Ashes Fall (James Matthews Book #3)
Adrian J. Smith
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Darcy pushed James back with fear written all over her face. She stared past James’ shoulders. It took James longer than she wanted to turn around and see what was going on. Lily stood with her eyes blazing, lit full of colors. The bottoms of her irises were blue and moved up into the colors of flames as they reached the top. James shuddered and jerked to stand, her hand outstretched in front of Darcy, which was exactly where Lily was looking.
James blinked and saw her daughter’s hand raise up, knife perched in her fingers like she was going to carve the turkey. Lily shook her head and took a step forward, making for the back of the couch and where she would be able to reach Darcy. Darcy scrambled back, knocking two pillows and a blanket onto the floor. She huddled behind James and next to the television—all windows and doors on the other side of the room.
Moving her hand and arm back, James told Darcy to move even farther away. She could always run to the bedroom if need be but getting out those windows would be difficult. Maybe the bathroom would be a better option—there was a lock on that door. James swallowed and took a deep breath.
“What’s going on Lily?”
Lily cocked her head to the side and stared at her mom. “She was going to hurt you.”
“I assure you she wasn’t.”
Her daughter’s voice sounded strange. Distant like it wasn’t really Lily talking. James furrowed her brow and tried to work her own mind into Lily’s. There was always hope she could sway her daughter into acting rashly, or at least rashly enough she could get the knife out of her hands.
“She’s cheating on you,” Lily said to Darcy.
“Enough!” James cried and took a step toward Lily, trying to be fearless through her panic. “Even if I was, that’s no reason to come in here with that thing in your hands.”
Lily looked down at her hand and the knife still between her fingers. She blinked once and twice before looking back up at James, her eyes changed. Reaching out with her palm up and her fingers loosened, Lily handed the weapon over to James.
James took it and shoved it behind her back for Darcy to take. When Darcy didn’t come forward, James set the knife down on the television stand two feet behind her, not taking her eyes off Lily. She breathed more rapidly as the situation dissipated. Lily shook her head and plopped down on the couch, most of the energy drained from her body.
In two seconds, their lives had changed.
“Lily? Are you cleaning?” Her mother’s voice carried through the closed door.
“Yeah!” she called back and stood, racing to the window to open it for ventilation and to rid the smell from the room and lit an incense stick.
Turning back, she slid her hands over her jeans and looked around the room. Her mom was right; it did need to be cleaned. She moved to her desk and picked up a plastic bag. Shoving some pieces of trash and extra papers into it, she cleared off her stereo. Gnawing on her lip, Lily put her iPod on shuffle and waited for the first song to ring through the speakers. Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation burst through the room. Lily smirked and pressed the volume button repeatedly until she could hear nothing other than the lyrics and notes.
“Much better,” she said.
Picking the clothes up off the floor, she deposited them into the laundry basket without checking to see if they were clean or dirty, which meant her floor was picked up in no time. Continuing with her desk, dresser, and nightstand tops, she threw most everything away. She paused when she found a notebook set on the corner of the desk. Opening the cover carefully, she smiled. The book was her diary from years before. She read through the first few pages but set it aside and decided she would finish cleaning first.
Twenty minutes later, she sat on her bed and opened the notebook. The cover had pink and purple sweet peas painted on the front. They had been her favorite flowers for a few years. The first page contained a “This Book Belongs to Alyssa a.k.a. Lily Stanton-Matthews” written carefully in bubbly letters with a swirl just under the last line. She had scrawled about the boy she liked in middle school and the teachers she hated. Lily smiled at the memory and reached into her nightstand for a pen. Opening the book to the first blank page, she wrote.
My mom is dating someone new, and I don’t like her. I think my mom suspected I wouldn’t. They met on a dating website of all things. I never thought she would go on one of those, but I also never thought she would date again either. Not after Addy.
The new chick is a bitch. All she does is glare at me. She hardly ever speaks to anyone other than my mom, and she never has any fun. Not that a pharmacist would have fun. She also never leaves. She’s always here. I’m pretty sure she’s even coming to our dinner tonight. I don’t like her at all. I miss Addy. Now, I’m stuck with queen-B and her attitude. My mom deserves so much better than her.
Lily paused and read over what she wrote. The words were like a real diary entry, and they satisfied her. Tapping the pen against the paper, she heard her door open again. Looking up, she watched as her mom walked into the room and turned the stereo down.
“Looks good,” she said, scrunching her nose as she sniffed the air.
James rolled her eyes. “Are you done, then?”
“Yeah, just have to take out the trash, and I’ll vacuum tomorrow.”
“Sounds like a plan. Might want to bring up an air freshener, too.” James stood awkwardly halfway between the stereo and the bed where Lily sat. “Want to come down and help make dinner?”
“Sure, what are we having?”
“Butternut squash and parmesan breaded chicken.”
Lily grinned. “My favorite.”
“I thought you’d like it.”
“I’ll be down in a second. I’m going to take the trash out.”
She watched as James nodded and left the room. Lily opened her book up to where she had written her previous entry. She scribbled down a quick sentence before grabbing the small grocery bag filled with trash and heading down the stairs. Leaving the book open on her bed, Lily gave it one glance before exiting the room. No one would see what she had written. She fully believed what she wrote was truth, but even if someone did see it, they probably wouldn’t think she was serious.
Darcy Greystone must die.
Forever Burn (Book #1)
Firefighters are trained to keep calm in the face of extraordinary events, but James was never prepared for this.
Saving people is a regular practice in a firefighter’s line of work; it is not something extraordinary or unusual. Just routine. James has been trained to respond to emergency calls and what to do in difficult situations. For James, the most important part of her work is that she knows how to run into a burning building to save a life. She is a firefighter not for the glory and not for the honor. She is there to make a difference.
Working hard has always been a common practice for James, but when her secret significant other is pressuring her to solidify their relationship, tensions start to rise. James is being pushed into turning her life upside down and inside out. She can’t stop disturbing dreams about a little girl she saved from a house fire years prior. She struggles to find balance through the pressures and stressors of her daily life, but she still can’t shake the ill-fated feeling that something is wrong.
Dying Embers (Book #2)
She thought she was on a new path, but life keeps tugging Addison Lee back to her past and her gift. Addison struggles to make a new life in Norwich, one where she can be the Battalion Chief of Fire Station Seven and live life as she sees fit. She wants a life without the complications of an ex-fiance and a job that put her life on the line for little more than a gift she was born with. Learning the ropes of a new job can always be tough, and being a Battalion Chief means she has a great responsibility to her crew and to the city.
Nervous about her first day already, Addison realizes that adding in a one-night stand with a future employee has left her on rocky ground. Plagued by visions of a dying woman, Addison continues to cope with difficulties at her new job. She has no idea who the dying woman is, where she is, or even, when she is-and no means to find out.
Addison is distracted from the dying woman and her new job when called to Wyoming on an emergency, where she discovers it’s not as easy to leave her past behind as she hoped.
Ten Fun Facts about Adrian J. Smith
1. I have a Muppet phobia—they just creep me out!
2. I never intend to work full-time as a writer until I retire from my day job.
3. I collect angels, albeit not willingly. People just give them to me!
4. I love milk. It’s to the point where I drink about two gallons a week by myself.
5. I always listen, especially this last year, to contemporary Christian radio when writing, even if it is a sex scene, murder scene or some other weird scene. I don’t listen to music for inspiration but rather for background noise to help me focus.
6. I love candles. I have probably close to fifty in my house at any given time.
7. I’ve been writing since I was twelve, and I started with Lord of the Rings slash fanfiction, writing with two of my best friends.
8. I’m a total sci-fi geek. I love my Star Trek, my Battlestar, anything that is hard science fiction.
9. I love challenging myself—it’s actually something I do on a regular basis. I try to challenge myself in new ways all the time, including writing, which means new genres and characters/situations to explore.
10. I love to bake, meaning various and random things I haven’t every made before often scent up my kitchen.
About the Author
Adrian J. Smith, or “AJ” as she is often called, has a generous and soft heart. She loves to rescue stray cats and dogs, as well as those who just escape. Her hoard of animals currently includes two cats, a dog and a fish, but no children as of yet. She’s passionate about LGBT et al rights, women’s rights and children’s rights. AJ loves to read and write lesbian fiction, simply for the fact that strong women make her swoon and when two are involved her knees turn to jelly and she falls head over heels in love. AJ travels around the United States, and sometimes the world, gathering up stories for her novels. Currently, she lives in the middle of nowhere of the middle of nowhere and is rather difficult to find except on the internet, where she spends a lot of her time.