Tag Archives: Photo Prompt

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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

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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.

“Lord Ashton?”

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.

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris

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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. 🙂

Enjoy!

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—”

“Lancelot?”

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?

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kayleigh Jones  | Kris Norris

7 Comments

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. 🙂

“Fucking gorgeous.”

“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.

“You okay?”

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.”

“Max…”

“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.

No.

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.

“Forever?”

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.”


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

3 Comments

photoprompt

10-2015 GothCouple

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."


Bronwyn Green

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photoprompt

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:09-2016 BarbedWire

"Never Gone"


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.

Harris Porter.

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…


Check out what the others have come up with for this one!
Bronwyn Green |  Kris Norris 

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photopromptHappy August!

For this month's photo prompt, I went back to my serial, Your Lies (which I will be posting more of soon!) This is kind of a continuation of the scene in my June Song Fic.

Enjoy!


08-2016 BenchGirl

God, what was I doing?

I sat heavily on the bench, cigarette dangling from my fingers. I huffed a laugh—I didn’t even smoke. Well, aside from the couple times, years ago, when Kyle and I had swiped his dad’s pack from his car and lit up in the woods… Hell, we didn’t even really inhale. Or at least I didn’t.

Bumming a cigarette from the group of students outside the café… I couldn’t even say why I’d done it. I was supposed to be with Maddock on our date. But instead of meeting him in front of his building, I’d taken off the other way—the phone conversation I’d had earlier with Kyle filling my head. Increasing every doubt I had about Maddock and dating him. As I’d passed the hazy cloud the kids stood in, something inside me had snapped and I’d asked if I could have one. A cute blond had grinned at me, handed me a cigarette and lit it up.

I licked my lips, grimacing at the taste clinging. Yeah, stupid move all around. Stupid and childish. So what was I doing? Apparently, proving my mother right.

And that sure as hell didn’t make me any less angry. At her. At myself. At the whole fucked up situation. I wanted to be with Maddock. I like him, so much, but as much as I hated to admit it, Kyle was right. It was dangerous—dangerous to be around Maddock, dangerous to date him, dangerous to fall for him.

I pressed a hand to my stomach and inhaled shakily. And I was. I was falling so hard for him. Hard and fast. Maybe that—more than what Mom did, more than Kyle’s accusations and warnings—was what had me running scared. I sighed and let the cigarette fall from my fingertips. As I crushed it beneath my boot, someone sat beside me. I didn’t have to even look to know who it was. My magic buzzing beneath my skin told me all I needed to know.

Maddock.

He didn’t say anything at first, just leaned back, his knee pressing against my ever so slightly. And my magic sure liked that. It liked everything about him. I’ve never had a reaction like this to anyone; never had the secret I kept locked away inside me reach out for someone before. I drew in breath after breath, trying to push it down, keep it inside and safe.

“I almost didn’t come over,” he said quietly after a few minutes. “Figured you not showing might be your way of letting me down easy.”

I shook my head, almost violently, turning toward him finally. His lips quirked just a bit, and his green eyes were so damned sad as he met my gaze. I felt my own eyes burn with tears and blinked rapidly.

“I walked around for a while, wondering what the hell I’d done wrong.”

“Nothing. God, Maddock…” I sniffed. “It’s not anything you did. It’s just…”

“Just what?”

I shook my head again, slowly this time. He lifted a hand, stopping the movement, and cupped my face. I closed my eyes a moment and leaned into the touch, shivering as his thumb swept back and forth over my cheekbone. When I didn’t answer, he spoke again.

“You can talk to me, you know? I don’t know if you noticed,” he leaned forward, brought his lips close to my ear, “but I like you, Delia—more than just like, really—and I don’t think there’s anything you can say to me that will change that.”

Oh, if only that were true. I frowned slightly at the negative thought. What was I doing? I was doing exactly what Mom and Kyle were—assuming things about Maddock with nothing to back it up. I believed what I’d said to both of them. Maddock wasn’t as anti-magic as he’d seemed at first. He was listening; he was willing to hear our side of things, to consider that what he’d grown up hearing was wrong. I may not be ready to tell him about my magic, but I did trust him, and I wanted tell him…at some point. And wasn’t that a terrifying thought?

“I’m…” I opened my eyes, met his gaze fully. “I’m fighting with my mom right now.”

“The phone call the other day?” He turned, angling his body toward me.

I nodded. “She got on my case about…”

“About me?”

“What?” I pulled back, and his hand dropped into his lap. “No, of course not.”

“Oh, Delia. You need to work on your lying skills.” He reached out and twined our fingers together. “So, is it having a boyfriend in general, or me specifically?”

“Boyfriend?” I gasped. “Is that… Are we…”

He cocked his head to the side, and I had the overwhelming urge to kiss the smirk off his lips.

“Aren’t we? I thought we were. But maybe I shouldn’t have assumed.” His grip tightened and his smirk blossomed into that wide smile that made my stomach jump and my magic pulse. “You wanna be my girlfriend, Delia? ‘Cause that’s what I want, in case that wasn’t clear.”

“Yeah,” I breathed. “I really, really do.”

“Thank God for that,” he murmured. “So, your mom? Is it me she has a problem with or would she have a problem with any guy?”

“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” I couldn’t help but smile at the concern on his face.

“If it’s bothering you this much, not a chance,” he confirmed.

I nodded, warmth spreading through me despite the chill in the air, and decided to give him a fraction of the truth. Even if I couldn’t give everything, he deserved it.

“My mom—” My voice cracked, and I had to clear my tight throat. Maddock just scooted closer and waited patiently. “She’s always been supportive of magic users and their rights.”

“Ah, so you come by it honestly.” His smile faded, and he slumped slightly. “And she’s heard of my family and…their stance on magic.”

I didn’t think he even noticed his wording—“their stance”—but I sure did, and it made me fall a little more. Okay, a lot more.

“Yeah.” I shrugged. “But it doesn’t matter. I—”

“Of course it matters,” he said abruptly, though his tone was flat, sad. “She’s your mother.”

“True. But she doesn’t control who I’m with or how I feel. Your parents probably want you to be with someone…someone like them, right? Who thinks like them? Does that change your wanting to be my...my boyfriend?”

“No, not a bit.” He straightened and after a moment he nodded. “I guess I’ll just have to win her over, won’t I?”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his determined expression. “If anyone could do it… But I don’t want to think about her, right now. Or even anytime soon.” I sobered and placed a hand on his biceps. “I’m sorry I ruined our date.”

“Eh,” he shrugged, “not ruined at all. I’m with you.”

“Yes, you are.” I caught my lower lip between my teeth as my stomach clenched and my magic skittered through me.

He dragged his thumb along my mouth, pulling my lip free as he leaned in. Moving my hand to his chest, I stopped him before he could kiss me.

“Let me get some gum, a breath mint, go brush my teeth,” I said a bit desperately. “I may not have smoked the whole thing but not at my best here, Maddock.”

He hummed, but didn’t pull away. In fact, he pushed forward, whispering against my mouth, “I don’t much care, sweetheart. Just want to kiss my girlfriend,” before settling his lips over mine.

I lost track of time, forgot all my objections as he pulled me closer and delved inside, licking, nipping, driving me mad.

When he pulled away, gasping, he rested my forehead against mine. “Come back to my place?”

My trust in him, my magic clearly approving as it danced along my nerves, everything I felt for him overrode the doubts—mine, Mom’s, Kyle’s—and I nodded. Grinning, he stood and helped me up. His arm wrapped tightly around me, we headed toward his building. The fear was still there, simmering beneath everything else. Only because I knew, I just knew, this man had the power to hurt me. And it had nothing to do with whether or not he found out about my magic. He had the power to completely destroy me…because I loved him.


Bronwyn Green | Kris Norris

4 Comments

photoprompt

02-2016 ManonDockTHE CHOICE

He knew it wasn’t real.

Real was the pain and bright lights and beeps and loud voices that had somehow vanished. In an instant. One minute, he was surrounded by all of it, the chaos, and filled with more pain than he knew how to handle, and then, the next, he stood here.

Here, in this perfect moment. The dock floated on the still surface of the water, and he couldn’t see where it began or where it ended. It was as if he was just drifting, drifting, drifting… He stared across the glassy waters, a warm breeze swirling around him. He cocked his head. It was odd, the warmth blowing past him—he felt it, surrounding him, cocooning him, making him feel safe—but there was barely a ripple in the water before him. It was as though the air was just for him alone and couldn’t touch anything else.

It shifted, wrapped around him more fully, and pulled him forward. He took a step forward, then another, every muscle relaxing as a peace—so at odds with what he’d just been pulled from—overcame him.

And he knew it wasn’t real.

He waited for the moment to come—the moment it all disappeared, faded from sight, and he’d be back in the too bright, too loud, agonizing reality. And he wanted to stay, to keep walking, farther and farther away. To have what he left be the dream and this be real—the warmth and quiet and peace—because how could he go back? Who would choose that over this?

Micah…

He stopped, eyes closing as his name whispered past his ears.

Micah, please… I don’t want to lose you. Not now. Not after every—

The quiet, choking sob that followed, that swallowed the rest of the words, gutted him. Introduced a gripping pain that didn’t belong here, not in this place. He began to move again, and the words and crying faded. Instead finding comfort and moving faster to escape into the peace, he ground to a halt again, fighting the seductive pull and straining to hear the voice again.

I don’t want to do this without you. I know it’s selfish as hell, but I need you. I need you here with me. Micah, please, please come back to me.

He turned slowly, away from the quiet waters, the stillness and peace that called to him. That first step back was like moving through cement. He shook with the effort and bit back a cry as pain flooded back. But he put one foot in front of the other, again and again, until he was no longer on his feet. No dock beneath him, no water in front of him, no warm air blanketing him.

It was dark, and it took everything in him—every ounce of determination and strength—to open his eyes.

When she came into view—the pale, tear-damp cheeks, red-rimmed eyes, the riot of blonde curls framing her fucking gorgeous face—he had his answer. Who would choose pain and difficulty over what he’d just left? He would. If it was ever a choice, if he had anything to say about it, he would. Every time. For her.


 

Bronwyn Green |Gwendolyn Cease |Kris Norris |Paige Prince

10 Comments

photopromptFirst flash fiction of 2016! Yay. Let's get to it!

01-2016 LightinForestFIRST STEP

The low murmur of conversation did nothing to ease the knot of complete and utter fear that had swelled inside Liam. It wasn’t mixed with the jittery, overwhelming surge of panic any more. That had been soothed once he’d been allowed into the room, allowed to see Adam. Though the sight added another layer to the knot choking Liam. The pale skin covered in colorful bruises, the long line of stitches at the man’s temple, the similar, yet shorter, one mending his split lip… And that didn’t even take into account the other injuries Adam has sustained while taking down their suspect. Broken ribs, dislocated shoulder, gunshot to the thigh…

Liam closed his eyes and turned away, unwilling to let the rest of Adam’s team, their friends, see just how affected he was by all of this. Hell, if Adam woke—no, no, when Adam woke—he didn’t need to be worrying about how Liam was handling the situation. That couldn’t be on his radar, at all. He needed to focus on recovering. Period.

“Hey.”

A hand settled on Liam’s shoulder and it took everything in him not to jump at the contact.

Adam’s second, Scott, moved so he could look Liam in the eye, hand still heavy, fingers twitching on Liam’s shoulder. “he’s going to be okay? Hardly the first time he’s been knocked on his ass. He always gets back up. You know how scrappy our boy is.”

“Yeah, the doc said he’s gonna be fine,” Sarah piped in from where she sat beside Adam’s bed. “Soon enough, it’s going to be complaining and whining as he waits to be field rated again. And we’ll be thinking back to this day longingly…the brief, brief glorious time he was still and silent.”

“Oh, come on, guys,” the last member of the team—the newbie—Harris, protested quietly. “That’s not—”

“‘s’okay. Le’ them ge’ their snarks in now, while they ca’.”

Liam spun around, dislodging the hold Scott had on him, at the sound of Adam’s voice—soft and slightly slurred.

“Well, welcome back,” Sarah leaned forward, laid a hand over Adam’s. “Why don’t you open those pretty green eyes, so we know you’re really awake there?”

“Don’ wanna,” he said, half whining though the corner of his mouth quirked up—followed quickly by a grimace of pain. “Jus’ leave me alone. ‘M’fine. Go wrap up your reports, yeah? Le’ me rest here. Pre’sure the docs wan’ me t’rest.”

“Just had to make sure you weren’t bailing on us,” Scott said cheerfully. “You heard him; let’s get back to work.” Then, with a light touch to one of Adam’s feet as he passed, he added softly, “Be back tonight.”

Harris followed Scott from the room after a quick murmured, “Glad you’re okay.”

Sarah rolled her eyes and rose. “Have it your way. I’ll smuggle you in some real food when we come later.”

The soft huffing laugh was Adam’s only response. Sarah shook her head, flashed a bright smile at Liam and left.

Liam stayed where he was, gaze firmly on the man in the bed, wondering if he should just slip from the room—Adam probably none the wiser that he’d even been there. No explaining why he’d dropped everything and run the moment he’d heard Adam was injured and in the hospital.

“Gonna be fine, Lee.” Adam winced as he shifted slightly and finally opened his eyes, pinning Liam with a stare that was steady as hell despite the pain killers that were swimming in his system. “Was one thing for you to stew in the guilt of it all when we were on the same team, but now? No need. Not that there was any need before…”

Liam shrugged. “First big case you’ve had since I…since I transferred. Thought I could count on them to have your back.”

Fuck, he hadn’t meant to say that. Hadn’t meant to give away one of the reasons he’d avoided moving on, career-wise, giving control of the team to Adam.

“They do have my back. Jus’ like you did. Jus’ like I had yours. Not their fault.” His tongue popped out, nudging the stitches once, twice. “Par’ of the job, Lee—the risks. You know that.”

He did. Didn’t mean he had to fucking like it. He’d hated it then, hated it now. And nothing was going to change that. Certainly not the fact they worked on different teams now—hell, different buildings, different agencies.

“Glad you’re here, though,” Adam muttered, eyes closing again. “Can’t believe I’m gonna say this, bu’ missed seeing your mug every day.”

Liam closed his own eyes, inhaling deeply. The fear was gone—well, mostly—but a knot of a different kind lodged in his throat. One he was so familiar with it was almost comforting. Almost. Lifting his lids, he just stared. For once, free to do so openly. Adam’s dark hair, normally styled within an inch of its life, was a tousled mess, falling over his forehead. And the man may be beat up, but he was still so fucking beautiful it took Liam’s breath away—another all too familiar feeling.

Adam’s tongue snuck out again, slipping over the fat lip, prodding the stitched wound.

“Stop poking at it,” Liam snapped, probably a bit too harshly, but Adam just snorted

“Can’t tell me wha’ to do. No’ the boss of me.” He lifted a brow, green eyes darkening with…something. “No’ anymore.”

Liam searched for something, anything to say—a scathing reply worthy of their normal back and forth that no one else seemed to get. The opportunity passed as the silence stretched to long and Adam’s gaze moved away, just a little bit to the left.

“That…” He squinted a moment, tilted his head to the side, which led to him pressing a hand to head, hissing in pain. “That is the most unfortunate piece of art for a hospital room. Stupid fuckers.”

Liam twisted to look at the framed print on the wall. A forest scene with rich greens and browns. Beyond a tree, a light shone brightly. It wasn’t clear what the light’s source was—that was probably up for interpretation or some bullshit, he supposed—but its rays spread outward, kissing the dirt path and leaves. Staring intently, he couldn’t figure out what about it offended Adam. But, he thought, turning back toward the hospital bed, he just had to wait it out. Adam would spill eventually, always did.

“Oh for—” Hand still pressed to the head—Liam thought maybe he should hit the call button, talk to the nurse about the obvious failure with Adam’s pain management—Adam chuckled. “Don’t you think a picture of a damn bright light is the last thing someone in the hospital should be looking at?” When Liam just frowned deeper, he let his hand drop to his lap. “Sometimes, Lee… I’ve successfully avoided going into the light so far. I don’t want it staring me down the whole time I’m awake.”

Liam looked between the picture and the other man several times. “Seriously? It bothers you that much?”

“Well, yeah. How’m I s’pose to sleep knowing that it could take me, huh?”

“You’re ridiculous,” he muttered, taking a step close to the wall and pulling the picture off the hook. Making sure Adam saw his exaggerated eye roll, he strode to the door and reached around to prop the photo against the wall outside the room. “There,” he said, moving to the side of the bed. “All safe from the big bad bright light. Idiot.”

“Thanks…boss.” He grinned, faltering a bit as he again stuck his tongue out to push at the stitches.

Liam shook his head and gave in, just a little, tapping Adam’s chin with his finger, silently telling the other man to leave them alone. “Not your boss anymore,” he reminded. “We’re…we’re equals now, Adam.”

He cursed the questioning tone in his voice, heart hammering as Adam held his gaze, assessing even as it was clear he was struggling to stay awake. Liam wondered if he’d mis-stepped, but the strange, yet exciting, dance they’d been engaged in for years had changed dramatically the moment he accepted his current position and left the team. Even though he’d done it in part to open up the possibility of building on this thing between them, he hadn’t been sure footed since. The rules before—those he had understood, had stood behind even when it’d been difficult and maddening. But now? What if he’d been wrong? What if this thing wasn’t actually a thing? What if—

“I never minded you being the boss, but,” Adam drew in a shaky breath, “I like this better.”

“Yeah?” he said, sitting in the chair Sarah had vacated earlier.

“Yeah, I really do.” He swallowed audibly, and his eyes drifted closed. A few moments passed, then he jolted, a pained cry falling from his battered mouth as his eyes darted around. “Lee?”

“Hey, hey,” he soothed, hands gently easing the other man back down onto the pillow. He didn’t pull away this time—like he would have in the past—and slid his hand into Adam’s thick hair, careful of the bumps and cuts. “Just rest. I’m here. Not going anywhere.”

“Bu’ work?”

“Not going anywhere,” he repeated firmly then, knowing the way Adam worried, added, “Called in, took care of it.”

Adam turned his head, nose nudging the sensitive skin of Liam’s inner wrist. “Good. No one else I wan’ to see when I wake up?”

Throat tight, hope higher than he’d ever felt it, Liam managed, “Yeah?”

“Mm hmmm.” Adam’s eyes opened, half-mast, and his lips twitched. “S’cause you’re so pretty.”

“Oh, fuck off.” Liam snorted then leaned over to press a kiss to Adam’s cheek. “Get some rest.”

Adam huffed and once again pressed the tip of his tongue against his fat lip before muttering, “Better fucking heal quick.”

“Yeah? Why’s that?”

“After all these years, ya really think a freakin’ kiss on th’ cheek is anywhere close t’enough?”


Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa
Kayleigh JonesKris Norris | Paige Prince

 

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photoprompt

Sorry this week is late. I've been down with the plague. But finally got it done.

This scene is connected to my serial, Your Lies. 

Some other flash fiction pieces that center around Delia:

The Lies Begin
Lying in Wait
Lying to Myself
The Lies We Tell

This would fall between Lying in Wait and Lying to Myself.


12-2015 - LanternBooks

THE CHOICE LIES BEFORE YOU

“It’s just for the weekend.”

I didn’t even look over at my mom, just continued to watch the trees fly by as we drove along the narrow dirt road. She didn’t get it, anyway. She thought I was upset about our little impromptu vacation and had spent the last three hours trying to fill all the awkward silences with chatter. I didn’t feel the need to do the same. Or to listen to it because she wasn’t saying anything I needed to hear. That, she flatly refused to do.

“It’ll be good to get away,” she continued, her voice breaking slightly. “Just what we need after…after everything.”

I closed my eyes against the sudden sting. I wasn’t going to cry anymore. I was so tired of tears and pain.

“I know it’s been hard, but it will get easier.”

“Will it?” I snapped, turning toward her, grasping at the anger that swelled up inside me. Anger—now, that I could deal with. “How is it going to get easier? How is that even possible when we don’t even know what happened? We don’t even know if Dad is alive or—”

“Delia!” Her hands flexed on the steering wheel, knuckles whitening. “Dwelling on that isn’t going to help anything. We need to move on.”

I shook my head. The disgust I felt for her choked me. My father, her husband, was missing, maybe dead, and she wanted us to just pretend it didn’t happen. Pretend there wasn’t a gaping hole in in our family in our lives, in everything.

I didn’t say anything else—couldn’t without saying something I wouldn’t be able to take back—twisting around to stare out the window, again. Thankfully, she didn’t try to fill this silence, leaving me along with my thoughts, my anger and contempt.

When the car stopped in front of the small cabin, Mom shut off the engine and sighed.

“Delia,” she said softly. “This is what he wanted. He always said if anything ever happened to him, we weren’t supposed to dig into it. He didn’t want us risking ourselves. If he’s…if he’s alive, he’d come here first, and only contact us once it’s safe.”

“That’s why you brought all his stuff,” I murmured, thinking of the boxes in the back of the car.

“Yes.” She reached over, settled a hand on my knee. “I hate this, too, but I have to focus on keeping you safe. If the people that took him found out about you—”

“How could they? Dad would never tell them.”

Her skin whitened as she pressed her lips together. After a moment, she gave a jerky nod. “You’re absolutely right.”

I frowned, feeling like I was missing something. Something important. Something horrible.

“So,” she continued, that false brightness back in her voice, “let’s just enjoy the weekend away. You always loved it out here.”

“Okay.”

I shrugged then, grabbing my backpack from by my feet, pushed the car door open. I got out and inhaled deeply. I did love it out here. Here, I didn’t have to hide everything. I didn’t have to be so careful. But I couldn’t tell Mom that. She didn’t understand. Dad did, though. He just got it—how hard to keep magic inside. How maddening it was to have such power thrumming through you, pulsing under your skin, but being unable to do anything about it, because it was too dangerous. Because if anyone knew, if anyone even suspected, your name would end up on a watch list, at the very least. The other possible outcomes—I swallowed down the surge of bile in my throat—were things I fought hard not to think about. Too often failing, especially since my dad had been taken.

“Help me carry this stuff in?” Mom said, already walking up the path, box in her arms. She looked over her shoulder with a knowing smile—even if it was more strained than it usually was. “Before you go off hiking?”

I nodded and returned the smile, feeling more than a little guilty when her face lit up in response. She balanced the box on one arm shakily as she unlocked the door and went inside. I followed her, figuring I’d drop my bag in my room then help unload. As I approached, I saw a piece of paper in the threshold. Must have fallen out of the box Mom held. Stooping, I picked it up—not just a piece of paper. It was an envelope. I glanced around the main room of the cabin and didn’t see Mom. She must have brought the stuff into her bedroom. I looked down and frowned at the writing. Delia—scrawled in my dad’s handwriting.

I heard my mom shuffling around and quickly shoved the envelope in the back pocket of my jeans.

“It’s just a couple boxes,” she said, walking out of the back room. “Only take a minute or two.”

“Just gonna drop this in my room. I’ll get the rest, Mom,” I said quickly.

Once I had the door shut behind me, I dropped the bag next to the bed and pulled out the envelope. I tore it open and withdrew the folded paper. I bit my lip against the cry that wanted to escape when I saw my dad’s words. I traced my finger over the ink, vision blurring slightly. I blinked rapidly and drew in a deep breath, and began to read.

Dee,

If you’re reading this, I’m not there. I don’t know why, and I’m so sorry, but it’s going to be all right. The most important thing, now, is that you and your mom are safe. Listen to her. I know you’re not going to want to do that, but I’m telling you you need to listen to her. Do this for me.

These books are important, too. I know they don’t look like much, but they were given to me by my mother. They’ve been in our family a very long time, and they’re filled with all the things I haven’t had a chance to teach you, yet. How to use your magic, use it for good and brilliant things. Remember what I told you—your magic is a gift. It is as beautiful as you are, my sweet girl. The things you are capable of, that you will do… I’m so proud of you, and that isn’t going to change.

Keep the books hidden, study them carefully, and be safe.

I’m always with you, even when you don’t see.

I love you, Dee.

Dad

Several tears fell, soaking into the paper, smearing the ink. My heart pounded, filling my ears with its thumping. I drew in ragged breaths, one after another. I stood and rushed across the room to yank the door open.

“Took you long enough,” Mom said, as she emptied a bag, setting food on the counter in front of her. “There’s only one box left; if you could get that—”

“Where are they?” I shouted, shaking and feeling hot…so fucking hot I couldn’t stand it.

She turned, eyes wide. “What?”

“The books. Dad’s books…my books,” I ground out, shaking the letter in front of me. “The ones you were supposed to give me. In the car you talked about what Dad wanted, but you don’t really care about that, do you? You don’t want me to have them, because you hate that I have magic, that I got that from him.”

“Delia,” she said quietly, firmly.

I stumbled back as she reached for my hand…or the letter.

“It’s not going away,” I whispered harshly. “It’s a part of me, and Dad…Dad thought it was beautiful.”

I let the paper fall to the ground and sprinted out of the cabin, slamming the door behind me. Ignoring her calls, I darted between the surrounding trees. When I finally stopped, I bent at the waist, hands braced on my knees, struggling to catch my breath. Slowly, I brought it under control again—it was the only thing I had control of. Everything else—my thoughts, my emotions, my magic—was a jumbled mess. I moved toward a nearby tree and sat on the ground, my back to the trunk. Leaning my head back, I closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind. Because it just hurt too much. Hiding who I was, losing my dad, knowing my mom hated— I wrapped my arms around my middle. She didn’t hate me. I believed that, most of the time. But sometimes… God, sometimes, the doubt found its way in. Wiggled through all the good memories and the feelings of love and belonging.

I pushed it all away, ignored the magic skittered along my veins, and just focused on breathing. In, out. In, out. In, out.

Nothing but that until my heartbeat slowed, and the sweat that clung to me dried in the breeze. I thought of the letter, and cringed as the words Listen to her flashed behind my closed lids. Oh, he’d be unhappy with me, right now. He’d frown at me, brow all furrowed, and insist I apologize. Not for being mad, but for yelling and running off.

I sighed and scrubbed both hands over my face. The shadows around me grew long as the sun sank low in the sky. I’d been out here longer than I’d thought. She’d be worrying about me. Shit.

I made my way back through the woods and nearly threw up when the cabin came into view. But I kept going, determined to face whatever was waiting for me, even though my mom pissed off was a force to be reckoned with. So my dad always said.

When I opened the door and stepped inside, my mom was at the stove. Other than the stiffening of her back, she didn’t react to my presence.

“Mom,” I croaked. “I’m sorry I yelled. I shouldn’t have…”

My gaze fell on the stack of three books on the table. Old books. I crossed the room and laid my hand on the wrinkled letter that sat on top of them.

“I wasn’t going to keep them from you,” she said as I sat heavily in one of the chairs. “I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t think about it. Thought that maybe keeping you away from anything to do with magic would keep you safe.”

She turned and came to my side. I tilted my head to look at her, and wanted to cry at the fear I could see so clearly in her eyes. She tucked my hair behind my ear the cupped my cheek.

“I don’t hate anything about you,” she whispered. “And I know your magic isn’t going anywhere. You need these books, what’s inside them.”

“I’m sorry,” I said again.

“I know. So am I. I know you want to talk about him, and what happened.” Her eyes filled, and tears clung to her lashes. “And we will, I promise, but not now. Not yet. It’s too…”

Her pain tore through me. Why didn’t I see it? Why didn’t I realize that she was hurting just as badly as I was? I’d been so wrapped up in my own feelings and questions and everything, I’d missed what was so obvious, right in front of me.

I nodded, swallowing past the lump in my throat, and lifted my hand to cover hers, holding her palm tightly against my cheek.

“I love you,” she murmured, leaning down and kissed the top of my head.

“Love you, too.”

“You have a little time before dinner’s done.” She stepped back, letting her hand fall to her side. “The one on top is the one he said you should start with.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

With trembling fingers, I tucked my dad’s letter between the pages at the end of the book then opened to the first page, and read the first faded line.

Magic is a gift, and the choice of how you use such a gift lies before you now.


Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris