A Little White Lie and Other Updates

For the past few years, I’ve been wondering how to link Everything She Ever Wanted (Dax and Harlow’s story) with Falling for Jordan (Addison and Jordan’s story), Book 1 and Book 2 respectively in my Different Kind of Love series.

Somehow, I never really linked them together except for the second version of the Prologue that replaced the original version in the last year and a half. Only that wasn’t what I should have done.

Instead, that second version of the Prologue should have been a short story, one that would be available at the end of Book 1 as a bonus story (appearing AFTER 90% of the ebook) and the same one I’ll link here. So if you’ve read Everything She Ever Wanted and want to take a peek at the wedding reception through Addison’s eyes, you can read it here.

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Little White Lie introduces Addison Rowe, Harlow’s best friend, a Filipino-American doctor who just finds out her life is about to change while attending Harlow’s Taos wedding to Dax.

In the writing front, I’m still working on stories I set aside a month ago. Somehow, subconscious me wants to finish the stories I started before tackling the big ones and so that’s what I’m doing. They won’t fit any of my current series but my subconscious mind won’t let them go either so I guess I’ll have to follow that muse for now.

Oh, and two earthquakes happened in my neck of the woods. The house was rocking for over a minute during that second one and the lamps were swinging and so was the front door. It was scary but at the same time part of living in Southern California. My main concern during the second one was that my kid was wearing only his underwear (he has SPD and likes being in his underwear while wrapped in his two favorite fuzzy blankets when he doesn’t need to be outdoors) and I told him that if we had to run outside, he was running out in his undies.

I need to know where to shut things off should the big one hit and it’s just me and the kiddo at home (water, gas, electricity). I need to stock up the emergency backpack, too. Two earthquakes in a week is not a good sign. But then, what else can we do but keep on going, right?

How about you? How’s life treating you so far?

Dusk: A Short Story

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The reading was over, and I was tired and scared. I didn’t like what I saw in the cards tonight, just before the coming of the dusk, when day betrayed me to the night. The wind blew, and I pulled the shawl over me snugly. He would be here soon to keep me safe.

I hated the dusk, the time that lay between day and night when the sun disappeared in the horizon, and the moon would take its sweet time in illuminating the darkness with its reflected light. Shiraz knew it and always found a reason to come closer to be with me, to hold me while the air around us grew still and thick, the scent of jasmine filling our nostrils as the winds blew gently.

It had been a busy day for both of us, and our pockets were heavy with the day’s wages. Wages I had earned for telling people their fortunes, their futures while Shiraz guarded the door to the darkly-colored tent, his hands crossed over his chest, his face glowering. Inside, I told people their futures, their pasts, and their dreams. I read what they revealed through their eyes and told them what they wanted to hear. Sometimes the cards told me the opposite of what I told them. People are funny that way. They yearn to hear the truth, but not hear it. They only want to hear what they want to hear.

I was tired and hungry. Shiraz took some dried meat from the pouch over his shoulder and handed me a few strips to eat. There was a camp just outside of town, and we were headed there, he told me. “They are celebrating the night. The moon awakes at its fullest tonight.” He said, his lips very close to my ear and I found myself shivering as the hairs of his beard brushed against my neck and cheek. He pulled me tighter against him, our bodies seeming to blend into one. I closed my eyes and breathed him.

That was us, Shiraz and me.

The camp was not too far, but by the time we arrived, I was famished. We knew a few of the people there, or Shiraz knew them. But we were welcomed, invited to partake of their feast and I found myself savoring the taste of freshly roasted lamb, feeling the juices run down my fingers. It had been days since we’d eaten a decent meal, I thought. This was more than just a feast. It was heaven on earth, with Shiraz right beside me.

Shiraz pitched the tent for both of us, leaving the bigger tent that we used for my fortune telling still rolled up on the wagon. We didn’t have much, just a wagon with the barest of necessities. The clothes on our backs were now in sore need of a wash, the cloaks white from dust and dirt. Shiraz always promised me we would get to wash in a river soon, and I was getting impatient.

The night’s festivities began with the beat of doumbek thundering through the air, bringing both of us to our feet. Something in its beat led us back to the circle of the celebration, where the fires illuminated the musicians and the women with their heavily painted faces framing the campfire. A woman was singing, her voice an instrument on its own. An exquisite instrument. I felt Shiraz reach for my hand and bring me closer, his eyes closed as he held me, my back to him as we both faced the fire. I could feel his breath against my cheek and I, too, closed my eyes to feel the woman’s voice as it spoke to me in its strange language.

I felt my hands begin to move, drawing out strange shapes and figures in the air, just as I had been taught as a child. I felt my body move away from Shiraz as if propelled to move on its own accord. I moved towards the center of the circle, close to the fire but not too close. My eyes were still closed; I needed no sight to know where everything was. My bare feet felt the essence of the ground, feel its vibrations through the soles, and the toes. They made my feet tingle; my fingers almost electrified as I moved to the woman’s music. It called out to me, and I answered.

I had never danced like this in front of strangers. But tonight, it seemed like the only thing to do, and I danced, feeling the rhythm of the music match the beating of my heart, the pulsing of blood through my veins. This was how it felt to be alive, I thought, as I moved sinuously to the music. It thundered through my very soul, waking me and swallowing me up in its fury.

I must have fainted for when I came to, Shiraz was carrying me to the tent, behind him the concerned faces of the revelers, their eyes wide and staring. But the music still continued, the woman no longer singing. Just the sound of drums, many drums filling the air as people began to move to the beat, and the wide-eyed faces soon disappeared in the darkness as Shiraz took me inside the tent.

I called out his name, but he didn’t seem to hear. His face was set in an expression I had never seen before. It scared me and excited me, but I couldn’t understand why.

I felt his hands on my body, moving quickly and urgently to release my flesh from its bonds. Before long, I was naked and so was he, his body straining against mine as the music outside continued, seeming to get louder with each passing moment. I felt his lips against my skin, my eyes, my face, devouring me it seemed, and my body responded automatically. Shiraz always knew how to bring me to a state of utter abandonment of mind, body, and spirit. He held my hands over my head as he continued to explore every inch of my face, my neck, my bosom.

I could feel his breath against my hair as he kissed my ear. His body was ready, his muscles taut. When he plunged into me, I cried out, and the drums seemed to explode outside in response to my cries as he pounded into me savagely. It scared me for Shiraz had never been like this before. He was a gentle lover, careful to coax me out of my sheltered existence and into a world where nothing mattered by the earth beneath our feet, the air we breathed, and each other. He was my protector, my friend, and my lover. He would never hurt me.

But here he was, plunging into me with a savagery I had never seen before. My legs wrapped around him protectively, responding to the urgency of his body. He was liberating me, it seemed, forcing the timid figment of myself out of my body, every minute inch of it, with each thrust of his manhood, he cried out words I didn’t understand. I could smell him, the scent of his being so strong and pungent. Everything around me, it seemed, was magnified with each movement of his body against mine. The music outside mirroring each movement he made against me as if urging him to continue his assault on my body.

I wanted to scream for him to stop, but something was slowly building inside of me, something I had never felt before. He had always been gentle with me, even though I sensed that he was only doing it so as not to scare me. It had not been too long since I had left the only home I had ever known to be with him and be an outcast forever. The sensation began within the very core of my body, from my womb, growing ever so slowly with every thrust of his manhood, dancing the dance of his being. It continued to rise inside me, engulfing every cell of my body, making my skin tingle like never before as I began to gasp and moan, my fingers scratching the smooth skin of his back.

His mouth descended to claim my lips, the hair of his beard scratching my skin, his teeth brushing against my own as his tongue proceeded its conquest. I wanted to scream but I couldn’t. My body began to shake, trembling with an excitement I had never known before, the very core of my body screaming for release. I sucked at his tongue desperately, my fingers pulling his hair.

And then the flash of white as my whole world was engulfed in a white light so bright it almost blinded me. He released my mouth, his lips descending on my neck and I shuddered, my body having a life of its own as my mind and soul surrendered to Shiraz completely. His hand squeezed my breasts, leaving marks against the smooth pale skin, his fingers raking against my ribs as he exploded inside of me, crying out my name as he came again and again.

I could hear the bells just outside the tent, in time with the drums. Outside a wind blew, causing the tent to sway slightly. Shiraz lay on top of me, his body still shivering, just as mine trembled with excitement it had never known before. I looked at him, his eyes closed tightly, his lips red and swollen. I reached out to touch him, and he moved his face to brush against my hand tenderly.

This was the Shiraz I knew, and the Shiraz I barely knew.  And I loved him.

But I would betray him.

I read it in the cards today.

2002-2018 ©Liz Durano

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I wrote this story in 2002 and every time I stumble upon it again, I’m always reminded how this remains one of my favorite stories. Short and mysterious.

You can find Dusk and other dark short stories in Les Gargouilles and Other Short Stories by Liz Durano. It’s a collection of dark stories featuring ghosts, spirits, and even a gargoyle. Even better, it’s FREE!

A New Voice: Zainab Muhammad Shaheed and Kaneez’s Bulbul

Today was release day for Love Unlimited Anthology which features stories by eleven authors (including moi!) about love and its many incarnations. I didn’t say much about this anthology because I figured I had so many things on my plate as it was that you guys must be shaking your heads every time I write about one more project – even as my own project, Falling for Jordan, languishes in the sidelines and may be pushed back indefinitely.

So I figured I’d wait until release day to say something about it.

Well, I’m really happy for this anthology because not only are there eleven stories that cross generations, cultural backgrounds, and borders, there are three (I think there are three!) debut writers in the mix! Love Unlimited Anthology is their first published work and I am just so thrilled for them! Like… beyond thrilled. I’m also happy that I haven’t scared them off with my crankiness throughout the whole process!

But kidding aside, one of the stories I was looking forward to the most was Zainab Muhammad Shaheed’s story, Kaneez’s Bulbul. It’s world literature which is something I love and miss terribly. One of my favorite authors is Khaled Husseini who wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, both books which reduced me to tears. When I read that Zainab’s story is set against the Partition of India and Pakistan, I found myself impatient to read her story. Forget that I formatted the book, I waited until release day to read it!

And honestly, it reminds me why I love world literature. There is no Hollywood ending, no Disney versions of life stories that I’ve gotten used to reading everywhere. No, Kaneez’s Bulbul is still a story about love and I know I’ll be thinking about Kaleem and his beloved long after tonight.

So if you haven’t picked it up yet, please do. It’s free and it’s a wonderful introduction to new-to-you writers with refreshing voices like Zainab. It’s even available in paperback – although I’d give it 3 days while I tweak a few things under the hood and call it done.

EDITED TO ADD: And would you look at that? I wrote a Facebook version of the post above and it turned out completely different!

Here’s A FREE Novella For Your Monday!

Yup, you read that right! My clean and wholesome novella WILD CARD is free to download!

Daniela Simmons has stopped asking all the why’s in life.
Like, why did the accident have to happen? Why did the drunk driver not stop at the red light?
But when her name gets picked to be on a reality TV dating show, there’s a new question that she’ll need to ask herself:
“Why not?”

When Daniela Simmons’ sister enters her name in the reality TV dating show, Paired in Paradise, the last thing Daniela expects is to be chosen as the Wild Card, the latest contestant added halfway through the show to compete for the heart of billionaire adventurer, Tyler Drake.

Now, whether she likes it or not, Daniela is going to be a reality TV star.

For Tyler, being the object of the women’s affections has become exhausting.  How can one truly know who’s being real or not – including himself – with cameras constantly filming their every move and producers manipulating everything they say?  But he’s willing to coast through to the end of this fabricated fairy tale with whomever producers decide will be the best choice for him, even if it’s just for the show.

But that’s before he meets the Wild Card… and suddenly Tyler realizes that what’s best for the show isn’t necessarily the best choice for his heart.


I wrote Wild Card two years ago for a short story competition but ended up going past the word count limit of 10K words and decided to keep going. Some stories just don’t want to follow the rules and this was one of them. This was a story about a woman who, despite everything that happens to her, remains true to herself.

I hope you enjoy it and if you can, please leave a review.

Just As Beautiful (A Short Story)

Now that I’ve recovered from the consequences of high expectations (last post), I’m returning to the things that make me happy and that’s writing stories and being inspired by beautiful people (beautiful both on the inside and the outside). Thank you so much for your kind message, Dacia. This one’s for you.

The late Anton Yelchin was the muse for this story when I wrote it three years ago.

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They said he was only after one thing, and that after he’d get it from me, he’d forget me. And so after it happened, I stayed away, kept to myself, and minded my own business.

But now he was doing his first big show, showcasing the latest fashion by the city’s most successful designers, modeled by the city’s most beautiful people – and I wanted to be there. My brother, Mick, was the official photographer. And after he sent his assistant home because the guy caught chicken pox, I became his unofficial assistant. So I helped Mick lug the heavy equipment from the car to the Magnolia Ballroom, trying hard not to be noticed in my t-shirt and jeans, a baseball cap pulled down to cover my eyes.

After everything was in place, I found a chair at the back of the ballroom and sat down. They were deep in dress rehearsals and everyone was there – the make-up artists, the hairdressers, the assistants and even the assistants’ assistants gathered around the designers and their models, making sure not a hair was out of place, their make-up perfect.

With my brother settled on his platform in front of the stage, my work was done. The next time I’d need to actually do some work would be to help him pack the equipment and stuff all of them in the car till tomorrow when we’d do it all over again for the big show.

And so, armed with a slice of pizza in one hand and bottle of water in the other, I leaned back against the chair and watched the first run of the show.

I had never been one that people called pretty right off the bat. The best they usually could say about me at first glance was you’ve got a great smile. Or you actually have beautiful eyes if one took the time to look.

But with Trevor, it was different. One didn’t need to look hard to see that he was beautiful. He was tall, with dark hair and a gorgeous smile. With his deep blue eyes, all he had to do was blink – simply because humans had to – and women swooned. Men, too.

I met Trevor that semester. He sat behind me in Sociology, and we barely exchanged more than brief hellos. But when everyone had to pair up for a presentation on culture and socialization, he tapped my shoulder and asked me if I wanted to be his partner. For the next month, we buried ourselves in research books and online articles to better understand the subject at hand. Soon, we were lying on the rooftop of my apartment building where I lived with Mick, trying to spot the constellations and telling stories about ourselves.

Then two months later, out on that same rooftop, Trevor kissed me.

It was at the apartment that Trevor was “discovered” by one of Mick’s fashion designer friends. Two weeks later, after we did our presentation in front of the class (we received an A), Trevor officially signed on to become a model for some big-name agency.

That’s when everyone told me that the only reason Trevor had picked me to be his sociology partner was so he’d get a chance to meet my brother – and maybe get discovered. They said that Trevor had never really loved me, even though he said he did. I still had his letter in my pocket, sent after I broke up with him, the stationary worn out from being repeatedly taken out, opened and read.

I love you, he wrote. I think we have something good going, and I really believe we can still keep going – but only if you want to. But if you believe the lies that people are saying, about why I’m with you, then you don’t know me at all. Wasn’t it you who told me to accept the modeling offer?

But how could Trevor love me when he was now surrounded by such beautiful people, I thought, as I watched him saunter onstage. They must have taught him how to walk like a model. They must have drilled it into him how to swagger like a man who knew he had the goods, and that he could deliver them all. I watched him scan the non-existent audience in front of him, his gaze passing over me like I wasn’t there.

He really did forget me, I thought then, my appetite suddenly gone.

I must have sat there for some time, lost in thought, for the next thing I knew, the rehearsal was over and Trevor was sitting next to me. He was no longer wearing one of the designer suits he’d been modeling earlier. Instead, he was wearing the usual white t-shirt and jeans he always wore to school (it drove the girls crazy and he must have known it).

“You’re a sight for sore eyes,” he said, grinning. “Mick said he had a surprise for me and I sure hope he meant you.”

I turned to look for Mick, who must have needed my help in packing everything up, but there was someone there already, helping him load equipment on the cart.

“Mick said I could drive you home,” Trevor added as Mick waved at us. “We need to talk.”

“I look horrible,” I said, feeling self-conscious and realizing that I was still holding the slice of pizza in my hand. “You looked amazing out there.”

He shrugged. “Meh, it’s alright. It’s really not my thing, but I figure, you only live once. I might as well give it a try, right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, you should.”

“You gonna eat that?” He asked, looking at my pizza.

I shook my head and handed it to him. Trevor ate it in four bites, brushing his hands against his jeans when he discovered I didn’t have any napkins.

“I don’t want to be starving all the time,” he said. “And this modeling business makes you hungry, that’s for sure.”

“Aren’t you having fun?”

“Only with you around,” he said. “Other than that, it’s actually boring.”

“Oh, stop it, Trev,” I chided. “You’ve got all those beautiful people surrounding you. Why on earth would you choose to spend it here, with plain ol’ me?”

Trevor leaned forward, and I could smell the scent of his cologne. He never used to wear cologne, I thought. But maybe all models wore cologne.

“Because ‘plain ol’ you’ is who I want,” he said, his expression serious. “I meant it when I said that I liked you, that I love -”

“But you could have anyone on that stage -”

“Didn’t you just hear me?” He said. “Stop listening to what everyone says about why I chose you as my partner in Sociology – that I did it so that I could get discovered by some talent agent, or whatever else they say I did it for. That’s baloney.”

“Then why did you choose me?”

“Because you’re beautiful, that’s why,” he said as I rolled my eyes. “I mean, you did help me get an A in Sociology -”

I fake-punched him in the arm, both of us laughing as he continued. “- but I always thought you were cute. Why do you think I sat behind you, one row away?”

Someone was calling him, telling him they were headed to the hotel bar for some drinks and that he should come along. Trevor waved them off and turned back to look at me.

“Why don’t you go with them?” I asked.

“Because I’m with you,” he said, grinning. Then he stood up and offered me his hand. I took it, allowing him to help me up from the chair.

“Where are we going?” I asked as he led me outside to the hallway. We headed for the stairs that led to the side of the building.

“To look at the stars,” he said. “Wanna come?”

Twenty minutes later, Trevor and I were lying on the hotel lawn looking up at the stars. He was holding my hand, and soon, he turned towards me and kissed me.

“Why me?” I asked.

“Why not?” Trevor said. “You’re beautiful. You’re kind. You’re funny.”

“You’re more beautiful.”

“You’re so hung up on that. There’s more to life than this, you know,” he said, his hand circling his face. “One day I won’t look like this anymore, and what then?”

“Life goes on,” I said.

“Exactly. And what matters is in here,” Trevor gently tapped the middle of my chest. “Well, there are other things, too…but you know what I mean.”

I smiled as I looked at his blue eyes. Suddenly, I realized that I did know what he meant, about what really mattered. And that was what I loved most about Trevor – that he truly was beautiful. Inside – and out.

And when he kissed me again, I realized that he was right.

I was just as beautiful, too.