Flash Fic Friday

**Okay, this one…this one is a little different.  When challenge director said old man, candle, and the end of the year, this is what I saw immediately.  I hope you like it.**

I was not as agile as I used to be.  But I still had my wits about me, still held tradition close to my heart.  If I needed the cane to move around, I wasn’t too proud to use it.  If my hand shook as I placed the candle on the windowsill, it was at least sure enough that I didn’t drop it. If my fingers weren’t quite nimble enough to use the lighter, at least I could hold a match.

These days, I didn’t stay up late.  The mind was willing, but the body was feeling its years.  Maybe not quite as many as its actual age, but I was no longer a young man.  But on this day, I would remain awake.  Because there was something important I had to do.  And I had taken a nap earlier.

The house was quiet and still.  In a few more years, I probably wouldn’t be able to live on my own.  But that time hadn’t come yet, and for that, I was grateful. I needed to be here for this to mean something.  This house, this hour, this day.

“Grandpa?”

The tentative voice made me smile, and I turned just my head until I could see my grandson, my namesake, the boy who was my spitting image.  The boy looked so much like I had at his age it was uncanny.  We’d always been close, and it was the relationship I valued most in the world.

Michael stood in the doorway, holding the hand of his boyfriend and looking uncertain.  A cryptic message from his grandfather had probably gotten the boy all worked up.  No, not a boy.  He was twenty five and had been in a loving, committed relationship with Jacob for a couple of years now.

He’d been so nervous to tell me, certain that his macho, Marine veteran grandfather would turn his back on him once I found out he was gay.  He’d never expected my immediate acceptance. Though I had never told him why, tonight that would change.

“Come in, gentlemen,” I said softly.  My voice had mellowed in the last few years, and I spoke even more softly because of the occasion.  They both walked in and I motioned for them to sit on the sofa.  Michael looked a little scared, and Jacob sat closely by as if his presence could give Michael strength.  I was sure it did.

Once they were seated, I eased myself down into the recliner, making sure that I was still close enough to the window to light the candle once my story was finished.  It took me a minute to get situated, and Michael started to fidget.  Jacob’s firm hand on his knee helped to calm him.  I smiled.

“When I served in Korea, I fell in love,” I began.  “With another Marine in my platoon.  Carl was the most beautiful boy in the world, and we stole every secret moment we could to be together.”

Michael gasped, shock all over his face.  Then his expression morphed into a little bit of hurt.  “What?”

“Let him tell it, sweetheart,” Jacob murmured.

I nodded gratefully.  “We made plans, you see.  To get out, and be together once we were home.  When I mustered out first, Carl stole a kiss and told me to light a candle for him, that he would find me.”

I had to stop and take a breath, willing the tears not to fall.  “He didn’t make it home.  He died in combat.  On New Year’s Eve, 1952.  I would never see my beautiful boy again.  But I still light a candle for him, every year.”

The match shook in my hand as I tried to light it.  I struck it once, twice, but the little flint wouldn’t catch.  I bit back the curse, and tried again.  Suddenly, warm hands covered mine, and I looked up to see my grandson kneeling at my feet.  With a gentle smile, he took the book of matches from me, lit one, and gently held the flame to the candle until the wick caught.  The three of use remained quiet, and I kept my eyes fixed on that flame.

The memories were hard.  Carl’s smile made the sun pale in comparison, and his big, deep laugh could make even the most stoic of men crack.  He’d been a charmer, and I’d fallen for him within hours of meeting him.  I’d missed him every day of the last sixty-two years.  But on New Year’s Eve, when I lit his candle, I felt closest to him.  As if he was helping me let another year go and bring the next year in with his love surrounding me.

I lifted a hand and rested it on the top of Michael’s head.  He looked up at me with tears shining in his blue eyes.  He pressed my hand against his cheek, and I saw the love and understanding in his eyes.  He’d forgiven me for never telling him about myself.  And that was what I’d needed.

“I’m a sentimental old fool,” I said, my voice raspy with emotion.  “But I hope, when I’m gone, you’ll light Carl’s candle in my stead.”

Michael opened his mouth, then closed it.  He swallowed hard, squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, and then opened them to look me straight in the eye.

“We’ll light a candle for you both.”

Some Good Stuff

The short story/novella is finished.  Wait, let me rephrase.  The first draft is finished.  It needs work, of course.  They always do.  And I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like when all that work is done.  But for the inspiration, and the subject matter, alone, it has a special place in my heart.  Originally for a sub call, it’s at least 4k over the limit.  We’ll see how long it is once I’m done editing, fixing, and polishing.  But I’m letting them sit right now, and the real work will begin after Christmas.

There’s already new boys clamoring for attention in my head.  We’re starting to work on plot together.

There was an amusing incident last night when my challenger and I realized we were all off kilter with the flash fics.  But we got that sorted out, they are in the spreadsheet (which basically means they’re written in stone of course) and we’re working on them.  We’re far into January with them now.  Since we started this, it’s been wonderful to have fics written ahead of time, and I’m not scrambling the night before, trying to come up with something to write.  And I’m certainly having a hell of a fun time with the challenges that the Admiral gives me.  I’m still having a blast, and I love that.

And speaking of flash fics…

Pumpkin Rolls and Porn Sounds, my standalone novella, releases in February!  *Yay!*  I don’t have the exact day yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know when that happens.  There’s going to be a couple of fun promos going on there, and a good deal, if not all, of February’s flash fics will feature Joshua and Will.  That’ll be fun, right?  You’ll get to see more of them, maybe their continuing saga.  I really adore these boys, I do, and I’m really excited to bring them to you. Pretty soon, I’ll be sharing the adorable cover with you, done by the amazing AngstyG, and I know you’ll love it as much as I do.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and I’m not sure how much I’ll be around in the coming week.  Flash fics will go up, of course, but let me take a moment here to wish everyone a happy, healthy, wonderful holiday season!  Enjoy it!  And may your 2015 dawn bright, shiny, and new!

Flash Fic Friday

**Challenge director issued a Christmas challenge, with a star, a donkey, and marshmallows.   I hope you enjoy!**

“The donkey is out again.”

I stared at my boyfriend in disbelief, but when I realized he wasn’t joking, I threw the clipboard with more vehemence than was necessary.  “What.  The.  Fuck?  Why can’t that fucker stay where he’s fucking supposed to?”

Colin sucked in a fast breath, his gaze darting around the narthex where we were standing.  When his attention landed on me, his expression was stern.  Okay, so swearing in a church probably wasn’t the best idea I’d ever had, but that fucking donkey was going to be the end of me.

When Colin talked me in to helping him organize the living nativity, I agreed because I thought it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.  And also because of his eyes.  Colin could work the puppy dog eyes with the best of them.  I was a sucker for his big blue eyes any day of the week.  But when they turned wide and pleading, I couldn’t deny him anything.

Properly chastised, I headed outside so that I could corral the wayward donkey.  The cow stayed where she was put, happily munching on hay.  Even the two fluffy sheep were happy to hang out in the corral we’d built around the patch of grass that served as the church’s front lawn.  But that damn donkey was a wily little fucker, and he kept escaping.

I found him ten feet down the road, plodding along like he didn’t have a care in the world.  Considering he was a donkey, he probably didn’t.  I grabbed the trailing lead rope that was attached to his halter.  Thankfully, the donkey was just as happy to change directions and head back toward the church.

Once I had him safely in the pen—again—I tied the rope to the post on the crèche and hoped this time he would stay put.  Other volunteers milled around, putting the final touches on the scene. The sun would be going down soon, and with the lights strategically placed to illuminate the actors, anyone who chose to drive or walk by was in for a real treat.

I wasn’t a religious man, and I certainly didn’t attend church.  But I didn’t begrudge Colin the peace that he found in worshipping or being a part of the community.  He was my reason for everything, so he was the reason I was here organizing and corralling humans and animals alike.  Besides, Christmas was a week away, and even a curmudgeon like me could get into the holiday spirit.  Especially when I had a blue eyed angel asking me to.

I futzed around with the last of the décor, wanting it to look good so that my man’s efforts were noticed and recognized.  Colin was a flurry of activity, scrambling to get everyone and everything in their places.  It looked fantastic to me, and I actually grinned as the actors started to file into the area.  Shepherds, the Wise Men, Mary and Joseph, even a real baby to stand in for Jesus; everyone looked fantastic.

“Henry?”

The sound of my name in my boyfriend’s tenor voice never failed to instantly grab my attention.  I looked at him where he was standing at the side of the manger, and then dropped my gaze to what he had in his hand.  I quirked an eyebrow in question, and he gave me a beautiful smile.

“Care to do the honors?”

I nodded, touched that he was giving me this gift.  I glanced at the donkey one more time to make sure he was where he was supposed to be before I crossed the grass to where Colin stood.  I kissed his cheek, loving the soft sigh he gave at the affection, and then took the switch from his hand.  A few more seconds, and darkness fell in earnest.  With a grin, I pressed the switch, watching in awe as the huge star I’d rigged above the manger lit up. For just a second, it actually took my breath away.  It was some of my best work.  An electrician by trade, and a glassblower by hobby, I’d made the eight pointed star a couple of weeks ago.  After painstakingly sculpting the blue and white glass until it was perfectly proportioned, I then wired it so it would sparkle with the perfect amount of light.

There was a collective gasp from the gathered onlookers, and then a round of applause. I bowed and grinned cheekily, incredibly proud of myself.  As the actors took their places, Colin took my hand and led me twenty feet away to the side of the church where a table had been set up with hot beverages and donut holes.  I grinned as he fixed us both cups of hot cocoa, and then reached into the bag of mini-marshmallows and added two handfuls to my mug.  I took the cup with a grateful smile, and placed a kiss on his cheek.

“Thank you,” he said softly after a couple of minutes.  The entire area was quiet, except for the occasional animal noises.  Everyone was reverent in honor of the manager scene.  I appreciated the respect, and the silence in the crisp, cold night was rejuvenating.

“I know this isn’t your thing,” Colin continued, leaning heavily against my side.  I lifted an arm and pulled him in close, sharing my body heat.  “I appreciate all your help.  I couldn’t have done it without you.”

“You could have,” I disagreed.  “But any time you need me, all you have to do is ask and I’ll do whatever I can to help you.”

His grin was breathtaking, and just a little bit teary.  “I know.”

I returned the smile, took a drink from my mug, and then leaned down to place a quick, chaste kiss on his lips.  “Merry Christmas, baby.”

Colin’s grin, if possible, grew wider.  “Merry Christmas.”

The End is Nigh

I’ve been working on a novella over the last couple of weeks.  This one is inspired by a real life conversation and a sub call, and I’m enjoying the holy hell out of it.  It needs work, of course, but I’m almost done with that first draft.

Life has been getting in the way of completing it.  Lots of stuff going on.  Every time I think I’m going to get those last few thousand words on the page, something happens to interrupt me.  A snow storm and shoveling, or rescuing a cat from the cold and giving her a home (probably…still trying to find if she has owners), or just a really bad day when I’m not in the headspace to write the happily ever after.  And because it was originally for a sub call, it’s got a word limit.  There’s too much story left to tell to fit into that, but once I’ve got the story on the page, I’ll see if things need to be cut, or if instead it needs to be something bigger.  At any rate, it’s almost done, just a few scenes left to write, and my tentative goal is to finally finish it this week.

You know I’m a combination writer.  Loose plot accompanied by letting the story take over and go where it will.  When I started writing this one, I clearly knew the beginning and the end.  And a few small bits in the middle.  But as the story progressed, I clearly saw the whole thing, and I wrote my notes as such.  So I know with certainty what the meat is for the final four scenes.  I just need to get them on the page.

I’m anxious to get it done.  But I’m anxious about it being finished as well.  There’s going to be a great deal of work to polish and shape it, I know it, and the work is a bit intimidating.  But I love Ben and Zack, and I love their story.  So I will put in the work and see what the story looks like when I’m done.

Flash Fic Friday

**Challenge director said Christmas tree on a beach and burned burgers, so I brought back Luis and Shane for another week to tell the story.  Enjoy!**

When Luis and I met in the pet store a year ago, I thought we’d have nothing more than a hot fuck or two and then move on with our lives.  But despite our differing pet preferences, we’d somehow made it work.  It hadn’t always been easy, but we were still going strong.  I loved him, though I hadn’t told him yet, and I was pretty certain he loved me just as much.

I wanted to ask him to move in.  I wanted to be with him every day.  But I just didn’t know how.  And I couldn’t see how it would work long term.  My cat hated him, and Luis hated Angel right back.  There was no way they would ever learn to get along.  I couldn’t give either of them up, but I couldn’t imagine a peaceful cohabitation.

Nicodemus was easier to get along with.  I wouldn’t say I actually liked him, but I could tolerate him.  Nico was huge, full of an energy I just couldn’t understand, and was always attempting to knock me over.  But he was a big goofball, and vehement about protecting me from the rabbits in the backyard when I was the one that let him out at night.  At least if we were in the same house, I didn’t fear getting scratched to hell or hissed at constantly.  Luis didn’t have the same luxury.

For months, I’d been trying to come up with some sort of solution but I couldn’t see anything that wouldn’t end up with at least one of us miserable.  Besides, Luis had never once brought up the topic in conversation.  It made me think that he didn’t want to live with me.  Or perhaps he just couldn’t see a way for it to work either.

I pushed all that aside, though, because Luis had arrived on my doorstep.  With a final pat to Angel’s head, I met Luis on the porch.  He was just gorgeous all over, and even after all this time, he still took my breath away.  I sincerely hoped that never changed.  Luis gave me a sweet but heat laden kiss, and then held up a scarf.  I stared at it suspiciously, and when he motioned for me to turn around, I gave him a wary glance before complying.

He wrapped the scarf around my eyes.  The wool was scratchy, and I had to fight not to pull it off.  It was dense, and dark, and when he asked me if I could see, I shook my head no.

“What’s going on?” I asked, a little bit of fear and worry leaking into my tone.

He kissed me softly on the cheek, and then his breath gusted over my ear before he whispered, “Just trust me.  I have a surprise for you.”

His deep voice made me shiver, and I was nodding before I made the conscious decision to agree.  Luis took my hand and led me off the porch, helped me sit in the passenger side of his car, and then shut the door soundly.  Before he made it around to the driver’s side, I heard panting a second before a wet nose was pressed into my neck.  I pulled a face, and leaned out of reach.

“Hi, Nico,” I said quietly, giving the dog an awkward pat.  At least I managed to get a hand on fur.  Nico gave a little, happy bark, though it echoed loudly in the confines of the car.

Luis took my hand and placed it on his thigh once he was situated in his seat.  He made small talk as we drove, but with my vision cut off, I was finding it very hard to concentrate on the conversation.  I dug my fingers into Luis’s thigh, using the contact as a way of grounding myself.  I must have gripping too hard, because after a while, Luis reached down and loosened my hold, rubbing his fingers along mine.

“You’re all right,” he said.  His voice was low and reassuring, and I relaxed just a fraction.  “We’re almost there.”

I nodded fast.  I trusted him, or else I wouldn’t be doing this, but it was very disconcerting.  I blew out a relieved breath when Luis finally stopped the car.  I felt another kiss on my cheek, the Luis told me to wait while he came around and opened my door.

Once I was standing on my own two feet, I could tell the ground was different.  I shifted my shoes ever so slightly.  The feeling was familiar, but it took me a few seconds to realize I was standing on sand.  He’d brought me to the beach?  In the winter?  What the hell was my boyfriend up to?

Luis took my right hand and brought it down until my fingers came into contact with Nico’s warm fur.  With a little bit of coaxing, I gripped onto the dog’s collar.  Nico was tall enough that I barely had to lean.  Luis kept a hand on me until I was stable, and then I sensed him taking a step back.

“Just another minute, okay?”  His voice was still soft.  “Trust Nico.”

I nodded again.  The dog kept me safe from vicious rabbits, I figured he wouldn’t let me walk into the lake.  I heard Luis walking away, and I almost called out to him.  I bit my tongue just in time.  He’d asked me to trust.

The time seemed to stretch indefinitely, but finally, Luis called out in a strong sure voice.  “Nico!  Come!”

When the dog started walking forward, I had no choice but to follow. Nico seemed to sense that I was at a disadvantage, because he moved slowly and leaned against my leg as if he thought that would give me extra support.  We walked for perhaps twenty feet before Nico stopped, and I stumbled a little next to him.  I took a deep breath, and was assaulted by unusual scents.  Sure there was the smell of the lake, of the sand, of the cold crisp air.  But inexplicably I also smelled pine.  And…was that cooking beef?

The scarf was suddenly pulled from my face, the wool crackling with static electricity as it passed over my hair.  I blinked in the twilight, my eyes having to adjust after so long in the dark.  When I could focus, my jaw actually dropped.  There, planted right on the beach, was a fully decorated Christmas tree, complete with twinkling lights.  Next to it was a small patio table, two chairs, and a portable kettle grill where burgers were happily sizzling away.

“What the fuck?” was out of my mouth before I could check it.  Luis just laughed, used to my language by now.

“With Christmas only a couple of weeks away, and both of us busy with a thousand different family obligations, I thought we could have our own special little Christmas right here.”

“On the beach?” I asked in disbelief, then winced at how accusatory it sounded.  Luis, however, was unfazed by my tone.  He just gave me a little smile, and a half shrug.

“It’s romantic.”  Luis tried to tug me closer, but my brain was still stuck on the Christmas part of the equation.

“Your presents are still at home.  You could have told me and I would have brought them.  Shit, Luis, how can we have Christmas without—”

He cut me off with a hard, deep kiss.  The kind of kiss that usually led to him laying me flat and fucking me hard.  When he pulled back, my lips felt swollen and I was panting for breath.  He grinned down at me, his dark eyes sparkling.

“The only present I need from you is for you to say yes.”

“Yes to what?”  I was still breathing hard.  Maybe I missed something.

“Move in with me,” he said earnestly.  His face was serious as he gazed into my eyes.  Then a huge smile broke out on his face.  “I found this sweet little house that I know you’re going to love.  I want you to look at it with me.  There’s already a fenced in yard for Nico. And there’s an enclosed sunporch that your little devil is going to adore. And I won’t ever go out there, it’ll be his space, so he won’t feel the need to scratch the ever living hell out of me.  It’ll be perfect.”

“Yes,” I said.

“I swear, Shane.  We can make it work.  Angel and I won’t ever be best friends, but at least we’ll tolerate each other a little better and—”

This time I was the one to cut him off with a kiss.  He grinned down at me when brought it to a close.  “I already said yes.”

He gave a whoop of joy, a sound I hadn’t ever heard him make.  He kissed me again and again, murmuring thank you in between the meeting of our lips, and I couldn’t help but grin at his enthusiasm.  This would probably be a good time to tell him I loved him.

“Luis?”

He gazed at me with adoration.  “Yes?”

“Your burgers are burning.”

Flash Fic–Darkness

**You must be forewarned. This is not my typical flash fic.  This is something else entirely.  This is me wanting to stretch my writing muscles, trying for something completely other, and the challenge director helping me out.  This is so dark there is no light.  Be prepared**

He was gone. Never coming back under any circumstances kind of gone.  I’d given up hope of that a long time ago.  I was dead inside.  He’d been my world, my light, my reason for being on this planet.  I knew I pushed him away.  Poked and prodded at his wounds until he had no choice but to disappear to save himself.  And I literally felt my heart break, knowing I hurt him that badly.  Knowing that I’d done this to us.  I’d lost nearly everything when he walked out the door. And cocaine had taken the rest.

The coke made me feel better, filled in the hole in my soul.  Good drugs could do that.

I’d do anything for my next fix.  Which was why I was on my knees in a dark alley, watching as the stranger zipped up and trying not to vomit from the taste of unwashed cock and cum.  I wiped my mouth, my hands no longer shaking. He’d given me a bump, with the promise of dime bag. This was worth that.

The cold was seeping into my jeans, my knees were starting to hurt, and just as I opened my mouth to tell the fucker to give me what I was due, there was menacing laughter from the mouth of the alley.  I scrambled up, flight instincts kicking in despite the high, but I didn’t get far.  The big jackass grabbed my arms, pinning me to the brick wall.  The first punch was to my kidney, and I went down, my face scraping against he rough wall.  I didn’t bother to try to fight.  Other voices joined, other boots and fists, but the only noises I made were the involuntary ones of pain I couldn’t help.

A well placed kick and everything went blessedly dark.  I would finally meet my end.

***

The craving was strong, but I’d been in a coma during the worst of the withdrawals.  The DTs had passed, and I was just desperately seeking the relief my drug gave me. The morphine pumping through my veins did not even come close.

The concussion had healed.  The fractured leg, arm, and ribs would take longer.  Pretty soon they’d be kicking me loose.  They’d sent psychologists and social workers, trying to help.  They told me about therapy, about rehab, about how I could turn my life around.  I could kick the habit, and start living my life again.

I had a choice, I knew.  I could take their help, let them get me into a program.  I could work the system and get clean.  And that’s what they all wanted.  They assured me it didn’t have to be like this, that I could be a meaningful and productive member of society again.  If I was willing to put in the work.

I didn’t bother to tell them my life was not worth living without him.  They wouldn’t listen, and they’d give me nothing but platitudes.  The empty ones I had heard a dozen times before.  They didn’t matter.

He was gone.  And I was going to shove lines up my nose until I was gone too.

Flash Fic Friday

**This week, my challenger set forth a meeting in a pet store…of one man who hates cats, and one who hates dogs.  Enjoy!**

He was fucking adorable.  Blond hair, bright blue eyes, a lean, toned body, and an absentminded smile that stirred my blood.  I caught sight of him wandering down the cat litter aisle, and found myself trailing after him at a discrete distance.  I feigned interest in a display of food dishes when he stopped to look at something, and by the time I looked up again, he’d disappeared.  Cursing silently at my bad luck, I abandoned the display and reminded myself of my real purpose for being in the mega sized pet store.

Christmas was only three weeks away and my baby boy needed presents.

I’d adopted Nicodemus when he was just a puppy.  Barely bigger than a basketball and nearly as round, he was a playful mass of black fur and boundless energy.  I had no idea, at the time, that he was a Newfoundland, and that in a year’s time, he’d be fucking huge.  Since then, I’d become an expert on Newfies and Nicodemus reaped the benefits.  He was my boy, my most precious friend, and there was nothing I wouldn’t do for him.  Thus, my mission for the best presents a dog could possibly have.

I wandered back toward the other side of the store.  Red and green caught my eye, and as I walked closer, I saw that the massive display of gifts, toys, and treats for every pet imaginable.  Since I already had Nico’s favorite treats and a rawhide in my basket, I headed that way to see what was on offer.  My gaze was fixed on the rack of toys when I turned the corner and ran smack into another person.

“I’m sorry, excuse me,” was already out of my mouth before I realized who it was.  The hottie I’d spotted earlier blushed and shook his head even as his gaze blatantly took me in.  I grinned, making sure my dimples popped out.  I practically saw him shiver.

“It’s okay,” he said, his voice a little breathy.  He cleared his throat.  “You didn’t do it on purpose.”

“I would have if I’d known it was you,” I said honestly.  He was hot, and I was nothing if not forward.  He looked surprised, but I just kept smiling.  “I saw you earlier.  You’re sexy as hell.”

I held my breath.  Either I was going to get punched in the face, or he would be receptive to my advances.  I was certainly hoping for the latter, but I was ready for the former.  But the man in front of me just blushed deeper, and a pleased sort of smile cross his lips.

His voice was husky when he said, “I’m Shane.”

There we go.  I took a step into his space.  “Nice to meet you, Shane.  I’m Luis.  And I’m very glad you came here to shop.”

Shane leaned in, swaying toward me.  “Had to get presents for my boy,” he responded absently.

“Your boy?” I asked, just to keep him talking.  He had a great voice, low and sexy.  I could listen to it for hours.

“Mmm, yeah.”  One hand disappeared, and then a moment later he was tilting his phone toward me.  “This is my Angel.”

I looked at the screen and nearly recoiled.  The ball of grey fur had a smushed in face, bulging, eerie amber colored eyes, and practically no ears.  It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen and I just couldn’t understand how Shane was staring at that picture with such loving adoration on his face.  It was just my luck he was a cat person.  I hated cats.

Suddenly, Shane glanced up. He must have caught the expression on my face because he took a step back.  A scowl marred his pretty face.

“Let me guess,” he said, just a hint of disdain in his voice.  He looked me up and down, like he was sizing me up.  “You’re a dog person?”

He said the word like it was filthy and tasted bad.  It got my back up. Not to be outdone, I whipped out my phone, unlocked the screen, and clicked hastily to my favorite picture of Nico.  Tall, big, and proud, Nico stood before my fireplace looking like the perfect Newfie specimen.  Sean looked for only a couple of seconds.

“At least he’s a good looking dog,” Shane sniffed.  Then he looked me in the eye.  “It’s a shame though.  You’re hot, Luis.  And you’ve got a fucking gorgeous smile.  I would have loved to get to know you better. But you like dogs, and I don’t.  I’m a cat person, and you clearly aren’t.  It would never work.”

Even though I’d been thinking something similar, to hear Shane say it was like a slap in the face.  I was stunned for a moment, and Shane took the opportunity to walk to the other side of the display.  I shook my head and scrambled after him.

“You know,” I said low and conspiratorially as I caught up to him.  I stood right behind him, and bent down a little to speak right in his ear.  “We do have something very important in common.”

He shivered deliciously, and it made me grin.  He had to clear his throat before he asked, “What’s that?”

“We’re both very dedicated animal lovers.  That right there means we have common ground.”

Shane seemed to think that over.  Then he slowly turned his head so that his lips were almost touching my cheek.  “You may have a point there, Luis.  How about you finish your shopping, and I’ll finish mine.  And then, when we’re done, we meet next door for coffee?”

I grinned and agreed.  Sounded perfect to me.  I might hate cats, and Shane might hate dogs, but neither animal would be in the bedroom with us.  I figured that we could find a way to work around it.