Tag Archives: Wednesday Randomness

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In no particular order...

(10) Being outside in winter. I hate being cold.

(9) Commenting on Facebook. And every once in a while, I seem to forget why I avoid this, but don't worry, I'm reminded oh so very quickly every single time.

(8) All the "news" on FB that gets shared again and again. Kinda goes along with the previous one. Don't get me wrong, I love FB. Love being able to keep in touch with friends/family who live far away, rediscovering friends from years past... But I try very hard to keep it to just that and avoid the rest of it.  But there is always that one person who shares and shares and at the rate they are doing it? There is no way they are even reading the things - they just like the headline because it fits their view. *sigh*

(7) People who don't listen. Because they are always right. Don't think I have to elaborate there, do I? Nah, didn't think so. 

(6) Feet. Just...feet. I don't know what it is, but I don't like feet, don't like touching them, sure as hell don't want anyone near mine... No. Just no. And this is one top ten item, that is NOT getting a pic because...pics of feet? Avoid because they fall under the umbrella of "Feet", thank you very much.

(5) Bugs & Spiders - It's not going to shock anyone to learn that I'm not an outdoorsy kinda gal. It's mostly 'cause bugs, spiders and creepy crawlies...well, creep me out. And the ones that don't, are just plain annoying.

(4) Sometimes, I just wanna be alone. Alone and silent.

(3) Web MD -

(2) Toxic people - the drama-seeking, issue-creating, lie-to-your-face-and-everywhere-else-and-can't-keep-their-lies-straight, will-do-anything-to-satisfy-themselves-and-to-hell-with-you kinda people

(1) Negativity - This is a work in progress (and avoiding the toxic people? Biggest step I've taken in my life to avoid negativity) I've been trying very hard to be more positive and not let negative situations, negative people and negative thoughts overwhelm me. Not always easy, I'll admit, but it's amazing how differently I function when I focus on good things, on what I've accomplished rather than what I didn't get done... Does it make everything perfect? Do I only have good days, brightside-Barbie-ing my way through life? Nope, but I'm better for it - I'm happier and more productive because I do everything I can not to get sucked into the vortex of negativity.

 


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullen | Gwendolyn Cease
Kellie St. James | Kris Norris | Torrance Sené

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Happy Wednesday! Today we're talking about...

My organization, particularly when it comes to writing...is very much a work in progress.

I have some things I do that helps me stay on track - and some of it may seem redundant but it works for me.

Number one on my list of things that help me organize my writing is my bullet journals. Yes, plural. I have a regular bullet journal that I track pretty much everything I do - house stuff, family stuff, self-care stuff, writing stuff, editing stuff, blogging stuff. It is really the go-to for me.

It is not fancy and pretty - though my cover is gorgeous (thank you, Bronwyn, for making it for me! You can see her own cover on the journal behind mine. She will be selling these and other gorgeous things at an Etsy store soon. Be on the lookout for Granola Girl Creations.)

My set up is pretty simple. You can see in the pic - the start of a week I haven't filled in yet - I have a page that is just a week at a glance, that's were I put appts for pretty much the whole family, and things like that. Then, each day gets half a page. This is where I list what I need to do that day and hope at the end of the day, I'm able to fill in all the little squares.  Again, simple, but it keeps me on track like nothing else I've tried before.

So, I guess my tip here would be to find a system that works for you - whether it's a ready made journal/planner or something you create yourself. It took me a while to find this way, but I'm so glad I did.

My second bujo is solely for writing. It's a traveler's journal that Bron modified to me - the booklets used to be stitched in, but she went to town on that bad boy, took the stitching out and put in elastics so I could put what I needed in there and then switch them out. I have a small notebook for every series.

In the notebooks, I put pics of what I imagine my characters to look like, track the progress of each book, put notes about the characters (physical descriptions, backstory etc) and plot out the stories themselves.

I also keep track of things on a spreadsheet. Some of it is a repeat of what is in my bujo, yes, but I use the spreadsheet for future planning - looking at big picture when it comes to scheduling -  and the lovely excel spreadsheet does all the math for me so I can track words written, edited, and blogged (weekly, monthly and yearly). I also have pages that has info on all my books - published and not yet published, notes on Bound books (usually typed as Bron and I are chatting), my blogging calendar, names I've used and names I just really like and may use one day in a book, and trackers from previous years. Nothing ground-breaking, but it works for me and like with the journal/planner, it took me a while to tweak it to work best for me.

Another tool? Pens. Seriously. Bron will tell you (I'm visiting her now and have several times in the past so she has firsthand knowledge), I cannot go in a store without meandering down the pen aisle (likely the notebook/journal aisle as well because you can never have too many notebooks). I always have pens with me, and I also use them in my main bujo. I color code the crap out of that things. Writing stuff is purple, editing stuff is orange, social stuff is blue....and so on and so on.

I can't be alone in my pen love, right?

The last thing I'll mention is writing friends and the power of holding each other accountable.

I have amazing writing friends, who are understanding and loving but never hesitate to give me a swift kick in the ass when needed. Finding ppl like this and building a support system - and being that support in return - is invaluable. And I'm lucky AF to have the group of friends that I do. I don't know what I did to deserve them, but I will never take them for granted.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah MullinGwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa

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All right, my lovelies, today is a promptly penned post. We all get the same prompt and get to write something from it. This one is hella short. It has been a crazy time here--I'm trying to finish a book, life is kinda exploding chaotic around me, and right now, all I can think about is going to bed.

So, some people will be happy to see there is no sweeping sad, angsty story today. 😉 Nope, it's short, sweet and...one might say, fluffy. So enjoy. 🙂 (The actual prompt is in bold)


Philip lifted his head as the man beside him groaned and stretched. He bit his lip as he took in the long lines of Kev’s nude body. When the bright green eyes lost their sleepiness and focused on Philip, he smiled.

“We were supposed to go a real date, this time,” Kev said hoarsely, and Philip’s smile grew into a grin at the sound. Who would have thought the straight-laced Kev was a screamer? Well…his neighbors sure as hell knew now.

“Mm hmmm,” Philip replied absently, reaching out and dragging his palm down Kev’s chest.

“You promised.” Kev gave an exaggerated pout. “I really wanted to see that movie.”

“It’s not my fault. I couldn’t find the show times.” Philip inched his hand lower, loving the way Kev’s breath caught and his eyes darkened. “That's what happens when you don't have reliable Wi-Fi, sweetheart.”

“Like you don’t have enough data.” Kev scooted closer.

“True…” Philip rolled onto his side and pulled him closer. “Should I check now? I’m sure there’s a late showing.”

Sliding his fingers through Philip’s hair, Kev chuckled. “Nah, realized I don’t want to see it that much, after all.”

Thank fuck, Philip thought as their mouths collided.


Bronwyn Green| Deelylah Mullin

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10 - First way to hook me? An amazing cover. Not saying a cover will make or break it for me, but if you can catch my attention with a cover...you have your foot in the door, my friend.

9 - Brilliant description - This is a fine line to walk. Some books give hardly any description, while others go a bit overboard - I really don't need a run down of every piece of furniture in the room, thank you very much. There needs to be enough that I can picture it in my head but not so much that it's tedious and obtrusive.

8 - Internal conflict - I'm more drawn to internal conflict. I find it more compelling. I don't know why, exactly, but I will usually choose an book that is driven by internal conflict over one driven by external conflictl. Maybe because it's more identifiable? I can relate and sympathize more? Well, whatever the reason...there it is.

7 - But...give me a really freaking good external conflict...I won't walk away. I can really dig a story where the character(s) is on the run from or fighting a big bad or having to survive a really horrible situation or environment.

6 - Angst... DUDE. Give me an angst-filled story.... Le sigh. I eat that stuff up with a freaking spoon every single time. I will ugly cry and re-read again and again. Yes, I will. 

5 - Good characterization -  Well written, fully developed believable characters that grow throughout the story is a surefire way to hook me. No too-stupid-to-live characters, no major alphaholes that have no redeeming qualities whatsoever... Hell, even a villain should be more than a flat, one-dimensional representation of a bad guy. Some of my all-time favorite characters are villains - usually ones I could identify with, sympathize with and understand why they were doing what they were doing even if it was horrifying and/or wrong. The biggest thing is they just aren't 100% evil to give the story a bad guy. They have layers, dammit.

4 - A good friends-to-lovers story. Oh, be still my heart. My all-time fave trope.. Seriously, I go looking for these, and I will hold onto the ones I love to go back to time and time again.

3 - Originality & Variety - Have you ever really loved an author but then after a while it seems as though are reading the same story again and again? That it's just slightly different look for the heroine or the setting is a bit different but it's basically the same story you read before? No one wants that. 

Or sometimes it's the same character (unintentionally) popping up in every book...with just a slightly different face.

Though I'd like to point out that in Doctor Who, even though each actor is technically playing the same character, they make the Doctor their own. Each incarnation has its own characteristics, mannerisms and quirks. And that's one of the things that makes it freaking brilliant.

Obviously, we all have our favorite types of stories. Like I said, friends-to-lovers is a big one for me. So are books based on Arthurian legend. I love me a good vampire or shifter book too. But what I really, really love is when an author puts new spin on it. They take something and make it their own. I think, as authors, we have a responsibility - not only to readers but to ourselves - to stretch ourselves, to move beyond our comfort zones. And that includes looking at our body work and making sure we aren't writing the same story or the same character again and again.

2 - A balance of information - There is a fine line authors walk when writing. The reader needs to be given enough information to follow the story and to (eventually) understand why characters are doing what they are doing, but they don't need to be hit over the head with every single detail or reason characters are doing something. It's playing in the middle ground, really. The reader isn't stupid and doesn't need to be spoon fed - which will just annoy and lead to a book being set aside - however, they can't be expected to make huge leaps of understanding with nothing in the book to support it - which leaves the reader scratching their heads and leads to a book being set aside.

1 - And finally... Write me a long, well-written, angsty as F&$k with lots of kinky sexy times (and no freaking slow-burn, thank you very much) Merthur fanfic, and I am yours.


Bronwyn Green | Deelylah Mullin | Gwendolyn Cease | Kellie St. James | Kris Norris

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Promptly Penned

This month's Promptly Penned is connected a bit to Your Lies - my serial. It centers around Kyle - Delia's best friend from back home, a fellow magic user. This takes place before the events in the serial itself, and it's a short one. 🙂


In school, tests started with a class bell  and ended with a "pencils down". Outside of school, things weren't so well defined. Outside of school, outside of...childhood, the things we were tested with all out sucked. There wasn't anyone else in control, telling you when to start, when to stop. It was all on you. Frightening thought...

I dropped my head forward and pressed fingertips to my temples, blocking out the chaos. I wasn't sure what to do. Everyone - my mom, Delia - thought I was visiting the university they thought I was interested in. I didn't feel guilty about the lies, really. I had no problem letting people assume things or bending the the truth or out and out lying it meant they wouldn't worry. When the lies protected them from a truth that could actually kill them.

And this truth...could definitely do that.

Just knowing about the place I now sat could cut one's life short if the wrong people found out. But I'd been destined to know, to be here, to make a difference. I snorted. Destined. I sure as hell didn't believe I was some sort of hero or anything like that, but I did believe ordinary men and women could make a difference, could fight against what was happening... I had to. It was the only thing that kept me moving forward for since that night.

When my dad and Delia's dad had let me go with them to investigate the disappearance of other magic users. When we'd been attacked. When I had run away as our dads had been dragged away. Sure, they'd told me to; that was the deal, after all. Anything happens, you run and you do not look back. Do you understand me? I promised without a second thought because I wanted to be allowed to go, to help.  I'd known, even then, that I wanted to be a part of what they were - fighting against the persecution and violence we, as those with magic, faced every day.

Knowing I'd have a chance to continue their work had always been the focus for me. I didn't let my mom see that, of course. How could I after we lost my dad? I would do what I had to - that was why I was here, ready to sign my name on the proverbial dotted line - but I would do just about anything to keep my mom ignorant of it all.

"Kyle?"

I lifted my head and looked at Patrick Bennet - a old friend of my dad's and the man who had first recruited him. The man I'd sought out as soon as I'd been able. And the man who'd just laid out all the risks, the possible collateral damage - innocent people killed in the crossfire; I could read between the lines - as a result of my actions, if I chose to join him and the others.

I forced my mind back to my dad. What he and Delia's dad had fought for. Any hesitation had been momentary and I wasn't going to give in to it or let doubts get in my way. Decision made, I felt lighter, and my magic thrummed beneath my skin, and I had a the fanciful thought that it was approval. From the power that lived in me. Maybe even from my dad.

"Not going to lie to you, kid," Peter said. "This is war. But it's not a war you need to be on the front lines of."

Pushing to my feet, I lifted my chin and met his gaze.

"You're wrong, sir. That's exactly where I need to be. I'm in."


Bronwyn Green| Jessica De La Rosa | Kris Norris

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Dear Future Jess,

I'm guessing the first thing I should tell you is...breathe. Take a moment and breathe.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope that you've found the balance that you've been searching for, for so long.

I hope you've let go of some things - those things that ate up your time and stressed you out and pulled your focus away from the things that really matter.

I hope that you're still in love with writing. That you feel the excitement of a new project, the joy of having a story unfold as you imagined, and the satisfaction each time you reach "the end".

I hope you've gotten better at saying no without guilt. I hope you remember that, sometimes, it's okay to put yourself and what's important to you first.

I hope you're letting yourself relax and spend time with the people you love. That you're putting the effort into those relationships, showing them they are loved, and not getting swept up in all the other stuff happening in life.

But, on the off chance those things haven't happened, stop whatever you're doing and just....BREATHE.

Give yourself a break. Stop dwelling and move forward. Take a moment and remember what's important, remember who and what you love. Take it one day at a time, and never stop trying for that balance.

Now, go get yourself some more caffeine and get back to it.

Past Jess


Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa

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2s1ne1472019196

Happy Wednesday, friends.

When we plan out the blog topics for the year, I'm always excited when a Behind the Scenes post comes around, and planning 2016 was no exception.

Now that we're here and it's time to write the post, though... "Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond?"

(Actually, my singing Hamilton lyrics is probably as good a look behind the scenes into my life right now as you can get - as my family can attest.)

Anyhoo... Truth is, as I posted about a short time ago, this year has been challenging for me as a writer, and I'm now just getting back to where I need (and want!) to be. So, sharing behind the scenes is a more difficult task than it has ever been, but I'm going to give it a shot.

My most current project is my next Bound book, Safeword Protected, so I'll share a bit about it and how as an author I"m connecting with it.

B6 - SAFEWORD PROTECTED

Clara Turner loves her life—her career as a travel writer takes her to places most people only dream of. But with the birth of her cousin’s first child quickly approaching, Clara happily trades her fast-paced adventures for the quiet Irish village to be there for the new arrival. 

When Clara’s laptop acts up, her cousin decides to do Clara a favor and takes it to Niall Walsh, the village’s unofficial tech support. Clara panics at the thought of Niall—sexy, sets-her-lady-bits-tingling-from-afar Niall—discovering her secret stash of filthy kinkery living on her hard drive.

Niall lived the big-city life for years and dated the glamorous woman that came along with it before coming back home. He’s heard about Clara for ages, but nothing prepares him for the instant attraction he feels when he first sees her. He ignores it though—knowing she’s only there for a short time.

Besides, she’s the type of woman who fit in his past, not his present. He doesn’t have anything to offer that she’d want. At least, that’s what he’d thought…before he delved into her computer and discovered exactly what Clara likes. As he learns more about her, Niall realizes he can offer her something no one else can—the chance to explore her deepest desires instead of just watching on a screen. 

It should be easy--a hot fling before Clara’s job takes front and center again--but when the time comes, will either of them be able to slip free from the bonds that now connect them?

Writing Safeword Protected? it's been both extremely frustrating and incredibly rewarding. The frustration stemmed for there "other stuff", not the book or the writing of it. I will admit something here that I'm probably not supposed to. As an author, I do have favorite characters. Don't get me wrong, I love them all , but there are some I just really, really love and seem to connect with. One day I may even share who tops the list, but for now, I will say Niall and Clara from Safeword Protected? They're pretty damned high on that list. No matter what chaos and...stuff was going on, whenever I could sit down and work on Niall and Clara's story... Well, it's pretty much this...

LetMeLoveYou

Grabby hands and all.

Why do I love them so much? Hard to put into words (You're an author, Jarman; get with the program!) Niall is a hot Irishman who is ready and willing to guide Clara though her initial exploration into the world of BDSM. So right there? Ticking some boxes, yeah? But there is something about the character that just makes me melt. I think I'll let Brody, Niall's best mate (who happens to be married to Clara's cousin) tell it:

“Niall is one of the most loyal and loving men you’ll ever meet,” Brody added, gaze intent on Clara. “He would do anything for the people he cares about. He came home for his family. He places people, especially people he loves and cares about, above anything else.”

A hot guy is all well and good, but finding something worthwhile when you delve beneath the pretty surface and push past the flaws - because he's still got to be real, right? Man's gotta have layers...

And Clara...she's very real. Has her faults, has the tendency to think things to death and often arrives at the wrong conclusion - usually the one that has her freaking out in a major way. There are times...

All right, I'm going to let you in on another secret, because we're behind the scenes and all. 😉 Readers aren't the only ones who want to wack some sense into characters, to just shake them until their brains come back online and they're making good choices. But that's good, right? Who wants to read a book about two perfect people with no conflict? It's that conflict, those mistakes that the hero and heroine make - the human element - that makes a story really work, isn't it? I think so. And over the years, the best piece of advice I've ever gotten has served me well in creating those real characters that I connect with and sincerely hope readers do, as well.

Trust the characters. Trust the story.

Not groundbreaking advice, really. I've heard similar things from pretty well known authors since I first had that knocked into my thick skull. But it took the right person at the right time to get me to see how necessary it was in the writing process. I still, with pretty much every book, have had those words spoken to me or have said them aloud to myself.

And that is it from me this week.

Make sure to head over to the blogs below to get a peek at what these incredible authors are working on. Also i want to welcome Torrance Sené to Wednesday Randomness blogging. Glad to have you with us. 🙂

Until next time,
~J


Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica De La Rosa
Kayleigh Jones | Kris Norris | Paige Prince | Torrance Sené

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NNMovies

First, I apologize for being the late kid again with this post. Traveling home yesterday was brutal and I basically collapsed into bed when I got home.

I've a feeling this is going to overlap with Bron's choices in her post as we were sitting on her couch throwing out movie titles as we talked about this post. I'm could probably go on quite a bit on this topic but I"m going to keep it simple. Here's a sample of the movies I consider a big part of my childhood and think of and rematch with no little amount of nostalgia - despite the problematic things that often make me cringe as I do so. LOL

tAG_11628This movie...omg, guys, THIS MOVIE. I'm not going to do this for every movie but this one... Picture if you will, a family of five living in a small 2-bedroom apartment as their home is fixed up after a house fire. It's already crowded and not the best of situations. Now the kids - about ten, eight and four years old - get the chicken pox. Yes, the freaking chicken pox. This is the horrible, cramped, itchy scenario that led the parents to buy their very first VCR. And this little diddy, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, was one of the tapes the kids got to watch. The youngest, in particular, loved this movie so freaking much. She could sing along to the opening song (which is not in English) and pretty much knew every line of dialogue as well.

If you are even a little curious, go search youtube...it's there. Enjoy. 🙂

beetlejuice-movie-poster-1988-1020273981

I love this movie, so so so SO very much. The first time I saw it was in a drive-in. It was amazing and I will always love this movie - on it's own merit and the warm fuzzies I have because of it.

The rest...not really going to say anything on them - I think they speak for themselves, and I'm certainly not the only one who has a love and nostalgia for them. 🙂

IMG_0764
Oh, John Hughes, the impact you had on my youth...

MPW-25074 heathers Star-Wars-Original-Trilogy-Artworkb1df1065cbcacfce766bca8da3eaffb4


Bronwyn Green | Gwendolyn Cease | Jessica DeLaRosa | Kris Norris | Paige Prince

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Promptly PennedFor this week's prompt (in bold within the story), I revisited some characters...well, kind of. This bit (which turned out waaaaay loner than I anticipated) takes place well before the flash fiction I wrote with these characters.  I also broke the prompt up....because well, I did.

Also, this is a male/male pairing and some graphic sexual things happen--you have been warned.


This would normally be where the story ended, Harris Porter thought. If this were a story, the world has been saved (okay, maybe not the world but a lot of people, damn it), the prince has found his bride (so there’s no prince or bride to be seen, but that’s beside the point), and there's nothing left to do (except the fucking reams of paperwork because there was always more of that, no matter the outcome). Only this wasn’t a story. It was the real world, and the loose ends that were left belong to people that weren’t the prince, or the dragon, or the little goose girl.

Nope, tying up the loose ends fell to Harris and the team he’d been working with for the last month and a half to track a serial killer who had been escalating and becoming more and more bold with each kill. Harris had been assigned to the team temporarily to help with the case, though there was talk that perhaps the assignment would be made permanent. Finding his footing had been a challenge—this case being complicated in so many ways—and he had no idea what Liam, the team lead, thought of him. And in the end, it was Liam’s call whether Harris was now a part of the team or would be sent to another.

It had been too much to hope that the decision would come now. The case was essentially closed, yes, but they still needed confirmation that the body found was actually their killer. So it was a waiting game—to actually close the case and for Harris to learn his fate.

Harris looked at each of the team members—all of them looked as tired as he felt. Going on little to no sleep every night had definitely caught up with them. He was a bit envious of Sarah, the lone woman on the team, as she dozed curled up on the chair behind her desk. And he had no clue how Scott could be sleeping, stretched out on the hard floor as he was, but from the sounds of the quiet snuffling snores, he was managing just fine.

Liam stood with his second, Adam, and as they talked in low voices, they kept looking toward the final member of the team, Justin, sadness and concern clear in their dark expressions. Harris turned his attention to the man in question. This case had sucked on so many levels, for no one more than Justin Campbell. He’d worked the case hard, like they all had, but a couple weeks into the investigation, something had tipped him off—Harris never learned what exactly it had been—that led the team to identify their killer.

One Jonah Campbell. Justin’s brother.

Officially, Justin stepped back, no longer working the case, for obvious reasons. Unofficially, however…he was still very much a part of the investigation, and without his insights, they wouldn’t have gotten very far.

Justin stood, leaning against one of the tall file cabinets, arms crossed over his chest, hazel eyes unfocussed as he stared straight ahead. His dark hair curled messily around his pale face, and Harris realized if he had a hard time sleeping each night after witnessing the horrors they did, it had to be a hundred times worse for Justin, knowing his brother had done those things again and again.

“Go home, people,” Liam ordered, his voice hoarse. “Everyone back here at oh-seven-hundred.”

Justin straightened and strode toward the exit without saying a word. Adam moved to Sarah and then Scott, waking them and repeating the boss’ orders. Harris squared his shoulders and tried to look somewhat alert and awake as Liam approached.

“Good work, Porter,” he said gruffly.

“Thank you, sir.”

Liam shook his head—having told Harris at least a hundred times he didn’t have to call him “sir”—then clapped the younger agent on the back. “Oh-seven-hundred. Don’t be late.”

Harris nodded, biting back the question he so badly wanted to ask—was he just reporting in to help tie up those loose ends or was this permanent? Shouldering his backpack, he returned the smiles and waves from Adam and Sarah then took his leave. He glanced at his watch as he got on the elevator. If he hauled ass, he could catch the last bus and avoid having to pay for a cab. He cursed the bad luck of having his car crap out on him in the middle of a hot case when he had no time to find a new one.  After exiting the building, he jogged to the stop. He’d barely been there a minute, when a car pulled up to the curb. The driver’s side window lowered to reveal Justin.

“Get in,” he said curtly, hardly looking at Harris.

“There’s no need… Bus’ll be here in—”

“For fuck’s sake, just get in the fucking car!”

Harris stared, frozen, until Justin turned his head to meet his gaze. The sight of his red-rimmed eyes pushed Harris into action. He rounded the front of the car, opened the passenger door and slid in. He barely had time to settle his bag between his feet and reach for the seatbelt when he was thrown back as Justin hit the gas.

After managing to buckle himself in, he waited a few minutes in what had to be the most tense, awkward silence of his life, wondering what was going through the other man’s mind. As Justin turned onto his street, Harris twisted to face him.

“Thanks for the ride,” he said softly, at a complete loss.

What the hell did you say to a man who just lost his brother, who just happened to be a complete psychopath who’d tortured and killed a dozen men…that they knew of? This situation wasn’t exactly something they prepared you for at Quantico.

Justin didn’t say anything as he parked in front of Harris’ building. He dropped his hands on his thighs, fingers clenching and unclenching, and stared out the windshield, lips pressed together in a thin line.

Harris unbuckled and, swallowing the lump in his throat, decided to follow his gut. The last thing Justin needed was to be alone right now. Harris leaned over, switched the car off and removed the key. Justin startled slightly but remained quiet.

“Come on,” Harris encouraged. “I’ve got beer, if you want, and an extra bed you can crash in. And an ear if you decide you need to talk about it.”

Justin snorted and shook his head even as he reached for the door handle. Harris grabbed his bag and got out, pocketing the keys then pulling his own from the other pocket. He glanced back once to make sure Justin was following him then led the way through the lobby, up the stairs to the second floor, to his door. He unlocked it and gestured for Justin to go on in.

He closed the door behind them, and suddenly, the world was spinning, the thump of his bag hitting the floor barely registering as his back slammed against the wall.

“Don’t want or need a beer, or an extra bed, or a fucking ear,” Justin rasped, breath fanning over Harris’ face, his hands tight on Harris’ waist.

Harris gulped then wet his lips, cock twitching at the nearness of the other man and at the way his gaze zeroed in on Harris’ mouth.

“What do you want…need?” he asked shakily, trying so hard to stay still, to not rock his hips forward.

Apparently, he didn’t need to hold back—Justin pressed in, grinding his solid length against Harris’ thigh. He dropped his head, buried his face in Harris’ neck, inhaling deeply. Harris thought he might fucking come on the spot when he felt the wet glide of Justin’s tongue over his Adam’s apple. God, this was a bad idea…

“I’ve seen you watching me.” Justin’s words were muffled but understandable. “Didn’t think I’d notice you eye-fucking me from across the bullpen?”

“Fuck,” Harris breathed, eyes nearly rolling back at the sweet friction of his dick against Justin’s hip. “S-s-orry. Didn’t—” Justin shifted slightly, cupping Harris’ ass, so their cocks slotted together in a mind-blowing perfect way. “Oh, fuck.”

Justin chuckled darkly, then nipped at the sensitive skin below Harris’ ear before sucking hard. Harris whimpered and grabbed hold of Justin’s rolling hips.

Justin pushed his hand between their bodies, fingers pulling at buttons and zippers, and another whimper escaped at the loss of contact. But any disappointment disappeared when their pants were shoved down just enough and Justin grasped their now bare cocks together and began stroking. Hell, every logical thought faded at that moment. All Harris could do was feel—Justin’s cock against his, the rough circle of Justin’s fingers jerking them off, the bursts of hot, damp breath at his neck, the rumble of Justin’s moans.

All too soon, his balls drew up and heat coiled deep in his belly. He tried to hold on, wanting this to just last and last, but then, Justin dragged his thumb over Harris’ slit, his nail catching just a bit…just enough to shove him over. His muscles tightened, and he came hard, spilling over Justin’s hand and dick.

“Fuck, yeah,” Justin grunted and followed, his seed mixing with Harris’, hot and slick.

Harris let his head fall back, shivering as Justin nuzzled and left wet open-mouthed kisses on his sweat-damp throat.

“Shower?” Justin murmured as he pulled back slowly—dare he say, reluctantly?—and met Harris’ gaze.

“Justin, what— What did—”

He cupped Harris’ cheek, cutting off Harris’ words with a thumb against his lips. “Don’t want to talk. Don’t want to fucking think tonight.”

“But—”

“Please, Harris.”

Chest aching, he nodded. Justin’s lips quirked slightly, then he leaned forward and pressed his mouth to Harris’. A rather chaste kiss after what they’d just done, but so damned sweet it made his eyes sting. When Justin straightened, Harris grabbed him around the wrist and pulled him to the bathroom.

They stripped, showered, and dried off efficiently, barely touching each other. When they climbed under the covers of Harris’ bed, he was pleasantly surprised when Justin scooted close, tangling their legs together as he, again, pressed his face into Harris’ neck. His sleepy sigh tickled, and with a soft smile, Harris wrapped his arms around the other man and closed his eyes.

He drifted a bit but was pulled back at the first splash of hot tears on his skin. Justin’s shoulders quaked, and his breathing hitched. Harris tightened one arm around Justin, sliding his other hand up and down his warm back. He shushed and murmured soothingly as the Justin cried, almost silently. Finally, he stilled, and when his body loosened and grew heavy, Harris let himself sink into much-needed sleep.

Waking the next morning was a gradual thing, and Harris groaned as his muscles protested. He rolled over and found himself alone in the bed, the sheets beside him rumpled but cool. He scrubbed his hands over his face and refused to let panic or uneasiness take hold. Justin would have needed to run back to his place before going into work—just because he wasn’t here didn’t mean anything.

Despite his best efforts, a sliver of doubt wiggled its way into Harris’ mind. What if Justin regretted last night? If he did, Harris could kiss his chances of remaining on Liam’s team goodbye. Dammit. Shaking his head, he sat up then, looking at the clock, jumped to his feet. Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck! Five to seven! There no way he was going to make it to work on time. Just freaking perfect. He fumbled for his phone and called a cab—the quicker option. After arranging pick up, he hurriedly got ready and rushed outside.

It was nearly eight when he tripped out of the elevator, and his face was red—from exertion and embarrassment—as he approached the team where they were gathered by their desks.

“You’re late,” Liam said flatly.

“Fu— I’m sorry. I overslept, and by the time the cab got there—” He clamped his mouth shut at Liam’s raised brow. “I’m terribly sorry, sir.”

“You have my number, do you not?” his boss—God, please let him be my boss—asked. “The rest of the team’s numbers?”

“Yes,” he said slowly, drawing the word out awkwardly.

“Then, you should have called or texted. Next time, I won’t be so forgiving.”

His stomach flipped. “Next time?”

Liam’s mouth curved. “Proved yourself time and again on this last case. You’re mine now. Get used to it.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”

“Drop your bag by your desk, Porter. Call IT to get you set on the computer then get started on your case report.”

Harris’ stomach stopped flipping in excitement and dropped when his eyes followed Liam’s gesture.

“But that’s Jus—Agent Campbell’s desk,” he whispered.

Liam strode away without answering, but Adam stepped up beside Harris. “Justin’s gone. He’s no longer with the Bureau.”

“He quit?” Shit.

“Yeah, can’t say that I blame him. This case…his brother… It’s been a mind fuck for him. Though Boss is putting it down as extended leave for now. Waiting to see if Justin’ll be back once his head is clear.”

Harris nodded and walked stiffly to what was now his desk. He opened one of the drawers to store his creds and gun, eyes widening when he saw an folded sheet of paper with his name scrawled across it. Glancing around and finding everyone—his new teammates—busily typing away on their computers, he opened it. Legs shaking, he sat down and read the short note.

Harris—
Thanks for everything. Congrats on getting on Liam’s team. He’s not an easy man to impress, but you managed to do just that. Good luck.
Justin

Below Justin’s name there as a line of words that were scribbled out, and no matter how Harris angled the paper, he couldn’t figure out what Justin had written that he’d taken back. He pressed a hand to his sternum, trying to alleviate the hurt blossoming.

Not living a fairytale or a story, he reminded himself. Happy endings took effort in real life, and were rarely the fabled happily-ever-afters found in books.

“Porter!” Liam snapped as he returned to the grouping of desks. “Thought I told you to call IT? Don’t have all damned day.”

“On it, si—” He cleared his throat as he shoved the note back into the drawer and reached for his phone. It may not be a happily-ever-after, but he was on the team he’d dreamed of. For now, that was enough. It had to be. “On it, Boss.”


Bronwyn Green | Jessica De La Rosa