Flash Fic Friday

**This week, we’re calling it Songfic challenge.  Mine is Bruce Springsteen’s No Surrender. If you don’t know the song, you can read the lyrics here.  But despite what the song is really about, here’s what I saw in my head when I listened to it again.  Enjoy!**

The news was bad.

No, that’s wasn’t right, Evan silently amended. It wasn’t all bad.  It just wasn’t good either.  The cancer hadn’t spread, hadn’t metastasized, but it hadn’t gone away either.  He’d been hopeful that this round of chemo would be what knocked it out.  But after numerous rounds of tests, the truth was blatantly clear.  He was still plagued with this sickness.

The doctor had delivered the news as gently as she could, laid out the options, and then left Evan and his husband alone to talk.  Not that either Evan or Cooper had said a word since she left ten minutes ago.  Evan couldn’t even look at his husband.  Married only for six months before Evan started feeling poorly, they had received the diagnosis two months later.  Six weeks of chemo later, and Evan had wanted to hear that he was in remission.

Instead, he was faced with a choice.  He could do nothing and let the disease take its course.  Or he could go through a round of much more aggressive chemo.  To the casual observer, it didn’t seem like much of a choice.  But Evan had spent six weeks so violently ill that he didn’t know if he had the strength to go through it again, especially because it promised to be even worse.

He didn’t know if he could to that to Cooper.  Cooper had been so loving and supportive, but how could Evan put him through another round of this?  Where Cooper had to take care of him, clean him up when he couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time, or when he vomited all over the sheets.  Watching Cooper worry and fret when Evan couldn’t eat and could barely sleep.  How was it fair to Cooper to be saddled with that, all for the just a chance that Evan might go into remission?

“Ev,” Cooper’s deep voice rumbled, shocking him.  Evan looked up to see Cooper’s dark gaze fixed intently on him.  “We made a promise.  Remember?”

Cooper always knew what Evan was thinking.  Even now, it almost brought a smile to Evan’s face.  He wasn’t sure how Cooper could look at him with so much love in his eyes after all of this, but it made his heart swell.  After everything, and Cooper still loved the hell out of him.  Evan might have been willing to give up the fight for himself.  But not for the man he loved.  Evan nodded, his eyes filling with tears.

Cooper reached out and took his hand firmly between his own.  “Tell me the promise.”

Evan had to swallow hard before he could answer. His voice was a little shaky, but he said the words and meant them.  “No surrender.”

“I’ll go get the doctor, and we’ll get this scheduled.”

It wasn’t a question.  It didn’t need to be.  Evan nodded anyway before he let go of Cooper’s hand.  He took a deep breath.  They would fight this.

 

***

 

“What’re you doing?”

Evan heard Cooper’s soft voice a moment before his husband’s strong arms came around him from behind.  He leaned back into the embrace, never taking his eyes from the window.  He stared at the wide open country space and just smiled.

“Being thankful,” Evan answered. “We fought the battle.  We won.”

Cooper’s lips were soft as they trailed along the edge of Evan’s jaw.  He was still weak, he still had a lot of healing to do.  But the aggressive therapy had eradicated the cancerous cells, and he was officially in remission.  They’d be watching him closely for years.  But Evan knew it was only a matter of time before he was hale and healthy again.

“Of course we did.  There was never any doubt.”  Cooper’s voice was firm, and Evan loved the conviction in his tone.  A moment later, Cooper tugged him backwards toward the bed.  He settled Evan beneath the covers, then turned out the overhead light.  Evan loved the moment when he was wrapped up in his husband’s arms and could sleep peacefully in their bed.  For months he’d been afraid that it would end.  He didn’t have that fear anymore.

Evan started to drift off, warm and happy and safe.  Then he felt Cooper’s lips at his ear, and a gust of breath washed over his cheek.

“No retreat, baby, and no surrender.”

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Back In The Saddle.

So it turns out that I couldn’t take the whole month off from writing. I lasted about a week. And then suddenly, the words were bursting to get out again. Seems like once I took the pressure off myself, told myself that I didn’t HAVE to, something unblocked within me and the words started flowing again. Who knew?

Well a few people actually. Seems they thought that once I stopped being so hard on myself, things would get better.

So I’m working on a novella and a short story. One has a deadline for a sub call, one doesn’t. They both have elements inspired by my real life. And it all seems to be working. Between the two, I’ve written more that 14k and it feels really good.

And of course the flash fics. 🙂

Tune in next week for my addition to the Flash Fic Holiday Blog Hop and follow the link to all the others!

Flash Fic Friday

**In honor of Thanksgiving next week, this week’s challenge includes the holiday…and tofu and a reunion.**

The house was full to bursting with relatives.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, nieces, nephews; everyone had gathered for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  It was a controlled chaos of noise and joy.  Jesse both loved and hated it.  He adored his family, they were really a great group of people, but he wasn’t used to so much noise and it was wearing on him.  He tucked himself in the back corner of the living room where the bookcases muffled a little of the noise, and just observed.

“Jess, honey,” his mother’s voice rang out above the din.  “Can you come help me for a minute?”

“Sure,” he called back even as he started to move in the direction of the kitchen.  As soon as he pushed through the swinging door, the worst of the noise cut off and he breathed a sigh of relief.

His mom gave him a knowing smile.  “I figured you could use a break.”

Jesse grinned back.  “What can I help with?”  He figured that if she was nice enough to give him refuge in the kitchen, the least he could do was help her out.  Mom usually preferred to do everything herself.  It was a source of pride for her.  He expected her to turn him down, but her smile just grew.

“You can be my fetch and carry boy.  Then I don’t have to get up as much.”  She resumed chopping vegetables.  After a moment, she asked, “Can you grab the tofu out of the fridge?”

Jesse started, surprised.  Then he shook his head as he crossed to the fridge.  “Tofu?  What the hell?”  He retrieved the container from the fridge and brought to her.

His mom just laughed.  “Well he’s a vegetarian, so I wanted to make him something more filling that I was certain he could eat.  I’ll do a tofu stir fry.”

Jesse’s eyes narrowed.  “Who is?”

She just kept chopping and pointedly ignoring him.  Jesse let the silence stretch out for a couple of minutes before he leaned on the table.  “Who, Mom?”

Just then, the doorbell rang.  Several young voices chorused out that they would get it, but Jesse’s mom cut that off with a shout.  “Jesse will get the door!”

Jesse’s glared at his mother suspiciously.  “What did you do?”

“Answer the door, Jess,” she said placidly.

He took one more moment to glare, then did as she asked.  He made it to the front door just as the bell rang again.  Pulling it open, Jesse froze.  On his porch was the man that Jesse was sure he would never see again.  Not after he’d walked out of Jesse’s life ten years ago.

Andrew looked good.  It was clear the years had been kind to him. His dark hair was still as short as it used to be, but his blue eyes were clear and bright, even if his features were a little more creased than they had once been.  He smiled warmly, and all Jesse could do was stare.

“Hi,” Andrew said, his deep voice exactly how Jesse remembered.

“What are you doing here?”

Andrew gave a small laugh.  “Your mom invited me.”

Jesse frowned.  “I meant–”

“I moved back,” Andrew interrupted.  The smile he offered was a little sad.  “I saw your mom at the grocery store last week and she invited me for dinner since I had no other plans.  But if you don’t want me here, I’ll leave.”

Jesse stepped out onto the porch and shut the door softly behind him.  He didn’t know what he wanted.  He let his gaze wander the neighborhood as he hugged his sweater a little closer against the chill.

“I take it she didn’t tell you I was coming,” Andrew said softly.

Jesse shook his head, then blew out a harsh breath. He still couldn’t make himself look at Andrew.  “I never blamed you for leaving.  Or even for making a clean break.  I was proud of you.  I just never thought I’d see you again.”  Jesse went quiet and let that sit there for a moment, before he chanced a sideways glance at Andrew.  “You’re a vegetarian now?”

“I left to get clean. I’ve been sober for 9 years and 3 months.  Along the way, I adopted some healthier lifestyle choices as well.”  Andrew gave a little shrug, and a self deprecating smile.  “I left because I loved you and I couldn’t keep hurting you with my drinking.  You were the reason I saw that I needed to change, to get better.  It’s taken me a long time to get to this point in my life.  I came because I’m clean and healthy, and I wanted to make amends.”

Jesse considered that for a long moment.  Then he turned to give Andrew his entire attention.  He looked good, he sounded sincere, and Jesse knew he was seeing the man he fell in love with all those years ago, instead of the man he’d been at the end of their relationship.  Jesse took a deep breath, and then one step towards the door.  He tilted his head, and then smiled.

“Come on in.”

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s challenge was a little bit more difficult, and I groaned when the challenge director said cheating and Kim Kardashian. Hope I did all right!  Enjoy!**

 

As soon as Connor’s attention was diverted for just a split second–the dog was terribly amusing after all–Luke discarded from his hand. He took a deep breath, and then as calmly as possible, said, “Uno.”

Connor’s gaze snapped back to Luke, his stare assessing and sharp. After a long second of tense silence where Luke tried not to squirm, Connor shook his head. “Not possible.”

Luke held up the one card he had left in his hand as proof. Connor wasn’t buying it though, and he reached toward the discard pile. Luke swallowed hard.

“You want a blow job?” Luke asked quickly. Not that it was a hardship, but Luke would do anything to distract Connor right now so that he didn’t–

“Cheater,” Connor accused with a growl. He spread the top few cards out. Clearly they were not in the right order, the colors and numbers not matching at all. Caught, Luke blushed and reached out to take them back. But Connor closed his hand over the top of the pile and shook his head again. “Nope. Cheating equals losing.”

“No! Come on, Connor,” Luke whined in protest. But his man would not be disuaded. And really, Luke should have known better. He shouldn’t have actually made the bet in the first place. But the challenge in Connor’s bright green eyes had been too much to resist, he had agreed, and then, when it looked like he was about to lose, he’d tried to cheat his way out of it. He had to accept his fate.

Connor must have seen the resignation on Luke’s face, because he smiled. “You going to be a good boy and hold up your end of the bargain?”

Luke nodded, a little whine escaping. He didn’t want to. He really didn’t. But he wouldn’t welsh on the bet.

Connor’s smile widened. “Good. Go on then. We leave in an hour.”

Luke thought about offering sex in order to get himself out of it, but he knew he’d get that anyway, and it wouldn’t stop Connor from insisting on the bet being paid. He pushed back from the table and shuffled to the back bedroom.

***

Thirty minutes later, Luke straightened his long, dark wig, took one last look at his makeup, and emerged from the room. He wobbled a little on the four inch, silver platform heels. He kept one hand on the wall as he sauntered down the hallway, trying to get that hip rolling walk that made walking in heels so much easier. Connor was waiting for him in the living room. The man gave him an appraising look.

“Your ass is crooked,” Connor said, a smile in his voice.

“Yeah, well,” Luke huffed. “That padding is difficult. Come fix it.”

Connor did, then walked around Luke giving him another once over. His smile was huge. “You make a better Kim Kardashian then the real deal.”

Luke blushed. He was never going to live this down. It wasn’t even Halloween. Stupid bet. Next time, Luke would be smart enough not to bet against Connor, not when the price was something like this. But he held his head high, and grabbed on to Connor’s arm. Because the truth was that yes, he made a hell of a good Kim Kardashian.

Lost that Lovin’ Feeling

I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately.  A lot of “have to” instead of “want to.”  The stories that I’ve tried to tell have not been working well.  I’ve been unhappy with the words I’ve been putting on the page.  What I want to say is not coming through clearly. My characters aren’t cooperating.  I’ve begun and abandoned about three different things.  It’s a terrible rough patch.  And I’ve decided to take a wee break.

Because I’m not feeling the love of the story, or my boys, and it  makes the writing tedious and trite and forced.

It’s hard to take a step away.  Writing is one of those things that drives me, that makes me whole.  The voices in my head need somewhere to go.  But I’m not feeling it, and so I’m unhappy with my words.  I tried to keep writing anyway, but that wasn’t working.  So the only other option is to walk away.

But just for a bit.  Now that the pressure is off, I feel a weight has been lifted.  So I’m going to ride this for a little while, and let my brain rest, and take the time to improve on the technical bits about writing.  And I’m confident that when my little hiatus is over, I’ll be able to jump back into writing with the passion I’ve had in the past.

Flash Fic’s are still going to happen.  You’ll still see them here every Friday.  And of course, the lovely and exciting Flash Fic Holiday Blog hop  story will go up as well.  I’m so excited about that I can barely contain myself.  And my novella, Pumpkin Rolls and Porn Sounds will release in a couple of months.  And that is thrilling beyond belief and I hope that y’all love Will and Joshua as much as I do.

But in the meantime, a step back, so I can get that lovin’ feeling back again.

Flash Fic Friday

**That’s right.  Yet another challenge, this time gold rings and elephants.  Enjoy!**

Elliott loved the zoo. He did. Especially this one, because they made a point of keeping up on animal enrichment and it was plain to see that the animals were well cared for and happy. But Elliott was actually quite a frequent visitor at the zoo, what with his boyfriend, Nate, being one of the elephant keepers and all. So he wasn’t exactly opposed to going to the zoo with his entire family in tow, but he would have thought that since they were visiting, they would want to do something a little more exciting.

Elliott’s father, however, insisted on making the trip and exploring every little thing. And what the patriarch wanted, the patriarch got.

Elliott trailed along behind his family, laughing at his nieces and nephews as they oohed and aahed over the animals. His brother and sister, and their spouses, were nearly as bad. Elliott watched as his mother raced around with the children, ramping up their excitement, and found himself smiling almost as indulgently as his father.

Eventually, they worked their way around the perimeter of the zoo and found themselves at the elephant observation area about ten minutes before the scheduled show. Elliott had to wonder if that wasn’t a coincidence. But he was at home here, nearly as much as Nate was, and he knew all the elephants by name. His favorite was the matriarch of the small herd, a forty-seven year old Asian elephant named Indira. He knew elephants were intelligent, but Elliott thought Indira was especially so. She always recognized him when he came to visit, and spent a good deal of time snuffling her trunk in his hair before she was satisfied.

He worked his way close to the low rail that separated the elephants from the general population. A few minutes later, Indira paraded out of the stables, Nate at her side. The elephant had been doing this for a lot of years and she knew the routine. She walked close to the rails so that the gathered guests could touch her rough, wrinkly skin. Indira basked in it, raised her trunk, and let out a bugle. There were general sounds of delight from the crowd. When she reached where Elliott was standing with his family, he stood quietly while she inspected him.

“All right, girl,” Nate said softly. “Leave El alone. We’ve got a show to do.” He touched her side lightly with the hook, but that was all she needed to move along.

Elliott had seen the demonstration too many times to count. He tuned out the words, letting Nate’s voice wash over him as he kept his gaze focused on the few tricks Indira did to demonstrate the facts that Nate related. When Indira picked up the small log and tossed it, the crowd cheered. Elliott couldn’t help the grin.

“Elephants actually have very fine motor control in their trunks. They can pick up things much smaller than a log.” The deviation from the normal script caught Elliott’s attention. He focused and watched in surprise as Nate pulled something from his pocket, and Indira grabbed it with the end of her trunk, using the prehensile tip to hang on. She plodded back in his direction. Elliott’s heart leapt into his throat.

When Nate instructed Indira, she reached out with her trunk. Elliott raised his hand automatically and took the small box from her. He stared at it, not really believing what he was seeing. It was clearly a jeweler’s box. What the hell was Nate up to?

“Open the box, Elliott,” Nate’s voice was soft though it carried to the whole area thanks to the microphone he had strapped to his cheek. Elliott swallowed hard, and his hands were shaking just a little bit as he did as he was told. The hinged lid snapped open to reveal two gold rings, one ever so slightly smaller than the other. They were beautiful brushed gold, thick and heavy-looking. There was no doubt Elliott would feel the pleasant weight of it on his finger.

Everything suddenly became clear; the reason Elliott’s entire family had shown up this weekend, and why his father insisted on going to the zoo. Nate had been planning this and keeping Elliott in the dark while telling everyone else. He must be awfully sure that Elliott would say yes. Well, Elliott was going to the moment he heard an actual question.

Nate went to one knee right there in the soft dirt of the pen. Only his head was visible over the railing, but that didn’t stop Nate from reaching out. Elliott took his hand with the one not holding the jewelery box. Elliott spluttered out a laugh when Indira went down on her front knees too, her trunk reaching out and snuffling over their joined hands.

“Elliott,” Nate said in a clear voice, his gaze never wavering from Elliott’s, his eyes brimming with affection. “I love you more than life itself, more than the air I breathe. More than the elephants.” He paused and gave Elliott a wink, then drew a deep breath and asked, “Will you marry me?”

For the briefest of seconds, Elliott thought about drawing it out and making Nate sweat in retaliation for doing this in such a public way. But he loved this man that was down on his knees, and he honestly couldn’t think of a more perfect way for his elephant keeper boyfriend to propose.

“Yes,” Elliott said, but his voice came out as barely a whisper. He cleared his throat, and tried again. “Yes. Yes. Absolutely.”

The crowd cheered, and that warmed Elliott’s heart more than he could say. Indira gave a loud bugle, and distantly Elliott could hear a response from the other elephants in the stable. Nate surged to his feet, grabbing Elliott tightly in a hug, and then kissing him. Elliott pulled back when he realized the sound of their kiss was carrying through the microphone.

Nate’s grin was so huge it looked like it hurt. Elliott was sure he had a matching one stretching his mouth. Nate squeezed his hand, then stepped back.

“Let me get Indira and the other’s turned out, and then I’m yours for the rest of the afternoon.”

Elliott’s shook his head, his smile turning indulgent. “You’re mine for the rest of your life.”