Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Model John Quinlan as Brendt.

Marjorie didn’t want to go down the stairs.

He was there.

He was what she’d wished for, what she’d told her parents over and over again she wanted. He was what she’d bragged to her friends at school about.

She never, not once in a million years, thought he’d actually show up.

Brendt wasn’t wearing a tuxedo, but his suit was sharp and his shirt matched the blue flowers in the dress mom had found at the vintage clothing store. It wasn’t a real Prom dress, but she loved it.

The dress was just one in a long list of challenges she’d overcome in her quest for Prom.

First, there were the understated murmurings of “Special Needs kids shouldn’t go to the normal kids’ Prom.”

Second, the cost of the tickets which, although not terribly expensive, were more than she’d usually ask her parents for.

Third, the fact that Prom was going to be at a fancy hotel in the city, twenty minutes away, and Dad needed the only car for work that night.

Brendt drove a Corvette, and it was a convertible. Marjorie had watched from her parents’ bedroom window as he arrived. She’d heard the other kids bragging about renting limos or borrowing their parents’ cars. She wondered what they’d think when she arrived in the sports car, escorted by a gorgeous man fifteen years older than the graduating seniors.

Brendt looked up. Marjorie froze. It had been five years since he’d seen her. Would he recognize her?

Did he still love her?

Brendt’s face gradually softened, and his mouth curved just barely into a smile.

“Wow,” he said. Their mother was standing behind him, going through an entire box of tissues and trying unsuccessfully to hide her sniffles and sobs. “Little sis, you are all grown up!”

Marjorie looked down at her feet. She was wearing high heels for the first time, and they weren’t as easy to walk in as she’d thought.

But it didn’t matter. Because no matter how unsteady she felt, no matter what the other kids might say about her, her big brother had come home.

Because it was what she’d wished for.

I first used John‘s picture back in 2011 for a story called Postcard. At that time, he was just a gorgeous guy with photos attached to a creative commons license on Wikimedia Commons. Then he contacted me, I interviewed him, and we became friends. I eventually used him for several others, including my serial SciFi Synaesthesia. Later, he teamed up with Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art to create some fantastic cover art for authors to purchase. I don’t have a novel published yet, but both John and Claudia graciously let me use a low-res copy of Siren Song to mock up a cover for my 2013 3-Day-Novel story Siren’s Web.

This Saturday, John will be in my area for the NPC (National Physique Commitee) Vermont Championships. Maybe we’ll finally get to meet in person!

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