Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is a long lost love. Enjoy!**

When I saw him, I was certain I was imagining it. It had been twenty years since he walked away from me, and in the intervening years, I’d hallucinated him in all sorts of places. He was never far from my thoughts, and I thought I saw him everywhere. But every time, it turned out to be another man; someone who was built the same, or had the same color hair, or a familiar looking jacket. It had never been Mark. So I was used to thinking I saw him, and it not being him. The man down the street was not Mark.

Except why else would he be standing in the pouring rain, getting drenched, and staring at me like he saw a ghost?

My heart picked up, and I stood rooted to the spot as the man started walking swiftly toward me. He had a bit of a limp, his gait uneven, and he stepped carefully even as he picked up speed. I couldn’t move, because the closer he got, the more he looked like Mark. An older, much more worn version, but definitely Mark. And then the air stuttered in my lungs, because it was Mark, stopping two feet away from me, looking like a drowned rat with a broken heart.

“Daniel?” His voice was a croak.

Tears stung my eyes, and I tripped forward, awkwardly dosing him with rain off my large umbrella until I could shield him with it too. We stood close, staring at each other, breathing in each other’s air.

“Hi. Wow. Hi.”

Mark chuckled at my eloquence, but it sounded pained and raw. He took another step forward, so he was right in my space. He lifted a hand, but dropped it before he made contact with me. I wanted to throw my arms around him, because I couldn’t believe he was here.

At eighteen, we’d been desperately, madly in love. Hardly anyone knew–it wasn’t safe–but that hadn’t mattered. We’d made plans to run away together, to start a new life with each other as soon as we graduated college. But Mark had joined the Marines instead, without telling me first, and broke my heart into pieces when he went to Basic. He cut off all contact, and it took me weeks to function normally again. Everyone thought I missed my best friend. Which I did, but Mark was so much more than that to me.

“How are you?” I whispered.

Mark shrugged. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”

I nodded, and blinked hard to clear the tears. I hadn’t either. I was fortunate his parents were still friends with my mom, because I’d gotten snippets of information over the years. I knew he’d been injured by an IED when he’d been deployed a few years ago, and that he’d gotten a medical discharge sometime later, but I didn’t dare ask for more info. I couldn’t seem too eager, and I didn’t know his situation with his parents.

“You look great,” he murmured, and this time he did touch me, the briefest ghost of fingertips along my cheek. I sighed, leaned closer catching a whiff of him under the rain and damp wool. Earthy, with a hint of citrus. God, that smell. I remembered it well. And for just a second, I was lost in memories. Of our bodies entwined, of long nights in each other’s arms. A horn honked, and I jerked back to the present.

“You look good, too. Tired, but good.” I smiled, and Mark did too.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he admitted with a hint of sadness. Then he cleared his throat. “I bet you have a husband and a passel of dogs and white picket fence now. All those things you dreamed off.”

“Well, I’ve got the dogs,” I said with a small laugh. “And the fence, but it’s wrought iron.”

Mark’s smile grew. “But no husband? Boyfriend? Partner?”

“No,” I said softly. “Not one of those.”

“Me either.”

I grinned, unable to stop myself. And then he gave a hard shiver, and I realized he was soaked and freezing.

“There’s a coffee shop,” I said, gesturing across the street. “Want to get warm and have something hot to drink? Catch up?”

He put his arm around me, then took the umbrella from my hand and held it over both of us. “There’s nothing I want more.”

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Flash Fic Friday

***Fall is finally in there air and my prompt this week is a Harvest Festival. Enjoy!**

Sweater weather. Crisp, cool air. The scent of decaying leaves and hay and cooking apples. I couldn’t stop grinning. This was my heaven.

The annual Harvest festival was my favorite place, and I made it a tradition to go every year. For hours I wandered the stalls, picking up knickknacks and treats, things I could only get from certain vendors at this one place and time. I made a day of it, and though I usually had a few people willing to meander with me, this year I was alone. I didn’t care. I could spend the whole day walking, looking, and chatting.

I’d already been there for a couple of hours and had made one trip back to my car to drop off overladen canvass bags. But I still had half of the festival to walk through. I passed by the games and rides–neither of those were why I was here–and headed down yet another row. It took me a better part of an hour, and I’d stopped and had a apple cider donut and picked up some fried dough, before I continued on.

And stopped dead when I saw the familiar banner on the last booth in the aisle.

The year before, I’d stopped at the booth because my sister was an avid knitter and she loved indie dyed yarns. In the process of picking her up a dark blue merino/angora blend, I’d met Kyle. He didn’t own the shop where the yarn was produced–that was his sister–but he’d been helping out. He was funny and engaging, and I stood there for more than fifteen minutes pretending to chose yarn just so I could chat with him. And after I made my purchase and his sister came back, Kyle and I had meandered to a copse of trees not far away.

The blow jobs had been spectacular.

We’d parted ways before exchanging more than names. I’d instantly regretted it, but by the time I got the courage up to go back to the stall, the yarn had been packed up and neither Kyle nor his sister were anywhere in sight. I’d thought about him occasionally over the past year, and my heart sped up a little, thinking I might see him again.

Would he be there? Would he remember me? Should I even wander over?

But my sister did love the yarn, and I’d won Christmas by giving it to her last year. I couldn’t pass up the chance to get her that treat, and to maybe see Kyle again. I took a deep breath and walked over.

Kyle wasn’t there. Just his lovely sister who was happy to chat and help me make my selection. I tried not to let my disappointment show. Instead I picked out a gorgeous skein my sister would die over, and paid with a swipe of my card.

“Liam.”

I started, and then spun. Kyle stood there, his dark eyes hooded and a mischievous little smile on his lips. My heart stuttered, and I tried to control the crazy grin on my face.

“H-hi there.”

Kyle chuckled softly, and took a step so he was in my space.

“It’s nice to see you again. I’ve been looking for you, hoping I might.”

My eyes widened. “Really?”

He nodded, and then stepped in again. Any closer, and we’d be pressed together.

“Would you like to take a walk with me?” His smile turned soft. “We can head over to the Rev’s Barbecue booth. Have dinner?”

Now I couldn’t contain my grin. I wasn’t opposed to a repeat of last year, but dinner was so much better.

“I’d love to.”

Kyle glanced up. “You okay here, Krissy?”

I peered over my shoulder to see his sister smiling knowingly, and then she made a shooing gesture. Kyle chuckled again, then held out a hand in invitation. I didn’t hesitate to take it.

The Harvest Festival really was my favorite place to be.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

Flash Fic Friday

**This week my prompt was simply thus: Bart, Greg, peaches. Enjoy!**

I loved my job, but I hated working Saturdays. It was even worse today, because my boyfriend and I been planning on starting our day with a trip to the Farmer’s market. I loved watching Greg at the market. The joy he got at all the interesting food and products made me smile. But he understood the demands of my job, and he hadn’t been overly disappointed that we couldn’t go. In fact, I thought I’d been sadder than he was.

But finally, I was home. I’d managed to resolve all major crises and it had only taken five hours. I was tired and dragging, but just the thought of sitting down to a nice dinner and then quiet time with Greg kept me going.

“Bart?” Greg called when I opened the door.

I cringed. Everyone in my life called me by my last name–even my parents–except Greg. He thought it was cute, though I disagreed. But I loved him, so he could call me whatever he wanted.

“Yeah, it’s me.”

“Don’t come in here!”

I froze, then cocked my head and listened. A bang and a crash let me know he was in the kitchen. I was instantly suspicious.

“Why not?”

“I mean it, Bartholomew! Don’t come in here!”

Greg was full-naming me? That was sure to mean trouble. I ignored his directive, and jogged right through the house. And stopped dead on the threshold to the kitchen.

He was a mess. Sweat had flattened his dark hair to his head. Flour and something sticky covered the apron he’d donned, and more flour streaked his cheek. He stared at me with wide eyes, his mouth open like he wanted to say something but didn’t know what. The counters fared no better, covered in bowls, pots, knives, and pans. The sink was filled with sudsy water and even more dishes. And overlaying it all was the sweet, delicious scent of peaches.

“You don’t like peaches,” I said stupidly.

The anxiety on Greg’s face eased instantly, and he gave me a glorious smile. “Nope. Sure don’t. But you do.”

I nodded, still not quite sure what I was seeing. It took a minute to put the pieces together. But the pile of peach skin and pits next to the cutting board, and the sweet scent of baked goods finally sank into my brain.

“Oh. Honey.”

Greg’s grin got wider, and then he grabbed a towel to wipe off his hands before crossing the floor to get to me.

“You were so sad about missing our trip this morning, so I thought I’d go anyway and get you something to cheer you up. And that stand we like had peaches!” He gestured around, and I chuckled. “But you couldn’t eat a peck of peaches yourself, so I decided to cook. So now there’s a cobbler for dessert, because I know that’s your favorite. And I made a peach compote that should store fine in the fridge for a few weeks. You can have that on toast or on ice cream or I could make crepes tomorrow, if you want and–”

I cut him off by grabbing him and kissing him. He melted into me for a long moment, letting me have control, and then pushed me away.

“I’m gonna get you all dirty.”

“So what?” I shrugged. “You smell like peaches. I want to eat you up.”

He gave a tiny moan, and his breathing sped up. “That works too.”

We’d get to that. But first, I had to make sure he knew how much I appreciated it. “This is awesome. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” He bit his bottom lip. “I thought I had enough time to get everything cleaned up before you got home though.”

“I hurried,” I soothed, letting him know it wasn’t his fault. Then I shot him a teasing wink. “Though why you could possibly need all these dishes…”

He laughed, and smacked my arm. “You know I use way too many dishes. It’s a sickness. I can’t help it.”

I pulled him in again, not caring that I’d get flour, peach juice, and who knew what else all over my clothes. “I love you. Thank you.”

“I love you. You’e welcome.”

“Now.” I clapped my hands. “Let me help you get this mess cleaned up. And then let me help you get yourself cleaned up.” I wiggled my eyebrows, and Greg’s breath caught. “And then, when we have the energy again, I’d love to have dessert.”

Pupils blown, Greg licked his lips and then nodded. He turned, tripped over his own feet, and then set to work. After a moment, my heart full to bursting, I followed him.