Song

3 Comments

It's time for another flash fiction - this one inspired by Halsey's "Ghost".

I'm again visiting the world of my Albion's Circle series. This takes place not long before the series begins. A small glimpse into Anna's head...before she finds out that her dreams are more than she realizes.


~Anna~

Music pulsed.

Lights flashed.

Bodies pressed against me. From every side. The touches, the scents, the heat… All of it, surrounded me, filled my senses, driving everything else out.

I closed my eyes, as anxious to escape what was happening as I was desperate for it. I sighed in relief as hands circled my waist and pulled me back against a very hard, very male body. I leaned into him, letting my head fall to his shoulder, as our bodies began to move.

His lips glided along my ear, and his breath tickled as he whispered, “Fuck, you feel amazing…”

Jamie.

My heart sped up. From excitement, from the knowledge of what the night would bring…from shame. Shame that I was using him. Again. And an even deeper, more painful shame that probably wouldn’t be the last time.

Hands firm on my hips, Jamie turned me to face him. I opened my eyes and, tipping my head back, met his gaze. Swallowing the immediate disappointment I always felt when I looked into his gray-blue eyes—and hating myself even more for it—I forced a smile.

He grinned then jerked his head toward the front of the club. “Let’s get out of here.”

Heat coiled in my belly, and I trembled slightly as I nodded. He grabbed my hand, and as I let him lead me through the crowd, I tried desperately to hold on to the excitement and desire. And not think about the tendrils of dread and regret weaving their way through.

I could only hold it off for so long, I knew. It was inevitable and would fill me to bursting soon enough. Because I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for in Jamie’s bed, in his arms, any more than I’d found it is this club or with any other person. I gritted my teeth as another face flashed in my mind. Another set of blue eyes—clear and piercing and haunting.

I shoved all away as Jamie pushed me up against his car and took my mouth. I let myself to fall into the kiss, to become lost in the bliss of his touch, because however temporary, it dulled the edges, softened the harshness of not having what I yearned for.

And made me forget, for just a little while, that I was searching for something I couldn’t reach. Because it wasn’t real.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease
Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris | Siobhan Muir

4 Comments

June's song flash fiction is inspired by one of my favorite songs - Mumford and Sons' "Ghosts That We Knew".

I've jumped in the world of my Arthurian series "Albion's Circle" for this one. I've done a few flash fictions in this world, if you want to take a look.

Merlin's Cave
"The Hammer's Coming Down"
"I Will Possess Your Heart"
The Coldness
"Ever the Same"


“Promise me.”

Gut churning sourly, I stared at Guinevere—lying on the bed, frail and fading, almost lost amidst the bedclothes. My queen, my friend, the only one I had left. But soon, she’d be leaving me. Just like the others. Then, I’d be well and truly alone. Left with the ghosts of everyone I’d ever loved.

“Merlin.” Her voice, weak and raspy washed over me as she grabbed my hand. “Please. Please, you have to promise me.”

“I already did,” I reminded her quietly, reaching out to cup her face. “You don’t need to worry. I’ll take care of everything. All the arrangements are in place. Everything wil be as you want it. I promise.”

Her lips curved ,and she leaned into my touch. “I’m tired. I’m ready to be with them again.”

Them. I closed my eyes against the wave of pain thinking of our friends, long gone. Morgana, Lancelot, Galahad and the rest of the knights. Arthur. My throat tightened. Annwyl.

So many lost to us. Years and years of loss—lifetime—until it was just the two of us. We did the best we could—Guinevere ruling the kingdom after Arthur fell in battle, hoping he would be proud of her. He would have, of course. I never doubted that, even if she did, at times. Guinevere had a strength to be envied and had never wavered. Not when she'd lost her husband and king. Not when, years later, she'd lost her lover.

“You will come?” she asked, her thin aged fingers squeezing mine. “It’s time, don’t you agree? Long past time, I believe.”

I opened my eyes and met her weary gaze. Unlike my dear friend, I had not endured the pain of loss so well. In the final battle against Mordred—so long ago, although it was still so fresh in my old mind—I’d lost so muchmore than I’d been prepared to lose. Not only had I watched my king, my best friend ,struck down by our enemy, but my love, my Annwyl had been lost as well. And it had been my fault. My magic that had drained the life from her. Faced with that, I’d gone mad. I’d lost the control I’d always taken such pride in.

Technically, the battle had been won, but I’d retreated. First, without choice. Dragged away by Morgana and Galahad while I raged against the twisted turn of fate after everything we had been through and everything we had sacrificed. Then, I’d stayed away, remained alone, because how could I return? A Camelot without Arthur, without Annwyl was unthinkable. But eventually, when my queen needed me, I’d made the city my home once again. I played the role of advisor and friend and supporter, just as Arthur and Annwyl would have wanted.

In all that time, though, I’d never visited their final resting place. Guinevere had gone against tradition, ignored her council, and refused to bury Arthur with his ancestors. The Circle would be together for eternity, in both life and death, she had decided, and no one would sway her.

Now, she was to take her place with Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, and Morgana.

“You need to make your peace, Merlin. Before it’s too late and you’re joining us in rest.”

“The rest is only temporary.” I lifted a shoulder lazily, despite the tension stiffening my body. “All too soon, we’ll be back together, alive and well.”

“And back into danger,” she added, dark eyes shining and lips curving.

I nodded. That was the deal we’d struck, after all, to gain the power we'd needed to defeat Mordred and his army. The Circle had been formed. Defenders of the world against Magical threats. Brought back again and again when we were needed. Christ, I was exhausted at the prospect, though my heart raced at the thought of the reunion with our loved ones.

Silence settled over us for several minutes. Guinevere’s grip on my hand loosened, and she closed her eyes. I watched, having to blink back stinging tears often, as her breathing gradually slowed.

Suddenly, her fingers tightened, and eyes still shut, she spoke, barely above a whisper, “You’ll come, won’t you? You wouldn’t deny an old woman her final request, would you?”

“Oh, but I would. Easily.” Swallowing around the lump in my throat, I shifted to lean over her and pressed my lips to her forehead. “But deny a friend? Never.”

I settled back in the hard chair, body aching and feeling every year I’d lived on this earth. Every damned minute of existence. But I would not complain. As much as I dreaded being alone, being the last of our people left, I would see Guinevere though her final journey…of this life, at least. And I would keep my promise.

Three days later, I stood just outside Camelot, where the rest of the Circle had been laid to rest. Still numb with the grief, I traced my fingers over the sun-warned stones marking the newest grave.

“Goodbye, Guinevere,” I whispered before moving down the line. I pressed my hand more fully on the next pile of stones and nearly choked. “Arthur… I saw her through until the end, my king. She was everything you always said she was and so much more. The queen Camelot needed after…after everything.”

I closed my eyes for a brief moment and took several deep breaths. Then, I forced myself to continue, touching Morgana’s, Lancelot’s and Galahad’s graves, silent but my mind filled with memories.

Coming to the final marker, I began to shake. I lowered myself painfully to my knees and pressed my forehead against the cool stones. The shaking intensified, and as I gasped for air, I realized I was sobbing. Unable to hold it in any longer. I was finally as alone as I’d always felt since the moment I lost her. My Annwyl.

“I love you,” I whispered hoarsely. “I never wanted to be without you… My only thought is joining you, love. There’s nothing left for me here in this world, in this life.”

But for now… I sighed and pushed to my feet. For now, I had no choice. I would live with the memories, the ghosts , with my regrets, and with the promise of the day I’d be with Annwyl and my friends again.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris |Siobhan Muir 

11 Comments

Happy Monday! It's time for another flash fiction. This one inspired by "Ever the Same" by Rob Thomas.

I love this song. It's one of my favorites. I went into the world from my "Albion's Circle" series for this flash fic, and wrote a glimpse into what I feel is one of the most important relationships in that series. And it isn't one of the romantic relationships.

I have delved into this world in flash fic before, so if you'd like to see those, here are the links.

"Merlin's Cave"
"The Hammer's Coming Down"
"I Will Possess Your Heart"


~Arthur~

“Arthur.”

I looked up and found Anna standing in the doorway, hand braced on the wooden frame, looking as exhausted as I felt.

“If you’re busy—”

I snorted and pushed my chair away from the desk. “I was paying bills. Nothing exciting, and nothing that can’t wait. What do you need?”

Her lips quirked upward. “Always to the point and ready to jump in without even knowing what I’m about to ask for. I'd forgotten that about you.”

“Well, It’s been a while, hasn’t it? A very long while,” I pointed out, familiar sadness weighing heavily over me.

“Yes,” she murmured. “My memories are coming back—the ones from Camelot that were hidden…” She blew out a long breath. “But I’m realizing that time may have passed, but you’re the same Arthur. And you are exactly who I need, right now. Who he needs.”

I stepped closer. “Merlin?”

“He won’t listen to me.”

I nodded, knowing things were still strained between the couple. Mostly because of Merlin’s self-sacrificing tendencies, especially when it came to the woman before me.

“And another thing I know, that I remember,” she closed the distance between us and took my hands, “is when I can’t get through to him, you always can.”

“That didn’t happen often—you not getting through.” I squeezed her cold, trembling fingers.

“It’s different now.” She inhaled deeply, closing her eyes a moment against the tears that welled up. When her bright green gaze was on my again, she continued, “He doesn’t see me as he did then. He looks at me and all he sees is his failures. Not how I look at the past, Arthur,” she said quickly when I opened my mouth. “But he does. All those lives, never finding me or being able to save me… I’m not the same Annwyl from Camelot. Not to him. Not really. So, I can’t get through to him the way I did then. But you can.”

I sighed, not exactly agreeing with her, but I wasn’t prepared to argue it. Not when there was Merlin to deal with.

“He won’t sleep,” she said before I could ask what the issue was. “He’s pushing himself too hard. For me, for you, for the Circle. He’s trying to figure out a way to find Jamie, to stop Mordred, to,” her voice cracked slightly, “to make things okay between us. He isn’t giving himself time to rest, and he hasn’t…hasn’t taken the time to grieve at all, let alone properly.”

“I’ll talk to him,” I assured then kissed her cheek.

“Thank you,” she said as we parted.

I headed out into the hallway then toward the stairway up to the third floor—Merlin’s space. I stopped and looked back at her. “You need to rest, too.”

“I will, when I know he is.”

Shaking my head, I made my way upstairs. Merlin wasn’t exactly alone in the self-sacrificing department. Hell, that could be attributed to damn near everyone in this house. Myself included. Of course, it was sort of a requirement when you vowed to come back, life after life, to fight against things most people believed were fantasy.

I didn’t bother knocking on the door and strode into the large open room. Merlin was at his desk, old books open and covering the space in front of him. His dark hair stood on end, from his habit of shoving his hands through the strands in frustration, and he was pale as fuck, with dark circles underscoring his eyes. Eyes that he could hardly keep open. Stubborn bastard.

I walked over to his side and settled a hand on his shoulder.

He startled slightly and sleepy blue eyes peered up at me. “Arthur?”

“Come on. Bed.”

Shaking his head, he turned back to his books, pulling one closer. “In a bit. I just need to—”

“You need to sleep. You can look at this with fresh eyes in the morning.”

“Arthur, I don’t need a fucking keeper,” he snapped. “What I need is to work, to figure out what to do, what to…”

And there were those hands in the hair…

I shifted and, gripping the back of his chair, pulled it back. Then, I grasped his elbows and yanked him to his feet, ignoring his protests. I pulled him around the desk, past the shelves of books and the table weighted down with even more books, to the large bed at the opposite side of the room.

I pushed him to sit on the edge of the mattress then crouched down to untie his boots. He jerked away, and I grabbed him by the calf, scowling at him.

“Merlin!” He stilled, and I pulled off both boots, tossing them to the side before standing. “If you want to sleep in something other than what you have on…”

He glared up at me, and I returned the hard look, not giving an inch. He pushed to his feet, hands clenching and unclenching at this sides.

“Don’t need a keeper,” he said again.

“Not a keeper. A friend,” I murmured. “A friend who worries. A friend who loves you.”

His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed audibly. “Low blow.”

I lifted a brow and waited. He muttered under his breath, and in a blink, he was standing there in a pair of pajama bottoms and threadbare t-shirt.

“Now, you’re just showing off.” I bent, reaching around him, and pulled back the duvet and sheet. “In.”

He looked as if he was going to argue again, but after a moment, his shoulders slumped as he sighed.

“In,” I repeated, a bit more gently.

Woodenly, he moved onto the bed, laying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. I toed off my shoes and stripped down to my boxers and t-shirt before climbing in beside him.

“Turn off the lights, Merlin,” I instructed.

“Arthur, please,” he whispered.

“Lights,” I said, adding a bit what Merlin called my “royalty” into my voice, knowing what needed to be done, knowing what he needed.

He blinked rapidly, then all the lights, save a small lamp across the room, went out. His breathing quickened and became harsher with each exhale. When his trembling shook the bed, I rolled onto my side and laid a hand on his chest, over his heart.

“It’s not all on you, Merlin. Stop carrying it all.”

His entire body jerked, and he shook his head frantically.

“You need to give some of it up. Give some of it to me, so you can rest. So you can be better and do what needs to be done. The weight of it all is crushing you, my friend.”

“You’re one to talk, sire.” The snarkiness of his words was completely ruined by the tears in his voice.

“Yes, and when the time comes—because it inevitably will—when I need to give up some of what smothers me, when I need to rest, you’ll be there to remind me, won’t you? It’s what we do.”

“I can’t sleep. Every time I close my eyes, I see…”

“What? What do you see?” I asked when he fell silent. Because it could be so many things. Living the lives we did, there was no shortage of horrors to relive in the quiet unguarded moments.

“Arthur," he said, voice small and quiet. "I killed him.”

I closed my eyes as my throat tightened, the pain from that loss still a very fresh wound. “It wasn’t your fault. You know that.”

“No, I don’t. I don’t know that,” he bit out. Then, his hand covered mine. “Whose fault is it, if not mine? I should have…should’ve done it differently. Should have figured another way to stop it.”

“It was Mordred,” I said, loud voice echoing through the room. “He set that in motion. And don't start down the road of questioning or diminishing the choices we make. We all made the choice to be here, and to give our lives if necessary. He did what he believed to be right." Even as I was assured Merlin and believed everything I said, with every ounce of my being, I couldn't quite bring myself to say his name, yet. My fallen knight. The first of the fallen in this life.  "And he’d be pissed as fuck, Merlin, if he knew you were blaming yourself. Don’t lessen his choice, his sacrifice like this. Honor it. Be better.”

“How many more are we going to lose, before this is over? Before we stop him?” He gulped. “Am I going to lose her again?”

Merlin moved closer, just an inch or so, but it was enough. I pulled him the rest of the way and held him—like I had hundreds of times before, like he had held me just as many times, if not more, when I was the one in need.

“We will stop Mordred. And we’ll keep Anna safe.” I said firmly, closing my eyes, praying I was right, this time.

“I’m so tired, Arthur.”

I had to fight to keep quiet, to not cry at the depth of pain and sorrow in those four small words. Silence settled over us, and slowly, Merlin relaxed and grew heavy in my arms. I continued to hold him as sleep finally stole over him, trying to give him what strength I could, hoping it was enough.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mulliin | Gwenydolyn Cease
Kris Norris | Paige Prince | Siobhan Muir

(and a big welcome to Siobhan who will be joining us for flash fics!)

3 Comments

I clearly have issues coming up with standalone stories for flash fics... I've gone back to one of my boys... You could read this on its own but if you'd like to take a gander at the other stories in this world:

Part 1 - "The First Step"
Part 2
Part 3 - "Never Gone"

This one is another peek into Justin's head... A similar, and yet very different, spot than we last saw him in "Never Gone".

"Unfinished"


Justin walked toward the kitchen, navigating in the dark, not wanting to wake his guest. Someone he hadn’t seen in years—takeout and booze in hand, wanting a visit and a place to sleep for the night. Justin had a slight pang of guilt that he’d hadn’t had a bed to offer, not in the tiny one-bedroom he currently lived in. He’d tried to give up his own bed and take the couch himself, but had just received a smack upside the head for his trouble. Oh well, at least his couch was fucking comfortable. And after the amount of alcohol they’d downed the night before, he figured the other man likely had no problem falling asleep.

Neither had Justin. Falling asleep was never the issue. Staying asleep, however…

He sighed as he opened the fridge. He should be used to it. He hadn’t had a solid night’s sleep in the last fucking three years. Not since…

He cursed, shoving aside that train of thought, and grabbed a bottle of water.

“Wanna grab me one while you’re in there?”

“Fuck!” Justin fumbled and barely stopped the bottle from dropping to the floor. He withdrew another water and, shutting the door, walked into the living room. “Sorry, boss. Didn’t mean to wake you.”

A soft huff of laughter, and in small amount of light from the streetlamps coming in through the window, he saw Liam—his former boss—shake his head. But he didn’t correct Justin. He’d stopped doing that about an hour after arriving.

“Didn’t wake me.” He held his hand out for the water and motioned for Justin to sit next to him.

“Okay, but I don’t want to keep you up.”

“Shut up and sit down.”

“Yes, boss.” He plopped on the cushion, as ordered, but looked everywhere but at the other man.

After a few minutes of silence, a hand came to rest on his shoulder. “Sometimes, it helps to talk about it.”

“About what?” he asked flatly.

Liam’s fingers tightened. “The nightmares.”

Justin jerked his head around and stared at the older man. “How did you know?”

“That you had nightmares? How could you not?”

Liam tilted his head to the side and stared intently. Justin fought not to squirm. Damn, it’d been a long time since he’d been under the full force of that stare. And fuck him, he kind of missed it.

“Justin,” Liam sighed. “The things we see, the things we face, doing what we do, nightmares are par for the course. But having to face the…horrors, knowing that your brother did those things? Bound to screw with your head.”

Leaning forward, Justin set his water on the scarred surface of the coffee table then scrubbed his palms over his face. He didn’t want to think, let alone talk, about the nightmares. Of course his stupid fucking brain circled back to the one that had woken him less than half an hour before.

Starring his brother, Jonah, of course. He’d been standing over Justin, who had been strapped down on a table. Just like all of Jonah’s victims had been. He’d known it was Jonah from the start, even though he hadn’t been recognizable. His face hadn’t been human. It had been covered in metal and gears and...stuff. But it hadn’t been a mask—it was his face. His face was just…not human.

Justin rolled his eyes. It didn’t take a fucking shrink to figure the meaning of that, did it? Three years ago, he’d discovered his brother wasn’t human. He was a monster. This was just Justin's brain’s way of illustrating that.

The dream was starting to fade, blur around the edges as dreams often do, and Justin couldn’t even bring the particulars into focus anymore. But Jonah’s eyes…  Those were still vivid. Cold, assessing, emotionless—no sign of caring or love. No sign of a brother in those fathomless pale eyes. Only the monster he’d been. The monster Justin hadn’t seen until it was too late.

“Justin.”

Liam’s low hoarse voice brought him out of his mind and back into his dark living room.

“Sorry.”

“You need to stop wallowing in your guilt. You blame yourself and that isn’t going to lead you anywhere good. Trust me on that. You ran away, isolated yourself, wrapped yourself in the weight of that guilt, and it’s suffocating you. You haven’t even given yourself time, or permission, to grieve.”

Justin sat back and gaped at the older man. One, because that was the most words he’d heard his boss string together in one go. Two, because his uncanny ability to see what Justin tried to hide from everyone. From himself. Though he shouldn’t be surprised—Liam had always had that talent—but time had made Justin forget.

“Grieve?” he croaked. “I am not the one who needs to grieve. That falls on the families who lost someone they loved. My brother was not a victim, Liam. He was a monster who tortured and killed at least a dozen men. A psychopath unable to even feel love.”

“Ah, but that’s the thing, isn’t it? He can’t feel love. But you can. You did.” Liam cupped Justin’s cheek a moment then patted it. “You, just like those families, lost a loved one. Lost a brother. And you are allowed to grieve., Justin.

Justin forced a laugh. “Didn’t take you for the touch-feely type, boss.”

“I’m not. Never have been. But you’re family. And family looks after its own—even when they don’t want looking after. Or think they don’t deserve it.”

“Boss…don’t,” he pleaded, heart hammering, throat tight, eyes stinging.

“You may have left the team—hell, I left the team—but you did not leave your family.” He shook his head. “Can’t. Not possible.”

Justin thought of who he’d left behind. The man in front of him—the boss, the man he’d looked up to so fucking much. Adam—SIC, a second boss, really, but the one who had taken Justin under his wing from day one. Scott and Sarah—the agents who razed and supported him in equal measure. And Harris—Justin didn’t exactly know where he fit in the “family” Liam spoke of. Harris had been attached to the team during the investigation that lead to Jonah. Hell, Harris had taken Justin’s place when he’d left. He didn’t really know the kid.

His breath stalled as pale sweat-damp skin, dark eyes and tousled hair flashed through his mind.

“It’s time to come home, Justin.”

He was thankful to be pulled away from memories of what he regretted—regretted leaving behind, not having done. Because he couldn’t bring himself to regret that one night. No matter that he probably should.

“I don’t know if I can,” he whispered. “I always said I would—when I got past all of it. But I’m not sure that it’ll ever be over. Not for me.” He cringed as his voice broke and cleared his throat. “I don’t know that I can come back to the Bureau, boss.”

“It’s time to come home,” Liam repeated. “Don’t give a shit whether you go back to the job. Come back to your family. Let us help you though this. Help you grieve. Because until you do, it won’t be over.”

Justin sniffed and swiped angrily at the dampness now coating his cheeks. He froze when Liam’s arms came around him.

“You are allowed, you know? Grieving the loss of your brother isn’t a betrayal. It doesn’t lessen what you feel for those families.”

Hearing the thoughts that needled at him constantly voiced—and damn him, how does he do that?—Justin felt something deep in his chest give way. A sob forced its way up, up, up until it pushed past his lips. Liam’s embrace tightened, and Justin let himself lean into the other man. To take the comfort for the first time in three years.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris

5 Comments

This month's song is "What Are You Waiting For" by Nickelback. Have a listen if you like:

This fic didn't really go where I expected but I went with it. 🙂 It doesn't really go with the theme of the song, I suppose, but that's okay. It was what came from me, and that's what these flash fics are all about.


What are you waiting for?

Maddie Ainswirth stared at her resume on the computer screen as the conversation from the previous evening ran through her head—or at least her mother’s side of it, which admittedly was the majority of the words spoken.

You’re wasting your time and your talent. As a PA for a non-profit? Honestly, Madeline. With your degrees and your skills, you could be making a more than decent living, with a PA of your own, getting the recognition you deserve.

And by you, her mother meant we—we as in the Ainswirths. All of Maddie’s accomplishments, or lack thereof, reflected on the family as a whole. And unlike her siblings—Maddie was falling short. But that was her jam, apparently. She’d been an average student. Hadn’t dated the right boys. Sure, she’d earned two degrees, but what was having degrees in English and marketing when compared to two lawyer brothers and a CFO sister? And one would think she’d have a leg up on the sister who was a stay at home mom, but that was just fine because she’d married up.

Don’t you want to make something of yourself? Make your way to the top, feel the pride in that? I don’t understand how you can be happy, how you can be satisfied filing papers and bringing Leo Carver his coffee. I expected more of you.

That had, of course, been designed to shame and push Maddie to…to…to be more. But it didn’t. Because she was happy where she was. She loved her job, which wasn’t as a PA anymore, not for over a year, even if her mother refused to remember that bit. Maddie worked alongside Leo, running their small office and staff. It definitely wasn’t just filing papers and fetching coffee. Oh, she still did plenty of that, but she did so much more. She was making a difference. And she’d tried to explain that to her mother, but making a difference didn’t mean shit if it didn’t come with an impressive job title, money or public recognition. Preferably all three.

Maddie rubbed at her temple and continued staring at the screen—at her list of qualifications and skills—before clicking over to the email from her mother and staring some more. At the links to more suitable jobs.

“Hey, Mads,” Leo greeted cheerfully. Juggling a bag and drink holder, he used his foot to pull the chair from his desk over to hers. Settling in beside her, he announced, “Food time.”

She glanced at the clock, shaking her head when she saw it was already after five pm. “Hmmm, guessing that means it’s gonna be a long night?”

“Got you a double,” he said apologetically as he placed a tall coffee next to her keyboard.

She inhaled the spicy scents as he opened the takeout bag. ““And Indian food? Wow, you must really feel bad.”

“So so bad.” He held a fork out to her, his green eyes twinkling and his mouth twitching up into a smile. “Big meeting’s tomorrow, and there’s no way I can do this without you, Mads.”

With a smile of her own, she deleted her mom’s email without a second thought, then closed her resume before moving the mouse and keyboard to the side. After taking the offered fork, she also accepted the plastic container she knew would contain her favorite curry. Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, her thougths went back to her mother and the conversation they had, it seemed, every time she saw her.

Would she always be happy here? She didn’t know. Some days, it was hard and grueling. The late nights were killer. But the work they did was worth that. And hell, even the hard days, the late nights were made bearable by not being the only one running for coffee. By Leo bringing her her favorite takeout. By being needed and appreciated for who she was. And that, right there, was something that had been lacking her life until she’d started working here. Working with Leo. He’d seen potential in her, where everyone else her life had only seen flaws and disappointment. He’d encouraged her, helped her shape that potential into something more. Something solid and good.

“Mads?”

“Hmmm?” She blinked and met his gaze.

“Everything okay? You’re a million miles away.” He settled a warm hand on her shoulder, and his thumb grazed the skin on her neck.

And that… Well that was new. The subtle touches, the long looks, the not-quite-uncomfortable but heavy silences that settled around them sometimes. Maddie had no idea where this new thing would go—if it would even go anywhere—but she couldn’t deny the thrill of excitement that coursed through her when she thought about the possibility of more developing between them.

She smiled and shook her head. “All good. I’m right here.”

Leo nodded, grinning in response then shoving a forkful of chicken tikka masala in his mouth. Maddie chuckled and leaned slightly into his touch before digging into her own meal.

What was she waiting for?

Her answer to that wasn’t one that would make her mom happy, that was for sure. She wasn’t trying to make it to the top of anything or looking to increase the size of her portfolio or see her name in the news. She had what she needed and was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Yes, Mom definitely wouldn’t be happy because If Maddie was waiting for anything… she was waiting to see if that more would happen.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

6 Comments

Hello! This month's song fic is based on "Glycerine" by Bush. Here is a video if you want to have a listen:

Oh this was a haaaaaard one. LOL But finally something popped into my head and I'm rolling with it. Have no idea if it truly fits the song, but either way, it's what came while I was listening so it counts. 😛 Here we go...


"Don't even think about it."

"Huh?" I didn't even look at my best friend, Lily, as she practically spit the words at me. No, my eyes were on my boyfriend...ex-boyfriend. He wasn't mine anymore. And that was a good thing. Though looking at him across the crowded room, it was hard to remember why. I wanted nothing more than to push my way through the people between us and wrap myself around him.

What can I say? When it came to Josh, I was fucking weak. After the last time we broke it off -yeah, the last in a long line of break-ups; like I said...weak - I had promised not to go back. Hell, coming to this party was supposed to be all about getting over Josh and maybe moving on to someone else - the last thing? Lily and our friend, Tom's idea. I didn't think hooking up while I was still clearly stuck on Josh was a good idea, but they had dragged me along. Obviously, they hadn't expected Josh to show up. I hadn't either. Parties weren't exactly Josh's thing.

"Dammit, Sam." Lily grabbed my arm and spun me around to face her. "Look at you - all freaking gooey eyed the second he walks in the room. You need to remember why he is bad for you. You broke up with him for a reason! Hell, a lot of really good reasons."

"Lil... It's not like he's a bad guy."  I glanced over my shoulder then yelped when her dainty, but amazingly strong fingers grasped my chin and turned my face back toward her.

"I'm not saying he's a bad guy," she said, not so convincingly. "But you two are wrong for each other. Your relationship was codependent, at best. The two of you together...do not make good choices. And the last time," she leaned forward and dropped her voice, "he hit you."

"We were drunk," I protested. "And I hit him, too."

"Yeah, and most of the time you're together, more often than not, you're drunk or you're high. See? Bad fucking choices, Sam." Her eyebrows shot up as she gave me "the look".

I hated that don't-disappoint-me look. I thought by moving away from home, i'd escaped it, but nay, nay, Lily kept it alive and well.

"But you constantly put all the blame on him," I pointed out. "And the problems we had, they're not all on him."

"No, they're not," she agreed. "You're both motherfucking idiots when it comes to each other."

I shook my head. She didn't get it. Even though I was the one who had initiated half our break-ups, I loved him. And I hated being alone, being without him. And it wasn't as if it was all screaming fights and arguments between us. There were a helluva lot of good times too. And I missed those.

"We have been," I said, mostly to get her off my back. "But..."

I looked back again, and my stomach jumped when I saw Josh weaving his way through the crowd toward us.

"No. No buts, Sam," Lily said, loudly enough that, even with the music blaring, people turned to look at us.

"You don't understand," I said, gaze darting between her and Josh.

"Fucking right I don't understand. I don't understand how you can choose to be miserable. How you can choose to be in a relationship that is no good for either of you. Hell, if you love him so damned much, think about him. Being together is not good for him. Do what's right for you and Josh." She spoke right in my ear and quickly, clearly wanting to have her say before he could hear.

"Sam."

And damn...damn, damn, damn. In what world was this fucking fair? How affected I could be by one word, my name, on his freaking lips... I turned and actually sighed like a little girl watching a Disney movie. He was too damned pretty for my own damned good. His full lips curved into the crooked smile I thought about more than I ever wanted to admit to anyone.

"Hey, Josh, what are you doing here?" Lily said bluntly. "You hate parties."

His expression fell. He glanced between us a few times, then his gaze landed on me. "I... Well, I was hoping you'd be here. I wanted to talk, but didn't think you'd answer my calls."

"That should have been a big clue. If he won't answer your calls, why would you think he'd want to see you?"

"Lily!"  I stared at her, stomach sour and heart racing.

"Dammit, Sam." She met my gaze, then lifted her hands and let them drop, slapping against her thighs. "I love you, but you're gonna do whatever the fuck it is you want to do anyway, and I don't have to watch it. Can't bear to watch it.  Just call me when it's time to pick up the pieces...again."

Without giving me a chance to respond, she turned on her heel and strode away. Cheeks hot and hands shaking, I faced Josh.

"Is she right? You don't want to see me?"

I cleared my throat, staring at him, wanting to do the right thing. Only problem was I didn't know what the right thing was when it came to him and me.

"Why would you even want to? A few weeks ago, you couldn't wait to get away from me," I choked out.

"I was stupid, fucked up on the pills and everything. I haven't..." He wet his lips and ducked his head, looking at me from beneath those insanely long lashes. "Haven't touched them since. Haven't had a drink. I even...I even went to the counseling center, saw someone. Been seeing them a couple times a week. Talking though a lot of shit. You know, about my mom and dad and stuff."

I nodded, heart aching for him. If I'd thought my home life sucked when I moved out, it was a fucking cake walk compared to what Josh had gotten away from.

"I just wanted to talk. I get if you don't want to be around me. That's fair. Grant - that's the counselor I've been talking too - said I shouldn't... Well, he didn't think it was a good idea to see you, again. You know, like we were. But I need to at least talk to you. I was a complete ass; I see that now. I'm so sorry, Sam."

"It wasn't just you," I protested. "I"m sorry, too."

"Can we get out of here and go somewhere quiet to talk?" he asked. "Please."

"Yeah, we can talk."

He grinned and grabbed my hand. As we dodged people and made out way to the front door, I promised myself to be strong, this time. We'd talk, put things to rest, maybe? Or maybe with the changes he was making and the help he was getting, he'd be in a better place, and we could make it work. Not now, of course, but in the future. Because I couldn't deny I wanted a future with him. Always did.

Ten minutes later, when my back hit the wall of Josh's dorm room and his lips were on mine, Lily's words sounded in my head - Wrong for each other... Codependent, at best... Bad fucking decisions... - but I shoved them aside. She didn't know. She didn't understand.

"Fuck, Sammy, I missed you," Josh murmured, trailing kisses along my jaw and down my neck. "Hate being without you. Feel so damned numb." His hands flexed on my hips as he pressed closer. "I can feel again, now. With you. Taste so fucking beautiful, babe. Love you so much. God, is it the same for you?" He lifted his head and met my eyes. "Is it just me?"

I cupped his face and pulled him in again then whispered against his lips, "No, me too. God, me too."


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease

3 Comments

This month's Song Fic is inspired by "Albatross" by Susan McKeown. Have a listen if you want:

I'm going off the last verse of the song for my fic, which is super super short...

And I told you I would hold you
when my arms were still sore
but it's freezing and the beating of your wings
and I just can't take anymore
I watched the losing in your eyes
and I saw your tear-stained face
like a ghost like a promise

She sat on the edge of the bed, staring straight ahead, refusing to look at me as I packed my bag. Her fingers twisted together, knuckles white, and though the tears had stopped, I could still see the dried tracks they'd left on her pale cheeks. I zipped the bag, cringing at how loud it was and how she flinched at the sound.

Christ. I should have done this when she was at her mom's or sleeping. But I'd told myself that was the coward's way out, and the very least I owed her was to own what I was doing to us. To her.

The last thing I wanted was to cause her any more pain. She'd had her life's share and then some. My leaving? It hurt her, I knew that, but I had no clue how to make it better, because my staying - being here everyday, for the last few months, trapped in this house with its memories and aching emptiness - was hurting her too.

We both needed to be alone to heal. To deal with what we'd lost. That was what I told myself every second, anyway. It was the only way I could walk away from her. Telling myself it was for her as much as for me. And it was. I knew, to her, I was as much a reminder of the tiny life lost as she was to me.

"I'll call," I said quietly, lifting the bag and standing awkwardly, half-wishing she'd look at me but dreading it at the same time.

The moment she did, it was the punch in the gut I'd expected. The pain, the loss, the accusation in her tear-filled blue eyes...

"I'll call," I said again, stepping forward then freezing when she held up a hand.

"Just go."

Her voice, hoarse and ragged, tore at me, and I almost dropped the bag I clutched and went to her. Almost.

"I love you. That..." I swallowed around the massive lump in my throat. "That's as true as it ever was."

The corner of her mouth quirked up the tiniest bit. "I know."

She stared at me, not returning the declaration, though beneath everything else, I could see she still loved me. We loved each other. It just wasn't enough, right now. She nodded toward the door, chest jerking with her hitching breaths. She was trying not to cry... Fuck.

I closed the space between us and dropped a kiss on the top of her head before turning away from her and rushing from the room, from the house, my chest tight and eyes stinging.

Once in the car, I swiped at my eyes as I started the car. I pulled out of the driveway and drove away. The farther I got from the house I got, the lighter I felt, the easier I breathed. And I hated myself for that.

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

2 Comments

songprompt3

This month's song is REM's "Losing My Religion". I did my pull-a-line-and-go-with-it thing. Working from the line:

Oh no, I've said too much
I set it up

Here's the video, if you want to have a listen:


My heart stopped.

I'd always thought that was just a saying. An exaggeration. But, fuck me sideways, my heart actually stopped as soon as the words were out of my mouth and drew Linc's attention to me.

His attention on me... That's what I'd wanted for so long, but not like this. Not because I was tired, and my mouth got away from me.

And just as suddenly as it froze, my heart started hammering, painfully, as I tried to figure out some way I could spin, explain or joke away what I'd blurted out.

But, really, it was an impossible task. He'd been joking around, while we took a break from studying for the Chem final in his room, talking about our friend, Todd, who was pining away for a girl back home and had turned down several girls when we'd gone out the night before. Even though the girl back home had made it clear - several times - she wasn't interested in Todd.

Linc had shaken his head and rolled his eyes before saying that maybe if Todd just hooked up with someone else, he'd start getting over his long-time crush. Fuck her right out of his head. Without thinking, without even looking up at Linc, I opened my mouth...and probably ruined the longest and best friendship I had.

The words echoed in my ears - Didn't work for me. Could never fuck you out my head, no matter how many times I tried.

Blacks spots danced in front of me, refusing to disappear no matter how many times I blinked. I felt pressure around my hand and realized it was Linc's fingers wrapped around mine.

"...for fuck's sake, breathe!"

I drew in a deep breath, released it, then did it again. Finally, my vision cleared, and I met Linc's brown eyes. Eyes I'd imagined so often, but never like this. Full of concern...and pity.

"Hey." He leaned forward a bit, squeezing my hand.

I jerked away and stood quickly, knocking the chair down. Linc shook his head as he got to his feet.

"Don't-"

"Shit, I'm sorry." I turned, unable to look at him anymore, and stumbled to the door. I could hear him moving behind me, saying my name. I was a coward and cursed myself for that, but I didn't stop. I yanked the door open then sprinted down the hallway and out the building. Breaking into a full out run when I hit the pavement outside and heading toward my own building.

I ignored the vibrations in my pocket from my phone, knowing it was him and feeling relieved he hadn't chased after me. I knew I couldn't avoid him forever, and despite my current mortification, I didn't want to. I didn't want a life that didn't have Linc in it, even if it wasn't exactly the way I wanted him in it.  I prayed to every deity I could think of that I hadn't driven the best friend I had away.

Tomorrow, I'd go and talk to him, say what I should have said right away. Should have followed the stupid words with reassurances that nothing had to change, that I'd accepted a long time ago that what I felt was one-sided.

I pushed into my room and, closing my eyes, leaned back against the door. Tomorrow - I'd work on fixing this, then. For now... I'd just work on forgetting the damned pity in his eyes.


Bronwyn Green

5 Comments

songprompt2This month's song fic is "Sky High Honey" by Matt Nathanson.

Here's a vid of it:

And here is the story... New characters, this month!

Flying…

Owen rubbed the inside of his arm, where he’d slid the needle, and tried not to cry. He was fucking flying…and it wasn’t helping. Wasn’t giving him what he wanted, what he so desperately needed.

Oblivion.

He stared down at the pictures spread before him on the bed. Well, they sure as hell weren’t helping. But how could he look away? Because as much as he wanted to escape the pain—the gripping, nauseating pain that just overwhelmed everything—he didn’t really want to forget.

He caught one between his trembling fingertips and lifted it, his breath catching as he tried to memorize what he saw.

Daniel with his head thrown back, eyes nearly shut and an open-mouthed grin brightening his face as he laughed in that fucking gorgeous way he always did—with everything he had. Owen tried to remember what had made him laugh—had Daniel’s cousin, who in that moment had his arm draped over Daniel’s broad shoulders, said something funny or was this reaction for something beyond the camera?

Owen couldn’t remember. How many other things was he going to forget? Sure he could look at pictures. See Daniel’s beautiful face staring back. But what about the way he sounded, the way he smelled? How his skin felt, quivering beneath Owen’s palms, against his body and lips? And his taste…

Owen pushed to his feet, letting the photo drift from his grasp before stumbling over to the window seat. Kneeling on the cushion, he rested his forehead against the glass and exhaled shakily, his breath steaming up the pane.

He swallowed the sob that threatened, nearly choking on it. He was never going to taste Daniel again.

No more lazy weekends in bed. No more talking for hours just to hear each other, to know each other even more. He twisted, falling into a seated position, head still resting on the window. No more spur-of-the-moment camping trips so they could be alone without any chance of interruptions. No more late night runs for ice cream and feeding each other messily. His vision blurred. No more kisses and affectionate touches. No more stumbling in the door, tearing their clothes off each other, desperate to touch and just be together after a day at work…

“Fuck, fuck, fuck…” He rubbed his eyes with his fists, and there was no more fighting the wrenching cries. He just didn’t have the strength.

How the hell was he going to do this? The desperation he’d felt after a day away from Daniel had been so intense; how was he going to survive forever?

He tried to stand again, move toward the bed, but his legs wouldn’t cooperate, folding beneath him. He recognized the brutal landing jarring his body, but the drugs were at least working on some level—he felt no pain. Not physically anyway.

He crawled across the room and struggled to climb back on the mattress. Once there, he reached for the zippered pouch on the end table.

“Don’ know how t’do this wi’out you, Danny,” he slurred as he broke skin again—almost as desperate for the elusive oblivion as he was to have Daniel back with him.

One, he knew he was never going to get again; the other, he would keep trying for.

* * * *

“Owen.”

He stared ahead, unseeing. His body ached, and his mind was fuzzy. But the empty place in his life—Daniel’s place—was always clear. At no moment—not last night when he’d tried to hide behind the needle, not this morning when his brother had dragged him out of bed and shoved him into the shower and then dressed him like a child, not through the service or under people’s sad sympathetic stares, and not even when they’d lowered Daniel into the ground—had Owen been distracted from the gaping hole left by his husband. His best friend and lover.

“Owen!”

His head snapped up, and he saw his brother Tim at his side—this time standing beside Owen, hand heavy on his shoulder.

“Ready?” Tim murmured. “Everyone’s gone to the house.”

Turning back to look at where Daniel would rest, Owen shook his head. “I don’t want to leave him.”

He waited for all the lines he’d heard before—it wasn’t really Daniel in that coffin, just his body. He wouldn’t want Owen to be “like this”; he’d want Owen to move on—heart beating painfully. He lifted his hand and rested it against his chest, feeling the thudding beneath his palm.

“I know.” Tim dropped back into his chair, pressed shoulder to knee against Owen. “Whenever you’re ready.”

Owen nodded jerkily and, after a moment, spoke without looking away from that damned hole in the ground. “I feel like I’m dying, Tim. Like I should crawl in there with him…but fuck, it’s still beating. Somehow, without him.”

Tim wrapped an arm tightly around him and laid his hand over Owen’s, holding it hard to his chest.

“What do I do?” Owen whispered, voice breaking.

“One day at a time. And if that’s too much, then one hour at a time…or one minute, or one fucking second. Whatever it takes. So for now, we sit here until you’re ready.”

“Don’t know how long that will take,” he said apologetically.

“Doesn’t matter. I’m here, not going anywhere.” Tim kissed Owen’s temple. “You’re not alone.”

Owen closed his eyes and nodded. He wasn’t alone—logically, he knew that—but he felt like he was. And he had a feeling he always would.


Bronwyn Green | Kris Norris

songprompt5This month's song is "Little Heaven" by Toad the Wet Sprocket. Here is the song - with lyrics -  for your enjoyment.

This one was a hard one for me - not a shocker. I haven't blogged a lot lately. Or written. But I was determined to get something. I listened to it again and again. Stared at the lyrics so many times. Whined to people about lack of ideas. (I should probably apologize this...).

Finally after much time, and perhaps a couple margaritas one night before heading off to the fab writer's retreat I'm currently at, I came up with something.

Kinda working of of these lines:

Change'll happen whether we
Are still or moving
Breathe in waves of doubt
Bitter in your mouth

I wrote something that went with my serial, Your Lies (I don't think you have to read what I've posted so far to get the gist of what's happening here, but if you want to have a gander at the chapters posted so far, head on over to the serial page).


I groaned and scrunched up my face as my phone rang. Again.

“Whoever that is,” David, my friend and current study partner, said, looking up from his books briefly, “is just going to keep calling. You might as well just answer it.”

I hummed quietly and turned a page without responding.

He sighed. “Your mom?”

“Yep.”

“Maybe she’s calling to apologize,” he said quietly. “It’s been nearly a week.”

It didn’t matter how long it had been. I was angry. More angry than I had been with my mom in a long time. What I was feeling rivaled the emotions I’d battled back when my dad disappeared. The intense anger I had directed at her back then hadn’t been fair at all, and I still felt guilt over that. But this? Having people watching me and reporting back to her? I wasn’t going to get over that any time soon. And no amount of apologizing was going to make it happen any sooner.

“She’s probably worried,” he tried again.

“She’s knows I’m fine. I texted her. Besides, I’m sure her little spies have told her the same thing.” I closed my book the leaned back against the wall as I stretched my legs out in front of me on the bed. “Not ready to talk to her. Not yet.”

He pushed the chair away from the desk and turned to face me fully. “I get that. I really do, but after everything that’s happened, with your dad and all that, and everything with the anti-magic groups and—”

“You don’t have to defend her to me,” I said quietly. “Even though it drives me nuts, I do actually understand where she’s coming from and why she worries about me. But what she did…” I swallowed thickly and shook my head. “She showed how little she trusts me, and—”

My phone rang again—a different ringtone this time. I snatched up the device and stared at Kyle’s face on the screen. I hadn’t spoken to him—my best friend—since I’d left for school. We’d texted and IM’d but actually talking… The fact he was calling now wasn’t a coincidence. That fact pushed my anger and annoyance up, but I still answered.

Before I could say anything beyond the initial “hello”, Kyle’s voice exploded in my ear. “What the fuck are you thinking, Dee?”

“Well, I’ve missed you, too. Been a long time; how have you been?” I said, voice sickeningly sweet.

“I’ve got your mom calling me, yelling at me about how you won’t answer her calls…like that’s somehow my fault. Then, she tells me you’ve been basically making a target of yourself and seeing that Roberts kid. Fuck, Dee, we talking about this! Don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t let anyone know. Speaking at a pro-magic event, dating the fucking poster boy for the antis? How is that laying low and helping keep your secret? Are you fucking stupid?”

“Keep it up and I’m hanging up,” I responded tightly. “My mom has no clue what she’s talking about, and neither do you.”

“Did you speak at the thing or not?”

“I helped out—behind the scenes—and when things got messed up the day, yeah, I spoke. But hardly at all. I basically welcomed people and introduced the first speaker. It’s not like I gave a big speech and came out as a magic user anything, for crying out loud.”

“It doesn’t matter!” he nearly shouted. “Just being there is too much. For fuck’s sake, Dee.” He inhaled deeply, then asked, “And Maddock Roberts?”

“What about him?”

“You’re dating him?” When I didn’t answer immediately, he plowed ahead. “Are you insane? He’s the last person you should be in the same room with, let alone date. His parents, his whole fucking family, are among the most vocal against our—”

“I don’t care. He’s not like that,” I argued.

“So he’s not leading the anti-magic rallies on campus, telling people to sign petitions to ban magic users and basically lock us up? I’ll admit, he pretties it up and tries to say it’s for our own good as much as for the general public, but come the fuck on, Dee. Tell me you’re not falling for that?”

“You don’t know him.” I said quietly.

“And you do? Does he know you? All of you. How do you think he’d react if he knew the truth about you? Do you even think of that? Or are you just blinded by how cute and how into you he is?”

“Stop it. Just…stop it.” I swiped at my stinging eyes, his words bringing all the doubts and fears I had to the forefront. “You don’t get to disappear, off doing what you’re—and I’m not so stupid I don’t know what that is—then call when summoned to try to talk some sense into poor Delia. Maddock isn’t one of the bad guys. He may not know about me, but we’ve talked about magic and what he’s believed. He may not have questioned it in the past, but he listens to me. He doesn’t just blow me off. He’s actually considering what I have to say. Even before all of that, he wasn’t hateful toward magic users.”

“You really think you’re going to sway him? That him ‘listening to you’” he repeated with a sneer, “is anything more than him trying to placate the girl he’s romancing? Come on.”

“Like I said, you don’t know him.”

“I know enough. He’s dangerous. Things are changing quickly. In a bad way. It’s going to get much worse for us before they get better. And if you think he’s is going to stand beside you when he knows what you are and when things hit the fucking fan, you’re delusional. You’re going to get your heart broken…or worse.”

“You’re exaggerating,” I said, even though I knew he wasn’t. It didn’t take a genius to realize things were bad in the world and the conflict between magic users and those who wanted them gone was escalating. All you had to do was turn on the news to see that.

“War’s coming, Dee. Doesn’t matter if we’re fighting or standing still, it’s coming. You need to surround yourself with people you trust, with people who will have your back when everything falls apart. Can you really say Maddock Roberts fits that bill?”

There was shouting in the background on his end—loud, frantic words I couldn’t quite catch—and Kyle cursed.

“I’ve got to go. Take care, Dee. I love you and I want you safe. Make the right choice before it’s too late.” A quick pause and more shouting. “And call your mom, yeah? She loves you, too, and wants the same. Remember that.”

The call cut out then, and I dropped the phone onto the bed in front of me. David stood and crossed the room to sit beside me. It was clear from his expression he knew full well the other side of the conversation had gone, even if he hadn’t heard the exact wording.

“Want to talk about it?” he asked quietly, resting his hand on my knee and squeezing.

“Not even a little. Besides,” I looked at the clock on the wall, “I need to get ready for my date.”

David smiled and, after another quick squeeze, stood and moved over to start packing up things into his backpack. I smiled, comforted by his easy acceptance. David was a magic user too. And he knew Maddock and trusted him, supported my relationship with him. All of my friends did. Even Addie, who had been hesitant and uber-distrustful to begin with.

I loved my mom, and I loved Kyle, but… I closed my eyes a moment and pictured a handsome face with piercing green eyes. I was beginning to love Maddock too, and I was pretty certain that went both ways. War coming or not—he would never hurt me.


Bronwyn Green | Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris