Flash Fic Friday

*Here’s part 1 of the serial story! I’ll tag them all so they’ll be easy to find. And in upcoming weeks, I’ll link back in case you need to catch up. So without further ado, meet Asher and Kyle. Enjoy!*

“Goddamn motherless son of a wonky titbasket!”

The curse was creative. I had to give him that. The questions was, though, why was it being shouted outside my house?

I’d just finished my workout, so I was sweaty and hot. But I put down the water bottle and headed outside to see what the commotion was about. The Uhaul parked next door explained part of it. The other half of the duplex had been empty for months–ever since the family with two screaming toddlers moved out–and I’d relished the silence. But apparently that was changing today.

He was standing on the ramp stretched from the back of the truck to the front porch. The broken box spilling half of its contents on the muddy ground explained the curse. I stood for a moment, just taking in the scene. The frustrated man had his hands in his dark hair, knuckles white, as he breathed deeply. Trying for calm? Probably. He was smaller than me, leaner and shorter, and it looked like he was alone. I felt bad for the dude.

I pushed my sweaty hair out of my eyes, then jogged closer.

“Hey, need some help?”

He squawked and turned quickly, nearly losing his balance and toppling off the ramp. I ran, but he righted himself before I made it across the yard to him. He pressed his hand to his chest, his brown eyes wide.

“Jesus Christ, you scared me.”

I tried for an apologetic grin. “Sorry.”

He flapped a hand at me. “It’s okay.” Then he looked down at the mess, sighed heavily, and dropped his hands. “Fuck.”

I had to check the grin. “Basically. Really, you need some help?”

He bit his lip, and looked into the truck. I was close enough now that I could see it was still pretty packed. Boxes and bags filled every available space, tucked in tightly around a couch, several dressers, and what looked like a dismantled table and matching chairs. He shook his head.

“I don’t want to impose.”

The way he said it, with a bit of hesitancy, made it known that he would really like the help but he didn’t want to ask. Since I offered, I figured he was off the hook. I started picking up the bedding that had fallen out of the box, wadding it around itself until I had a makeshift sack.

“No imposition. I’m not busy, and we are neighbors after all. Let me help.”

He eyed me for a long moment, before he heaved another sigh. “Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem. You can pay me in pizza and beer when we’re done.” I shot him a grin. “That’s the customary payment for helping someone move.”

He laughed, and I liked the sound. “You got it.”

I waited until he retrieved another box, then followed him into the house with my bundle. I knew where the bedroom was, since his house was the mirror opposite of mine, but I thought maybe he’d want to wash the sheets and blankets I held, considering they’d been on the ground. I took the whole thing into the laundry room off the kitchen, then met him back in the entryway.

“Thanks.” His voice was softer, and now that we were close, I could see how tired he was. His big, dark eye were lined, and had bags underneath big enough to be luggage. His T-shirt sported a faded rainbow, and hung off his frame. Put together, it gave him a careworn look.

“You’re welcome.” I took a step back, putting some distance between us, because I knew I probably stunk. But I held out a hand. “I’m Asher.”

“Nice to meet you. My name’s Kyle.”

We shook, and then I gestured for him to proceed me out the door. When we were both tromping up the ramp, I said, “So Kyle. Don’t you have any friends that were willing to help?”

He laughed a little, a short aborted sound, and shook his head. “Too busy. I didn’t give them enough notice. Once the house next door to me blew up, I decided to move fast. I didn’t have time to round up a moving posse.”

I froze. “Blew up?” I couldn’t keep the incredulity out of my tone.

Kyle waved his hand again. “Just a little explosion.”

I stared at him, automatically taking the box he handed me but not taking my gaze off him. He turned and retrieved a bag, but when he looked back at me and saw me staring, he cocked an eyebrow.

“What?”

I shook my head. “You can’t just put that out there and not explain.”

“They were cooking meth.”

My expression must have shown my shock, because he laughed again. “Just a little batch. So only a little explosion. But no way was I staying around after that. So I gave notice, and found this place, and paid extra so I could move in right away. I think the landlord was happy to have someone reputable, because he said it had been vacant for a while, and he didn’t give me too much of a fuss when I asked.” He cocked his head to the side. “Are you going to earn your pizza and get moving?”

I chuckled and turned, heading back into the house. “And don’t forget the beer!”

***

It took us the better part of three hours, but we worked well together so the time flew. I went back to my house to shower and change, and by the time I knocked on Kyle’s door, he had hot pizza and cold beer waiting on his newly reassembled table. Boxes and bags were still stacked everywhere, but it would take him a while to settle in.

Kyle gave me a huge smile when he let me in, but neither of us said much until after we’d both sated ourselves with several slices and a long neck apiece. He sat back in his chair, and patted his stomach.

“The pizza alone is worth moving to the neighborhood.”

I grinned. “It’s good. I order from them at least once a week.”

He shot me a look as he stood up. Kyle threw out the garbage before he turned back to me, resting a hip against the counter. “Not much of a cook?”

I snorted. “Hell no. I burn water. If I ever find a woman to put up with me enough to live with me, I hope she’ll want to cook.”

Something flickered over his face, but it was gone before I could put a name to it. Then he smiled and shrugged, and crossed the floor to pick up the few remaining pieces and put them in the fridge.

“Tomorrow’s breakfast.” He laughed. “I love to cook. Maybe sometime I’ll make you a meal.”

“You any good?”

Kyle scoffed. “I should hope so. My mother is a gourmet chef, and she taught me everything she knew. I think she was determined to give me that skill, knowing that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

I saw it then, the little flinch, and it took me a second to work out why. He was gay, and he was worried about what I’d think or say. Or do. But he didn’t have to be.

“You won’t have any problem snagging a man then.” I paused, considering. “Unless you already have one.”

He breathed out a soft sigh, and his smile was sweet. “Not at the moment. Not for a while, actually.” He shooed the thought away, a quick flap of his hand. “But I’m not worried about it. Yet. I’m not even thirty, not for another year. I’ve got plenty of time.”

I studied him for a moment. I thought he was younger than that. I only had five years on him, but his skin was smooth and clear, showing none of the age mine did. Of course, I worked outside and the sun had done a number on me.

“Anyway, Asher, I really appreciate your help today. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, just let me know.”

“You already did.” I held up the beer in salute. “But if you want to be a good neighbor, then don’t throw any wild parties, and keep the noise down. That’s all it takes to make me happy.”

Kyle snorted out a laugh, and then tossed his empty bottle into the recycle bin. “You’re easy.”

I waggled my eyebrows. “You have no idea.”

We said goodbye a few minutes later. He thanked me again for the help, I thanked him for the pizza, and left him standing on his front porch. Our gazes caught when I looked back at him before opening my own door, and we stayed like that for a long moment. The wind picked up, and a lock of his hair blew across his forehead. Kyle really was a very pretty man. He was funny and kind. I had no doubt he’d find someone to love him someday.

I lifted my hand in a wave, and went into my house.

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Something Different

Starting this week, I’m going to do a something a little bit different with Flash Fic Friday.

You may have noticed they’ve been absent for, well, pretty much the whole year. I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block in general, and I’ve been having trouble working through it. There’s plenty of stuff I need to write, stuff I want to write, but I haven’t been able to get my brain to cooperate much. So! I’ve decided to help that along, I’m going to start a serial story here on the blog. It’ll run for, probably, 8 weeks (or so) and tell an entire story.

I’ve finally got my brain working enough for this. Plus, I think it’ll be a fun exercise, as once a post is published, I won’t be able to change what I’ve written. (Okay, technically I can, but I won’t.) So if I write myself into a corner, I’ll have to write my way out again.

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A day devoted to celebrating love. While I think that should happen every day, it’s nice to have a special occasion to celebrate it too. Whether you’re doing so with your significant other(s) or someone new or a book and a glass of wine, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Dreamspinner Press and JMS are both having 30% off sales! Go grab a new book (or several), take advantage of the sale, and find some fictional people to fall in love with!

And may I remind you that I have a Valentine’s Day story? Sean and Hunter fall in love in Love at Roades End.

Sean Newvine is looking forward to his weekend at Roades End Inn so he can review his stay there for inclusion on his travel website. What he never expects is for the owner, Hunter Roades, to capture his attention from the very start.

The only problem is Hunter thinks Sean’s been sent by his brother on a blind date so that Hunter doesn’t have to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Once the awkward misunderstanding is resolved, Sean is charmed by Hunter’s formality and hospitality. And when they have a chance to really talk, sparks fly.

A passion-filled night has them both wanting more, but Hunter pulls away knowing Sean doesn’t live in town and the distance might be more than they can overcome. Sean and Hunter must figure out if they can make it work for longer than one night, or if their chance at love will end at Roades End Inn before it can begin.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner/AmazonKobo

Alex and Matt

If you’d like the flash fics featuring Alex and Matt from Hero Worship in a downloadable file, I have now put it together! The stories are all the same (with typo corrections) as the ones featured here on the blog. But now they are all together, with a cover, that you can get in any format you wish. Since I’m only able to put up PDFs on this site, that’s available on the Freebies page in the Books tab at the top. But if you’d prefer mobi or ePub, just drop me a note and I will happily email that to you.

I’ve said before that Alex and Matt are two of my favorite guys, and I’ve loved revisiting them. And now you can have their complete journey at your fingertips.

Happily Overwhelmed

So recently I release two stories. Within a few days of each other. Again. It wasn’t exactly on purpose, but when you’re working with two different amazing publishers, it can happen. Of course, the first time it was the same publisher. And when it happens yet again in April, it’ll be both publisher but…anyway.

It’s a little overwhelming.

Also overwhelming is the wonderful and lovely reviews I’ve gotten for both Hero Worship and Ghost of a Chance. Readers are really enjoying them, and that makes me incredibly happy because it means I’ve done my job. All I want is to tell good, entertaining stories. And it seems like, for the most part, I’ve done that.

I’m not so good at promo, and I’m trying to get better. But I’m so grateful for everyone who has seen and purchased all my recent releases.

So a quick note about the Flash Fic Fridays. You may have noticed that one didn’t go up this past Friday, which is highly unusual when I’ve had a release. But there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that Matt and Alex, from Hero Worship, already have five shorts to their names. Since the story is a rerelease, with just a bit of tweaking and polishing and still the same story, I already had their next stages. You can find all their shorts linked on the short stories page with the blurb and buy links. I’m thinking of putting all their shorts together in a free downloadable format. That way, anyone who wants to carry around Matt and Alex’s continuation can do so.

The second is in regards to Blake and Derek. I thought long and hard about whether to write them a flash or two, but I ran into a couple of obstacles. The first is that their story, as it is, is fairly complete. But the second, and the most important, is that Blake and Derek continue to show up as the series goes on. We get to see them a lot as the series continues. And because of that, I was having a hard time coming up with a story that didn’t inadvertently spoil upcoming story lines. So I’m not saying never with them, but I’m definitely saying not right now. We may see them, and other couples from Requiem Inc. once the series is complete. Or at least further along.

At any rate, there are buy links in the books page at the top for all my books and stories. So if you’re looking for a good, feel good, happy read, I’d be honored if you’d check them out.

And this Friday, we’ll have a flash fic featuring some new characters and a plot bunny put in my ear that I’m going to try to write.

And maybe that’ll help me get some writing mojo back.

Release Day!

Ghost of a Chance is out now! I’m bouncing around the web this week and next, talking about the book and sharing a couple of exclusive excerpts. Y’all know by now how much I adore this book (and the sequels that will be out later this year) and this world I’ve created. I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

Only love makes life worth living—over and over again.

Ghostwalker Blake Jones dies every day. It’s his job and how he helps trapped souls cross over. But to return to life, he needs an anchor. His new partner, Derek Scott, is a surprise. Not only is he male, but his appearance belies a caring and gentle heart underneath. Despite attraction and a strengthening relationship, they know they shouldn’t take things further.

But there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.

Their growing love presents a problem, though not the one they expect. Blake and Derek have to decide if they should take their relationship to the most permanent level—an unbreakable metaphysical bond. Doing so offers both risk and unimaginable reward. Can Blake let go of his fears and put his complete trust in Derek in order to have the happily ever after he’s always craved?

Buy Links: Dreamspinner / Amazon / BN / Kobo / iBooks

 

Release Day!

Out now, from JMS Books, Hero Worship!

Paramedic Alex Sullivan has always thought Matthew Carter was attractive. There are reasons why Alex knows he shouldn’t get involved with the younger man. Taking Matt on as a housemate seems like a recipe for disaster. But Matt not only proves to be the perfect roommate, he also makes no effort to hide his attraction to Alex. Matt knows what he wants. Can Alex be the hero Matt already thinks he is?

 

Buy Links: JMS   Amazon

And a bonus, if you check out the short stories page at the top, you’ll find links to the flash fics I wrote featuring these two guys, and their continuing love story.  (Scroll down to the story at the bottom of the page)