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    From the Ashes – Part Four

    Chapter Eleven

    Convinced no amount of cream and sugar could turn this brown sludge back into coffee, Bette held her nose and tried anyway. Running late and her home machine acting up, the office swill from the break room posed her only option. Desperately needing the caffeine rush, she added extra cream and whisked harder, hoping it would help. When the contents lightened to a shade she could stomach, Bette tossed the stir stick in the trash and latched onto the paper cup. She debated the merits of trading a sour stomach for the caffeine, but last night’s broken sleep dictated her reasoning. Better nauseous than dead tired.

    She hesitated, then lifted the cup to her mouth. A tug on her arm stopped her.

    “You’re not going to drink that, are you?” Eric’s lip curled up on one side. “Only Wilson drinks that machine oil, and that’s because he’s too damn cheap to spring for the good stuff.”

    “I wish I had time to stop this morning but—”

    “You’re not drinking that.” He snatched the cup from her hand, then tossed it in the round metal trash can stained from years of ill-advised taste-testers. “Besides, Tina just walked in carrying two lattes. If you don’t take it, I will.”

    When he turned to walk out, she placed a hand on his arm. “You got a second?”

    “Sure.” Eric knitted his brow as he leaned his butt against the counter. “What’s wrong?”

    Bette’s expression must have revealed the confusion swirling in her head since she woke up. “Do you believe in ghosts?” She directed her question as much to herself as Eric. Since saying goodbye to Reagan this morning, she struggled to make sense of what happened on her deck.

    “Ghosts? You mean like Ghostbusters or Patrick Swayze?”

    “More like Swayze. You may think I’m crazy, but I think Avery came to me last night.”

    “Came to you? Like in a dream?”

    “At first, yes.” Bette tried to find the right words. “Then, I went out on the deck to clear my head. It was cold, so I fished out her sweater from the storage box and the strangest thing.” Going over this a dozen times in her head, she had yet to figure it out. “The sweater smelled just like her. It still had her lavender scent.”

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    Comments

    1. Wow, what an amazing and unexpected present! Thank you so much, CellaNox!
      Feel hugged :-) What a better way to relax after my guests from Good Friday and birthday dinner have gone. I’ll get some wine now and start reading. I’ll comment later.
      Happy Easter!
      Cheers
      Kiwipit

    2. Dramatic, suspense-packed, really a kick in the gut. Excellently written, CN! I had to stop myself from skipping to the last page because I could hardly bear to read through the abduction of Chandler and Reagan. My hope is that they will free themselves and escape those two thugs who took them.

      And the Santoses? Finding their granddaughter and her well-being should be their only thought at the moment. How self-absorbed can they be if they use this life-threatening situation to push the adoption in their direction?

      At least Bette finally found the other leak. And hopefully the last!
      As for Kadin: back off, woman! Your time with Tina is over.

      Thanks again for this treat, CN! It sure was worth some nail biting just now ;-)
      Happy Easter
      kp

      edit: I love the scenes with Avery + Reagan/Bette. Beautifully written. They both needed this to let go of their grief and understand that they will never betray the memory of Avery when they let other people in their hearts.

      • kiwipit, Hope you enjoyed your birthday! The suspense isn’t over yet. B&T will have several trials before the clock runs out. Regarding the Avery scenes, when my father passed away, I had many dreams about him and I could swear he was giving me advice until I was ready to let go. I wanted to weave that into this story, but wasn’t sure how the readers would receive it. Your comment tells me I did it justice. Thank you.

    3. Hi! thank you for the new part!

      First – Kadin – she obviously want be a good friend to Tina and her father and support them, but i don’t like how she tried comfort Tina. I think she might want her back – and i don’r like it.
      Second – why Santos is still on the scene? Kadin has all evidence they want Reagan only because for money – but why she didn’t use it, not bring them to court?

      Waiting for the next part!

      • Zhenya, What is a good drama without conflict? Definitely not dramatic. I’m not too fond of Kadin and the Santos either, but they provide great stumbling blocks for B&T while they chase the villain. So glad you’re enjoying the story. Thanks so much for reading.

    4. Please kill off the Santoses the are an annoying distraction of the story, but somehow keep Kadin. She cares for Tina still but yet she knows their is no chance to rekindle there romance.
      I like the way you have Reagan and Chandler connecting with each other, which I am sure will help them escape from there captors eventually.
      Love the detail description you gave of highway 5 and highway 99, having traveled it myself many times and Chandler recognizing what area they were traveling through with his sense of smell and hearing will help them be found.

      Great writing

      Looking forward to next week.

      • bubcris1, Love it! You make no bones about it. “Please kill off the Santoses…” (I had to stop laughing before replying.) I got to thinking why I included the Santoses in this book series. I think it stems from my experience that nothing I’ve achieved ever came without snags. The Santoses represent all those pesky snags I’ve had to battle. As a California native, I’ve driven those long stretches on Highway 5 and 99 countless times. Every trip I get caught off guard and forget to close the air vent before passing one of those large cattle ranches. Phew! Thanks so much for reading and dropping a comment.

    5. Happy Easter CN!
      Thanks for this super Easter Egg!

      As I have said many times before of your posts – great Story – Superb Writing!

      I do need to add my voice to some of the other comments though and ask that you please get rid of Kadin! She is obviously not a good Lawyer or she would have got rid of the Santoses by now and I do not like her attitude with Tina! She has to go!

      I like Reagen has someone with her to deal with her capture and an add on that it should be a Father Figure.

      Looking forward to the next post :-)
      SG

      • SG, someone’s a little extra sassy today. Love, love, love it. You and bubcris1 sure have strong feelings about my characters. I guess I’m doing my job as a writer—you love to hate my hateable characters. Hope you have a nice Easter. Thanks for reading, SG.

    6. I too am worried about the role of Kadin and what her agenda is. I thought in an earlier chapter she had all that she needed to knock them out of the ballpark in custody fight. Then thought the laws of family court in CA may be different when considering adoption. Now I am really questioning her expertise in this or is it her covert agenda? What judge would consider this process while the child has been abducted? Unless, hmmm..are the grandparents and judge under El Padrino? Now, a real conspiracy!,, Glad Avery and Chandler have not only smarts, resiliency and each other. I feel good about that duos odd for success. I also feel good about Tina and Bette’ s ability to share this episode in their life’s journey…they will get this Cartel leadership reunite with family and find happiness…hopefully in another line of work. Finally, I believe in angels! They can come to us in dreams, strangers on the street, or any of 100s scenarios! And Avery, I feel, is there for all of them. I so enjoy this story and your great ability to weave a story that grabs our loyalty and our ♥️ to the characters! Happy Passover and Easter!

      • Finn422, You’re right about California adoption laws being more complicated than guardianship. The swamp is navigable, but Bette and Kadin must slog their way through it. Regarding the Avery scenes, let me pass along what I mentioned to kiwipit. When my father passed away, I had many dreams about him and I could swear he was giving me advice until I was ready to let go. Whether he came to me as an angel or just in a dream, I felt his presence. Thank you so much for ready, and I hope your Easter is filled with peace.

    7. Hi CN,

      Wow, the Santoses are really a pain in the ass, trying to get what they want, money?,when Reagan has been abducted, please kick them out of Bette’s and Reagan’s life! Let Kadin do her job and make sure they will never ever bother them again.

      Kadin let Tina go out of love, but Tina would have left her for Bette so fast before she could blink her eyes.

      Hope Chandler and Reagan can escape before they arrive wherever Padrino want them to held hostage. It is a relieve they have each other during this time.

      Bette found the other leak, now off to find and rescue Reagan and Chandler!

      Amazing chapter and story!!!

      • Bibi28, B&T are meant for each other, even Chandler can see it. It may take some time for Kadin to come to that conclusion. So glad you’re enjoying the story. Thanks for reading and dropping a comment. Each one means the world to me.

    8. What can I say but ditto to all the preceding comments?! I can hardly wait for them to kill padrino; in fact, empty their guns on him! That monster doesn’t deserve to draw another breath.
      Your writing and story telling is of the highest caliber and captures my attention from beginning to end! Love it! Thank you so much for this terrific story. Looking eagerly forward to your next posting.
      Doc

      • Doc, A funny thing happened to me on the way to writing LesFic—I ran into BenMac (a.k.a., Cameron MacElvee). I came to this site as a reader and was hooked. Soon stories stirred in my head, begging to get out and I posted the Delayed Series. BenMac saw something in my work and reached out, giving birth to a great friendship. Her words were something to the effect, “You have a very good shi*ty first draft.” That statement demanded clarification. She explained all her first drafts were shi*ty when she vomited words on the page, then through the revision process, she applied better writing craft and molded her drafts into pieces of art. I just needed to learn the tools of craft, so I did. I’m wrapping up a nine-month long writing academy where I learned how to not let my words get in the way of good storytelling. Out of the Flames (Revised) and From the Ashes are the result. Thank you for your kind words and thank you ever so much for reading and commenting. Each comment, good and bad, serve as inspiration to evolve and never give up writing.

    9. Hi CN:

      Wonderful chapter as always. Oh my God, that was scary, and will still be scary for the next one.

      I have my hopes that the experience and maturity of Chandler and the resourcefulness of Reagan will help them to free themselves from the thugs that have them in the van.

      I guess it is hard for Kadin to see Tina with Bette, and even when she already said that she wants to see Tina happy, it is shocking to see your ex-girlfriend for whom you still have feelings with someone else, and to confirm that she already moved on. Kadin needs time to feel fine.

      Good that Bette already identified the other leak, I was hoping that Prichard was dirty.

      Thanks for the amazing chapter CN.

      P

      • proteonomics, You’re right. I have more scary moments in store. You’re also right about the ex thing. We if you were the one to let go, it’s never easy seeing someone you still love moving on. Thanks so much for reading and dropping a comment. Each one means a lot.

    10. Wow, I’m feeling a lot better about how things are going. I am sure Bette and Tina will find their loved ones before too long. The bad guys need to suffer a lot El Padrino in particular. And those pieces of s**t that are underhandedly trying to take Reagan from Bette need to be beat about the head and put in their place. they need to stay out of her life for good. Please post as soon as possible.

      • OneStorm1, that certainly is a lot of people who need asswooping. I have a suspicion you won’t be disappointed. I’ll likely post the next installment Friday or Saturday. After that, expect the exciting conclusion of From the Ashes the first weekend in May. Hope you enjoy it. Thank you for reading and dropping a comment. Forever grateful. CN

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