Flash Fic Friday

**Prompt this week is a good one so we both wrote to it! Waking up and deciding to go back to bed. Enjoy!**

I woke and stretched, feeling twinges and aches in all the best placed. a smile came unbidden to my lips. I hadn’t intended to fall into bed with Pedro last night. It never even crossed my mind. Until he looked at me, those dark eyes filled with lust, and when he leaned in and kissed me, I was powerless to resist. I didn’t even want to. Maybe I hadn’t realized that our friendship was growing toward more, but the moment he held me in his arms, I knew there was no place else I’d rather be.

Behind me, Pedro shifted and I froze. The morning after, things could look differently. Pedro wasn’t one for repeats. At least that’s what he’d always told me. But here I was, still warm from his body, still feeling all the things we did last night. And I wanted more. In the cold light of morning, I knew last night wouldn’t be enough. Not for me. And that meant I needed to get up and get out before he woke up. Later we’d go back to just friends, I was sure. But I needed to make my escape while I could if we had any hope of getting back to that.

Slowly, carefully, I slid off the mattress, doing my best not to jostle the sleeping Pedro. He snuffled and turned over, burying his face in the pillow. For a moment, I was transfixed by the slope of his back. The way the sheet had slid down revealing the top of his ass. His brown skin so inviting against the white sheets. I wanted to get back in bed, curl up around him, feel him against me. but I knew better. So instead I turned away, and practically tiptoed around the room to collect my clothing.

I was just reaching for my shirt–how had it ended up on top of the curtain rod?–when he gave a soft snort and his breathing changed. I froze, holding my breath, hoping he’d go back to sleep.

“Dante?”

I nearly moaned at the sound of my name in his sleep roughened voice. I had to take a second to steel my resolve. Then I whispered, “Go back to sleep.”

“Can’t.” He yawned, then smacked his lips. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him sit up. “Where’re you going?”

“Um. I–”

He shook his head, his hair flopping across his eye, and he batted it away. “Don’t.” He sighed, and averted his eyes. “I mean, you don’t have to go. Unless you want to. I’d, uh, I’d rather you didn’t.”

The uncharacteristic hesitancy in his voice gave me pause. I left the shirt where it was, and turned to face him. His dark lashes fanned across his darkened cheeks. Sleep tousled hair and the pillow crease on his cheek somehow added to his appeal. He looked edible. I wanted to devour him.

As I looked closer, he lifted his gaze to mine. And in those fathomable depths, I saw things I never thought I’d see from him. Affection. Concern. Desire. Pedro had the most expressive eyes I’d ever seen. It had been the first thing I noticed about him, and over our friendship, I’d learned that his eyes said all the things his mouth didn’t.

Right then and there, I made the decision not to go. I dropped the clothes, slid between the sheets, and pulled him in. He didn’t hesitate to fold around me. With a contented sigh, I kissed the top of his head.

We’d have to talk but that could happen later. Right now, I needed to hold him close. Feel him breathing in sync with me. I wanted nothing more than to go back to bed. With him.

Updates!

Okay, so what have I been working on?

Well, I got a fantastic idea for a Christmas short story that wouldn’t leave me alone, so I banged out all those words and am in the process of tweaking and editing and fixing now. Deadline for submission is coming up, so I need to get it finished by then and send it in.

Holiday stories are one of my addictions, and I couldn’t let this one pass me by. We’ll see what happens with it when it goes.

I also got the go ahead for the sequel to my paranormal story for the Beyond line. After sending in the first three chapters for critique, I’ve made a bunch of revisions to tighten up the narrative thus far and am now moving forward. I have this one plotted by chapter, a rough guideline to follow so I don’t lose track of where I am, and so I don’t stray too far from what I want. Of course, I’m open to divergences where the muse directs, I always am, but I like knowing where this one is going. I have a deadline that is approaching faster than I would like. Deadlines always seem to do that.

Because of the revisions, I started 800 words down from where I was, which is fine, but that’s why the word meter hasn’t moved that much, even though I’ve made a bunch of progress.

And edits start soon on One in Vermilion, Hearts and Hazelnuts, and the title TBD paranormal.

It’s gonna be a busy summer!

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is simple: a teacup that brings back memories. Enjoy!**

Fifty years in a house accumulated a lot of memories. I couldn’t do much of the packing myself, but I still supervised. Walking from room to room, trying to keep out of the movers’ way, making sure everything was packed into the right boxes. Some were going to the children, others to Goodwill. Just the essentials were coming with me. After so long, it was nice to downsize.

“Dad?”

I looked up at my son, who looked so much like his father it was ridiculous. He had Gene’s blue eyes and dark hair, a contrast to my brown eyes and blond hair. Simon had been the first one Gene and I told when we’d finally gotten together, and he’d been the most supportive. His mother had too, come to that, God rest her. My own children had taken longer to come around. But Simon had accepted it from the first, and took great delight in shocking his friends by introducing both his fathers.

“Come look at the china cabinet. Tell me what you want.”

I took his hand and let him lead me into the dining room. The behemoth piece of furniture was going with the rest of the set to an antique shop. Simon didn’t want it, said it wouldn’t fit into his house.

We started going through the things inside. China and special glasses. The beer steins from our trip to Germany. A glass owl from Austria. And there, at the back, a bone china tea cup with gold on the rim. I reached for it with shaking hands, my arthritic fingers not quite able to grip it. Simon helped, pulling it out, making sure I didn’t drop it. I touched the fine handle and tears filled my eyes.

“Your pop got that for me. There was a whole set, but we couldn’t afford it at the time. But he knew how much I loved it. Wanted me to have it. I only drank from it once, you know. He made me tea and I drank it. And then we put it away, so it would never get lost or broken.”

That had been in our early stages, when Gene and I were still sneaking around, terrified of getting caught. He’d already left his wife, mine had died, but still we were afraid. Back then, we could have been killed just because of who we loved. I’d told Gene to leave me, insisted that, unlike me, he found women attractive too. He should go and find another wife. I wanted him to be safe. I didn’t care about myself, but Gene…he could be safe.

“I’ll make sure it’s packed with extreme care, okay? Pop wouldn’t want anything to happen to that.”

The move was necessary, but I still couldn’t quite wrap my brain around it. I nodded, staring at the cup, wanting to hug it to my chest because I couldn’t hug my husband. The pain of that, after nearly thirty years together, was stifling.

“Dad, it’s okay. Pop is going to be fine. But it’s smarter to live in the city, closer to his doctors. He might be seventy-five, but a heart attack isn’t going to slow him down.” Simon grinned, and draped an arm around my shoulders. “He’s not leaving you. Never would.”

“I know.” I took a deep breath, then another, and blinked away the tears. I had to be strong for Gene and for Simon. Soon, I’d have Gene back in my arms.  “You oversee the rest of the packing. I’m going to go see your father.”

Flash Fic Friday

**A storm raged through my area, and so I was given the prompt of a thunderstorm.  I already have the perfect story, recycled from a couple of years ago. Enjoy!**

It was a dark and stormy night.

I didn’t much care for the dark to begin with, and I fucking hated storms.  So despite having seen my thirty-third birthday, I was huddled under the covers like a four-year-old girl.  Every flash of lightning that penetrated my blanket armor made me cringe, and the ensuing boom of thunder happening at practically the same time was enough to make me shudder.  The fear might be irrational, but it was real.

The worst of storm only lasted twenty-seven minutes (I’d been keeping track) and the flashes and horrible crashes started to taper off.  No longer a constant barrage, there were whole seconds between the lightning strike and the rumble of thunder.  The interval drew farther apart, and now there were stretches of thirty or sixty seconds where all I could hear was the pouring rain. I stayed where I was, unable to relax until the storm had well and truly moved on.

The sudden ringing of my phone scared me badly enough that I shrieked.  And then I scrambled out of the safety of my blankets to answer it.

“Hey,” he said as soon as I’d answered.  “You okay?”

I was going to say yes. I was going to lie and play it up like I was fine.  He didn’t need to know how badly I was affected.  I was going to do it, and then another loud crash echoed and I couldn’t suppress the tiny whimper in time. He heard it, like he always did, and I knew lying was futile.

“Nope,” I said, releasing a shaky breath.  “Nope, nope, nope.”

His chuckle was warm, and it did a fair bit to relax me enough though he was laughing at me.  I loved his laugh.  It was the first thing that drew me to him.

“Come let me in,” he said, his voice a deep rumble far better than any thunder.  I was up and moving almost before the words registered.  It took me seconds to run to the door.  I fumbled a little as I tried to get the deadbolt unlocked, and then managed to work it and pull the door open.

He was a bit bedraggled, but none too worse for the wear.  When he saw me, he smiled, his entire face lighting up.  I took an easy breath for the first time in more than an hour, and practically threw myself into his arms the moment he crossed the threshold.  I didn’t care that he was wet, only that his strength wrapped around me and shored me up.

“You shouldn’t have come out in this,” I murmured meaning it.  The thought of him driving in that storm made my stomach twist painfully.  “But I’m so glad you’re here.”

He leaned back, and then pushed my hair back from my face so he could cup my head and tilt it back so he could really look at me.

“You needed me.  Where else was I going to be?”

I sighed, grabbing onto his wrists and locking my gaze on his.  “I love you.”

“I love you too,” he said, and I heard how much he meant it. He bent and kissed me, and then tugged me toward the bedroom.  “I need to get out of these clothes.  And while I’m naked, perhaps we could do something about getting you relaxed and sleepy, and not thinking about the storm at all.”

I followed him quickly, helping to pull off his wet shirt.  I nearly swallowed my tongue as his defined chest emerged.  The sight of him never failed to get my motor running.  I swallowed hard.

“What storm?”

He just grinned and pulled me into the bedroom.

The Sequel

Just a quick note to say that I’ve begun work on the sequel to my currently contracted title with the Dreamspun Beyond Line. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be submitting it for consideration long about the first of September.

I’m excited about it because I love this pair, and I even went so far as to build in clues and mentions of their feelings. I knew I would have these guys together even if I never got to actually write their story. In fact, when I first conceived of the first story, many man moons (and a couple of years) ago, I knew that these guys would be a secondary pairing. And I could not let the idea go.

So I’m working on Sam and Michael’s story.

I have to rearrange some stuff in what I’ve already written. Go at it from a slightly different angle and sort things a little differently. But I’m off to a great start, and really kind of excited about the whole thing. It’s some of my favorite tropes.

But I need to get cracking because deadlines have a tendency to loom up faster than you expect them too. And I don’t want to get caught in the same situation I was in with the first one. So focus and writing and exploring the wonderful relationship of two guys who want each other but shouldn’t be together. Until, that is, they figure out how.

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt, to which Ivan and I both wrote, is a bad day at work. Enjoy!**

The front door slammed loud enough to make me jerk, and I jogged in to see my husband forcefully ripping at his tie. His hair was a mess, the way it was when he continually ran his fingers through it, and he was wearing his glasses, a sure sign he’d spent long hours squinting at minuscule code. That he’d forgotten to take them off–he only needed them for reading–spoke more to his state of mind than anything else.

“Bad day?”

Toby’s scowl was epic level. “The worst day in the history of days.”

“What happened?” I asked sympathetically, moving forward so I could take his bag from him. He dropped it on the ground before I got to him, and I winced as his laptop clunked against the hardwood. It wouldn’t hurt it. The thing was sturdy and encased, but Toby was usually must more careful with his precious electronics than that.

“Murphy’s Law in full effect.”

I hid the smile because his boss, who was a disaster of a man, was Mr. Murphy. Murphy’s Law was the patronizing name we called him, because everything he touched turned to crap. We were both convinced Toby had ultimate job security because he was constantly cleaning up messes his boss created.

“What did he do this time?”

“Actual Murphy’s Law.” Toby kicked off one shoe, then the other, both hitting the wall with a dull thud. I hope he hadn’t dented the drywall. “The server went down. Just after we got it fixed and running again, a stupid ass intern searching porn on his computer infected the whole thing with a virus. And then? The auditors showed up at the same time as the state labor board made a surprise inspection. We had wires pulled out and computers everywhere. It was a fucking clusterfuck from start to finish. And Mr. Murphy ran around like a decapitated chicken, blaming me and Raj and Darrell like it was somehow our fault.”

“Oh babe.”

Toby let out a long suffering sigh, pulled off his glasses and tossed them on the end table, then rubbed hard at his eyes. His whole body was filled with tension, and I wanted to soothe it.

“Why don’t you get out of your work clothes and then come outside?”

He looked at me from the corner of his eye. “I’m not in the mood, Simon.”

I fought another smile. “Just please?”

He didn’t say a word, just stomped to the stairs and then up to our room. I detoured to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of wine, two glasses, and then went outside. By the time he joined me on the back deck, the hot tub was running, and I was perched on the edge, holding out a glass of his favorite Merlot. He tried for a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, but after taking the glass, he slid into the water. I joined him, maneuvering behind him, so I could rub his shoulders. I could feel all the knots, and I worked slowly and surely, rubbing them all until they disappeared.

Long moments later, he released a breath and relaxed back into me, letting me hold him and support his weight. His head fell back onto my shoulder and I lifted a wet hand to brush his hair out of his eyes, before kissing his cheek, lingering a little, taking in his smell.

Toby finally smiled.

“This is exactly what I needed.”

I chuckled against his cheek. “Yeah, I know. Shitty days are the worst.”

“Coming home to you always makes it better.”

“That’s why you married me.” I sucked on his neck, going right for his hot spot, and he melted into a boneless heap. I could have had him right there in the water, except we’d used the last of the waterproof lube last time we’d been out here. I made a mental note to get some more next time I was out.

“Thanks, Sy. I love you.” His voice was barely above a whisper, and if I hadn’t been right there, I wouldn’t have heard it.

“As I love you.” I assured him. I pulled him tighter against me, so he could feel all of me, and the very last bit of tension he’d been holding onto disappeared in an instant.

As the sun made it’s final descent, sinking below the treeline, I felt true contentment wash over me. I didn’t matter how many bad days he had, I’d always be there to help him relax out of it. That’s what true love was all about.

Flash Fic Friday

**As promised, the conclusion to Nathan and Jesse’s story! You can read part 1 here, if you missed it last week. Ivan and I decided to break it into two parts, so last week you saw my guys break up. And this week, they make up. Enjoy!**

I knew about seven seconds after I’d done it, that breaking up with Nathan was the wrong thing to do. I mean, I’d done it for all the right reasons. As much as we loved each other, as good as the past two years had been, I knew we couldn’t go on the way we were. I couldn’t. I was worried and scared all the time, convinced I’d get the call that he was dead. Missing him so hard when he was gone that I could barely function. I fell apart when he was gone, and I just couldn’t keep doing that to myself. It wasn’t healthy

Turns out saying goodbye didn’t mean I stopped missing him horribly and worrying incessantly. Seems like something I should have realized sooner.

But I still stayed away. Didn’t call. Didn’t worry about the things of mine that had gravitated over to his place and were living in his closest and drawers and cabinets. A week passed. Then two. And every day I had to remind myself I wasn’t Nathan’s anymore, that I’d ended things for a very good reason. That the hurt would lessen over time and we’d both move on. And I wouldn’t spend every waking minute, and even most of the sleeping ones, missing and worrying about him.

“How are you still moping? You broke up with him, Jesse.” Rhea’s voice cut through the sadness on the fifteenth day.

I scowled at my sister and pulled the throw blanket up higher around my neck. “Doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

“It should.”

I ignored her and she eventually went away. She didn’t get it. She’d never been in love like I’d been with Nathan. Still was. And it would take a long time to move past it. There’d always be a Nathan-shaped hole in my heart, no matter what I did or who I loved in the future.

On day twenty-two, I had a revelation. It happened when I finally dragged myself out of bed and attempted to make coffee, which was never as good as what Nathan could brew. The TV was on in the background, and the news was reporting shots fired and officers down the night before. My knees nearly gave out as I scrambled into the living room, scrabbling for the remote to turn up the volume. My heart didn’t even settle after it was reported that the officer was from the police force, had only been grazed, and was expected to make a full and complete recovery. But in that moment, I knew without a doubt that being with Nathan and knowing what was going on made the worrying about him so much easier. The not knowing was infinitely worse.

I sat on the couch, waiting for my pulse to slow to somewhere back toward normal. What had I been thinking? I’d been selfish to leave him. Because I knew the man who’d been sharing my life for the past two years. And I’d made our separation all about me. In the process, I’d forgotten about the things Nathan needed. How he felt grounded when he got to come home to me. How I helped him leave his work at work, and just enjoy his life. And even leaving that out of it, we were just plain good for each other. We learned how to take care of each other over the years. We laughed, we talked, we loved. All the good was so very good. And I’d thrown it away.

I couldn’t get my phone out fast enough. But I didn’t call Nathan. Instead, I dialed his partner, the marshal who’d had Nathan’s back for a decade.

“What do you want?” Lou’s gruff voice, even filled with venom, made me smile. Nathan’s best friend, and my friend as well. I knew he’d take Nathan’s side, had wanted him to, but I loved to hear it anyway.

“Is he home? You’re not on assignment?”

Lou growled. “Why in the fuck should I tell you? You broke his heart, you piece of crap.”

“And I was wrong. And I want to fix it.” I didn’t bother to tell him I was hurting too. He knew it. But he didn’t care.

“Jesse, I swear to Christ…”

“Will he talk to me, Lou? If I go over there, will he shoot me down and shut me out? I was wrong. And I don’t know if he’ll forgive me but I need to try.”

A beat of silence, and then he huffed. “Why?”

“Because I love him and need him. Because he needs me. We need each other and our lives are better with each other. If we can get over what I did, that is.” I dragged in a breath, my heart constricting at the thought, and it took me long moments to realize Lou hadn’t responded. “Lou? Will he talk to me?”

“Yeah,” was the gruff response. “But this is your one chance.”

“Thank you.”

***

I thought I would be nervous when I finally got to Nathan’s, like when I’d shown up to end things, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was determined and filled with peace. This was my man, and I knew I was wrong. I would take full responsibility and lay my heart at his feet. He might kick it away, stomp on it, but I didn’t think so. And I’d spend however long it took to make it up to him, show him I’d never do it again.

Nathan opened the door about sixty seconds after I knocked. He looked haggard, beaten down, but his face lit up for a split second when he saw him, before quickly shutting down into his”cop face.” It broke my heart to see it, but I’d done that to him, made him look at me like that, and I would do anything in my power to fix it.

“You here for your stuff?”

“No.” I took a deep breath. I’d rather have done this inside, but I hadn’t earned that right. If I had to do this on his porch where his nosy neighbors could see, then so be it. “I’m here to beg forgiveness and tell you I was wrong and I miss you and I love you more than life. I made a mistake. And if you’ll have me back, forgive what I did, I’ll spend the rest of my life showing you.”

For a moment, Nathan didn’t say anything. His posture softened just a little, I thought. His gaze roamed all over my face, taking me in, assessing whether or not I was telling the truth, I was sure. I stood there, trying not to fidget, letting him look.

Eventually, he took a breath. “What about what you said? The worry and fear and all that. It’s valid, bab–Jesse. And if you can’t–”

“It’s a million times harder to worry about you and not know what’s going on.” I took a chance and moved a few steps closer. Nathan dropped his arms to rest at his sides, but he didn’t move otherwise. “When I know, when you keep me in the loop, I’m scared and worried. And miss you like crazy. But not knowing where you are or what you’re doing, the worry is so bad it’s debilitating. I’d rather love you and worry about you, and have you with me, then be terrified without you.”

He didn’t say anything to that either, but I knew he was listening. His gaze was fixed on mine, and I could see the warmth in his eyes that wasn’t there before. I took it as a good sign, and gave him a tentative smile.

“I love you.”

I got a ghost of a smile at that. “I didn’t doubt that for a second.”

My smile grew. “And I know I hurt you, and it’ll be a while before you can trust me completely again. But I know you love me. Need me. Just as much as I need you. So if you think there’s a chance you can forgive me, then I’m begging you. Give me another–”

Nathan grabbed me and pulled me to him, fitting my body against his the way we always fit together. So perfectly. As his mouth came down on mine, I opened for him, savoring his flavor, loving his taste. Eventually, he pulled back, both of us needing to breathe. I hadn’t even realized he’d moved us into the house. But we were in his entryway, and I was reminded of that night three weeks ago when I’d broken both our hearts. It seemed fitting we’d make up here.

“I hoped,” he murmured against my skin, his lips on my throat. “I hoped if you took some time, you’d see it was wrong for us to be apart.”

“I should have talked to you,” I admitted, squeezing him tightly. “I don’t want you to change, or get a different job or anything. But if you knew how I was feeling, maybe we could have figured out some things to help.”

He shook me a little as he laughed. “You think? Damn, baby. Only thing I want is for you to be happy. I thought you were. Hearing you weren’t? Made me feel like I failed.”

“No, Nathan. It’s not…it wasn’t that at all.”

He nodded, and kissed me lightly, ending with a little nip to my lip. Then he grinned and dragged me into the kitchen. “We have things to work out. To talk about. To get us back to good. Solid and strong.”

“Definitely,” I agreed, gripping his fingers tightly.

Nathan opened the junk drawer and rummaged in the back, finally pulling out a jewelers box. My breath caught, and I thought back to the day he’d been so excited and insistent I come over, and I’d broken his heart. Had this been what he’d been planning? He held up the box, but didn’t open it. And a part of me was glad. I didn’t want to see. Yet.

“I want to work toward this.” Nathan’s voice was low and fervent. “And maybe we should both be on the same page before we assume things, hm?”

“Yes.” I had to choke back the emotion, because it threatened to overwhelm. “And yes. Same page. And working toward that. In the future.”

“In the future.”

I lunged at him and we kissed, sealing the deal. In a minute, I knew he’d ask to take me to bed and I’d go happily. As much as I regretted the past three weeks, what I’d done and why, it had also shown us both that we didn’t want to be apart. We needed to communicate better if we wanted to get to the point where that jewelry came into play.

But as Nathan held me tight, and my body relaxed into his, I had no idea we would get there.