Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is a barn dance. Enjoy!**

“Are you kidding me right now?”

David just smirked and turned off the car. I knew something was up when he’d driven me out outside town, and was more suspicious when he pulled onto the old Haverly Property. The place had been abandoned for years, but it had recently been purchased and turned into an event center. I couldn’t imagine what we were doing there. But the mass amount of cars, the strings of lights, and the wide open barn doors made me nervous.

Even from where we were at the far end of the gravel parking lot, I could hear the music. Banjos, fiddles…and was that a steel guitar? For a moment, I debated refusing to get out of the car. But David took the decision out of my hands when he came around, opened my door, and leaned down with  a sexy grin.

“Come on, Brian. It’ll be fun.”

I scowled at him, but allowed him to take my hand and pull me up. I didn’t exactly drag my feet as we walked closer, but I sure wasn’t hurrying. When I heard the announcer calling out dance steps, I stopped dead and turned to him.

He just wiggled his eyebrows and tugged me along.

I had to admit the place looked nice. Classic country chic that skirted the line of too kitschy without going over. Dozens of people were laughing and dancing, the floor packed with couples. A lot of them were het, but there were a good handful of same sex couples as well. I hadn’t been nervous–David would never put us in a dangerous situation–but it was still nice to see. If the music wasn’t so loud, if the chambray shirted man on stage wasn’t twanging out directions, I might have actually enjoyed it.

“Relax, Bri.” David spoke right in my ear, his voice low. He knew that got to me, made me shiver, and he was doing it on purpose. My resolve melted a little when I turned and looked into his dark eyes. He had this way of looking at me that never failed to effect me. Affection and love, twined with a little bit of amusement. All he had to do was look at me, and I was his, all over again.

And bringing me to a barn dance? That was completely David. He was always looking for weird, different, or interesting things for us to do. He was adamant we didn’t get stuck in a rut. We’d been together since we were sixteen, and he was the only man I ever loved. I was the only one for him too. It hadn’t been easy, and we’d had some epic arguments. The worst resulted in us staying apart for a whole week. In the end, we always worked it out.

Twenty years together, and he was determined our relationship wouldn’t go stale. Hence a surprise barn dance.

When the song ended, and the announcer called out another, David took my hand. I made a show of dragging my feet and rolling my eyes, but I took my place in line opposite him. He blew me a kiss, and mouthed “thank you.”

I just smiled, and as the new song began, tried to follow the steps. Seeing that look on his face was worth it.

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What’s Going On

Okay, so a little update for all those who are interested.

–As I announced late last week, Lost Souls Found has been contracted and will be out next spring. I’m so excited about this story! I love series (as I’ve talked about before) and I’m thrilled with this book.

Somebody to Die For is in with the publisher. It’s the third in the Requiem Inc series. Waiting is hard!

–I’ve broken ground on a new story, which does not yet have a title (because titling is hard too!). This one has some heavier themes, but not too much, because this is me. The basic story has been percolating in my head for months now, and I finally had the missing piece to make it settle into place.

–And of course, upcoming releases!

*Hearts and Hazelnuts is out on November 29, 2017. I’ll be sharing cover and teasers very soon!

*A Timely Gift is part of the Advent Calendar. Individual release is December 1st, but if you’ve ordered the set, it’ll be a surprise one day in your inbox. (I adore this story more than I have words.)

*Ghost of a Chance is out in January. Dreamspun Beyond line. If you’ve got a subscription, it’ll arrive on release day. Otherwise, look for it on it’s own then. The cover is being designed now, and I can’t wait to see it. The love I have for this story is sort of ridiculous, but Blake and Derek were a long time coming, so I’m super excited. Plus, paperback!

Flash Fic Friday

**Today’s prompt: a hot air balloon ride. Enjoy!**

Balloonfest. My favorite weekend of the year. For three days–well the afternoons and well into the evening–I wandered around, eating delicious food, talking with vendors and operators, and taking at least one ride in a balloon. Two if I could manage it, but reservations were tight. It had been my passion since I was a child, and I still loved it. Someday, I’d save enough for my own balloon. Until then, I would take what I could get.

If I was very lucky, I’d get to go up with an operator I knew, and they’d let me have a turn at flying the thing.

This was the fourth year Liam had come with me. The first time had been our first date, and he’d been terrified of going up. He didn’t like heights. But he’d done it anyway, though he’d been relieved when we finally touched back down. Later, when I asked him why he’d done it when he’d obviously been so scared, he gave me a small, sweet smile.

“Your passion. Man, I’ve never seen anything like that. I wanting to be with you in the air was bigger than wanting to keep my feet on the ground.”

I fell in love with him right then and there. We’d been together ever since.

And he came with me every year, trailing behind me as I chatted and oohed and aahed. He was a quiet sort, my boyfriend. But he was always there for me, lending his support to my passion. I tried to do the same in return, but I wasn’t quite sure I managed it at the same level. He loved me just as hard as I loved him, though, so I figured it worked.

It was the last night, and Liam had surprised me with a reservation for a second balloon ride. I’d already been on one the morning before, but I was excited to go up again. Even more so that Liam was coming with me. I didn’t know who we’d be riding with, but Liam dragged me on with a singular determination As we got closer, I saw Linda and Joe, and my face broke out into a grin. The older couple had been flying at the fest for almost as long as I’d been going, and they were a happy, chatty sort of people that didn’t mind when I peppered them with questions. They were local too, and Linda had taught me everything I knew about flying. She was a master.

I loved their balloon too. It was beautiful. Rainbow colors arced in diamonds across the surface. I dreamed about this balloon.

I walked quicker, and made it to Linda’s side before Liam could catch up. He grinned and stood quietly to the side as I jumped in to help. Within a few minutes, we were in the air.

“You love this balloon, huh?” Liam’s voice was soft, but I was so focused on watching the world fall away from us, the sound made me jump.

I grinned. “Yeah.”

“It’s yours.”

I scoffed, and gave him a wry smile. “I wish.”

“It is.”

Linda’s voice startled me again, and I whirled around to face her. The basket shook a little, but held steady. She was smiling, and Joe stood at her side. He nodded.

I blinked. “What now?”

“Seth, you love this balloon as much as we do,” Linda began as she  laid a hand on my arm. “And we’ve decided to retire. We’re taking a cross country trip in the RV. So when we decided to sell, we thought of you first. Liam took us up on it.”

I whipped my head around, and Liam shrugged. “I ran into them on Friday, while you were chatting with Maurice. They asked if I thought you’d want to buy the balloon, take their place, and I made the decision to surprise you.” Liam glanced down, and bit his lip for a second before looking back up at me. “You’re not mad are you?”

“Mad?” I couldn’t breathe. “Are you serious?”

I vaguely registered the confused and concerned looks on their faces, but I had to sit down before I passed out. This was everything I’d ever wanted, and my tiny brain couldn’t process the hugeness of it.

Liam carefully knelt down beside me. “Seth?”

“For real?” I managed to get out. I pressed my hand against my heart. “It’s mine? You…you did this and it’s mine?”

“If you want it.” He still sounded nervous.

I reached out and pulled him toward me, hugging him hard.

“Yes.” I murmured as I kissed him. “Yes yes yes.”

Liam laughed, and held me tight. Joe chuckled, and the sound made me look over. Both he and Linda were looking on with indulgent smiles on their faces.

“Stand up, son. You’re missing the view.” Joe’s gruff voice got lost in the whoosh of the burner.

I did, slowly, but it was hard to take in the gorgeous sight of the night. Tears blurred my vision.

Liam took a step closer, and then murmured in my ear. “Just think, now you can do this whenever you want.”

I took his hand, squeezing it tight, and let the tears fall.

News!

I’m so very excited to announce that Lost Souls Found has been contracted! *confetti*

It’s the second book in the Requiem Inc series, which is part of the Dreamspun Beyond line.

So here’s a little background:

When I first conceived of the idea for the series, I knew there was a pair of brothers who both had the ghostwalker gene. Way back when, several years ago, Sam had a different name, but Michael was still Michael. And Sam pined for Michael in the very best way. So when I wrote Ghost of a Chance, I wrote in Sam having feelings for Michael not even knowing if I’d have a chance to write their story. But for me, it was integral to the characters. I put the feelings in, and hints as to Michael’s feelings as well, because I felt it needed to be there.

And then I took a chance and pitched it. Dreamspinner was on board with seeing it, so I wrote their story. And it was a challenge but in the best possible way. There was a lot I needed to accomplish with these guys, because of their connection and the length of time Sam had been crushing on Michael.

I think I succeeded in making it work. 🙂

I love these guys, and I love their story. They aren’t perfect by any means, and they both have some learning to do. But when they get to the end, they are solid in their love for one another, and in their life and future.

The book is slated for release in late spring, sometime in April or May of 2018. So those of you who read Ghost of a Chance, won’t have too long a wait to find out what happens to Sam and Michael!

I’m thrilled and excited. And I can’t wait for you to read this story.

Flash Fic Friday

***This week’s prompt: a promotion that would mean moving. Enjoy!**

The house was dark when I got home, but Cooper’s car was in the driveway so I knew he was there. After stripping off my coat and kicking off my shoes, I padded down the hallway in search of my husband.

“Babe?” I called out, not finding him in the kitchen or the living room.

“In here,” came the muffled response, and I followed it to the den. It was a cozy room, lined with bookshelves and sporting leather furniture. I loved it in there. It was one of my favorite places in the house.

I stopped short when I stepped through the door. Cooper sat on the sofa, head in his hand, and tumbler of whiskey rocks on the table in front of him. He wasn’t prone to drinking, and especially not the hard stuff unless there was something to celebrate. Or something to mourn.

I was at his side in four long stride. “Oh my god. What happened?”

I sank down onto the cushion beside him, and he sigh heavily as he listed sideways and leaned into me. I took his weight easily, immediately carding my fingers through his hair in that way I knew he loved.

“I have good bad news.” Cooper sighed again, and I caught a hint of smoky alcohol. That glass had not been his first. “Or bad good news. Depending on how you look at it.”

My heart calmed a little, because he didn’t sound too upset. Resigned and sad, sure. But I could comfortably rule out death or destruction by his tone.

“Okay. Tell me.”

“I got offered a promotion. Senior VP of sales. Said my hard work and dedication have paid off.”

“Coop! That’s great!”

He shook his head and pushed against my chest to sit up again, then reached for the glass. He took a long swallow, then grimaced and smacked his lips.

“Of the Atlanta branch.”

“Oh. I… oh.”

“Yeah.”

Moving. That’s what his promotion meant. And not just too a different part of the state or even close by. Down the coast by about a thousand miles. It meant a whole new life for us if he took it. More money and more responsibility, sure. But also an entire change. New city, new people, new house. It meant leaving our friends and family behind. Leaving this house that I loved unreasonably, and that I’d spent the past five years making perfect for us. It meant leaving a job that I adored.

It meant drastic and irrevocable change.

“Do you want it?” I whispered.

Cooper squinted at me. “James–”

I cut him off with a head shake. “Everything else aside, do you want it?”

He released a gust of breath and slumped. “Yeah. It’s a great opportunity, and I’d be great at it. It’s a step up, and I’ve been wanting to do that for a while. But Atlanta…” He sighed again and stretched out so he could press his knee against me. He reached out a hand, and I took it quickly. “Asking you to change absolutely everything just to follow me seems unfair.”

“We need to talk about it. Do the whole pros and cons thing and look at all the technical stuff. See if it’s really the right move for us but don’t you know? I’d follow you anywhere.”

He melted, and smiled. “I do know that.”

“So maybe this time I’m following you. And next time, it’ll be the other way around.”

Cooper sat up and wrapped his arms around me. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

What’s Going On

So I haven’t done one of these in a while, and I figure it’s time to throw the update out there so anyone who cares to know can see where I’m at, writing wise:

Somebody to Die For, the third in the Requiem Inc series, is finished and submitted. Yay!

–Because of the hurricane, things are moving slowly at Dreamspinner, so I haven’t heard anything on Lost Souls Found either yet. Hopefully, everyone is safe, as that’s the most important thing. It’ll be a bit before I hear anything on that. But StDF is just in, so it’ll be a while yet before I know anything with that one anyway.

Hearts and Hazelnuts releases November 29th. I’ll show the absolutely gorgeous cover and do the whole promo thing when it gets a little closer. I’m so excited for this one!

A Timely Gift is set to release as part of the Advent Calendar. My very first published story was part of that package way back in 2013, so it’s sort of special to be part of it again. I love this story a lot. It’s fun and sweet and I loved writing it. More news, again, as it gets closer.

Ghost of a Chance is in the final stages of editing, with just the copy proof to go. I still love this story, despite having read it approximately a billion and nine times (which can also be said about the previous two items). Blake and Derek have a special place in my heart. And, yep, you guessed it…more info as the release day draws closer.

–Still haven’t found a new day job. Which is sad and a bit worrisome. Except that I’ve managed to do a great deal of writing in the time off from working, so I feel really good about that. I currently have plans to take advantage of the time I have left. Real life is going to intrude before I know it (at least, I can hope) so I want to get more written before it does. A shiny little sub call may have caught my attention…

So all in all, things are moving along swimmingly. I’m making the most of my time…or trying to anyway. And that means more goodies for you to read in the near future!

 

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is a first date. Enjoy!!**

Justin checked his hair for the forty-seventh time, then made sure he hadn’t wrinkled. Smoothing his hands along his dress pants, then the sleeves of his button down, he pressed hard as though that could mitigate any damage he’d done. He knew he’d gotten dressed too early, but he’d been anxious. Looking down at himself, he wondered yet again if he was dressed all right. Maybe the sweater vest was too much? Should he put on a tie? He was so nervous, he had to close his eyes and breathe deeply. Otherwise, he was going to hyperventilate and pass out. Or sweat through his clothes. Something.

The doorbell rang and he let out an involuntary “eep.” He made himself get up and walk slowly to the door.

Andrew looked like a golden jock god, but his smile was soft and genuine and just seeing it made Justin relax. Justin had been so sure that Andrew would never look twice at him, he’d been able to relax with Andrew and be friends. But that had only lasted a few weeks before Andrew asked him out, assuring Justin he’d been nervous that Justin would turn him down. Which was ridiculous, but Justin had been flattered anyway.

And now, here it was. Their first date.

“Is the sweater vest too much?”

“Hello to you too.” Andrew laughed, his brown eyes crinkling at the corners. “No. It’s perfect. It’s you. You look great.”

Justin sighed, and smiled. “You do too. Really great.”

When Andrew held out a hand, he took it with a grateful sigh. They were friends, and Justin didn’t need to be nervous. At least, that’s what he told himself. But there was no denying their dynamic had changed. He was just glad they taught in different departments because if this went badly, then Justin wouldn’t have to see too much of Andrew. Not that there was any reason for it go badly. Only that Justin messed things up by speaking without thinking, or saying the wrong thing.

“Hey.” Andrew stopped at the passenger side of the car, using his hold on Justin to turn him. Justin got caught in Andrew’s gaze, and Andrew smiled. “Don’t worry. We’re good. It’ll be fun. I promise.”

Justin nodded, and let Andrew help him into the car. Then he turned to Andrew as they headed away from the curb. “Where are we going?”

Andrew chuckled. “It’s a surprise.”

Fighting the panic, Justin said softly, “I don’t really like surprises.”

Andrew patted his knee. “I know. But I promise, you’ll like this. Just trust me for a few more minutes.”

Justin had no reason not to trust Andrew. Since the semester started, they’d been steadily getting closer, and he knew Andrew had a good heart. So Justin made the conscious decision to let it go, and just trust.

When they pulled up in front of the science museum, Justin raised a brow. This was one of his favorite places in the city, and he was touched Andrew had thought of it. But he couldn’t imagine what they were doing there. Andrew bought the admission tickets, and then pointed to the sign. Justin’s gasp sounded loud, but Andrew just grinned.

“The planetarium. I love that,” Justin breathed, and Andrew’s grin bloomed.

“You and me, under the stars. You getting all excited by the constellations, me basking in your glow. Exactly what I wanted.”

Justin blushed, but he grabbed Andrew’s hand. The thought Andrew had put into this made him feel special. He’d planned this so they could do something that made Justin happy and comfortable. He squeezed Andrew’s fingers, and followed him into the dark, domed room. He couldn’t wait to snuggle with Andrew under the projected stars.

Best. Date. Ever.