Flash Fic Friday

**Asher and Kyle continued. Read Part 1 here if you missed it. Enjoy!**

I’d bought my half of the duplex ten years ago, and in the past decade, I’d had several neighbors. Kyle was, by far, the best one. I never heard him. We only saw each other if we left or arrived at the same time, and then he always had a cheery wave and greeting for me. Sometimes we talked for a few minutes as we walked to our front doors. But never more than that.

Which is why I was surprised to answer the door one evening and find him standing there. He was wearing a smile that lit up his face, and holding two bottles of local microbrew that I loved. He held one out to me, and I took it with a hearty thanks.

“So,” he said, leaning back against he railing of my porch. “I noticed by the sticker on your truck that you’re a landscaper.” He gestured with his bottle toward the logo on the driver’s side door.

I squinted at him as I took a pull from the bottle. The beer went down smooth, hoppy and delicious, with just a hint of a citrus aftertaste. “Mhmm.”

His grin turned mischievous. “So I have to wonder, why haven’t you done anything with the backyard?”

I laughed and shook my head. The duplexes shared both a front and back yard, and I had a deal with the guy who owned Kyle’s house that I’d split yard work with his tenant. The family that had lived there before Kyle had mowed the back, because they took their kids out there to play, and I’d taken care of the front. I knew the backyard was overgrown. The hedges were ridiculous, but I’d never felt the need to go back there. The pavers that acted as a patio out my back door were far enough, and only because I kept the grill out there.

I shrugged. “Don’t spend too much time out there. And I guess I get enough of it at work.”

It was his turn to squint. “But I would think, if you love your job, you’d want to take care of your own place. Unless you don’t?”

“No, I do,” I assured him. I took another drink, trying to think of what to say. “It’s satisfying right down to my bones. And I enjoy every part of the process. But like I said, I’m never out there. Plus, the last people had kids, and I didn’t want them to ruin all of my hard work.”

He nodded. “Makes sense. So, would you mind if I did some stuff out there?”

I shook my head and straightened up from where I’d been leaning against the door frame. “Knock yourself out. What did you have in mind?”

His whole face brightened, and he practically leaped off the porch, beckoning me with his free hand. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

I followed along in his bouncing wake, amused by his enthusiasm. He was always full of energy whenever I saw him, whether that was six o’clock in the morning, or eleven o’clock at night. I didn’t know where he got it all, but I was happy to be apart of it. He jogged the last few steps around the house, and by the time I turned the corner, he was standing in the middle of the patio with his arms spread wide.

“Okay, so.” His grin got even bigger and I was afraid it would hurt his face. “Obviously trim the bushes and cut the grass. That’s the first thing. But also, I was thinking of getting those big cement planters, right? I mean, I only lease, so I’d want to take them with me if I ever left. With bright colored flowers, though I don’t know what kind, to bring some color back here. And I would put them around the patio.” He gestured, making sweeping motions with his hands. “I’d love a fire pit right here.” He pointed to the edge of the patio. “And I’d get some great furniture out here. Loungers and a table. Oh! And over here.” He jogged to the edge on my side of he patio. “I know it’s your half, but man, this would be the perfect spot for a pond. I’ve been researching, and there are above ground pond kit thingies. If you wouldn’t mind me taking some space up, I’d love to do that.”

I stared at him, my breath catching in my throat. His joy was infectious, and I could see everything as he’d laid it out. He made it sound perfect, like an oasis, and if I had that kind of space back here, I’d sure as hell spend more time out here. For a minute, I felt foolish that I’d never done anything more than the basics in the back.

“Sounds great,” I said, and I had to clear my throat. “I’ll help.”

Kyle went still, and then slowly turned around to face me. “You don’t have to. I mean, that’s not why I talked to you. I just…you know, thought I should get your approval before I do anything. Since half of this is yours.”

“No, I want to. Help, I mean. It’ll be great. Together we can make a great space.”

The smile on his face made my heart pound.


We’d made plans to get started on the backyard that weekend, but when a mix up at my job site had me calling it an early day on Friday, I got started early. Saturday morning, I met him outside at eight like we agreed. Kyle was standing in the middle of the patio, his hand over his mouth. When I walked out my back door, he turned wide eyes on me.


“You…” he gestured, first to the fire pit I’d installed, and then to the hole I’d dug. “That’s…you.”

I shrugged, ridiculously pleased for some reason that he was overwhelmed. I could see how much he loved it already, and that made me stupidly happy.

“Well, if we’re going to put in a pond, we might as well do it right. I have the stuff in the truck to line it, and the pump. But I needed more daylight to do it. I thought I’d do that while you did the hedges and the grass, and then we can head to the garden center and get your planters, flowers, and potting soil. Sound like a plan?”

He nodded mutely. I hid my grin.

“The mower and shit are in the shed.” I jerked my chin to the back of the yard. “Get to it. We’re burning daylight.”

He nodded again, and I could swear I saw him wipe his eyes when he turned away. I ignored that, not knowing what to do with it, and went to get the crap for the pond out of my truck.


It had taken us the whole weekend, but the backyard was done. Snapdragons, petunias, and marigolds were planted in long, rectangular planters strategically placed around the patio. We had a fire in the pit, and I’d grilled steaks that we’d enjoyed sitting at his new table. The night air was cool, but not cold, and we sat in the silence–save for the crackling fire, the burbling pond, and the occasional cricket–and just enjoyed the space.

Kyle reached out, put a hand on my arm, and squeezed. His touch felt like a brand, and I savored the warmth.

“Thank you Asher,” he said reverently. “This is…this is perfect. Exactly what I wanted.”

“You’re welcome,” I responded softly. My heart was thumping again, and I didn’t know why I was so happy that he was happy. I shook my head, tipped my bottle at him in salute, and then smiled. “Any time.”

And I meant it.


Flash Fic Friday

*Here’s part 1 of the serial story! I’ll tag them all so they’ll be easy to find. And in upcoming weeks, I’ll link back in case you need to catch up. So without further ado, meet Asher and Kyle. Enjoy!*

“Goddamn motherless son of a wonky titbasket!”

The curse was creative. I had to give him that. The questions was, though, why was it being shouted outside my house?

I’d just finished my workout, so I was sweaty and hot. But I put down the water bottle and headed outside to see what the commotion was about. The Uhaul parked next door explained part of it. The other half of the duplex had been empty for months–ever since the family with two screaming toddlers moved out–and I’d relished the silence. But apparently that was changing today.

He was standing on the ramp stretched from the back of the truck to the front porch. The broken box spilling half of its contents on the muddy ground explained the curse. I stood for a moment, just taking in the scene. The frustrated man had his hands in his dark hair, knuckles white, as he breathed deeply. Trying for calm? Probably. He was smaller than me, leaner and shorter, and it looked like he was alone. I felt bad for the dude.

I pushed my sweaty hair out of my eyes, then jogged closer.

“Hey, need some help?”

He squawked and turned quickly, nearly losing his balance and toppling off the ramp. I ran, but he righted himself before I made it across the yard to him. He pressed his hand to his chest, his brown eyes wide.

“Jesus Christ, you scared me.”

I tried for an apologetic grin. “Sorry.”

He flapped a hand at me. “It’s okay.” Then he looked down at the mess, sighed heavily, and dropped his hands. “Fuck.”

I had to check the grin. “Basically. Really, you need some help?”

He bit his lip, and looked into the truck. I was close enough now that I could see it was still pretty packed. Boxes and bags filled every available space, tucked in tightly around a couch, several dressers, and what looked like a dismantled table and matching chairs. He shook his head.

“I don’t want to impose.”

The way he said it, with a bit of hesitancy, made it known that he would really like the help but he didn’t want to ask. Since I offered, I figured he was off the hook. I started picking up the bedding that had fallen out of the box, wadding it around itself until I had a makeshift sack.

“No imposition. I’m not busy, and we are neighbors after all. Let me help.”

He eyed me for a long moment, before he heaved another sigh. “Thanks. I really appreciate it.”

“No problem. You can pay me in pizza and beer when we’re done.” I shot him a grin. “That’s the customary payment for helping someone move.”

He laughed, and I liked the sound. “You got it.”

I waited until he retrieved another box, then followed him into the house with my bundle. I knew where the bedroom was, since his house was the mirror opposite of mine, but I thought maybe he’d want to wash the sheets and blankets I held, considering they’d been on the ground. I took the whole thing into the laundry room off the kitchen, then met him back in the entryway.

“Thanks.” His voice was softer, and now that we were close, I could see how tired he was. His big, dark eye were lined, and had bags underneath big enough to be luggage. His T-shirt sported a faded rainbow, and hung off his frame. Put together, it gave him a careworn look.

“You’re welcome.” I took a step back, putting some distance between us, because I knew I probably stunk. But I held out a hand. “I’m Asher.”

“Nice to meet you. My name’s Kyle.”

We shook, and then I gestured for him to proceed me out the door. When we were both tromping up the ramp, I said, “So Kyle. Don’t you have any friends that were willing to help?”

He laughed a little, a short aborted sound, and shook his head. “Too busy. I didn’t give them enough notice. Once the house next door to me blew up, I decided to move fast. I didn’t have time to round up a moving posse.”

I froze. “Blew up?” I couldn’t keep the incredulity out of my tone.

Kyle waved his hand again. “Just a little explosion.”

I stared at him, automatically taking the box he handed me but not taking my gaze off him. He turned and retrieved a bag, but when he looked back at me and saw me staring, he cocked an eyebrow.


I shook my head. “You can’t just put that out there and not explain.”

“They were cooking meth.”

My expression must have shown my shock, because he laughed again. “Just a little batch. So only a little explosion. But no way was I staying around after that. So I gave notice, and found this place, and paid extra so I could move in right away. I think the landlord was happy to have someone reputable, because he said it had been vacant for a while, and he didn’t give me too much of a fuss when I asked.” He cocked his head to the side. “Are you going to earn your pizza and get moving?”

I chuckled and turned, heading back into the house. “And don’t forget the beer!”


It took us the better part of three hours, but we worked well together so the time flew. I went back to my house to shower and change, and by the time I knocked on Kyle’s door, he had hot pizza and cold beer waiting on his newly reassembled table. Boxes and bags were still stacked everywhere, but it would take him a while to settle in.

Kyle gave me a huge smile when he let me in, but neither of us said much until after we’d both sated ourselves with several slices and a long neck apiece. He sat back in his chair, and patted his stomach.

“The pizza alone is worth moving to the neighborhood.”

I grinned. “It’s good. I order from them at least once a week.”

He shot me a look as he stood up. Kyle threw out the garbage before he turned back to me, resting a hip against the counter. “Not much of a cook?”

I snorted. “Hell no. I burn water. If I ever find a woman to put up with me enough to live with me, I hope she’ll want to cook.”

Something flickered over his face, but it was gone before I could put a name to it. Then he smiled and shrugged, and crossed the floor to pick up the few remaining pieces and put them in the fridge.

“Tomorrow’s breakfast.” He laughed. “I love to cook. Maybe sometime I’ll make you a meal.”

“You any good?”

Kyle scoffed. “I should hope so. My mother is a gourmet chef, and she taught me everything she knew. I think she was determined to give me that skill, knowing that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

I saw it then, the little flinch, and it took me a second to work out why. He was gay, and he was worried about what I’d think or say. Or do. But he didn’t have to be.

“You won’t have any problem snagging a man then.” I paused, considering. “Unless you already have one.”

He breathed out a soft sigh, and his smile was sweet. “Not at the moment. Not for a while, actually.” He shooed the thought away, a quick flap of his hand. “But I’m not worried about it. Yet. I’m not even thirty, not for another year. I’ve got plenty of time.”

I studied him for a moment. I thought he was younger than that. I only had five years on him, but his skin was smooth and clear, showing none of the age mine did. Of course, I worked outside and the sun had done a number on me.

“Anyway, Asher, I really appreciate your help today. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, just let me know.”

“You already did.” I held up the beer in salute. “But if you want to be a good neighbor, then don’t throw any wild parties, and keep the noise down. That’s all it takes to make me happy.”

Kyle snorted out a laugh, and then tossed his empty bottle into the recycle bin. “You’re easy.”

I waggled my eyebrows. “You have no idea.”

We said goodbye a few minutes later. He thanked me again for the help, I thanked him for the pizza, and left him standing on his front porch. Our gazes caught when I looked back at him before opening my own door, and we stayed like that for a long moment. The wind picked up, and a lock of his hair blew across his forehead. Kyle really was a very pretty man. He was funny and kind. I had no doubt he’d find someone to love him someday.

I lifted my hand in a wave, and went into my house.

Something Different

Starting this week, I’m going to do a something a little bit different with Flash Fic Friday.

You may have noticed they’ve been absent for, well, pretty much the whole year. I’ve been having a bit of writer’s block in general, and I’ve been having trouble working through it. There’s plenty of stuff I need to write, stuff I want to write, but I haven’t been able to get my brain to cooperate much. So! I’ve decided to help that along, I’m going to start a serial story here on the blog. It’ll run for, probably, 8 weeks (or so) and tell an entire story.

I’ve finally got my brain working enough for this. Plus, I think it’ll be a fun exercise, as once a post is published, I won’t be able to change what I’ve written. (Okay, technically I can, but I won’t.) So if I write myself into a corner, I’ll have to write my way out again.

Tune in tomorrow for the first installment!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

A day devoted to celebrating love. While I think that should happen every day, it’s nice to have a special occasion to celebrate it too. Whether you’re doing so with your significant other(s) or someone new or a book and a glass of wine, I hope you have a wonderful day.

Dreamspinner Press and JMS are both having 30% off sales! Go grab a new book (or several), take advantage of the sale, and find some fictional people to fall in love with!

And may I remind you that I have a Valentine’s Day story? Sean and Hunter fall in love in Love at Roades End.

Sean Newvine is looking forward to his weekend at Roades End Inn so he can review his stay there for inclusion on his travel website. What he never expects is for the owner, Hunter Roades, to capture his attention from the very start.

The only problem is Hunter thinks Sean’s been sent by his brother on a blind date so that Hunter doesn’t have to spend Valentine’s Day alone. Once the awkward misunderstanding is resolved, Sean is charmed by Hunter’s formality and hospitality. And when they have a chance to really talk, sparks fly.

A passion-filled night has them both wanting more, but Hunter pulls away knowing Sean doesn’t live in town and the distance might be more than they can overcome. Sean and Hunter must figure out if they can make it work for longer than one night, or if their chance at love will end at Roades End Inn before it can begin.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner/AmazonKobo