Flash Fic Friday

The sound of a diesel engine still made me catch my breath.  Even though it had been two years since I had heard that  truck pull into my drive, every time I heard that particular sound of an idling  engine, my heart gave a painful thump.  I knew I’d never see that truck, or it’s driver, again.  But it still effected me.

We’d been together for six months.  Secretly, but that was okay.  Given his career, he couldn’t be out.  DADT hadn’t been repealed yet then.  So we maintained the friend facade in public and hid behind closed doors.  I accepted it.  It was worth it to be with him.

When he’d gotten his deployment orders, his stoic face had fallen into place.  We talked for a long while about what that would mean for us.  In the end, it was better for us both to walk away.  I hated every minute of it, but I respected the untenable position he was in.  I’d worried constantly over the last two years, knowing he was in combat in a war zone.  And hoped I didn’t hear the worst news possible.  Trying to put him out of my heart and mind was impossible.  But he’d made it clear before he left; we were over even though he cared for me a great deal.  I had to accept that.  And I was getting better at letting go everyday.

That didn’t mean the sound of that engine didn’t still twist my gut as I remembered the last time I’d heard it pull away from the house.  Hearing it this close again was almost unbearable.  I wouldn’t let myself look out the front window, just to see some other truck on the street, waiting for some other person.

The sound of the engine abruptly ceased.  I heard the door snap shut.  I forced myself to breathe evenly, and relax.  But then there was familiar sound of boots on the wooden porch.  A moment later, a distinctive rap on the door.  I sprang up and ran, not caring I’d knocked my glass to the floor and spilled water everywhere.  I yanked open the door.

There he stood, looking skinny and haggard, but smiling.  He was wearing his utility uniform, and I gasped as he pulled off his cover and aviator sunglasses.  There were lines around his eyes and mouth that hadn’t been there before.  But the familiar close cropped hair and mischievous tilt of his head still made my blood race.  He was as handsome as ever.  And I was just so damn happy to see him, alive and whole and smiling.  Tears filled my eyes.

The lance corporal was home.

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That Guy

I’ll admit it. I’m drawn to a certain kind of character.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a variety if characters. I love to see nuances and quirks and all the little bits that make each character unique. It’s fun to discover all the things that make a character who they are.

But that guy, the possessive, stoic, communicates in grunts and growls guy…yeah, I’m always happy to see him.

I’m not talking about scary possessive. I’m not talking about demanding and mean and suffocating. But the guy who is all “mine”. Who wants his love interest to be only his. Who is aware of his possessive streak and does what he can to keep it in check while also making it clear. That’s the guy I always want to see.

He’s the guy who pops up more often than not in my fiction.

What about you? What kind of character do you like to see!

Flash Fic Friday

**Luke and Seth make a reappearance.  See how the met here.**

Oh my God!”

I was up and running because the tone of that yell made me think that my boyfriend had injured himself and was currently bleeding all over the floor.  I raced toward the back of the house, knowing that the last place I had seen Luke was in the spare bedroom where I kept the computer.  My heart was pounding, adrenaline pouring through my veins, as I passed over the threshold.  Luke was staring in abject terror at the monitor.  His blue eyes were as wide as saucers, his pretty mouth hanging open.

“Babe?” I asked cautiously, keeping my voice low.  “What’s wrong?”

He raised a shaky hand–the one not clutching the mouse for dear life–and pointed at the screen.  I crept closer, my mind running through the possibilities of what horror he had seen or read that had caused him to yell like that.  Knowing him, it could be anything from the news that his favorite designer had decided to retire to an image of a dead puppy.

Before I was close enough to see, he whispered in a horrified voice, “How did he even get that up there?”

My gaze shot to the screen and for just a second, I was as appalled as Luke was.  Then I wrestled the mouse from his clenched fingers, and quickly closed the browser.  With the image gone, he breathed a sigh of relief.  His hands were still shaking as he lifted them to cover his face.  I let him have a moment to collect himself.

“A traffic cone, Seth.”  His voice was still filled with disbelief and shock.

Because he still had his face covered, I didn’t try to school my expression as my lips started to quirk.  “I saw.”

“Why would anyone think that is a good idea?” he mumbled.  He moved his hands down to press against his mouth, and kept his eyes shut tight.

I couldn’t help but release a small laugh.  Now that I knew he was okay, and the offending image was gone, the whole situation was kind of funny.

“This is why you aren’t allowed to look at porn by yourself,” I chastised playfully.

His head shot up, his eyes popping open as he glared.  “I can look at porn if I want to,” he responded petulantly.  Then a smile started to creep across his lips, ruining his anger.  He gave a sigh.  “Though how I keep finding stuff like that, I don’t know.”

“You certainly have a talent for it,” I responded with a shake of my head.  I reached out and took hold of his biceps, easing him up out of the chair.  He came willingly, and then lunged into my arms, burying his face down against my shoulder.  He gave an exaggerated shudder, and I knew he was getting over the shock of what he had just seen.  I rubbed my hands up and down his back.  He relaxed a little more, his arms snaking around my waist and holding on tight.

After several moments, I placed a kiss on his temple, and then slid my mouth down closer to his ear.  I gave the outer shell a teasing little lick.  “How about we make our own porn?”

He jerked back, and his gaze was angry.  “Are you serious?  After what I just saw, I don’t think I’ll be able to get it up for months!”

With deliberate slowness, I smoothed my hands down his back until I could grab a hold of his ass.  His gasp was loud as I jerked his hips forward until his groin was in full contact with mine.  He tried to struggle and weasel his way out of my arms, but there was no way I was letting him go.  I gave my best lecherous grin, and slowly started undulating my hips.  It took mere moments before I felt his cock start to plump up.

“Do not tell me that turned you on!” He shouted, his voice over-loud.  I could see real shock and disgust in his eyes, so I quickly shook my head.

“Babe, that didn’t do a thing for me,” I assured him softly.  “But you’re in my arms.  That always gets me hot.”

He tried to keep up his facade of discontent, but I could see it crumbling rapidly.  I lowered my head until my lips were just a fraction of an inch from his, but didn’t go any further.  He would have to give in.  Only when he’d decided that I was telling the truth could he have the kiss.  Luke gave a frustrated whine when I didn’t move any closer.  Finally he huffed out a breath, lifted on his toes, and pressed his mouth to mine.  The kiss was slow and languid and I let him lead.  But after just a  few minutes, he pulled back.

“Sorry,” he said, his tone half flippant, half apologetic.  “Traffic cone.”

I chuckled, and let him go.  No help for it if the image was going to keep popping up in his mind’s eye.  We’d try again later.  I turned to leave, but before I walked out, I tossed one order over my shoulder that was imperative if I ever wanted to get laid again.

“Stay off the porn sites.”

His answering chuckle wasn’t exactly reassuring.

All It Takes

Sometimes, all it takes is a few words. Or a picture. Or having a conversation. Or hearing a song. And that’s little kernel of whatever sparks a story idea.

Fridays flash fic? That was a prompt. “Write about the morning after she died.” That’s what happened in my head, though there was a bit of struggle to get there, and so I wrote it.

My brain and my muse are usually pretty free with the ideas. I’m lucky that way. But even though, at first, I wasn’t sure what to write, I couldn’t get the prompt out of my head.

Sometimes the smallest thing can spark a story. And sometimes all it takes is a prompt and an inability to stop thinking about it.

Flash Fic Friday

“Here.”

The voice startled me and I blearily blinked at the steaming mug in front of my face before lifting my gaze to see the man behind it.  My face was a stiff mask, I hadn’t been able to sleep at all, and I couldn’t even manage to muster a smile.  But Cal still looked at me like I was the most beautiful thing in the world.  Even if his deep brown eyes showed sadness.  And a bit of helplessness.  He didn’t know what to do with me right now.  He didn’t know how to help.  All that mattered to me was that he was here.  And apparently bringing me tea.  I took the mug and cradled it my hands.  The heat soothed my stiff fingers.  But I couldn’t make myself drink.  She’d taught me to love tea.

“Thanks,” I whispered.

I had curled up in the arm chair by the bay window right after I’d gotten the call last night.  I hadn’t moved.  Despite Cal’s coaxing, I couldn’t get up.  She’d given me this chair.  And now she was gone, in the blink of an eye, and I hadn’t seen it coming.  I’m sure she hadn’t either.  And even knowing that was the way she would have wanted it didn’t help to assuage the sadness suffusing my entire being.

Cal sat on the ottoman at my feet, tugging it just a bit closer until his knees bumped against mine.  His hands went to my thighs, just holding on, a reassuring touch in the miasma of despair. I never wanted him to let go.

“What can I do, Justin?”

I shook my head.  There was nothing he could do to make this better.  My vivacious, beautiful, accepting, rainbow-flag waving grandmother was gone.  There was absolutely nothing that could ease the ache.  She had been the first person I had told that I was gay, and the only person who accepted it without question.  She’d simply given me a hug, enveloping me in her familiar scent of chamomile and honeysuckle, and told me she loved me.  When my parents kicked me out, she’d taken me in and refused to speak to them until they changed their ways.  She’d always been my rock, my confidant, my safe harbor.  When I had met Cal, she was the one who told me he was my forever man.  She’d been right.  I didn’t know what I was going to do without her.  The sorrow threatened to overwhelm again, filling up my chest until I felt like I was choking on it.

“Get up,” Cal suddenly snapped, his voice a harsh imitation of his usual genial tone.

I blinked at him.  Then gasped in surprise as he grabbed the mug from my hand, the cooling liquid splashing over our fingers.  He slammed the cup down on the end table and stood up fast.  His face was hard, angry, and I just stared.

“Get up.  Right now,” he demanded.

“What?”  I couldn’t contain my shock.  I didn’t even try.  He’d always been so gentle with me, and now of all times, he was getting angry.  I couldn’t understand.

His hands wrapped around my biceps and tugged until I had no choice but to move or fall right out of the chair.  He was stronger than I was and he used that strength to haul me into his arms.  I couldn’t believe he was acting like this.  I struggled against him, but he held me fast, his arms wrapping tight around me.  One big hand came up to cup the back of my head, pushing my face down into the crook of his neck.  Being held immobile, the fight went out of me, and I sagged limply against him, letting him support my weight.

“It’s going to be all right,” he said, his voice still rough but a lot more tender.  “It hurts and it probably always will.  But she loved you more than anything else on this planet.  And that’s not going to go away just because she’s gone.  Every time you sit in that chair or drink a cup of tea or read Jane Austen, you’re going to think of her.  And you’ll be reminded of that love.  You’ll always have the lessons she taught you to carry you through.”

The dam broke.  The sob started in my chest, my entire body shaking as it worked its way out.  Tears flowed from my eyes, and I did nothing to stop them. letting them soak Cal’s shirt.  He held me, letting me cry, rocking us gently from side to side.

“That’s it, babe.  Let it out.  It’s good to cry.  You haven’t done that yet, and you need to.” Cal’s voice was soothing in my ear.

Eventually, the sobs quieted, the tears stopped, and I took a deep, shuddery breath.  Cal didn’t release his hold, but he eased back a bit so he could see my face.  His voice was firm but gentle when he said, “We’re going to get through this.”

I nodded, and took another breath.  I needed a tissue.

He gave me a soft smile.  “Think you can sleep now?”

I nodded again, and let him lead me to the bedroom.  He stripped off my clothes, then his own, before tucking me under the covers.  He disappeared for a moment, but came back to hand me a washcloth to wipe my face.  When I was done, he got into bed behind me, pulling me close, wrapping me up in his solid, warm body.  I let out another shaky breath, and closed my eyes.

I drifted to sleep knowing that Cal was right.  We would get through this, and my grandmother’s love would always be a part of me.

The Win

Any words are better than no words.  More words are better than fewer words.  Every author is obsessed with word count.  Whether it be the goal they have in mind, or a limit for a submission call, or a minimum to get it considered, the word count is always on an author’s mind.  It’s always on my mind.

But here’s the thing: sometimes, even 1,000 words can be a win.

As I sat staring at my WIP the other night, I started making tweaks. I couldn’t seem to move forward with the story, but I was reading back through the last two chapters I had written and I found places that needed a bit more explanation.  I found words that I didn’t like and deleted them to replace them with others. I changed the order of sentences and moved paragraphs around.  I futzed and finagled and refined.  I wasn’t making progress on the plotline, but I was crafting the story that I wanted to tell.

When all was said and done, the manuscript grew by about 1,000 words.  And as I sat back and looked at the word count, as I read through the chapters as they were now (still missing some typos, by the way) I had a profound sense of accomplishment.  And it occurred to me in that moment that the extra words weren’t the reason, but more that I had written things the way that I wanted them.

It’s not perfect yet.  Not that it’ll ever be perfect, of course.  But I know there are places where I want to edit and change and fix some more.  There is more tweaking to be done in those chapters.  And on the manuscript as a whole.  But those 1,000 words are a win, not because of the amount of words, but because of what they accomplished.

Because of what I accomplished.

And that is absolutely an amazing place to be.

The Magic of New

I’m blaming the new laptop.  Well, blaming has a negative connotation doesn’t it?  But really, it’s the new laptop’s fault…except it’s a good thing.

Okay, see, here’s the thing.  I loved my laptop.  Loved.  It was big and beautiful and it allowed me to write anywhere–and by that I mean, in bed, or on the couch, or at my desk.  At any rate, I loved it for a lot of years and it was wonderful.  Only lately, it’s been a bit…persnickety.  And the power cord was a little bit dangerous as in that it sometimes gave off sparks.  And the programs were old but I couldn’t see updating them when I knew I’d have to get a new one.  So I just kept plugging along, praying that I hadn’t junked it up too badly and it wouldn’t die.  Until Saturday night.

Saturday night, I finally purchased a new laptop.  And it’s gorgeous and touch screen and the keyboard is silent when I type.  I didn’t even realize some of the advancements made in the technology world–I will admit honestly that I don’t keep up on these sorts of things.  And there was a sale on exactly what I needed.  So I got a lovely new laptop and it took me hours to set it up the way I wanted it and playing with all the different applications and getting Word downloaded (which was a freaking bitch, let me tell you) and installed.  I finally got to bed at about 1:30 Sunday morning.  And was up five hours later, sitting at said laptop with a cup of coffee nearby, typing away.

In a matter of three hours, I pounded out just about 4k words on Beholden.  And then, yesterday night, I wrote a bit more.  So really, the new laptop is to blame–but in the best possible way.

I don’t have to worry that things are going to die on me.  I don’t have to worry about the program I’m working with being outdated.  I can just sit and type, writing all the thoughts in my head, watching them appear on the screen, with the word count constantly growing and right there for me to see. I don’t have to wait for web pages to load (because it’s got a faster processor) when I need to look something up to put in my work.  Touch here, click there, boom and done.  Information right there, with hardly a break in the though process.

It’s amazing what good technology can do for the creative process.