We trust that our close friends will always have our back, especially after we get to know them to the point that they finish our sentences, anticipate our needs, or even help us save a life. I had one person in my life like that. Because I don’t like naming names, I call him Z for the purpose of this piece.

Z and I discovered each other in the computer lab and, after talking, found out that we had a lot in common. So much so that we became best buds and shadows of one another. Even in the beginning of our relationship, someone mentioned they didn’t think he was good for me. I didn’t listen to them. I needed him too much.

He helped me get through being in college and watching my Dad who was a genius being destroyed by Alzheimer’s. In fact, that’s where the life saving comes in. We were in the garage working on my car when we noticed that something was wrong. My Dad had gotten into the pool yard and thought he could walk on the pool cover. Instead, he got tangled in it and started floundering in the water. I hit the water fully clothed.  Z went around to the edge of the pool. I managed to get Dad untangled and supported him long enough for Z to use his long arms to pluck Dad out of the water.

I could write a very long piece about all our adventures together. I remember them to some degree, but they are overshadowed by the pain and grief he caused me. I wanted to help Z make a new life for himself, so after he graduated from technical college, which I helped him pay for by backing his student loan, I suggested he move up to Sacramento with me. My roommates wanted nothing to do with him, saying he had bad mojo. Guess I should have listened to them and my instincts, which were starting to suspect trouble. Instead, I asked a blind friend of mine if they wouldn’t mind housing him until we could figure something out. They said sure.

Everything seemed fine until a day when I came back from Sac State and had a strange message on my answering machine from the local electronics store. Z had bought a CD Player I knew he couldn’t afford. Turns out, he had stolen my friend’s credit card and used it. When I confronted him about it, he threatened to kill me and kill himself before he squealed off. My roommates actually had to come out to separate us and demand that he leave.  Heeding their advice, I got a restraining order on him the next day.

After that happened, I finished the semester, but found myself too distracted and broke to continue my studies. I moved back to the Bay Area where I saw him a couple of times in the crowd. Each time I did, I couldn’t help but feel this surge of anger. It was directed at him and me. Him for what he had done and me because well, I had let him do it. I had not listened to my instincts and a friend was hurt because of it. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started trusting my instincts after two decades of doubting them and questioning myself because of Z’s betrayal.

During our relationship, Z and I dabbled in writing together. He helped a bit with the story that made up Spirit before I threw it out and started over again. He also wrote the intro to the story that once had Spirit‘s title.  The story, however, has changed a lot since then so he can’t lay claim to anything I’ve done.

We worked on a fan fiction piece that saved me and my journey as a writer. After the confrontation, I couldn’t stop thinking about what had happened and what I had done wrong. When I need to think about stuff, I write, but I didn’t feel like writing. I then looked at the fan fiction piece and said to myself that I needed to work on that, if only to get rid of the fan part and make it part of my series.  I went to bed feeling content that I had done something, but wondering if I had done the right thing. The other option was to forget about the whole piece and see if I could make something else work. The problem was I didn’t think I had the mental strength to do that.

The next morning, I woke up with the doubts still in my head. My inner voice decided to challenge me on them by asking a simple question, “Do you believe in legend?”

Tired of arguing with myself, I replied, “Yeah, I guess.”

“Good, because believing in Legend is the first step in making it a reality.”

That first step began a long journey of healing and forgiveness. I worked on Legend and prepared it to be published. I also tinkered with other stuff, but in my mind, it was going to be the first. That is until someone read it and said it was too complicated and confusing by having a lot of characters from two centuries introduced at the same time. So I decided that it needed a prequel, and pursued publishing Spirit.

In order to accept myself and what had happened, I had to forgive myself and Z. I will never forget what he did. I don’t know what has happened to him, and I don’t even really care. In fact, if we ever run into each other again, I’ll probably just walk away because I never want to visit that time in my life again.

Instead, I have moved on. Or thought I had until something happened today. The person running Saturday’s event suggested that we do a cover reveal and tease of Legend during the party.  The cover I had worked on didn’t look all that good, so I had to have one created. That meant finding a designer who could fit within my budget and do a good job. Well, thanks to a friend from the indie writing community I did.  I gave her five pieces of clip art and a general idea of what I wanted. Within about five hours, she had a rough draft. While I loved it, it didn’t quite sit right with my instincts, so we talked and I showed her a few movie posters with the concept I wanted. She delivered within a few hours.

When I saw the cover . . . Oh man, it’s hard to describe all the mixed emotions that surged through my body. I had to ride a wave of them for the rest of the afternoon. In fact, even now, I’m still feeling their aftereffects.  All I can say is that everything that has happened over the last month or so has confirmed my belief that I am a writer. The cover made me feel like Stars of Heros is real and Legend, even more so. It captures the essence and power of the book in a simple, yet complicated, way.

I can’t wait for you all to see Legend‘s skin and learn more about the person behind its creation, but you’ll have to wait until Saturday. So come join me at the Facebook event where we’ll celebrate Spirit and Legend!