“Julie, what’s going on?” She couldn’t answer me fast enough and after several seconds, I pushed. “Julie!”
I heard the crash of broken glass which caused my head to snap in the sound’s direction. Shit! Alissa stood in the kitchen’s entrance, looking pale. Jasper was there holding her hand, looking down at the mess.
My son tugged on Alissa’s hand and handed her his juice box when she looked at him. “I know where the broom is, Allie. I’ll go get it,” he said and rushed off.
I stepped toward her when Jasper was well out of earshot. “Alissa,” I said but the shake of her head told me she didn’t want me near her and I halted all forward progress. “It’s not-“
“I can’t do this,” I said and took a step back, my gaze averted.
Her hands froze and she slumped back to sit on her knees. “Why?” The look of complete confusion mixed with rejection and disappointment on her face just about did me in.
What had I done?
I dropped to my knees in front of her and grabbed her hands before she could move away from me.
I sighed. “Let me explain.” She stayed silent and unmoving. “Promise me you won’t leave until you’ve heard me out.”
Alissa said, “Is it me or is it getting hot in here?”
From the corner of my eye, something captured my attention and I turned to see what it was.
Our indulgence had resulted in yet another mess. The potatoes were an over-boiled pile of mush; the braised chops were charred as its pan had caught fire; and the gravy did thicken–to the consistency of a dried up hockey puck stuck to the bottom of its pot. Suffice to say, dinner was effectively ruined.
She was giggling into my back after I had managed to put a stop to the tiny blaze with the help of a box of baking soda and an expired kitchen fire extinguisher.
“How do you feel about take-out?” I asked over my shoulder.
“I think it’s a safer bet.”
It has come to my attention that not many who’ve read Once Written, Twice Shy is in the know of Jasper’s condition. With that said, I decided to write up a short informative piece to enlighten you all (particularly those who’ve thought it unrealistic) about JMML.
What is JMML?
JMML or Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia is a rare hematopoietic malignancy of childhood accounting for 2% of all childhood leukemias. It occurs more prominently in males and usually around the first year after birth. With that said, these cases are typically diagnosed in children between the ages of 0-4 years of age. The older the child, the worse the prognosis. The cause for JMML is not known. Children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are at increased risk for developing JMML, and up to 14% of cases of JMML occur in children with NF1.
- Constitutional symptoms (e.g., malaise, pallor, and fever) or evidence of an infection
- Symptoms of bronchitis or tonsillitis (in approximately 50% of cases)
- Bleeding diathesis
- Maculopapular skin rashes (in 40%–50% of cases)
- Lymphadenopathy (in approximately 75% of cases)
- Hepatosplenomegaly (in most cases)
JMML can be treated with a chemotherapy regimen as well as utilizing a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant from either a relative or a donor match. The latter seems to lead to the best turnout. Although survival is possible, it is very rare and usually, long-term survival (longer than 9 years) is considered a major feat. The reasons are because JMML has a rapid onset and progression that often, is too quick to nip in the proverbial bud.
I’m not going to go into further details with regards to JMML because that would all bore you to tears but what I will say is that although a rare disease, JMML is real and for those who thought it a bit of a reach, I’d have to state that on a personal note, I’ve witnessed friends become donors for other friends and family members. It may not have been with regards to a marrow transplant but I’ve seen it twice in my life and thus it all makes Jasper’s part of the adventure in Once Written, Twice Shy that more plausible!
For more information on JMML as well as clinical trials that exist, please visit the National Cancer Institute or call 1-800-4-cancer.
As an author, I’ve grown to find out that many people are curious about the contents of my library. At any given moment, you can find me with my nose in a book (yes, I still prefer the hard copies to the electronic versions) and if not, I’m working on one of my own, whether it be writing, editing, or some cover design.
Being a writer of Erotic Romance, you would naturally expect me to have a vast collection of the genre… and you would be right! But what you might not realize is that my favorites to read happen to be more of the suspense, thriller, crime, and murder mystery variety. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much of the latter but I can definitely say that I’ve indulged in some of the former!
So here’s a few of my most recent favorite reads. Luckily, they all pertain to a series of some form and thus will leave you with loads to indulge in over the next little while.
Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick series:
If you like a strong female protagonist that has just enough softness to her “rock” hard edges, and men that are even harder, then this series is for you!
Ashley’s Rock Chick series is comprised of 8 well-written novels that will make you want to check out what else this author has in store. If you’re thinking that the name of the series alludes to women in music, the roadie romance, the scarred lead singer in a band, then you’d be wrong! In this series, you’ll find action, suspense, romance and very well-constructed heated scenes. It’s not what I would label as hard core but with Ashley’s work, it doesn’t need to be.
Each character has her own book. Suffice to say, you’ll love the many different ways this wide cast of characters interact, the way the women find trouble, and the kickass ways they get out of said trouble. Did anyone say taser? With the Rock Chicks, I found myself laughing one minute, swooning the next, and holding onto the edge of my seat, unable to stop reading because I simply had to find out what happened next. If your looking for perfect and “cookie cutter” type characters, you won’t find them in Ashley’s works and this is one of the things I love the best about her writing. None of the characters are perfect. They are all flawed people–realistic–trying to make the best of what life’s handed to them. It’s what makes you fall harder for the cast, keeps you riveted, you curse out loud, grow impatient, laugh, cringe, melt, and… need I say it… makes you want more?
After eight books, it was a bittersweet ending to this wonderful series but what’s better, is that Kristen Ashley goes one step further and brings back a few characters in others of her series’! Sometimes, just a mention… others, cameos… not to mention, a new series can be borne too!
Lorelei James’ Rough Riders series:
Who never liked a sexy cowboy, or two, or… who am I kidding? Three sexy cowboys make it through in the debut novel to this series but only one gets the girl! With eleven, that’s right, eleven books to choose from (trust me, you want to read them all), this slightly more explicit author will have your senses reeling, your hand fanning your face as your temperature rises, and rest assured, you’ll be thoroughly entertained.
James’ way with words may lead to explicit scenes but she succeeds at achieving this as well as making you fall in love with each and every character without sounding crass. It’s a romance with a story, featuring the members of the McKay family boys and their extended family (the McKay & West cousins) and friends. The characters have their flaws and I’ve been so submersed in each book that at times, I felt like reaching through my e-reader and delivering a smack to the back of a head, once or twice, or a million!
If you’re looking for heat, sweet, funny, and lovable, you’ve found it with Lorelei James’ “rough” riding cowboys (oh, and cowgirls get their stories too!). Don’t kid yourself, it’s not all about the ranch or the rodeo circuit with this series… but those inclusions sure as hell don’t hurt one bit! After all, with a title like Cowgirl Up & Ride, wouldn’t you be a little curious to know what James’ play on words really entail?