said when she brought it out to show them.

“You’ll be so beautiful,” Grace agreed along with Rose. She pulled out the veil that would fall to the length of the skirt.

She knew it was lovely, but different from what she usually wore, not that she didn’t have a nice wardrobe. Just no ballgowns. Such had never appealed to her.

“You don’t think it’s too much?” she asked with uncertainty.

Abby laughed. “You are supposed to be the star of this show. Let’s see it on.”

“People are gathering below,” Rose said looking back out the window. “The chairs will soon be filled with more coming.” She grinned as she heard the first of the harp music start.

It was a show as well as a legal commitment. Priscilla understood that and took a deep breath as she let the others help her into her dress and the petticoats that supported it. At least, it only took two. When she was dressed, with Abby helping her attach the veil, she looked in the mirror and wondered who that woman even was. She laughed then at her silliness. This would be a once in a lifetime event for her. She would enjoy it as she turned to face her wedding party. “Guess we should go down?”

“James is waiting,” Rose said. “He looks fine in his suit. This should be fun.”

At the foot of the stairs, James told them all how lovely they looked. He smiled at Priscilla. “Maybe I won’t give you away but keep you for us.” She laughed. When Grace looked concerned, he retracted the statement with a chuckle. “The garden is packed with as many standing as sitting. I saw the judge, Cord and his men head to their place.”

Priscilla took his arm and watched from behind the wall of the house to see her female attendants walk down the aisle to the harp music. She was grateful again for Josey suggesting it, as it lent a more wedding feel to the occasion.

And then it was her turn, as she and James began to walk down the created aisle. She observed the guests for only a moment before she saw Cord, looking unbelievably handsome in a dark suit, his jaw freshly shaved and hair trimmed. When their gazes met, he smiled and suddenly she felt her jitters disappear, as she was filled with love. It was a dream come true. One she’d never dared dream.


Watching from one of the chairs four back from the aisle, Martin smirked. They all thought they knew so much but in reality, only he knew what this day would hold. Having grown as much beard as possible, no one recognized him. He had heard he was dead. They could wish, he snickered to himself. He had hidden that day, had seen Cord limp away and knew what they would think. They were so stupid.

His hate seemed to grow into almost an internal flame. He knew the cause of all his troubles had been her, the woman in the white dress, which should have been black for her black heart. He shifted in his chair, easing his gun from the pocket where he had secured it. He was glad he was a good shot as he wanted that white dress not only covered with blood but also the woman wearing it dead. He felt more joy at the thought. Killing her would provide satisfaction for all she had cost him. He didn’t care if he lived after that. He would possess her in death as he never could in life.e didn’t






The judge spoke simply when he asked if anyone had any objections, and if so, this was the time.  Martin edged past the other guests and said— “I do,” as he stepped into the aisle with the gun now leveled. He wasn’t ready to fire. He wanted to savor the moment. He saw shock on Priscilla’s face as she and Cord turned toward him. For once, justice was done, Martin thought, as he smiled more broadly and took more steps toward them.

“Never expected to see me again, did you, Marshal?” Martin said. He glanced briefly side wise. He concentrated on the two at the makeshift altar. The crowd had grown eerily silent, which suited Martin perfectly. Finally, they understood, him for the leader he was. He laughed. When he saw Cord edge toward Priscilla, he raised his voice to what might’ve sounded like a scream to others, but to him, it was the cry of the victor. “Move again, Marshal,” he said, “and I’ll kill her right now. You thought I died up there, didn’t you,” he said. “I outsmarted you. I lost my rifle when I fell but I landed under a crevice. I would have liked to kill you right then but turns out there were better ways. You took my woman. That’s theft.”

“He took nothing that was ever yours,” Priscilla said. She felt Cord’s hand as he tried to move her behind him. She resisted, not wanting to see Cord killed in front of her. Better if it was her.

“Well, you’ll be mine now.” He took another step forward only to trip as a long pole thrust between his ankles, throwing him to the ground. In an instance, Ben Albright lunged from his chair, grabbed Martin and lifted him in the air, the revolver fell from his  hands. When he felt himself thrown back down, the brute stepped on his hand, probably enough to break it.

“I can take care of this,” Sheriff Adams said as he moved forward to use handcuffs he’d brought with him to clasp Martin’s hands behind his back. As he came to his senses, he screamed out his rage. This was so unfair. “I’ll get him out of here,” Adams said. “Don’t want garbage like this to ruin a wonderful day like this one is.”

With the help of Ben and Ridge, he half dragged and half forced Martin to walk as he babbled about the unfairness.


Priscilla saw that finally the handcuffs Sheriff Adams always carried had been brought to good use. She tried to still her shaking. It helped that Cord held her, his own voice emotional. She still felt irked at how the sheriff had treated her after her kidnapping, but she had to put that aside also.

“Even a broke clock is right twice a day,” Cord said, having read her mixed emotions. That led to her giggling. It all seemed so unreal. Martin had meant to kill her an only an intervention had prevented it happening, that and Martin’s inability to do anything right.

The judge, a man of steel himself, said, “It’s time to take your vows.” Priscilla knew then she had to straighten her own backbone and managed a smile. Martin had been a bad mistake in her life, but he would go to prison now for the murder he had committed, maybe even be hung. That mistake was over, and cleared her voice to listen to the age-old words asking if she would take this man for her husband. That’s when she smiled. Would she. She resisted laughing. She heard the answering emotion in Cord’s voice and knew he’d repeated the words. Of course, she’d love him forever, until they were both old and gray. They’d gone through the fire together and now it was time for the joy. When Cord was told he could kiss the bride, he gave her a long, sweet kiss as he held her in his arms. “You are so beautiful,” he said.

“You too.” She said before turning with him to their audience, who were now all standing, laughing, and clapping. Whatever shock they had felt at what happened, it was gone with this reaffirming of the strength of love.

Cord turned to take Priscilla in his arms. “I should have gone down and taken him out up there. I am sorry.”

“And maybe gotten killed yourself with a fall. No, this was it was meant to be. And now he’ll pay for what he did to Sally, even though he got away with so much else.”

Sam growled as he came up to hug them both. “I told Abby I should have carried a gun.”

Cord looked then toward the one who had stuck out a long pole to trip Martin. Carlos Vega had just retrieved it, examining to make sure his prayer pole was undamaged. “Mr. Vega,” Cord said as he went down to him, his arm still around Priscilla. “We owe you more than we ever can repay.”

Vega laughed. “You two would have survived it either way but this was true justice with having the man tripped by his own evilness.”

“That is true,” Cord said as he took the older man’s hand. “And tripped by your goodness.”

Vega chuckled.

Priscilla managed a smile as she scanned the guests. “Time for our lunch, I think.” She laughed. They had survived again, as she knew they always would.




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