Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Skin Deep. Chapter Four: Outside and In

As always, I have such mixed emotions when these Progressive Stories come to an end. They are so much fun to coordinate, to participate in, and just as much fun to share.

Progressive Story Project, one piece of fiction written by a group of bloggers, each contributing to but not controlling the story | Presented by www.BakingInATornado.com | #blogging #collaboration #MyGraphics

Sadly, today we're closing out our latest collaborative piece of fiction, but it's with anticipation and pride that I get to share it with you. Of course, before you read the end of the story, be sure you're caught up. It all starts with Skin Deep. Chapter One: Secrets.

Skin Deep, a Progressive Story Project. One piece of fiction written by multiple bloggers | Presented by BakingInATornado.com | #fiction #writers

Skin Deep
Chapter Four: Outside and In

Jenniy of Climaxed:

"You're not going to like this, Jack."

"That's a hell of a way to open up while I'm watching the love of my life suffer due to my own life choices and callousness, Dave. What could possibly be worse?"

"Oh, it's worse. We managed to remove the remainder of the explosives before the police arrived and had them tested. The Masters are involved and they left a distinct signature. They want you to know it's them, and they're making moves to topple your control on this city. They want your head dragged through downtown, Jack. And they'll stop at nothing to get it."

" . . . "

"Sir? Your daughter is in danger. We need to make a move. You can't sit in that hospital room and pretend everything you've built is invincible. You . . .  Jack, sacrifice the Queen to protect your hold if you have to, but you can't hold her hand and stroke her hair and pretend you're a regular guy."

Jack was silent for a long time, rage threatening to boil over before he quietly and forcefully spoke. "I. Will. Never. Sacrifice. My Girls. Never. There's no business deal, no amount of holdings, no back channels worth risking the two people who keep me grounded, even at a distance for all these years. Never! DO YOU HEAR ME?"

His shouting stirred Isabelle who looked at him in confusion as he hung up the phone. "What's going on? Is it Cat? Oh G-d, is Cat hurt?"

"Shhhh. Everything is and will be okay. I promise you. Nothing will ever happen to your or my . . . to Cat. Even if I'm not around, you will always be safe."

She smiled groggily in her pain-med haze and drifted back off. He watched her sleep for a while, determined to make this work. He wanted a life with her and his daughter more than he had ever wanted anything.

Pacing, thinking and frantic with worry about the next step, he finally made up his mind as night lightened to dawn and stepped out to call Dave when the nurse made her final check of her shift.

Before Dave could say a word, Jack rushed out his thoughts, "buy a building with that laundered stash I have in the Panamanian account. Spare no expense to erase all ties to me or the girls. Set up the best sterile environment money can buy with everything Isabelle's going to need to recover. Call our surgeon friend and get a recommendation for who might want to make a few extra million doing whatever she needs. I'm sure he has enough pull here to get access to her records. Lock that building down. I want zero risk for them. Furnish part of that building into living space for family. Move Cat and her grandma in and whoever else might be in danger. I don't care about cost. At all. Convince them it's necessary for her recovery, and it is - she won't stay if anything happens to any of them. I know it. Security details are necessary around the clock. Oh, and make sure whoever is responsible for this is done. Mail whatever is left of them back to their boss. I want my message clear as well. If they want war, they've got it."

"But Jack . . . sir . . . please. War? Is that necessary? We can manage this . . . "

Jack interrupted, "No one threatens or hurts my girls. I will not stand for it."

In days, Dave did his part. Despite protests from the hospital staff, Isabelle moved to the new facility. It was amazing really, how state-of-the-art the place was. Isabelle was speechless. But she loved having Cat and her family so close by and comfortable, so she didn't ask too many hows or whys. She settled into things easily with Jack, forever grateful for his help. She would never have made it through all this alone. She didn't have any idea how he was paying for it all while expecting so little from her. It was like they were never apart.

Even through the dazed state of mind from her pain medication, though, she started to pick up on a vibe. The security guards, the tension, Jack's hushed phone calls and other men being brought into the facility's OR with serious injuries. Every time she felt like she could finally tell him Cat was his daughter, something happened to make her think his life was much too dangerous. She yearned to be honest and knew after all the time he spent taking care of her, the laughs they shared, the years she spent wishing things were different, she had fallen head over heels.

But she had no idea how to reconcile the man who rubbed her cold toes in her hospital bed and painted her nails for her with the man she heard screaming "execute every last one of them" from the hallway one night when he thought she was sleeping.


Days went by. Then weeks. It was torture and bliss. Isabelle went through surgeries, therapy, recovery. And they lived under one roof, almost like a family. They loved and laughed and cried and bonded.

Isabelle never came clean about Cat, something that disturbed Jack. It was time to take things into his own hands. If there was going to be a future, there were some hard truths she needed to know. Jack closed the ring box, hid it away and went to her.

"I love you, Isabelle, and I want a future with you. There are things I need to say, and I'm going to ask you to hear me out."

He started with having found her all those years ago, knowing Cat is his, helping her financially and making sure they were taken care of in every way. "And there's more," he went on, "about my profession . . ."

"Jack." Isabelle interrupted in a more stern tone than he'd have thought her capable of. "No." 

"You, Jack, it seems you have manipulated me my entire adult life. You had no right. You may have done it thinking you were protecting me because you're a dangerous person - yes, I hear things - but that doesn't make it any more palatable. You had my child tested? How dare you?"

"I love you too, Jack, in a bubble. This bubble. But I'm not living a life constricted and constructed by you inside your bubble. I need friends, a job where my achievements are my own, Cat needs to go to school and on play dates."

"I'm well enough now, Jack. Mom, Cat and I are going to leave. I still have much work to do on the outside. But you? You have far more work to do. On the inside." 

Jack walked out of the room deflated. He should have known she'd come to conclusions, Isabelle is both intelligent and observant. But what she thinks of him is almost more than he can bear.

And yet, if he wants a future with her, she's right. He needs to look inside and make some choices, make hard decisions about his priorities. Because being in the life of a criminal is dangerous.

And being in the life of a deeply undercover federal agent is dangerous as well. 

I'd like, once again, to thank the talented bloggers who worked so hard to craft this amazing piece of fiction. I highly recommend you visit their blogs and see what else they have to share:

Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Sarah of Not That Sarah Michelle
Tamara of Part-time Working Hockey Mom
Diane of On the Border 
Kimberly of When I Grow Up
Dawn of Cognitive Script
Rena of The Blogging 911 and 
Jules of The Bergham Chronicles
Jenniy of Climaxed

Oh, and don't forget today's Halloween recipe: 

Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Chocolate Coffin Cookies
Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Chocolate Coffin Cookies, a cunchy chocolate cookie cut into the shape of a coffin. Happy Halloween! | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chocolate #Halloween

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Chocolate Coffin Cookies

Printable Recipe

NOTE: If you do not have a coffin shaped cookie cutter, and I don't, make a coffin template out of cardstock. Using a ruler, raw a horizontal line 1 inch long. 3 1/4 inches below that line, draw another line 1 inch long. From each end of the top line, draw a line going out at an angle one inch long. Connect the bottom of each of these side lines to the ends of the 1 inch line below them. Cut the coffin template out.

Ingredients (makes about 45):
1 stick butter, softened
1 stick margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

baking cocoa for rolling

2 oz white candy melts, white chocolate chips or white almond bark

*Cream the butter, margarine and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. 
*Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Carefully beat into the butter mixture. 
*Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.
*Place parchment paper onto 3 baking sheets.
*Lightly dust a piece of wax paper with baking cocoa. Place 1/3 of the dough onto the wax paper, cover with another piece of wax paper and roll out to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. 
*Lightly dust the top of the dough with baking cocoa and spread around with a pastry brush. Place your coffin template onto the dough and use a sharp knife to cut out the shape. Each 1/3 of the dough should make about 15 cookies.
*Peel away the excess dough and refrigerate to use again. Using a spatula, place the cookie coffins onto the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. 
*Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 1/2 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
*Remove the baking sheets from the refrigerator and place into the oven. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the cookies are completely set. Carefully remove the parchment paper from the baking sheets and allow the cookies to cool completely.
*Melt the white candy melts, white chocolate chips or white almond bark in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until completely smooth. Place into a plastic sandwich bag and seal. 
*Snip a very small piece from the corner of the bag and pipe the letters "R", "I", and "P" onto the top portion of each cookie. Allow the letters to set before moving.


  1. Soooo good! And a little bit hopeful . . .?

  2. Oh Jack!!! Cute, fun cookies. I still have your recipe for the meringue bones that was a big hit. Unfortunately I will not be baking or snacking on Halloween candy this year trying to be strict with my low sugar diet. It is soooooo boring compared to your cookies. My vicarious thrill is just looking and reading the recipe. :(

  3. Criminal? Federal Agent? Double life? Oh man...and to think he was just a regular guy 3 chapters ago.
    And open ending...possibilities for a 5th chapter maybe?

    1. He may have been a regular guy in the beginning but he sure wasn't by the end of the story!

  4. Confession: I was starting to get a little disappointed. And then that ending. BAM. It made the entire story. I so enjoyed the twists and turns the different writers built in, and how each writer handled the "surprises" of the previous writer. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. I'm so glad you liked the ending, It's been getting mixed reviews.

  5. I LOVE the ending! There could be more later or maybe not. I love being apart of these stories and I appreciate all of your hard work getting it all together. I am so envious of your organization skills!

    1. I'm so glad you liked the ending! And yes, I may have my faults but there's no question I'm the queen or organization.


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