This is a newer feature we’ll be doing a couple times through the year – highlighting characters sharing firsts. We can post something from an already published work, a work in progress or something completely new. This time, we’re talking first arguments.
I’ve chosen a bit from one of my Bound books – Nothing Serious.
It was meant to be nothing serious. And it was…until it wasn’t.
Aaron Stevens likes his life the way it is. As a surgical resident, he is perfectly content with the fact that the precious hours he has outside the hospital revolve around taking care of his mother and sister. He doesn’t have the time or inclination for a serious relationship. So the fact his lover lives halfway around the world and is fine with jetting off to exotic locales a couple times a year for a few weeks of hot sex is as close to perfect as he can get.
The last thing Jack Hayes ever expected when his best friend got involved with an American was to hook up with her son. And he sure as hell never imagined it would continue for as long as it has. For years, he has been at Aaron’s beck and call, satisfied with submitting to him whenever Aaron and his busy life allow. But, after a change in his family’s company that has him looking for a new job, and possibly moving, Jack has begun to examine what he really wants in life and isn’t sure stolen moments here and there are enough anymore.
When Jack arrives to attend Aaron’s sister’s wedding, keeping what he and Aaron have a secret begins to take its toll. Aaron is unwilling to come out to his family, afraid of hurting them and ruining what should be the happiest day of his sister’s life. As much as Jack has come to love Aaron, he can’t bring himself to be the dirty secret in Aaron’s closet. Aaron has a choice to make, because the tighter he holds on to keeping their “nothing serious” arrangement, the closer he comes to losing everything.
Jack took a deep breath and closed his eyes, and Aaron pulled him close, wishing he had more time, knowing coming out of a scene so abruptly wasn’t easy.
“I’m all right,” Jack murmured into Aaron’s neck. “Should put some clothes on before Em shows up, though.”
“Yeah, definitely should do that. I’ll get your stuff.”
“My stuff?” Jack frowned at him.
“We need to move your things in here.” Aaron stood and gathered the unused toys from the dresser. “Last thing I need is Emily getting nosy and suspicious. Be right back.”
He hurried into this room and replaced the items in the chest. Then, he grabbed Jack’s suitcases and rolled them into the guestroom, where Jack still sat on the bed, staring straight ahead.
“Still a few things in the bathroom, but I’ll get those after I clean up and get dressed.” Bending to kiss Jack’s mouth, he frowned when Jack leaned away. “Jack?”
“Does your sister normally go poking around in your room and bathroom when she’s here?” Jack asked flatly.
“But you can’t take the chance, no matter how small, ‘cause it’d be the last thing you need, yeah? I mean, what could be worse than someone finding out about us?”
Aaron gaped at him, the metallic taste of panic overwhelming him. Whether it was because of his sister’s imminent arrival or Jack’s reaction, he didn’t know. “Why are you so angry? Nothing’s changed. I don’t understand.”
“Not angry.” Jack shook his head. “Just tired. And frustrated.”
“I’m sorry,” Aaron murmured, not know what else to say.
“Yeah, I know. So, go get dressed, Aaron, so everything’s normal when your sister gets here.”
The weariness his voice was like a knife to Aaron’s gut, and his refusal to meet Aaron’s gaze another twist of the blade. He went back to his room and, getting clean clothes, ducked into the bathroom. Turning the shower on, he stepped in, wincing at coolness of the water. As he washed his hair and scrubbed, he heard Jack shuffle in. Peering around the curtain, Aaron watched the other man gather his toiletries. Their eyes met briefly in the mirror above the sink, and Jack’s mouth quirked up in sad smile before walking out.
This day, Aaron decided, shoving his head under the spray to rinse off, couldn’t get much worse. After toweling off and dressing, he strode into the living room and realized how wrong he was.
Jack stood near the door, holding the curtain back from the window and peering outside—his suitcases at his feet.
“What are you doing?” Aaron managed to croak.
Jack visibly stiffened but didn’t turn around. “I’m waiting for a cab.”
“What the hell for?”
“To take me to a hotel.”
“Why?” Aaron asked, shaking his head and leaning against the sofa as his legs quaked.
“I think it’d be easier all around, don’t you? No chance of anyone finding out this way.”
“You can’t leave like this.”
“Like what?” Jack snapped, finally facing Aaron. “How exactly am I leaving? On my terms? Is that the problem?”
“What? No! The problem is you leaving at all. Why would you want to stay at a hotel when you can—”
“Stay here and go back and forth between rooms at your convenience depending on who decides to drop by?”
Aaron shoved his hand through his wet hair and shook his head. Christ, he couldn’t deal with this, not now. A car horn sounded outside, and Jack turned to look out.
“It’s my cab.”
“Is…is this you ending things?” Aaron could hardly force the words out, a cold sweat breaking out over his body as he waited for the answer.
It’s time for March’s flash fic. We’ve all be given the same photo and have to come up with a story based on the image. This is this month’s photo.
His fingers shook as he turned off the engine and stared out at the dirt road before him, cutting a wide swatch through the forest. Being in the closed vehicle didn’t protect him… He could feel this place. As he always could. It reached for him, now, trying to coax him out, eager to have him in its embrace, once again.
Too much, he thought, the pulsing mass of emotions pushing
to get out. His skin ached, stretched too tight, as if trying to contain it
all. Trying to hold back the magic that roiled within him, that fed on his
emotions as if starving.
And, of course, it was. His magic had always been connected
to what he felt, and he’d been cruel in denying it. He’d run from the place it
thrived most, shutting down and becoming cold and calculating, just trying to
survive, to get through one day to the next. Pretending his magic didn’t exist,
ignoring the weakening thrum beneath his skin, in his effort to be normal, to
It had been so long, years, and his magic was ready to be let loose, to be reunited with this place. This painfully beautiful cradle of power and magic. Like was drawn to like, after all. And when he’d escaped the hell he’d found himself in, he’d gone as far away as he possibly could. Had chosen to exist in a place of concrete and steel and people, so many people pressing in from all sides. He’d severed his connection to this sacred place so completely, so severely—and his magic had withered.
And, now, it was time. He couldn’t avoid it any longer.
Inhaling deeply, he opened the door and stepped out. He started down the road,
no particular destination in mind. He was already where he needed to be.
He couldn’t hold back the quiet sob that escaped a few
minutes later. His magic… Oh, his magic was singing, dancing through him,
pressing outward, rejoicing.
The power of this place rose from the earth beneath his feet.
He could hear it in the wind and moving branches and taste it in the moisture-heavy
air he breathed. The scent of it flooded his senses—earthy and green and fresh.
He could see it in the glow of the rising sun cutting through the trees and
feel it in the warmth on his face.
All of it, all of those things coming together in a simple
message that had him dropping to his knees.
How we are at the end of February, I do not know. This month has FLOWN by ridiculously fast. So, here is my check-in… Starting with a look at what goals I made at the end of January.
Daily writing. 100 words minimum – I did do this and am super proud of myself and very, very happy.
Complete Stealing Time – Not quite, which is a shame, but I’ve made steady progress and will have it finished very soon, and it will release in March.
All scheduled blog posts – OMG so, so close. I missed one! *sigh* Shame on me.
Complete all day-job tasks before the 13th – Came close to this one, too. Ended up having to finish an edit on the 14th, but it was just a little bit to go, so I’m not kicking myself over that one.
Continue making self-care a priority – Definitely have done this. And honestly, it’s the reason I closely missed some of the other goals by such a fine margin. I chose to listen to my body and do what was best, instead of pushing myself into a flare or sickness, which this girl does NOT need.
Finish friends’ Christmas gifts before the 13th. LOL – Yeah, this was one I just removed from my goals list pretty early on. After a couple rough weeks, weatherwise, when EVERYONE was at home because it was too dangerous to go to school or work, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to do this one. It’s cool, though; my friends are totally okay with getting Christmas pressies in June when I see them next. 😀
Enjoy the time away from “real life” at the end of the month, so I can come home refreshed and ready to jump back into it – OMG, yes, yes, yes, to this one. Two weeks away was just what I needed to relax and enjoy myself and spend time with friends and write. I’m actually enjoying my last evening at Bronwyn’s as I type this. I’m sad to be leaving, but at the same time, I miss my family. I’m so excited to see them tomorrow night. And I do feel like this time has refreshed me and I can hit “real life” running…okay, at least a fast walk, anyway.
And those goals I didn’t quite make? I feel like I’ve evened that out with the extra things I accomplished this month. I’ve gotten all my books uploaded to Eden Books – in time for their opening, this week. Super excited about that. I helped Bronwyn get her computer organized. The first day I was here, I nearly had a stroke when I saw the state of her laptop desktop and her files. So, I ever so gently guided her, and now, her files are purged and organized. Her desktop is clean and uncluttered. It’s like heaven. (I may have been super dramatic and heavy-handed…but it was for her own good!!)
Looking forward to March:
Write daily. I’m bumping my daily minimum from 100 to 250 words.
Complete and publish Stealing Time.
Work on co-writing holiday Bound story with Bronwyn.
All scheduled blog posts.
Re-release the five contemporary books I’ve gotten the rights back for.
Be more active on social media.
Continue to make self-care a priority.
And that’s it’s for me. Make sure you check out how Bronwyn did this month and what she’s aiming for in March.
It’s time for a Promptly Penned post – we all get the same prompt and see what we come up with. As always, the prompt itself will be in bold.
“So, performance reviews this week.”
Molly looked up as Leah, her friend and coworker, set two
cups of coffee on the desk then flopped into the chair on the other side.
Dread settled heavily in Molly’s stomach, and she grimaced. “God,
don’t remind me.”
“Don’t know what you’re worried about.” Leah waved a hand in
front of her. “You seriously don’t think you’re going to get a bad one, are
Lifting a shoulder, Molly dropped her gaze. She wasn’t
worried about that—she was good at her job, and she knew it. It was just…awkward
“I…” She cleared her throat, face already flaming. “I had the dream, again.”
“What do— Oh! The dream!”
She rolled her eyes. “Yes The. Dream.”
“Well, what’s the problem, Mol? It’s not like you can
control what you dream.”
“I know! You think, if I could, I would be dreaming that?” She dragged her palms over her face then leaned her head back against her chair, eyes closed. “For fuck’s sake, I don’t even like him!”
“Don’t have to like him to appreciate, my friend. And there
is plenty to appreciate,” Leah drawled.
“Easy for you to say. You’re not having recurrent sex dreams
about our boss then having to face him day in and day out. Come on, give me
some real, serious advice how to de—” Her words dried up when she opened
her eyes and caught a pair of amused chocolate-brown ones focused on her. Oh no…no,
no, no. This couldn’t be happening.
“Ms. Halwell, my office in ten. Performance review.”
She nodded, still unable to speak, gaze shifting to her wide-eyed
“Looking forward to it.”
The deep, gravelly murmur—eerily similar to the voice that
echoed in her mind long after she woke—chased a shiver down her spine. She was
so, so screwed.
We’ve all be given the same photo and have to come up with a story based on the image. It’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with. 🙂
I’ve delved into the world of my (horribly neglected) serial, Your Lies. It isn’t about any of the main characters – just set in the same world.
Cora Hale stared at her reflection, ignoring her family’s
voices behind her. This was the last place she wanted to be, but she didn’t
have a choice.
She never had a choice.
It was just a fact of life, and she’d accept it.
She jolted at her father’s voice and turned quickly.
“Come on,” he said, gesturing for her to join the rest of
She nodded and crossed the room, stopping next to the couch
her mother and two sisters sat on, waiting for instructions. They were having a
family portrait done—immortalizing the perfect family before they sent her
away. For her own good, they said. She’d get help with her “problem” then come
back home, they claimed.
But she knew better.
She was getting locked up and was never going to be free,
again. All because of her dreams. Dreams that came true. Something she had no
She bit back a snort. When had she ever had control of anything? When had she ever really been free? She was getting sent away, but it was really just going from one prison to another.
“She’ll stand here,” her father said, waving away the
photographer who had stepped forward with a murmured suggestion on positioning.
Ah, yes, standing to the side while the rest of the family
sat together. Wouldn’t want anyone to think you were too close to the daughter
who had magic—not that anyone knew, but just in case it ever got out. That was
her father, always thinking ahead, protecting the family image. His image.
“All right, everyone look here. Smile.”
Cora lifted her gaze and stared at the camera, trying to
smile but she suspected her expression wasn’t a picture of happiness. She
blinked rapid after the flash went off.
She nearly stumbled back. That wasn’t her father’s voice. It’d come from behind the camera. She looked at the dark-haired man with stormy gray eyes intent on her. The corner of his mouth twitched slightly as he held her gaze.
Whatever her father had been about to ask was cut off when
the photographer waved a hand without looking away from Cora. Heart pounding,
she glanced over and gasped as she saw her family slumped against the sofa, eyes
closed, but chests raising and falling rhythmically.
“Are you ready?”
She turned back to the man…the Magic-user. He’d stepped away
from the camera and was watching her, head tilted to the side slightly.
Okay, so I didn’t really write down any goals specific to this month. BUT I did say I would write daily this year. I told myself I would write a minimum of 100 words every day no matter what. An addendum was added to that – that if I missed a day because of a flare-up or some family stuff, as long as that 100 words was made up for during that week, it still counted.
I have managed to do that. I’ve written every day this month. What’s even better? Even though there were days I only got that 100 words, I still wrote over 13K this month. Soooo YAY! I know for some writers, this isn’t ground-breaking, but for me, who barely wrote last year (for many reasons), it is HUGE!
Seriously, I was blown away by the monthly total when I looked at it because I didn’t expect that I’d written that much. So I am really, really happy!
I did all the scheduled blog posts for January, so that was awesome. Wrapped up a lot of day job stuff. Didn’t freeze to death – close call with “feels like” -50 through this week. o.O So all in all, I’m very proud of my January.
So, now, my goals for February:
Daily writing. 100 words minimum
Complete Stealing Time
All scheduled blog posts
Complete all day-job tasks before the 13th.
Continue making self-care a priority.
Finish friends’ Christmas gifts before the 13th. LOL
Enjoy the time away from “real life” at the end of the month, so I can come home refreshed and ready to jump back into it.
I’ll be heading to Michigan on the 13th to invade Bronwyn’s house for two whole weeks, so I want all the non-writing word done and off my plate, because I’m not bringing it with me! Those two weeks are for time with friends and writing, and I canNOT wait!
And that’s it for me. Be sure to check out how January came together for Bron.