Flash Fic Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**This week’s prompt is a fun one. A massage. Enjoy!**

I didn’t know why I let him talk me into this. Sure, I’d had a rough couple of weeks. The disasters at work alone–one problem after another–had made it so I was working twelve hour days. And spending that much time hunched over a computer had done a number on my back. That, combined with the stress that knotted my muscles, and I was moving like an eighty year old man. With arthritis. So in theory, a massage was a good idea. Carlos was just trying to help me relax when he booked this appointment.

But I was uncomfortable. Naked under the sheet, face down on the table, with ocean sounds playing on the stereo and the scent of incense in the air. It was supposed to be soothing, I supposed. But I was anything but soothed. In fact, lying there and waiting for the masseuse to come in was making things even worse. Just as I was about to get up and forget the whole thing, I heard the door open.

My tension ratcheted up another notch, and I was practically vibrating. The person who entered didn’t say a word, but I heard the steady footsteps walk closer. I waited, and after a long moment, I felt the drip of warmed oil hit my back. I jumped. But hands touched my back, keeping me in place. Keeping me from turning over and seeing who was there.

A moment later, the massage started. Still, the masseuse said nothing. Just used strong, capable hands to press and knead. Rub and dig in. Was it a man? A woman? I couldn’t tell. Once or twice I thought I caught a hint of aftershave–a familiar scent–but the incense was too strong and it was gone before I could figure it out.

Slowly, I relaxed. Not completely, but enough so that the massage started working. The knots in my back let go, and I groaned as most of the tension released. The masseuse never wandered too far, but my shoulders, arms, and back were worked until I felt better. A whisper of fabric caught my attention a second before breath washed over my ear. I went still, barely daring to breath.

“Turn over, baby.”

I pushed myself up fast, craning my neck to see my husband grinning down at me. I stared in shock, and he just smiled, his teeth glinting in the low overhead light.

“Hey there, Lou.”

I gaped. “What?”

“You know the owner is a friend of mine,” he said softly, pushing me gently until I turned onto my back and lay down again. “And you know I put myself through college doing this.”

I nodded mutely, but my brain was racing to catch up. When Carlos made this appointment, it had never occurred to me that I’d see him here. I’d even suggested he just give me a massage at home when he first suggested it, but he’d insisted he didn’t have a table and it wouldn’t be as good. The only reason I’d agreed was because he was adamant. But he’d been planning this the whole time.

“I knew you wouldn’t be comfortable with someone else’s hands on you, but I thought it might be fun if we…played a little.”

Suddenly, he agilely swung up onto the table and straddled my hips. I gasped, and his grin turned sensuous as he put his oil-slicked hands on my chest.

“Just relax,” he murmured, leaning down. “I’m going to take care of you.”

I smiled. “You always do.”

He laughed, a low, wicked sound.

“That’s right.” He waggled his eyebrows. “And if you’re very lucky, this massage will finish with a happy ending.”

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**This week, we have a company picnic…and one last time with Wyatt and Tru. Enjoy!**

“You’re sure it’s okay that we brought the dogs?”

I chuckled and reached out to squeeze Tru’s knee. He’d been all worked up since we left the house this morning, and it only got more pronounced the closer we got to our destination.

“I’m sure, Tru. It’s a picnic. Outside. Our boys won’t be the only ones there.”

“It’s a company picnic, Wyatt. That changes the rules.” He glanced into the back seat where Aldo, Fawkes, and Chester were buckled in. Aldo was perfectly content to stare out the window, Chester was sleeping, and Fawkes, as usual, had enough of sitting still and trying to get down. Fortunately, his harness wouldn’t allow it. “Besides, that’s not what I meant.”

“No? What did you mean?” I signaled to turn off the road and into the park where my graphic design company had rented a pavilion for the annual barbecue. I’d only attended a handful of times before, but now that I’d moved and worked from home, it seemed prudent to make the trip and show my face.

“We’re staying with your mom while we’re in town. And you said she doesn’t have pets. Are you sure she doesn’t mind that we’re all invading her house?”

“I’m sure.” I glanced at him as I slowed even more. The narrow winding path required my concentration. “She loves the granddogs.”

“On Skype, maybe.” Tru’s knee started to bounce the closer we got. I pulled into the parking lot, and it didn’t take long to spot the banner with the company name stretched across the gate. I even recognized a few coworkers milling about.

“It’ll be fine. Come on.” Turning off the car, I shot him a smile. Then reached for the door handle.

“Wait!” Tru gripped my arm. “Maybe we should take the dogs to your moms first. That’d be better, right?”

I shoved the keys in my pocket, then turned as much as the seat would allow so I could look him over. Even though it had been more than a year, it was still strange to see him without his hat. And from the way he kept reaching up and tugging on his curls, I had to wonder if he missed it too.

“Okay, honey. What’s really up?”

Tru swallowed, cleared his throat, then swallowed again. Finally, he looked at me.

“This is where you work.” He rolled his eyes, and gave me a tiny, nervous looking smile. “I mean, not here, obviously. These are the people you work with. And you’re going to introduce me and the boys to them.”

Ah. I thought I finally understood.

“They’re going to love you, Tru. And the boys. Some of them have already met Al. But you don’t have to worry. No one is going to be mean or weird or say shit. Just be your usual charming self, and it’ll be fine.”

Tru stared at me, his brown eyes wide. “It’s a big deal. Introducing your boyfriend to work.”

I shrugged. “Well, maybe, yeah. But you’re not going anywhere. Why wouldn’t I want them to meet the man I love?” Aldo stuck his head over the seat, and when I reached up to scratch his ears, Fawkes gave a plaintive whine that said he wanted attention too. I smiled down at him, then turned back to Tru. I held out my hand, and Tru took it at once.

“I love you. I want my coworkers to meet you. I want to show off our family, and have them all be insanely jealous.” I gave him a leer and he laughed. That was better.

“Okay.” He blew out a breath. “Okay. Let’s go make them jealous.”

***

Three hours later, I’d caught up with all my coworkers, ate two hamburgers and broke up two more for the boys. Tru was surrounded by a flock of people, and when I’d wandered by earlier, he was giving tips about dog care and making everyone laugh. I knew he needn’t have worried. He had the biggest heart of anyone I’d ever met, and people  were drawn to him.

I still was and he’d been mine for more than a year.

“You know, our insurance covers same-sex partners.”

I startled at the voice and turned to find my boss down on his haunches and petting Chester. Aldo and Fawkes were with Tru, soaking up all the attention they were getting. Chester was still skittish around too many people for too long.

“I know, Mr. Danbury.”

He looked up and smiled. “It’s good to see you happy, Wyatt. And if that man is the reason your productivity has been so high, I’m going to demand you keep him forever.”

I laughed. “I’m keeping him forever anyway.”

“Good.” Mr. Danbury stood up. “Think he’ll mind if I ask him for some tips about my Shiba Inu? Little girl is stubborn as anything.”

“He’d be delighted to help,” I assured Mr. Danbury. I watched as he walked over, and then insinuated him into the conversation. Whatever Mr. Danbury said had Tru looking at me and giving me the most radiant smile.

Yep. I was definitely keeping him.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**Tru and Wyatt are out in the world and you can find buy links here. And because Alder suggested it, here’s Tru’s mom getting a dog. Enjoy!**

“She’s beautiful, honey. Where did you get her?” Lucy Rackley stroked the fur of the dog at her feet, a glorious golden retriever named Tessa. “And are you sure you can take on another dog? I’m not trying to judge, really. But you already have three.”

Tru caught my eye, and grimaced just a little. I shrugged. This had been his idea, and though I supported him completely, it was his show.

“Well, Mom.” Tru glanced my way again, then focused on his mother. “Tessa is actually for you.”

“I…what?” Lucy looked up at her son, blinking uncomprehendingly. Then she looked at me, seemingly wanting confirmation.

Tru sighed, squeezed my hand, then pushed off the wall where we had been standing and crossed the room to sink onto the couch next to Lucy. She looked at him, confusion evident on her face.

“I don’t understand,” she said quietly. “I don’t think I’m in a place where I can take care of a dog.”

“See, here’s the thing….” Tru looked up at me. He’d kept his search a secret because he wasn’t sure it would work out. And because he’d known his mom would resist if he brought it up to her, reject the idea out of hand. I agreed with him, and so did his counselor. We’d all thought this was the best approach. But now he was questioning everything. His mother had been through so much, they both had, and they’d come out the other side. Tru wanted to do this for his mom, but now he was worried.

“Lucy,” I said softly. “Tessa is a trained service dog.”

“Okay, but–”

“She’s been trained for people with anxiety and depression,” I said as gently as possible. After all the work Lucy had put in, she could say the words, own her diagnoses and know there was no shame in it. But I still wanted to treat it with the respect it deserved.

Lucy took that all in, not saying a word, as she stroked Tessa’s sleek fur. Tru’s face was calm, but I knew from the tight set of his shoulders that he was nervous and worried. I wanted to soothe him, but that would have to wait.

“How does that work, exactly?” She asked after a very long, very thick silence.

Tru relaxed a fraction. “Well, mostly she gives you something to focus on. She needs your care, right? But also, she’ll learn to sense your moods. Be there to calm you when you get anxious, and love you when you’re sad. Plus, you can take her out with you–I have her vest and harness in the Jeep–and she can ease you when you need to be out in public.” Tru placed a hand on his mother’s arm, and Lucy finally looked up from the dog. Tru smiled. “I can’t be here all the time, and I’ll still come whenever you need me. But Tessa will be here all the time.”

Lucy still didn’t say anything for another long moment. And then finally, quietly, she said, “That sounds nice.”

Tru blew out a silent breath. “We can try it for a couple of weeks. See if it helps. And Mom, I really think it will. Will you try?”

“Yes,” she said after only a moment’s hesitation. “We can try.”

“Great! I have everything you need for her in the Jeep. Let me go get it, and we can talk about some stuff. Wyatt, help me?”

I stood straight and followed him outside. The moment we set foot on the porch, he threw himself into my arms. I hugged him tightly, letting him shake as he got himself together. Eventually, he blew out a hot breath against my skin, and then pulled back.

“That went better than I thought.”

I nodded, rubbing his back. “I know you worried. I did too. But it’s going to be okay. And having that beautiful dog right there didn’t hurt either. No one could turn down that face.”

Tru chuckled, and pulled away. He was good now, and he didn’t need to lean on me. I was always happy to hold him up, but I loved it just as much when he stood on his own. God, I loved this man.

“I love you too,” Tru said as he stepped off the porch.

I blinked, knowing I hadn’t said that out loud. Tru laughed.

“It was all over your face, sweetheart. And I never get tired of seeing it. You get the dog food, while I grab the rest, okay?”

I grinned and followed him. Whatever he wanted.

Flash Fic Friday

Flash Fic Friday

**One in Vermilion is out now, and you can go here to get buy links. This week’s prompt is a continuation of Wyatt and Tru’s story. So join me and the boys as they adopt a new member of their household. Enjoy!**

Aldo was up and racing for the door a second before the sound of the RV’s engine reached my ears. I smiled and followed my poodle toward the front of the house, glad that Tru was finally home. He’d had long days all week–early training session and late grooming appointments–so we hadn’t gotten to spend as much time together as either of us was used to. I knew Aldo was missing his little buddy too. Fawkes the Corgi had wormed his way into Aldo’s heart just as surely as Tru had settled into mine.

“Wyatt!”

Tru’s slightly panicked voice jolted me out of my musings, and I didn’t even bother to grab Aldo’s leash when I wrenched open the front door. My boyfriend was hanging out the side door of the grooming RV, and Aldo raced right for him. I was right behind the dog, not even caring when a rock bit into the bottom of my bare foot.

“What’s the matter?”

Tru shook his head and disappeared into the RV. I followed up the steps. Fawkes was in his kennel, pawing at the bars, and Aldo went right over to him, pushing his nose against Fawkes’s. I had only a second to wonder why Fawkes was in the kennel, when Tru grabbed my hand and tugged me to the tub. At first, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing as I peered down into it. It looked like a dirty mop. But then the mop shivered and huffed a breath, and I realized I was looking at a very dirty, very matted dog.

“Tru?”

“I found him.” Tru was breathing very fast, and I could see the worry in the lines around his eyes and mouth. I wrapped an arm around his shoulders, and Tru instantly relaxed. Not completely, but some of the tension left is body.

“What happened?”

“He was just huddled under the picnic table at the dog park. I don’t know where he came from, but he’s been outside for a while. Weeks maybe. He was scared, but he let me get close enough to grab him.” Tru looked down at the dog. “He’s a mess, so I came straight home. I need help to clean him up and see if there’s anything wrong with him.”

I wasn’t surprised that my bighearted man had not only found a lost pup, but had instantly taken him in. It was exactly the kind of thing Tru would do, taking the step above. Where as other people might have ignored the dog completely, or perhaps just called animal control, my boyfriend had coaxed the dog out with the intent to provide the care the dog needed himself. It was one of the reasons I loved him.

“Tell me what you need.” I may have been a dog owner for the better part of my adult life, but Tru was a trained vet tech and all around dog whisperer. I was happy to follow his directions.

Tru worked as quickly and methodically as he could, gently cleaning the dog while I did my best to keep the little guy calm. He was shaking in our hands, but as we worked, he seemed to relax somewhat. It took more than a half an hour to get the dirty, burrs, and other detritus out of his fur.

“He’s too matted,” Tru murmured as he shut off the water. Now that the dog was clean, he was an off white grayish color. “That’s gotta hurt so badly. I’m going to have to shave him down.”

It took another hour, with Tru working slowly and carefully to cut out the mats and shave the dog. All the while, the dog didn’t make a noise, nor did he snap or try to bite. I chalked that up to Tru’s gentle hand and melodic voice. I did what I could to keep the dog calm, but Tru had a real talent.

“I think he’s part Puli. Mixed with something, or maybe multiple somethings, but look at this,” Tru muttered, holding up a scrap of fur he’d just cut. I squinted at it while still rubbing the dog between the eyes. It definitely looked like the fur had corded.

“Do you think he was someone’s pet?” I asked softly.

For a long moment, Tru didn’t answer. He’d finished clipping and shaving–the dog looked overly skinny now, and not as tall as I first thought–and he was checking the dog over. Eventually he straightened up.

“Probably. But I think they might have abandoned him.” Tru moved toward a cupboard on the other side of the RV. “There was no collar under all that fur.”

“It could have gotten caught somewhere and he could have pulled out of it.”

“Maybe,” Tru answered absently. He returned a moment later with a microchip reader and ran it over the dog’s back several times. “Nothing.”

“So, what do we do?”

“I’ll take him to see Rayna in the morning.” Tru ran his hands gently over the dog. With a sigh, the pup laid down and closed his eyes. I was sure he was exhausted. “His skin looks good. A little red in places where the mats pulled, but no lasting damage. Surprisingly, I don’t see any fleas or flea dirt. And I didn’t find any ticks. He doesn’t have mange, so that’s good. But Rayna will do the the full work up. Make sure he’s not carrying anything deadly, and give him his vaccines.”

I looked down at the dog, who was resting, and the way Tru kept running his hands over the dog’s fur.

“So,” I began, drawing the word out. “What should we name him?”

Tru’s gaze jerked to mine. “What? We can’t…Wyatt, we should….shouldn’t we…”

“Honey, I know you. I know me. If the dog doesn’t have a home already, can we really let him go?”

Tru opened his mouth, shut it again, then looked down at the dog. Shaking his head, Tru shot me a smile. “No. He needs a fighting chance after everything he’s been through. Who better to give it to him then us?”

“Nobody.”

“I love you.”

I grinned. “And I, you.” I leaned far enough to drop a kiss on his cheek, then straightened. “So. Name?”

“Chester,” Tru said decisively.

I gave Chester another pat, then stepped away to let Fawkes out of his kennel and take both him and Aldo into the house. “We’ll set Chester up in the guest room until he gets a clean bill of health.” I bent to attach Fawkes’s leash, and called Aldo to heel. “Come on, Tru. Let’s get our boys settled.”

As we all trouped into the house, I couldn’t help thinking that one more addition to our family was exactly what we needed.