Today’s topic: If you could win a lifetime supply of anything, what would you choose and why?
This was easy. Patience. I need more of it, and never have enough. If I could have a lifetime supply, I wouldn’t spend most days like this:
It’s time for another Promptly Penned post. We’re all given the same prompt and see where it takes us. The prompt itself is in CAPS in the post.
Closing my eyes, I braced my hands on the edge of the sink and dropped my head down. Everything hurt, I had blood everywhere – could still feel some dripping down my face – and it was taking everything in me not to puke my guts out. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Tonight had not gone as planned.
Plan? What plan? You had no plan!
Christ, I was hearing James’ damned voice in my head, now. I supposed it was appropriate since he hadn’t said a damned word since we’d gotten home. The silence was deafening, and apparently, my brain was going to make up for that.
Yelping, I straightened, and immediately stumbled backwards. Would have ended up on my ass or cracking my head off the tub if James hadn’t stepped forward and steadied me.
“Sorry,” he murmured.
“Not your fault. Didn’t hear you come in.”
Narrowing my eyes at the dry drawl, I met his gaze in the mirror. “You need something?”
He stared for a good long minute or two then, reaching around me, he pulled open one of the cabinet drawers and withdrew the first aid kit. He motioned with his free hand. “Sit.”
Still watching him warily, I sat on the closed toilet as he opened the kit and began setting out supplies. He then grabbed a couple washclothes from the other drawer and wet them. As he was doing this, he caught my eye in the mirror.
“ALL THAT BLOOD LOOKS GOOD ON YOU, babe. IT REALLY BRINGS OUT YOUR EYES.”
“Smart ass,” I murmured.
He was trying to downplay everything, make me laugh – I knew that. But I wasn’t listening to his words, now. Because the slight catch of his voice, the stiffness in his posture, the tightness around his eyes were all telling another story.
He was freaked out.
A look I rarely saw on the man.
When he turned toward me and lifted the washcloth, I caught his wrist. “I’m okay. I promise, I’m okay.”
He jerked out of my grasp and took a step back. Pressing his lips together, he closed his eyes. His Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed audibly before taking several slow, deep breaths.
Then, those clear blue eyes were on me, bright and almost wild. “Well, I’m not.”
“Wha–” I cleared my throat as fear jumpstarted my heart and froze my skin with an instant prickling sweat. “What’s wrong?”
“If you’re going to keep ignoring everyone’s advice and feedback and keep doing shit on your own, I can’t…” He gestured between us. “I can’t do this.”
My mouth went dry. “Don’t…don’t say that.”
“I’ll still be here,” he said stiffly. “I said I’d help, and I will. I will always help protect you. But I can’t–” He broke off, mouth snapping shut.
Blood rushed in my ears, and I actually started to shake. If freaked out was a rare look for James, this – damp eyes, muscle twitching in his cheek from clenching his jaw, hands fisted at this sides and his posture no longer stiff, but…defeated – this was even rarer…and infinitely more unnerving.
“When I caught up to you,” he continued, voice quiet and rough, “you were on the ground, covered in blood and not moving. I thought you were dead… All because you’re too damned impulsive and believe invincible – and fuck if your friends will tell you otherwise because they’re under the same fucking misconception.”
“James, I’m sorry.”
“I know, but sorry isn’t going to save your life the next time. I know how important what you’re doing is to you. I get it, but you’re more important. Don’t you understand that?” He stepped forward and cupped my face, his hands cold and trembling. “You are more important. Losing you is going to destroy me.”
“You’re saying it like it’s a given, but it’s not,” I said quickly, desperately. “And, if you’re really staying, no matter what, I don’t see how not being with me would make it easier if something were to happen to me. It’s not like our relationship, or rather lack of, is suddenly going to wipe away the feelings you have.”
“It’s a given if you keep doing what you’re doing,” he countered then sighed, thumb skimming along my lower lip. “Nothing is going to wipe away my feelings for you, but I can distance myself, try to protect myself for the inevitable.”
I shook my head. “So, are you breaking up with me?”
“Are you going to admit you’re important, and start acting like it?”
“That sounds like emotional blackmail.” I stood, crowding into his space and settling my hands on his hips, and his fingers twitched against my face. Panic was still kicking my ass, but relief was quickly pushing it out. If we were done, he’d outright say it.
“Babe,” the corner of his mouth quirked up, even though his voice was still raspy with emotion, “I’m a thief, a criminal, and you’re surprised over a wee bit of emotional blackmail?”
I pressed even closer and rested my forehead on his shoulder. His arms came around me fully, and my chest ached as I heard him sniff. “Not really blackmail, just honesty…but still brutal.”
His embrace tightened momentarily before he let go. “We need to get you cleaned up.”
This week, we’re talking about the Best & Worse when it comes to sex scenes.
Worst sex scenes, in my opinion, have one or more of the following:
The best sex scenes, for me, are…well, the opposite of what I listed above. LOL
Beyond that, what do I love in a sex scene? Dirty talk – oh yeah. Laughter and teasing – I like when sex is fun. Sure, laughter isn’t appropriate in a particularly raw, emotional sex scene, but it’s appropriate, and awesome, at other times. Angry sex – not rape, not someone forcing themselves on someone, but the characters worked up and angry, and fuck it, they’re gonna have some sex. Love me BDSM and D/s scenes – no surprise there. And emotions. I want all the emotions, people. ALL. OF. THEM.
This week’s topic is…If you could pack up and leave on vacation today, where would you be off to? Easy answer. I would head back to the UK & Ireland in a heartbeat. I would rent a little cottage somewhere and write, and periodically take day trips to see all the things. 🙂
This month’s song is James Bay’s “Need the Sun to Break”.
Going off the chorus this time around:
I need the sun to break, you’ve woken up my heart
I’m shaking, all my luck could change
Been in the dark for weeks and I’ve realized you’re all I need
And I hope that I’m not too late,
I hope I’m not too late
This is gonna be a short one… Mostly due to the fact I’m a dirty procrastinator, and I have to get up early to run hubs to the airpot…and I desperately need sleep. LOL
So, here we go…
After the door closed and silence fell, I moved over to the coffee table and sat down facing the couch and the man stretched out on it. Exhaustion weighed heavily, but I couldn’t think of sleep. Not now.
I sighed and reached out to take Cam’s hand, cradling it between mine. This wasn’t how I expected our reunion to go. Oh, I hadn’t expected anything to go smoothly. I’m not an idiot. I’d imagined yelling, slammed doors, tense talks… And I’d hoped it would end with us back together. Hoped, not counted on.
Of course, I hadn’t expected to come back and find Cam in the middle of a shitstorm that defied all explanation. Now, my main focus wasn’t repairing the relationship I’d spectacularly ruined. It was keeping this man safe, keeping him alive.
Right now, though, the only thing I could do was wait for him to wake up. And hope he could fill in the blanks of what I already knew about his abduction, captivity, and what had happened since. And clue me in on how the fuck he was able to do what I’d seen him do earlier.
I leaned forward and brought his hand to my lips. Pressing my lips to his knuckles, I closed my eyes. After all that, we could figure us out. If there was an us… Until then, I could only hope, as I had been for months, that I wasn’t too late.
It’s time for September’s Promptly Penned. This month’s prompt is: You’re in an interrogation room. A man walks in and throws a bunch of photographs on the table in front of you. The photos are old and were taken at different points in history. You’re in each one. He demands to know who you are.
This was the perfect prompt to fit into my Albion’s Circle series. So, here we go.
Eyes closed, I focused on my breathing. It was over, finally. I’d spent the last week cleaning up Mordred’s mess. Now, I could rest easily that nothing with his taint remained or influenced anyone or anything.
Of course, now that it was over, that meant I was alone. And nothing could distract me from that cruel fact. My chest ached as I drew in another long breath. It wasn’t the first time, and likely wouldn’t be the last. But I’d hoped. Even knowing, accepting, that we couldn’t come out of the ages old battle with Mordred without casualties, I’d still hoped and prayed that someone would be left behind with me. While preparing for the opposite.
But even preparing didn’t diminish the overwhelming press of anger and grief. Yes, we had prevailed—Mordred was defeated, again, this time around—but Annwyl was still lost. And Arthur…Morgana…the knights. I wouldn’t see them again until the next life. All I could do now was wait. And I hated every second of it.
“Mr. Eliad, thank you for coming in. I’m Detective Andrews.”
I opened my eyes, watching the tall, fair-haired man enter and close the door behind him. “You’re welcome, though I was hardly given a choice, detective.”
“Well,” he lifted one shoulder as he sat across from me, “thank you for coming in so calmly, then.”
“Mm hmm.” I folded my hands and rested them on the metal table and straightened in the less-than-comfortable chair. “Perhaps you could let me know what this is about?”
“You were seen near the site of the explosion in the warehouse district last week.” When I didn’t answer, he sighed and laid the folder he held on the surface between us. He withdrew a couple of photos and set them, one by one, in front of me. “You were caught on camera. You look injured, covered in dirt or soot.”
I glanced down at the pictures. Though grainy, they were clearly of me. And certainly not at my best. I met his gaze and lifted a brow, remaining silent.
“Could you tell me what you were doing in the area?” he asked.
“Just walking around.”
“Really?” He snorted. “You just happened to walking around an area that had practically been leveled, looking like you’d barely made it out of said area?”
“Why were you so dirty, then? You strike me as a fairly well-kept person.” He gestured towards the clothing I currently wore then tapped one of the photos. “Nothing like this.”
“I’d been gardening before my walk. It’s messy work.” I couldn’t hold back the smirk curving my mouth.
“Messy work?” He pursed his lips then nodded. Opening the folder, he continued, “I did some digging and found that you often find yourself around ‘messy work’. Nearby the wreckage of another explosion, the fallout of an earthquake that decimated half a city out west, evacuating another city from a horrendous flood…” As he spoke, he flipped picture after picture toward me.
I lifted one, stared at my own face—filthy, grief-stricken, exhausted. This photo was a copy of a one from decades ago. This was more than just a little digging, and something this detective—or anyone else—shouldn’t have access to.
“Where did you get these?” I demanded, voice soft and steady.
“That’s not important. What I want to know is how you’re in all these photos—because as impossible as it seems, they’re all of you! What did you have to do with the explosions last week? Good men and women died, and I want answers!” He slapped a palm on the stack of photos…and looked vaguely disappointed when I didn’t jump or outwardly react. “Mr. Eliad, you need to start talking. The truth now, not some inane tale of gardening and walks.”
“The truth?” I laughed harshly. “Okay, the truth is my name isn’t Eliad. I just took that name this time around. My first name is Merlin, though—I bet that seemed odd to you, right? Not exactly a common name, nowadays. Well, I wasn’t named for the famous wizard in all the stories. I am him. I am King Arthur’s Magical—yes, the King Arthur. And the truth that you want so desperately is nothing like those stories, which for the most part are ridiculous, and I had a hell of a fun time making them up.
“I, along with my king and others, are brought back to fight Mordred—another familiar name, yes?—and save this wretched Earth and its people, time and time again. That was what was happening last week, and that was just the final battle. This time, we’ve been fighting for months, and now, I am tired. I’ve lost people, as well, Detective Andrews, and now that the mission is complete, I would like my time to remember and grieve for those lost…including those good men and women you mentioned.”
“You’ve got to be—”
I waved a hand between us, and he froze. Rubbing my aching temples, I stared down at the photos. “Though it seems I’m not done cleaning up quite yet. Where did you get these photos?”
“They were mailed to me,” he responded woodenly.
“All of them? Even the ones from last week?”
“Do you know who sent them?”
“No.” He shook his head. “They were in large envelope. There was no note, no return address. The lab wasn’t able to find any fingerprints on the envelope or the photos so it was all a dead end.”
“For you, maybe,” I murmured. “Do you have the envelope? The original photos you received?”
“Yes, in evidence.”
“Go get them, please.”
Without a word, he stood and left the room. I stacked the photos neatly and closed them back into the folder, annoyance filling me at the inconvenience of all of this. When Detective Andrews came back in, he immediately handed me the evidence bag containing the envelope and photos. I tucked that into the folder, as well, then pushed to my feet, taking all of it with me. I met the other man’s gaze and sighed.
“You seem like a good cop, following any lead. Unfortunately, this is one case that the truth isn’t going to be revealed. Can’t be.” I reached up and touched his forehead, muttering the memory spell quickly. “Forget the photos; they don’t exist. I came in today to tell you what I saw when I was out for a walk the night of the explosion.”
I dropped my hand and cleared my throat. Andrews blinked several times then took a step back, opening the door for me.
“Thank you again, Mr. Eliad, for coming in. We appreciate your help in the matter.”
“Of course.” I strode out the room, but before leaving the building, I went to bullpen and asked where Detective Andrews’ desk was. Then, walking by it on my way out, I spoke the spell that would erase any mention of me from the good detective’s notes—both written and on his computer.
I tightened my grip on the folder as I stepped into the bright sunlight. I needed to get back home and figure out who had sent these in.
It wasn’t quite over. The mess wasn’t completely cleaned up. My grief would wait…my ever-patient companion.
Breaking the rules and using words… Didn’t have a clue what to post about so I just pulled up recent photos on my phone – some I took, some I screenshot to send to people. *shrug* It’s a hodgepodge – and more than a little indicative of my headspace lately. LOL
Hello, all! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. It’s time for another photo flash fic. This is the photo we’re working with today.
Tuning out the grumbling complaints coming from the backseat, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply. And held for several long seconds before slowly releasing.
She hated this day, this trip, this…this annual pilgrimage. So much. More than the kids behind her—even if they couldn’t imagine that—and for very, very different reasons.
She startled, eyes flying open as a warm, heavy hand settled on her thigh. Glancing over, she wondered what was going through his mind. He didn’t look at her, keeping focused on the road ahead, but his fingers pressed a bit more firmly, a silent message that he knew. He knew she was hurting. He knew she hated this. And he knew how important this was for all of them.
Eyes burning, she laid a hand over his, and he immediately turned his palm up to nestle against hers as their fingers intertwined.
They didn’t speak, though, and even the kids quieted, as they drew approached their destination. The silence was oppressive as the engine was shut off, and all of them just sat a moment.
The hushed words from the driver’s seat spurred everyone into motion. She was the last one out, needing another couple moments to compose herself. Later, she could cry. Would cry. In the dark, wrapped in his arms, she would let go, and he would take it, like he always did.
She got out of the car and followed her family. Despite the heaviness over her, her lips quirked up slightly as she took in the sight of the tall, handsome figure of her husband, with their three children
Her youngest daughter’s words floated on the air, and she quickened her stride so she could catch up.
“I’m here, baby.” She combed her fingers through the soft blonde curls as they continued.
Her breath caught as they rounded the corner. No matter how many times they came, no matter how many times she saw, she didn’t think she’d ever get over the horror that filled her every time.
The destruction before them… What had led to it… She trembled, and she couldn’t stop the tears that escaped.
“God,” her daughter—their oldest—huffed. “I don’t know why we have to be here. Every stupid year. Not like anything changes. Why couldn’t I have stayed home? This is so dumb.”
“We come to remember. Remember what happened, and what could happen again. And to remember those who were lost.” She spoke slowly, eyes still on the hollowed-out buildings mind on all the lives destroyed. Then, cutting her gaze to her daughter, who stared at her with eyes just like her father, she hardened her voice. “And to be grateful. Because of them, we’re free.”
“Before all this,” she waved a hand around, “you would have to hide who you are. You wouldn’t have been free to be you. Your choice would have been to hide or to be persecuted. Or killed. Remember that when you think this is stupid.”
She swallowed thickly and walked a few feet away, closing her eyes against the tears, chest aching horribly. She needed to get it together. Falling apart wasn’t an option. Later, she reminded herself again. Not now, not when she could sense others coming—to also pay their respects and remember.
A soft caress on her cheek and a sweet smell pulled her out of her thoughts. She opened her eyes to find a bright daisy hovering in the air in front of her. She turned her head to watch as her eldest daughter, hand outstretched, lower lip caught between her teeth, manipulate the flower until it was tucked behind her mother’s ear.