Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is a first Thanksgiving for a new couple. Enjoy!**

“Maybe I shouldn’t go with you.”

Liam chuckled, and reached out to grab my hand. “I told you, Charlie. Its–”

“But we’ve only been together for six months. It’s our first holiday together. Real holiday I mean, and maybe it’s too soon.”

“Charlie.”

“I mean, maybe they won’t like me, and then I’ll ruin everything.”

“Honey.”

“Thanksgiving is a big deal!” I shook my head, nerves threatening to overwhelm me. I had to swallow fast, or else I’d throw up. “And your family does it right, and it’s important and I just–”

“Charlie!”

His shout startled me, and I turned to look at him. Liam’s expression was a mix of affection and exasperation. Which, if I was honest, was not that unusual when it came to me. He got me like no other person, and I was fortunate that I’d stumbled into him at the bookstore six months ago. Literally. I’d tripped over a low display table and slammed into him. He’d kept us both upright, and then asked me for coffee. The past six months had been amazing, and I loved him with everything in me. But this was a big step and I wasn’t sure I was ready.

“Baby. I know you’re nervous.” Liam leaned into my space, and cupped my cheek so I couldn’t look away.

“Nervous is an understatement,” I croaked.

He smiled sweetly. Then pecked my lips, and stayed close enough I could see the flecks of gold in his brown eyes.

“I know your family isn’t like mine. You’ve had to make your own way for a long time. But I swear to you, you won’t mess up. And my family will love you. Almost as much as I do.”

I melted, and some of the tension left my body. Not enough though, because I was still vibrating with it. Knowing he loved me helped, but I was still scared.

“Still,” I whispered. “Maybe I shouldn’t go. Christmas might be better.”

“Baby,” he said, laughing again. He used his hold to turn my head. “We’re already at my parents house.”

I gulped and nodded as much as I was able. “I’ll just stay in the car.”

He raised an eyebrow. “For four whole days.”

“Yup.”

Liam chuckled again, and the sound soothed me even more. He had a great laugh. It was the first thing I noticed about him.

“It’s going to be fine. I want you with me. Our first Thanksgiving together.” His eyes went dark. “The first of many right?”

I let out a swoony sigh as I nodded, because really, how could I not? After three weeks together, he told me he wanted exclusivity. He said the thought of someone else touching me wanted to make him commit murder. At six weeks he told me he loved me. It took me a little longer to say it back. But it was clear from early on that we were made to be together. And I loved him so much I couldn’t imagine a future without him.

“Okay,” I said quietly. My voice shook and I tried for a smile. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

***

Three hours later, I was sitting at the huge table between Liam and his younger brother. I swear, the table actually groaned with the amount of food piled on it. And there were at least twenty people squished around it. Liam’s parents and siblings, and their kids, and a few aunts, uncles, and cousins. Everyone talked too loud and teased each other. But the love pouring off these people was amazing. I’d never had anything like it, and I didn’t even know it really existed. Not outside of movies anyway. But here it was.

It was awesome and terrifying at the same time.

After everyone had eaten their fill, the noise quieted some. Full stomachs would do that. I’d eaten so much I had to discreetly reach down and unbutton my jeans.

“All right, now it’s time for my favorite part of he festivities,” Liam’s father Joe said. He smile widely, and I couldn’t tear my gaze away from him. I now had a good idea what Liam would look like in thirty years, and it was good. “Let’s go around the table and say what we’re all thankful for.”

There were a few groans, but they were playful. I, on the other hand, started to panic. I shot Liam a scowl, but he just grinned back. How could he not have told me about this?

“I’ll go first,” Joe said. He took a second to gather his thoughts, and then smiled again. “I’m thankful for this amazing, loud, messy, loving family I have gathered around me. And I’m especially grateful for Charlie’s presence this year. It does my heart proud to see my son so happy and settled, and that’s down to you, Charlie. Thank you.”

I gaped at him, eyes wide and cheeks hot. I was sure I looked ridiculous, but I couldn’t seem to stop. If Joe noticed, he didn’t show it. He just gave me a tiny wink, and turned to Liam, who was seated at his right.

Liam cleared his throat. “It’s been a great year for me, and I’m beyond thankful for the blessings I’ve had. In particular, this man who came here with me, even though he was nervous. I’m thankful for your love, Charlie.”

The tears welled up faster than I could stop them, and I cleared my throat, trying to find my voice. Everyone waited, and a quick glance around let me know there were mostly smiles. And in Liam’s mother’s case, a few tears as well.

“That,” I whispered, forcing the words out. “That’s what I’m thankful for too.”

Liam put his arm around me and tugged me into his side. I hid my face in his shoulder and just breathed in his scent.

I had a lot to be thankful for. But this moment was at the top of the list.

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Flash Fic Friday

**In honor of my new day job, the prompt given to me this week was a new job. Enjoy!**

I was early, but the excitement, nerves, and anticipation pushed me out of bed an hour before I needed to be. And then I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get to the office a little early. It was my first day, and it would give me a chance to get set up and learn the lay of the land.

My office was small, and the walls were bare, but it wouldn’t take me long to fill them. I had a few prints I couldn’t wait to hang up. The desk was shiny and clean, and two monitors graced the top. Stepping into the former managers shoes, I knew the computer was already set up with everything I needed. And I also knew it wouldn’t take me long to get acclimated with the workings of this particular office. I’d worked hard to get where I was, and I was determined to do the job well.

After taking a few minutes to just absorb the atmosphere, I picked up my favorite travel mug and headed for the break room. One of the perks was a fully stocked kitchen, and I’d been assured throughout my many rounds of interviews that there was always coffee. I met a few people on my way down the hall, and received polite nods and “good mornings” in response to my greetings.

Settling back in at my desk, I took a big gulp of the steaming brew, and barely refrained from moaning out loud. Damn, they didn’t spare any expense. The coffee was the good stuff. Sighing happily, I booted up my computer and loaded my task list. I had an hour to get myself acclimated before the meeting with the VP and my team.

Barely fifteen minutes later, a knock on my door had me looking up. And I nearly swallowed my tongue. Six feet of sinewy muscle, bright smile, and careless good looks. I cleared my throat, and then had to do it again. I hadn’t met this man on my interviews or tour, and it was probably a good thing I didn’t. He was gorgeous, and I would have stumbled and stuttered instead of presenting my best self.

“Hey there. Colin right?” The man took a step inside and held out his hand. I hastily stood to shake it, and felt the zing of electricity shoot up my arm. His dark eyes widened a fraction, so I knew he felt it too. But he gave a slight head shake, and his smile grew. “I’m Jude. Welcome to the team.”

“Thanks.” My voice came out a little croaky.

Jude just smiled even wider. “I’m the acquisitions manager, so our teams will be working closely together. I wanted to take a minute and introduce myself before our meeting this afternoon.”

“I appreciate that.” I shuffled my feet uncertainly, and hoped my smile didn’t look as maniacal as it felt. “It’s not easy being the new guy. And teamwork is important.”

Teamwork is important? Really? That was what I came up with? I wanted to kick myself. But Jude chuckled, and his smile turned a little wicked.

“Yes it is.” He pitched his voice low, and I fought a shiver. I knew I wasn’t mistaking the innuendo in his tone.

Jude took a step back. “I’ll let you get back to work. And I’ll see you this afternoon.”

I waved as he turned to leave, and felt like an idiot, but the man had addled my brains. And the way his ass looked in his dress pants was enough to be my undoing. Just before he stepped through the door, he looked back over his shoulder and caught me staring. He licked his lips.

“And maybe we can meet after work for a drink. You know–” he gave me a meaningful look. “–to welcome you to the company.”

All I could do was nod. Jude winked and left. I waited until I was sure he was gone, then sat down hard in my chair. I couldn’t contain my grin.

I just knew I was going to love working here.

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is homecoming. Enjoy!**

Six months.

184 days.

Four thousand, four hundred, twenty-two hours and seven minutes since I saw him last.

Being military was hard for a lot of reasons, but until this last deployment, I hadn’t minded being away so much. But the wheel’s up call came in the middle of the night and I’d had no time to do anything other than kiss him goodbye, grab my go-bag, and walk out the door.

I love being a Marine. I loved serving my country and making shit go boom. I loved my platoon and the command that lead us. I was one of the lucky ones–a lifer that had a good spot, a good team, and choice assignments. And when Luka came into my life two years ago, I’d never been so relieved I was in the position I was, because it meant that I could show him off proudly without worry. My team had my back, and so did command.

For eighteen months, we’d never been apart for longer than a few weeks when I was sent to train. But then the call had come, and I’d had to leave him, warm and sleepy and sated, in my bed. The separation was hard on us both. I missed him like crazy. We messaged as much as we were able, with the occasional Skype call, but it hadn’t been enough.

I loved that man more than anything else, and I couldn’t wait to get home to him.

He’d moved into my house while I’d been gone. He’d already had a key to my place at that point, but I wanted more. At first, he was just house sitting. Checking in occasionally, picking up the mail. But I wanted him there, and it took a lot of cajoling, before he realized how serious I was. When I finally got to come home, I wanted him there waiting for me.

It was late before I finally made it to the door. The military flight back had been long, but I’d managed to wrangle my way onto an earlier transport. Luka wasn’t expecting me for another couple of days, when the rest of my platoon was scheduled to return. I had enough rank, as a Staff Sergeant, to pull a few strings. So I was stateside again a little earlier.

I hadn’t told Luka, because I didn’t want him to get his hopes up in case it fell through. Where the government was concerned, things could change at the drop of a hat. And when I touched down on US soil, I decided to keep it quiet. I thought the surprise was worth it.

Even though it was after eleven, the lights were still on in my tiny bungalow, giving the whole house a warm, inviting feel. Luka had hung a autumn wreath on the door, and I saw a few pumpkins strategically placed on the porch. Fall was heavy in the air, and the few, tasteful decorations reminded me that Thanksgiving was only a week away. Last year Luka had dragged me to his parent’s house, and we’d done the whole family thing. This year, things would be different. Just us and a few close friends.

I was quiet opening the door. The warmth hit me first, and then the scent of mulled cider filled my nose. I could hear Luka singing–he had an amazing voice–and I set my bag down carefully so it didn’t make a sound on the hardwood. Then I slowly toed off my boots, and used my stealth skills to sneak into my own kitchen.

Luka was washing the dishes, his back to me, as he sang and wiggled his hips to the beat he was creating. Two pies graced the counters. My heart filled, and my eyes stung.

“Hey, baby.”

Luka screamed and whirled around, his dark eyes wide and a soapy ten inch knife clutched in his hand. Then he went still, his chest heaving as he panted.

“Brady?” he whispered.

I grinned. I couldn’t help it.

“Hi.”

Luka’s mouth worked for a moment, all fish out of water, then he sobbed out a breath, flung the knife on the counter beside him and launched across the room. I barely got my hands on him, and I staggered back into the table under the force of his assault. But the second we connected, my entire world righted, and I hiked him up so I could hold him more securely against me.

“You’re here!” He was crying, his body shaking, but he sounded so happy I didn’t even care he was getting snot and tears all over the collar of my utilities.

“I missed you,” I whispered into his skin. I inhaled deeply, his familiar scent of mint and citrus and fresh laundry washing over me.

“I missed you. I can’t believe you’re here. It was supposed to be days from now and I’ve been waiting and now you’re here.”

I didn’t know how long we stood there but even after my arms got tired and I had to rest against the edge of the table to keep us both upright, I still held on.

Six months apart, and we were finally together again. I hated that we’d had to spend even one moment apart.

But this?┬áThis was exactly the homecoming I’d longed for.

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is amnesia. Enjoy!**

“Don’t know what happened. Found him like this…”

“The Nyx got him, looks like. It’d been hours…”

Everything hurt. Every muscle and tendon. Hell, every molecule in my body screamed with agony. I was vaguely away of noises–voices–but I couldn’t open my eyes. If I opened them, my head would explode. I was sure of it.

“Let me see him.”

That rumble of a voice had me opening my eyes. I was in an unfamiliar room–dark but cozy–and three people stood at the end of the bed. The two smaller guys wore their worry plain on their faces, but the big man was staring right at me. He noticed me looking, and quickly rounded the end of the bed.

“Ben, baby.”

I blinked–even that hurt–and tried to speak. It came out as a croak, and I cleared my throat and tried again. “Where am I?”

The big guy froze, and concern washed his features. After a second, he approached cautiously. “Ben?”

“How do you know my name?” Panic flooded my veins, but when I tried to push myself out of bed, I fell back against the mattress, too weak to hold myself up. “Who are you? What’s going on?”

“Shit,” one of the other guys muttered. I didn’t turn to look at which one. “The Nyx wiped his memory.”

“Leave us.” The other two scrambled to do the big man’s bidding, and I heard the soft snick as the door latched closed.

Fuck. Now I was trapped in the room, too weak to defend myself, with a big man who looked like he could snap me in half. He was gorgeous, all shoulders and muscles and scowl. But definitely dangerous. I wanted to be elsewhere.

“You’re safe here,” he rumbled, never taking his dark gaze off me. “I promise. No one is going to hurt you.”

And just like that, I believed him. I didn’t understand it, since my brain told me I should be terrified. But I wasn’t. His words, his voice, just soothed me. I relaxed a fraction, but I still kept myself ready. I needed to be ready, just in case.

He crossed the room, and I tracked him, but he only opened a small dorm sized fridge and pulled out a bottle of water. He made a show of cracking the seal, showing me it hadn’t been tampered with. I took it from him when he handed it over, and gratefully swallowed some. It felt so good, I took a larger drink.

“Easy now,” he murmured, stepping close to the bed.

I took another smaller sip, and then wiggled a little until I could sit up against the headboard. He slowly lowered himself to the mattress, perching on the edge. I appreciated the courtesy.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

Odd question, but I searched my brain anyway. After a minute, I realized there was a hole in my memory. Definitely something missing. Had I hit my head? I reached up and felt around, but there was no bump. Had I been drugged? Oh god, was that why I was here?

“Ben?”

My name in his voice startled me, but I settled again. Something about this man comforted me, and I didn’t think it should be that easy, but there was no doubt about it. I took another tiny drink.

“Tuesday.”

He frowned. “And what happened on Tuesday?”

I couldn’t help the small, proud grin. “I aced Professor Millhouse’s midterm.”

His breath whooshed out and he squeezed his eyes shut. Then whispered, “Damn.”

“What?”

“Four years ago,” he muttered, half to himself. “Before the veil ripped and all the unnatural flooded into the natural world.”

What?” I pushed at the blankets, suddenly desperate to get up. He was fucking nuts.

“Ben, stop.” His voice was a command and a plea, and I obeyed instinctively, my body going still.

“What in the hell is going on?”

“Two days ago, you went after a Nyx. It shouldn’t have been a big deal, but we lost contact. Peter and Remy found you a few hours ago, nearly dead.” He leaned in just a little, and I could see the pain in his eyes. “We thought it killed you.”

I couldn’t deal with the raw emotion on his face, in his voice. “Nyx?”

“A soulless, blood sucking demon. Vicious, nasty things. You’ve dealt with hundreds, though, so I wasn’t worried. But then you didn’t come back.”

“I…” I had no idea what to say to that. Even though his words didn’t make sense, there was something about them, the way they settled into me, that I just knew it to be true. But how? Why? I still didn’t know what was going on, and the panic that had been bubbling under the surface spilled over. I started hyperventilating, the edges of my vision dimming, and my heart pounded so hard it hurt.

He touched my wrist, and I jerked my gaze to his. I was lost in his deep, dark eyes. The worry and pain and love and affection there. They were so familiar. I knew those eyes. I didn’t know how, or why, but I knew this man who was staring at me like I hung the moon.

Unbidden, his name came to my lips. “Lucas?”

The grin that bloomed on his face transformed his features. And like a flood, memories crashed into me. The past four years. When the veil between the worlds ripped and a host of unholy, terrifying creatures came racing into our world. How nearly half the humans had died in the first onslaught, but Lucas and I survived. Banned together with others, and set about protecting those who were left.

“Oh baby. There you are.”

I started crying, because I couldn’t do anything else. I’d nearly left him to this world alone, and that was the one thing I vowed never to do. I clung to him, and he held me just as tightly.

We’d be okay. There wasn’t any other choice.