It's time for photo flash fic! I'd panned on doing this one, but life has kind of exploded right now and there is not enough hours in the day!
BUT, be sure check out the other ladies who wrote a flash fic inspired by this photo:
Time for another flash fic. 🙂
I'm currently sitting on Bronwyn's couch, after a fantastic weekend with her and Jenny Trout (and so many awesome authors!) at the Rust City Book Con. We had so much fun, and I had a blast hanging with friends - old and new. I've a couple more days here at Bron's then it's back home. It's been a great visit and a wonderful break. A much-needed one. 🙂
Okay, so flash fic...I'm tying this one to a previous flash fic ("Let's Get Out of Here") because...well, that's what I did. I know, brilliant, right? But this can be read on it's own, if you like. 🙂
This is pure, unapologetic fluff, because that's what I needed tonight. And I figure I don't do it enough. LOL
With a sigh, Penny glanced up from where she’d been tracing patterns in the sand. Her sister and her friends closer to the water’s edge, taking what they thought were artsy photos of each other. They looked and sounded like they were having a good time—and Penny supposed that was what mattered, but she really didn’t want to be here. But she’d given in to Jane… She was actually getting better at not doing that—not always easy because old habits and all—but her big sister had made such a big fuss about Penny not doing anything with their friends for a while, and she’d felt obligated. Though honestly, calling them “their friends’ was a major stretch. They were Jane’s friends. They tolerated Penny tagging along because Jane was just the kind of friend you did that for.
“Come on, Pen.”
Startling as her sister dropped onto the sun-bleached log beside her, Penny shook her head. “What?”
“This was supposed to be fun,” Jane said pointedly.
“Looks like it is.” Penny nodded toward the other girls.
“Hey.” Jane bumped shoulders with her. “Are you okay? You’ve been moping around, not wanting to do anything… Not since the party you skipped out of early a couple weeks ago.”
“Nothing’s going on,” Penny said quickly. Too quickly, damn it.
It wasn’t as if anything was wrong. Not exactly. She was just figuring shit out in her head. And until she had it figured, she wasn’t sharing. Definitely not telling her sister she’d suddenly developed feelings for one of her friends, and he apparently had feelings for her too—they’d ditched that party together and had spent the night just talking and laughing. Getting to know each other better. They hadn’t really done anything beyond that, though he’d given her a sweet kiss and long hug when he’d dropped her off, along with the promise of a "real date" soon.
Then, the two days later, Brad had gotten a call that his dad was in the hospital after having a stroke, and he’d headed back home immediately. Penny felt enormous guilt that, since then, she’d been wallowing in the uncertainty of what was between them while he was dealing with something so serious. But she couldn’t help it. She wondered if what had started between them was real. Did he still feel something or had he just been satisfying some curiosity? Maybe now he realized this wasn't, as he'd said, what he'd been waiting a long time for.
He’d texted her a couple times, but he’d been so wrapped up with visiting his dad—who, thankfully was going to be okay but would have a long recovery ahead of him—and helping his family that that even those messages were few and far between.
She wondered if the situation he now found himself in meant he wasn’t going to return at all. Maybe he’d transfer to a college closer to home. Didn’t that just figure? She’d found something with a funny, sweet, and hot guy, when she’d least expected it, and it was going to be yanked away before it had really even begun. Penny grimaced and looked out over the rolling waves. She was the fucking worst. Selfish, selfish Penny.
She jolted, startled again, as Jane wrapped an arm around her. “I really thought you’d have a good time with us today.”
Slightly bewildered by the teasing tone, Penny lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “Just go; have fun. I’m fine. Though, it’s too damned cold to be frolicking on the beach, you crazy person.”
With that, she pulled her phone from her pocket, to do her hourly check for any missed texts—she cursed herself every inch the fool—finding nothing. Again.
“Hmmm.” Jane’s arm tightened a moment, an affectionate squeeze. “I think maybe things are going to get better now.”
“Really?” Penny asked absently. “How do you figure?”
“David and the others just showed up.”
“Oh joy.” She rolled her eyes. Just what she needed, everyone paired off with their boyfriends so she could feel even more alone. “And how would that possibly make a diff—” Her words dried up on her tongue—along with every ounce of spit—as she looked over at where David’s car was parked behind Jane’s. Her gaze immediately locked on to the tallest of the group making their way down the beach toward them, and her heart began to hammer wildly.
“Because Brad’s back,” Jane whispered.
Penny whipped around to face her sister. “Why… How… Jane.”
Her sister smiled, pulled her in for a tight hug then pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before standing. “Wasn’t too difficult to figure out. Even if you don’t talk or share…” She sighed. “I know you, Pen.”
Swallowing around the sudden lump in her throat, not even sure what she was feeling exactly, she stared up at Jane.
“He’s a great guy,” she said, so quietly Penny could hardly hear her over the laughter of the approaching guys. “And you’re amazing…you’d be really good together and really good for each other.”
Penny opened her mouth to respond, but just then, David jumped in front of her and grabbed Jane round the waist in a huge hug.
“We’ve brought food and beer, as ordered,” he said cheekily.
Unable to stop herself from laughing at her sister’s boyfriend, Penny shook her head. A hand suddenly appeared in her line of vision, and she tilted her head back to look into dark blue eyes, which were crinkling as Brad smiled down at her.
Breathless and a big shaky—God, she hoped he didn’t notice—Penny grasped his hand and let him pull her to her feet.
“Hey, Pen,” he murmured.
He stared at her a long, long moment then lifted their hands so he could press his lips to her palm—just like he’d done the night of the party before they’d taken off.
Overwhelmed, she brought her other hand up and, without thinking of everyone around them, ran her fingers through his short hair. “Missed you.”
His mouth broke into a wide grin, and he drew her closer. As he folded her into his arms, she glanced over and found Jane watching them. When she met Penny’s gaze, her sister just smiled brightly before turning and walking away with David.
Penny closed her eyes and rested her head on Brad’s shoulder as she let his warmth seep into her body. The uncertainty still swam beneath the surface, but it wasn’t as sharp as before.
He skimmed his palm over her hair, and his breath tickled her ear as he spoke. “Missed you too. Fuck,” he kissed then nuzzled against her cheek, “how I missed you.”
“But you’re here now,” she said, then leaned back to meet his eyes. “Right? Or do you need to go back? Is your dad okay? He’s home, now? Do you need—”
He laid a finger on her lips, chuckling. “Slow down. I’m back. For good. Dad’s home now, and I may go and visit more often than I did before, but just for visiting.”
“I’m being stupid, I know,” she said quickly. “I mean, we just hung out once, as maybe more than just friends. It’s not like we’re togeth…like we’re—”
“Oh, but we are,” he drawled, halting her babbling. “Penny…we so fucking are.”
Her chest ached slightly, and her lips tipped up in answer to his beaming smile.
“Thank god.” She threw her arms around him and brought their mouths together roughly.
The rumbling chuckle and his answering enthusiasm as they fell headlong into the kiss erased any embarrassment Penny felt, and she let herself just be. Be with Brad, in his arms—filled with the odd mixture of excitment, happiness, and contentment.
Today's photo fic takes place in the world of my poor neglected serial "Your Lies".
I sat in the coffee shop, ignoring the buzzing of my phone—been doing that since the conversation with Mom earlier. When I’d told her I wasn’t going to stop seeing Maddock Roberts, that he wasn’t the enemy. Not the way Mom thought he was. Sure, his family embodied the anti-magic movement, but Maddock wasn’t like that. Yeah, when we’d met, he was leading anti-magic rallies on campus and seemed to think along the same lines as his parents, but that had changed. He listened to what I said, what my friends said. He wasn’t unreasonable.
Though he didn’t know I was a magic user. While I didn’t think he was as bad as his family or his friends, I wasn’t at the point I’d out myself that way. I wasn’t stupid. Despite what Mom thought.
I understood where she was coming from. She was worried. I totally got that. But what she was doing—calling and texting constantly to tell me I need to come home, calling Kyle so he was constantly harassing me too. It was infuriating. The last straw though? Finding out she had someone basically spying on me and reporting back to her. This morning was the first time I’d talked to Mom in a week after finding out that little tidbit. And the worst part? She wasn’t even sorry. Not even a little. Just dove right back into how unsafe it was on campus, especially with Maddock in the picture. I’d hung up on her. Felt a little guilty about that—until she kept calling and texting, and within an hour, Kyle was doing the same.
I jolted and felt my face heat as I met Maddock’s clear green gaze. Shit, I’d lost complete track of time and been too caught up in my thoughts to notice when he’d walked in.
“Hi,” I said, cursing the breathlessness of my voice—though it was a regular occurrence.
Whenever I saw him, the emotions I felt for him were like a punch in the gut. Not to mention my magic swelling, practically reaching for him every time he was near. It was why I wasn’t willing to give this—give him—up with without a fight. Even if a small part of me could concede this was likely going to end poorly…especially when he found out about me. Did that make me naïve? Mom and Kyle would say yes, obviously. But I didn’t think so—not when I was prepared for that possibility. Not when I was going to protect myself for the eventuality that he was going to know that I was the thing his family hated, the very thing he spent his whole life fearing and speaking out against.
“Ready to take off?” He frowned when my phone skittered across the tabletop, even more so when I hit ignore and shoved it into my pocket.
“Yep.” I snagged my backpack, slinging it over my shoulder as I stood.
He grabbed my hand, tangling our fingers, and together, we walked out of the café into the cool night.
“So, still not talking to your mom?” he said softly, after we’d gone a few blocks toward campus.
I sighed. He knew I was upset with her. Knew it kind of had to do with him. Not the full extent of it, of course—I’d let him assume that it was because we were Sympathizers while his family was very vocal in the anti-magic movement.
“I talked to her this morning,” I admitted. “She just didn’t like what I had to say.”
“I don’t like being the cause of problems between you and your mom.”
“You’re not. Really,” I said quickly when he opened his mouth to protest. “She doesn’t even know you, so it’s not you. She isn’t happy she can no longer control what I do. That’s what it comes down.”
He hummed, lips turned down, and squeezed my hand. The hairs on the back of neck suddenly stood on end, and an energy I didn’t recognize slid along my skin. I looked over my shoulder and saw a young woman about my age, with long dark hair, dressed all in black, walking behind us, a cell to her ear. She spoke in a low tone, but now I was aware, I caught a few words—yes, with him…will see where they…will keep you updated—and anger rose swiftly, to the point I nearly gagged on it. I came to an abrupt stop and letting go of Maddock’s hand, spun around.
The woman stopped, too, just as she was pocketing her phone. She stared, wide-eyed at me, mouth hanging open slightly.
“I told her to call you off,” I bit out, shoving down the power that snapped inside me, aching to get out of the confines of my skin.
I rolled my eyes at the forced smile and fake confusion. “Since she’s not getting the message, I’ll tell you. No more spying for my mother. Back the fuck off of me. If I see you again…”
I let the implied threat hang in the air, not willing to say more with Maddock standing right there. And honestly, I didn’t exactly know what I would do but it wasn’t going to be pretty, damn it!
The confusion—which didn’t look so fake anymore—clouded her face for a moment longer then cleared.
Before she could speak again, though, Maddock took several steps forward. “Get the—” And nearly fell back onto his ass when she had no problems revealing her power on the dark, nearly deserted street.
The intense energy radiated off her, sparking off her open palms, lifting her hair wildly. My magic nearly suffocated, pushing out, out, out. Wanting to answer the blatant show, desperate to protect. Protect the man beside me with a desperation I’d never felt.
“Don’t threaten me, Maddock Roberts,” she sneered. “I would have no problem eliminating the problem you pose to us. It would be easier than you could imagine.”
I moved forward, placing myself between them, staring into the woman’s dark eyes. “It would be harder than you imagine.”
“You would align yourself with him? He would see all of us caged like animals!”
“You don’t know him,” I shot back. “Leave now.”
In a blink, she pulled her magic back and straightened to full height. “You’re going to regret this, Delia,” she said.
I frowned at her words, at her tone. It was a warning, yes, but she didn’t sound threatening. She sounded…sad, resigned.
“You don’t know him either,” she continued. “His family. This is going to end badly—for you more than any of us. He can’t be trusted.”
I shook my head, almost violently. “You’re wrong. And you can tell my mother that.”
She chuckled hollowly, backing up a few steps. “Don’t know your mother, but if she’s trying to stop this,” she gestured between Maddock and myself, “she’s smart, and you should listen to her. Listen to Kyle. Choose who you associate with more care, before it’s too late.”
With that, she turned and walked away.
“Kyle? He sent you?” I called after her. I got no answer, except a quick glance as she turned a corner out of sight.
“Delia?” Maddock moved in front of me and cupped my face in his large hands, dipping his head to catch my gaze. “Well, that was…something. Haven’t been confronted by a magic user like that before and— Shit, you’re shaking, baby.”
“I’m okay,” I lied, eyes burning, vision blurring.
“Who’s Kyle?” he asked quietly, fingers catching the stupid tears I couldn’t hold back.
“A friend. My…my best friend.” I swallowed past the lump growing in my throat. “At least I thought he was.”
“He’s a magic user. Like her.” He jerked his head in the direction the woman had disappeared. When I didn’t answer immediately, he smiled and brushed his thumb along my bottom lip. “It didn’t take me long to figure out someone close to you had to be a magic user—you’re so dedicated, so passionate about protecting them. It’s clear that it’s not just a cause for you. It’s personal.”
Still unable to speak, because the truth—like my magic—was so close to the surface, I was terrified all of it would come spilling out, I just nodded.
“It’s going to be all right.” He released his hold on my face and wrapped his arms around me.
I gave a strangled laugh as I returned the embrace and leaned into him. Into his warmth and strength.
“It will be,” he insisted, running his palm over the back of my head, fingers massaging my scalp. “We’ll make it all right. You and me. Because she was wrong—you do know me, and I would never do anything to hurt you.” He pulled back and looked me in the eye. “You know that, right?”
“I do,” I whispered then pushed up to kiss his tempting mouth. And I did. I knew he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me—as he knew me now.
Happy May Day! 🙂 Today's a photo fic post. Usually we end up picking stock photos for these but this picture is actually one I took a few years agao when I was in the UK. It's one of my fave pics from that trip - this day was one of the highlights of my time there.
We visited the Neolithic henge stones in Avebury, and it was an amazing experience. While walking around the henge, there was this tree with carvings in the trunk and hundreds of ribbons tied to the branches.
Anyhoo, I'm visiting the world of my serial, Your Lies (which I'll be posting chapters from again soon!)
For those interested, here are links for the other flash fiction peices that are kinda connected/set in that world:
This story isn't about the hero or heroine of the serial but a follow up to a couple of flash fiction pieces I did from this world.
For this piece, I'm still in Male #1's POV. So here we go...
My chest grew tighter, and my magic vibrated as I got to the top of the hill and came to stop beneath the huge tree. My power had been calmer the past few days. Getting away from campus, away from my responsibilties, my assignment had been exactly what I needed. I dreaded going back, but I didn't have a choice. Not really. I hated it, but it was important, necessary. It was what I'd been working for ever since...
I laid my hand on the rough bark - right over the carved names, Molly, Squidge, Owen - and closed my eyes for few seconds.
"Hey, Mol," I whispered, tracing a finger over her name. "Sorry it's been a while. Haven't been able to get back 'cause..."
Sighing, I let my arm fall to my side then turned around to sit with my back against the tree. Letting my head rest against the wide trunk, I looked up at the hundreds of ribbons tied to the branches and dancing on the gentle breeze, and thought of Molly. I hadn't visited her grave since the day we'd buried her. Just the thought of it made me want to boot. But here...here, I felt close to her, like I had all those times we'd come to this spot before. Tying our own ribbons among the rest, making our wishes. Stupid innocent childish wishes.
And we'd talked. About everything. If there was one person in this life I'd been able to tell anything, it'd been my big sister. Sure as fuck didn't have that now. So when I could, I came here and talked to her. And, somehow, no matter how silly and useless it was, it helped.
"Fuck, Mol, it's so hard ," I continued quietly. "Doing this. Hiding what I am. Having to be around the fucking assholes, day in and day out. Having to see him. Nick." I practically spat his name. "Pretending I don't know what he did to you."
I scrubbed my palms over my face, magic pulsing quickly beneath my skin. Getting worked up wasn't going to help anything. I had to stay the course. For me. For all the magic users suffering. For Molly.
"Things are moving in the right direction, though. I'm where I need to be to do what needs to be done. Maddock and Delia..." I laughed lightly. "I had my doubts about them, even with what I've seen. Thought there was no way Maddock would ever be on our side, let alone a driving force. Not with what he came from. I could see he's a good guy from the start, completely in the wrong about magic users and magic in general, but beneath it all, he's good. But still, I doubted. Then, he met her. And, man...drawn together from the first moment, those two. But, shit, things are going to get so much worse before they get better. For Maddock and Delia."
I closed my eyes again, the images from my dreams flashing behind my lids. "And for me." I swallowed the lump in my throat that threatened to choke me, knowing what was coming. And soon. "I'm scared, Mol. So fucking scared, and I have no one."
I sat, silently, tears blurring my vision. Deciding enough was enough, I pushed to my feet and turned to look at our names again - carved into the wood years ago by Molly when our baby brother was born. I tapped Squidge, remembering how much I hated the stupid nickname she'd given me and wishing more than anything to hear it again.
Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the length of silky green ribbon. I ran it through my fingers.
"You're probably wondering why I haven't mentioned him yet." I smiled even as my heart thudding painfully, The day Molly had been taken, I'd lost more than a sister. I'd lost my chance with a beautiful guy who was fucking perfect. Traded what could have been with him for the path I was on now. And even though I knew it was the right thing, I couldn't completely banish the regret I felt every second of every day.
I pictured his gorgeous green eyes, same damned color as the ribbon I held now. I remembered how they looked at me before, the happiness, joy, lust and the beginning of something more in them.
"I thought going away to university meant being free of him, of the reminder of what I couldn't have anymore, but... What were the odds we'd choose the same damned school? I see him almost every day, and it hurts. So fucking bad. He hates me, Mol, and it kills me." I cleared my throat and moved over to one of the lower branches. "But for the greater good and all that, yeah? More important than something that could have happened."
I reached up and tied the ribbon around the limb. And made the same wishes I made every time I was here, every time I talked to my sister.
I wish you were here. I wish I could have a chance with him. I wish things were different.
Stupid childish wishes, still.
Time for flash fiction! Here is our photo for March.
And here, for better or worse, is what I've come up with. 🙂 It's just a scribbled little short that may end up being something longer if I ever decide I want to try my hand at a historical. o.O (forgive any anachronisms and the like--as I said this was just something that stuck in my head and I quickly jotted down. 🙂 )
After stepping from the carriage, Ash closed his eyes and stretched his arms overhead as he let the quiet wash over him. The last several weeks had been utter hell. The peace a few days in the small cottage on the edge of his lands would bring him was exactly what he needed.
Or it would when he could send the servants who had accompanied him back to the manor. He’d wanted to set off on his own, but had agreed to having an escort to quiet his mother’s nattering. Though he hadn’t agreed to let them stay and soon enough would be sending them on their way. If his mother found fault in that…he would deal with it when he returned. Just as he’d dealt with her daily dissatisfaction every damned day for as long as he could remember.
With a sigh, he turned to the young man who was clearly awaiting instruction. Ash glanced at the driver, Henry, who was caring for the horses then nodded toward the carriage.
“Once you’ve brought in everything, have something to eat—cook packed enough in the basket for the two of you—before you return to the manor.”
“But, my lord, your mother insisted—”
“My mother is a visitor in my home, and her orders mean nothing,” Ash snapped.
“Thomas!” Henry said. “Get to it, boy. Once the horses are rested, we’ll be on our way. Please forgive him, Lord Aston,” he added more quietly. “He doesn’t understand, but he’s learning. He’s a good boy.”
Ash sighed and dragged a hand through his hair. “I know, Henry. Forgive me. I should have more patience.”
The driver, who had been with Ash’s family since they were both boys, grinned. “I understand why you do not, my lord. Perhaps you’ll find some while you’re here.”
“Perhaps I will.”
He clapped Henry on the shoulder then waked toward the cottage. Thomas rushed out and past Ash, eyes trained on the ground in front of him. Ash sighed and made note to be kinder to the young man in the future. It wouldn’t do to have those in his employ fearing him. He wasn’t his bloody father.
Crossing the threshold of the open door, he stopped short, staring at the dark-haired man crouched in front of the large fireplace. Ash schooled his expression and, stepping farther into the room, cleared his throat. When the man twisted slightly, Ash lifted a brow.
“I would have expected,” he said flatly, “having sent you here first thing this morning, that you would have at least gotten a fire started already. Very disappointing, Peter.”
“Ah, but I have.” Peter turned back to his task. “The fire in the kitchen is blazing and currently heating water. I know how cross His Lordship is after a long ride and thought perhaps a bath would be welcome.”
Fighting the smile that threatened, Ash ignored the gasp and wide-eyed stare from Thomas - likely in response to Peter's impertinent tone and words - and simply pointed where the young man could set the satchels he carried. Ash watched Peter light the fire and coax the flames higher as the rest of the supplies were brought in.
“Lord Ashton,” Thomas said haltingly, even stepping back slightly when Ash turned his gaze upon him. “That’d be all of it, my lord. H-h-henry wants to leave straightaway to get back before nightfall. If…if that’s all right, with you…my lord.”
“Of course,” Ash said, deliberately softening his tone. “Thank you, Thomas.”
The young man bowed and scurried out the door.
“And what did you do to frighten to piss out of that poor boy?”
Ash turned to find Peter on his feet and facing him. “I didn’t do anything,” he protested.
“You were cross, weren’t you?” Peter continued as if Ash hadn’t spoken. “I knew it.”
“Watch yourself,” Ash warned him. “I could send you back with Henry and Thomas.”
“You could…but you won’t.” Peter bent at the waist with a smirk, eyes sparkling and staying on Ash. “Shall I prepare your bath, then…my lord?”
Stomach clenching at the drawled words, Ash nodded, not trusting himself to speak. Not yet, not with the door open and the sounds of Henry and Thomas speaking outside drifting in.
Peter moved, but rather than toward the kitchen, he stepped closer to Ash. Angling his body away from the door, he let his long fingers brush against Ash’s.
“Of course, my lord,” he murmured. “Anything you please, my lord. I live to serve, my lord.”
He continued the soft mocking words as he walked away. Ash remained stoic until Peter disappeared through the doorway to the kitchen at the back of the cottage. Once he was out of sight, Ash’s lips curved, and he realized he felt lighter than he had in ages.
Yes, this had been the right choice, he thought. Here, he would find his peace. Peter would make sure of that. As he always did.
Hello, all! It's time for another flash fiction. When I looked at this photo, the first thing I thought of was Albion's Circle, my Arthurian-inspired series, and the lives the characters lived in the past. So I went with that--a little piece from the world of Albion's Circle and their first life in Camelot. 🙂
I walked through the corridors of the castle, heart heavy and vision blurred with tears. Only days before I had been longing to be here, sore and weary from the countless nights of sleeping on the ground and drawing upon my magic more than I ever had before. I just wanted to return home. Return to Camelot. And now, here I was. The battle was won; Mordred had been defeated.
But at what cost?
When this began, when we formed the Circle, we had all agreed Mordred needed to be stopped no matter the cost. And every one of us had known the price would be a hefty one, that we’d have losses.
I knew better than most—often waking up drenched in sweat and physically ill from the visions I’d had. Visions of blood, pain and death. But I had never imagined it would end like this. Nor how cold and empty I would feel when all had come to pass. I pulled the heavy red cloak more tightly around me. I didn’t think I’d ever be warm again.
Now that I was here again, it didn’t feel like home, anymore, and I wanted to be anywhere but here. Thank the Goddess I didn’t have to stay. Once I did my duty and completed the task that had fallen on my shoulders, I could put as much distance between Camelot and me as I could manage.
I squared my shoulders as I approached the throne room. The guards pulled the large doors open, heads bowed respectfully as I strode past. Unlike the last time I’d been here, the room was empty, save the woman who waited. The queen.
My gaze immediately fell on the unoccupied throne beside her, and tears threatened again as the air left my body in a whoosh. Darkness edged my vision, and my magic vibrated along my skin, pushing out, wanting an outlet for the anger and grief welling up.
“Lady Morgana.” Queen Guinevere stood, hands clasped in front of her.
Annoyance flared at the formality of the greeting, considering we were alone, but I pushed it aside as I lowered into a low curtsy.
“Your Majesty,” I murmured.
“You bring news?” she asked, moving down the two steps to stand directly in front of me.
I rose and inhaled deeply, again quelling my irritation. I had no ill feelings toward the queen—my brother’s wife—but I was exhausted and had little patience for foolish questions. I wouldn’t be here if I had no news. I wouldn’t leave the battle if it continued, and she knew that. Or she should.
“I do,” I said tightly. “It’s over. Mordred is dead, his army defeated. Albion is safe.” I closed my eyes, trying to be strong enough to say the next words. “Arth…” My voice cracked. “King Arthur fell in battle, Your Majesty.”
Her gasp echoed in the large chamber and I opened my eyes to see her stumble back, one hand pressed to her stomach, the other covering her mouth.
“We suffered many losses, but we—”
My magic snapped outward and a loud crack exploded behind Guinevere. She spun around, face pale, tearful eyes wide, to see the throne she’d been sitting on when I entered split in two on the stone floor.
I struggled to contain my errant power, too fueled by my emotions. I may not have completely understood my brother’s marriage and the arrangement he had with his wife, but I never considered it my business, and even as upset and grieved as I was, I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Not even the woman who wasn’t adequately reacting to the news of her husband’s—my brother’s—death.
I ignored her fearful and questioning gaze. “Your lover is well and safe. As Arthur’s first knight, he was delayed in returning to your side by his duties.”
“Morgana,” she whispered brokenly.
“Gwaine, Owain and Erek fell,” I continued, reporting the Circle and the loyal knights who had bound themselves to us. “Percival was wounded but is on his feet and aiding Lancelot. Galahad is well but won’t return to Camelot for some time. He is caring for Merlin.”
“Merlin?” she interrupted. “H-how badly is he injured?”
“He’s not injured. Not physically.” I met her eyes. “Anna is dead…by Merlin’s magic.”
“What?” She shook her head. “That’s not possible. He would never harm Anna.”
“I never said it was intentional. He was consumed by Arthur’s death,” I said pointedly. “He had no control of his power and would have destroyed everyone on that field—friend and foe alike. If not for Anna. She took the magical blow.”
Guinevere gaped, tears streaming down her face. “But I don’t understand.”
“You don’t understand what, Your Majesty?”
“Why wouldn’t Merlin—and Galahad—return to Camelot?”
“When he realized what had happened, that his Anna was gone—at his hand, no less—he went mad. It took everything I had magically to bind him, to prevent him from doing the very thing Anna had given her life to prevent.”
“I still don’t understand, Morgana,” she bit out, shaking her head. “Why would you not bring him home? Where he belongs, where he is needed?”
“Is that your worry? That Camelot’s Magical isn’t here to aid you in your rule?” My magic swelled, crackled on the air. My cloak rippled around my body and my hair lifted off my shoulders.
“That isn’t what I meant!” she protested. “I won’t lie and say I’m not concerned about the vulnerability of the kingdom without its king and without the protection of its most powerful Magical, but my concern for Merlin and his wellbeing is greater.”
I believed her, and that fact alone calmed my magic.
“You didn’t see him, Guinevere,” I said, dropping titles and formality. “He lost his king and his love—he lost two parts of his soul. Losing one would have been enough to break him. Losing both… It may be too much for him to bear. I had to bind his magic and put him into a deep sleep. Galahad and I will watch over him and help him through this. Lancelot and Percival know where we are, if you’ve a need to contact us. I prefer not to tell anyone else our whereabouts. Not with Merlin so vulnerable.”
“Not even me?” she asked quietly.
“You’ll be informed if it’s necessary. At this moment, it isn’t.”
She straightened her spine and pulled her shoulders back. “I could order you to tell me. I am still your queen.”
I smiled humorlessly and looked past her, waited until her gaze followed mine to rest on the ruined throne.
She turned back to me and stared at me silently for a moment, then she dropped her eyes. “Are we enemies now, Morgana?”
“No. You are my queen,” I said. “I will follow you as loyally as I did my brother. But you would do well to rule as he did. He never tried to force my hand simply because he sat upon the throne.”
She nodded but kept her gaze on the floor. “I…I shall try to do well, for Arthur, for Camelot.” She cleared her throat and lifted her hand to swipe at the tears skittering down her cheeks. “I’m afraid, Morgana. I never thought I’d be alone in this.
I forced myself to step forward, to see past my own riotous feelings and sympathize with her. The woman who had been given to a king to strengthen alliances, her desire ignored in the arrangement. The woman who had become a strong friend and companion for my brother, even if there wasn’t great romantic love between them. The woman who now bore the full weight and responsibility of the crown.
“You aren’t alone,” I said quietly, placing a hand on her shoulder. I could be for Guinevere what Arthur would want me to be. A source of support, an ally she could rely on. I could…I would do this, in his memory. “You are never alone…sister.”
She brought her hand up to cover mine. “Thank you, Morgana. When I asked about Lancelot…” She swallowed audibly. “I meant no disrespect toward Arthur. I did love him; he was my greatest friend, and I feel his loss keenly.”
“I know. He really was the best of all of us, wasn’t he?” I inhaled deeply and squeezed her shoulder before stepping back and letting my hand drop to my side. “And you needn’t fear for Camelot and Albion. It is protected. You’ve powerful Magicals here with more returning soon.”
The corner of her mouth quirked up. “But they aren’t you, Merlin, and Anna. They’re not the ones I prefer to have at my side. Just as Arthur did.”
“No, they’re not, but they were trained by us and will serve you well.”
She nodded with marked reluctance. “Will you keep me apprised of Merlin’s condition?”
“Of course. I will send word as often as I can. And I should be on my way, now.” I dropped into a curtsy, ready to take my leave. “Be well, Your Majesty.”
“Will you return when we…” Her lips trembled, and she pressed them together a moment before continuing. “Will you return when we lay Arthur to rest?”
“If Merlin is well enough,” I said. “I’ve already said my goodbyes to my brother, but if I’m able, I will be here.”
“I’ll pray for Merlin, for all of you, as you heal,” she said quietly. “And I will hope for the quick arrival of the day comes that Camelot can welcome all of you home.”
I bowed my head slightly before turning and exiting the room, the chilling hollowness I felt earlier returning with a vengeance. I welcomed it, this time. Anything was preferable to the consuming ache of loss and overwhelming helplessness I’ve felt since throwing my magic at Merlin as we stood over the bodies of the two most important people in our lives. As I walked past the columns, I pulled the cloak’s hood over my head and pulled the fabric more tightly around my body, even though I knew it would warm me. How could it when the coldness was coming from inside me?
Happy New Year! Here's the very first flash fic of 2017. And I give you a whole lot of fluff, my friends. Because, frankly, I just needed a feel-good story, so that's what you get, too. 🙂
“Mm hmmm.” Remy agreed with Max’s quiet words, though his gaze, unlike his friend’s, wasn’t fixed on the sky. He should be looking upward, taking in the brilliant display above them—the colors, the pulsing lights dancing through the dark night. But, no. Instead, he couldn’t pull his eyes from Max. An all-too-frequent problem Remy’d dealt with lately.
Who the hell was he kidding? This wasn’t a new thing, something that had recently happened. His feelings for his friend—the instant relentless attraction he’d felt when they’d met years before that had grown exponentially every second he was in the other man’s presence—were his cross to bear. And he did so gladly, even when he thought he’d suffocate under the weight of it, sometimes. He’d rather deal with that than the alternative—no Max in his life.
Maybe Remy was a glutton for punishment—he could own that. But he’d take what he could get, even if that meant he had to witness Max dating people who were so wrong for him, had to listen to every post-breakup analysis and comfort him afterward. Telling his friend, again and again, he’d find the right one, while swallowing down what he really wanted to say.
Me! Dammit, I’m the right one. Why can’t you just see that?
But, unwilling to risk their friendship, Remy kept silent.
And, now, instead of oohing and aahing over the most vivid display of Northern lights, he tried not to drool as he took in the intense look on Max’s face as he took photo after photo and nearly vibrated with excitement.
He’d known, when Max had invited him along for a weekend of camping, it’d be difficult to hide his feelings. More so than usual because there was no one else around acting as a buffer. There was no escape, no place to run to when it got to be too much. He couldn’t excuse himself to get another drink or make a mad dash to the bathroom.
So far, though, he’d managed. Mostly because Max was too distracted to notice Remy staring at him like an idiot. And, really, as hard as he tried, he wasn’t being very subtle. Max’s full lips, parted slightly, damp from a thoroughly arousing swipe of his tongue… Remy shifted as his cock twitched. Fuck, that mouth had starred in more of his fantasies that he could count. He was a fucking whore for that mouth. Or he would be if he thought Max would go for it. If it wouldn’t take him from Remy’s life the second things crashed and burned—like every other relationship either of them had been in.
He dragged his eyes away, only to be caught by another frequent flyer in Remy’s spank bank—Max’s ridiculously gorgeous hands. Long elegant fingers that just begged to be sucked on. Heat curled low in Remy’s belly as he imagined doing just that. Drawing them into his mouth, swirling his tongue around each digit, getting them good and dripping so Max could slide them inside…
“Fuck,” he muttered under his breath, angling his body away and tipping his head up to look at the sky. Willing the images to vacate his head and his body to calm down.
He closed his eyes as Max’s voice—low and gravelly and oh so fucking sexy—washed over him.
“Yeah,” he managed.
Max hummed in response then, after a few quiet moments, spoke again. “Gotta say, I’m surprised you agreed to come out here with me.”
Remy straightened and turned toward his friend, frowning at the flat tone of the words. “What? Why?”
Max lifted one shoulder then lowered the camera. “Just seems like you’ve done everything you can to avoid being around me lately. Or at least avoiding being alone with me. Just wondered…worried that I’d done something to piss you off.”
Remy’s face heated as he watched Max drop into a crouch to pack his camera in its case. His stomach flipped and his heart raced when he saw Max’s hands trembling.
“No,” he said quickly. “You didn’t do anything. I mean, I’m not pissed off about anything.”
Max pushed back to his feet. “But you are avoiding me?” He closed the distance between them before Remy could respond. “Don’t deny it. I’m not stupid, Rem. Something’s not right, and you need to tell me what the hell it is, because…” He shoved his fingers through his already messy brown curls. “Well, at the risk of going full-on chick-flick here, I can’t lose you. And it really feels like I am.”
“Just tell me. I’d rather get hit with something I don’t like, and fix it, than keep going like this—feeling like I’m losing what we have little by little every day.”
Remy swallowed past the lump in his throat as panic gripped him, an icy sickening hold that tightened every second Max stared him down. He didn’t know what to do, what to say. The risk of losing Max had always kept him silent—he’d never dreamed he’d lose him anyway. And that’s what seemed to be happening. Shit.
“Max,” he said again, eyes stinging. “I never meant… It’s not that I… I just…just…” With a huff of frustration, he spun around and stalked a few paces away, annoyed with his inability to form a complete sentence.
Max sighed loudly then the grass crunched beneath his feet as he moved. Remy turned and watched helplessly as he grabbed his camera bag and walked to the tent.
After opening the flap, Max looked back, shoulders slumped in defeat. “I thought you trusted me, that our friendship was stronger than this.” Another sigh and a shake of his head. “Goodnight, Rem.”
He ducked inside, and the sound of the zipper closing the tent—closing Max off from him—made Remy want to throw up. Seconds later, the tent glowed from the lantern inside, and he could see Max’s silhouette as he got ready for bed. Pressing the heels of his hands to his temples, Remy squeezed his eyes shut and inhaled deeply.
This couldn’t be happening.
He dropped his hands and strode toward the tent. Hell if it was going to go down like this. If he was going to lose the most important person in his life, it sure as fuck wasn’t going to be because he sat by quietly and let it happen.
Fumbling slightly, he managed to get the tent open and nearly tripped over his own feet getting inside. He didn’t look at Max as he closed the tent—taking the moment to steel his nerve.
When he straightened and faced his friend, Max stood closer than he expected—silly since it was a small tent and he should have seen that coming. He could feel Max’s warm breath against his cheek as they stared at each other.
Wetting his lips, Remy met Max’s beautiful green eyes—losing himself in them, as he always did. When one of Max’s brows lifted, he spoke. Blurted out the first words that came to mind.
“I like you.”
Even though he would’ve liked to smack himself for being ten times an idiot, Remy pushed on as Max watched him, bewilderment in his wide eyes.
“I’m not avoiding you…being alone with you because of anything bad. I like you. More than than like you, and I didn’t want to fuck up our friendship. Though seems like I did just that anyway.” He pressed his lips together and drew in a deep breath. “I didn’t want to make things awkward, you know? And what could be more awkward than a friend saying they’re in love with you, for fuck’s sake? I’ll do better, okay? I mean, now that you know, you get that I’m not upset or pissed. I’m just dealing with...with how I feel. Just let me get a handle on it, and things will go back to normal and—”
“You love me?”
Unsure how to interpret the quiet, measured tone, Remy nodded and opened his mouth. But before he could speak again, Max stepped closer and dragged a fingertip over Remy’s lower lip—pulling a ragged groan from Remy.
“How long?” he asked.
Max gave a choked laugh and closed his eyes briefly. He shook his head and met Remy’s gaze, again.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” He shifted his hand and cupped Remy’s cheek.
Remy shook his head, shoving down the hope that flared inside him.
“I asked you out, Rem. Years ago. You laughed…made a fucking joke.” Max’s voice cracked slightly.
He knew exactly the night Max was talking about and, again, shook his head, a bit more forcefully this time.
“You were drunk off your ass,” he protested. “I thought—You were serious?”
“God, yeah. And I wasn’t that drunk. Just needed the liquid courage to ask out my best friend, who was hot as fuck and so far out of my league...”
“Shit,” he whispered. “I never thought…”
“I’ve wanted you for so long. Been in love with you,” Max’s lips quirked, “forever.”
“I’m an idiot.”
Laughing, Max slid his hand into Remy’s hair as he wrapped his other arm around Remy’s waist. He pulled Remy close and whispered against his lips, “Touch me. I need your hands on me. Dying for it.”
Remy dragged his palms up over Max’s chest, stopping to feel the hammering of his friend’s heart.
“Just like that?” He leaned in, a brief press of mouths, still not quite believing this was happening.
Max returned the kiss, slipping his tongue between Remy’s lips. Both men groaned as they tasted each other for the first time. Max tightened his hold and rolled his hips, the hard length of his cock dragging against Remy’s.
“Hardly ‘just like that’. Years,” he ground out. “Years and years. We’re both idiots—could have had this all along. Want it all, everything, with you.”
“Me, too. Fuck,” he moaned as Max ground against him, fingers rough in his hair and on his hip. “God, me, too.”
“Feel so good,” Max murmured, releasing his hold and shoving at Remy’s clothes. “Knew you would, dreamed of this for so long…”
Fumbling, they stripped each other, and finally, finally, they tumbled down onto air mattress. Remy nearly sobbed as Max settled between his thighs, pressed against him hotly, skin to skin. With shaky hands, he framed Max’s face and stared up at him.
“I never actually thought I’d have this. Thought you’d eventually find someone you wanted forever, and I’d just have watch it all play out, always being just the friend, dying inside while trying to be happy for you.”
Max turned to kiss one of Remy’s palms, nuzzling against the sensitive skin. “Oh, Rem. All I’ve ever wanted was you. Just you…my beautiful idiot.”
Going to be short and sweet, this month. Still battling jet lag (it's soooooo real, people...*jaw-breaking yawn*) and gearing up for a busy week. So here goes:
Penny winced as she shifted - the movement only making the bone crushing corset all the more uncomfortable. At least the voluminous skirt protected her skin from the rough bark of the fallen tree beneath her. Why had she let Jane talk her into this? Getting into this ridiculous get up, having her face covered in a pound of make up, just to go to a party where she wouldn't know anyone. Which, Jane had said, was exactly the reason why Penny needed to come - to get to know people.
Penny didn't have the heart to tell her sister that she thought it was a waste of time. Everyone one paired off at these things, or huddled together with friends. No one was interested in making new friends. They wanted to drink, dance, and drink some more. Even Jane's friends didn't have an interest in her baby sister who had tagged along.
So, having escaped the chaos inside the house - already loud and rowdy even though the sun hadn't even set yet - Penny sat and pondered how the hell she was going to get home. Though, she shouldn't leave. Jane and her buddies would be in no condition to drive, so Penny would wind up playing sober cab. She sighed and pressed her fingers to her temples. What she wouldn't give to be back at the tiny claustrophobic apartment she shared with his sister, curled up with a good book or marathon watching something on Netflix.
"You look about as thrilled to be here as I do."
Penny jolted and fell backwards, ending up flat on the cold ground, staring up at the sky through the bare branches of the trees. Fuck.
"Oh shit, sorry!"
Large warm hands circled her biceps, and in a blink, she was being hauled to her feet. Her own hands scrambled to get a hold of...well, anything, and she ended up clutching thin meshy fabric covering a wide hard chest.
"Didn't mean to scare ya, Pen."
Narrowing her eyes, she looked up at the face of the guy who'd literally knocked her on her ass, and started laughing.
"Brad... Oh my god. I didn't realize..." She lifted one hand to tug on the blond hair framing his face. "Why?" she gasped between laughs. "That is the most unfortunate wig I've ever seen."
"Blame your sister." He rolled his eyes then grinned down at her. "She outfitted us all."
"And you went along with it?"
"Didn't you?" he shot back.
"Point," she conceded, then, realizing how close she stood, cleared her throat and stepped back. Her stomach flipped when his hands tightened just a bit on her arms before he released her.
"Want to get out of here?" he said.
"I shouldn't." Penny shrugged. "Jane...and probably the others will need a ride home later."
"So, we'll come back." He grabbed her hand and began to lead her toward where all the cars were parked. "Make sure everyone gets home safely. No point in sitting here bored out of our minds waiting for them to be ready, right? Neither of us want to be here." He glanced at her, lips pursed slightly, as they arrived at his car. "Not that you have to spend the time with me; I could drop you at your place, and come back on my own later. Not my first turn at being the DD."
He opened the door and waited for her to slide in before closing it. Penny stared out the windshield, frowning. When Brad got behind the wheel, she twisted in the seat, grimacing again at the uncomfortable corset pinching her.
Before she could speak, he faced her and smiled - a soft curving of his lips and crinkling of his eyes that stole Penny's breath...even more than torture device she currently wore. And...well...that was new. Not unwelcome, just new.
Of course, she knew he was attractive - she sure as hell wasn't blind and had looked her fill often enough when he'd come over - but the breathlessness, and shit, the pounding heart, and shit, sweaty palms... She swallowed audibly and scrubbed her hands over her thighs.
"So, do you want me to take you home?"
"No...I mean, yes."
His expression dimmed slightly, and clearly forcing a smile, he nodded. "All right.
"No, no, that's not what I meant." Penny took a deep breath and just jumped. Took the chance, because she wanted to see what this new thing was, what it would become. "I want to go home, just so I can change. This," she gestured at herself, "is killing me. Then, we can...do something?"
"Yeah," he said quickly. "For sure."
"And you can get that off." She pointed at the wig.
He laughed as he yanked it off then tossed it into the back seat. His short dark brown hair was slightly matted down, and Penny, without thinking, reached over and ran her fingers through the surprisingly soft strands, mussing it up.
Brad's eyes closed and he inhaled deeply before catching her hand in his. Instead of letting go as she expected, he brought them to his mouth and pressed a kiss against her palm.
"I've been waiting a long time for this, Pen," he murmured.
"Me, too," she whispered. "I just didn't know it."
Hello! Time for September's Photo Prompt. This was a HARD one. Took me a while to work something out, but I did it! I decided to follow up on a Promptly Penned post I did last month. I tried to write this so it would make sense even without reading the previous part, but if you want to read that short piece first, go here.
The piece is from Justin's POV after the events of the Promptly Penned post, based on this photo:
Justin Campbell bolted upright, heart racing. The dregs of the nightmare and the memories of the hell his life had been the last several weeks collided in his mind, and he bit his lips together, a desperate attempt to hold back the sob that lodged in his throat.
Ignoring the warm body beside him—God, how could he have been so stupid?—he closed his eyes and immediately regretted it as the images of the bad dream that had woken him flickered back to life behind his eyelids.
His brother… Because what the hell else would he dream about when he finally slept? Justin had a feeling Jonah would be haunting his life—waking and sleeping—for some time to come. Maybe forever.
The dream hadn’t even started that badly. Just the two of them standing in the field outside the farmhouse they’d grown up in. On opposite sides of the fence that had separated the parcel of land in two. The sun had shown brightly above them from a blue sky—one of those hot summer days Justin remembered from childhood. But he hadn’t felt any warmth. He’d been chilled to the bone as he’d stared at his brother. Because the things flooding his mind as the breeze shifted around them, causing the long grass to sway around their legs, weren’t childhood memories. Not that many of them were particularly good, but Justin almost longed for those. Because anything was better than drowning in the knowledge of what Jonah had done. What his brother, his blood, was capable of.
Even now, fully awake and aware, Justin couldn’t stop himself from recalling the crime scenes, the mutated bodies, the thick metallic suffocating scent choking him, the horrific and paralyzing realization that Jonah had done this.
He realized just how appropriate the dream had been. How it represented them perfectly. Brothers standing on different sides—one an FBI agent, the other… Justin swallowed the bile that surged up his throat. The other a psychopath who had tortured and killed at least a dozen men.
Drawing even farther away from the man who slept soundly next to him, Justin slipped out of bed and into the adjacent bathroom. He dressed in the wrinkled clothing that had been discarded on the tiled floor hours before then just stared at his reflection in the mirror. He looked half-dead. Pale, large dark circles underscoring his eyes, clothes hanging off his lanky body that couldn’t really afford the weight lost the past weeks.
He braced his hands on the edge of the sink, cursing the tears that welled up in his eyes again, even as he replayed what he’s stupid as fuck brain had conjured up as he slept.
“Not happy to see me.” Jonah had smiled brightly, stepping so close to the fence the barbed wire stretched between posts caught on his shirt.
“You’re dead.” Justin’d tried to shout the words, but instead a broken whisper had pushed past his lips.
Head tilted to the side, his brother had smiled. His bright, infectious, charming smile. “Am I?”
“Yes.” Justin had taken a step back, then another and another, but no matter how many times he’d moved his feet, he hadn’t seemed able to put any distance between them. Even though he’d known it was a dream, even in the midst of it, he’d been desperate to get away from Jonah. “You. Are. Dead.”
Jonah’s smile hadn’t faded—in fact, it’d only grown wider—as he reached down and somehow wrapped his hand around all three lengths of barbed wire. As he’d lifted his arm, the wires had stretched impossibly, in the way of dreams, until he held them high over his head. Justin’s heart had beat painfully as he, despite every effort, had remained where he was, his gaze locked on his brother’s fist, on the blood that’d seeped through his fingers and was running in thick rivulets down his arms.
Then, in a blink, Jonah had been right in front of Justin, close enough he could feel his breath gusting over his face.
“I’m not dead, little brother. I’ll never truly be gone as long as I’m here.” Jonah had tapped Justin’s temple, then dropped his hand slightly to cup his cheek.
The warm, wet slide of his brother’s blood against his skin had been what’d shoved Justin into wakefulness.
Pushing himself upright, he swiped the tears from his eyes, shuddering at the slickness between his fingertips and cheeks.
Jonah—or rather Justin, as it was his mind that had created what he’d dreamt was right. Jonah would always live, Justin would never truly be free of him, as long as he let him consume his life. He tried to cut himself a bit of slack. It’d only been a little over a month since he’d learned the truth about Jonah, but he’d made some huge mistakes in that time that would make moving on and putting his brother to rest, in every way, that much harder. The worst? Being involved in the investigation.
Officially, once Jonah was a suspect, he’d been off the case. In reality, he’d been neck deep in it. Hell, he’d been submerged it. Working with his team, passing on information to them as he uncovered every disgusting, disturbing truth. Yes, he truly believed they wouldn’t have been able to stop Jonah as quickly as they had without him, but fuck, at what cost?
He shook his head and shoved his fingers through his hair. There was nothing to be done for it now. He could only move on. And to do that… His chest ached. He needed to leave. Needed to be away from the aftermath of what his brother had done, away from the job, away from everything.
Justin didn’t know for how long, if he’d ever be able to come back after this. He stepped into the bedroom as quietly as possible, and faced another mistake. A beautiful, sexy, tempting-to-the-point-of-danger mistake.
Justin allowed himself a moment—he deserved that, didn’t he? Just one freaking moment—to look, to memorize the sight before him. Harris lay on his back, blankets caught low around his hips, the light from the street lamp outside the window illuminating him enough Justin could make out the face that had captured his attention from day one. He only wished he could see those warm brown eyes. Just one more time. Though, if he did, he didn’t think he’d be able to walk away.
Sleeping with Harris, taking advantage of the younger agent… Fuck if Justin could bring himself to regret it. The feel of the other man’s body against him, the taste of him, the way he sounded when he came—Justin had a feeling he’d be drawing on those memories often to get through the coming days. He huffed and shook his head. Who was he kidding, coming days? The night before wasn’t something he’d ever forget. The one good shining thing in the dark mess of his life at the moment. And even if he couldn’t hold on to it, hold on to Harris, he would hold this night inside for as long as he lived.
He did regret any hurt Harris would feel, though, when Justin went away. Though, maybe this was just a hook-up for him. It wasn’t as if they’d had a relationship or anything. A part of Justin hoped that was the case, even as another hoped what had happened between them meant as much to the other man as it did him.
A glance at the illuminated clock on the bedside table spurred Justin into action. He had enough time to do what he needed to do and be cleared out before most of the team showed up for work. He had to talk to his team lead, of course, but he knew Liam would understand. Probably better than anyone else.
He gave in, let his legs carry him to the bed, where he slowly and carefully bent at the waist to press his lips to Harris’ forehead, not daring to risk going for the mouth. He held for a moment, letting Harris’ sleep-warm sweet scent wash over him, then straightened again. He forced himself to leave without looking back. As he let himself out and walked down to where his car was parked outside the building, several thoughts teased him—of waking Harris, of telling him his plans and making promises, of coming back at some point, after he’d worked through everything, when he was free of the stain his brother had left on him and his life, of finding Harris waiting for him.
“No,” he breathed as he slid into the driver’s seat.
How could he expect Harris to wait? After one night? One night of heightened emotions ruling their minds, and apparently their cocks? No. This was definitely how it had to be, a clean break.
Justin sure as hell couldn’t make promises when, other than leaving, he didn’t have the first clue how he was going to get through this. He started the car and pulled out to head home and pack before he went to his boss. He tried to ignore the way his ragged breathing filled the small confines of the vehicle, telling himself he was taking the first step towards being free of his brother. The rest would follow. He’d figure it out.
His fingers gripped the wheel, knuckles whitening, as his Jonah’s voice echoed in his mind.
I’m not dead, little brother. I’ll never truly be gone…
This month's song is "Angel" by Theory of a Deadman. Have a listen, if you like:
I liked this song - a lot - and here's my wee bit of flash fiction inspired by it.
He stared down at her, hidden in the shadows as she slept peacefully. How she managed that after the all-out screaming match they’d had the night before, he had no idea. He, himself, had been unable to sleep, body literally shaking after the painful, and very public, fight.
He’d tried but had ended up replaying everything in his mind—every word; the way their friends had looked him, casting him as the bad guy, the one at fault; the way she had looked at him… Even now, his chest ached at the memory of her wide eyes filling with tears and the hurt evident in every line on her face.
As the night had passed, the dread had swelled until he felt he was choking on it. The fact he was doing the right thing—especially for her, because every fucking thing he did was for her—didn’t ease a damned thing inside him. He hoped eventually it would. That someday in the near future he wouldn’t feel sick about what he was about to do.
He stepped over to the side of the bed and, bending at the waist, brushed her long hair from her face.
“Love you,” he whispered before ghosting his lips over her forehead.
She shifted as he straightened and he froze, hoping she stayed asleep. Her waking up wouldn’t stop him—this was the best thing for them, for her—but it would make everything so much more difficult. And while he was under no illusions about how fucking awful things were going to be from here on out, he couldn’t blame himself for making this one thing a little easier.
He shook his head in disgust. Of course he could blame himself. And did. But no witnesses, especially her, was the only small measure of mercy he could manage for himself—deserved or not.
Reassured she was still out and unlikely to wake, he steeled his resolve. He had to do this. It had to be now. There was no turning back now the plan was in motion. He turned and strode to the door, only pausing to lift the large duffle he’d packed quietly in secret the day before. Fingers already aching from how tightly he held the handles, he didn’t allow himself to look back, to doubt or waver. And walked out the door and into an uncertain future. Without her.